Monday, April 21, 2014

The Deception of Satan - How Will You Escape Hell?

This very question is posed in Matthew 23:33 saying, "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?" 

And the answer is one powerful word.....JESUS! You need FAITH in the blood of Jesus to get into heaven and that same FAITH is what saves you from entering the eternal fire of Hell! The Lord Jesus Christ, God manifested in the flesh, was crucified, nailed to the Cross through His hands and feet, for ALL of OUR sins as our substitute! In order to be saved and get into heaven, Paul the apostle wrote in Romans 10:9-10: "That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth confesses, resulting in salvation" We must be spiritually born-again: John 3:3-7 Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born-again." 

So, when we ask Jesus to forgive us of all of our sins and we truly repent, and believe on Him, we are then born-again and saved. Upon the free gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us, as promised by the Lord Jesus Christ, and it's by His power and strength that we are able to leave behind the ways of the world and live more godly lives. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says clearly, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." When you do this, the Bible tells us through the apostle Paul, in Romans 8:38- 39, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

In John 14:6, it states so clearly that there is only ONE way to the Father God and to enter Heaven one must believe this one very important Scripture....." Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Again in John 6:44, it repeats this, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." Pay attention to both statements by our says NO ONE! When the Lord repeats something, He means business! This means quite simply there is only ONE path that leads to Heaven. One. Period. Look at one of the most famous recited Scriptures in the Bible relating to the most powerful words of salvation, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." This, my dear readers, is the ONLY WAY to escape from Hell! This is the good news! It's also the reason I'm starting this blog post with the good news because what is going to follow is what is happening, and NOT happening, in this fallen world of ours. And the one thing that keeps being laid upon my heart, as I feel the days becoming numbered, is the deception of Satan and his minions playing havoc upon those who don't know Jesus, who don't know His TRUTH, and who is planting all kinds of lies in the minds and hearts of anyone who will listen to him. I don't want to see anyone perish just as my Lord and Savior doesn't!

He is THE Way!
There is a trending movement gaining momentum in this world that there are many paths leading to heaven and to God. It's being disguised behind many pulpits, many famous personalities, and many Christian nay-sayers as the more "tolerant" way to believe, an all-inclusive" belief system. Those behind the pulpits are throwing in a little bit of falseness (leaven) with the truth and Satan knows that's exactly what the unsaved will latch onto. The lies. Galatians 5:9 says this, "A little leaven leavens the whole lump." This means that no matter what truth they just spoke, if it's got a little bit of lies thrown into the batter, the batter will be ruined, or otherwise, compromised! It's so disheartening to hear the professed men of God spewing lies to their flock knowing full well there is only one way.....and it's not through false religions, false doctrines nor false teachings. Sometimes you will find the lies of the enemy in those that teach a "tickle the ears" sermons. They teach what feels good. What sounds good. What is easy to swallow. They use the SENSES to lure in the lost, the gullible or the unknowing baby Christians. They make their money off of preaching a different gospel, a different doctrine. Before you go broke giving your "seed faith" buyer beware!!!!

Don't misunderstand me! The Gospel is full of hope, joy, love, tenderness and compassion. God IS love! But the TRUTH in it's entirety MUST BE TOLD! Sin and repentance should NEVER be shied away from being preached about, or taught, from the pulpit of the churches around the world. If you attend a church who doesn't teach about sin truthfully, as God has breathed in His Word, and the repentance of our sins in order to be saved, then maybe you should begin to pray about asking the Lord to lead you to another church so that you will be fed the meat of the Word, the Truth and the Light! I will only spend a few more sentences on those behind the pulpit spewing the lies of Satan to attract "numbers" and "money" to their congregation because there are more of Satan's lies I want to address in a little more detail. I've scanned through some proclaimed "Christian" programs and was horrified at what I heard being spoken! To the untrained ear, well, it SOUNDS good and fluffy and kind of biblical, but it is NOT Biblical. They are preaching and teaching another Gospel and their "god" is not THE GOD. Their Jesus is not the Christ so be warned and test everything you hear.....there is a silent, but deadly, movement permeating the world that we are ALL "gods" and that our good deeds is the only saving grace. Oh THESE ARE LIES FROM THE DEEPEST PART OF THE BOTTOMLESS PIT! Jesus, and ONLY Jesus, is our saving grace and He is the ONLY way!!

With that said, an argument I often hear is all the "gods" that all religions pray to, and worship, are all the same God and the Creator God, but with different names depending on the religion. NO! This is not only lies from Satan, but it's NOT Biblical! IF that were so, and ALL paths did lead to God and Heaven, then the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior, was not needed and was a senseless sacrifice. The WHOLE purpose of the Bible and God's inerrant breathed Word is sending His only begotten Son into this world for our sins, to die on the Cross taking those sins to the grave and resurrecting three days later! Those New Age movements are placing the person in charge of their "destiny" and their "life" here on earth in order to worship a false god of self! That's what it boils down to really. Self absorbed, me-centered and totally denying our Creator. Good deeds are a result OF the Sacrificial Son becoming our Salvation, NOT the WAY to Salvation. Their way of thinking and believing is selfish because if they think they can become, or believe they are "gods" they are so mistaken! It makes it appear they don't NEED God the Creator, nor His Son Jesus Christ! They believe the entire world will go to heaven because everyone does good deeds at one point in their lives and this too is wrong thinking! It is true that God created the world so that not one person shall perish, but because we have free will and choice, well, WE CHOOSE OUR ETERNITY! We either choose TO BELIEVE and be born again or we choose NOT to believe and remain in sin without the BLOOD of Jesus. He gave us the choice!

 John 8:44 says, "He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies." If Satan can get you to believe a lie then he knows he's just been given access to begin work in your life to lead you into the ways of sin! This is why he attacks the mind, and this is why we must protect our minds from the attacks of the wicked one. Our minds are so susceptible and fragile and Satan knows this about us! He first told Eve the lie by attacking her mind! 2 Corinthians 11:3, "But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ."  So why then would Satan want to attack your mind? Because your mind is the part of the image of God where God communicates with you and reveals His will to you! It's unfortunate that some Christians seemed to have minimized the significance, and power, of the mind, because all through the Bible, it emphasizes its importance. That's why a little bit of leaven can and WILL, spoil the whole batch!

Our minds hear truth but it also focuses on what is appealing and fluffy. What makes us feel good at the moment of our weakness. Who doesn't want to "feel" good? The saddest thing I have to say about that is that this "good" feeling is NOTHING compared to knowing Jesus Christ on a personal level, as my personal Savior! It is, by far, the BEST feeling I've ever had and will ever experience in my lifetime on this earth! God's love is eternal and REAL! Satan has to lie to get his followers. His followers are temporary minions that he uses, abuses and loses. It's all about him. He is so jealous of the one who created even him that he rebelled against God to become his own "god" of this earth. God speaks truth, sent us a Savior, gave us a joy of unimaginable STRENGTH and DEPTH. God gave us eternity but Satan can only give us now.....he can lead the unbelievers into an eternity of hell and fire and torment. Satan has been defeated....remember that!

