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.

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. 

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.

Jeremiah 33 Call Unto Me

Jeremiah 33 Call Unto Me

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In the 33rd chapter of Jeremiah the Lord gives reassurance to the prophet and reaffirms the Davidic covenant.  In this he says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (v.3)  and later the Lord states, “Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.” (v.6).  This is such an awesome chapter of hope and reconciliation, and of the healing of the land and the people.  We can see the care that God has for his people.  He loves and cares, he is a shield and protector to his people.  He loves so much that he not only delivers, but he reals and restores.
This is the hope that we have.  That Jesus Christ came and died for us to pay the debt of death that we owe.  He was buried and took the keys to hell and death.  He then rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father.  Now he makes intercession for us as our advocate.  We who believe in him are no longer tied to this earth, or this body.  We have a great hope inside that gives us joy.  This hope is in the resurrection of life.  Even as Jesus was raised from the dead and received a glorified by, so shall we.
We are no longer trapped here in this existence. We, followers of Christ Jesus, have been given a new life.  This new life is one of the spirit.  We have been set free from the bonds of the flesh. We know that the few things we posses here in this world are worthless and will eventually rot, and decay. The things we look forward to are everlasting.  We now are pilgrims on our way to the promises of God, to be reconciled with him in Jesus Christ.  We will soon be glorified, although we do not yet fully understand what that entails, we will understand when we finally see him face to face.  This is the gift of God.  We have received unmerited favor from God as demonstrated in the grace he bestowed upon us in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Death has no hold on us, no bind is there to keep us in the grave.
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:6-11)
Look to Jesus, as the Lord says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee”.  Hope is right here waiting for you to call out!  Life is right here waiting for you to seek Him!  Love is right here waiting for you to open your heart!  Peace is right here waiting for you to rest within.  There is no fear in Love.  You do not need to fear the Lord.  He has demonstrated his love towards us.

Noel! Come See What God Has Done!

Noel! Come See What God Has Done!

I was listening to Lauren Daigle sing Noel.  Her voice is so powerful and inspiring that it began to fill my heart with excitement and my mind with wonder.  Her strong vocals cry out, “Noel! Come see what God has done!”  Wow!  I began to ponder on what the shepherds must have felt like when they saw the angels after Christ was born. Here is the scripture that relays that account.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. –Luke 2:7-11

Now this word, “Noel” has a Latin root ‘natalis’, which means ‘birth’.  The French word ‘nouvelles’ means ‘news’.  Then we have the English, ‘nowel’, meaning “shout of joy”.  Historically a noel was a joyous herald of a new born baby.  It is now almost unique to Christmas and the Christmas Carol and associated with this scripture reference in Luke.

This song, Noel, and the verses strongly associated with it brings some great thoughts to my mind’s eye.  When I most often here of this in a sermon much is made of the fear that the shepherds felt.  This is quite understandable.  God is holy and is not to be toyed with.  In ancient times, angels were not perceived like they are now days.  These shepherds were not looking at little fat babies flying around with stubby feathered wings, looking down from white, cotton soft clouds, playing miniature harps.  In ancient times angels were seen as enforcers of God’s will on man.  When an angel appeared, someone was going to receive the judgement of God.  They were seen as battle hardened soldiers of the Most High and carried his full authority in the matter they were sent to deal with.  They represented God directly.  However, I want to take a different look today.  What about the herald?

Imagine the excitement that the angels had in being able to announce the arrival of the messiah.  The possibly billions of angels that could have been selected to give this message, and God chose them.  All of creation moaned and desired deliverance from the bondage of sin and death that was brought into it through the fall of just one man.  Now, through the birth of just one man, that very deliverance was now made possible.  There was no more waiting.  God’s plan from before the beginning of time was starting to unfold before their very eyes, and they were the ones who were to announce to the world, a savior is born.  God had now entered the stage!

So now back to Lauren Daigle and Noel.  “Noel, Come see what God has done!”  This is an amazing event, probably the most amazing event in the history of mankind.  God himself became flesh and now dwelt among men.  Israel’s king was now preparing for his kingdom. God had just directly intervened in the fate of man.  The love of God so compelled him that he could no longer sit on the sidelines and watch the love of his life destroy itself.  This wasn’t the first time God intervened.

I can see Adam and Eve proclaiming, “Noel, Come see what God has done!”  When God shewn mercy and covered their sin with the skins of the first sacrifice. I can see Noah stepping out of the ark and calling to his children, “Noel, Come see what God has done!”  He has saved man from total destruction and turned away from his anger. I can see the angels talking to one another, “Noel, Come see what God has done!”  When God shewn mercy at the Tower of Babble and confused the languages instead of condemning man for their rebellion.  Then I can see Moses looking on the destruction of the Egyptian army at the Red Sea and telling the children of Israel, “Noel, Come see what God has done!”

