Saturday, December 31, 2016

DECEMBER 31 "THE FINAL COUNT DOWN!"

New Year's Eve is all about the final count down! And our reading today, our last reading of the year is also about the final count down.  The ending of Malachi and the ending of Revelations blend together all too well. Malachi we are reading about the coming of the Lord and how everything and everyone will pass through the fire, nothing will pass that is not pure, refined or holy. The same message we read in Revelations.  In Malachi God is disputing with the people about their bad relationship, or horrible relationship, let's say, that they have with Him. And each time they come back and challenge God on His assessment of them and each time God comes back with concrete evidence and even quotes back to them what they are saying about Him.  In revelations God sums it up as "those that live a lie". Mirroring in essence what He is telling them in Malachi, it's really quite amazing. Then we read in Psalms, you could say, the finally, "let everything that has breath praise The Lord".  What more is there to say....Don't live a lie, God's judgment will reveal all that are true, and reveal those that are false, that lived a lie. I believe the most miserable people in Hell will be the religious. A whole life dedicated to a religious lie only to find themselves in hell, neighbors with some of the lewdest sinners that ever existed. The reading today is the last reading of the year, read once every December 31st, but it actually a reading that would be very healthy for a daily reading through out the year. You could say the summary of the Bible then is, "Don't live a lie", allow God to correct you and let everything that has breath Praise the Lord!
 

DECEMBER 30 "DO YOU REALLY WANT TO GO THERE?"

Do you really want to start a dialogue with God?  Or as we would say today, “do you really want to go there?” Normally that statement reflects the idea that you don’t want to start an argument you are going to sorely lose; there is just piles of evidence heaped up against us, if we want to start throwing accusations. What I especially like about the Old Testament is we get actual dialogue from God and I find that fascinating. How does God think? What upsets him, if He was going to speak, what would he say? If you will read through the whole Old Testament you will get to know Jehovah/Yahweh quite well!


Today we read in the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi and Jehovah has one last opportunity to speak. It will be 400 years before God ever speaks to the Jewish people again! And what we find is that it is the typical conversation between man & God.  God says, “I have always loved you” man says, “how have you loved us!” It’s the conversation that still goes on in every break room, church foyer and family functions. We say, “God loves you”, they say, “how has He loved us, look at my life and all that has happened to me, you call that love!” Warning from today’s reading…it is an argument you don’t want to start with God. However they started the argument so God says, just like He did with “Job”, I will end it.  God begins to bring up all the worthless and phony offerings they have brought to Him over the years, sheep, goats and lambs that were sick, lame, crippled that they took from their flock and knew they could not have sold these animals for 1 cent and had the nerve to say, “here is my offering Lord, how I love you!” In the middle of worthless offerings they married heathen women and in marrying heathen women we can say that “liked/loved” heathen women, how could this be? They divorced and abandoned their wives when they were fed up with them and left them destitute. And why…because a prettier, younger woman came along? There is a term used in Psychology “selective amnesia” and it is a mental illness we all suffer from, especially religious people. Self deception is another unhealthy mental disorder. Mentally, warped people cannot serve God.  They truly do not see or purposely choose to block out/forget, the phony, hypocritical religious life they live. They have convinced themselves the lamb they sacrificed “was the best of their flock”. They have convinced themselves “divorce” was the only option. They have convinced themselves the “ungodly” were not that “ungodly”. They do not see their hypocrisy, all they see is the misery of their life, the struggles, what seems like a cursed life and when you come to them and say “God loves you” you’d better duck quick, because they might just swing at your head! In their minds, they have been nothing but faithful, and God has been anything but faithful. God does not speak often but when He does speak He lets it all out! Do you really want to get into an argument with God about who has been more faithful? Do you really want to get accusatory with God? Do you really want to go there? If you have a beef with God it is better that we look and search introspectively rather than point the finger at God. The more we refuse to look inwardly at ourselves; and outwardly choose to condemn God, the more we are given ourselves up to deception and you know what they say the problem is with deceived people…they are deceived! And unless a miracle happens, how do you ever reach a Christian who has given themselves unto deception? If you think the people in Malachi “saw the light” once the truth was told to them, you are naively wrong. In their self deluded minds they are right, they are just and God is wrong and God is unjust and the scary thing is, we are all just a few steps away from finding ourselves in this state of mind if we are not careful. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

DECEMBER 29 "WHO'S SIDE WILL YOU BE ON?"

Of course those reading this blog will more than likely be dead when this great battle takes place; Satan and his gang against Jerusalem and the people of God. Most would have a hard time seeing themselves on either side. They are not evil but neither are the devoutly religious. If anything, they want to be more neutral, than anything. As the war rages against ISIS and radical muslin extremists in the Middle East, many men and women have chosen a side and have gone to Iraq & Syria, to engage the enemy in a full frontal assault. The animosity that is breeding between those soldiers and the civilians is based predominantly on this issue. It is hard for them to return from having engaged this real enemy and come back to a society that wants to remain neutral. They have had limbs and fellow soldiers blown up by this enemy and they come back to civilians who want to remain neutral. This infuriates the soldier and causes animosity between him and his fellow countrymen. This also represents the cultural divide that is growing wider every year between Christians and Secularists. The reality is, in war there is no neutral position. You are on a side whether you have consciously chosen it or not. We have chosen a side, everyone of us, whether or not we have made a conscious, vocal declaration or not. Whether you are alive when this battle goes down or you die tomorrow, you have chosen a side. I think it's easy for most to decide they are not on the side of Satan, but they don't necessarily see themselves as some radical Christian, believing in the Devil and fighting spiritual wars. Where is the place for them, where is the happy medium for them? The answer is, there is none. Jesus said "if you are not for me you are against me", of course they will argue with that reasoning.  However, not to decide, is to decide. As the individual falls through the ice on the lake and scrambles for his life in frigid waters and you stand there saying "you can't decide whether to jump in and risk your life" in all reality you have decided just by standing there doing nothing, that is your decision. Making no decision for Christ is making a decision. It's making a decision against him. And whether you were to die today or in the battle we read about, your decision has been made and your place in eternity is already reserved for you, based on that decision or in the case of some of you, your non-decision. In short, make a decision today, for yourself, or it will be made for you. Joshua threw down the gloves in the Old Testament and said, "choose you this day, whom you will serve". The call still goes out today, the war still rages and you must figure out what side you want to be on because neutrality is not an option, even if you've convinced yourself it is, it is not!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

DECEMBER 28 "OH MY, I'VE CREATED A FRANKENSTEIN"

     "HOW far is this kid going to take this before I have to knock him off his feet", ever wonder that?  How far will an employee take his insolence before his employer is left with no choice but to fire him? How far will a soldier take his insubordination before his superior must write him up or court martial him? And the question of all ...is how far will the creation (man) take his arrogance, pride and audacity against his creator?  And the answer to that is "to no ends".   Will he (the created) defy the creator? Yes
Will he rebel against his creator, Yes.  Will he shake his first at his creator, Yes!  But will he go so far as to FIGHT his creator....???? YES 19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army."  
     "Are you serious, you are going to wage war against God?"  This is the end, the culmination of man's pride to his own destruction. How far will man take his pride and arrogance, to no ends, to the point where if left to his own way, he (man) would attempt to destroy his own creator. Is this a bad nightmare or a Hollywood horror show? No, it's real. Perhaps this is where the writer/director received his inspiration for Frankenstein.  This is what God has created in many ways; His creation has literally  turned into a monster and in our text wants to kill him (again). The only thing is this is not fictional Hollywood but real life! Is this an insult to God? I think not, God himself said in Genesis that he regretted making mankind and would destroy them all, except for Noah and his family.  
     There are only two types of "man" on the earth; the one that says, "Lord, thy will be done" and the man that says, "God, may my will be done".  One will submit unto his creator and do his will and be blessed; the other will rebel against his creator, be cursed, force his will and die.  Which are you?
Most will say, "well those are two extremes, I fall somewhere in the middle".  Oh really, is there a such a thing as a middle?
     Oprah Winfrey once said on her television show, "what is it with God, it seems like he has an ego problem that he constantly wants to be worshipped, I have a problem with that".  Was that the start of a mood that would swing across our nation and world that would one day say "Amen" to that, "who is this God anyway that we should worship him and do His will?!".  Frank Sinatra way before Oprah sang a song that resonated with Americans all across the country, "I did it my way".  The lyrics go as follows...."I took the blows, but let the record show, I did it my way".  What was Frank's way?  Immorality, mafia connections, illegal activity, drugs, alcohol abuse, divorce, wrecked lives, devastated children, etc...etc....Had Frank been alive, if Oprah is alive at the battle of Armageddon, will they join ranks with these they want to wage war against Christ? Which side will you be fighting on if you are alive....oh yeah, I forgot, you're in the middle.
     There is no end to the arrogance of man, left to his own, but fortunately God does not leave man to his own for ever, here in Jesus Christ's awesome conquest, he crushes the arrogance of man and the beast that fuels the pride of man.  What man doesn't realize, is that when he rages against his creator he does not represent a superior being at all, although in his pride he seems himself as better, more educated, enlightened and sophisticated, but in all reality he shows himself to be a fallen being, he shows himself to be as low, as hideous as Lucifer himself who was the first to fight God. He associates himself with the lowly, the scoundrel, the hideous, the host of which he will himself spend the rest of eternity with.  A place that God himself says was not prepared for man but for the devil and his angels, but man in the spirit of the devil (rather than his creator) has chosen to align himself with this fallen creation, this beast and in so doing he confines himself with this creature, to the depths of hell for all eternity.  Is there an end to the arrogance of man? Yes, and we can literally "THANK GOD" for that one!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