The fact of the reality of Hell is taught throughout the Bible in innumerable passages. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself has probably had more to say about it than anyone else, and that alone says a lot! He was a magnificent teacher with the most truthful, impressive credentials - a sinless life, a miraculous ministry, and an empty tomb that could not hold Him! What did Satan have? Nothing. So how does Satan attack believers? Here are just a few: 
1) Satan incites our fleshly desires within us through the unbelieving world around us.
2) Satan attempts to deceive us with the lies of worldly wisdom through the unbelieving world around us.
3) He attempts to deceive us with a false Jesus and a false gospel through false Christians.
4) Satan can physically afflict us, or attach the ones we love, with illness, crimes, disasters, persecution and the like.
What are Satan’s weapons in his attacks on believers?
1) Satan attacks Christians externally through the unbelieving world. He tempts us by first beginning to make us have a thought of sinful ways and desires through external worldly ways.
2) Satan spreads fleshly temptations through the unbelieving world attacking our mind, emotions, and body - the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the boastful pride of life.
3) Satan spreads lies about God through the unbelieving world attacking our beliefs and values - spreading the lies of worldly wisdom.
4) He attacks through “schemes” or “wiles.” The word “schemes” refers primarily to the “cunning arts, deceit, craftiness, trickery in a planned way.” Satan’s primary method of attack is deceit. It is well-planned out deceit and very strategic lies.

No Other WAY!
Satan is by nature a liar and his primary method with which he attacks the human race is through his pathetic lies to deceive them into believing something false about God, or God’s plan, in order to get them to rebel against God. That is Satan's ultimate goal. Have believers rebel against God just like he did! He lies about who God is, what God is like, what we are like, what God desires for us to do, how to be saved, etc., etc., etc.  Satan tempted Eve externally. He took over the body of a serpent and spoke audibly to her. He did not implant any thoughts in her mind. This is all Satan can do is attack us through deception. Otherwise, he has no power or control over us as believers. He can't spiritually lay hold of us and force us to do anything against our wills. He can't possess us because the Holy Spirit is indwelt within us. Just an FYI, Christians cannot be demon-possessed. He, and his demonic minions, can, however, attack us. He can't influence us in a way that we can't simply choose to resist. He can't control our minds or our emotions. He can only tempt us by inciting our fleshly desires and trying to deceive us. Remember, everything is a choice.....

The Bible shows four categories of how Satan gets to us:
1) Sexual immorality, that is, sexual activities outside of marriage
2)  Idolatry, that is, false religious doctrines and practices
3) Selfishness - self explanatory
4) Destructive addictions

In Gal.5:17 Paul says that our sinful nature, our flesh, desires what is contrary to the Holy Spirit who resides in us. It says, "For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a] you want." Unbelievers live their lives weaved around fleshly desires. They develop society and culture reflected in the media around their fleshly desires. Satan is behind this. Satan uses them to stir up our fleshly desires. Wherever we live unbelievers dominate. We will be surrounded by fleshly attitudes and actions, things and activities that stir up our fleshly desires all of our lives. In Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul speaks of our former manner of life as unbelievers. “And you who were dead in trespasses and sins he has made alive. In which in time past you lived according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. Among whom also we all had our manner of life in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Unbelievers “live according to the flesh which is according to the course of this world which is according to the prince of the power of the air.” This is a general statement of the lifestyle of an unbeliever, of their pattern of life, and of their values and life focus. That lifestyle follows the desires of the flesh, which follows the ways of the world, which follows the ways of Satan.

The steps that are important to recognize in his deception with Eve are the same steps he takes with us as believers and unbelievers.
First Satan LIES! Satan came to Eve as the serpent, the subtle deceiver.

Next, he QUESTIONS GOD'S WORD! He did with Eve - “Indeed, has God said...?” He didn't deny that God had spoken; he just simply questioned whether God had really said what Eve thought he had said. Making her doubt what she heard to be true.

Then, he DENIED GOD'S WORD! “You surely shall not die!” It's a rather short step from questioning God’s Word to denying it. Literally, just one step and you've crossed over from questioning God's Word to full on DENIAL. Of course, neither Adam nor Eve had ever seen death and all they had to go on was the Word of God, which was all they needed. If Eve didn't listen to Satan’s questioning of God’s Word, she would never have fallen into his trap when he denied God’s Word.

Last, he SUBSTITUTED GOD'S WORD WITH HIS OWN LIE! “You will be like God!” Adam and Eve were already made in the image of God, but Satan tempted them with an even greater privilege: to be like God! This was obviously Satan’s great ambition when he was Lucifer, God’s angelic servant. To BE LIKE GOD! And we all have seen what that got him and where it will get him for eternity! Satan's deception in this world is great and he is using so many people to fulfill his selfish desires. So you see how the end result for his deception is to ultimately make us want to be like our own "gods" too? That's why you keep hearing this movement saying we are all "gods" and we control our own destiny.

The morals have fallen to an all time low. The definition of "tolerance" has been changed by a small group of demonic minions to force the world to call good evil an evil good. Lies are bountiful about God the Creator and His only Begotten Son Jesus Christ. Drugs are becoming legal to dummy down a society of thinkers. Young girls are dying trying to succumb to an unattainable image of stick thin, emaciated models and movie stars because it's being forced down their throats. Idolatry is on the rise. The family unit has been redefined to fit the agenda of Satan, which is to mock God's definition of marriage being between a man and a woman. Should anyone disagree with this new definition, they are the ones to be persecuted, judged and condemned. Working for a living is now being replaced to entitlements and hand-outs. There are more "mental illness" diagnoses than ever before. Our children are growing up in the "me-generation" and the "selfie" generation focusing on themselves, on their looks, their antics or whatever it is at the moment that is, and will be, popular for their 15 minutes of fame.

Satan's lies controls and motivates much of civilization today because man is seeking, and keeps seeking, to do it all by himself, to pull himself up when he falls. He seems to be working very hard to build up his own utopia here on this fallen, sinful world, and possibly take it to outer space. Not too far fetched if you've been watching and following all the scientific hullabaloo over the technology that is being advanced by the second.....even as we are typing and reading. It's going to be through education, psychiatry, religions of one type or another, most of which will deny and ignore the truth about Jesus Christ, sin and salvation, and better environmental surroundings, men are DEFYING God and DEIFYING themselves. They are playing right into the hands of Satan. Just like he wants them to do.

God is the ONLY Truth!
God accomplishes His perfect will here on earth through His inerrant truth; Satan, on the other hand, accomplishes his purposes through lies. Total opposite of God! Everything Satan says or does is in exact opposition to God!! When the child of God believes God’s truth, then the Spirit of God can work in power; for the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” ( John 16:13). But when a person believes a lie, then Satan goes to work in that life; “for he is a liar, and the father of lies” ( John 8:44). Faith in God’s truth leads to victory in Jesus Christ! Faith in Satan’s lies leads to defeat. However, please remember that Satan never advertises his lie or that it's lie in advance of his attack! He is the serpent, the deceiver, and he always masquerades his lies as God’s truth. 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 says, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. v14) And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light."  Satan did not approach Eve in his true nature. He masqueraded by using the serpent. Satan is a counterfeiter, an imitator.

This next section will alert you to all the "counterfeit" deception so you will be well aware in these, what I believe to be, the last days drawing near!
1) There are counterfeit Christians - 2 Corinthians 11:26, "in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;" 
Matthew 13:38, " The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one."
2) There is a counterfeit gospel - Galatians 1:8, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed."
3) There are counterfeit ministers of the gospel - 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, "And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works."
4) There is a counterfeit righteousness - Romans 10:3, "For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God."
5) There is even a counterfeit “church of Satan.” - Revelation 2:9, "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan."
6) And this counterfeit church has counterfeit doctrines - 1 Timothy 4:1, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,..."