Time and time again God has delivered us from destruction.  I can think how my own heart declares to all who will listen, “Noel, Come see what God has done!”  See how he took this broken vessel and remade it into a new vase.  Those of us who have heard others declare this message, “Noel, Come see what God has done!” now have our own message of hope and redemption to share.  We can declare to others the love and healing given through the mercies of his love. “Noel, Come see what God has done!”

What God has done is to provide for us, a way to return to fellowship with him.  The one who created the universe, thought enough of you to give you the gift of eternal life.  Although this gift is free to all who accept it, was not free to God.  God had to make a sacrifice that we could not make.  He had to sacrifice his only son.  This one we call Jesus who is Christ.  His birth heralded an event that had never been seen before, nor would it ever repeat.  God himself became man, born for the sole purpose of physically dying to make a way for us to live spiritually in the presence of God.  “Noel, Come see what God has done!”

Conversation With A Pantheist

Conversation with a Pantheist

Not so long ago, I was asked to officiate a wedding for a young couple at the behest of a relative.  I was told that the mother of one of the couple was religious and was seeking a minister that would assist.  The couple was not active in church and came from different religious backgrounds, so the mother’s church had refused the ceremony.  I decided I would at least meet the couple to see if I could be of assistance, and at a minimum see where there faith actually rested.  I met them at a little sandwich shop, and we began our meeting.  The couple started of very eager to meet and was excited about their plans.  We took some time discussing how they met, and what led up to the marriage.  Then we went through a series of questions concerning the role of the husband and the wife, and what marriage would mean to each of them.  As we discussed this, a liberal trend emerged on these views.  They were not traditional Christian views, so I decided to turn the conversation to the spiritual. 

In this discussion I discovered that they were not Christian at all.  They did not even feel the need to have God mentioned in their service at all, and wanted no forms of prayer to God (as the creator of the universe).  They explained they did not believe in God, but that the universe itself was God, and that Karma controlled everything. They believed that when you die, you would, then become one with the universe. I discussed with them different scriptures showing that God did exist and that Jesus is the creator of all creation, to include the universe. (Genesis chapters 1 and 2; John 1:1-3).  They flatly rejected the scripture.  I asked them why they wanted a minister of the Lord God to perform their wedding.  They said they wanted one because they needed to please the mother.  I told them I could not solemnize a marriage before God, when he was not invited to the wedding. 

Pantheism comes from two Greek words meaning “all” (Pan) is “God” (theos). Pantheism is a belief that God and the universe are one and the same, or God consists of everything and everyone. That is the culmination of everything in the universe is God. It is a type of philosophy; rather than a religion.  (Mander, William. “Pantheism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 7 July 2016, plato.stanford.edu/entries/pantheism/.). It is a redefinition of what we perceive as God. Judaism and Christianity are monotheist in their view of God, meaning one God, but separate from creation.  The “old gods” like the Mesopotamians, Greeks, and Romans gods are polytheistic, meaning multiple gods and some are separate from creation and some are not.

Pantheism reports that God is a persona not a person.  This view of God infers that the Universe is God, and God is the Universe.  There is no separate consciousness that separates the two. This means that God didn’t make the earth or define laws of nature or physics or anything else. God simply exists in everything. It is important to understand that this philosophy does not believe that every animal, plant, or river has its own soul. God and the universe are not created and infinite.  The universe (God) has always existed and will always exist. The belief that God and the universe is one is a modern belief that fosters a philosophy that at face says we should tolerate all religions because all paths lead to God.  However; believers of this theology are not tolerant of strict dogma and rituals. Pantheist believe everyone should have their own path to realization of their oneness with God and the universe.  This is most probably because they do not believe in an afterlife.  We must be sure not to group Pantheist in with Deism. 

Deist believe that God has his own consciousness and took an active role in the creation of the universe. Once God created the universe, he just left it to be. God is impersonal in the life of his creation. Believers of this religious philosophy support scientific inquiry, and the Big Bang theory.  (Beyer, Catherine. “Pantheism Explained.” Learn Religions, Apr. 17, 2019, learnreligions.com/pantheism-95680.) The New Age movement, some Native American, WICCA, and eastern religions subscribe, in part or all, to Pantheistic thoughts including some forms of Hinduism, Unity Christian Science and Scientology.