DECEMBER 27 "COME OUT OF HER; THE GREAT FALSE RELIGION"

Why do people want to stay in their false religion and attempt to serve God there, after they have come to the truth? Is it some kind of compromise? Some kind of admission of "partial guilt"? A text that has often stood out to many is our text in Revelations, " Come away from her, my people. Do not take part in her sins or you will be punished with her". One of the most frustrating things for me as a Born Again Christian is to have a Catholic come to me and tell me "we are the same".  We are both "believers" we are both "Born Again" it's just that I am Catholic and you are Protestant. And I grieve for the martyrs who gave their lives so that we could be set free from false religion. As if there's salvation inside the Teachings of the Catholic Church?! As if salvation and forgiveness of the "original sin" comes at at the baptism of an infant. As if Martin Luther was just a great fool in forging the Protestant Reformation. I wonder if these Born Again Catholics have ever heard of the "Protestant Reformation?" What was the Protestant Reformation all about if there was salvation through the Roman Catholic Church?  Why were men burned at the stake by the Pope, if there was salvation through the Church of Rome.  I date them to tell William Tyndale, who was executed by strangling and then his body burned at the stake by the Papacy, that we are all the same. I date them to tell John Wycliffe who gave his life trying to translate the Bible into the common language of the people and in so doing spent his life running from the Papacy.  The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his translation of the Bible into English, that 44 years after Whycliffe had died, the Pope ordered the bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the river. Every Christian Religion outside of the Roman Catholic Church today is Protestant, ie: Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, and many more are all part of The Protestant Reformation, what was Martin Luther Protesting? The Catholic Church and it's false teachings of indulgences, trans-substantiation, purgatory, salvation only through the Church of Rome. Martin Luther came out of her once he experienced salvation through Faith Alone in Christ and declared his intolerance for the Roman Church's corruption on Halloween in 1517, by nailing his 95 Theses of Contention to the Wittenberg Church door. Luther who would be exiled in the months following the Diet of Worm Council in 1521 that was designed to martyr him. Our text goes on to say in Revelations, "for her sins are piled as high as heaven.....the blood of the martyrs and prophets is on her hands". And we only show how completely ignorant we are when we say, "I'm a Born Again, but I serve God in the Catholic Church".  Never in one sentence has such foolishness ever been uttered. If you are Born Again, then come out of her or share in the judgement of her sins.  We have not even begun to tap into the lives that were martyred at the hands of the Papacy.  The "Spanish Inquisition" is still the dark stain on the history of the Church, the martyring of the Jews, God's own people, once again the Tribunal for the Spanish Inquisition was led by the Pope.  History records men and woman who gave their lives and were burned at the stake by the Catholic Church and these saints did so, so we could experience salvation, so we could know God. And for someone to come along today and say, "Luther, Whycliffe, Tyndale, none of you know what you were talking about, you died as martyrs in vain, you protested and were murdered by the Pope and Catholic Church yes, but I say, you were all wrong and I am right, there is salvation in the Catholic Church, I am a Born Again Catholic Believer!" Our text today warns us to come out from under her spell. The blood of the Martyrs is on the hands of the Catholics and God is giving a solemn warning to us that have come to the knowledge of the truth, "come out of her or you will share in her judgement". When the books are opened and every wicked deed is judged under the sun and God judges those who shed the blood of the martyrs, I know that on that day, Martin Luther and the great reformers will all be glad they did not remain in her claiming to be saved, but that they came out from her, even if it cost them their lives.






Monday, December 26, 2016

DECEMBER 26 "SHE IS THE MOTHER OF ALL PROSTITUTES, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!"

God gives a high & lofty position in this story, in Revelations, to "the woman". We know that the woman is a personification, not a literal person, but it is still interesting that God chooses a woman for this personification. "the mother of all prostitutes and obscenities in the world".  Jesus (God) built his movement on the backs of men. We do not know any of the names of the wives of the apostles or even if they are married (except Peter). Men are given quite a lofty position, it is the names of the 12 Apostles that are written on the Walls of the New Jerusalem. We go on to read about this powerful woman that rides the beast. "In her hand she held a gold goblet full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality".  As strong as "man" is, the Achilles Heal of every normal, red blooded man, is "women".  She has taken down the mightiest of the mighty. And we are not simply speaking about non-Christian men either; if only that was the case. "I could see that she was drunk-drunk with the blood of God's holy people". David was "a man after God's own heart" but yet he fell to the seduction of the powerful spirit that the woman who rides the beast, embraces and carries with her. How could a man who loves Jesus, serves his church patiently be involved in something as vile as pornography? How could he sit there and watch such immorality and obscenities and yet show up to church on Sunday and proclaim his love for Jesus? But yet this happens in thousands of church across the continent, every Sunday. We are apt to think they are hypocrites, they really are apostates, not true Christians. While we know there are hypocrites in every church, we cannot say that every man that is seduced by this woman was or is, a hypocrite. We know for sure they are the fallen, we know for sure they have become part of her plunder, but can we say they were never really saved,....I think not. There is nothing more powerful on earth, than the woman who rides the beast. The power she has to sway the times, to influence culture and defeat it's citizens is beyond any power recognized to man. We are not being ruled by Presidents and Kings, our culture is being ruled and influenced by the woman that God gives great prominence too in our text. Our society has been taken hostage by her and we don't know how to get free or worse, we don't want to get free. Like the leech in proverbs, we cry "more and more give me more". Proverbs warns us about the fool who wakes up each day and walks right in to the seduction of her traps and makes his bed in hell, with her. She rules and she reigns and she is the main character in our text today and John who has seen much and heard much, our text writes, "I stared at her in complete amazement". We can only stand in awe, in amazement in the power of beauty and seduction that she holds. It is a fearful and dreadful thing for men and the man that is not wise, the man that does not fear her, will be ruined by her. His family, his career and his destiny will be ruined by her. In Proverbs we are warned of her "Don’t let your hearts stray away toward her. Don’t wander down her wayward path. For she has been the ruin of many;  many men have been her victims. Her house is the road to the grave. Her bedroom is the den of death." With all the warning we have been given, with all the graves that she has filled, we still wander down her path and there are few that return. Why is she given so much prominence in our reading today? Because she deserves every ounce of it and more, she is more powerful than the brawn of any man, she is the woman that rides the beast, the Queen of all immorality and obscenities, she is!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

DECEMBER 25 "Bah Humbug..., IT'S CHRISTMAS"

wonder how many readers we will get on Christmas Day? Christmas Day is such a celebratory day. With phone calls and visits and dinners, where does Jesus fit in? Then you actually do take the time to sit down and read your One Year Bible on Christmas and you are reading about judgment in Zechariah and then we are faced with even harsher reading in Revelations about Jesus and the bowls of Judgment He is releasing upon the earth. It's not very Christmassy reading, to say the least. It would be so neat if we picked up the One Year Bible on Christmas Day and it just so happened to be a reading on the Christmas story; instead we are faced with doom and gloom.  It's almost as if we and Jesus are not on the same page on December 25th or December 24th for that matter. It's not often that Christmas or Christmas Eve falls on a "church day" but it seems that when it does it turns out to be an inconvenience to us. It's almost as if Jesus is getting in the way of our Christmas celebrations. Catholic Churches are flourishing on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but statistics show that Christian Denominational Churches tend to have poor attendance on those same days. It is almost as if in our stance to be "anti-religious" we are swinging way to the other extreme and almost becoming irreverent or aloof to the Celebration of CHRIST, ie: CHRIST-MAS. And when we pick up our bibles on this day to read our portion it seems as if our stance is confirmed as we read nothing even remotely close to what we are experiencing on Christmas Day. Perhaps JESUS and His angels are not in Heaven celebrating Christmas with us on December 25th. Any Historian and/or Theologian will tell you Jesus was never born in December any way. And so our One Year Bible reading today is surely not going to give us warm, fuzzy, Christmas feelings (as a matter of fact you may put it down) and it will not reinforce any kind of religious connotations to this Christmas Day, but if we are not careful we can go to the other extreme and come off as irreverent and careless to the day. The fact is, the world celebrates this day as a special, religious holiday in celebration of Jesus Christ and we who claim to be the true followers of Jesus must find a balance somehow between the religious sentiment to the holiday as appossed to making it more than it should be. I would hope that the sheer difference between us and the rest of the world is that in a few days. Jesus and the manger scene gets packed up and "put away" for another year and we keep him out for the rest of the year and continue to sing, "celebrate Jesus celebrate..." Not just on December 25th but on January 25th, February and so forth. Is December 25th really just another day? Maybe so....... there is no sentiment in our reading today to reinforce any other conclusion, but if the world wants to pick this day, to celebrate our Savior; then why not jump on board rather than say, "aggghhhh, Bah Humbug, this is religious, I'm not celebrating" after all, isn't any day, a good day....to celebrate Jesus?!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

DECEMBER 24 "WHAT ARE REALLY BAD SINS?"

