The Sword In Mary’s Heart

The Sword In Mary’s Heart

In a small village of Galilee, the angel Gabriel came from the Heavenly Father to tell a young maiden incredible news that would change her life and the destiny of mankind. Joseph and Mary were newly wed, unaware of the remarkable change that would take place. Gabriel tells Mary she will have a son by the Holy Spirit, and He will be called Jesus. Nine months after Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem of Judea to register for the census, Jesus is born. In accordance with the Law of Moses, the infant son is circumcised on the eighth day and called Jesus. Thirty-two days later, when the days of her purification according to the Law were completed, Mary traveled with her husband and newborn son to Jerusalem to present Jesus at the temple.

There was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon who had been promised by God he would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ. When Joseph and Mary entered the temple, Simeon knew the child they held in their arms was the promised Messiah. He took Jesus in his arms and blessed the young child as the salvation of the world. Joseph and Mary marveled at the words of Simeon. After blessing the young couple, Simeon turns to Mary and tells her words she will never forget. The Child he held in his hand would change the world, but Simeon warns Mary that a sword would pierce her soul because of this little boy’s life.

The early life of Jesus is shadowed under a cloud of unknowns. When Jesus is a few years old, men from the East visit the family, and Joseph and Mary travel to Egypt soon after. After a few years, the family returns to Nazareth, where Jesus will grow into manhood. The son of Mary grows like any other child and enjoys the company of his stepbrothers and stepsisters. Contrary to the doctrine of Roman Catholicism, Joseph and Mary have other sons and daughters. Jesus grows up with siblings. The gospel writer Luke tells of one story when Jesus was twelve years old and amazed the Temple’s scholars. Nothing is known of the next eighteen years of the life of Jesus. There is one certainty that never escapes the mind of Mary – her eldest son is the Son of God.

Of all the people that have lived on the face of the earth, none lived with the absolute certainty that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, as Mary did. Jesus was born of a virgin, and Mary was that virgin. She knew who Jesus was. The sword that would pierce her heart was watching her little boy grow into adolescence and then become a young man. Many were the struggles of her eldest son as he lived a perfect life battling the temptations of Satan. Did His siblings understand how unique their elder brother was? How did Mary deal with her grief in losing her beloved when Joseph died? Did she implore God for intercession? At the age of thirty, Jesus began His ministry. He taught the people He was the Son of God; while many believed and followed Him, many more did not. Mary saw the persecution of the Jewish leaders who hated her son, and she remained silent. When Nazareth rejected their hometown son, what did Mary say?

The greatest sword that pierced the heart of Mary was when the final day came that she must have known was coming. Her son was condemned to die at the hands of the Romans. As a mother, she would not have been far from her son as they condemned him and made him carry his cross. Mary watched as they nailed her son to a cross. She grieved in her heart as they lifted her precious little boy up on that cross and saw the agony and pain in his face. Mary remained silent as her soul was ripped with the sword of grief seeing her son’s suffering. She could have cried out, telling the people who He was, but she did not. When Jesus took those precious moments on the cross to tell his mother his love for her and ask John to care for her, could her heartbreak any more? Then Mary saw her son die. The sword had taken its greatest toll.

Simeon told Mary a sword would pierce her soul, and it did – often. Mary took that sword, and the last record of the mother of Jesus was when she assembled with the first disciples of the New Testament church. One can only imagine the role she must have played in the early church and the stories she could tell of her son. A sword pierced her heart all her life, but her sword of grief led her to the kingdom of God and the glory of her son, who was the Son of God. Mary’s faith was an incredible example of eternal love. A mother’s love comes with a sword. Thank you, Mary.

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Choose Friends Carefully

After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted very wickedly. And he allied himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion Geber. But Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the Lord has destroyed your works.” Then the ships were wrecked, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish. (2 Chronicles 20:35-37)

Choose Friends Carefully

During the time of the divided kingdom, Judah was ruled by good kings and evil kings. This was in contrast to the northern tribes of Israel, who endured two hundred years of evil kings. The first two kings of the southern kingdom of Judah were wicked. After the death of Solomon, Rehoboam, his son, did evil in the sight of the Lord, as did the son of Rehoboam, Abijam. After the short rule of Abijam, Asa, his son, ruled for forty-one years and was a good king, followed by the reign of Jehoshaphat. Like his father, Asa, Jehoshaphat was a good king seeking to please the Lord during his twenty-five-year reign. He carried out the religious reforms of his father and was blessed by the Lord to establish his kingdom. The Holy Spirit said of the king that his heart took delight in the ways of the Lord. Jehoshaphat was one of the great kings of Judah.

As good a king as Jehoshaphat was, he had one character flaw that plagued him his whole time as king. He did not distinguish the kind of people he aligned himself with. To his credit, he made peace with the northern tribes of Israel, but Ahab was the king he made peace with. Sealing the covenant of peace, the son of Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, married the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah, was a wicked woman who would lead her husband to walk in the way of the kings of Judah and rule as an evil king. Her son, Ahaziah, reigned for one year before Jehu assassinated him. Athaliah took the throne and killed all the male members of the house of David except for Joash, who was hidden by Jehosheba. Jehoshaphat could not have realized the impact of his alliance with Ahab that brought about so much evil in Judah.

