Psalm 56 – Times of Distress

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Many of us are facing great distress in these days.  COVID has taken loved ones from us, or they are currently fighting against this virus and it’s ravaging effects on our loved one, maybe upon you.  I know of one young lady who was perfectly health and then contracted this virus.  Although she survived the virus, it made devastating changes in her health.  Causing her blood to thicken and as a result she has suffered a debilitating stroke. 

Some of use not only are dealing with these types of things, but we have also lost confidence in our government and our sources of information in the media.  It seems that every report from the government, and the media, contradicts the last thing that we have heard.  The only thing we know for sure is that the government is powerless to confront this virus and to protect it’s citizenry from it.

Meanwhile, the other troubles of life continue at an alarming pace.  We have lost loved ones, not only to COVID and it’s related effects, but to cancer, heart decease, and other chronic conditions.  We may have had more personal disasters like loss of employment, loss of transportation, and loss of a place to lay our heads at night.  The times we are living in seem to compound these issues and have taken a toll on our families.

Some of us have had to separate from our loved ones, not only do to isolation and death, but in divorce.  We are dealing with emotions of loss, betrayal, and frustration.  It seems that we have no recourse or no place to turn to for help.  We feel as if the whole world is against us, and that God is nowhere to be found.  My heart breaks as I look out of my window and see all the things that are working to tear us apart. These troubles make us feel overwhelmed and defeated. 

If this is the way you feel, then I encourage you to read Psalm 56. In this Psalm, that is connected to David when he was seized by the Philistines in Gath (possibly in 1 Samuel 21).  This Psalm is described as a lament with a strong emphasis that confesses trust in God.

Now David was under great distress.  We know this because he mentions, “he fighting daily oppreseth me”, “Mine enemies would daily swallow me up”, and “they wait for my soul”.  Is this the way that you are feeling?  Do you feel like you are just being swallowed up with everything that is going on around you?  Are you falling into a deep pit like David is here in this Psalm?  If so, then please continue with me as we see how David handled these powerful emotions of vulnerability and loneliness. For in this plea of David to the Most High we can see that David has not lost his hope.  David despite the loss of everything he had, and despite the father of his best friend and his one-time mentor desired to kill him with all the resources and reaches of king.  A king who hunted David so hard that he went to his enemies for a place to hide.  This desperate man, turned to the one who he knew he could trust.

David began, “Be merciful unto me, O God”.  David sought the mercy of God.  David understood that God is the one who could turn events around.  He also knew that if God chose to do nothing, that God was still God.  David needed for God to look at him and his situation.  David understood that God can change his predicament. This shows that David trusted God that if he would listen to his pleas, that God would be faithful and deliver him.  So, he sought the mercies of God.  He explained to God why he needed his aid.  David was surrounded and had no place to hide from his enemies.  There was no one that he could trust. 

David said, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”  What an amazing thing to say to God.  Notice that he did not blame God.  David did not ask God, “Where are you?”  Instead, David told God I seek you because I am afraid, and I know that anytime I have been afraid, I have sought you.  I seek you God because I know you have mercies that are revived daily.  The David goes even further. David tells God that I will praise you in your word.  David has trust in the word of the Lord.  What God has said he will fulfill.  David says these things, “In God I will praise…”, “I will trust in thee”, “I have put my trust in thee”, “I will not fear what flesh may do to me”, and “this I know; God is for me”

So here we see a proper response in our time of distress.

  • Understand the Lord is sovereign
  • Seek the Lord’s mercy
  • Praise the Lord in his Word
  • Put your full trust in the Lord, not men
  • Have confidence that when you cry, the Lord hears you
  • Know this… God is for you (you are his child)
  • Know this… God honors his Word (he is faithful)
  • Know this… God keeps his Vows (his word is he bond)
  • Remember that God delivered you from death
  • Remember that God keeps us from failing, because he desires us to walk with him. (You are important to God)

What an amazing God we serve in faith.  We trust him because in our past he has proven himself to be trustworthy – even when were not.  He loves us with an unconditional and unfailing love. God commended his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  He did this so that anyone who believes in him (Jesus), they can have eternal life.  No earning it, no trying to justify why you should deserve it.  No, not one single thing other than believing that Jesus is the Son of God and the one who bore our sin upon his back and dies in our place on the cross at calvary.  Believing that Jesus is the Lamb of God who was sacrificed to justify the forgiveness of your sin is what God has said, and that he is faithful to his Word. 

Scripture tells us the God is love.  We know this because it is God who laid down his own life for us.  Now knowing this, that we believe in Jesus and trust in God, we know that God loves us.  Therefore, since God is love and he loves us then we should not walk in fear.  We know that we can trust him in ever situation we find ourselves in.  David put it this way, in this Psalm, “When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know’ for God is for me.”  We, who are believers on Jesus Christ, can say the same thing in confidence.  “When I cry to God, I know that he will defend me.” 

Therefore, in our distress, we can cry to the Lord and give thanks and praise to the one who delivers us out of all our miseries. We can have joy knowing that he is our defender and our shield.  Isaiah wrote, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when though walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” (Isaiah 43:2) Now isn’t that promise a reason for praise? 

Thoughts About Nehemiah

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The name Nehemiah means Comforted of Jehovah.  As we read through the book of Nehemiah we can surely see how God was the only comfort for Nehemiah. He faced insurmountable odds of completing such an enormous task. God shows through Nehemiah that what ever tasks he sets us to, that he will be faithful to equip, defend, and enable us to the completion his ordained will, and for the glory of his name. God will leave or abandon us, and God remains faithful to his promises. He is a God who redeems and sanctifies.

The book of Ezra told of the events of the Jews return to their homeland after their exile to Babylon, for seeking other gods.  From Ezra we heard about the near 50,000 former captives that had returned to Palestine. We also see Ezra’s struggles in rebuilding the Temple and the great efforts of Ezra to re-educate the Jews on their Hebrew ancestry and the Law of Moses. 

The book of Nehemiah continues this story with Nehemiah receiving grave news concerning the state of things in Jerusalem.  In this continuation of the saga of the restoration of Israel we see the providence of God, and the intricacy of his planning.  God has positioned Nehemiah in a position that gives him access and favor of King Artaxerxes.  We also are given a proper manor in which we should deal with situations of great distress that are out of our hands.

Nehemiah has received word that the city and survivors in Jerusalem are, “in great affliction and reproach.” In addition, Nehemiah is told that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and the gates lay destroyed by fire. This leaves the city defenseless to bands of marauders and enemies of the Jews. There is no sense of cohesion, nor security from within or without.  In learning of these things, Nehemiah weeps and mourns in fasting and prayer for days.  He pleads with God for mercy and confesses the sins of his nation.  He reminds God of his promise to restore Israel if they repented and returned to keep his commandments.  Then Nehemiah calls to the Lord that he knows that the Lord has indeed redeemed his people by his great power and his strong hand, and that abandoning his children after delivering them is not in his nature.  Then we see that God opens the door for Nehemiah to come to Jerusalem with the blessings of King Artaxerxes, and with the full authority of the king and his protections to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. 

In this exchange we see that Nehemiah not only wept, confessed sin, and sought the Lord before he did anything else, but in the waiting on the Lord, Nehemiah also made plans and preparations for when the Lord would answer him.  Oh, what a model of faith we see in Nehemiah.  This is the constant pattern we see in the book of Nehemiah.  We should take note of this faith and responsibility to God that Nehemiah demonstrates.  For every obstacle that presented itself in attempts to thwart Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the wall and the re-education of the Jews towards their heritage and the Law of Moses was met with prayer and seeking of God first. God answered Nehemiah faithfully with resources, protections, and wisdom. 

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Jewish tradition tells us that Nehemiah is the author of this book. There is such detail and firsthand knowledge concerning the events which took place in this volume that leads to Nehemiah as the author of this chronicle. There is not knowledge of the life of Nehemiah prior to this event.  However, we can ascertain that he was raised in teachings and study of the scriptures.  We can also see that since he was the cup bearer to the king, he must have been a man of integrity.  King Artaxerxes himself must have been very familiar with Nehemiah’s character and attitudes, because he noticed a change in Nehemiah’s demeanor.  In addition, Nehemiah was a very trusted servant who was given the authority of the king as his Governor over Palestine. How great a witness we could have if we, as Christians walked in the integrity of the Lord, and in whom was no reproach found from our secular authorities appointed over us. For it is God who appoints kings of nations, not men.

Nehemiah shows us the importance of living a godly life, in a secular work environment.  Nehemiah was not a priest, nor was he some great prophet.  He was a single man, who feared God, loved his people, and endured many hardships.  God uses people from all corners of life, and every kind of careers. Surely each one of our secular jobs is a mission field that the Lord has appointed us to. Give thanks to the Lord for where you are today and plan for where he leads you tomorrow.

Paul Peterson on Evangelism

Paul Peterson wrote an article for Lifeway Research that was released on March 25, 2021 called, From Prayer to Practice: 4 Keys to Ignite Evangelism in the Local Church. In this article he sited a research assessment from 2019 that said, “results revealed that Hispanics (36%) and African Americans (29%) pray daily for evangelistic opportunities. Additionally, 68% of Hispanics had spoken to someone about becoming a Christian in the last six months, and 71% had invited at least one person to church.” He also mentioned that over half of the respondents did not share the gospel with anyone in the past 6 months prior to taking the survey.

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If you have ever wondered what happened to “In God We Trust”, and how men came to dress like women, and killing babies became the norm of society. Did you ever wonder how it is that someone who stands for pro-life can be identified as a domestic terrorist because they expose the truth of how babies are murdered for money? Well this might be the answer. We have stopped being the light of the world. The World System lives in darkness. Without the light they can no longer see the Way of Christ.

Matthew 5:14-16 KJV Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

We were commissioned to carry the light. We are told to hunger and thirst after righteousness. We are told to be an example of righteousness. We are told to teach, baptize, and make disciples until the end of the world. Here are a few verses for you to look up and study on being an example:

  • Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
  • 1 Timothy 4:12 – Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
  • Ephesians 5:1-33 – Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; …
  • 1 Corinthians 15:33 – Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
  • James 4:17 – Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is sin.
  • Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
  • Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
  • Colossians 3:17 – And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
  • Romans 12:2 – And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
  • 1 Peter 4:16 – Yet if [any man suffer] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
  • James 1:19 – Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
  • Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these thing

Where do you fit into those numbers found in the research? Are you in the active side? Or are you in the inactive side? Are you a light to those around you of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Or have you conformed to the world? Do you accept abortion, homosexuality, and feminism of men as just a persons choice, or do you identify them as the sins that they are? Is God a liar, or is man?