You ever notice that when God is dealing with His children about their sin, He rarely mentions alcohol, pornography and drugs.  Not to say that any of those are not bad, they are bad, really bad. My own parents divorced over alcoholism. Alcohol, porn & drugs divide and ruin families all the time. We know that they are bad and can become addictive, but they are also, in many ways, superficial sins. Again, for some, alcohol, porn & drugs are way more than superficial, they are deep strongholds in their lives, but they are the exception to the rule. On average, those who do come to Christ are quickly delivered of these sins. When I became a Christian, I was forgiven and set free. I was not off behind the church smoking pot before service, I had no desire anymore. You'll find that often when God is dealing with His people about their sins, He is dealing with issues that He sees are deeply rooted in our hearts. And that is..., our selfishness, prejudice, hatred, bigotry, envy and simply how we treat each other. We oppress one another, we ignore the needy among us while we self indulge ourselves in exuberance. We hate, we are unforgiving, violent, cruel and often unmerciful towards one another. (Just think how many people spend Christmas alone every year because someone in the family is mad at them, angry, envious or does not want to forgive) When God looks at humanity what He sees in us that makes us sinners is not some stupid 14 year old with orange hair smoking weed in a park, He sees adults who no longer have orange hair and smoke pot, but still hate and live all to themselves not caring about anyone but themselves. God has no problem cleansing us from our superficial sins, it's those deeply rooted sins of the heart that seem not to go away. Cussing normally goes, drunkenness normally goes but our anger and disregard seems to stay. Ask any Pastor, the #1 problem in any church is not drugs & alcohol or even porn, it's the Saints tearing each other apart. It's divisiveness,, contention & strife. Often times when someone refers to another person saying, "they have a good heart" what they often mean is NOT, "they don't snort coke anymore" but rather what they mean when they say "he/she has a good heart" is that they treat people well, are courteous & caring of others. God's judgment against the Jews in Hezekiah's day was that they had "bad hearts". No regard for one another whatsoever. Look at yourself today, you may have cleaned up well on the outside, you may have been set free of some superficial sins, but how are you doing with the deeper issues of the heart? Has God been able to reach down into that heart and rip out the true sins, the really bad sins? Circumcision is still the way, and it hurts. Circumcision of what? We know, circumcision of the heart, but it is just as painful an operation, if you truly let God cut all that extra flesh out, it will hurt, but that's where true conversion comes!

DECEMBER 23 "DON'T HAVE YOUR HUSBAND STOLEN"

 Adultery is an ugly thing.  Adultery should never happen, Adultery is part of our culture. Adultery is one of the 10 Commandments; actually it’s mentioned twice in only 10 Commandments. Proverbs mentions 3 things that make the earth tremble, paraphrased by me, “will rock your world”, and one of those is “a servant/slave girl who supplants her mistress”.  Imagine, the humiliation of a woman, with status, who had all the accessories available to her to make herself beautiful to her husband, all the resources she needs.  She can be rested, therefore in a pleasant mood for her husband, she has resources, therefore can lavish herself with all she needs to beautify herself, perfumes, dresses, beautiful night gowns, products to enhance her features, her body, her hair and here we have this lowly servant girl, with a mop in her hand, no make up, nothing to beatify her, no status in life, she is just "a lowly servant girl"; how does she ever supplant (move out of her spot) this woman who had all the advantages? The woman with all the advantages in her grasp feels completely unthreatened by this lowly servant girl, but how shocked is she when she finds out her husband is having an affair with this lowly servant girl and what’s worse is it’s not just sexual, this lowly servant girl has also won her husband's heart! The bible says, “these are the things that make the earth tremble!” It is scandalous, it is shocking and it happens all the time and has been happening for a very long time and the bible says, “these things ought not to be”. Often when we hear of an affair we are wanting to see who this “drop dead gorgeous woman” is who seduced this man away from his wife and sometimes we are shocked to “see” she is not near as good looking as his wife and so we then wonder, “how did this servant girl supplant (remove her from her spot) his wife? His wife had access to him always, his wife had all the resources, all the beauty, how could this happen? Could it be that men are not as superficial as they are accused of being! Could it be that men do appreciate outer beauty very much, but they are also drawn to inner beauty? Can it be that in the long run, inner beauty of a woman will triumph over the outer beauty of another woman? These are all rhetorical questions because history has given us all the answers to these questions and they are all definitively “yes”. It should not happen, it ought never to happen but yet it happens every day and somewhere, even now, as I write this, some woman, with all the advantages is in the middle of being supplanted by some servant girl and she doesn't even have a clue and when she finds out it will be too late! When you think of all the things that God could have written that “rock the world” He chose to mention this, “a servant/slave girl who supplants her mistress”.  Why? Because it just shouldn't be, it is completely backwards; as backwards as a fool prospering! I believe this scripture is not an indictment against men; but rather it is an indictment against women. Women who had all the advantages at their disposal to keep their husbands, but yet lost them to another woman, not just any other woman, but lost them to another woman who was so greatly disadvantaged, it is truly an indictment. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of scripture in Proverbs that does indict men against adultery, plenty more so than any towards women, but that is not the case today. This one today, is for women, take heed, it is a shame, it is scandalous, it rocks the world, that any woman, with all the advantages at her disposal, would ever lose her husband to another woman, yet it happens every day, just don’t let it happen to you!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

DECEMBER 22 "THE NETHERWORLDS OF THE BIBLE"

     IT is amazing to me as we come to the close of the year readings, in our One Year Bible that often you can't tell if you're reading in the Old Testament or New Testament portion. Today, I have to admit, I might have been drifted a little while reading (long night), but when I reigned myself back in and got re-focused I assumed I was reading the New Testament portion (yes I spaced out). 1 [a]Then I looked up, and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is.”  3 While the angel who was speaking to me was leaving, another angel came to meet him 4 and said to him: “Run, tell that young man, ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. 5 And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will be its glory within.’
     If that doesn't read like Revelations than I don't know what does.  I thought for sure I was in Revelations but then it dawned on me I was still in Zechariah.  Is this coincidence that as we come to a close in our reading through of God's Word that somehow the Old begins to mesh with the New? How odd it is that we would be reading such marvelous & incomprehensible imagery in the Old Testament and then go on to read the same in Revelations. In the earlier part of the year we would never find this similarity between the Old and New Testament.  You will not find to many similarities in January as you are reading in Genesis and then in Matthew, but somehow, by divine orchestration, (I would guess) as you read through the bible and get to the end, somehow it all comes together.
     And what is it "really" that is coming together???  I would say the answer to that is, insight into the next world, referred to sometimes as "The Netherworld". There is nothing I read today in Zechariah or Revelation that I can really apply to my life today, it is beyond me. It is imagery that makes for great movies of which Hollywood has definitely tapped into with movies such as the Epic Tale of  "The Lord of the Rings".  CS Lewis also used his God given imagination and talent to bring to print (and now also in the theatre) some of his thoughts on The Netherworld in his Epic Story of "The Chronicles of Narnia". Interestingly enough Tolkien and Lewis were mutual friends. In these movies & novels, we get a small, very small glimpse of things that are to come and also beyond our minds.  We are speaking of Beasts, Angels, Spiritual warfare, talking animals and fierce creatures.  I believe this is part of the fascination and cult following of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.  There is something in man that these movies resonates with. It is as if in one part (the natural) of us we say, "that could not be" but the God part (or spiritual part) of humanity says, "it's real, some place, some day, there is something like this".  And the proof is in the scriptures like we read today in Zechariah and Revelation.  There is another world where there are mighty beings, speaking animals and beasts beyond even Steven Spielberg's, Tolkien's or C.S. Lewis' imaginations.  There truly is an EPIC Battle that consists of good and evil and dark lord's of the night that must be conquered.  There truly is a world of flying and talking beasts and God chooses to reveal to us, to give us a glimpse of this world as we come to the conclusion of His Word and the question He whispers to us as we come to the end of his Word is...."do you believe?"  Do you believe in this EPIC Battle, do you believe in "The Netherworld of The Bible" and then once you answer that question then you must also answer this question.  "What part do you play now and what part will you play when you step through the painting (Chronicles of Narnia).  Death is our entrance into the Painting, our entrance into The Netherworld and whether or not you believe now, you will surely believe then.  It will be frightfully Awesome even to those that are washed and new robes have been given (as Joshua in our text) but it will be frightfully dreadful to those who sins have not been forgiven, who stand before God, filthy and stained with sin when all the opportunities were before them to be cleansed and receive a new robe.  Do you have a new robe for this Netherworld that you will one day enter?  An enchanted place it is, a wonderful place of awe and wonder, but there is a dress code for the occasion, make sure you do not show up dressed in anything other than what is required.  What is it?  Ans: It is a white robe, it is without spot or blemish and you can only purchase it from Jesus Christ , "behold I am coming quickly".

