STRAIN AT A GNAT

I DON’T CARE ABOUT MOST OF THE THINGS THAT A FEW OF THOSE PREACHERS ON TV DO.  For instance, I really don’t care if the earth was formed 6,000 years ago or 10 Billion years ago.  I don’t think the Lord God inspired the Bible to be a book of irrefutable science. If it was important for us to know exactly when and how the earth was formed he would have made it abundantly clear.

If Jesus had wanted us to know the exact date of his coming he would have told us.  And yet I have heard a few TV guys and others laboriously trying to find in Scripture and signs in the sky when we will see Jesus coming.  I’m ready!  Are you?  Maybe those speeching-preaching entertainers are too busy raising money for their $50 million dollar jet plane to

“Preach the word; to be prepared in season and out of season; to correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

2 Timothy 4:2 (niv)

I heard a guy on TV say that we are going to be in heaven exactly the way we are on earth, but without the limitations.  Reeely?

As for me, I don’t want to be like I am now.  I like myself, kinda, but I’m not a narcissist.  Being free of limitations may be great, but I would need to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel to find anything like that in the Bible.  I’ll guarantee you that when Jesus comes – whenever that may be – and he introduces me to my heavenly body,   🎼🎶🎹

“there’ll be singing, there’ll shouting

When the saints come marching home,

In Jerusalem, in Jerusalem,

Waving palms with loud hosannas

As the King shall take His throne,

In the new Jerusalem.”

(C. B. Widmeyer)

Much of that preaching is designed to either raise money or scare the living daylights out of people.  My heart and life are ready.  I love the Savior and he loves me, and his saving grace makes me unbelievably happy.

🎼🎶🎹

“Whenever I am tempted,

whenever clouds arise,

when song gives place to sighing,

when hope within me dies,

I draw the closer to him;

from care he sets me free:

his eye is on the sparrow,

and I know he watches me;

his eye is on the sparrow,

and I know he watches me.

“I sing because I’m happy,

I sing because I’m free,

for his eye is on the sparrow,

and I know he watches me.”

(Civilla D. Martin)

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PROSPERITY

NOT OFTEN DO I AGREE WITH STUFF ONLINE (sometimes, not even my own stuff), BUT I READ AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED BY CRUX that addressed the issue of THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL, which traces its origins to the United States in the late 19th century, views wealth and success as synonymous with true religious conviction and consequently, sees “poverty, sickness and unhappiness” as a lack of faith.

This idea of “send ME your seed” and you’ll be healthy, wealthy, and wise is a hoax.  Don’t fall for it!  The idea that you can pursue the American dream by sending money to someone who lives in luxury doesn’t make Biblical sense.  This idea of affluence associated with Christian theology crawls with the snake that deceived Eve.

By the way, those same positive speaking guys and gals, although making us feel good, cannot “heal” everyone; maybe no one.  If we simply say that God can heal you, no one would ever die.  Spiritual vitality is far deeper than anything physical.

Evil is always parasitic!  As with Eve, the Evil One will always appeal to those areas of life in which we are most vulnerable; sex as pleasure – lust,  money to bring self-gratification – greed, having a physical god – idolatry, pride and arrogance or anything that replaces the goodness of God.  Evil resides in our will, our choices.  There is nothing in this world more powerful than the power of our free-will.  When we give in to those destructive things, those attitudes toward base desires, sin occurs.  Sin is much more than holding your little bow and missing the bullseye.  Sin was so destructive that it created within the human being a toxic, poisonous mental and emotional stew causing terrifying consequences.  It is so bad that it put Christ on the cross!

To consider serving the Lord God a celestial vehicle for prosperity is the height of selfish greed.

God is not a plaything.  His church is not to be “used” to satisfy greed.  And for sure, the poor and unsuspecting should not be used to purchase someone’s Gulf Stream IV.  Oh I know, we have considered old fashioned the idea of Christian theology …; “its boring.”  But you know what?  It would be wonderful to hear the powerful Word of God preached so that “heaven came down and glory filled my soul.”  Most of the time, however, we …  “tell [our] spiritual leaders, ‘Don’t bother us with irrelevancies.’  They tell their preachers, ‘Don’t waste our time on impracticalities. Tell us what makes us feel better. Don’t bore us with obsolete religion. That stuff means nothing to us. Quit hounding us ….’”

Isaiah 30:8-11 (msg)

No wonder the popular thing today is a church Rock concert with a “Speecher” telling us how good we are and how we deserve to “think and grow rich.”  Oh, and this is after we went shopping in the church mall buying our Starbucks and picking up the latest T-shirt that says, “Don’t Blame Jesus if You Go To Hell” with a big yellow happy face on it.   Or another approach is to scare the living daylights out of us predicting when Jesus will come followed, of course, by an exhortation to “give and you’ll get!”