I am not asking you to give up on loved ones who are walking in those things or supporting them. I am letting you know that we need to pray for them. We need to show them the truth in what we say, and in what we do. We need to let them see that God does love them and wants them to know who he is and to love him also. God is not their enemy, and neither are we. They of course, are not our enemies either.

They have been deceived and need to be shown the truth. First that there is absolute truth. Second that they are trapped in death. Third there is a way out of the death, shame, and loneliness in Christ Jesus. We need to pray for them, but we also need to pray for one another and ourselves. That we may be faithful to the calling that we have received, and that we would do all things in love and not in anger, pride, or in superficial judgement. I hope that you will pray with me, and then that we would all get our hands and feet busy in our calling for the spread of the Gospel of Christ. Here is the article from Lifeway Research…https://lifewayresearch.com/2021/03/25/from-prayer-to-practice-4-keys-to-ignite-evangelism-in-the-local-church/?ecid=PDM233821&bid=753368757

Survey of the Epistle of James

Survey of James

            James is often referred to as the guide to practical Christian living.  That is to say that it gives us a picture of how we should put in effect the things we have seen, and heard concerning Jesus Christ.  James answers the questions concerning how a Christian should live out Grace in relation to the Law.  James is one of the letters known as the General Epistles.  The General Epistles are sometimes referred to as “Universal” or “Catholic” letters because they are not addressed to a specific church location.  These letters include 1st and 2nd Peter, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John, the letter from Jude (the half-brother of Jesus), and of course James.

Authorship

The author of this epistle identifies himself as James (1:1) and only claims to be “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”.  There are several men named James in the New Testament writings.  We have a need to examine the information available, in these documents, concerning these men to determine the authorship of this jewel of church doctrine we refer to as the Epistle of James.

James: the son of Zebedee and Salome; who is the elder brother of the apostle John.  This James was one of the twelve selected by Jesus to be his closest disciples and his apostles.  He was a fisherman by trade and it appears that he was a partner with the apostle Peter (Matthew 20:20; 27:56). This James, along with John and Peter were a part of the inner circle of the apostles and was privy to events that most of the disciple would not have seen. He was allowed to see: the transfiguration of Christ (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2); the raising of Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:37-43); and he was present with Jesus at the prayer and encouragement of Jesus in the garden of gethsemane (Mark 14:33-35).  He was called to be an apostle (Matthew 4:21-22; 10:2; Mark 1:19-20; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13) by Jesus Christ.  This James and his younger brother John was also referred to as a son of thunder because if their unbridled passion for Jesus (Mark 3:17).  As an apostle he would have been witness to many great things that Jesus had done in his ministry and of the resurrection. However, despite all of the great reasoning that this James might have been the author, there is one thing that excludes the possibility.  The Apostle James was the first Apostle to be martyred in 44 A.D by King Herod (Acts 12:1-2).  This letter is believed to have been written between 45-50 A.D. In addition, the council of Jerusalem concerning the argument of the circumcision of the Gentiles did not occur until Acts chapter 15. So the James mentioned in that passage was not the Apostle James.   

There were a couple of other mentions of different men named James in the New Testament.  These men were only mentioned once and then were lost to obscurity.  It is unlikely that these were the one who wrote such powerful theological addresses as are found in this letter.  No, there is one more James that was there from the beginning, but who was not an apostle.  This James would have had all the knowledge of Jesus’ whole life, death, and resurrection.  He would have been a Jew, and held the respect of the Apostles and the Jews.  This was James the brother of Jesus (half-brother).

James the half-brother of Jesus, although he was present from before the start of Jesus’ public ministry, was not a believer in Jesus as the Son of God until after he was a witness of the resurrected Christ.  In seeing the death of Jesus and then seeing him alive, James became a devout follower of Jesus.  He was the head of the Jerusalem council and was a respected pillar of the church and of the Jewish community.  He would have had the knowledge and understanding in seeing the whole earthly life of Jesus, listening to his teachings, and witnessing the miracles, and the resurrection.  This put him in a unique position to be a teacher and evangelist to the Jews concerning the Hebrew scriptures and how Jesus fulfilled the Law and the prophets.  Even his initial criticisms of Jesus would have been a great witness to the hard-hearted Israelite of the love of God towards them that was revealed in Jesus Christ the Son of God. 

Historical Settings

            At the time of this writing the church was still distinctively Jewish in nature because most of it’s members came from Jewish backgrounds and traditions. The letter suggests a simpler form of hierarchy in the local church.  The church leaders are referred to as elders (5:14) and teachers (3:1).  There is no mention of the soon to develop strife over Gentile circumcision. The Greek term for synagogue is used to designate the gathering place of the church.  Many believe that this letter and the letter to the Galatians are the earliest recovered letters in the New Testament.

            The Jews in Jerusalem were scorned and driven out by persecutions, not from Rome, but from their own kinsman.  Many Jewish believers in Christ would have lost their social status, homes, family ties, access to the temple and suffered economic loss and hardships that come with the inability to make a living because of their persecution.  Many left Jerusalem in order to make a living elsewhere and to escape the persecution. 

Major Themes

The letter is written to these Jews who had scattered abroad (1:1).  They were under severe persecutions and distress.  James writes to encourage them.  He tells them that the trials in which the find themselves in are expected and that they are for their betterment.  James tells them that these trials are being used to mature their faith.  They bring patients in the waiting of the fulfilment of their hope.  He encourages them to seek wisdom from God and that God has not abandoned them.  This is important because they had been ostracized from the religion of their youth and they needed to know that they had not erred.   He shows them in this letter that they have not abandoned God either, instead they have grown closer to God then they could ever imagine.  He also instructs them on how to live in the freedom that God has given them in Jesus Christ and how they should treat one another in order to be pleasing servants of God and his Messiah.

Key Verse: But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves (James 1:22)

Doctrine

James deals with a lot of controversial doctrines.  Even Martin Luther argued as to whether the Epistle of James should be in the Canon of the Bible because of the doctrinal approach that James appears to take.  It is important when we read through the scriptures that we understand that not all scripture is written to everyone.  That is we must pay attention to who the author is addressing his letter to and see what issues they are dealing with.  As in this case James is writing to Jews who have believed on Jesus Christ and are still in the process of dealing with this new way of life.  They came from a rigid system of rituals and prayers that had added to what God actually said and excessively burdened the seeker of God.  Remember Christianity was not a religion, the religion was still Judaism.  In this James unpacks the differences between the works oriented Jewish religion to the works resultant way of Christ.  Many Christians these days would do good to study this book and see how we are to live in obedience, now that we have been freely saved by God in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. 

The Doctrines that James deals with are a living in Christ once you have believed and received this forgiveness, not an earning of salvation through works.  James starts with the doctrine of persecution and it expectancy and the resultant spiritual growth. Then he moves into how to live a sanctified life.  This includes patience, slow to wrath, not rushing to judgement.  James presents the doctrine of humility by not judging other believers by appearance, money, reputation, or prestige.  The secret to this is that we are all servants who serve the same master.  Then James begins a discussion of the doctrine of Works by Faith.  Many confuse this portion to think that James is saying that to have faith you must do these things.  James is not saying that at all, he says that faith has certain works that accompany it as a byproduct. Without works in faith, you do not possess faith.  Because if you believed then you would act a certain way and be obedient to the will of the LORD.  

Then he discusses by example the use of the tongue, the truth of pride and wisdom.  James then tells them that if they were walking in the spirit (faith) then they would not have quarrels amongst the brethren.  So, peace and love in the church is a result of waking by faith.  James’s doctrine for walking in faith is to (1) Submit to God, (2) Resist the devil, (3) Draw close to God and let God draw close to you, (4) Be sincere in your repentance, and (5) Put away pride. James also sets the doctrine of laying on of hands. James urges his readers in the same manner that the author of Hebrews does, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” (Hebrews 6:1-2)

Outline

  1. Greetings and Encouragement 1:1
  2. Trials 1:2-18
    1. Purpose of Trials 1:2-12
    2. Pedigree of Trials 1:13-15
    3. Purpose of God in Trials 1:16-18
  3. The Word 1:19-27
  4. Christian Conduct 2-5
    1. Partiality 2:1-13
    2. Actions of Faith 2:14-26
    3. The Fire in Tongue 3:1-12
    4. Real Wisdom 3:13-18
    5. Worldliness 4:1-17
    6. Proper Views 5:1-12
    7. Prayer 5:13-18
    8. Conversion of the Erring 5:19-20

Does God Ignore Some Prayers?

There seems to be a lot of confusion over the question of prayer, and if God answers all prayers. Many Christians sit in pews and listen to pastors who teach that God answers all prayers. The pastors say that sometimes God will say “yes”. They will admit that sometimes God says “no”, or even “maybe”, or “wait”. These are all valid answers. I have seen examples of such answers that I have given to my own children in seeking to be a good parent. Children sometimes ask for things that are not good for them. Or for things that are inappropriate for them. However, there were times to when they were asking things with the wrong attitude, or the while they were being punished, or things that they just knew that I would not allow, but they asked anyway.


On those occasions, I simply ignored the pleading. I had all the right to as a parent. Just because I was asked, it did not mean that I must answer or even that I had to listen. You may have been in a similar situation with your children. Lucky for us we serve a God who is the essence of what is good. He loves us from his goodness, and his goodness gives us love. Therefore, He always seeks our best interest, within his will. We are his children, and we are treated as such. But, what about those who are not his children? Does God have to pander to their requests? Does he have the right to disregard their prayers?


The Holy Bible starts out with a simple assumption, that God exists. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) If God exists, and he created the heaven and the earth then God is sovereign. We either must believe that or not. Now if we believe that God is sovereign then we must believe that he is not under our jurisdiction. He is free to determine what he must and must not do. God gets to choose his own actions. God’s actions are governed by his own character.