During the reign of Ahaziah, king of Israel, Jehoshaphat allied himself with the king of Israel. Ahaziah acted very wickedly. The influence of Ahab and Jezebel was strong with the wife of Ahaziah, and the land was filled with the worship of Baal. Jehoshaphat wanted to establish a naval fleet at Ezion Geber, a port on the Red Sea (Gulf of Akabah), to go to Tarshish. The prophet Eliezer prophesied against Jehoshaphat for his alliance with Ahaziah. The ships were wrecked, and the planned navy was lost. Jehoshaphat chose the wrong people to align himself with, and the Lord punished him. It would seem the choices of Jehoshaphat influenced his son Jehoram who killed all his brothers to obtain their wealth.

The type of people chosen to be friends or allies strongly influences the good character of God’s people. Examples abound throughout scripture with the consequences of choosing evil companions that corrupt the good morals of the righteous. There are many examples of the good influences wielded by those who embrace the company of other godly people. The gospel of influence is measured by the kinds of people surrounding the Christian’s friendship. Choosing friends must be done with the greatest care of deciding if that association will help one reach heaven or cause the heart to serve the world. Friends have a powerful sway on the heart of the Christian. Choose wisely and with a great deal of prayer. Your soul may depend on it.

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The Spirit Of Bondage

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

The Spirit Of Bondage

Freedom is the voice of those who seek to find happiness and joy in life. All men are made free with the ability to choose the course of their lives. Sadly, many become enslaved by their fellow man and, worse, enslaved by their own desires. Slavery is a negative subject that brings many emotions to the surface with repugnance and abhorrence, yet it is common in most people’s lives. There are movements decrying the slavery of men upon others, but what about the personal slaveries that bind men to the deceptive allure of pleasure? The spirit of bondage is the strongest of temptations trapping the soul into slavery of passion, drugs, desire, and uncontrolled habits.

The spirit of bondage is a tool of the devil to take the hearts of God’s people away from Him. It can become a lifelong struggle against chemical addiction, robbing life of health and happiness. Addictions to pornography trap millions of people. Uncontrolled spending by hoarders that cannot stop buying ruins lives. Gambling destroys countless lives every year. The “anonymous” clubs flourish from a harvest of souls enslaved to the spirit of bondage. God does not desire His people to be coupled to the slavery of sin but to find peace and happiness in the Spirit of adoption. True slavery is measured by the type of master that controls the spirit. Enslaving the soul to the flesh’s pleasures always brings heartache and ruin. Seeking happiness in drugs can end in destroying the body and then death. Financial ruin comes from those who cannot stop flittering away the family income.

One of the greatest addictions has become the cell phone. Smartphones have made a population of ‘unsmart’ people who cannot exist without media fixes from myriad apps that tantalize and tease the mind to want more. Children are neglected as parents consume their time staring at the tiny screens. Marriages become loveless as the love of the smartphone ruins the relationship. Young people cannot communicate with others. The spirit of bondage has taken over the souls of God’s people who lack self-control. Worship services cannot be completed without checking the phone. How many Christians can leave their cell phone in the car and go for more than an hour without checking Facebook? The excuse often is the phone is used with a Bible app, and while that is true, can that person honestly say they have never checked other media during worship?

There are many addictions that take the heart away from God. The need to disconnect to reconnect with God is needed now more than ever. Drug use was a prevalent temptation of choice, but now the sophisticated drug of use is the electronic media; known as the spirit of slavery. When the child of God cannot control – cannot control their desires, it becomes sinful. Self-control is one of the hallmarks of the Christian character. The lack of self-control is the lack of devotion to God. Allowing the spirit of bondage to consume the heart will destroy the soul. The Christian is not called of Christ to be enslaved to the bondage of fear. Christians are called to Christ to be people of God who received the Spirit of adoption by whom they cry out, “Abba, Father.” They cry out “allegiance” to the Father. Do not let the spirit of slavery consume the soul. Set yourself free from that which binds you – be free in Christ.

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The Saving Of The Household

The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!” Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!” Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household. (John 4:49-53)

The Saving Of The Household

Jesus performed many miracles and, in some cases, was not present when the miracle happened. A royal official approached Jesus begging Him to heal his child who lay dying. The nobleman’s son was sick unto death, and the father had traveled some distance to find Jesus. When Jesus told him to return home, and his son would live, the man immediately began his journey home. He was met by a servant who told him the good news of the boys healing the previous day. When the man asked what time of day his son was healed, he learned it was the same hour Jesus had proclaimed him healed. The man believed in the power of Jesus to heal his son, but when the miracle took place, he and his whole household believed.

The impact of raising a child from a deadly disease had its impact not just on the father but on the man’s family. Jesus was not present when the healing took place. As the family worried over their son, around one-o-clock in the afternoon, he was immediately healed. It is unlikely they would have understood it was the moment the father had pleaded with Jesus. When they learned of the timing of the miracle and the power of someone to heal from a great distance, the family believed. Not only did the nobleman believe in the Son of God but his whole family. The scriptures do not give any details about the family, but whoever was part of this man’s family was now a believer in Christ.

There is nothing more powerful than considering the conversion of a family. Seeing one man believe and respond to the gospel of Christ is a wonderful story. Witnessing a man and his whole family responding is an incredible story. This man’s story does not stand alone. Numerous families became believers in the Christ. Luke tells the story of a Gentile named Cornelius, a devout man who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. After an angel of the Lord told him to send for Peter and he sent his servants to bring Peter, Cornelius made some preparations for the arrival of the preacher. He called together his relatives and close friends to hear the word of the gospel. After Peter arrived and the Holy Spirit fell on those who heard the word, the household was baptized into Christ. Cornelius brought his family to the grace of God.