It is easy to see why Christianity rejects such a philosophy of the universe (God). Genesis 1:1 says,In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”  There are some pretty clear distinctions brought up here.  First, there is a definite point where time was created and in that point we find the “beginning”.  “In the beginning”, means at the start of time, the following is then mentioned that God created.  This means that the universe was clearly created and that it was not in existence in eternity past this point where time begins.  The second is a separation of God from the creation.  The term used here in the Hebrew is Elohim.  This term means “strong one, mighty leader, supreme Deity”. Once again, this separation clearly shows there is a difference from God and his creation. If we look at Nehemiah 9:6 we will also see that the distinction of God and his creation is manifested. 

“Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshipppeth thee.” (Nehemiah 9:6)

Nehemiah is very careful to distinguish God as being unique from anything else there is. Nehemiah gives God credit for creation of heaven, the heavens, and everything that is in them, and the earth, including the seas.  Nehemiah also proclaims that God is rightly worshipped as the creator and sustainer of all creation, to include the angels.  God declares himself in Isaiah 45:5 “I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.”  This is a clear indicator that God is separate from his creation. 

God asks Job, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7) This passage shows that God even tells us that he was present prior to the creation.  It also tells us that he planned out the creation.  Me measured, and established the foundations.  God made one intelligent decision after another in the forming of the building blocks of the creation. The Spirit of wisdom is recorded in Proverbs 8:22-30 as saying, “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;”. Jesus himself claimed to be God and in the presence of the Father from before the foundations were created. 

And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. (John 17:5)

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)

The Genesis record of creation shows a God that was intimately involved in his creation.  It also shows that he took pride in his creation.  He looked and saw that it was good at each stage.  This means that he had measurable benchmarks, like any good project manager would have.(Proverbs 3:19)  He established these benchmarks and noted when each one was met to standard. God not only created, but he actively sustains his creation. (Job 12:10; 38:8-11; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Corinthians 8:6).  King David wrote beautifully describing the faithful care of God over his creation, “He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.  They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.  By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habituation, which sing among the branches.  He watereth the hills from his chambers:  the eath is satisfied with the fruit of thy works….” (Psalm 104:10-13)  The psalm goes in even more detail concerning the love and care of the Lord God over his creation. 

What is so silly about man, is that we probably the smartest of all God’s creations, certainly the most capable (Genesis 11:6), and yet we cannot figure out what the animals seem to reveal themselves.  God tells us to look at the rest of creation and see that he made it.   “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?” (Job 12:7-9)  Jesus said that a sparrow does not fall to the ground without our heavenly father knowing about it. (Matthew 10:29)  With this level of care we see demonstrated every day, how can we not be in awe of God?  The scriptures tell us over and over that nature declares God (Psalm 19:1-4; 97:6), and the even the earth, moon, and stars declare the glory of God (Psalm 96:11-13; 148:1-6; 148:7-10; Isaiah 55:12).   Perhaps the Pantheist is misinterpreting this message that he whole universe is declaring concerning God and his relationship to his creation. In missing this message, they miss the next part.  Jesus is the creator of whom we are speaking.  John the Apostle explains to us.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. John 1:1-5).  Perhaps we are seeing this very truth played out in the heart of the pantheist.  The light is shining in the darkness, but in their arrogance, they cannot comprehend it. Take a look at John 3:16-20 and see what it says about what condemns a man.

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. (John 3:16-20)

You see Jesus, the creator of the universe and all creation became a living, mortal man and dwelt among us.  While here scripture tells us he was tempted in every way that a man can be tempted in, yet he remained sinless.  He was able to do this because he was also the Son of God, thus making him, God.  He was condemned for our transgressions committed against him through the fall of Adam, and subsequently all sin thereafter.  The penalty for sin is death.  Being convicted in our place, he (Jesus) was sentenced to death.  This death payed the penalty for our sin.  So we would not have to die for our own sin, nor the sin inherited from Adam.  Jesus then becomes the only way that we are forgiven.  If we reject Jesus, or God (Jesus), then we reject this gift that he chose to give us.  That means the sin was forgiven, but the rejection of Jesus becomes the manner in which someone is condemned. Those who reject Jesus do so because the Word of God points our sin, and establishes the authority of Jesus as God.  It points to Jesus as the redeemer, and the judge.  Those who reject Jesus, reject the authority of God in an effort to avoid the necessity to face the truth.  They prefer to live in sin, and reject the idea of someone being able to tell them if what they do is right or wrong.  This is rebellion against God, and they make themselves an enemy of God.  This scripture says that if you chose to be an enemy of God then that is your choice.  You will then be treated as an enemy because you have rejected Jesus. 