This character is what has been the demonstration of what is true in love, charity, longsuffering, righteousness, and all things that are good. Our since of justice comes from the character of God. God as creator does not have to answer for himself to his creation. We simply must accept that he can choose to answer any prayer that he so chooses to answer. In accepting that as truth we must also accept as truth; God can choose to not answer, and even ignore some prayers. We do not dictate the terms to God. It is God who dictates terms to his creation.

To ignore the sovereignty of God would put us in the same place as Satan. “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Ezekiel 14:12-14) You would think that we would see and understand that to stand in the presence of God and make demands of him is to put ourselves in the position of God. This is what happened in the Garden of God in Eden. There Satan tempted Eve to sin, by telling her that she would be like God. (Genesis 3:5) We must listen to what the Word says and not what we desire. So, are there times that God chooses to ignore prayers? What does the Word say about unanswered and ignored prayers?

Well James the half-brother of Jesus wrote, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:3) The epistle of James is believed to have been written around 49-50 AD, that would make it the earliest written letter written, after the Ascension of Christ, in the New Testament. Here James is answering the same question that we are still asking today. Why doesn’t God answer all prayers? In this short sentence James tells us that if we ask to consume it in our lusts, that is to say, to satisfy fleshly desires, or in self-serving desire, then you are asking in vain because God will not honor that prayer. So, the motivation of our prayer has to be sincerely unselfish. So, is it wrong to ask for the things we need? No, Jesus himself told us that we should ask that our joy may be full. Jesus also says that we should seek the kingdom of God first, because the Father knows everything we need, and he will supply our need. So, James does not contradict Jesus. Both Jesus and James, tell us that we should ask with the proper motivation.

We also see that the Lord will not hear those who think immorality in their heart. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” (Psalms 66:18) What an eye opener this verse is. To put it in context, the writer is actually praising God for hearing his prayers, and NOT those of the wicked. He draws a contrast and comparison between himself as a righteous man before God who seeks to do the will of God and those who do not seek the will of God. These who enjoy and keep sin in their hearts will have their prayers unanswered because they are separated from God and God will not hear them. Pay close attention to what Isaiah says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2) Iniquities are knowledgeable sins. These are sins we know are wrong and choose to continue in them. These separate us from God, and then he will not hear us. This is what leads the Apostle John to write, “Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.” (John 9:31) There seems to be a theme developing here. The theme that wrongly motivated prayers and a desire to continue in sin are some things that motivates God to NOT answer prayers. Heck it even seems that he ignores those who do such things.

In fact, God tells the prophet Jeremiah, because Israel has violated these two principles and rejected God, he will not hear them when they pray, and he forbids prayer for them. Did you hear that? Don’t believe me? Listen to Jeremiah 14:10-12, “Thus saith the Lord unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the Lord doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. Then said the Lord unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.” Wow he will not hear their prayers, not anyone else’s prayers for them. He will not listen even if they fast, no matter how often nor how long they pray, because they have rejected him. I think that it is fair enough to say that the doors of heaven can be closed to those who leave God, should he so choose.

Ok so far we see that God can choose to ignore prayer from those who have improper motives rooted in selfishness. God will not hear those who choose to live in sin, or who have forsaken God for another god. Now we move on to those who have actually rejected God. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the Word of God and the Word of God was with God in the beginning and created all things. The Word also tells us, “The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew. My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.” (Proverbs 3:19-22) and then scripture also tells us that this wisdom of God that Created, this Word of God that Created, this Jesus that Created, if you reject him. Then you will cry out and the Father will not hear you.


• Proverbs 1:24-28 – Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
• Matthew 10:33 – But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
• John 14:6 – Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

There we clearly that the rejection of Jesus Christ means that the Father does not know you. That would mean that he is not your Father. You would not then be his child. He would be under no obligation to hear those who have rejected Jesus.
God does have a real heart for those who listen to him, those who abbey his will, and those who care for others. So much so that Zachariah tell us that God proclaims that those with hard hearts, who refuse to listen to the Lord and his commandments he will not hear. (Zechariah 7:11-13). Proverbs 28:9 tells us that those who turn there ears away the hearing of the Law of God, God considers their prayers an abomination. That means that God thinks that those who do not even bother to listen to his law and then want to pray to him, that their prayers are an outrage. There is another form of ignoring that God does not particularly care for and will cause prayers to be unheard. Those who ignore the plight of the poor, when they ask of God, their prayers will be, likewise, ignored. (Proverbs 21:13)
God will not hear the prayers of those who mistreat his people either. These are those who hate good, love evil, who seek to hurt and kill the Saints of God.


• Psalm 18:40-41 – Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me. They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the Lord, but he answered them not.
• Micah 3:2-4 – Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron. Then shall they cry unto the Lord, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.


These have cried in the past and the Lord choose to ignore their pleas. There are other examples of prayers that do not get answered. Prayers from those who worship idols (Jeremiah 11:11-14; Ezekiel 8:15-18. Those who do not believe will not receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:6-7).

So then if we are all unrighteous, who does God hear?
Those who seek and call upon him in belief that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek him to know who he is.


• James 1:5 – But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
• Jeremiah 29:12 – Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
• Job 33:26 – Then he will pray to God, and He will accept him, That he may see His face with joy, And He may restore His righteousness to man.
• Psalm 91:15 – “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
• Psalm 145:18 – The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.
• Psalm 65:2 – O You who hear prayer, To You all men come.

• Jeremiah 36:7 – Perhaps their supplication will come before the Lord, and everyone will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and the wrath that the Lord has pronounced against this people.”
• Matthew 7:11 – If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
• John 14:13 – Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
• John 14:14 – If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
• John 16:23 – In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.
• John 15:7 – If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
• James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
• Matthew 21:22 – And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
• 1 John 5:14 – This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
• 1 John 5:15 – And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
• Romans 10:12 – For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;

Scripture is clear. God is sovereign and he chooses to ignore those who do not recognize or who ignore his sovereignty. But to those who sincerely seek him, and desire to know him. He will reveal himself to them. Those who are repentant and who confess that Jesus is the Son of God who died, was buried, and rose again from the grave, and desire to perform his will, God will hear, and answer. He will fulfill the desires of that person’s heart. God hears those who hear him. If you first ask to hear God, he will let you hear him, that your joy may be full. You want to hear something really neat? God prays for us. (Romans 8:27; John 17:15; 1 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 9:15) In addition, for those who accept Jesus as Christ, those have been made righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21) This means the unrighteous man that John said God would not hear… we are no longer that unrighteous man. Therefore, God hears us, because of Jesus Christ, in order that the Son of God may be glorified of the Father. What wonderful news!

One World Religion: Eastern Religious Philosophy in Christianity

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There has been a slow change to Christianity over the decades since the 50s.  Much of this is due to the initiation of humanistic philosophies, introduced by the acceptance of Eastern Religious thought, into society, higher educational facilities, and the church compiled with a lack of proper discipleship in the church.  One of the more recent implementations of this is seen in the humanistic views of enneagrams being taught and accepted into mainstream Christianity.  Enneagrams are the study of personality traits as a model of the human psyche so that one can better understand themselves and their motivations and how they interact with others.  These personality behaviors are based on a model of 9 persona (types) that all people fit into. 

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These Nine Personality Types: 

The Reformer – The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionist
The Helper – The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive
The Achiever – The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious
The Individualist -The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental
The Investigator – The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated
The Loyalist – The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious
The Enthusiast – The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered
The Challenger – The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational
The Peacemaker – The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent

Seminaries have moved away from teaching Biblical Counselling that is based on scripture and have moved into humanistic psychologies which emphasize personal worth of the individual, the centrality of human values, and the dynamic nature of human beings.  This means that Christian Counselling has by and large succumbed to self-help strategies that promote the idea that “at the heart we are all good people”.  If you look at these 9 Personality types.  None of these are bad or evil traits.  All of these traits are good characteristics that when out of balance becomes bad.  Therefore, if a Christian starts with this assumption, then they have already begun from an improper foundation.  They have left the truth of scripture.  Instead they have believed a lie.

This lie seeks to influence in a deception that basically we are all good and caring beings who just have different ways of living life.  The false teachers are spreading a lie.  This lie being told to Christians, is that they should seek to learn their personality type and isolate scripture that only addresses their personality.  In focusing on the scriptures that apply to their personality types they can then overcome their shortcomings and be set free from bondage and become a good enough person to God.

Since all these personality types are actually positive types there is not need to address sin, or repentance. Instead you are a good person and only need to know what scriptures are needed to make you a better person. In being better you can become one with God and the universe. This is the ultimate goal of Buddhism. It is a state of complete bliss, liberation from the limitations and cares and desires of the physical world, and the end of the cycle of rebirth and suffering. This is referred to as Nirvana. Nirvana comes from “Moksha” from Jain literature and literally means liberation or salvation of soul. In order to achieve Karma.

The Eight Aspects of Karma are: of knowing, of seeing, of attachment, and concerning age, name, caste, feeling and obstacles.

There are four levels of Nirvana

Stream-Enterers – Those who have destroyed first three chains of life (false view of self, doubt, and clinging to rites and rituals)

Once-Returners – Those who have destroyed three chains of life and have lessened the chains of lust and hatred

Non-returners – Those who have destroyed five chains of life, which binds to the world of senses.

Arahants – Those who have reached Nirvana

Therefore, reaching of Nirvana (Karma) is breaking the Karmic cycles and liberating the soul from those temporal binds. This relieves us of such restrictions as age, sexual identity, marriage, family contructs, political influences, religious beliefs, patriotisms, ethnicities, right and wrong, ultimate truth, etc…

On the surface the lie seems to be ok, acceptable.  After all what is wrong with someone learning how to identify who they are and how to become a better person?  Surly we all want to live in harmony and not live in a world filled with hate and violence.  See, that is a nice lie rolled up into a lie we can discuss later.  But you can see how appealing the lie is.  Furthermore, for you to not accept the lie then that makes you an enemy of humanity and selfish.  You become the very evil of society because you do not accept the lie that they are telling you. You are hated because you are a hater, and if you are a hater as a bible-believing Christian, then Christians are haters and thereby hypocrites who do not even live by what they preach about loving one another. We already have Christians who are paralyzed by this false teaching and therefore refrain from church discipline or warning others about how the sins they live in is killing them. This is only the beginning of the trouble.