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

DECEMBER 21 "WHAT ARMY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT HERE?"

What armies are we talking about here?  When I think of Heaven, I don’t think of armies. I think of ‘Ol Saint Francis sitting on a cloud, playing a Harp.  In Zechariah Jesus keeps being referred to as “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies”.  Armies in Heaven, really? Armies for what? Aren’t armies for war?  What wars? Celestial Wars? Two of the highest box office hits were “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter”. Why are we so fascinated with the epic movies about wars between evil and good. Is our fascination with fiction, perhaps not really a fascination with fiction, but rather a fascination with what we innately know to be non-fiction. Christian movies don’t tend to do well at the Box Office, but one movie that did particularly well was “The Chronicles of Narnia”. Again, a movie about evil being at war with good, talking animals, heavenly beings and demonic beasts. As we near the end of the year, it’s amazing how the Old Testament begins to mirror the New Testament. Epic movies of mass armies going to war are also another strong pull at the box office. There is a rumbling in the air of a celestial war on the horizon. It will not be the 1st, but according to scripture, it will be the last. The Battle of Armageddon will be the Epic Motion Picture of all Time, it’s interesting that no producer has dared to try to take that project on. Perhaps the magnitude and strength of “The Lord’s Armies” would not make such a great motion picture because the battle would be to lopsided. Aside from the fascinating beasts and Angelic Hosts that could be displayed, the war itself would be quite lopsided.  We would not be on the edge of our seats, wondering who wins.  People like to dismiss scriptures they don’t’ understand as simply, “symbolic” or “metaphors” and some are, but not today in our text. There is no symbolic terminology here in our text. Jesus is a literal Lord of a literal Army. It’s a vast army and so is the evil army they will face. Jesus will lead his army on a white horse and he will come to conquer. This Jesus will not be the meek Jesus who rode into Jerusalem on a Donkey to be crucified. The World might seem, right now, like it is winning and the Church right now, may seem like it is losing, but that is all going to change in the last quarter of the game. There is an army in Heaven, that is more than ready and waiting for that day and we’d better make sure, we are on the right side of good and evil, when that day happens. As a matter of a fact, why not make sure you’re on the right side today!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

DECEMBER 20 "JUST HOLD ON GOD, I'LL BE RIGHT THERE"

     I DON'T know to many people that would be so bold as to tell God, to "just hold on a minute" and then to keep Him waiting for days, weeks, months and some even years.  We are much more diplomatic about it, we simply say to ourselves, "now is not the time".  In Haggai we read about God's people doing exactly so.  They do not say that they don't want to or don't have interest in building another temple, they simply justify that "it's not the right time".  It's not that I don't want to go overseas, but "it's not the time".  It's not that I don't want to get involved, it's just that "it's not the time".   It's not that I don't want to forsake all and follow you, "it's just not the time".  When the kids are older, when my finances are better, when my marriage is better, when I pay off some debt, when I get my act together, but yet we manage to have time for our purposes, but not God's.  In Haggai we read, “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the LORD’s house.’”  3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” 
     Time, time, time....I would say "time" is best described by "an allocated window of opportunity to get something done".   Time is not still, time is not eternal (on earth) and time is not at our disposal.  Even Solomon wrote, "there is a time for everything under the sun".   In our text the people said, "now's not the time" and God says, "yes it is, if not now then when" (my interpretation).  "Okay, so how do I know when the time is NOW?", you may ask.   Well, I do believe that God is faithful to impress upon us that inclination.  Just as God has not left women to guess for themselves when the time of childbirth is due, so He has not left us to ourselves to guess.  The woman will feel severe urgings and birth pangs, that whether she wants to or not, will drive her to the hospital and many times, just in time for the baby to be delivered.  And if we who claim to know Jesus cannot discern these birth pangs than I would say our communication with God has been short circuited.  These people in our text have felt the urging, the prompting to rebuild God's temple, they simply have put it off for their own affairs.  We have all been guilty at one time or another of putting off the affairs of God to pursue our own.  And we have felt God's hand against us the whole time.  Listen to what God speaks to these people, He is basically saying, in essence, "are you so dense, that you cannot see that all this is my doing" (sorry, my translation, now here's the real translation) Give careful thought to your ways6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” 
     A woman and man have a window of opportunity (a time) to have children and after so many years that window of opportunity (that time) passes.  Many woman now are trying to have children in their late thirties and early forties, after they have pursued their dreams, their goals only to find that they have passed their opportunity to be fertile.  Could it be that after we are done pursuing what we want we will then turn to God and say, "okay I'm ready, now is the time" but  He will say, "no the time has passed for that". Would we have the audacity to tell God, "just hold on a minute, I'll be there in a sec" and to make matters worse, never open the door? Of course not, we simply justify "now's not the right time to do this".
     I embarrassed to say that many Christians are spending their time binding the devil when it is really God they are fighting.  Could we be so dense? Of course we could.....or perhaps not dense, but self deceived.  Perhaps you are fully convinced that NOW is not the time, but God has been dealing with you otherwise.  With these people, their crops had failed, they were broke, nothing was working but they never make the  connection, NOW is the time to build God's temple.  Today would be a good day to consider this.....are you in a trial? Or are you simply fighting God?  Do you have time for "your house" but not God's?  If so, you may want to reconsider who the antagonist is in your life.  Jesus told Paul, "why do you kick against the goads, it is I (Jesus) you are persecuting (or fighting).  What a revelation that must have been to Paul.  What a revelation it must have been to these people that God, was the reason for their failing crops and dwindling finances, who would have thought???
But that's what we need to do, ..."think" where have I been disobedient, when or what has God prompted me to do that I ignored and/or forgot about? Is there anything?  What did God deal with me about that I simply dismissed "now is not the time" and moved on, but yet God has not moved on!  He is still waiting.  “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”   Only you can answer this question for yourself.  What is it time for right now at this juncture in your life?  In your mind and self absorbed nature you may say, "it's time for this", but God may say, no, it's not time for that, it's time for ____________ " (and you fill in the blank!)

Monday, December 19, 2016

DECEMBER 19 "DON'T EAT BEFORE COMING OVER?"

