Archive for April, 2015

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Kokoro no soko kara katsudo ga meiji suru

April 28, 2015

It’s a struggle that all of us have wrestle with at times. While we openly and vehemently profess that Jesus is our first love, oftentimes our actions suggest that something else is in the proverbial drivers seat.  I know of many professing Christians who attend church regularly and do all of the things that are expected of them……and yet their lives are dictated by the goings on in their family, professional ambitions, an addiction to a fruitless pastime, or any number of other things which can become ones primary focus. (Amos 8:5) I have been asking the Lord Jesus to instill such a love for him that the distractions of this life will lose every shred of influence and every obligation will be kept in a proper perspective.  Such a place does exist for one who is born of the Spirit and, even now, most of the things which once held me in continual suspense have lost their hold.  But there are the lingering…..seemingly harmless time bandits – some of which may even appear to have spiritual significance…..and yet ultimately, they cause one to squander valuable time that could have been utilized in a way that furthered the kingdom of God. 

Colossians 3:2 “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” 

Sometimes the obligations of life seem to have us in a continuous cycle of activity. (we can all relate to this) These are the times in which we must be especially watchful as Satan will always seek to use such seasons to his advantage. Perhaps a three hour block of time wherein we can enter the prayer closet is simply not available, however, we can take advantage of every small space of time to be in the presence of the Lord.  Seriously; taking a few minutes, between consuming obligations, to be in the presence of the Lord Jesus, can be the difference between maintaining an eternal perspective throughout the duration of a physical responsibility, or becoming consumed by the agenda of this world.  For me, one way of accomplishing this is by walking to work instead of driving.  The twenty five minute walk, through quiet neighborhoods late in the evening, (I work third shift) allows for quality time with Jesus without distraction.  The walk home is even better because the option to linger is available.  I can stop at a park bench for a few minutes and prayerfully consider the deep things of God while the sound of birds chirping fills the early morning air.  

And yet, even when such time is available, distractive thoughts can creep in and steal the moment.  Those seemingly harmless issues that fly beneath our spiritual radar and then interrupt the line of communication.  Every prayerful inquiry regarding this matter has resulted in the same passage of scripture coming to mind; I Corinthians 15:31, which reads I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” The battle against the old nature which dwells in our members will continue for as long as we inhabit a vessel of clay.  While we are not to be enslaved by sin or beholden to the things of this world, the fact remains that the flesh will continually pull towards the baser elements.  The degree to which we have victory over such things is a reflection of where we are spiritually and areas of struggle indicate a need to seek a deeper relationship with Jesus through prayer, fasting, and dwelling in his word. “Praying through” is a term that’s rarely heard these days, but it is a must if we are to endure that which is manifesting upon the earth.  

Hebrews 12:4 “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood in striving against sin.”

Striving against sin is an inherent trademark of one who has truly been born of the Spirit.  Not just repeat a sinners prayer and go on living in the same fashion as before, but a true moment of conversion where they recognized their sinful state and the consequences thereof, understood that Jesus paid for their sin with his own innocent blood, repented of their sin, and from that moment on strove to live for their Savior. Striving unto blood is resisting sin with everything that is in us and calling on God to strengthen us during the moments of temptation when we become overwhelmed.  James 4:7 frames it perfectly: “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  But to fully appreciate this, along with the Hebrews 4:12, it’s necessary to return to the beginning of chapter 12.  The importance of this cannot be overstated as, in the days before us, we will both witness things, and be tempted in ways, that we never could have anticipated.  Our spiritual preparation will be pivotal to maintaining our testimony of Jesus.

It goes without saying that, for many, these are familiar scriptures.  Nonetheless, the importance of the issue at hand requires another visiting of them.  

Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race that is set before us.”

The writer of Hebrews (I think that it was Paul, however, some believe otherwise) had just finished telling of several of old testament saints who maintained their testimony in the midst of horrific trials. When everything in the physical realm was flowing in the wrong direction, through faith they “subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to fight the armies of the aliens.” Many endured persecution, imprisonment, and death at the hands of their oppressors. Many lived outside of the social structure; wandering about in wilderness areas, living in caves and mountains with a minimum of physical assets, but having complete confidence in the Creator of all that is. (Of whom the world was not worthy:) Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to consider the end of these saints, of whom that a cloud of witnesses is comprised (a cloud that has greatly increased in size since the time that the book of Hebrews was written) and to lay aside everything that would hinder us from finishing our course

Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

Looking unto Jesus steadfastly; always keeping in remembrance, the price that he paid for our sins.  None of us can fully grasp just how incredible our salvation is.  We were lost – on our way to hell with no hope and no means whereby we could rid ourselves of sin.  Jesus, who is before all things, and by whom all things consist……who has no beginning, no ending, and is unchanging……stepped into the flow of time and into a world that was contrary to his nature in every way possible.  He was tempted in every way as we are and when his flesh was at its absolute weakest point, the deceiver sought to derail him.  “Make these stones bread……cast thyself from this high place…….all of the kingdoms of this world will I give you – just worship me.”  The temptation in the wilderness alone is so profound that we cannot wrap our minds around it. And yet Jesus prevailed; each time using scripture to defeat the ancient foe.  He went about during his days in a body of flesh; healing all who were oppressed of the devil, freely sharing the words of this life, and bidding “whosoever will” to follow him.

When the time was at hand when he was to be crucified, he could have called more than twelve legions of angels……at any time, from the moment of his apprehension in the garden until the time that he was taking his final breaths……he could have called out and been delivered. But he remained in the will of the Father until death.  The eternal picture was never lost and because of his obedience, we have access to that which we do not deserve. On the cross, the one who had never sinned bore the sin debt of all who had ever, and would ever, walk upon the earth.  It is absolutely imperative that we continuously remember the price that he paid for us and how he sought us out when we were altogether lost in trespasses and sins.  There was nothing that we could ever offer him; nothing in our power to remedy our situation.  We were lost in every sense of the word, until the blood of Jesus washed our sins away.    

Hebrews 12:3 “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” 

Lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” While joy unspeakable and peace that defies understanding are promises for to those who abide close to Jesus, there is always the danger of losing sight; even to the point of fainting. If we fail to keep our focus upon Jesus, especially in the times that we’re entering into, we will be deceived. If a person fails to keep their heart with all diligence, something else will become their primary focus.  If not repented of, that which caused them to leave their first love will cause them to make decisions that will torment them throughout eternity.  Many,if not most, professing Christians (at least in the westernized nations) are going to faint when conditions reach a point of “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and looking after those things which are coming upon the earth:”  And then, when the false Christs and false prophets begin to “shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” those who are not in a right standing with God will believe a lie….and ultimately wonder after a beast.

The thrust behind this posting is to encourage all who love the Lord Jesus to examine ourselves and prayerfully inquire if we are harboring things which will derail us in the hour of temptation.  Peter was fully persuaded that he was ready to lay down his life for Jesus, and yet, when he was identified as a follower, he denied the Lord three times.  This incident has served as a reminder to every generation since, to not beware of overconfidence.  None of us can face what lies ahead in our own strength or wisdom.  examining ourselves now; drawing in ever closer to Jesus and remaining in constant communication with him will enable us to prepare spiritually for anything that we may be confronted with……even if the events prophesied unfold in a manner that unravels our eschatology.  Our faith is not in our understanding every single event that is unfolding, but in being close to Jesus, determining to never deny him, and settling it in our hearts to never receive that which will forever separate us from his presence.

I must end this post with a personal report.  Earlier today, we attended the funeral of a relative on my wife’s side of the family whom I had never met in life. (at least not that I remember) The man was 92 and had been in church his entire life.  Several years ago, however, he met Jesus and was born of the Spirit.  As the funeral proceeded, one after another of those who were closest to him, testified of the incredible change that transpired in his life after he was truly saved.  The pastor who performed the eulogy included the message of salvation in his dialogue, however, by that time many of the relatives had already done this.  It was the most uplifting funeral that I have ever been to…..and yet it brought to the forefront a disturbing reality.  How many people have been filling church pews for decades, doing all that is expected of them and being model “Christian citizens” but have never been born of the Spirit.  

The funeral tied in perfectly with the theme of this post…..which is probably why all of my efforts over the past two weeks to finish this were derailed.  Seriously; every distraction under the sun has manifested; keeping this post in the draft section…..until today.

From the bottom of the heart, actions manifest.  Blessings in Jesus name.

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The Redundant Sea

April 6, 2015

Over the past several years, a myriad of catastrophic events have been forecast which created a frenzy, but in the end, went away without a stir.  Some were rendered irrelevant once a particular date passed, such as Y2K, the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012, and what have you.  Other predicted calamities have had a more open timetable, however, as the years progressed, concern began to wain when the predictions either failed to manifest in a timely manner, or, events begin trending in a direction that was contrary to the predictions.  Global warming is a primary example of this.  A supposed environmental tipping point that was embraced by much of the scientific community and discussed widely in the various media outlets, but failed to live up to the expectations.  More recently, there were predictions of massive Ebola outbreaks in the United States and Europe, when patients from West Africa were flown in for treatment.