The problem is that we have a generation of young evangelical Christians who have been brought up into this humanistic theology at home, school, and in the church.  Now we have a whole generation that does not know what the truth of scripture is.  They see Christianity as a means of a moralistic mechanism that is practiced by a “good person”, or one seeking to be a “good person” instead of a means of restoring a lost relationship with God.  With this view one has to be good enough for God to accept you.  Others see the church as something therapeutic that is there to help them with psychological issues, marriage counselling, and the sort.  Others see Christianity more of as a philosophy that has its own way of reaching enlightenment.  By and large many Christians can no longer identify the core beliefs that make one a Christian.  They are victims of improper discipleship. This leaves them susceptible to the lies of the whore Babylon and the One World Religion that has come into the world. 

This humanistic approach to Christianity is contrary to scripture.  What part?  Glad you asked… the whole part is contrary to scripture.  A Christian who teaches these things is a false teacher.  If you are one who claims the title of being a Christian, then I would hope that this would be an obvious declaration to you.  However, I am not ignorant.  I know that there are many out there who claim to be Christians, but they have no idea what that means.  For example, one might believe that a person is saved by “faith” and that would be a correct statement.  So then that person says that they are a Christian because they believe in Jesus.  But if we ask them, are all religions equal then they would say, “yes, as long as they have faith”.  You see this is a humanistic view that is not supported by scriptural belief in Jesus Christ as the One True God. This then is a denial of, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)

Jesus said that he is the Alpha and the Omega, he is the beginning and the end.  Creation began with Jesus’ creating it. Creation will end with Jesus destroying it.  He is the only one who has that authority. (Matthew 28:18-20)  Because all power and authority has been given to him, we are to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and we are to make disciples in his name and teach then everything that he commanded.  Surely as a good disciple you know everything that he commanded us to teach others, or at least you are in a good Sunday school and in regular church attendance so that you may learn everything he wants you to know.  Second Timothy chapter three and verse sixteen tells us, “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Listen very carefully to what Jesus says, “Sanctify them through thy truth: they word is truth.  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through thy truth.” (John 17:17-23) This is part of a prayer that Jesus prayed for his disciple just before he was sacrificed to make atonement for sin. Sanctification comes through knowledge of the truth.  The word of God, the scriptures contained in the cannon of the Holy Bible is the truth of Jesus Christ. We are sanctified through Jesus Christ.  He is the only way that we receive sanctification.  Why do we need sanctification?

We need sanctification because we are not good at heart.  Maybe, in the original creation, we were good at heart.  However, sin entered man through Adam.  Since then we have not grown better over time and self-improvement techniques.  Instead we have grown worse.  “As it is written there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10) Humanism says that you are basically good or righteous, or that you can be if you try hard enough and focus on your goodness.  God says that will not work, because a lemon tree cannot produce grapes. 

Within the first 1500 years of man’s existence the scriptures tell us, “it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” (Genesis 6:6) Why was this?  Because God say how wicked men had become.  He saw that everything that man imagined, and desired in his heart, was evil.  Man was depraved at his core. Man did not just make an error in the garden, he continued in error and like a rotten apple spoils the whole barrel, all of man was rotten.  We have an old saying, “the blind leading the blind”.  This means that both parties are doomed to fail because if the guide cannot see, there is no hope for those who are led by him.  Why then would Christians who have the light allow themselves to be let astray by the false teachings of humanism? You see this is the blind leading the blind.

Man is now inherently evil in his heart; even a “good man”.  Noah who built the ark and warning his neighbors of the impending judgement of God shamed himself, after being delivered from destruction by God, through getting drunk and passing out naked.  Abraham a man who God called his friend and the father of Israel lied to protect himself from harm instead of trusting God. Lot committed incest.  King David who is known for being “a man after God’s own heart” committed adultery and murder.  The bible is full of “good men” who had were not good men.  It is the mercies of God, who is good who saved them from themselves.  Not their own will to overcome imperfection.  The Apostle Paul said, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) Jesus himself said that there is none good but God. (Matthew 19:17) Mankind is gone astray and everyone is self-seeking, even the humanistic philosophers.  

The 12 steps to AA and recovery are originally based in scripture. In Alcoholics Anonymous the first step to recovery begins with admitting to oneself that they are powerless over their addiction and their lives had become unmanageable. Romans 7:18 says, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” That means that although I would want to do good, I have no idea how to do good, because in my heart I am not good. Christian do you remember the day that you finally saw that you are not the good person you thought that you were?  Do you remember when you realized that no matter how good you wanted to be, you could not look in the mirror for all the terrible things you did to yourself, to others, and to God?

That was the first step in actually becoming better.  You realized that you could not do it.  This is not humanistic.  This is a revelation brought to you by being confronted with the truth in scripture.  Sin is real. Sin leads to more sin.  Sin leads to destruction of homes, family relationships, loss of friendships, jobs.  It causes illnesses and eventually leads to death. “For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) This is truth.  We know it is. We know by previous examples in our own lives the end result of sin.  We can use that truth to cling onto the rest of this statement, “But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”.  This is the way to eternal life. 

God had given us this gift of eternal life through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ paid for our sin debt.  The debt of death.  He did this with his own death.  His death is a substitute for our death penalty.  It would be like being convicted of a crime and then being sentenced to death.  Then while you were on death row the guard suddenly opens the cell and say you are free to go.  When you ask why, he takes you to the observation window of the lethal injection chamber.  To our astonishment you see your big brother strapped to the table with needles in his veins, then he looks at you and says I am paying your debt because I love you.  This is the same thing Jesus did for you.  He literally died in place of you.  That made you a free man.  Free from the penalty of your sin.

Then Jesus rose from the grave.  Well, he is God, you say.  I would then agree, he is God.  Thant in itself should move you, God himself died for you.  But that is not all he did.  He rose from the grave.  He actually defeated death. Now, this gives you the ability to have eternal life through his resurrection.  So what about today?  Sin has been paid for, all sin.  Death has been defeated, now there is no fear of death for the believer.  Now Jesus had all authority in heaven, because he is God.  He has all authority on earth, because he is the creator.  He has all authority over the grave, because he vanquished death. There is something else that Jesus is still doing for you today. He is interceding for you before God the Father.  Jesus is praying for you. “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34)

Romans 8:34 is such an awesome verse!  Who is going to condemn those who believe in Jesus?  Listen Jesus has set us free from the Law and Sin, and Death.  He is the one who is judge of all creation.  He has the authority to condemn, but why would he?  He himself knows the penalty has been paid.  By believing in him and him alone, you are a recipient of this free gift.  So no, he will not condemn you.  Paul says, instead of condemning you he is praying for you.  He is on your side.  He is earnestly paying attention to you for success.  Now in scripture are there ways that we can become a better person, a better servant to God and to one another? Yes there is.  But for the believer, you don’t need to identify your personality type to become a better person so that God will love you more.  He already loves you enough that he died for you.  He already loves you enough that he gives you the free give of this atonement.  So we study the Word and grown in knowledge not of ourselves, but of the God who saves us.  Why, because we want to know him better, not ourselves.  We want to understand his love for us.  We want to learn how to show that love to others, because we want them to know about his love.  This is why we “sanctify” our selves.  We set ourselves apart to be a useful servant in what he desires.  What does he desire?  “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-10) God desires for everyone to repent, believing on Jesus and be saved from condemnation.  He is patiently waiting for anyone who will believe.   

What is your part in this? “How then shall they call on him whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14) This is what we should be doing.  Instead of us being influenced by the humanistic One Word Religion, we should be influencing them with the truth of Jesus Christ by “preaching”.  This is not talking about a preacher like we understand the preaching in the pulpit today.  It is meaning that we should be declaring the truth of Jesus Christ in the scripture.  Who cares about who we used to be?  We are to tell who we are in Christ now.  We are forgiven, we are free, we are in life, all because of the gift of grace demonstrated in Jesus Christ. Chris is our righteousness.  We are justified before God because of Jesus Christ, not our own effort.  “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Go and teach them, not the other way around….

Election Day: What to pray for? Psalm 85

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Well here we are, a little over 40 days until Election Day.  Everyone in the United States knows that no matter who wins, the US will never be the same.  Marxist and Communist are in positions of power and influence and openly run for high offices in a land where once the very mention of communist affiliation brought the possibility of imprisonment.  Our youth has been successfully programmed away from the Lord God and the higher moral convictions of the Christian faith that founded this once great country.  Now as atheism had taken over, we have lost our innocence from our youth, way too soon.  History has been re-written and heroes of our republic have been removed and replaced with Marxist icons.  We here stupid remarks form the “educated” college elites like, “History is written by the victors”.  This is a quote once made by Winston Churchill which is essentially vade ad victor spolia, to the victor go the spoils.   In using this quote, they mean to say that the ones who have lost in the great struggles of society have been cheated their voice and should have recompenses made of it. This is their war cry to tear apart society. Yet their very atheistic views concerning “survival of the fittest” demand that no such recompense be made.  But that is another matter we can discuss another time.

Our moral compass has been misled by the strong magnetism of the atheist and their misleading and often untruthful sciences. We replaced the truth of God with the unproven theories, and speculations of mere men.  We have stopped trusting in the truth of God for the known lies of men. In doing so we have lost our identity.  We who are created in the very image of God and crowned above anything else in creation have succumbed to a lie that we are no more important then the animals that serve us for food, or entertainment.  We have replaced the natural love of our children for the unnatural love of an animal.  Many cherish their pets above their own children.  In many public places in Europe and the US it is more tolerable to bring your pet to diner in a fine restaurant than it is to bring your children. You may think it funny when you see those commercials that depict this very thing on the television, but what you fail to see it the truth of what it shows.  You also fail to see that you are being taught what this world system wants you to be. 

With this new ideal of the lack of uniqueness of man, we have opened the door to the atheistic views of “survival of the fittest”.  We no longer need to show compassion to anyone.  Rather we can live to satisfy our own selfish desires.  Since there is no God then there is no moral law giver. With no moral law there is no one who can judge me.  If no one can judge me then no one can hold me accountable.  If no one can hold me accountable, then no one can punish or reward me.  I am the only one who can reward me.  I am free to seek my reward at the expense of anyone around me because I answer to no one. 