     DON'T eat before coming over, please!  Have you ever invited someone over for dinner and somehow there was a DP-communication and they thought it was just for coffee? "Please eat, it really is good, it's one of my best dishes", I've begged.  The reply has always been, "I'm sure it is good, I am simply stuffed and I just don't have room for anything else right now, give me some time".  I have been on the receiving end of that situation and I have been on the guilty part of that situation.  I know that no matter what they served that night, no matter how good it was, I would have no appetite for it.
     When we are full, not hungry, nothing in the world, at that moment is appealing. "Don't talk to me about food right now", is often the reply we get when we are forcing someone to eat that is full.
Every heard someone say that you were trying to stuff "the bread of life" down their throat say, "don't talk to me about Christ right now, I am FULL".  But we don't listen do we, we keep trying and trying to cram "the bread of life" down some one's throat who is full with the delicacies of this world, we are just to stubborn to face the fact that they have no interest or no appetite for our Christ.
     If our message (the Gospel) is to be received, there is going to have to be an appetite for it. There a thousands upon thousands of people that are perfectly content with their lives without Christ. In their thought process they think, "If they are good, moral and successful people without Christ, then what good is your offering Christ to them?  This is a good question to ask ourselves.  It is as if you are standing outside a Buffet Restaurant offering bread (free at that) to all those that are coming out.  Chances are the folks coming out of a Buffet Restaurant are full and bloated and your offer to give them bread is not much of an appeal to them.  Take that same bread and offer it for free in Uganda and you may be trampled upon, to death!  It is the same bread, same offer but the difference is only the people that it is being offered to.  One group is full and stuffed the other group is starving and empty.
     Is your message is of any use? Ans: depends upon the hearers to which it is being presented.  Jesus said, "I am the bread of life".  Jesus does relate to himself as food. "Taste of me and see that I am good".  Again, we have the analogy of food and eating.  See this message may be counter intuitive to what you believe or perhaps what you have been taught, ie: "everyone has the need".  Is that right though? What did Jesus mean then when he said, "I have not come for the righteous, but the unrighteous?"  What did Jesus mean when he said, "the healthy are not in need of a doctor, but the sick?".  What did Jesus mean by, "do not cast your pearls to the swine?".  Now we know according to Jesus that "there is none righteous, no not one".  So what does Jesus mean then when He says, " I have not come to call the righteous, but the unrighteous"?  Well the answer to that can be partly explained by the text we read in Proverbs today.  "12 those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth;"
     The fact is allot of times we are pounding the Gospel Message down someone's throat who is full. They have just come out of a Buffet and there we are trying to give them something else to eat.  No matter how good the food is, we will have no appreciation of what is being offered if we have stuffed ourselves prior to going over to our friends home for dinner.
     In  high school & college I personally (and I only speak for myself) was quite full with myself, my life and my sin. My sin was still tasting sweet and had not yet turned sour in my stomach. Fast forward 3-5 years and now I'm not so full with myself and neither am I so thrilled with my sin. So even though the same sins are available to me, I am looking up to the sky and saying to God, "there has got to be more to life than this". Now, there's an appetite, now I am not so full.  Now the message will not be unappealing to me and that was when God in his wisdom and foreknowledge brought "The Message" to me and I quickly accepted it and have continued to accept Christ as a need in my life ever since.
      Before your message is of any use, to anybody, there must be a sense of need in that individual's life. There must be an appetite if you are going to try to feed them.  Are you frustrated to no ends about the response (or no response I should say) you are getting from somone you are desperately trying "to  save".  Perhaps you just need to step back a bit, pray for them and wait. If they are full, your message is of no appeal right now. Wait and pray....and not that you hope that all hell breaks loose against them, we are not cursors or doomsday prophets but simply pray that the sin that once tasted so sweet become sour in their belly.  Pray that the sin that once so filled them now leaves them empty.  All hell never broke loose against me, it was simply over time, the sins that so once filled me and made my happy, now left me empty and longing for something else, something more.
     There is nothing wrong with "your message", do not despair, what is wrong is the heart that it is falling upon. Don't offer me diet pills if I'm not overweight and don't offer me Christ if I am not down trodden. If I am doing well, if I am perfectly content with my life, why do you try to offer me this Christ, this saviour of sinners.  If I am moral why do you offer me a saviour of the immoral?  If I am righteous, why do you offer me one who has come to call the "unrighteous" to repentance?  If I am successful why do you offer me a religion that is for the downtrodden, the prostitute and the drug addict, how is this for me?"
     We must be careful that we do not lose confidence "in the message" as time passes, but remember always "that the message, the word of God, is foolishness to them that are perishing, but it (the message/the Gospel) is the power of God, unto Salvation to them that beleive".   Where we have a hard time, is accepting that some are perishing. Remember, the Gospel has "no power, it is useless" to those that are perishing. There are millions upon millions that will be offered "the bread of life" and politely say, "no thank-you" and that person may be your own mother, brother, or child and there's no way way you can force them to eat when they are full.  Are they going to perish then? Well, if they died today, they would, but the Good News is they're not and God knows when they're going to die, He is fully aware of their time "constraints" and He is working alongside those restraints. Rather than try to cram "the bread of life" down some one's throat who has gorged himself on this world's buffet, why don't you try praying and praying that the food, the sin they are gorging themselves on no longer fills, no longer satisfies; then and only then, will your message have appeal!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

DECEMBER 18 "DO YOU STILL HAVE A SONG TO SING?"

"Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept…..we put away our harps." No problem right, they’re down in the dumps, it’s just not “good times” right now. However the most unlikely (or maybe not so unlikely) event occurs, the ungodly Babylonians want them to sing a song for them. One of the great songs about their God, that they are renowned for singing all over the existing world; at that time. Unfortunately, to the surprise of the Babylonians and maybe even to their own surprise, they reply “we have no song to sing”.  In the most unlikely situations and times, when we least expect it, will we be asked, by those that we have been trying to reach, those that have been persecuting us, those that have rejected us in the past, now, in our worse moment, at a time when we are down, do they come to us and say, “sing us a song” and what do we say, “get a way from me right now, I just want to be left alone; going through a rough time, I've hung my harp and I have nothing to sing about God right now”.  The danger is, who knows if we will ever get this opportunity again and of course it comes to us at the worse of times. But isn't that life! When we are prepared, when we are on our God, when we are on our spiritual high horse and want to preach and sing to the world, nobody wants to listen, but then when we are down, someone knocks on our door, someone gives us a call or shows up at our church and we are not singing anymore! Do you still have a song to sing? Singing is unique to our faith, Christians do allot of singing. The birth of Christ was preceded with a Choir of Angels singing about the coming birth of Christ,  “Suddenly a great army of heaven’s angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God; Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased”. The celebration of Christ (Christ-mas) has always been with singing. 
As Israel is being reintroduced to their God; Jehovah brings a great deliverance for His people, Miriam, in a moment of spontaneity, picks up her tambourine and shouts, “let’s sing to our God!”  One thing that is still good about Christmas is that every mall, every store for the next week or so, will be filled with music that is specific to celebrating Christmas. No doubt, some of the songs are a far cry from celebrating Christ (Grandma got run over by a reindeer) but yet, if you listen enough, you will find they still play some of the classics; and that’s a miracle in itself, especially in today’s politically, hyper- sensitive society, that we live in.  Christmas can become annoying if you don’t have a song to sing anymore, as you cannot get-a-way from singing during Christmas. Has Christmas caught you at a bad time this year? Are people, that you would least expect, wanting a song from you this Christmas? Question is, “do you still have a song to sing or have you hung up your harp?”

Saturday, December 17, 2016

DECEMBER 17 "MESSSAGE, IM MEAN PRAYER IN A BOTTLE"

“Bottled up prayers” that’s a pretty cool idea and concept.  People have been almost miraculously rescued by putting a message in a bottle, tossing it out into the sea and hoping, praying it floats safe and sound into the hands of a would be rescuer. A preserved cry for help is what a message in a bottle is. Is a vocal prayer also “a preserved cry for help?”  The message in the bottle is a desperate hope that the cry for help will get into the right hands and often a prayer is also a desperate hope that their cry will somehow travel billions of light years through space and time and get into the hands of this incredible deity, we call God. The question is, are our prayers making it through billions of light years and galaxies to God?  According to our text today, they are!!! They are the message in the bottle. “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. “And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.” What do we have here? Bottled up prayers! All the prayers of the Saints that have come before God are bottled up, sounds like our prayers somehow made it through billions of light years and galaxies to our creator.  The arch angel appears to Daniel and tells him his prayers were heard immediately when he began to pray but the Prince of Persia prevented him from arriving sooner to help One of the great mysteries of the world….”prayer”. We are mystified, stupefied about prayer, yet we all do it, because we are desperate, and sometimes, we think it works. We don’t know if it was coincidence or if it really works, but we keep doing it. Not everyone prays on a regular basis, but everyone one prays. Christians pray, non-Christians pray. The moral pray and the immoral pray. The righteous and the unrighteous, pray, everyone prays. If ever we were to be visited by little green men, one observation they would  make and note down about humans,…..is they pray. The wouldn’t know who or what we pray too, but they would surely note, “humans pray”. Do we pray because it makes us feel better or do we pray because we believe prayer makes it to the Thrown of God. A message in a bottle, that’s what our prayers are. Safely preserved and speedily brought before the Thrown of God. If there’s one quick lesson we will learn when we get to Heaven, the lesson will be, we should have prayed and we should have prayed more! “For the fervent prayers of a righteous man, availeth much!”

Friday, December 16, 2016

DECEMBER 16 "WILL YOU PERISH BECAUSE OF YOUR IGNORANCE?"