Paul and Silas were in prison in Philippi. At midnight, an earthquake shook the prison doors and loosed the doors and chains. Fearful the prisoners had escaped, the jailer prepared to take his life. Paul called out to the man and told him everyone was secure. When Peter spoke the word of the gospel to the jailer, he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. The household of the jailer obeyed the gospel. In the city of Corinth, Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household. Paul commended various families in his letters. In the Roman letter, he commended the household of Aristobulus and Narcissus, who are in the Lord. When he wrote to Corinth, Paul said he remembered baptizing the household of Stephanas. The household of Onesiphorus often refreshed the apostle Paul in his journeys.

The early church made the family an important part of the work of the kingdom. It does not matter how busy the world can be; the family remains the throbbing heart of the church, the community, and the nation. The church is in dire need of families who are faithful. Generational faith is handed down from one generation to another. What an amazing story to tell of baptizing a family, knowing this family will be an active part of the church. The nobleman who came to Jesus brought his single plea to heal his son and received a greater blessing than he could have imagined. His son was healed, and he praised God for that. Seeing his family believe that Jesus was the Son of God gave him great joy. Nothing in the world matters to a Christian father more than to lead his family to the throne of God in obedience. Families united under God’s saving grace are families devoted to the Lord.

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The One Cup Or The Cup?

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-29)

The One Cup Or The Cup?

Passover was one of the most important feasts for the people of Israel. The deliverance from Egypt was the memorial of the grace of God to free the Hebrews and a reminder of the penalty of sin against the nation of Egypt. Jesus spent His final Passover with the twelve in an upper room in Jerusalem. Using the Passover as a backdrop, the Lord institutes the memorial feast that would symbolize the grace of God to free men from sin and remind the world of the judgment of God when the Son returns. The feast included the sacrificed lamb, unleavened bread, and the cups of the fruit of the vine. Each element symbolized the memorial feast of when God saw the blood on the doorpost and lintel of the Hebrew homes and passed over, inflicting no harm but salvation.

Peter and John were instructed to ensure everything was ready for the Passover feast. They found a man carrying a water pitcher on his head and followed him to the upper room where all had been made ready. It was a large room furnished with the lamb, bread, and pitchers of the fruit of the vine. The necessary elements were also prepared such as tools to eat the Passover and drinking vessels for each man. After identifying Judas as a man who would betray Jesus, the Lord took the unleavened bread, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples. They were unaware of any significance of this act as Jesus told them the bread was His body given for them. He then took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them. This symbolism of the cup was the blood of the new covenant, which is shed for the remission of sins. Again, the disciples knew little of its significance until after Pentecost.  

Judas betrayed Jesus that night, and the Son of God was crucified the next day. On the first day of the week, Jesus rose from the dead. For the next forty days, He appeared to certain disciples explaining the kingdom of God. Jesus ascended to the Father, and ten days later, the twelve apostles were in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Through the preaching of the gospel, three thousand people were baptized for the remission of sins. Luke describes the early days of the church as a unified body of saints learning the apostle’s doctrine, including the breaking of bread or the Lord’s Supper. Jesus had told the disciples what they must do in organizing the early church. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the first disciples understood the significance of the memorial instituted by Jesus at Passover. One of the first things the infant church practiced was a weekly remembrance of the death, burial, resurrection, and return of God’s Son. The Lord’s Supper has continued for two thousand years.

Luke is the historian who details much of the beginning and growth of the early church. Through the writings of men like Paul and Peter, the application of the teaching of Jesus and the practice of the early church has been explained. The book of Acts shows how the early church met on the first day of the week to remember the memorial of Jesus in the Supper. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul recounts the institution of the supper showing the saints at Corinth the proper manner of taking the supper. What is not discussed is the manner of the partaking in the utensils or pattern of the supper. The early Christians knew they must keep the supper on the first day of the week. They understood the supper consisted of the fruit of the vine (never referred to as wine) and unleavened bread. Christ ordained the supper as a feast of memorial to honor His sacrifice. It was never the intent of the Holy Spirit to divide the church over whether one cup or multiple cups were used and whether the bread must be on one or multiple plates. Nothing in scripture signifies the kind of grapes to be used; whether purple, red or white. How many prayers are offered during the supper is not discussed. There are many things God has left to the inherent authority of carrying out the command to take the supper.

The Lord took “the cup” because it was symbolic. Using “the cup” to teach “one cup” would suggest the supper must be done in an upper room and only by men. If one element of the supper is emphasized over another, all must join the argument for authority. When division happens because of the number of cups used to carry out the Lord’s will, the meaning of the supper is destroyed, and men fail to honor God. Refusing to take the supper is where the harm comes in denying the pattern of the early church. Is the significance in one cup, or is the significance in the memorial? Jesus shed His blood to save men from sin. That is the honor of taking the supper as a memorial of the feast of salvation.

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I Felt Compelled

And Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled and offered a burnt offering.” (1 Samuel 13:11-12)

I Felt Compelled

Saul was the sovereign ruler of the nation of Israel. He was the anointed the Lord set over them to be their king. God knew the people would desire a king, but it was never His desire for His people to seek leadership from men. Because of their wickedness, they had asked for a king for themselves. Despite their desire for a king, the Lord would not forsake them. He promised to care for them, and Samuel said he would pray for the nation to be blessed. The warning from Samuel to Saul and the people is they must fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all their hearts, and they will be blessed. If they did wicked in the sight of the Lord, He would punish them.

Two years into the reign of Saul, the king gathers an army of three thousand men. He attacks the Philistines in Geba and defeats the city. The Philistines gather an army of thirty thousand chariots, six thousand horsemen, and an army like the sand of the seashore. When the people saw the massive army of the Philistines encamped in Michmash for war, they were terrified. Saul remained in Gilgal with an army trembling in fear. He knew it would take the power of the Lord to defeat such a large army, and he waited for Samuel to make intercession for the nation.