This is the society we have fallen to.  No longer a society of care or concern for one another but one that is only concerned with what I can get out of others, and who can pay my way to fill my gluttony.  It used to be that when we went down the highway and saw a vehicle disabled, that we would stop to render aid.  Now we dare not even slow the car down for fear that we may get shot.  Greed and violence has filled our culture to the point of brokenness.  How far has sin taken our country, that we cannot even have an election without widespread mayhem.  So, with all of this you may be asking what can we pray for concerning this election? 

I think we may consider the words of the psalmist in Psalm 85 as a place to start. Bring us back, O God our savior, and stop being displeased with us! Will you be angry with us forever? Will your anger never cease? Make us strong again, and we, your people, will praise you. Show us your constant love, O Lord, and give us your saving help. (Psalm 85:4-7)

We can cry out to God with all our hearts and plead with him in our distress. We can cry out to the Lord to bring us back to the culture that sought after his face.  Bring us back to being the ones who listened to the counsel of his Word. We can beg his anger to be withheld.  We can pray for peace between us, the United States, and with Him, the one who first established our nation when it fled tyranny.  We can seek his mercies to keep us from returning to a different tyranny.   

We must start with a prayer of repentance.  Today there is no one who takes responsibility for their own actions. There is no one who recognizes that God is the one who establishes the rulers of the land, and who gives them wisdom to rule. (Daniel 2:21) We must fall on our faces before God.  I mean, lay to the prone and in great urgency, beg the Lord on behalf of ourselves, our neighbors, our churches, and our government in repentance.  We must seek the forgiveness of the Lord for the idolatrous worship of the creation over the Creator.  We have loved money, power, influence, sexual immorality, and ourselves more than we have loved Christ.  I am speaking to the church.  We would expect such behavior from the unsaved, but not from those who profess the name of Jesus Christ.  We must be the first on our knees, and to lay prostrate. 

We must plead as the psalmist, “Bring us back,  O God our savior”. Jesus in the garden prayed in anguish to the Father, “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) We must pray and seek the will of the Lord.  We can pray for this election and the events that may come from it.  We can pray for the will of God to be accomplished in this election.  We can also pray for our acceptance of his will.  We must understand that he is in charge and his will, is what will be accomplished.  We must be in acceptance of that will. 

Looking again at Psalm 85 we can look forward in hope.  It says, “ I am listening to what the Lord God is saying; he promises peace to us, his own people, if we do not go back to our foolish ways. Surely he is ready to save those who honor him, and his saving presence will remain in our land.” (Psalm 85:8-9) Isn’t it amazing!  The Lord has an answer for us.  We must listen to the Lord God!  We, his own people, in Christ Jesus, are to be separate from the world.  Not returning to the things that we were once delivered from.

The Apostle John writes a warning from God to us, “Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5) We then should remember from where we have fallen, who we left behind, and turn away from those behaviors which led us astray.  We are to return to the first works.  The first works are those that have supreme importance. 

The first commandment is to love the Lord your God above everything else. In Matthew 10:37 Jesus explains how deep our love for him should be.  He said that if we love our closest family members more than we love him, then we are not worthy of him.  That is the kind of love that the Lord desires from us. Then we are to love one another.  We are to love one another in truth. We are to love one another sacrificially just like Jesus loved us. That means that we love genuinely.  Genuine enough to counsel one another and yes… warn one another when we see that another is falling into sin.  This is not a hypocritical judgement, but something that we are mandated to do in scripture.  We are also commanded to love one another by praying for one another, encouraging one another, providing for one another. That is to freely give to one another the things that are needed with no expectancy of return.  So, one of the first works is “love”.  We need to return to an active love of God and of one another.  Supporting one another with more than just words; making real sacrifices for the kingdom of God and one another.   

Love of God is our supreme motivation and our first work.  I know you are wondering, “why have you gotten so far off topic?”  Well I needed to make sure that we are starting from the right place when we pray.  Prayer is also one of the first works.  I we look in the book of Acts when the Holy Spirit was given to the church, they were in earnest prayer. Looking through the gospels we see that Jesus was in constant prayer.  When the early church made any decision on church business, or mission, or even in correspondences they prayed. This is a first work; pray.  Many believers today in America do not pray on a daily basis, much less in continuously. Remember when you first got saved?  Remember how you could not read enough scripture, or talk to God enough? Don’t you miss that time with God? We should return to consistent, unending prayer and fellowship.

What are we to pray for?  Well, before we can pray for others, we need to first address our own standing with God.  “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) Wow! God seems clear that those who are called by his name are to repent, then he will heal their land.  So, when we pray for these elections and our country we first, need to humble ourselves.  Humble ourselves? Yes, we must not enter the throne room of God with an attitude that we are better then those we are praying for.  What condemnation we would bring upon ourselves to walk in such arrogance before the Lord who judges the very hearts of men.  He already knows the hearts of those you are praying for,  he does not need you to tell him their shortcomings.  He is aware of their stumbling blocks and yours. Love is your first work. We do not need to pray bad things to happen to those who are hijacking our country, we need to pray for a change of heart.

We then come humbly in the knowledge that it is Jesus Christ who has made it possible for us to enter his throne room.  We seek his face because he is the one who establishes kings and countries.  He is the on who has authority over the enemy.  It is his kingdom that we seek and represent here on earth.  Still we should stand for righteousness. Righteousness is what we pray for, for righteous men to be enthroned here in this office of the President, and at all levels of the government and in the bureaucracy of the United States before God.   That wicked men and women will be removed from places of power and influence in our government, educational systems, and businesses.  This includes all the way down to our municipal entities. 

We pray for repentance of those who are leading this anti-God social agendas and that their salvation will bring a great testimony to all the nations, just as Saul’s salvation did in the early church.  We can pray for men and women of righteousness who seek the goodness of the Lord will be raised up and put in places of power and influence in this country. We can pray for judges that uphold the scriptural foundations of our laws and constitution. We can pray for lawmakers of moral courage and of good conscience will be elected. We can pray for a populace that will suffer whatever is needed to bring forward the righteousness of God in this country. You see we are a very unique populace of citizens here in the United States, we can actually vote away our own freedoms, by electing the wrong people into places of power and influence because we desired a handout instead of honest work before God. So we must pray for those who vote and for those who chose to not vote, because we are all responsible to God on who is elected into our government at all levels. To say that a Christian is to not be involved in such matters is a great lie sold to us by the enemy.  Where God has blessed us to have the opportunity to be an ambassador of His Kingdom we will surely be held accountable.  We can pray for this cup to pass, and for us to accept his will.  We can pray for righteous and blessed things to come from this election.  We can look forward to peace.  What?

Remember Psalm 85? In verse eight he promises us peace.  Repentance of his people and of a nation defers wrath and brings peace with God.  He is ready to save those who honor him. (v.9)  Verse 10 says, “Love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will embrace.” God will actually look down hear; look down from heaven, show us mercy, and heal our land.  More than that he will make the nations that fear him to prosper. 

We don’t need to be in fear when we pray.  We can have confidence in the Lord.  He is God and therefore in control.  He can hear us and wants to come to our aid.  Let us pray that his will be done in love and in caring for one another.  Let us pray for the repentance of our fellow citizens, and their return to God as a nation. 

How Are Ye So Far Removed?


There is something that puzzles me greatly in the American churches. Lifeway Research and Ligonier Ministries partnered together to conduct a survey that they refer to as the State of Theology. Now this survey was conducted which included the results of 3000 Americans. This survey asked questions like:

• True or False: God is a perfect being and cannot make a mistake
• True or False: There is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit
• True or False: God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam
• True or False: Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God
• True or False: Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God
• True or False: The Holy Spirit is a force but is not a personal being
• True or False: Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation


Now these are just a sampling of the questions that were asked in this survey. These questions can tell where an individual stands on these issues; and they are issues. These are the issues of life and death. What you believe on these affects your eternal fate.


We should expect that those who do not call themselves Christian should not believe in certain things that are in the bible. However, we should expect that “evangelicals” should believe what the bible says, and that the bible has authority over every other ancient and modern writings, philosophies, cultures, religions, or political and economic influences. While there is a wide difference in what people say that an evangelical is, the National Association of Evangelicals makes these distinctions to identify its members to the world.


• The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
• It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
• Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
• Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.


An evangelical should not be defined on political, social, or cultural trends that are made up in American or world societies. They should be distinct and adhere to these basic beliefs at a minimum.


Historically evangelicals have shared a strong conviction that (1) it is their duty to convert others to be “born-again”, (2) it is their duty to actively express and demonstrate the gospel through missionary work and social reform programs, (3) they have typically taken the defense that the Bible is the ultimate authority on spiritual matters and obedience is a necessity, and (4) the historical crucifixion of Jesus Christ is what makes it possible for redemption of humanity.


It would seem then, that an evangelical is someone who confesses to believe in Jesus Christ for their savior and Lord. This survey shows that many evangelicals to not believe in basic biblical truths.
Many evangelicals do not believe:
• Jesus is God, Creator, and has always existed
• The bible and the information within it are accurate and true
• Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation
• Belief in Jesus is a requirement by God to receive eternal life
• The Holy Spirit is an equal part of the Trinity of God
• Hell is a real place where the unbelieving will be punished forever
• Jesus will return to judge all the people who have ever lived on earth
• Sex outside of marriage is a sin
• Abortion is a sin
• The Bible condemns homosexuality and all sexual immorality along with other sins


I cannot understand how those who say that they believe in the authority of scriptures can be so mislead that the very foundation of their belief is Jesus is in error. Paul the Apostle would have said, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; bur there be some that trouble you , and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7) How is it that you who call yourselves followers of Jesus Christ, who have professed to believe the gospel are so far removed from the very truths you profess to believe. If you do not believe the gospel that was first delivered to you, and have taken on a new gospel, then you do not believe in the gospel of grace that was revealed to you.


This means that their faith would be in vain. John wrote, “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31) Again he wrote, “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” (1 John 3:23) The question is, do you believe what was written for your benefit? We are given the scriptures so that we can know what it is that we should know about God and to know that what we believe is correct. If we are told in just these two samples of scripture that Jesus is the Son of God and, we are commanded to believe that he is the Son of God; then failure to believe means that we are lacking something very important in our faith. The truth that Jesus is God, and that he is the Son of God is a requirement of belief in Jesus that cannot be ignored. If we then do not believe in this, we are not believers in Jesus, and we are not saved. We have simply… NOT believed on the name of Jesus.