But you, O Bethlehem are only a small village among all the people of Judah, Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past”.  This of course is the scripture that the Pharisees used to reject Jesus as the Messiah. As far as they knew, what they had been told, Jesus was from Nazareth; therefore He could not be the Messiah as prophesied about in Micah. Had the Pharisees done their research they would have found out Jesus was not from Nazareth, his parents had only moved there later on, but that Jesus was actually born in Bethlehem. Ignorance is not always bliss!  The Pharisees and many others will perish because of their ignorance. How many people today will argue about religion, salvation and eternity who are completely ignorant and don’t know what facts they are arguing on. The Pharisees would ultimately perish based on what they had heard. How many times when Jesus was speaking to them did He not say, “have you not read?!”  I once was perishing, I lived a horrible sinful life, but because I had never murdered, robbed a bank or raped (the cardinal sins of the Catholic Church) I thought I was going to Heaven. And what research, what study, did I base my belief on…..absolutely nothing. My confidence of where I would spend eternity was totally based on ignorance. Had Jesus asked me, “have you not read?” my answer would have been, “no, I have not read but I have thrown a few bibles in the trash”. How many people out there will one day perish because of ignorance? And when a Christian did come their way, with some knowledge, they blew them away, chased them away, spouting ideologies and beliefs that have absolutely no validity to them whatsoever, if only they had done their research. The problem is we don’t’ want to do our research in fear of what we might find. My beliefs, regardless of whether they are founded on truth, allow me to live a comfortable, self indulging, sinful life with no eternal consequences, why in the world would I ever want to find out that they are based on false presuppositions. We all know that “religion is man’s invention to reconcile himself with God on his own terms” and that may give some a false peace here on earth, but one day, when standing before the Judge of the Universe we will be asked, “have you not read…..unless a man is Born Again, he will not enter the Kingdom of God”. The truth incarnate was right there in front of the Pharisees, but yet they perished because of their ignorance and prejudices. People will argue until they’re last breath as to what they know, but what if the belief and/or religion they have argued in defense of their whole life; what they thought to be true, is actually a lie? Are you willing to gamble whether you will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell simply based on what you have been told without ever having done your own research? Will you too, like the Pharisees, one day perish in Hell for eternity, simply because you were ignorant of the truth and facts? The answer to that question we know, sadly enough, is “yes” many will perish because of ignorance. “We know that you cannot be the Messiah, because you are from Nazareth” those will be the words that haunt them for all eternity!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

DECEMBER 15 "JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAY, PLENTY OF WINE & BEER"

If a liar and deceiver comes and says, "I will prophecy for you plenty of wine and beer, that would be just the prophet for this people"
Isn't that the scripture every person should know and memorize. It's hard to believe this was written over 2000 years ago and not just last week. It goes to show that God has a sense of humor and sarcasm working in Him and it proves He knows what most of us really want. This Holiday season is all about wine & beer. God is 100% accurate in his assessment. The prophet that would tells us "have all the wine and beer you want" is the prophet we want and he is the prophet that we have today. It's not just the sinners boozing it up this time of year, it's the sipping saints too! It's the festive time of year! It's festive because we are filled with wine and beer. I may have my mind on plenty of other things when I get to Heaven, but right now, today, my question to Jesus would be, "why did you do it?". Why beer, why wine, why alcohol? Alcohol has destroyed so many families, killed so many people, caused so much harm. But then again, even as I'm writing this, I think, "so has money".  And I'm not asking God why "there is money", I sure do enjoy money. And money, the bible states, or the love of money, is "the root of all evil".  I can't even say the bible has that harsh a statement against alcohol. It seems that God gives humanity the freedom to choose and exercise self control pertaining to all things. God wants us to be masters of all and mastered by nothing, but Him. God does speak plenty about alcohol in His word, All over God's word he cautions us that wine and strong drink creates brawls and He tells us that he who is lead astray by it, is not wise. Yet alcohol still remains as an option in the earth. Paul exhorts his ministers and bishops in his epistles not to be given to alcohol.  What can be more unbearable to watch than a drunk minister or minister's wife. All I know is we are a generation that has become obsessed with alcohol (we can celebrate nothing without it) and often times those that are supposed to be "the light of the world" are no different. All I know is God writes to us in His Word, that if you wanted to consecrate yourself to The Lord in a special way, He said, "then avoid all alcohol". You can not only live without it, but you can serve me much better without it! Just remember your scripture today, "if a prophet would come to you prophesying "more beer and wine" HE WOULD BE A DECEIVER AND A LIAR.  



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

DECEMBER 14 "MAN'S FREEWILL VS. GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY"

     THE problem with the story of Jonah is it causes many lazy Christians to form a wrong Theology.  And that theology is, that God will bring to fruition his purposes for my, irregardless of moi.   Irregardless of my stubbornness, irregardless of my rebelliousness, irregardless of my uncleanness, irregardless of my undisciplined spiritual life, in essence, irregardless of me.  "Look at Jonah, he didn't want to do God's will, he was heading in a completely different direction and in the end, God got him to do what he wanted".  And what do we say to that? We cannot deny it is true, we just read it!  We cannot deny that God is Sovereign and that his will will always prevail, otherwise He cannot be Sovereign. We cannot deny that God, in being sovereign, reserves the right to "override" our free will when necessary; otherwise he cannot be sovereign.  My son, no doubt has a free will and he functions day to day exercising his free will, but I, as his Father, reserve the right when necessary to override his free will for the greater good and purpose of things he does not see.  While we cannot deny that God made the decision, "for Nineveh" to "override" Jonah's freewill (to rebel and not to go Nineveh) we cannot apply this to are lives and to everything in life. I am sure God has many times, without me knowing, "overrode" my free will and led me to make decisions that I was not even aware I was making, that were going to lead me to a certain place, a certain person or a certain situation, He wanted me to be in. That being said, we must understand that God does gives us the freedom to exercise our "freewill" even if it goes against what his permissive will would have for us.  God allowed David to exercise his "freewill" to commit adultery with Bathsheba.  God allowed David to exercise his freewill to murder Uriah. God allowed David to exercise his "freewill" to do these things that God knew would alter David's destiny and future.  God allowed Moses to exercise his freewill to strike the rock twice, knowing full well in doing this, Moses would disqualify himself from entering the Promised Land, the very purpose God had was to bring Moses into the promised land, however, in God allowing Moses to exercise his freewill, Moses disqualified himself. 10And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
 11And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
 12And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them."
     God, from the womb had called Samson to be a Nazarite, set apart from birth for himself, but God also allowed Samson the right to exercise his freewill to ruin his destiny and ultimately commit suicide in the end.
     I have a problem with lazy Christians today who use the story of Jonah to excuse their lazy and undisciplined, spiritual lives; believing that in the end, it will all work out because God is good, He is Sovereign, we are not and He will bring his purposes to pass, irregardless of me.  I agree, God will bring about his purposes to pass, irregardless of me.  God sidestepped Moses and used Joshua to bring about his purposes.  So yes, God's purposes will prevail, but God is not obligated to bring them to pass "thru us" irregardless of our attitudes and behavior.  Did He do so with Jonah, yes He did and that was God's choice, He is free to do so. Did God do it with every servant He called in the bible, no He did not.  This Theology that God "will force you to do his will" is False.  Read Matthew 7:21 and the account of all those Christians who think they're making Heaven their home when to their shock and amazement they are not. And why are they not, the text says, "because they never did the will of the Father".  Why didn't God force them to do his will, especially when the stakes were so high?
     We have to make sure that we do not use stories in the bible to form Theologies that are fitting for us. No theology should be formed by a story in the bible. We form our Theology by knowing the bible as a whole, by knowing God as a whole.  People to this very day, are still trying to walk on water and handle deadly serpents and drink poison because of stories in the bible. God never meant for us to take stories from the bible and form doctrines and theologies of them, He called us to know his Word, from cover to cover and to know him and form our Theology from that.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

DECEMBER 13 "ESAU IS A SAD STORY...."