Satan's purpose of this is to make you ignorant of God's Will. Satan attacks God’s Word because God’s Word reveals God’s Will. Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path." And in Psalm 40:8 , "I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.” Apart from the Word of God, we don't have a sure understanding of the will of God. The will of God is the pure expression of God’s truest love for us. Psalm 33:11, "The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart from generation to generation."  God’s will comes from God’s heart. How beautiful is that?!?! It isn't an impersonal thing, but rather, a very personal matter with the Lord. He has a personal understanding of each of His children, their natures, their names, their needs and He personally tailors His plans accordingly. Can't get any better than that. John 4:34, "Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." God’s will is not a duty, nor should it be viewed as such. It's a true delight because His will has our best interest at His Hand. The Christian should delight in the discovery of the will of God and then obey from the heart. The will of God is His nourishment to our spirits, our bodies, our souls and our minds! You see, if Satan can make you ignorant of God’s will, he'll rob you of all the wonderful blessings that God has planned for your life. You'll make bad decisions, get involved in sinful activities, you'll be tolerant of those things that God clearly says are abominations, you'll talk and act like the world and build the wrong kind of life. And as you become ignorant of God's will, then you will eventually influence others to go down the wrong path as well! That's a heavy burden to bear!

The day will soon come when all of this deception. agenda and lies will the appearance of a counterfeit Christ - the Antichrist - who will accept for Satan the worship and service of the whole world. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10 confirms this, "And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. v9) The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, v10) and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved." The day will come soon when God will place judgement upon the world and those who still refuse to follow His Son, Jesus Christ! 

So? Will YOU escape the fiery pit of Hell by repenting of your sins, believing on Jesus Christ's birth, death and resurrection, sent from the Father God to die on the Cross for ALL of our sins, and accepting Him as your personal Savior? Because there is ONLY ONE way and that's through the blood of the LORD JESUS CHRIST! It's never too late! No matter what you've done. No matter what you've thought. No matter who you think you are. Jesus SAVES!!!!! I invite you to seek His face and let Him transform you and sealing you with His sacrificial blood forever!!!!!

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Harpazo -The Disappearance of Many

On March 8th, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12:41 a.m. It was good flying weather and was expected to land without hiccups in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. This is a 2,300-mile trip that was carrying 229 passengers. It never made it's destination. It just disappeared. Although there have been many theories as to what happened to the plane and it's passengers, rest assured, there IS an explanation. A lot of mystery is surrounding this flight's disappearance into thin air and some of the circumstances connected to it, and rightly so. From the very moment it slipped off the radar without so much as a warning, the media has covered it non-stop! Every news channel had their own "breaking news" headlines. Every news caster across the world scrambled to find the answers. The more they scrambled to find answers, the more questions arose. Yet, still no answers. Not really.

The dissection of what happened or didn't happen to Flight 370 is not the purpose of this article. However, it IS the inspiration. I watched as intently as the rest of the world to watch this unfold. I already had my own theories and sensed this wasn't going to be a short news headline. After a few days, I realized it was as though the entire world stopped reporting on anything else. It was like nothing else mattered. All eyes were on the missing plane and all of it's occupants. Oh, I understood. I sympathized. I felt anguish. I felt frustration. I had a range of emotions along with the rest of those who were following this "breaking news."  As a people, we like puzzles and more so, we demand answers. In our minds, there are always explanations and this is no different. When those "answers" don't appear right away, or seem evident, then everyone begins to assume, create and "find" their own explanations that make sense to THEM. And then it hit me!

While this is a tragic and very sad situation and there are plenty of unknowns for the loved ones, family members and friends left behind without any answers, it gave thought to the Rapture. Harpazo, when there will be a sudden and instantaneous disappearance of many! Well, as many of you know from reading my blog, I am a firm believer in the the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church due to the many biblical references that I have discussed elsewhere in my blog. Let me just say that the CHARACTER of our Loving Father God is NOT to make His bride suffer the wrath that will be spilled out upon the earth for the non-believers that will be left behind. There would absolutely NO purpose served in doing so. He loves us dearly and He didn't appoint us to His wrath. He tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, "v9) For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, v10) who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him." This wrath is plainly God's anger that will be poured out during the Tribulation.

Now let's look at one other very important Scripture.....1 Thessalonians 1:10, "And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." The Lord Jesus Christ has already delivered each Christian from the wrath to come! This verse doesn't say "WILL deliver." It says DELIVERED. Meaning it's already been DONE. The Bible tells us plainly though, what "the wrath to come" means. Simply put, the wrath of God is directed toward those who refuse to repent and receive His mercy and grace: the children of disobedience. The wrath of God is His punishment on unbelievers. During God's wrath upon the earth, there still will be a chance for some to repent, believe and accept Jesus.....but why would anyone want to wait for that horrific, evil time to do so?

In Strong's Concordance, this is what is said about "harpazo." harpaz√≥: to seize, catch up, snatch away. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance says to catch up, seize, take by force. From a derivative of haireomai; to seize (in various applications) -- catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force). As I was watching the media coverage of the Malaysian plane, it occurred to me....what will they do and how will they act when the Rapture takes place? When suddenly, all over the WORLD, there will be the disappearance of many, simultaneously, without an explanation. Poof! The news media, those who will be left behind that is, will be scrambling for answers, for evidence, for "survivors," for scientific reasons WHY and HOW this happened. But they will find nothing of the sort. It will remain a mystery until.....they remember those of us who spoke about the Lord Jesus Christ and His imminent return! Those of us who weren't afraid to speak about the Rapture while we were still here. The catching away. The Harpazo. We wanted everyone to know what was going to happen when the "bride" was called home. Because the rapture means our gathering together unto Him! How WONDERFUL!

Jesus will come in the air, in the very near future, to catch up the Church from this sinful earth, then return to heaven with the Church. The Apostle Paul gave a clear description of the rapture event in his letters to the Thessalonians and Corinthians. 1 Thessalonians, 4:16-18, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." In this passage, Paul is describing an event in which Jesus Christ will not physically, literally touch down on the earth but will first come "in the clouds" and snatch away His true followers from the earth in an instant of time. Those who have not chosen to follow Christ, those who have not been "born again," will remain behind on the earth and will have to go through a terrible time of wars, famines, natural disasters, and divine judgments known as the Tribulation. Then look what 1 Cor. 15:51-53 says, "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality"

So now, imagine yourself driving to work, or anywhere for that matter when suddenly, without warning, cars go careening out of look all around you, and realize they have NO drivers! Or imagine a group of people walking across the crosswalk in any given city, in any given country, and suddenly, in a twinkling of an eye, some in that group just vanish. The immense amount of chaos that will ensure will be enough for every reporter, every newscaster, every camera person who unfortunately will be left behind, to try to put the pieces of the puzzle together......just as they are trying with the airplane. Now, we all know there is a LOGICAL explanation for the missing plane and all of it's occupants. The whole world has their theories, as do I. But theories aren't facts. They aren't explainable until there is evidence. There is nothing supernatural about this particular event. Not a thing. In time, in due time, the pieces of this puzzle will begin to be put together to form a conclusion. Then....puzzle solved!

The rapture, however, will be totally SUPERNATURAL! It will happen in a twinkling of an eye so nobody will actually SEE this happen. A twinkling is too fast for our naked eye to see. The end of the Church Age will be evident by the removal of the Church, which will produce global economic chaos and fear.  The world will be in such a state of shock and fear of not understanding that God's focus has turned toward a horrifying time of judgment on earth. The disappearance of all the believers will cause so much confusion and uncertainty throughout the whole world that I can't even begin to imagine the extent of what the world will look like at that moment of supernatural occurrence! Utter chaos! People can't function in chaos. Maybe for a moment. But not for a lifetime. Order isn't really a natural activity if you look at it from the outside. When I take a look around at my office, I’m quite amazed at how quickly it descends into total chaos and how long it takes me to restore order. Order requires intervention; it does not happen naturally.