Are We Warthogs?

IF THERE IS NO GOD,  NO HEREAFTER, NOTHING MORE THAN THE PHYSICAL floating through millennia of transmutation, why do we sometimes hurt deeply in our soul?  Why don’t we die like a dog or mosquito or a fish in the ocean?  What’s the big deal!

Why is it that for the last 6,000 years human beings have yearned for a supreme being making gods of wood and gold?  Who put the hunger in our heart for love, purity, moral conscience, for order?   What about that yearning to live forever?  If we are animal only with no hereafter what, then, is the big deal about dying – we just disappear, rot away in the dirt?  To the dialectical materialist/Left/communist crowd, you and your family are only economic animals to be manipulated for what they would interpret as the good for the whole of society.  Are human beings possessor of some kind of strange spirit that other creatures don’t have; or, does a dragonfly have what we have?  A cow, horse, warthog, grasshopper?   If we are no different, why not feed the hungry with human meat?

NO! A thousand times NO!

“In the past you were spiritually dead because of your sins and the things you did against God. Yes, in the past you lived the way the world lives, following the ruler of the evil powers that are above the earth. That same spirit is now working in those who refuse to obey God. In the past all of us lived like them, trying to please our sinful selves and doing all the things our bodies and minds wanted. We should have suffered God’s anger because we were sinful by nature. We were the same as all other people. But God’s mercy is great, and he loved us very much. Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God’s grace.”

Ephesians 2:1-5 (ncv)

 

To the eternal God the writer of Hebrews wrote: “‘You made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.’”

Hebrews 2:7 (nlt)

 

“Now we did not receive the spirit of the world, but we received the Spirit that is from God so that we can know all that God has given us.”

1 Corinthians 2:12 (ncv)

 

“I want [you] to be strengthened and joined together with love so that [you] may be rich in [your] understanding. This leads to [your] knowing fully God’s secret, that is, Christ himself.  In him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are safely kept. I say this so that no one can fool you by arguments that seem good, but are false.  “When you were spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were not free from the power of your sinful self, God made you alive with Christ, and he forgave all our sins.”

Colossians 2:2-4, 13 (ncv)

 

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 4:24 (ncv)

You are not just a piece of evolutionary meat roaming the desert of confusion.  You are a spirit longing to join the Spirit of God Almighty.  Your spirit is that something God put within you that gives you the ability to have an intimate relationship with God through the redeeming sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for the penalty of your sin and mine!

CITIZENS OF ETERNITY

WHEN WE STEP ON THE PROPERTY OF THE AMERICAN EMBASSY IN A FOREIGN LAND WE STEP INTO AMERICAN TERRITORY, OWNED LOCK, STOCK AND BARREL BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – but there is an exception; ownership is by agreement. According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 Embassy property is owned by the sending state and is agreed to in Article 21-22:

Article 21

The receiving State shall either facilitate the acquisition on its territory, in accordance with its laws, by the sending State of premises necessary for its mission or assist the latter in obtaining accommodation in some other way. 2. It shall also, where necessary, assist missions in obtaining suitable accommodation for their members.

Article 22

The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.

Therefore, we can state with confidence that when we step on Embassy property of the United States, we have entered America. As it is now spiritually, we are living in a foreign land, but our homeland is in heaven. Philippians 3:20 encourages us to rejoice because “we are CITIZENS of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.”

 

LOVE!

LOVE! THE TRUE MEANING HAS BEEN PERVERTED FOR SO LONG  BY HOLLYWOOD USING SOUND AFFECTS, PICTURES and PLATITUDES disguised as profound until we’ve essentially resorted to making it entirely physical.  A good example is the 1970 movie with Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw, LOVE STORY.  A memorable line is, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  [O how sweet!]  Not too many people can define LOVE. Our culture, philosophy, education and experiences all influence the way we think of LOVE.  

I guess Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald defined and sang LOVE this way:

“I’ve got the world on a string

I’m sitting on a rainbow

Got that string around my finger

What a world, what a life; I’m in love.”  (Ted Koehler)
In the 1960’s our culture redefined LOVE to mean a whole list of decadent behaviors.  Our American “enlightenment” has proven The Scriptural statement:  “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7 (kjv))  Using the ’60s definitions & behaviors, one could do anything, act any way, and as long as its called love, all is OK!  I think the 60s is when the innocuous statement got started, [gotta sing it] “luv yeew.”  No you don’t and I don’t!  But as long as we kind of sing it, it legitimizes it. True LOVE goes beyond and above.  LOVE is willing to go to the mat, make any sacrifice, lift any load, go the second mile, and do all this without complaining. 