But there is hope, even for those who have rejected Jesus and are still breathing.  You can repent and turn from your sin.  He is waiting for you to come and accept his Word.  He paid the price for all sin, including rejection.  Because in actuality, all have sinned against God.  None of us can measure up to God’s righteousness. None of us are right with God in ourselves.  We are made right with God through the righteousness of Christ, who gave himself for us, for you.  If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus died, was buried, and arose from the grave in order to justify the forgiveness of your sin, then you will be saved.  The neat thing is that he did this while we were enemies with him.  He knew that we hated him and his authority, yet he loved us anyway.  He loved us enough to come down here, become his own creation, and suffer death for us, so we could see his love and accept him as the loving God he truly is.  The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.  Scripture tell us that whoever calls on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved.  That is awesome to know that God accepts everyone. 

The Importance of Baptism

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38 (King James Version)

Baptism, a tradition in our common faith, that a number of us do without full knowledge of how important this act is. Quite often, we are baptized at a young age before we know the importance and the meaning of the act of baptism. Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing, plenty of people in the Bible as we will discuss we simply told be baptized and so they got baptized. Though as you mature in your faith, it becomes important to understand just how import this symbolic act is.

The act of Baptism was so important to God, that Christ Himself got baptized and is one of 8 events that is recorded in each of the gospels (the others being: call of the first disciples, Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, the agony at Gethsemane, Judas’ betrayal of Christ, Peter’s denial of Christ, Christ before Pilot, then the death, burial, and resurrection). You can read the story in John 1:29-34, Luke 3:21-22, Matthew 3:13-17, and Mark 1:1-11. Mark 1:1-8 reads as this:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the            prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and   unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. (KJV)

And Matthew 3:13-17 gives us a better completion of the story:

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all  righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the  Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven,   saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (KJV)

Christ felt it to be so important to be baptized that He led the way with His own example. Then God, the Father said He was well pleased with His Son for the act of righteousness and faithfulness. So, if God almighty humbles Himself to be baptized, that should speak to the level of levity that this act has.

So, what is the big deal??? Well, Paul writes on that subject in Romans 6:4-11:

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV)

It is the marking of our new life as believer’s. Used to be the circumcision, but now our mark which also serves as an outward symbol and metaphor for the death, and resurrection of Christ. To show the world that we are no longer who we used to be. That from that day forward we are Christians, followers of Christ renewed by the Spirit of God. The act of being fully submerged is the dying to our former selves as Christ died on the cross to take away our sins, and then the reemergence from the water a parallel to the resurrection of Christ in that a promise was fulfilled and our sins are no more. When we are baptized it is our symbol of dedication and a public testimony that Christ has begun this work of Salvation in us that will be completed on Christ’s return (Phil 1:6).

It marks the beginning of the relationship that you have with God. Like getting a friend request on Facebook or other social media, God has sent the request to everyone. And when you repent and accept Jesus as Lord, and Savior, that is you accepting the friend request. But, what makes a friend special on Facebook? It is the one you tag in everything, and the one that you talk about how proud you are to know them! Think of baptism as your first tagging of God in your life! That is the first moment that you acknowledge and profess Him before all of man! That is what is so important about baptism. What is the point of accepting Christ if you are ashamed of Him? There is no point, baptism is merely the completion of your old life and marks the beginning of your new one.

We can see this in the life of Paul, formerly known as Saul. In Acts 9, we read of Saul’s redemptive encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, but his new life did not begin until he was baptized by Ananias (Acts 9:10-19). After his baptism Saul became one of the greatest apostles of Christ and went on to author the majority of the New Testament. Another great way to think about it is this: A brother in Christ once told me about this riddle. There are 7 birds on the wire, and all 7 decide to fly away. How many flew away? The answer might surprise you, but the answer is 0. None flew away, all 7 are still sitting on the wire. Just because you decide to do something, does not mean you have actually done it. This is the same with repentance and acceptance of Christ. If you never take the first step of Baptism, then have you truly dedicated your life to God?

In the Great Commission given to us in Mark 16:15-17 we are commanded to go all over the world and preach the gospel and “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16, KJV). We are actually commanded to believe and be baptized! The book of Acts contains another great example, in Acts 8:26-39 we have the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch. Now, eunuch was a man that was devoted to purity of not only himself but of generally a lady he protected or some position that he held. In other words, they were men of righteousness and were beyond reproach. In this story, we can tell he clearly believed the word of God, he just did not quite understand it. Phillip was directed to go and preach to this Eunuch that he might understand the word of God. The eunuch, having it been placed on his heart, was full of conviction and asked Phillip to baptize him then and there on the middle of the road, in the middle of nowhere. That is how important baptism should be to us as believers!