Esau is the sad story, that never gets better. Wouldn't make for a nice movie where everyone likes a happy ending. I think the problem with watching movies and always having a happy ending is we begin to identify life like that. It will work out, it will end well, it's all good. Well, that maybe Hollywood, and that may make a much better movie, but in real life, some stories, some lives are tragic saga's and sad endings. Isaac has two boys, Esau and Jacob. Esau comes from a good family, Esau has great opportunity, but something is in Esau, that is not right and he does not seem to do right, or chose right. He is like Cain whom God confronts and tells him, "if you will do right will you not be accepted as well?" Sometimes we make decisions that are going to set us in a certain direction and put us on a course we may not want to be on. Jacob, Esau's brother has his name changed to Israel.  Esau never does return or get back on track, one bad decision leads to another. Esau purposely begins to marry women that are from tribes that Israel has always been at war with. Esau marries a Canaanite woman, Esau also married a Hittite woman. He joins in allegiance to the enemy's of Israel (Jacob) through marriage. "Because of the violence you did to your close relatives Israel". God is reminding the Edomites of who they are. They are from the blood line of Isaac, from the brother of Jacob, now named Israel. It's hard to believe how far Esau ends up straying and the great enemy he becomes of his own family.  It all started one day when Esau sold his birthright to Jacob over a bowl of stew. "What good is my birthright".  Jacob, no doubt took advantage of the situation, but God is able to work all things out, if Esau had limited this one bad decision. But Esau doesn't stop there, that bad decision, leads to another, Esau becomes estranged from his family and eventually becomes an enemy of his own flesh and blood. In our reading today, God is judging the Edomites, of who Esau is the father of the Edomites, for the crimes against their relative, Israel. Esau is the sad story, that never gets better. It's all decisions. There's an immense amount of Grace with God, for bad decisions, Lord knows, we all make them. The problem is not a bad decision, the problem is an incessant, almost determination, to keep making bad decisions that will turn our lives into the same story line as Esau, from bad to worse. Have you made some bad decisions in your past or recently? No problem, turn, get on the right path, choose to start making right decisions and God will bring you to a better place. Or, you can be like Esau, we can in spite of our bad decisions, defiantly determine to make more. Jacob, was by no means an Angelo or free of bad mistakes. Jacob had issues, but he was not bent on continuing in that direction, whereas Esau was. The problem is not God, the problem is not that there's no Grace, the problem is possibly you. Rather than admit to God, "you messed up, you made a bad decision, you sold you birthright" you insist on persisting on your course, rather than admit you messed up and ask God's forgiveness and Grace. Two brothers born from the same womb, from the same line of  Isaac. Both brothers have issues, both brothers make bad decisions, but one turns to God, the others turns away from God. Are you Jacob or Esau is the question you want to ask yourself today? Will you turn to God and admit you've made a bad choice, a bad decision or will you be Esau and continue in your defiance and continue to build upon your bad decisions. If you're having a hard time deciding, read the rest of the story, the Edomites don't win, they are judged and destroyed by God. Esau never wins, you will never fight God and win. If only Esau had died to himself, but he didn't, he left behind the Edomites. Esau's always leave behind, unfortunately, a legacy of trouble and tragedy. I think of so many men that are incarcerated today or on their way to being incarcerated in the near future and as you get to know them you realize most of them came from a legacy, a lineage of the Edomites. What we produce, lives on after we die, for good or for bad. If the man or the woman today, that is bent of defiance would only think ahead and see their daughter, their son, their grandchildren one day be part of the Edomites, being destroyed by God, perhaps they would consider twice, the decisions and direction they are heading in. From one womb, came the Israelites (Jacob) and the Edomites (Esau) and these two nations are still at war today!  The Palestinian/Arab war against Israel still rages on today. Esau is the sad story, that never got better, don't be an Esau, whatever you in life, don't ever chose to become an Esau!

Monday, December 12, 2016

DECEMBER 12 "LOSING IS NOT AN OPTION"

     WHY is everything about being Victorious, about overcoming?  21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne." Is there not a place anywhere for the fainthearted, is there not a place anywhere for the man who wants to quit, for the man who is going to lose?  Apparently, not even Heaven, of all places has a place for the loser or the quitter. Why does Jesus have to remind us that it will not be those that simply said a prayer one day, long time ago, that will inherit the Kingdom of God, but only those that overcome and are victorious?
     I was in a Football Tournament this week-end with my son. I was coaching and my son was the quarterback. The only teams that moved on for the prize were the teams that were victorious. Why couldn't those that lost move on?  We, my team, were not Victorious. I stood on the field and watched before my own eyes, my defense collapse on me. Almost every other play was leading to a touch down, the defense just fell apart and what followed is our offense then fell apart too because we were so far behind. In my mind I thought, "we must win, we are facing elimination if we lose this game, we must be victorious".  No matter how much I thought this, not matter how much I wished this, it simply was not going to come to be.  And why is that? Well it was not because we lacked the talent, it was because we were defeated in our spirit. We could not conjure up enough faith to believe we could overcome the odds that were now stacked against us and we crumbled, embarrassingly in front of a rather large crowd.
     I believe this is what has happened to many of our brothers and sisters in Christ. They have come up and faced such insurmountable odds that in their spirit they say, "this I can't come back from". It's not that they can't (just like it was not like my team couldn't) it is that their spirit is broken, something has died within them, the will to keep trying, keep moving forward has died.  I distinctly remember hearing one player come back into the huddle saying, "I don't want to play anymore".  This was a kid that loved football, was good at it but he was mentally defeated and he was for all intensive purposes done. It was a bad loss, we were eliminated and we were not Victorious that day, as Jesus would say.
     How many Christians are out there today that are down for the count. They are defeated, the odds are overwhelmingly against them and just like in sports we can come to a place where we say, "it's over, why even bother trying anymore".  In a war, they raise the white flag, in sports they simply stop trying and wait for the clock to run out, but Jesus says, "losing is not an option"  "quiting is not an option" " giving up is not an option".  Jesus is not saying, it would be better if you made a comeback here it would really help you standings.  Jesus warns us, "only those that are victorious, just like I was, will inherit the Kingdom of God."   Now Jesus makes it personnel. Why did Jesus have to throw in, "Just like I was".  Answer:  you'll find that coaches that over the years have had a winning record will not accept defeat, they will not accept people on the team that have a defeatist mindset. They want people on their team with a winning mindset because they know that with them and their experience, they can be victorious. They are not intimidated by being down or behind in a game. Jesus has been through it all, he's seen it all, experienced it all but yet came out Victorious and this is what qualifies him to say, "you must be victorious like I was" Jesus goes further to say, "in this life you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome [I have been victorious] the world".  Jesus is saying, "you can make a comeback".  Jesus is saying, "I know what it is to be down so low, you think it's over, but I got up, took one step at a time, did not allow myself to accept defeat and I overcame".  And Jesus is saying with him, you can make a comeback, just don't quit on him. "For we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus who strengthens us".  We have a Saviour, who has a perfect winning record. He knows what it is to win, He knows how to win and He will not accept defeat for himself and He will not accept defeat for you.  Jesus says, "you must be Victorious".  This is one fight, you have to win, losing is not an option, you lose here, you lose for eternity".  The great Apostle Paul at the end of his life said, "I have fought the good fight of Faith" and would could add to that....And I wonI was Victorious!  
     I have seen people so psyched out in sports that they cannot compete anymore and I have also seen Christians so psyched out that they cannot compete anymore. The difference..., sports is a simple game that if lost, it is simply an ego that is crushed. With Christians it can be a soul that is lost and not just that one soul but all the souls that were going to be influenced and/or were being influenced. The stakes are much higher and this is why Jesus is saying, "Losing is not an option, get back up, just as I did, keep trying, keep contending and you will win, TRUST ME!"  I knew the game was lost on Saturday when I had a team that no longer believed they would win and I no longer had a team to coach.  Jesus can do all things, no doubt, but the one thing he needs from you to win, is that you still believe there's hope, you still believe you can overcome, you still beleive in him and if you hold on to that, no matter how far behind you are, you watch the miracles God will do for you to overcome and be victorious, losing is not an option!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

DECEMBER 11 "IS YOUR CHURCH THE LOVE CHURCH?"

Kudos to the Church in Thyatira.  If I was the Pastor of that church I would frame these words from Jesus and hang them in the Church foyer for everyone, especially visitors to read, “I have seen your love, your faith, you service and patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things”.  Of course I would leave out the next part, “But I have this one complaint against you, you are permitting that woman Jezebel….to teach them to commit sexual sin”.  We know that “Love” is the primary objective, the primary goal of a church.  The church in Thyatira seems to have reached this high and lofty goal. I think we can agree, there’s a few churches today that are seriously lacking in love. It’s unfortunate that the very objective that the Thyatira church has strived to be, now brings with it a serious fault. They have tried so hard to be “the love church” that in doing so they have completely avoided any kind of behavior that might be taken as “unloving”.  I have never once confronted someone for “sexual sin” in the church and had them say, “Pastor, I know you’re doing this because you love me, I can just feel the love coming from you”. It was normally the opposite; they left the church, with all sorts of inflammatory accusations and of course accused me and/or the church of being “unloving”. The love church in Thyatira will never behave in any way that would leave any room for interpreting them as being unloving.  Have you even been in one of these churches? There is no judgment of any kind, anything goes, it’s all about love, encouragement and acceptance. Sounds like the ideal church doesn’t it! Then you have the other church that says, “we need to exhort, encourage but also need to chasten and rebuke” and most often what they really are is a church of constant rebuking, rules and legalism and there really is no encouragement and/or love.  The church that is full of love is corrected by Jesus for allowing flagrant sin to go on (very typical) and the church that judges all sin and keeps a tight rein will be accused by Jesus for having no Grace and no Love (very typical).  This should have you wondering, “what church do I serve God in, how would we be characterized by Jesus?”  I ask myself that question all the time. Jesus may not write letters to the churches anymore, but He still keeps himself well acquainted with His churches and always will; until His return at least.  Jesus has an opinion of your church, the question is, would you ever ask him what His opinion is and would you be able to hear what He is saying?  “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches”. God is speaking in many churches, trying to help them, sometimes through encouraging words sometimes through rebuking words, but many churches go on to function and remain the same, never being changed, never being transformed into the church that they could be because they have ears, but not ears that hear and certainly not ears that listen. But if we have ears to hear and listen our church(s) can be changed and transformed into great churches; and isn’t that what we all want, we know it’s what Jesus wants, we know He is speaking but are we listening?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

DECEMBER 10 "RETURN TO YOUR 1ST LOVE..I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT!"