Seven days passed, and Samuel had not come when he said he would show. With each passing day, the people were more afraid, and Saul watched his army diminish. As king, he must be a man of courage and show a decisive spirit to stand against the massive army of the Philistines. He waited for Samuel, but Saul became frustrated the prophet did not come at the prescribed time. Days passed, and no Samuel. After the seventh day, Saul could wait no longer. He ordered the burnt offering to be brought, and he would make the sacrifice to the Lord. As king, he believed he had the authority to carry out the work of the prophet, who had delayed his coming, and to fight against the Philistine army. He was wrong.

Just as Saul was finishing the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcomed the prophet with great eagerness. Samuel knew what Saul had done and asked him why he had disobeyed the command of the Lord. Saul defended his actions suggesting the people were restless as the Philistine army stood ready before them. He was unsure if Samuel would arrive in time to make the sacrifice, and if the Philistines attacked, the people of God would be destroyed. Saul tells the prophet he was compelled or forced to make a decision to make the sacrifice since Samuel had delayed his coming.

Was there fear in the camp of Israel standing before the army of the Philistines? Samuel had promised to come in a certain amount of time to make the sacrifice, but he had not come in the time prescribed. Could the enemy attack God’s people and destroy them with such a vast army? Was there not a need for a sacrifice to be made imploring the intercession of the Lord? Did it matter in this time of danger if Samuel made the sacrifice, or could Saul, as king, make that decision? Was not the action of Saul in the best interest of the people? Many questions could be answered in favor of Saul making the sacrifice, with the exception of one vital part of the equation: Saul had no authority to usurp the will of God.

Saul felt compelled to make the sacrifice, but he did not keep the commandment of the Lord. His heart was not true to the word of God. Samuel was the one who should have made the sacrifice. The king had no right to take the authority of God’s divine plan to fit his own need. He stood condemned for challenging the word of the Lord for an action that human wisdom viewed as acceptable. The intention of Saul was noble, but it was wrong. His desire was right, but his actions were disobedient. It did not matter to God what Saul felt compelled to do if it was not in keeping with the word of God.

The decision of Saul to make an unlawful sacrifice is seen in the religious world where men have taken upon themselves their own kind of law. Saul made an unlawful sacrifice by fitting the law of God to his needs. He did not trust the Lord knew what He was doing. In the mind of Saul, God did not understand the situation. Often in the lives of God’s people, the will of the Lord is challenged because human wisdom knows better than God. People will change the word of God to fit their own wisdom. Look at all the religious division where supposed followers of Jesus make the Bible fit their own dogmas, doctrines, and decrees and then praise the Lord for His abundant mercies. Saul made a sacrifice, and it was probably exactly like the sacrifice should be made. What made the sacrifice unlawful was Saul had no authority. If there is no Biblical authority, men serve the will of men; not God. Let the Bible speak and let men’s hearts follow God’s will. An old saying fits the occasion: “Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we are silent” (Thomas Campbell, 1809). Good advice.

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The Decreasing Christian

You yourselves bear me witness that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:28-30)

The Decreasing Christian

John the Baptist was born for a special work in the ministry of Jesus. Like Elijah, he would seek to bring the people to the coming of the kingdom and the promised Christ. His work would prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. John would seek to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and cause those who are rebellious to accept the will of God. The work of John preceded the ministry of Jesus. Multitudes came to John to hear his preaching and to be baptized. Jesus and John never worked together, but their missions were similar, with one exception: John knew his work was limited and the work of Jesus was unlimited.

John began his ministry when he was thirty years of age and died within a few years at the hand of Herod, the king. Some thought John was the promised Christ, and he repeatedly reminded them he was not the Christ, but he had been sent before the Lord as one who prepared the way. It was never the intention of John to supplant the work of Jesus. John knew his work was on a short leash, and his work would prepare the way for the greater effort of Jesus. Like the friend of the bridegroom, John was not the focus of the world, but the eternal bridegroom, Jesus, should receive the glory and honor of the Father. John knew the work of Jesus must increase, and the work of John must decrease. The more Jesus was in the world; the less John was center stage. He literally faded from sight, so the glory of God’s Son shone in a dark world.

There is a spiritual reality when a man becomes a Christian. The glory of man is his identity, character, and personality. That spiritual reality is the longer one serves the Lord Jesus Christ, the less he becomes himself and the more he becomes the image of the Son of God. The statement of John the Baptist that he must decrease while Jesus is magnified is the pure essence of a Christian’s life. Everything about the life of a child of God becomes more the imitation of Jesus in identity, character, and personality. The Christian knows his life is short and that all that identifies him must decrease while the personification of the Son of God increases. This comes about by faith and knowledge of the word of God. The deeper a man penetrates his soul into the character of Jesus, the more he becomes like the Son of God.

The purpose of life must always be to decrease the man and increase the Christ. Life is not about the identification of this life. Changing into the image of Jesus is the metamorphosis of the soul from the carnal to the eternal. As a light that penetrates the darkness of a sinful world, the Christian life shows the glory of God to those around him. That is accomplished when the man becomes like the Baptist – a transformed life. John the Baptist glorified God by decreasing so the glory of Jesus Christ would increase. In the life of the Christian, his purpose is to glorify God to the dimming of self so that Christ may be exalted in all things. Then, and only then, can the man of God know the depth of God’s love in saving him from wrath. Decrease me – increase Jesus.