Going Home!
A prominent biblical theme throughout the Bible is the role God has in bringing order out of chaos. He did it when He was creating the nation of Israel (Exodus 7–14). When God said it was time to bring the Hebrew people out of Egypt, Pharaoh objected. His nation’s economy depended on the Hebrew workers, so Pharaoh didn't want to lose them. To change Pharaoh’s mind, God sent 10 plagues to convince him. Pharaoh’s magicians were able to duplicate the first two plagues but they couldn't reverse the plagues-any of them. They could cause chaos, but they couldn't restore order. Only God can do that. I reference that it's only God who can bring order out of chaos because during, and immediately following the removal of the "Church" the chaos will be too much for many to bear. Transportation systems will collapse. Communication systems will fail. Governments will fail. Food and resources will be scarce due to the disappearing of the masses. Crime will become widespread, even more so than it is this present day. Electricity, water and sanitation all will be at risk. Everything most of the world has relied upon for years will collapse. The next 7 years will be a series of horrific and catastrophic events that no eyes, no person should want to ever experience. But the people left have turned their backs on God and His sacrificial Son Jesus Christ. The very one who restores order. Who intervenes in the middle of chaos. And now.....they'll be left to find out what it really is like in a world full of the WORLD.

It is here that I will give my explanation of why I feel the "Church" is the "restrainer" that will be removed. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-10, "And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. v7) For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. v8) And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. v9) The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, v10) and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved." There are many who argue that the restrainer is the Holy Spirit and for many years I too, believed that. I'm not sure where, along my walk, this changed, but what made sense to me in my spirit while studying the prophecies and end times, was the Church. As I read the above and I couple it with the many souls that will still be SAVED through the tribulation as God states will happen, this would only make sense. If the restrainer was the Holy Spirit then that would mean those who repent and receive the Lord Jesus wouldn't be indwelt with the Holy Spirit. BUT part of the Promise of our Lord and Savior is to leave us a comforter in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

So why do I believe it's the Church? Well, in Matthew 5:14 Jesus plainly teaches us that the born again believers are "the light of the world." Jesus is the Light (John 8:12) and it is Jesus, who is residing in our hearts that shines in this dark, evil and dreary world of sin, hate and contempt. Without us Christians preaching the Word and fighting against sin, this world would quickly take a nose dive into unimaginable wickedness! Some already believe we have! However, in order for the Antichrist to complete his New World Order that is led by Satan himself, the Church must be removed from the world. We cause so much problems for Him because we pray against all that he is, all that he tries to destroy and all that he wants. So at the Rapture, the Body of Christ, the Church, will be "caught up" and at that time, the Antichrist will have NO OPPOSITION from people like us born again believers who tries to expose Satan and his minions and every other form of debauchery known to mankind that he takes delight in. When the Church is gone, the Devil isn't going to feel any backlash from Christians because we won't be here, but he is going to have a heyday. A free for all. Christians really mess things up for him because of the TRUTH of Jesus that we find in His 66 books of love letters to us! We won't accept the act of homosexuality, same-sex marriages, abortions, microchip implants, witchcraft, familiar spirits, thievery, etcetera. We won't accept the Devil. Because we won't accept the LIES.

The Church today serves as the primary restrainer of evil in the world as it proclaims the Gospel and stands for righteousness. Standing firm on the Word of our God! Paul graphically points out in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 that when the Church fails in this mission, evil greatly multiplies. Paul says that society in the end times will be characterized by chaos and despair because "men will hold to a form of religion but will deny its power." When the Church is removed from the world, all hell will literally break loose. And that, to me, makes sense. I'm not saying it is what is meant, but it's how it's been received in my spirit. Some people have even said the restrainer was the Government. But the governments of the world are in rebellion against God and His Son (Psalm 2), and they are contributors to all the evil that is characterized in the world. The world follows Satan because they're his children. They believe the lies. They follow him because he promises temporary things. But we, as Christians, are a strange bunch because we choose to follow only the LORD JESUS CHRIST. We are a big obstacle for his agenda, for the New World Order, for his reign of terror. The true Church can be compared to a ferocious pitbull that stands guard against the lies, evil and the Devil. Restraining and holding him back. God will remove us from the world as part of His divine sovereign plan, so the Tribulation can happen. Israel will be purged in preparation to receive her King and the inhabitants of the earth will be judged for their wickedness.

Imagine for a moment, once again, that you're eating at your favorite place. It's packed full of all different walks of people, young and old alike. People disappear. Dishes crashing down all around. People screaming. Running to and fro. They try to make phone calls to their loved ones but can't. Communications will be greatly disrupted. Then, every country will find itself in turmoil. Each government around the world will have to act swiftly as possible to prevent a ravenous tide of anarchy, fear and terrorism. Strong measures will have to be put into effect to CREATE order out of chaos. The highways, subways, airports and streets will be in shambles as the many engineers, pilots, bus-drivers, train conductors and the multitude of car owners suddenly be caught up out of this world. Many key persons will disappear while much of the lines of communications which are still above ground will be broken by crashes of cars and aircraft. It'll be many days, even weeks or months, before they can unscramble the mangled cars, trains, and fallen aircraft. There will also be a noticeably marked increase in ‘target of opportunity’ theft because of unattended shops, cars left open, dropped purses and wallets, houses left open, etc. Public officials will call for calm as people begin a run on the banks and stores for cash, food and necessities. Most people will be trying to figure out what just happened. Distraught and searching for answers, for loved ones, for guidance and for ORDER, multitudes will jam and overload the communication lines and systems that do remain. Chaos will be on every hand.

A small glimpse of that scenario is how the missing Malaysian airplane is unfolding. Although not on the grand scale that will take place immediately following the Rapture, it is still a perceived "mystery" at the moment. Miscommunication between the countries that have "satellite" images of the debris, only to find out it doesn't belong to the plane in question. Statements being made and "confirmed" about all on board the flight have perished, when no bodies have been found, much less the plane in question. The heartache, confusion and anger they must feel! Can you imagine this tragedy on a larger scale throughout the entire world? This tragedy can only be described as terrible and horrific for those who are awaiting any word on their friends and family members. The media coverage will eventually wane because it's going to take some time to sort things out. But just consider the effects of a pre-trib Rapture. Imagine the world-wide chaos as millions of people suddenly disappear. I tend to only imagine that the US will be among the hardest "hit" by this sudden "catastrophe" but will struggle to find some kind of an explanation. I sense the US will be one of the hardest hit because of the ratio of Christians and technological advances. Every country, every nation will experience this supernatural event, but I believe some more than others will be affected. On the other hand, it is highly possible that Europe will remain largely intact and uniquely positioned to step into the political vacuum that has been created by the decimation of the United States. Not fact, just a very real possibility.

After having suddenly seen millions of people vanish before their eyes, many people will either recognize what has just happened or they will blatantly deny it and continue in the unrepentant state of sin. The people who see the rapture and recognize what has happened AS the Rapture, will be some who sat on the fence waiting for one final proof that the Bible was true and that salvation is in ONLY Jesus Christ. Then there will be those after the rapture that'll see the rapture and try desperately to explain it all away by various explanations. These people are the unbelievers who have no love for God, no love of His Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and who continues to seek the god of the world, Satan. Some of their explanations will try to point to the rapture as happening only as a result of man's evolution to a higher level, as they try to rationalize in this day and in this time. Maybe even alien abductions since the world seems to be obsessed with UFO's and aliens. Indoctrination? Possibly. They'll know about Jesus and the be aware of the prophesied rapture but won't respond to the sudden disappearance of millions of people. The world mocks God and the unrepentant sinners will continue on after the rapture as they continue on in disbelief. They will continue to delight in wickedness and evil despite the overwhelming evidence that they've been terribly deceived by the Master of Deception. The world will likely celebrate the removal of the Christian church and evil will be given full reign. The Church, which is the salt of the world, will no longer be around to help keep order nor restrain evil.