Scripture also tells us, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) It is just as simple and clear as that. You see God does have all authority. He has chosen that men can be saved in only one way, believe that Jesus is God and that he became flesh and died for men, that their sins may be forgiven. This is the only way, belief in Jesus. This is what believing in Jesus means, if you don’t believe everything the scriptures say concerning him, then you don’t believe in him, or in the authority of his name as the living Son of God.


The problem is that we have progressively listened to the serpent in the garden. When Satan tempted Eve in the garden, he made her to question the authority of the Word of God that she had received. Once this doubt was in her head, she was vulnerable to the rest of his attack. Here is the account of the temptation of Eve in the garden.


Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3:1-6)


In here we see somethings that we should take note of, as those who believe. The first is that the form that Satan had taken. He was in the form of a serpent. The serpent in creation was subject to Adam and should have been confronted and put in his place with the authority God had given to Adam. Instead of putting the serpent to silence Eve listened to him. Second, the serpent is described as more subtle. This means that he was very intelligent and quite crafty. Notice that his approach is to say “Yeah, hath God said”. Did God really say this? Surely God didn’t mean you could not eat of that tree… Right there he usurps the very words of God and pulls the authority associated with it into question. If what she thinks that God said is not what God actually said, then it may not be wrong to eat of every tree in the garden after all.
Thus, it is with society. The serpent had slowly taken away the belief that what God has given us in scripture is accurate. This has been done through philosophies, pseudo sciences, textual criticisms, false teachers, errant preachers, and teachers who do not teach the whole counsel of God, and cults. Worst of all is that there is a new English version of the Bible out every day it seems. With so many versions in just English alone then how can you know which is the word of God? These have eroded trust in the bible and those who wield it.


If the Bible is not accurate, it cannot be trusted. If it cannot be trusted, then it may that Jesus is not the only way to salvation. It could be that we could save ourselves. It could be that God cannot tell us what is right and wrong. It could be that there really is no heaven nor a real hell. It could be that we do not even need to be saved at all. Do you see the progression?


Still there is this verse that calls to us. “But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” What things have been written that we may believe? Well that is the entirety of the Holy Bible. We are taught in the scriptures who God is. God is the creator, and as such he has supreme authority. In fact, his authority is beyond question. So, if God says something, it is fact and is trustworthy. If God caused 40 different authors located in three different continents over a span of almost 2000 years to reveal himself to us and to tell us something so urgent that we need to know, then shouldn’t we listen to it and take it for truth also?


These things are written so that you may believe… that seems like such an important statement. What then can we believe if we take the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. To start with we can believe that Jesus is God, and Creator. (John 1:1-3) Here the Apostle John tells us that Jesus is the living breathing Word of God. He says that Jesus was always with God from before the beginning because he is 100% God. John tells us that God did not make anything without Jesus, because Jesus is the one who created everything. So, in Genesis when it say, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”, that was Jesus who did the creating. In the first few verses of Genesis we see all three parts of the Trinity of God at work. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all in existence, and in union together. (James 2:19; Deuteronomy 4:35; Deuteronomy 6:4) Here we see that there is only one God in existence. This sole God created everything we have ever known in our lives and in the history of mankind. The theory of evolution is just that a theory. In fact, there are three different theories of evolution in existence today and they have all changed over time, as new science if brought out. This new science is more and more proving the Genesis narrative of creation.


Jesus as God has always existed. Since he has always existed, he was not created. Instead, he was the one who created everything. This gives him full authority over all of creation. This means that everything else written in the Bible is true also. So later when John also writes to us, “and the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14), that this same Jesus, who is the Word, who is God, became a man and then walked among us. You see, Jesus was not a man who became God. There is no place in the bible where a man has ever become God. Neither is there anything written in the bible that says any other spirit, angel, or creature became God. There is only one God. No other God has ever existed. Anyone who tells you that you can become a god, or that Jesus is one of many Gods is telling a lie, from Satan. By the way, Satan is not a God either.


This Jesus, who is God in the flesh, walked among us and did teach many things about God, and how we should live, and what heaven is all about. He also taught us what hell is like. He affirmed the scriptures that tell us that God is a God of justice and he pours out his wrath on the unrighteous (sinful and rebellious). But Jesus also let us know of the great love and mercy that God has. Jesus was not just a great teacher of spiritual truths, he was the embodiment of the truth of God. This same creator who originally breathed life in to the first and every man since creation, also came to ensure that we can have eternal life in the presence of God. He was perfect and did not sin. Then Peter tells us this Jesus “who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) Why did he do this? Love. God loves you.


We cannot earn our way into heaven. We cannot buy our way into heaven. We cannot be a good person at heart and gain our way into heaven. Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” So here we are. We have all sinned in some way. Even if we had not the original sin of rebellion that was passed down from Adam, we have all still sinned. That is evident in our life. If does not matter how insignificant we may think our sin is, or even if we do not think it as a sin. If we have murdered, or if we have just told a little white lie or taken a pen from the office stationery at work, it is still a sin. The cost for that sin is death. Death is the result of failing to meet the standard of God. Because God is so holy, things that are not holy cannot enter his presence. Jesus made the way for man to enter the presence of God. He took that price of sin, the debt you owe, and paid it. Jesus died in your place. Jesus died, no one else. There was no angel, no ancestor or yours, no saint, and certainly no devil that stepped in and took the shame of your sin and bore it on their shoulders and died because of. That is why Jesus is the only way to heaven.


Then something happened to attest to us that Jesus is indeed God. He overcame death. Only God can defeat death because only God has the power and authority to. You see, death did not come into existence until after the fall of man. The fall of man did not happen until after the creation. God was before the creation. Jesus is the creator. God is the only one who can bring man back to God. Since there is only one God, he sent a piece of himself, as Jesus, for the specific purpose of redeeming us and all of creation back to himself. Jesus came, died, was buried, and rose from the dead, then he ascended to heaven where he resides waiting to return to take possession of the earth. But, to take possession, he will have to judge all of creation. Love is what keeps him on his throne in heaven. It is the will of God that no one should perish in hell. He desires that all should be saved. So, he is giving you every opportunity to live. You see in we are deceived by the devil so easily because we like to sin.
Let us go back and visit John again. John 3:16 is one that everyone loves to quote, the believer and the unbeliever also. But we never seem to get past to the other verses that accompany it. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:16-21)
God does love. God did sacrifice his only Son for this love. God does require that you believe on this sacrifice and honor the name of his son, Jesus. Salvation is a free gift given to those who believe. But, did you catch the latter verse? “…but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” The ones who do not believe are already condemned; not chosen to be condemned. No, these are already condemned because of their own lack of belief. They have chosen to “not“ believe and chosen to reject Jesus, because they love their sin to death. That is why we are so easily deceived. We love the darkness. Only those who love the light, receive the truth.
What should we do then? “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19) Well, we should repent. Repentance must come before salvation. Repenting is a confessing to God that His ways are perfect and that you are not. You agree with his authority to say what is acceptable and what is not. Then confessing those things to him that you agree are not acceptable, those things we call sin. Confessing to lay those down and to never return to them again. Luke 13:3 tells us that except we repent… we will die. Repentance is first. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Confession is a part of repentance.
We do not need to confess to a man, in fact in some cases it may be better not to. Confession is made to God, it is him of whom you are believing in, not a man. So, then repentance and confession are made to Jesus Christ. Romans 10:9 tells us, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” The key here is to believe. Believing on Jesus is a choice. It is a choice and not a feeling. You are choosing to believe what the scriptures have said about God, and Jesus as the Son of God, and the sacrifice he made for you. This is what we call faith. We believe, not because we have seen, but because the trust that what God has said in the Bible is accurate and trust worthy. Without this giving of our trust in the truth of God and Jesus, then it is impossible to receive salvation. “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) It does not matter if you call yourself a Christian already, what matter is does Jesus know who you are?

Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23) Paul, one of Jesus’ apostles, tell us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. We need to make sure of what we believe and why we believe it.


If you are not yet ready to believe, keep seeking him through his scripture, the Holy Bible. The Bible is what God has chosen to reveal himself to us by. Do not be a fool. There is no need to look anywhere else to seek God. Find a church, get into Sunday School, and attend a Pastor’s class or two and study earnestly in your bible. When your ready, ask God, and he will reveal himself to you.


Bibliography
Ligonier. (2020, 09 08). The State of Theology. Retrieved from thestateoftheology.com: https://thestateoftheology.com/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTkdFeFl6RTRZemcwTmpGaiIsInQiOiJMVnBwTmQwNEs3blk0TW5oZ054ZGRuV2pTUnBibXcxdUxkSHlQU2hDQWxvU1RDamw4dmUrakRPa0ZcLzAyTlp3WDFFaDUxR0lHUmNUa0Q2cUZSRGZ1clJ5Q29WSWZNeXVmN1JGZHh4M2NMZldFMndEVHQ4Mzd0YzZ2RXZtMk1Jc0EifQ%
National Association of Evangelicals . (n.d.). What is an Evangelical. Retrieved from nae.net: https://www.nae.net/what-is-an-evangelical/

Overcome Because Greater is He – 1 John 4:2-4

Is the Spirit of the Antichrist in Turkey?

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:2-4)

In the early church the spirit of the antichrist was very evident in Rome. Emperor Nero systematically rounded up Christians and put them to death in very grotesque and very public executions. The Christians were shunned and marginalized in Roman society because their beliefs did not fit in with mainstream Roman culture.  This identity given to Christians as being less of a person and a person to be ridiculed made it easy for them to become the emperor’s scapegoat.  The dehumanization of the Christians in Rome made it easier for the Roman citizens to accept and participate in these horrible acts committed against their own brothers and sisters of Rome.