 Do I have the ability to define LOVE apart from the Word of God?  No!  But the Apostle Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,  penned one of the most memorable, declamatory and eloquent chapters in the Bible writing to the Corinthians.  

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t LOVE others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t LOVE others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t LOVE others, I would have gained nothing. LOVE is patient and kind. LOVE is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. LOVE never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But LOVE will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and LOVE —and the greatest of these is LOVE.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (nlt)

“Because of His great LOVE for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—”

Ephesians 2:4-8 (niv)

“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the LOVE of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.”

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (nlt)

“Greater LOVE hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13 (kjv) 

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“Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.

“Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure—

The saints’ and angels’ song.”

(Frederick M. Lehman)

SKEPTICS AND THE SUPERNATURAL

NATURAL LAWS ARE FIXED!  THEY ARE DECLARED IN ADVANCE. 

They are foreseeable, calculable and certain.  They are constant and consistent.  The only force or Person who can alter, reconstruct or overrule those immutable, permanent laws is some cosmic force way out there in the somewhere, OR … we know Him as The Supernatural, Almighty, Ontological, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omnicient Creator GOD!  He is supernatural.  He is the miracle-producing God.  He is here and everywhere.  He is out there and in here.  His power cannot be calculated and His love is beyond intellectual understanding.  When God overrules natural law we know it as … supernatural!

When you believed by faith in the saving mercy of God through Christ Jesus, when you gave your heart to God, you entered the world of the supernatural.  You were brought from death to eternal life.  There is physical death and there is spiritual death.  Only by the supernatural can physical death defy the law of nature.  Only by the supernatural can a spiritually dead human being be snatched from the jaws of eternal death.  

Most of us are natural skeptics. The Bible is filled with illustrations of skeptics. In the Gospel of John chapter 11, 

(1)  Lazarus died in the town of Bethany while Jesus was beyond the Jordan River.

(2)  Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus sent a message to Jesus notifying him that Lazarus was near death.

(3)  Jesus didn’t answer.

(4)  After two days, he told his disciples that they should go back to Bethany.

(5)  His disciples warned him that he could be killed there by the bad guys in Jerusalem.

(6)  He went anyway.

(7)  He was met by Martha, the skeptic, saying: “You’re late and its your fault.  Lazarus is dead!”

Jesus answered Martha’s skepticism assuring her that Lazarus would live again, but her anger kept her from believing.  In the two verses (vv. 25-26) following this skeptical exchange, Jesus uses the word believe three times.  Then, Mary showed up with a bunch of wailing people, probably blowing their noses and shouting their anger.  Jesus was deeply hurt;  indignant and deeply troubled.  In the only time in recorded history it says that “Jesus wept,” the shortest verse in the Bible.

The religious leaders stood on the side expressing their skepticism.  “He healed that blind guy, why couldn’t he keep Lazarus from dying?”

Then Jesus said, “You do something first and then I’ll do something.  Roll the stone away; the one right there in front of the cave!”  Martha, holding her nose, shrieked, “Eew, its gonna stink!”  Jesus answered, “But didn’t I tell you that you will see a wonderful miracle from God IF YOU BELIEVE?”  Holding her nose, Martha directed a bunch of guys to roll the stone away.

Almighty God in the flesh, Jesus of Nazareth, defied nature and called for Lazarus to come forth, and sure enough, out comes this guy wrapped in white stuff (I think) and Jesus ordered the people to unwrap him.  

Guess what?  It was Lazarus.  It was a supernatural act of God, a miracle.  I’ve never seen that happen, but I believe it.  And, I believe him.  When I believed, it was a miracle, supernatural! 

  🎼🎶🎹

“Once I was bound by sin’s galling fetters;

Chained like a slave, I struggled in vain.

But I received a glorious freedom

When Jesus broke by fetters in twain.

“Glorious freedom!

Wonderful freedom!

No more in chains of sin I repine!

Jesus, the glorious Emancipator!

Now and forever He shall be mine”

(Haldor Lillenas)

BEHIND THE SCENE

FOUR GOOD OL’ BOYS FROM THE “PORE” PART OF TOWN TEAMED UP BECAUSE THEY HAD LEPROSY.

They were kicked out because leprosy scared the living daylights out of people. It was contagious and lepers stanketh.

The Syrian army had come into Israeli territory cutting off the city and well nigh starving those city folks.  The Syrians we’re camped outside the city slowly squeezing the life out of the Israeli’s. Then the Lord showed up!