However, something will happen during this time and the promise of peace will come to those left here on earth. But the order that will happen will NOT be from God! Those people will be desperate for a strong leader, someone to restore peace and order. They will be eager to receive the false savior-Antichrist. The first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation that follows the Rapture of the Church, will be a time of peace. This is when the False Prophet and the Antichrist will greatly influence the masses using signs and lying wonders (2nd Thessalonians 2:9). 2nd Thessalonians 2:10 says, "and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved." This is saying to us that the masses of the earth will eagerly follow the Antichrist because they loved the lies and the world more than the truth so that they might be saved... The world will worship the Beast, the wicked Devil himself. And to an instant, in a twinkling of an eye, one's life will be changed forever! The second half of the the tribulation is called the Great Tribulation because the last 3 1/2 years will be much much worse than the first half! Revelation 11:2-3, 12:6,7,14; 13:5. 

The Seven year tribulation period will have many, many horrific events happening throughout, but only in God's appointed time as outlined in the Bible. During these tribulations, the Bible states that one half of the remaining population will die due to disease, famine, war and directly because of failing to follow the Antichrist and his one world religion, government and financial system. The discussions and studies of the end times and the Tribulation Period is lengthy and in depth. I can't cover it all in one article however, this particular entry is designed to help you understand the ramifications of the Harpazo-The Disappearance of Many and how it will impact the WORLD!

Those who come to believe during the Great Tribulation will be in one of two groups. The first group will be the remnant of physical Israel sealed for protection and called to testify concerning Christ (Revelation 7:1-8). They are the 144,000 of all the 12 tribes of the children of Israel. The second group will comprised of the masses of gentiles who believe in Christ and suffer persecution and martyrdom for their faith. These martyrs will come out of the Great Tribulation through death, but their suffering will instantly give way to victorious worship as they join the heavenly chorus in praise to “our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:10) Thankfully, there is still hope for those people who miss The Rapture. As a matter of fact, it’s the same hope God gave to the people of His world thousands of years ago – His son, Jesus Christ. Even though the next several years will be unbelievably tough, all one has to do is to sincerely, and with all of your heart, accept Jesus as your savior. In doing so, you become a Tribulation Saint and will ultimately be rewarded with eternal life with our Heavenly Father.

Please don't be left behind! Let your name be entered in the Book of Life......

I am going to close this by using Psalm 91 in it's entirety:

1) He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2) I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
3) Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
4) He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
5) You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6) Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
7) A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
8) Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
9) Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10) No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11) For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12) In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13) You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
14) “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15) He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16) With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

For Such a Time as This

Haven't we all grumbled that we didn't like our jobs? Neighbors? Neighborhoods? Cars? Irritating people?And haven't we all wanted to be in a different "place" than where we find ourselves at the present moment? Haven't you found yourself asking the Lord God "why?" If you're honest, then your answer would be a resounding YES! Sometimes, as Christians, we find ourselves in precarious situations that we can't seem to understand the nature of why we are in that particular place, residing beside those particular neighbors, driving a car older than we'd like, or working in a particular place with particular co-workers. We may feel stuck. We may feel frustrated. We may just want to jump ahead of the Lord and risk His blessings by doing, saying or reacting before He tells us to!

Psalm 37:22-24, "v22) For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off. v23) The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delights in his way. v24) Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholds him with his hand."

In this verse, it is showing us that ALL of our steps are ordered by the Lord. As a child of God, we need to accept the fact that He is directing every step of our lives, even though we have free will and choice. By this, I mean, even God knows the choices that we'll make before we make them. He knows why we rationalize those choices by running ahead of Him. But in any event, He knows it ALL! From our choices, both righteous and sinful, He has plans for us and by allowing our life story to unfold, individually, for His purpose, is part of His ultimate plan! But did you ever stop and think about the fact that God put you right where you are for such a time as this? It is providence. His providence. He has something for you to do. He has something for you to say. As a Christian, I don't believe in luck, only providence. I don't believe in coincidence either because nothing is coincidental when you allow God's hand to direct your every step as part of His will and plan for you! For us to be able to follow through with what He wants us to do or say, well, we have to surrender to the fact that in order to achieve His will, we have to go where He wants us to go, say what He wants us to say and do what He wants us to do! Simple? Not always.

A good example of this is the story of Esther. She is a beautiful orphan girl who becomes a queen. There's also an evil man who plots her destruction along with the destruction of her people. But because of her bravery, she saved her nation. The girl’s name was Hadassah, but is better known as Esther who became the queen. Her story is told in the Old Testament book that bears her name. In a series of events that were being directed by the hand of the Almighty God, we see Esther entering it. God plucked her right from obscurity, and she became part of the monarchy’s inner circle as the new queen. It didn't end there though because God had more for Esther to do. Enter in the villain, Haman. He was a manipulative, power-hungry prime minister who devised a plan to rid the Hebrew people and found a way to get the king on board with his plan. However, little did the he know that he also was sealing the queen’s fate. Esther was about to find out why she was queen. It wasn't a coincidence but rather, God's providence. She was living in that proverbial bubble, unaware of what was going on in the kingdom. So her Uncle Mordecai sent word to Esther to tell her about the situation and to ask her to go before King Xerxes and plead for her people.

She sent a reply saying that if she went to the king without being summoned, she could be put to death. Essentially, she was saying, “I haven’t seen him for a long time. I am not going to go into the presence of the king.” So Mordecai put it into plain language for Esther: “v13) And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. v14) For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13–14). See Esther was at the right place at the right time. She would have to risk her own life to make a stand for the Jewish people. She would put her beauty and feminine influence to great use. She was not a fragile queen; she was a Hebrew warrior! God was thinking about Esther, and he had a plan and a purpose that was unique just for her.

Let God Direct Your Steps
To become a warrior for God, to learn to be content with what He's given us, where He's put us and how He's gotten us there, is to give up control and have full on FAITH! There's a joy in having that kind of Faith as I've had to drive down this path myself. I've found along the way that there's nothing more satisfying, more fulfilling and more exuberant than being where God wants me, doing the "job" He sent me out to do! And as frustrating as it may get here in the earthly realm, I know that all of this is temporal. It'll pass away but all of my rewards, all of my treasures will be awaiting me when either the Rapture comes or I'm called to be home with my Father! I'd rather have those treasures and blessings, than to have material things here on earth to restrict me, to make me fall and stumble. If we open our eyes wide enough and clean off our muddied glasses, we'd see that everything we've been fed regarding "controlling" our lives in our own power, strength and might, is nothing but a lie from Satan! Here are just a few Scriptures about the strength of the Lord and how much greater it is than what our human side could ever imagine!