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Rejecting The Prayer Of Jesus

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21)

Rejecting The Prayer Of Jesus

The moment of Jesus’ death was imminent, and Judas was gathering the soldiers and leaders to betray the Lord. Thursday night was filled with deep emotion for Jesus. He had taken His last Passover with His beloved twelve, announced the betrayal of Judas and Peter, and washed the feet of the apostles. Using the backdrop of the Passover feast, Jesus instituted the memorial of the feast that would unite the world under one banner of truth. The Lord’s final supper was to establish the nature and character of the kingdom. Through the sacrifice of Jesus and the blood of the cross, the church would be founded upon the eternal plan of the Father so the world would believe Jesus as the Son of God.

Following the supper and Judas leaving the upper room, Jesus and the eleven begin walking to Gethsemane. As they walk, Jesus continues to teach His disciples about the will of His Father. He offers a prayer for Himself and the eleven as they are unaware of what Judas is doing and how his actions will change the world. Jesus also prays for generations yet born. He sees beyond the scope of the cross to the day when the gospel will be preached in Jerusalem, and many will find salvation in His blood. Jesus knows the infant church will struggle as it grows, but the power of the gospel will touch thousands of hearts, and the joy of eternal life will be discovered. He knows all too well that Satan will weave his threads of apostasy into the church, and men will follow the wiles of deception. Jesus prays for all believers to be one, united under the single banner of His word and the will of the Father.

The prayer of Jesus is a powerful testimony to the desire of Christ for all believers to be one in Him. He never intended for a division to mar the character of the church. Those who believed in Jesus through the word in the first century only knew one church. There were no other churches, denominations, or faiths declaring Jesus as Lord. Paul would later declare there was only one body, one church. The world of the New Testament argued about how many gods there were, but there were no debates about how many churches. Paul standing on Mars Hill in Athens, was bold to declare there was one God. He never preached about the multiplicity of churches as the divine pattern of God. Reading the pages of the New Testament will show there was only one church and body of Christ.

Fifteen hundred years would pass before the apostasy turned a more productive turn. Within six hundred years of Pentecost, the mother of apostasy would be born in the Roman Catholic Church. From the womb of lies and false doctrine, protestant churches would spring from her belly as illegitimate children of an apostate mother. Churches began to multiply and stand under their own banners declaring allegiance to Christ. Religious leaders herald that all churches are one, but no unity exists. There is no unity in name, organization, method of membership, plan of salvation, or acceptance of the Bible as the word of God. The prayer Jesus offered on the night He was betrayed is now betrayed by a religious world filled with apostate churches.

Jesus prayed that all believers be one. Can anyone truthfully say the churches in any community are one? They may band together in a loose form of unity, but they return to their form of religion apart from the patterns of others. Can a Baptist be a Baptist in a Lutheran Church? Is it possible for a Methodist to be a Methodist in a Nazarene Church? Baptist worship as Baptist, Lutherans as Lutherans, Methodist as Methodist; and the list goes on. Jesus prayed that all those who believed in Him through the word be one. That unity is likened to the unity of Jesus and the Father. Through that unity, the world will come to know Jesus Christ. Because of the division clearly defined in modern-day religion, the world cannot know that Jesus is the Son of God.

The prayer of unity demands unity. Jesus prayed for unity, but men must obey His word to fulfill that prayer. Just because Jesus prayed for unity does not mean it automatically happens. His desire for all believers to be one must be met with obedient hearts willing to reject the false teachings of human wisdom and embrace the unity of God’s word. The world will be more receptive to the gospel when they see true believers living out the prayer of Jesus. Unite in the word of God. Reject the word of men.

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The Perfect Genealogy

Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah, the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er, the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. (Luke 3:23-38)

The Perfect Genealogy

The study of family lineage has always been a part of the human landscape. From early times, charting the course of a seed line has been a vital part of establishing bloodlines and kinships, whether to determine a monarchy or family curiosity. With the recent death of Queen Elizabeth II, the question of succession to whom would receive the crown was foremost on the minds of the world. Queen Elizabeth can trace her ancestry as a direct descendent of Henry VII (1457-1509). Through Victoria (1837-1901) and several other of her great-great-grandparents, Elizabeth is directly descended from many British royals. However, tracing her lineage throughout the generations back to the first man Adam is impossible. Many lineages show a lengthy course of history, but none compared to the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

Genealogy comes from the Greek meaning “the making of a pedigree.” The family tree of Jesus is given by the gospel writers Matthew and Luke. Matthew’s gospel is directed toward the Jewish mind proving that Jesus was a descendant of Abraham. Jesus was of the tribe of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah. The pedigree of Jesus of Nazareth was necessary to establish the change in the priesthood, as pointed out in the book of Hebrews. As the High Priest of the new covenant, Jesus would disannul the Law of Moses through the priesthood of Melchizedek instead of Levi. Luke presents the humanity of Jesus, tracing his lineage back to Adam. As a first-rate historian, Luke thoroughly investigated the story of Jesus but knowing the family tree of Jesus would only come through divine knowledge. The Holy Spirit outlined the complete historical genealogy of Jesus to show that Jesus was the answer to humanity’s lost condition. Jesus emptied Himself of the divine to dwell on the earth as a man experiencing all of the trials and travails of human flesh. It would mean little if Jesus was not a man. The genealogy presented by Luke shows the incredible sacrifice Jesus made.