The act of baptism should so important to us that when we confess our belief in Christ that we should straightway seek to act on that belief and be baptized! Even Christ did not begin His ministry until He was baptized! If nothing else is gained out of this, then remember that the Lord, your God, decided it was so important to Him that we should be baptized when we come to Him that He set the example and began His earthly ministry by being baptized. Now, yes Christ had performed miracles and even preached before then, but He did not set out to complete His Father’s work until after being baptized.

All of that to say this, baptism; is it important to your belief? Yes, we are all called to be baptized. If you are still having doubts about this whole Jesus is Lord talk, then I would encourage you to check out the other posts on this site and really read into the Bible for yourself and put to test the things you read in it! God is still in the miracle business, let the next one He works be in the transforming of your life! Repent of your sins, believe in your heart, and confess that Jesus is Lord and follow it up with baptism, and be saved! A future without worry of what comes after death is just a prayer away! If you have questions, please feel free to email us at twocministries@gmail.com . God Bless You, and have a Wonderfully Blessed Day!

By What Manner is this “Good” Friday?

It is Good Friday! A day that Christians around the world hold holy and dear, a day that we remember the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is the day of our dear Savior’s death, but we call it ‘Good’ Friday… how could anyone call the day of someone’s death good unless they were talking of a merciless dictator like Hitler or Stalin? Christ is recognized by the world as being the first real equal rights activist, and one of the first nonviolence practitioners (Funny they forget He took a whip to people, John 2:15), as well as model for most philosophers and philanthropists to follow, so how can we call the death of this overall respected and trusted being to be a good day? This is a day where our Lord suffered through the worst punishment the human body could take, and is described here:

Many scholars believe that Pilate originally ordered Jesus scourged as his full punishment and that the death sentence by crucifixion came only in response to the taunt by the mob that the Procurator was not properly defending Caesar against this pretender who allegedly claimed to be the King of the Jews.  Preparations for the scourging were carried out when the Prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. It is doubtful the Romans would have made any attempt to follow the Jewish law in this matter, but the Jews had an ancient law prohibiting more than forty lashes.  The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum (or flagellum) in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs.

At first the thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.  The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped.

The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. Flexible branches covered with long thorns (commonly used in bundles for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is pressed into His scalp. Again there is copious bleeding, the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body.

After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from His back. Already having adhered to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, its removal causes excruciating pain just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, and almost as though He were again being whipped the wounds once more begin to bleed. (Dr. C. Truman Davis, 2018)

But that was not the only thing Christ endured before finally dying! Christ carried the cross to Mount Calvary a staggering 650-yard journey with a 75 lbs. weight affixed to His back. Pushing his muscles beyond the point of failure, Christ is recorded to have stumbled 3 times before the Centurion loses his patience and orders a denizen to help Christ with the weight. How can any of this be considered good? How? Even further the death on the cross is regarded as one of the cruelest forms by which to die. Not only are there nails in your wrists and feet, but you are slowly suffocating. To which to breathe you must pull by the nails in your wrists and push yourself up by the nail in your feet, causing even more pain just to breathe and live a little longer. So, again, I ask how can any of this be good? Let me remind you of the prophecy from Isaiah found in Isaiah 53:

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:1-12, KJV)

This is where we begin to see why it is a Good Friday, as Christ was put through all of this to bear our iniquities. But let us read in Romans 5 to get the full picture.

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:6-11, KJV)

Christ died for us, while were enemies of Him! And we were justified by His blood. By His death, we were forgiven. Christ presented Himself as a perfect sacrifice for all of our sins! By this we have JOY in knowing that our sins are no more and we no longer have to fear the day of judgement or what comes after death for those who believe. This is why it is Good Friday! Because a good thing has been done, the remission of sins by the shedding of His blood. No one else could fill the sacrifice as God alone could.

If you are in a stage of doubt as to believing that Christ died for you, because you are a good person, we have to remember that everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23), and that where sin is God cannot be (1 John 1:5), and to be without God is death (Romans 2:1-11). Here is the good news, Jesus Christ, the Son of God came to this world to die for our sins because He loved us and all you have to do is believe that He is who He is (John 3:16-17, 1 John 1:9). To accept this free gift of salvation all you have to do is believe in your heart and confess it with your mouth (Romans 10:9-11)! I would encourage you not to wait, because tomorrow is never promised, and there is no better time than the present to begin your walk with God than now (2 Cor. 6:2). This means so much more than just a religion, it begins a relationship with God almighty (1 John 1:3-4). If you have any questions or are interested in finding a good church to be a part of, reach out to us via our contact link or through email at twocministries@gmail.com ! God Bless you, go in peace!