1) 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 
2) Isaiah 40:29, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."
3) Philippians 4:13, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
4) Psalm 28:7-8, "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.  The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one."
5) Isaiah 40:29-31, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Basing our lives on our own ability to control them can have no other outcome except grief. The expectations run too high because we set such high unattainable standards that it's impossible to not grieve as we fail. We are not in control of our lives. We deceive ourselves when we insist that we are. God is in total control of every step we take, every outcome of our choices we make without Him, and is orchestrating every second as it gets to our lungs! We all have known too many cases where hard work failed to win the day. We have known too many people who did everything right in their eyes and the eyes of those secretly watching, but they still got ran over by the Mack truck that they couldn't see coming right around the corner. And we've all seen, and have known, people who made decisions that were highly praised as wise, BY the wisest of the wise, yet still saw that wise choice end in bitter fruit. For the Christian, the answer to the delusion of control is here: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, "v19) Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? v20) For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s."

2 Corinthians 4:17-18, "v17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, v18) while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

I believe in God’s sovereignty, superiority, authority, absolute reign! C.S. Lewis wrote about his conversion from atheism, "I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England." When we don’t like our circumstances and when we’re afraid that we've made the wrong decision, that's when we can be assured of God's ordained and orchestrated direction of our steps. Because of God’s sovereignty and His unfailing, agape love, we can be confident that the events surrounding our lives are not random but have a redemptive purpose. God is active in the midst of every situation!

In Genesis 32, Jacob always did whatever it took to make sure things went his way, to make sure he controlled the "outcome" and was permanently crippled after wrestling with God for the blessing he had stolen from Esau. Gideon was a “man of valor”, yet he struggled to trust that he had heard from God: “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me.” (Judges 6) Paul was always writing about decisions to visit this place or that place, “if the Lord permits” or “if it seems advisable’; but often he said the Holy Spirit prevented or compelled him to do what he had planned . . . and sometimes his decisions led to “imprisonments and afflictions,” or resistance from those he loved most (Acts 23). So remember, God doesn't leave us alone to make decisions, and promises to guide us (Proverbs 3:5-7). For such a time as this......

God loves us dearly and has a wonderful plan for our lives. He has been busy building faith-growing incidences into our lives to stretch our faith so that we will be able to embrace our destiny through Him. Father God orchestrates opportunities that will increase our trust in Him and equip us for His purposes and plans. In Genesis 45:5-8, "v5) But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. v6) For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. v7) And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. v8) So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt." 

Here, we have one of the most clear, real-life illustrations of the sovereignty of God. Through the life of Joseph we are given a glimpse into the sometimes unseen and incomprehensible ways of God when it comes to the lives of men. For Joseph, it become clear that God was behind all that had happened in his life. Every single step, every path he was led down, every corner he was made to turn. However, to his brothers, it was all a great mystery. They didn't knew anything about Joseph’s life since the day they sold him into slavery, and they were definitely oblivious to God’s bigger, better plan for them and their father’s household. But despite their ignorance of God’s ways, He was still at work. Joseph gave God the credit over and over again. He clearly saw the hand of God controlling and directing His entire life, from start to finish. He saw his position as second-in-command over all of Egypt as God’s doing, not as a result of his own talent or hard work. God controlled it ALL. What an incredible outlook to have on life. Joseph knew that God had been at work behind the scenes every step of the way in his life. And God would assure Jacob that all that happened had been for a greater purpose.

There are those who have learned, over the course of their own lives, that God is, and has, orchestrated their lives and nothing was of their own will. They've seen His hand guiding their steps because they chose to have the kind of undying, unstoppable Faith that allows Him to guide us. Over time, they have developed the capacity to look for God’s involvement in even the worst of situations. In the worst of our situations and circumstances, He is ALWAYS there! There is nothing that escapes His sight, and He never sleeps! They hold to His promise in Psalm 121:3-4, "v3) He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. v4) Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep." Those individuals don’t just know about the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, but they believe in it and live their lives according to it. There's a joy, a peace and a certain "light" that comes from them that is unmistakable!

Then, there are those who live as if God is not there, only when they get what they want or when things go right. They view the collective circumstances of their lives as if they're somehow out of God’s control and He is out of touch with what is going on in and around their lives. Both good and bad. However, when bad things happen, their view of God seems to take on the notion that He simply doesn't care, that they've done something wrong to deserve Him "turning a deaf ear" or just that He's mad at them and they somehow blame Him for what's happened in their lives. The prophet Isaiah reminds us in Isaiah 59:1, "Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear." Difficulties, hardships and storms in our lives does not prove the weakness of God, but it simply exposes our lack of faith. Every time something becomes difficult in their lives, they try to take control of the entire situation. In some ways, forgetting the sovereignty of God. When someone does that, and can't surrender, then they are playing "god" themselves. They are TRYING to control it all......

A surrendered heart catches the eye of God. A desire for purity is an invitation for His fire. A true hunger for His heart promises His intimacy. A life of abandonment declares an enlistment into His army. We now can live for so much more. Your path IS His plan! God can't move you to a new place until you surrender yourself to let go of the old, comfortable past! The past serves only as a reminder of something that once WAS and it's never meant to be lived over and over and over. Especially if you're a new creation in Christ Jesus! We tend to see the brightest light in the darkest places and that's sometimes where the greatest change takes place. As it says very clearly and beautifully, in Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, "To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: v2) A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; v3) A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; v4) A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; v5) A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; v6) A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; v7) A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; v8) A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace." These are directions. Directions lead to paths and destinations. Destinations start with.....a STEP!

God knows all of the problems and challenges we are currently facing because He is paying attention to us! God is orchestrating the events of our lives even as you are reading this article. You are supposed to read it for whatever reason or you wouldn't have been led by His hand in finding this! He has been preparing and equipping us for this very moment. Preparing my heart to write it, and preparing yours to find it and read it! He created us, He gifted us, and now He wants to use us. It's time for us to come out of our bubbles and pay attention to the people around us. Pay attention to their struggles, their pains, their challenges. Likely we've been through some of those very same ones and God is placing us specifically in that place and time to reach that one person. To touch a hand. To hug someone. To speak the truth. To spread the gospel. To share a smile. To teach a lesson. To walk beside the lonely. To be part of His plan for someone else's plan. So, instead of cursing the darkness, try turning on the light. Change the light bulb from a 40 watt to a 100 watt. Be the brightest light they've ever seen. There is a time to be quiet and there's a time to just live it out loud. And there is also a time to speak up with love, compassion and when He tells you to speak up!

Proverbs 20:24
Has God placed you where you are for such a time as this? There is only one you. One, unique individual. There's only one person walking this earth with your exact background, heritage and experiences. All directed by God. The exact events and sufferings of your life have brought you to this very hour. Just as no two fingerprints are alike, you are unique from everyone else in this world. If you have suffered in life, if you have been neglected, rejected, mistreated and/or abused, I am deeply sorry. But the good news is that God CAN and WILL take the hurt, pain. disappointments and sufferings that the world has dealt you and use it to make you a godly man or a godly woman.......for such a time as this.

If you haven't accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and you're struggling with where you are in life right now, it's not too late! Surrender your life to Him and He will make you new! Remember that everything you experience in this life, on this earth and in this fallen world, is only temporary. We have two choices right this very minute of where we want to spend our eternity.....believe and accept Jesus into your heart and live eternally in Heaven or reject His sacrificial offering of His only Begotten Son and live eternally in Hell. Please listen for His voice because He's calling your name right now.....

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Friday, February 28, 2014

The Indispensable Attribute of Biblical Self Control

You have to know and acknowledge your weaknesses, then turn to the Lord for His STRENGTH, or the WORLD will find them out for you! The world is sneaky like that! Once we know what our weaknesses are, and can be honest with ourselves about them, the first thing we need to do as Christians, is turn to the Lord Jesus Christ for HIS strength, surrendering them to Him. He will help us overcome and to resist those temptations that appear to our EARTHLY eyes as weaknesses. Because, really, our weaknesses are nothing more than the doorways to sinful excesses, to temptations and to foolishness. Here are just a few Scriptures that pertain to this very thing......