How many people can trace their pedigree without interruption to the Garden of Eden? The only man who has ever shown His genealogical history in complete form is Jesus Christ. His family pedigree is one of the testimonies of the divine nature of the word of God. The Jews valued genealogy to a level of worshiping lineages. Paul warned the early Christians against putting too much stock in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. The lineage of Jesus in Matthew and Luke’s gospel is the thumbprint of the Lord God to show divine royalty. Only through God’s divine providence can the lineage of Jesus be perfected through the word passed down from generation to generation. The past of Jesus affirms our future. He is the Son of God. Check His pedigree. It’s perfect.

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Why Do People Do Evil?

Thus King Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem and reigned. Now Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king; and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel to put His name there. His mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess. And he did evil because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord. (2 Chronicles 12:13-14)

Why Do People Do Evil?

After the death of Solomon, Rehoboam, his son, reigned in his place. Under David and Solomon, the nation of Israel united and became the greatest nation in the world. The Lord blessed Solomon with great wisdom, power, prestige, and possessions but the son of David let his foreign wives carry away his heart. As the grandson of David and son of Solomon, Rehoboam should have seen the power of God working in the lives of these two great men. Israel was a prosperous nation through the grace of God. When his father died, Rehoboam began dismantling the nation with his oppression of the people leading to a civil war. Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, led a revolt against Rehoboam and tore ten tribes away from Judah and Benjamin. The fractured kingdom would never recover.

When Rehoboam established himself as king, he abandoned the law of God, and the people followed his apostasy. After Shishak, king of Egypt, came against Jerusalem, the Lord did not permit the Egyptians to conquer Rehoboam, but Shishak ransacked the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple and the royal palace. He stole everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. Rehoboam humbled himself, but his heart was not devoted to the Lord. The legacy of Rehoboam was he did evil in the sight of the Lord because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord. He did not seek after God with all his heart. The nature of sin strongly influences men to rebel against the Lord God. Rehoboam’s evil came through neglect of preparing his heart to heed the word of God.

The first words of the devil to Eve were to challenge the word of God. Satan knows that if he can keep the heart from giving devotion to the Lord, he has a measure of success that can lead to total destruction. What did Rehoboam lack in knowing the word of God? Everything needed to follow the word of the Lord was available for the king to read and heed, but he allowed evil to cover his heart. Evil comes when men do not prepare their hearts to seek the word of the Lord. There are only two choices a man can make: serve God or rebel against the word of God. Evil comes when men choose to follow their will.

Human wisdom tries to rationalize where evil comes from, but the origin of evil is when the heart rejects God. Sin is the problem. Sexual immorality is not because of some psychological failings or mental condition. It is a matter of the heart. Anger and hatred grow from evil hearts. Addictions come from hearts unprepared to face the reality of sin. Men try to find answers to why evil exists, and some will blame God. The reason evil exists is that the heart of men grows worse and worse. In the days of Noah, God saw that every intent of the thoughts of the heart was only evil continually. Pharoah was evil because he hardened his heart. Satan entered the heart of Judas to betray Jesus. Peter condemned Ananias and Sapphira because they conceived evil in their hearts. Evil hearts come from those who refuse to prepare their hearts for God. Rehoboam should have listened to his father, who wrote that men must keep the heart will all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. A heart left unguarded will fail.

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Elders Like Joshua

Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying: “Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.” (Numbers 27:15-17)

Elders Like Joshua

The children of Israel had been free from Egypt for more than forty years. Only Joshua and Caleb remained to enter the land of promise of the adults twenty years and above that walked through the Red Sea. Moses was forbidden to enter Canaan, and a new leader must be chosen. He knew he would die, and the people would possess the land without his leadership. Choosing a man to lead Israel was a daunting task, and few men would be able to meet the challenge. Moses implores the Lord to choose a man to take his place, and the Lord selects Joshua, son of Nun.

Moses has endured the challenges of the wilderness for forty years. After the failed invasion at Kadesh Barnea, he guided a rebellious, complaining, and murmuring nation of discontents. As the nation’s leader, Moses knew the complexities required to guide the people of God across the Jordan and the challenges of driving out the people of Canaan. The nation needed a man that could take the role of leadership and accomplish what the Lord committed to him. Joshua was a strong candidate for the role of leading the people of God. The son of Nun would take the nation across Jordan and complete the conquest in less than seven years.

When Moses described the work of the one who would lead the nation, he described a unique man of specific qualities. The leader would go out before the people. His task would be to guide God’s people and lead them into battle. This man would also go in before them to engage with them. Like a shepherd leading his flock, the leader of Israel would guide the flock of the Lord through the conquest of Canaan. Joshua took the mantle of leadership and became the leader of God’s people. He shepherded the nation to defeat the stronghold of Jericho and to build up the faith of the people after the losses at Ai. His faith guided the armies of God to win victory after victory as the Canaanites fled before the presence of the nation of God. He went out before them, and he went in before them. His role is much like the roles found in the leadership of the church.

Jesus Christ is the head of the church. His authority is absolute. The Father gave Jesus all authority, and through that authority and the work of the Holy Spirit, the New Testament church was established and organized according to the plan of God. One of the pivotal roles in the church is that of leadership. Strong leadership is needed to guide the local church for the purpose designed by God before time began. The New Testament describes the leaders of the church as elders, pastors, bishops, overseers, and shepherds. Each one of these qualities of character defines the work of the leaders of the church. Like Joshua of old, the elders have an immense task ahead of them as they lead the people of God to conquer the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. And like Joshua (but in the multiple), they must be men willing to go out before the brethren and to go in before them. Joshua led by example and authority. He went before the people for all to see. His leadership was visible to the congregation. Joshua went in before them, engaging with them. He was personal. His work was a success because he knew the quality of leadership was to be among his people.