They enter the forecast of “things to come,” create a frenzy, spawn an array of predictions as to the extent of their impact, prompt those with an agenda to utilize the uproar to their advantage (let no crisis go to waste) and then vanish with little more than a whimper.  Today, few remember the panic surrounding the predictions of Y2K, while the end of the Mayan calendar became a non-issue right after the date passed.  Many Christians were caught up in the Mayan calendar frenzy; a phenomenon to which one particular individual made an observation, containing words to the effect of “The Mayans were pagans and received information from demonic entities.  Why are Christians getting worked up over something that essentially came from the father of lies?”  I don’t remember who made the observation, however, it was spot on.  Satan continuously seeks to change times and seasons while drawing folks away from the Creator of all that is.  But God inhabits eternity and sees the end from the beginning.  He holds in his hand time, seasons, judgments…….and the breath of every living thing.  

I Samuel 2:3 “Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”

These would-be calamities, while failing to live up to their billing, still manage to have an adverse effect on many who were present when the hype was in high gear.  Below are three primary ways that non-events impact the population.  In many instances the ramifications can have eternal consequences as they contribute to the overall state of slumber that has gripped this generation. 

1.  Non-stories bolster the misplaced confidence that those who know not the Lord Jesus have in the present world. As dire predictions create a frenzy, but then fail to materialize, they begin to “merge,” as it were, into a redundant sea of false warnings. This creates skepticism toward any report that threatens the continuance……including authentic warnings that have a scriptural foundation.  An unsaved person may well view warnings about the rise of antichrist in the same light as the warnings about Y2K; despite the abundance of physical evidence that a beast system is emerging.  In many cases, they become increasingly sketpical when the issue of salvation and coming judgment are presented; choosing rather to cling to their own beliefs…..“a way that seemeth right.” We all know people who have such confidence in this world and/or their personal beliefs that questions about whether or not their beliefs about either one are accurate true never come into consideration.  This confidence in a false security is bolstered every dire prediction fails, a false prophecy falls to the ground…….and another preacher replaces scriptural truth such as except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” with soothing phrases about living our best life now.

Confusion and slumber are two attributes of our age.  Yet regardless of all the confusion, the truth of Gods word remains steadfast and each of us will be judged according to truth.  (II Peter 1:20-21) All of us have a checkout date; a moment when our final breath is exhausted and we leave this theater of atoms……..a moment that can arrive without warning.  Every fatal automobile accident tells a tragic tale of someone who had plans that were just beyond their allotment of time.  When our time in this world ends, we will be judged according to the truths found in scripture; whether we believed them, rejected them, or fell for a twisted representation of them. John 14:6 records it like this: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” 

2. Many of the would-be calamities were considered by many Christians to be signs of the end times.  Many placed a lot of captial in these predictions and, instead of seeking the Lord Jesus on the matter, embarked on a campaign to prepare for the non-event.  One family from Ohio prepared for Y2K by stockpiling enough food, clothes, personal effects, survival gear, and what have you, to maintain themselves, their children, and their grandchildren, for months.  The home was packed to the ceilings……until a fire in the summer of 1999 consumed everything that had been assembled.  When we fail to hear from the Lord and go about doing our own thing, we waste time that can never be retrieved, squander resources that could have been utilized in a more profitable manner, and put a tremendous amount of thought and energy into preparing for an illusion.  This is not to say that we shouldn’t seek to be prepared for the unexpected.  We should, however, inquire of the Lord as to how we should do this.  

But false predictions go beyond the misplaced allocation of resources.  Many will monitor the goings on in the physical realm, and listen to report after report of the dire situation that is unfolding, until they are convinced that the bottom will fall out any day.  (On more than one occasion, I have been fully convinced that the economy was two weeks away from total collapse) Then, as time progresses and the bottom doesn’t fall out, they become dull of hearing……even to the point that the verifiable warnings found in scripture also begin to lose their urgency.  This is a real danger; especially if a person is given to emotion and sensationalism, as opposed to prayerful inquiry and searching the scriptures.  I have known of people who spend so much time consuming one report after another, that they neglect to take time to step away from the computer, go before the Lord Jesus, and inquire “is this true, and if it is, how do I respond?” 

Proverbs 14:15 “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.”