  1. The four good ol’ leper boys were sitting on a little cliff kinda looking down on the Syrian army.
  2. The first leper said, “Hey boys – we’re gonna starve if we stay here.”
  3. The second leper chimed in with, “Well, we’ll starve if we go back into the city.”
  4. The third little pig … – sorry, that’s a different story –  the third leper was so discouraged he told the others that they probably ought to just go out and surrender.
  5. The fourth guy piped up, “Look, I’d rather get killed than die a slow painful death from starvation. Why sit here til we die?”
  6. So they agreed to climb down the rocks and ask for some food. The  closer they got they could smell the porridge and lamb chops, but they didn’t see anyone so they ate til their tummies were full.

What they didn’t realize was that when God goes to work, you may not always see what He is doing behind the scenes.

“The Lord had caused the [Syrian] Aramean army to hear the sound of chariots, horses, and a large army.  The Syrians said to each other, “The king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” So they got up and ran away in the twilight, leaving their tents, horses, and donkeys. They left the camp standing and ran for their lives.”

2 Kings 7:6-7 (ncv)

My friend, stay true, stay strong even if you think you’re gonna die because God has things going on behind the scenes for your good and His glory! Hallelujah!

II Kings 7:3-8    🎼🎶🎹

“Encamped along the hills of light,

Ye Christian soldiers, rise,

And press the battle ere the night

Shall veil the glowing skies.

Against the foe in vales below

Let all our strength be hurled;

Faith is the victory, we know,

That overcomes the world.

“On every hand the foe we find

Drawn up in dread array;

Let tents of ease be left behind,

And onward to the fray.

Salvation’s helmet on each head,

With truth all girt about,

The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread,

And echo with our shout.

“Faith is the victory!

Faith is the victory!

Oh, glorious victory,

That overcomes the world.”

(John H. Yates)

THE DECEIVER

DECEPTION!

Have you ever been hornswoggled? I was – more than once!  I needed …, no, I wanted a specific item.  The sales representative knew that the key to my purchase was my “want,” my desire.  He could sense it. He had my number. He knew I was an easy mark. I was vulnerable.  I bought it – hook, line and sinker!  No, No, No! I’m not saying he was a deceiver – maybe a little.  All I’m illustrating is that I was an easy sale because of my own vulnerability.

The New Age followers prey on those who are innocent and/or those who are seeking hope of some sort or another.  The so-called “religious” science followers and the “ology” folks,  pick out those who are looking for fame or positive affirmation and “BINGO!”  They’ve learned how to prey upon those who want money, or fame, or “spiritual” guidance.  These smooth-talkers have been taught how to identify and take advantage of the vulnerable.

“For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”

Romans 16:18 (niv)

“Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Matthew 24:11-13 (niv)

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

1 Peter 5:8-9 (niv)

 

UNSEEN, BUT KNOWN

MULTIPLIED MILLIONS OF DOLLARS – $$$ – have been spent by your government on listening for communication from outer space and investigating the possibility of extraterrestrial creatures. It took our illustrious scientists and academics thousands of years to discover DNA.  We still have not discovered a cure for the common cold.  Just think, electromagnetic and radio waves were not discovered until the 1870’s.  X-rays weren’t known until the late 1800’s and computer technology until the 1930’s.

Suppose, just suppose …

ALTHOUGH THERE IS AN UNSEEN-WITH-THE-NAKED-EYE SPIRITUAL BEING roaming the earth, nevertheless, the evil one is a person. We can rebuke his negativity in our lives, his filthy temptations, his accusations, his attempts to discourage us and his coming  to us as an angel of light.  Yes, an angel of light, and at the same time dragging us into low self esteem or pushing us into arrogant pride. God’s plan is for us to  “submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
James 4:7 (niv)

Right now, regardless of your circumstances, El Shaddai (The Almighty God Who Can), YAWEH (The one who says, “I AM!”), The Christ of Calvary, is as close as your heart.  “HE is here, hallelujah! HE is here AMEN!”  Do you want to “see” Him? GO.TO.HIS.WORD!  Submit yourself to Him!  “Listen” to your heart!

“No one can see God, but JESUS CHRIST IS EXACTLY LIKE HIM.  He ranks higher than everything that has been known, made or discovered.
“He was there before anything was made, and all things continue because of him.”
Colossians 1:15, 17 (ncv)

To the scientists and governments of this fallen world, I am saying, “Your huge disks on top of the mountain will not find Him.”

“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:6-9 (kjv)

“You must give your whole heart to him and hold out your hands to him for help.”
Job 11:13 (ncv)   🎼🎶🎹
“Into my heart, into my heart.
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.
Come in today, come in to stay.
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.”