You see in the summer of AD 64 approximately three quarters of the city of Rome had burned.  The prevailing suspicion was that Nero himself had ordered the arson in for his own amusement, or for his plans of revitalizing Rome, buy getting rid of the slums of Rome.  Either way, the citizenry was up in arms, and Nero needed to deflect the attention from himself.  He therefor pointed the finger to the Christians.  After all they were the ones who claimed that Rome was wrong in its Idolatry, sexual immorality, and in many other ways they just didn’t fit in with aspects the liberal Roman society.  Public announcements were made.  Christians were the enemy of the state.  Historian Cornelius Tacitus (56-120 BC) wrote in The Annals concerning the Great Fire of Rome.

44.2. Yet no human effort, no princely largess nor offerings to the gods could make that infamous rumor disappear that Nero had somehow ordered the fire. Therefore, in order to abolish that rumor, Nero falsely accused and executed with the most exquisite punishments those people called Christians, who were infamous for their abominations.

44.3. The originator of the name, Christ, was executed as a criminal by the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius; and though repressed, this destructive superstition erupted again, not only through Judea, which was the origin of this evil, but also through the city of Rome, to which all that is horrible and shameful floods together and is celebrated.

44.4. Therefore, first those were seized who admitted their faith, and then, using the information they provided, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much for the crime of burning the city, but for hatred of the human race. And perishing they were additionally made into sports: they were killed by dogs by having the hides of beasts attached to them, or they were nailed to crosses or set aflame, and, when the daylight passed away, they were used as nighttime lamps.

44.5. Nero gave his own gardens for this spectacle and performed a Circus game, in the habit of a charioteer mixing with the plebs or driving about the race-course. Even though they were clearly guilty and merited being made the most recent example of the consequences of crime, people began to pity these sufferers, because they were consumed not for the public good but on account of the fierceness of one man. (Westmont.edu, n.d.) (Clayton, 1947)

Christians in the Roman Empire were ostracized from society by:

They were accused of atheism because they did not accept emperor worship, nor polytheism.

The were generally form the poorer sections of society

Christianity was put on the list of illicit sects a little after 50 AD

Christianity was declared illegal in 64 AD

They were accused of secret immoral worship ceremonies that included cannibalism, incest, and bestiality

They were considered social radicals because their beliefs were at odds with acceptable Roman practices and indulgences

This edict of Emperor Nero started 120 years of open, socially acceptable, state sponsored terrorism on Christians.  This would include the martyr of many Christians.  Some estimate the number of Christians martyred to be up to 2 million.  This would also include the martyrdom of the apostles Peter and Paul.

Just as Rome made a step-by-step approach to the eventual attempted genocide of Christians for political purposes, in the past; we see modern day Turkey using the Christians as a means of attempting to reestablish the Caliphate. In a purposeful process Turkish Christians are being used as a scapegoat for failed governmental policies and actions.  “Turkey’s Christians are becoming a welcome scapegoat for Ankara. Erdogan has miscalculated on various fronts in Syria and Libya and is now looking for someone to serve as a distraction.” (DW, 2020)

Turkey is in the process of becoming a Sunni Muslim state. As a part of this state sponsored movement and its anti-Christian theology Turkey has refused the readmittance of protestant ministers into the country.  Posted anti-Christians slogans on billboards, and bus stops and recently mandated that all Christians leave Turkey in 10 days.   This mandate includes American or other nationalities that are married to Turkish citizens, even if they have children. This divides families and even mother’s and nursing babies. The Hagia Sophia (God’s Holy Wisdom) is a Christian church that once served as the center for Orthodox Christianity, and is also designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site has been converted to a Mosque and the ancient mosaics inside are now in danger of being lost forever.  This makes the 3rd Byzantine era Christian church to be recently converted to a mosque. This is part of a larger step that Islamic leaders see in reestablishing the caliphate that includes the overtaking of Athens, Greece and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

This is the spirit of the antichrist.  It is spread all across the globe.  Even in America we see that recently a nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska was persecuted by Sens. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Kamala Harris, D-California whose questioning reasoned that a Christian could not hold a public office.  Fox news reported that on campuses throughout the United States, Christians are openly ridiculed with hate speech and false accusations by academics, social groups, and organizations. (Ingle, 2019) 

Christians are being accused of being insensitive, hypocrites during the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues with church closures, preaching of condemnation from sin, judgement from God and other twisting of Christian values and ethics.  Christians who meet in in-person services are blamed in the media for the furtherance of the spread of the Corona Virus. Christians in America have been marginalized as church services and ministry positions have been deemed unnecessary and non-essential.  Church member have been fined and pastors arrested for acting within their 1st amendment rights. The 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridg-ing the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (Constitution Cente)  No law is supposed to be made to prohibit the free exercise of religion, curtailing the freedom of speech, or the right of peaceable assembly.  Moreover, it is the right of the people to request the government to account for overreach of authority.   But these things are to come.  We know this because we were told of these things by Jesus Christ himself.  Jesus said in this world we would have tribulation.

We can read in the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus warns us.  We will be delivered up to be afflicted, and killed.  We will be hated by all nations.  Many will be offended by us, and by him (Jesus).  We expect these things.  Many of the old Baptist preachers used to preach on a regular basis of the suffering of the saints and the expected persecutions that we will endure.  They used to tell us how we should look forward to pains of self-sacrifice for Christ.  Peter and some of the other Apostle when imprisoned and beaten rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ. (Acts 15: 40-41) Paul himself recounts how he multiple times he was spat on, beaten, stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked and endured many more sufferings for the cause of Christ over decades of service.

Today we have gotten to far away from that.  We have dropped our spiritual guards as it were.  Our eyes have stopped looking to God.  Our lips do not open for our afflicted brethren.  Instead we pray for a new car, or a new house.  Maybe we pray for God to let our favorite team to win the game.  How superficial are our prayers? Our knees fail to bend to the Lord God.  We no longer seek the will of God in our lives, but our will in Gods. We have lost our salt.  Instead of being a good and faithful servant who wisely invests the resources and time of his master, we have become selfish, and lazy.  We seek our own comfort over the mission to which we have all been appointed to by Jesus Christ. We are to be his ambassadors and to speak of his name at every opportunity, boldly declaring his mercy.  We know the signs.  We know that the time of salvation is now. We know that as it draws closer to the end of the age, that persecutions will get worse. I wish to encourage you though.

The Lord God is over all of creation.  He is infinite.  That means that he is totally self-existing.  He has no beginning.  There is no point in which he did not exist. Because of this, he has no ending.  There will never be a point in which he does not exist.  He is before all things and holds all things together (Colossians 1:17) God is immutable.  That means that he never changes.  Since God never changes that means that who he is never changes.  His love never changes. His righteousness never changes.  His WORD never changes.  He simply IS who he IS.  He himself said, “I the LORD do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)  Because God never changes, he is ever faithful. So when scripture says that the mercies of the Lord endures for ever; that is what He does. (Psalm 16:1; Psalm 136)

He remembers our lowly estate.  He remembers that we are created by him.  He remembers that we are broken because of sin.  He remembers that we are not as faithful as he is.  He remembers that we have limitations to our endurance.  He remembers that way to often we are weak and self-centered.  Yet his mercy endures.  He commands his love towards us.  That means despite it all, he chooses to love us each day, each moment. It is his grace that is sufficient for us; not our own working.  His love does not depend of who we are, but who he is.  He gives us of himself.  He gives us victory over the world and over the antichrist.  God told us through the writings of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:18, “I will be a father to you, and you shall be the sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”  John says, “See what king of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1)  This special honor is for those who believe and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as savior and as Lord. (John 1:12) By this truth we have already overcome the world and the antichrist. 

We have already been delivered from death to life. Because of this we do not need to fear the antichrist nor the world.  They can only kill the body, not the spirit.  This body must be shed because it is corrupted.  We know that if you put a rotten apple in a barrel with good apples, in short order the good apples will rot. So it is the same with the kingdom of Heaven.  Corruption cannot enter in.  So we must be removed of this rotten body and be given a new one.  This happens in the resurrection.  Since Jesus was raised from the dead, we know that we also will be risen from the dead, because scripture says that we will be like him.  This is our hope in the future.  But it is not our only source of joy.

We must remember that the Lord is ever present, and that he is always by our side.  He is not estranged from our afflictions, nor unaware of the presence of our enemies; for our enemies are his enemies.  In fact, they are our enemies because we are his.   So, it is not that he assumes our enemies for us.  Instead, his enemies assume us as enemies.  That means that he is obligated to respond on our behalf. This brings us to an awesome point in scripture, “For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:4) Even more we know that we are overcomers because all temptation is common to mankind.  There is no new temptation of trial that a man has not ever endured before.  God will not leave you to be tempted beyond what your capable of handling; instead, he provides a way to escape it.  This gives us another advantage in enduring. (Philippians 1:29) 

Here is a secret.  You who are believers in the death, burial, and resurrection already have everything you need to have this victory.  Read what John wrote, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:1-4)  Paul again tells us in Romans 8:1, “Thee is therefor now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  Faith in Jesus is our secret to eternal life.  Faith in Jesus is our secret to overcoming the world.  Faith in Jesus is our secret to enduring trial, tribulations, and persecutions.

We can see that (1) Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ (Son of God) is come in the flesh is from God. (2) Those spirits who do not confess Jesus Christ (Son of God) are from the Antichrist, not God.  This includes Muslims, Hindus, Atheist, Gnostics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and more. (3) We were for warned that this evil spirit would come and that it was actually already here.  This would probably be better to understand is we said that the spirit of the antichrist is already here and will continue to be here, gaining influence and power.  (4) We are the children of God – see point one. (5) Because we are the children of God we have already received victory through our faith in Jesus – see point one.  (6) The Spirit who resides in us is bigger, stronger, and of more authority and might then the spirit that is in the world (spirit of the antichrist-see point two).   

Now that we have nothing to fear in life or death we are free to truly live for Christ.  We can love others because we have been loved of God.  We can forgive others because we have been forgiven by God.  We do not need to fear sickness, or death because God has already given us eternal life.  We do not need to worry about earning it, or losing it, because it was a gift by a self-sufficient God who needs absolutely nothing from us.  We can turn our attention to our suffering brothers and sister.  We can get involved in the nitty gritty of standing up for them. 