3. False reports, non-events, and distractions of like manner, create an atmosphere of confusion to the point that identifying the legitimate issues becomes almost impossible.  We simply cannot navigate the terrain in our own wisdom or understanding.  Because buried somewhere, amidst the stories about Niburu, an eruption in the Yellowstone caldera, the return of the Nephilim, Spetsnaz soldiers operating outside of Dayton, the potential for a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault, Cumbre Vieja crashing into the sea; triggering a mega tsunami, and what have you, there are legitimate reports that signify that the end of the age is at hand.  While many of the aforementioned issues may, (or may not) be credible, there are issues that we know to be, not only credible, but they carry serious eternal ramifications…..such as the manifesting of the beast system, the great falling away, and the limited amount of time that we have to compel those around us who know not the Lord Jesus to believe on him before the door is shut.  

We know from scripture that prior to the return of Jesus, the earth will be ravaged by earthquakes, famine, plagues, fearful sights, signs in the heavens, and what have you, we know to expect them…..but we should not be fearful of them; nor should we believe every report concerning predictions as to the when, where, and how severe.  Here is what we should be watching with godly fear: “Take heed that no man deceive you.”  Because if we embrace deception, follow after a false Christ, or abandon our faith because something else suddenly seems more verifiable (a false way will always appeal to the flesh) we have placed ourselves into a hole from which there may well be no escape.  The remainder of this postg will focus on three passages which sum up many of the conditions found upon the earth in the spring of 2015 and are sure to increase as the end of the age draws ever closer:

Matthew 24:6 “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass.” 

Wars and rumours.  We think of it in terms of armed conflict and, without a doubt, there are many armed conflicts underway and expected to be underway in the future.  The fog of battle; where one doesn’t know which reports are verifiable, which ones are a deception, and how to prepare accordingly.  Currently, there is war in several nations, including Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Eastern Ukraine, Yemen, Gaza, while a number of lesser campaigns are underway on every continent. (except Antarctica…..but then again……we know about the Nazi activity involving Antarctica back in the 1940’s.  Who knows what may be transpiring now) But rumors go well beyond conventional conflicts.  Wars and rumors are found in every facet of society……right down to the microcosm of a family, where strife, accusations which may or may not be true, displays of drama over irrelevant issues, and the like create an environment of confusion and sorrow until, finally, affection begins to wain.  While in the verse above, I believe that Jesus was referring specifically to conflict of a national and international nature, there is conflict and rumor at every level of society.  “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

 Luke 21:25-26 “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
26 Men’s heart’s failing them for fear, and looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”

A time where everything is being shaken and one can no longer find a place of stability.  A population that is so overwhelmed by the myriad of coinciding calamities that the hearts of many will fail.  Interesting, as I was writing out this verse, I began to think of how many times it has been quoted over the past few years.  Over and over and over – every day Rick Wiles broadcast opens with a reading of this verse.  And while it is indeed an accurate picture of the time of the end……we can hear it so often that we lose sight of its significance……especially when each day, the mail arrives on time, the electricity is still on, and people have time to worry about such things as how their favorite sports team is doing.  We must be on continual guard against complacency – never allowing scriptural truth to fall into the redundant sea.  The west has been so saturated with truth that many no longer hold it in as high esteem as we should…..even as these events are right at the door.  The final verse defines the apathy that is prevailent in society and even in many churches.  

II Peter 3:3-4 “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”  

It’s the battle cry of all who refuse to believe, or even consider, that there is an end to the present continuance.  A majority of the people in our ambiance, even those who identify themselves as Christian, are so attached to this present world, that they give no thought to such things.  And yet history is filled with examples of societies that bought, sold, and married on the final day of their existence.  It happened in the days of Noah, it happened to Sodom, and for an added historical perspective, it happened to Pompeii. Despite the fact that Vesuvius was showing signs of an explosion, the casts taken from the solidified ash reveal a society that was completely caught off guard.  The mountain had been stable for so long that thoughts of a calamity were non-existent (I visited Pompeii in 1986)  

While Pompeii was buried by a volcano that was plainly visible, Sodom was destroyed by brimstone falling out of the sky.  There was no physical anomaly that a citizen of Sodom could have pointed to and said “that physical aspect is acting different.”  Any confidence in physical continuance is unfounded…..even if all the collaborating evidence supports the continuance.  We are reminded in Nahum 1:3, that “The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind.” (One of the current issues that has me intrigued is the number of sinkholes that are showing up in divers places across the globe.)   

pompeii

  II Peter 3:5-7 “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the           word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of         the water and in the water:
6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water,         perished:
7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word       are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of                               judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

Well I have to go. May we all look steadfastly to Jesus, not be rattled by the events that are underway (or soon will be) and not become dull of hearing when, despite the rhetoric coming at us from every angle, the status quo seems to remain intact.  As Jesus explained it, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Blessings in Jesus name.