Elders must learn the craft of shepherding. Smelling like the sheep requires engagement with the sheep. The constant nourishment and care of the shepherd’s hands upon the flock will endear them to the flock. When battles must be fought, the overseers take the lead in directing the defense of the church with truth and righteousness. There will be times of defeat, as Joshua experienced at Ai. Rooting out sin is a most difficult task, but men of faith must take action. Joshua did not give up or give in. At the end of his life, Joshua said that not one thing had failed of all the good things which the Lord had promised. He guided the people with the courage of a faithful heart to go before them and go among them. The work of an eldership shepherding the flock of God must have the same zeal. Go before them and go among them. Let the people see and know you care for them and will protect them. Rise up and be like Joshua.

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Would You Go?

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “And was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony that he pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5)

Would You Go?

The Bible reveals little about Enoch, son of Jared. He was in the seventh generation from Adam, and considering Adam lived 930 years, Enoch would have lived at the same time as his great-great-grandfather Adam, the first man. The world changed a lot in the days of Enoch. Instead of turning to the Lord, the world began to turn into a corrupt, brutal, and wicked world. Enoch’s son would become famous for living the longest recorded age of 969 years – Methuselah. Moses gives a brief notation about Enoch walking with God, and he was not, for God took him. Enoch is part of the genealogy of Jesus as recorded by the gospel writer Luke. Paul and Jude are the only New Testament writers that mention Enoch helping the disciple know more about this man of mystery.

In the book of Hebrews, Paul exhorts the struggling Christians to keep their faith, using many examples of men and women who faced uncertainty but retained their faith in God. Enoch was mentioned as one who did not see death because God had taken him. The Holy Spirit reveals the only insight into the decision of taking Enoch when He says that Enoch had a testimony that he pleased God. Jude will write that Enoch was a prophet who spoke against the ungodly of his day. Following these two references, the scriptures fall silent. But there is one question that begs an answer: would you be willing to leave and go with God?

A story is told of a little girl who was asked to tell the story of Enoch. She said that God and Enoch were taking a walk one day, and God asked Enoch if he would like to go home with Him. Enoch said yes, and so he did. If God came into my life and gave me the option to forgo the dying process and just go straight to heaven, would there be any hesitation? There are many factors to consider of which family is the first. Would I be willing to leave everything I know here and everything that makes life comfortable? If God asked me to leave, would I beg for a few days to say goodbye to family or a few months to put my house in order; or would I immediately say yes without explaining to anyone? In other words, I would die without explanation and leave everything. Is that what happened to Enoch? What did Methuselah know about what happened to his father? Did the Lord let others know what He did for Enoch?

The question of life and death is not changed from the story of Enoch. God gave Enoch an opportunity to eternal life without experiencing the pangs of death, but he still left this world for eternity. Death has the same message. It is unknown in its timing, but it is real. Enoch walked with God and was not; we must walk with God and be prepared for “not.” Paul struggled with his life in wanting to be with the Lord and yet remain to bless the work at Philippi. He was torn between staying to do a fruitful work with the Christians or going and being with the Lord. How many of us struggle on this level? Would you go? Are you ready to go?

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The Right Kind Of Heart

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)

The Right Kind Of Heart

Peter’s sermon at Pentecost was about eight minutes in length. He had responded to the crowd gathering when a mighty rushing wind filled the house they were in, and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit was evident upon the twelve. The multitude was drawn to the startling events of the morning, wondering what was going on. As the twelve apostles stood before the crowd, they began speaking in the many dialects and languages of those gathered for Pentecost. People from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt, and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene were present. Some came from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs. The multitude was amazed and perplexed at what they saw and heard.

It was a scene of chaos as the multitude tried to understand what was happening. Standing up with his fellow apostles, Peter spoke first and explained what was happening. Some thought the twelve men were drunk, and Peter said that would not be the case at 9:00 o’clock in the morning. He did go on to explain what had just happened was what Joel said would take place when the Spirit of the Lord would be poured out with prophecy, visions, and dreams. Peter then changes direction to remind the crowd of an event that occurred a little over a month earlier. The killing of Jesus of Nazareth was still on the lips and minds of those gathered in Jerusalem. Peter explained the Jesus whom the Jews had killed was the long-promised Messiah confirmed by the prophecy of David. The conclusion of the fulfilled prophecy was the Jesus whom they had crucified fifty days earlier was Lord and Christ.

Peter’s sermon was a succinct, moving, powerful, and complete testimony of the scheme of redemption through Jesus Christ. The body of the message was less than ten minutes. There were no bands, no singing, no frills, no entertainment, no appeal, and no pressure on the crowd. With just over five hundred words, Peter preached the first gospel sermon. What is remarkable about the events at Pentecost was not that three thousand souls were added to the church that day. It was not remarkable the apostles spoke in languages and had fire upon their heads. What is important to see in the Pentecost events is the listeners’ heart. They were devout men from every nation. Peter spoke for about eight minutes, and their hearts were pricked with his message. Hearing the Jesus who was killed earlier was the Son of God cut the men to their core. They were moved by the message of the man Jesus of Nazareth.