1) Proverbs 16:32, "Better a patient person than a warrior, those with self-control than those who take a city."
2) Proverbs 25:28, "Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control."
3) Galatians 5:22-24, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, v23) gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. v24) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."
4) Proverbs 29:11, "A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back."

I'm going to start off by saying that what you practice becomes part of who you are and what you do. Every addiction began with a thought which led to the decision to ACT. Whether that addiction is/was smoking, drinking, drugs or relationships, it all began with a thought. The more you do something, whether it be sinful or righteous, the EASIER it is to DO! The more you continue to do something, the more you BECOME what you do! So, practicing a sinful OR righteous act becomes a habit. A habit then becomes comfortable to you and before you know it, it IS you. So having self-control is imperative to who you become, to who you are....and to who you don't want to be! It's a form of training. Discipline is training yourself to refrain from something.

The very concept of "self-control" actually implies there's a battle between a divided self. It implies that our "self" produces desires that we shouldn't satisfy but instead "control." Think about that as you mull over some area of your own temptations and self control. Jesus says we should "deny ourselves" and "take up our cross daily," and follow him (Luke 9:23). Every day our "self" produces desires that should be "denied" or "controlled." That path that leads to heaven is very narrow and it is strewn with suicidal temptations to abandon the way. Therefore, Jesus says, in Luke 13:24, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Here the Greek word for "strive" is "agonizesthe," in which you can hear the English word "agonize."

Self-control is very much an important part of maturity. One of the basic characteristics of infancy is a lack of self-control. Not only do babies need diapers, they must be carried because they lack the necessary control and muscle coordination to sit up much less walk or run. If babies are healthy and normal, in time they will develop more and more self-control, a sure sign of growth and maturity. I always found this comparison very interesting, but very spot on! The more you mature in the Lord, the more self-control you will have in your life. Isaiah 3:4-5, "v4) I will give children to be their princes, And babes shall rule over them. v5) The people will be oppressed, Every one by another and every one by his neighbor; The child will be insolent toward the elder, And the base toward the honorable.” Isaiah sternly warned them that the objects of their trust, their leaders who were traditionally respected because of their maturity and discretion (self-control), i.e., “the old,” “the honorable,” would be replaced by those who were totally inadequate and incapable of leading the nation. Why? Because they were immature, unwise; indeed, they would be like mere lads and/or capricious children. The word “capricious” refers to someone who acts according to impulse or whim. It’s a perfect word for one who lacks self-restraint or wise discretion. How pertinent to our society today!

When we "strive to enter through the narrow gate," we get a taste of what is truly involved from Matthew 5:29, "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you." This is the fierceness of self-control. This is what's behind the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:12, "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force." Are you laying hold on the kingdom fiercely? The Apostle Paul says Christians exercise self-control like the Greek athletes, only our goal is eternal, not temporal. 1 Corinthians 9:25, "Everyone who competes in the games (agonizomenos) exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown." In 1 Corinthians 9:27, he goes on to say rather directly and intently, "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."  Self-control is saying no to sinful desires, even when it hurts. And sometimes, when it hurts, we remember the lesson much quicker!

Self-Control Wins!
But the Christian way of self-control is NOT "Just say no!" This is something we hear from the WORLD over and over everywhere we turn. But the problem with this is with the word "just." You don't JUST say no. You have to say no in a certain way: You say no by Faith in the superior power and pleasure of Christ. Saying NO in this manner may be just as ruthless and as painful as the worldly way, but the crucial difference between worldly self-control and godly self-control is WHO gets the victory! Will we get the glory? Or will Christ get the glory? If we exercise self-control by Faith in Christ's superior power and pleasure, Christ will get the glory. That is the issue that we need to remember as we march along the roads of this world.....the Christian view of self-control is that it is a gift. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: Galatians 5:22-24, "v22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, v23) gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. v24) And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." 

Just because "self-control" is listed last, doesn't mean it loses it's importance! In looking at this in the light of Scripture, it quickly becomes evident that by reserving the mention of self-control last, the apostle Paul is deliberately emphasizing it as the capstone of all the graces of the Spirit. While the fruits reflect the maturing work of the Spirit in an individual’s life, they also become apparent in relationships with other people. How do we "strive" against our fatal desires? Paul answers this in Colossians 1:29, "I labor, striving (agonizomenos) according to His power, which mightily works within me." He "agonizes" by the power of Christ and NOT his own. Similarly he tells us in Romans 8:13, "If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live." And in Zechariah 4:6, "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts." We must be fierce! Yes. But not by our might. Proverbs 21:31, "The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD."

His Perfect Power!
Since the absence of self-control can ultimately have such devastating results in our lives and affect the lives of those around us, it's naturally needed in every area of life and for all people. Unfortunately, the desire for self-control may have many motivating factors that can stem from man’s self-centered or worldly objectives rather than from INNER controls brought about by a deep relationship with God and biblical beliefs, motives, values, methods and means, and objectives. When, and where, such belief structures are absent, the absence of self-control in other areas will be just around the corner. Samson, a man raised up by the Lord as a deliverer and judge over rebellious Israel, is another case in point. Samson strangled a lion; yet he could not strangle his own love. He burst the fetters of his foes; but not the cords of his own lusts. He burned the crops of others, and lost the fruit of his own virtue when burning with the flame kindled by a single woman.

It should be noted that our true spiritual condition is to be measured first and foremost by the inner person, the heart, and not by the external person, the habits. Why? Because habits and/or overt behavior are the product of the condition of the heart. Mark 7:14-23, "v14) When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: v15) There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. v16) If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear! v17) When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. v18) So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, v19) because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” v20) And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. v21) For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, v22) thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. v23) All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” 

Self-control is the ability or power to rule over and regulate one’s own personal life, and personal choices, so that we aren't driven nor dominated, as the apostle John puts it, by the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, or the pride of life (See 1 John 2:16 and also Gal. 5:19-21). Paul contrasts the sanctified life with characteristics of the old life: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness and orgies, and the like.“ All these categories reflect behaviors that are out of control and were common in New Testament times. Passion, pleasure, and pride are the three areas in our lives that are strong, powerful and driving forces in the heart of man that energizes our behavior patterns. It's these inner forces that Satan and a fallen world appeal to in order to promote a sinful way of life that seeks to exist apart from God. Such self-regulation is the ability to delay or refuse an impulse in the service of biblical truth, values, beliefs, and objectives. Self-control means to be in control of one’s attitudes or thought processes, desires or passions, and patterns or habits so they do not dictate one’s behavior. Speaking scripturally, self-control is a matter of controlling the self-life from within by spiritual means: God’s weapons of spiritual warfare as described in the Word of God (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:10-18; Col. 2:20-23).The biblical understanding of the term requires crucifixion of the sinful or lower nature by divine grace as we surrender ourselves to the Lord.

Titus 2 11-12, "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age..." Self-control enables the believer to overcome sinful and destructive habits, focus on ministering to others, build up the body of Christ, and live in mutual submission to others (Ephesians 5:21), thereby leading a life that is positive and productive in the family, the neighborhood, the church, and place of employment. For example, Paul exhorted the Ephesian churches: “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28). To the Galatians he wrote: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:13-15).