Our duty is to seek the Lord on their behalf.  We are to send them relief.  We are to provide them the resources that they need to endure. They need food, water, clothes, bibles, financial and legal support. These are things we can do.  These are totally biblical things we can do. How can we say that we love them and not assist them? Paul went on a circuit from gentile church to gentile church bringing money and other resourced gather from the route back to the persecuted church at Jerusalem.  This was not a church tax, it was a benevolence given to the saints in Jerusalem that would have starved without it.  Many of the Mediterranean churches members gave sacrificially to this relief effort. 

We can get involved with the political and legal processes available to us, especially here in the United States.  Paul himself used his Roman citizenship, his Jewish standing, and his legal wit to advance the gospel and to curtail the efforts of the overreach of local authorities and even governors and kings.   We have the right to exercise our votes in the House of Representative, and the Senate at state and federal levels.  We need to get involved and ask candidates for the President of the United States, Governor, and even the Mayors office how they will represent us as Christians.  We need to know where they stand on abortion, or on sexually immoral practices, the role of the judge and their view of the division of powers in the Constitutions of our States and the United States of America.  We need to know how their policies on policing, foreign aid, and humanitarian relief for Christians throughout the world. 

We also must not forget that this battle is a spiritual one.  So we must be educated on the Word of God in order to know the will of God.  The will on God is not a feeling, or a dream of vision that came to us in the middle of our routine eyelid maintenance.  The will of God is that none should perish, but that all should have everlasting life.  We must be active in evangelism, the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the education of the disciple.  We must pray without ceasing.  By that I mean real heartfelt prayer for believers, leaders of government, missionaries, pastors, deacons, and more. 

Bend you knees, lay prostrate before the God who is above all.  Plead with your heart for this and the other nations of the world.  Pray for those who are now locked up in cells for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  Pray for the conversion of those who oppress our brothers and sisters.  Have joy knowing that you are an overcomer.  Have joy that the God who created the universe hears your prayers and listens intently to the sorrows of your heart.  He has an open ear for your prayers because you love his Son, Jesus Christ.  He can hear you because of your faith.  Your faith in Jesus had accounted you as a righteous believer.  He hears you.  You are victorious.

Bibliography

Clayton, F. W. (1947). Tacitus and Nero’s Persecution of the Christians. Classical Quarterly, 41, 81-85. Retrieved 7 16, 2020, from http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_s0009838800026082

Constitution Cente. (n.d.). The Constitution of the United States . Retrieved from constitutioncenter.org: https://constitutioncenter.org/media/files/constitution.pdf

DW. (2020, June 23). Opinion: Christians a Welcome Scapegoat in Turkey. Retrieved from DW.COM: https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-christians-a-welcome-scapegoat-in-turkey/a-53918937

Ingle, D. K. (2019, February 27). Opinin: Christian Persecution not just happening overseas — many in us targeted for their faith too. Retrieved from Fox News: https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/christian-persecution-not-just-happening-overseas-many-in-us-targeted-for-their-faith-too

Westmont.edu. (n.d.). Tacitus and Piney On the Early Christians . Retrieved from Westmount.edu: https://www.westmont.edu/~fisk/articles/TacitusAndPlinyOnTheEarlyChristians.html

Jacob and Redemption in Christ (Genesis 35:10)

“And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.” (Genesis 35:10)


The name Jacob means “seizing by the heel”. Jacob was named this because when Jacob and Esau were born, they were born as twins. Even in the womb they struggled against one another. Esau came out first which meant that he was the eldest and that he would have the inheritance of his Father. Blessings would have been bestowed on him, as the first born, that far exceeded the blessings received by his younger brother Jacob. Jacob was born holding onto the heel of Esau, as if trying to stop him from being born first. Now this is probably just a little of my mind running into fantasy, to imagine that an infant would know of such things as inheritances and birthrights from the womb. However, the fact that these two fought with one another in the womb is documented in the scriptures.


There is another meaning to the name Jacob, supplanting. Supplanting is defined as to replace, displace, supersede, or to take the place of another, as through force or scheming. We would consider this deception. So much so that Jacob’s name has become to be called “deceiver”. Jacob had most definitely lived up to his name. In his younger life Jacob tricked his older brother, Esau, into selling his birthright to Jacob for a pot of chili. He took advantage of his brother in his weakened state and took away his future as the air to Isaac and the promises of God inherited from Abraham. Later Jacob would deceive Isaac into bestowing the greater blessings of God onto him instead of his older brother. He did this through an elaborate scheme that involved many levels of deception and lying.

Yet the inheritance had been passed on and so had the blessings been given to Jacob because of his scheming and deceptions. God is honorable and faithful, so he keeps his word to Abraham, and Isaac in honoring their designation of Jacob as the heir and patriarch of the family. These events were not a surprise to God. He even predicted that these events would transpire. When Rebecca, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother, was feeling the struggling in her womb, before their birth, she asked God why this was happening. God’s reply is recorded in Genesis 25:23, “And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger”. Thus God gave Rebecca a prophecy concerning not only her sons, but the nations that would descend from each of them. Still we look at Jacob and we say to ourselves, “what a despicable man he was”.


What kind of selfish, arrogant man would lie, steal, and cheat their own family brother out of what was rightfully his? Who would be so selfish to tear his family apart for his own desires? What kind a callous heart it must take to deceive the father that had protected and cared for you your whole life. What a shameful display of arrogance to take advantage of the blind, and elderly. Only a dishonorable, opportunistic man takes advantage of the hungry and feeds them with such devastating deception? We can point the finger all day long at Jacob; can we not? Still we must be honest enough to see a little of Jacob in us as well.


Have some of us not deceived others for our own gain? Have some of us not told a little lie to ease the harshness of the truth in our selfishness? Mother’s hide snacks from the children. Children seem to never know “who broke the lamp or got into the cookie jar”. Husbands and wives lying to one another about where they have been, what they were doing, who they were doing it with. Shaving a little time here and there at work, stealing from their employers. Maybe false reporting on earned income for taxes, or other things of like these. There are countless ways that we put our own selfish desires ahead of others and lie and deceive others to get ahead. We deceive others by omitting information, denying the truth, exaggerating information, and even fabricating information.


There is even a definition for using “true” statements to give a false or distorted view of the truth in order to influence the impressions of other and mislead their decision making. This is referred to as paltering. If you have ever watched syndicated news or a politician, you have probably been a victim of such a ploy. My dad used to always tell me that if someone asked you a question, always tell them the truth, but; don’t tell them any more than they asked for. That is sound advice from someone who is trying to tell themselves that they are an honest man, who does not want someone getting the wrong impression from knowing the whole of the truth.


Let me further illustrate. One night, when I was a teen, I borrowed my step-mom’s car. I ended up getting in an accident and I totaled the car. When my dad asked why I was driving, I told him I just wanted to go see a friend. That was the truthful answer to his question. What I didn’t include was that I was going to see a friend that my dad had told me to stay away from. You see I did not tell him that I was in disobedience of his wishes. This lie saved me from a severe punishment. I am sure you can find in you past some kind of half-truth you have told to get away with something or to avoid chastisement.


We are not so far from the shameful actions of Jacob, are we? You see we are a namesake to our father. We lie because that is what we know how to do. Jesus said, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is not truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a lair, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)


Jacob lied because he was carnal. He was of the kingdom of Satan. One of the Hebrew names for the devil is cheater. This also carries the following synonyms: deceitful, deceiver, fraudulent, swindler. See when we act in these manners, we are also acting like Jacob. Jacob was acting out his sinful nature, given to him at the beginning by the fall of man, by the deception of Satan. We also are a product of this sinful state. We do not know what it means to truly be “good”. We could care less about trying to be good. Like Jacob, we are also of our father the devil, there is no truth in us. The good news is that God already knew this about Jacob, and he already knows this about us. God already had a plan for Jacob that started before he was in the womb.


God told Jacob, “thy name shall not be called any more Jacob”. God removed Jacob’s identity. He removed the shame associated with the name of Jacob. Jacob, had left his home for 20 years, running from the things he had done in his past. Now God was giving him a second chance at life. A life that would be far greater than the one he had left behind. God not only took his old name away; he gave him a new name. This name would be a greater name then the one he previously had. He was given a clean slate and a new promise and a new way of life. A life that would bring the promises of God to bear in his life, the life of his descendants, and the lives of everyone in the world. God would fulfill his promises to Abraham. This is such a great picture of what Christ has done for those who believe on him.


Revelation 2:17 tells us a promise made by God. He says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” Isn’t that awesome, we have a new name in Christ. We have a new identity that is given to us by God himself. This name is holy to the Lord. Only you and the Lord will know your new name. Your slate has been wiped clean. You have a new identity. You are no longer the shameful creature held in bondage by sin and death. Instead you will be alive like never before. You will eat of the blessings of God and be called by a new name, a redeemed soul!


The Apostle Paul also tells us about this when he writes to the Corinthians. Paul tells us that anyone who believes and follows Jesus Christ is a new creature. He uses the verb “is”, it has already happened. The old person we used to be and all the things we did in the past are gone. Everything about us has become new in Christ. Paul tells us that this process if part of our reconciliation to God. This is only possible through the blood of Jesus Christ, who was made sin for us. Jesus was the righteousness of God. He was guilty of no sin. However, he accepted the blame and penalty for our sin. In this way, our sin was transferred to him, and his righteousness was accounted towards us. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) Now, John says, not only are we forgiven, but we have a new heavenly Father. (1 John 3:1)


Now with this new identity, and this new Father, we can be like him instead of our previous father. We no longer must submit to the will of the flesh and Satan. We are set free from that previous live and now obey our spiritual Father in Heaven. Just as Jacob no longer had to live under the shame of his previous life, but instead could live a victoriously and blessed in his new life, we can also live a blessed and victorious life in Jesus Christ. We have been redeemed, not because of what we did or even our own will. We have been redeemed because of what God did of his own will, because he loved us even when we were his enemy. But now, we who live in faith in Jesus Christ are no longer his enemies.

We are his son’s and daughters. We are his ambassadors. We are the witness of his love and his grace. If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came and took the blame for your sin, and died in your place. Knowing in your heart that his death paid the price for your sin, and you believe that he was resurrected on the third day, then you have eternal life. Now that your eternal salvation is secure in Christ, you need to testify to that end. You need to take your first step in obedience and be baptized by emersion. Baptism is not necessary for salvation, but it is necessary in your testimony. Baptism is recognized throughout the world as a mark of believing in Jesus Christ.