"Return to your first love" it's the sermon older Christians hate to hear.  It's like men listening to a sermon on lust "oh here we go again", they think to themselves. Lust is the Achilles heel of every man (though hopefully triumphant) and "go back to your first love" is the sermon that can be preached any Sunday, and most older converts will be convicted! Because we do stray in our relationships, the fire does dwindle in our relationships and whether we want to hear it or not it is true and needs to be said. We do need to return to our first love, it's not a cliche, but true! We are no longer the "down and out" person we were when we first came to Christ. We are now married, have kids, have sports on week-ends, have good jobs and life is good, for the most part and oh yeah, Jesus, sure, he's good, church is alright, however I don't think I'm gonna make it this Sunday my son has a soccer game out of town and I didn't make it last week because my work had our Christmas party and the week before,  I was just awful tired and thought I needed a day off to rest. Finally that Christian makes it to service for the 1st time that month and what do they hear....but a sermon on "returning to their first love" or accused of being "lukewarm" and really, who wants to hear it?! So then, what do we do with this verse in the Bible, what do we do with this staunching rebuke from the one we love. If you're a smart preacher, you avoid it. If you are an obedient preacher, obedient to the Holy Spirit, you still preach it and let the cards fall where they may. Should it be preached every Sunday or every month, of course not, but the preacher should not be afraid or intimidated from preaching the Words of Jesus Christ, as the Holy Spirit prompts him. And so, with all that said, do you need to return to your first love? Are you so caught up in your life now that Jesus is but a shadow of what He used to be in your life? Do you still pray? Do you still pick up the bible? Do you still desire to be in church or is it just your duty now? If you're human and you've been a Christian for any number of years, the answer to all those questions will be in your favor. at certain seasons in your life. And it is a good sermon, or a good blog or a good friend, that because they care for us, reminds us to keep the flame alive, don't let it dwindle; keep the flame alive with Jesus because we know that the natural course of any fire, if you've ever had a fireplace, is to dwindle down and eventually go out, that is the natural course of any fire, no matter how bright, how powerfully it once blazed, without care, every fire, eventually goes out!

Friday, December 9, 2016

DECEMBER 9 "DO YOU MIND IF I HAVE SOME JOY?!"

I know that the Christian Life is not the perfect life. That if I expect my life to be ever so bliss because I’m a Christian is wrong. However, I still cannot get away from the scripture that continuously tells me, “my life should be blessed because I fear the Lord and obey him. So while I should make room in my theology or life, for hard times, I must also understand that it isn’t my lot in life to be miserable and beaten down. In both Psalms and Proverbs today we are told that “how joyful are those who fear the Lord, how joyful and prosperous they will be, may you live to enjoy your grandchildren” then in Proverbs we read, “whoever obeys the law is joyful” it is almost a duplicate of what we read in Psalm 128.  And so I get it, I get it, my life isn’t going to be perfect, I know, I’ve been told enough times, through radio talk shows to sermons, books and from friends. I got that part, it’s been made loud and clear. It’s almost the strategy they use in “sales”. Set expectations low and hope to produce high, like that nobody is disappointed. It’s almost like our Christian Community is using the same methodology with us. Let’s set our expectations low about this Christian life and if you so happen to have a good year, then all the better! The problem is as I continue to read my bible I am not getting the same message from God. Through the Word of God I believe God is telling us to set “expectations high!” God is telling us believe for the best, believe for a prosperous and blessed life. So why does everyone in Christianity want us to set our expectations low?  Why are they so afraid we are going to be let down “by the Almighty?” Cannot I not believe God for a long, fruitful and prosperous life, can I not believe God to be able to be blessed and enjoy my grandchildren some day? “Well, brother you don’t want to get your hopes to high”, someone might say.  And I say, “why not!” It is as if people are taking their personal experience as a Christian and redefining the Word of God through their experience. Instead of taking the Word of God and redefine their lives to conform to it, they do the opposite. They take the experience of their life and redefine the Word of God.  Thence, my beaten down life, my losses, my lack of victories can only make me have to change the bible or look at it with a skeptical eye. It is not the bible that we should be looking at with a skeptical eye, but our own lives. As the Word of God says, “let God be true and every man a liar”.  We will always paint ourselves in the best light. However, upon closer examination, we will find it is our lackluster performance that has caused many of God’s promises to fall the ground and rot. I understand trials may come, I know Jesus said, “behold in this world you will have tribulation” but Jesus also said, “BE OF GOOD CHEER, for I have overcome the world”. The life of a Christian is not doom and gloom, but at least I’m going to Heaven. And just as sinners have a taste of Hell here on earth, so should Christians have a taste of Heaven here on earth. If the agenda of the Christian Community you are surrounded by is also to set low expectations then you will have to consider why and what is going on because it simply is not what God wants us to do.  According to our reading today He wants us to set and expect A Good Life, A Blessed Life, A Prosperous Life and to dumb down or water down or lessen any of God’s promises to accommodate or validate or excuse our lack luster Christian experience is wrong.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

DECEMBER 8 "I DON'T UNDERSTAND..ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED?"

     I SIMPLY don't understand Eternal Security and I understand it even less after reading today's passage in Jude.  The author provides a clear cut case against eternal security. He writes, "let me remind you".  I think part of the problem is we forget and probably worse, most Christians just don't read The Bible, seems like an oxymoron if I've ever heard one, but it's true. If you were to try to have a debate over this subject and say, "well you know what it says in the book of Jude (as I have many times) about this" many "self professed" Christians/back-slidden Baptists, would give you that stare...."hmmm, Jude, I think I've heard of that book, I'm not quite sure where it is...is that old testament?"  And for those that have read the book of Jude and read the arguments of the author they would simply say, "well, that's because they were never really saved".  However the author deals with that in Jude. He reminds us that God has no problem judging his people.  One might say, "yes, I agree, but judging is one thing, condemning a Christian to hell for eternity is another".  Who then is Paul writing to in Corinthians?  Does he not address his Epistle to" the Saints at Corinth?" And does he not proceed to tell them, "be not deceived, no fornicator, adulterer, drunkard, etc..etc... will inherit the Kingdom of God".  The key phrase "be not deceived". Those that are caught up in eternal security (once saved always saved) are clearly deceived.  Just to take a few moments to recap what we read in Jude.  "5 Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord[c] at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire."   And if that isn't enough to convince you here is the case and point"they pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord."  At the heart of the matter is this, people who are out sinning like sinner's, but yet claiming to be Christians, claiming that they will make Heaven their home because they once got saved when they were ____ years old are simply people who pervert (twist) God's Grace into a License for immorality. They think they have God in a "catch 22".  And those that are preaching this damning heresy will be equally responsible for the people they've encouraged in their sin rather than a call to repentance.  Grace is there for us because God knows we will slip, but like we read in 1 John just a few days ago, "as Christians we ought not to sin, but if we do, we have an advocate in Jesus Christ and if we will confess our sins He is just and faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  But where will the Grace be for the man or woman who dies in their immorality; which is really the issue in Jude, immorality and rebellion. Aren't those always the issues?!  The Hallmark of Christianity in the 1st Century A.D. was that Christianity, amongst all the other masses of religions was the one that brought morality to a very religious, pagan and unclean culture.  Christianity taught men to retrain themselves, to keep their bodies pure. If we take morality out of Christianity we have nothing. If we are going to be Christian than first and foremost we must be moral.  What do "Eternal Securists" do with this passage in Hebrews 10:26,  26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.  I did not write that just to make a point, that's straight from God's word. The author goes on to write29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?   I would have to agree, this is an insult to God, they have insulted his Grace and Mercy and have used it for a license to sin and think that somehow they have got one over on God.
     As with my children, it is both a Love and a Fear of God that keeps me. There are times where I feel close, loving and obedient towards my Heavenly Father and on those days, I am sustained by love. There are other days, other weeks where the cold winds of life come in an chill my love and on those days, Fear keeps me.  As with my children, love works on some days, fear works on others. The last thing any Christian should ever be taught is that they a guaranteed a pass into Heaven, for the simple reason that our sinful, fallen nature, will exploit that every time.  How many times did God tell his people to repent or he would judge them. Never did God tell his people, "you love me don't you, then c'mon, repent". There is Grace for sure in Christ, but know your scripture and know there's no Grace for those that pervert God's Grace into a license to sin; to be immoral.  I don't understand Eternal Security because there's nothing to understand about it. I don't want to understand Eternal Security anymore than I want to sit down and try to understand how Satan could have rebelled against such a good God because the moment we think we understand than we think we can empathize with those that believe their heresy's and once we have taken that step we are one step closer to embracing the heresy.