Self-Control is surrendering and allowing God to be in control of your will and heart and seeking the Spirit to enable us. Only then, we will know what not to do and guard the areas that we are weak in. This will allow us to have discipline and restraint with obedience to God and to others. It's not letting distractions derail us or remove us from His will and His ultimate plans for us so we will not be held back with what Christ called us to do. Self-indulgence is the polar opposite, from eating a gallon of chocolate ice cream all in one sitting or partying your way to oblivion. Too much excess will leave you empty and alone, it will, at best, cause us to gain a lot of weight if we over indulge in eating and lose your friends if we over indulge in the excessive partying. The worst case scenario is to lose your life and miss out on our heavenly rewards being built in heaven! Self-indulgence seeks what is fleeting here on earth when we, as a Christian, are made for eternity. Over indulgence and lack of self control or discipline is very typical for soothing, comforting or stifling deep seated pains of one's past. Another area Satan loves to bring up and torment us with! If self-control seems impossible, we must change the circumstances to avoid the temptation. For example, Paul instructs single people and young widows to marry if they cannot control their sexual urges.

You won't see self-control being the subject of the media though. You may not see a movie with this subject as the premises because it is anti-climatic and a tad bit "boring" to the world of this day. The world wants us to grab all of the gusto that we can, go for that brass ring regardless of the consequences or who we step on to get it. And it sure doesn't want us taking the responsibility of our actions. Just look around you! Rarely is "accountability" being spoken about in the media forums! Rarely are "consequences" shown in it's truest light. Why? Well, Satan is the god of this world and he wants everyone to sink deeply into excesses! He doesn't want us to have and practice self-control because he loses. Since he is the god of this world, he also controls many of the worlds devices. Those worldly devices are tools to drive temptations which eventually lead to the act of sin. Satan is a liar though so he doesn't tell you what the consequences are, nor does he want the media to "leak" that little tidbit out. By only showing sinful excesses in a good light, in a good manner, and never showing the downside of what happens to the soul, the lives and the mind afterwards, only adds to his agenda. Lust, greed, gluttony, alcoholism, conceit, sexual sins, gossiping, violent quarreling and false and reckless speech are just a few of the many sins that Satan can tempt us to commit if we allow him.

Don't Be Ruined.....
Satan tried to destroy Jesus. Our battles aren't as big as the ones Jesus faced. But we do have many temptations, just like Jesus did. Jesus knew what was written in God's Word and He didn't fall for Satan's tricks. If we know God's Word we, too, will know right from wrong. Jesus is our example and our strength. When we are tempted to do wrong we should rely upon the Word of God and remember how much God loves us and the trials and suffering He went through for us. That will help us resist the devil. Because Jesus was tempted He knows what it is like to suffer temptation. When we are tempted and ask for help Jesus understands. He tells the Father what it's like to be human, and God gives us the help we need to resist temptation. James 4:7, "Therefore, submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Self-control means that we have control over our bodies and our minds. Actions and thoughts do not control us, we control what we think, and what we do. When we know something is wrong, yet do it anyway, we aren't controlled by the fruit of the Spirit, one of which is self-control. When we feel like doing something we know we shouldn't, we are being tempted. Everyone is tempted to do wrong things sometimes. We all sin and give into temptations now and again, but Jesus exercised God's spirit of self-control and never sinned. This is what we need to STRIVE to do daily! To have self-control, to have self- discipline and to become more like Jesus every day of our lives!

Christ is calling us by His example and Word to seek what is in eternity! He is calling us to seek what is permanent and lasting, NOT what is fleeting and empty. Christ is our greatest example from the humbleness of the incarnation through Gethsemane to the Cross He was the perfect model of self-control! Self-control will be the key to inner strength that will help deliver us from fear, depression, harm and the pain of this life by being focused on Christ and not on our circumstances. I know it's easy to get entangled in thoughts of this life because sometimes, it's all we can see right in front of our eyes. But it's not all there is and it's temporary. It's fleeting. And, it's already been done! It's Christ's strength in us that allows us to do what we cannot do on our own! The key to receive this strength is our total surrender to His Lordship over all aspects of our lives! Remember God wants us to have fun too and enjoy life; we aren't to be prudes but at the same time we are not to seek sin either!

Lack of self-control will be a sign of the end time. 2 Timothy 3:1-3, "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: v2) For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, v3) unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,..." Looking around this fallen world today, I see the progression of every single one of those attributes. Look at the "lover of themselves." We are living in a "facebook selfie" - "youtube" generation that focuses on "look at me," and that focuses on "SELF" and that perpetuates a self-centeredness and a self-love that is not godly. Blasphemy is nearly on every channel, in every movie or on every corner. Disobedience is at an all time high and is only increasing with every second. Brutality is at an all time high as well. We can't turn on the news without seeing some horrific crime, evil doers or some form of darkness being reported on. I could go on for each of the above, but I think you are beginning to see a pattern.

Godly self-control requires making no provisions for the flesh, which ultimately means not allowing backup plans or harboring thoughts that could sprout into sins.  Romans 13:14, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." Harboring thoughts is a very hard "habit" to break ON YOUR OWN! When we allow ungodly thoughts to fester too long, lingering where they don't belong, will ultimately turn into a sinful act. So it's imperative that we surrender those thoughts to the Lord Jesus Christ, asking Him for His help in removing those temptations and to replace them with godly thoughts. This is a struggle for many of Christians. Me included. It took me a very long time to learn how to surrender my thoughts over to the the Lord so that He can control them and not ME. We're all a little controlling by nature, some more than others, and maybe that's why it's a big struggle for most of us to overcome. But it CAN be overcome! Not fully, as we will slip from time to time, but eternally, it will be! Governing our lives by the Power of God will produce such a fruitful, satisfying and glorious fruits of life!

In closing, what is the best form of self-control? FLEEING! Whenever we're confronted with temptation, we really need to strive, and run, as far as possible, to get away from it! Fleeing the "inevitable." The more we choose to face those temptations, the easier it's going to be to fall victim to them! Even if you think you have a lot of self-control, don't put it to the test unnecessarily. Be wise! Not foolish! Some of the things we are told to flee: from a "stranger" (a teacher of lies), "flee sexual immorality" (as Joseph had to literally flee, Genesis: 39:12), "flee from idolatry," flee "all kinds of evil," "flee also youthful lusts" (John 10:5; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:10-11; 2 Timothy 2:22). We need self-control to avoid not only outright evil but also too much of the good things. Proverbs 25:16 cautions: "Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit." People often lack the self-restraint to stop when they should. People overeat, over-drink, overspend, over medicate and just overindulge in general in lots of things. We need to rule over our "appetites" (strong desires) rather than letting our "appetites" rule us. Overindulgence can lead to intoxication and/or addiction. In either case, the person is then really out of control! Self-control often means resisting sexual temptations, a subject addressed many times in the Bible, and for good reason. Tragically, the standards of morality, and modesty, are plunging to another all time low, all around us. Sexual sins are especially damaging, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually (1 Corinthians:6:13-20.)

The Spirit of Christ who works in our hearts to help us live above sinful practices, as well as the offering of loving counsel by Christian brothers and sisters, enables the fruit of self-control to grow for the glory of God. As a result, we can model God’s values, demonstrate in our behaviors His power to aid us daily, and more effectively share His love for others. In THIS life, no one can achieve all the fruit of the Spirit equally. In regard to gaining perfection in this life, Paul wrote to the Philippian believers, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12). God provides a way to overcome sinful thoughts and behaviors, silence the victim-mentality, and gain the self-mastery and self-control that you seek!  Each of us must rule over self before we can reign with Christ in His Kingdom as were promised to those who overcome in Revelation 3:21 and Revelation 20:6!

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