One of the challenges of preaching is storming the will of the hearts gathered to hear the message of salvation. What made the events of Pentecost powerful were hearts that were open to receive the story of redemption in Jesus Christ. For those who obeyed the gospel that day, there were no long debates about the nature of the words Peter spoke. No one challenged the interpretation of Joel’s prophecy and the psalms by David. Many more than three thousand refused to accept Peter’s words, but the hearts of the honest people readily accepted, believed, and obeyed the gospel. People do not respond to the gospel often because of their hearts, not the preaching. A man can speak passionately about the death of Jesus Christ and watch a crowd of lost souls walk aimlessly away. The preaching was sound, powerful, and according to truth, but when the heart is unprepared, uncultivated, and unwilling to accept the word immediately, men walk away.

The world needs more hearts willing to be cut and pricked with the simple story of Jesus Christ. Satan has done well to harden the hearts of those who want to debate the question of salvation, the merits of baptism, the identity of the church, and a host of useless wranglings – all the while remaining lost in the kingdom of perdition. Many souls will be lost not because of some evil they have committed, like murder, adultery, homosexuality, or lying. Most souls will be lost because they did nothing. Their hearts were never moved to move to salvation. When the few gathered on Pentecost heard the story of Jesus Christ, they were cut to the heart and asked what they needed to do to be saved. May the hearts of more men be opened to the grace of God.

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The Small And Great

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. (Revelation 20:11-12)

The Small And Great

Death is the great equalizer. The world is filled with the young and old, rich and poor, masters and slaves, righteous and wicked, leaders and followers, despots and tyrants, and all the human families of the small and great. Conditions of life separate humanity from one another through birth, privilege, economics, fear, love, wisdom, and a host of traits that elevate some and oppress others. Life is often unfair in the measure of blessings given to some and withheld from others. It is a man that creates the disparity among the peoples of the earth because the small and great come into the world in the same manner, and the small and great leave this world exactly the same.

The first equalizer is birth. Everyone is born in the same manner. Through God’s creative power, a child comes from a woman’s womb. Rich women give birth to children in the same way a poor woman gives birth. The circumstances and surroundings may be different, but birth remains the same. Life is what makes a person great or small. Human wisdom creates inequality with perceptions of greatness personified through pride. All men come from Adam and share the same biological seed created when Eve was brought to the man. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin did not pen a new doctrine when they stylized the phrase of all men being equal, endowed by God with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Bible established the equality of all men when Moses wrote that God created man in His image. All men are equal because all men share in the image of their Creator.

Equality in life is a tenuous pursuit. Men will spend a lifetime seeking fame, fortune, wisdom, and power. The irony is the amount of effort put into making a name for oneself only to face the chasm of death where names are forgotten. Riches amassed in life are left behind. The greatest wisdom a man can achieve will not extend his life one moment. Great men rise to rule their worlds only to find that death easily comes into their fortified citadels. No man escapes death, whether great or small. Death is the final equalizer because all men die the same way. The door of death is the same reality for every man who has lived. Methuselah lived for 969 years and he died. The poorest man living today will live a certain amount of years and, like Methuselah, die. Equality.

What makes death the great equalizer is the knowledge of how death changes the station of a person’s place in the eternal scheme. In life, there are the small and the great, but in death, there are the saved and the lost. What makes a man different in life ends in death. How a man faces eternity is the manner of life he lives before death. The time on earth is very short, but on that slim vapor of life, eternity depends. All men will stand before the great white throne as equals, whether small or great. What separates men in eternity is written in the Book of Life. The dead are judged according to their works and the things written in the book by the Finger of God. Whether a man is small or great in life matters not in the mind of God. What matters in the mind of God is whether that small or great man has his name in the book.

The devil’s great lie in mortals’ hearts is to seek greatness and power in this life. There is no consciousness of the eternal, and most men seek greatness in wealth, fame, pleasure, and wisdom. Death takes all that away and bares the soul before a just and wrathful God. What matters in life is what matters in eternity. The great and the small will stand on the same parcel of eternity and be judged by one book and one book alone. Every heart will know the answer of the eternal ages when they die. All the dead, small and great, stand before God.

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He Gave Them Power

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. (Matthew 10:1-4)

He Gave Them Power

Sickness and disease is a consequence of sin. When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, there was no sickness, disease, or death. As a consequence of eating the forbidden fruit, God removed access to the tree of life to Adam and Eve and drove them from the garden. Death reigned as disease spread throughout the world. The wisdom of men sought remedies for the maladies of the human body, but the power of disease continued destroying lives. Nothing could be done for Rachel, the wife of Jacob, when she died in childbirth. Leprosy was common in the Bible lands, but there was no cure. Thousands of men and women died from plagues. Sickness and disease have taken lives too early, too often, and too many. There was little anyone could do but offer solace and comforting words. And then Jesus came.

The Son of God did not come to take away the disease of the body. In the thirty years of Jesus’ early life, sickness infected the people, and many died from disease as it had done from time beginning. During the ministry of Jesus, He healed thousands of people with every known disease, sickness, and plague without exception. Jesus raised the dead and cast out demons. There was no disease that Jesus could not heal completely. His healing was not a temporary fix but a complete cure. When the Lord gathered His twelve apostles, He gave them the power to do the same thing. They had the power of unclean spirits to cast them out and to heal all kinds of sicknesses and all kinds of diseases. There was nothing the power of the Holy Spirit could not work through the hands of the apostles. The power was unlimited. Twelve men had incredible power – the power of God.

After Jesus commissioned His apostles, the twelve men went out preaching, teaching, and casting out unclean spirits. They healed every kind of disease and illness without exception. Peter healed a man of disease. Matthew cast out a demon. And believe it or not – Judas healed people of sickness. John gave relief to lepers. The power of God flowed through the twelve apostles as they healed sick people and made them whole. It must have been an amazing experience to come into a city and find a number of sick people who were miserable, lonely, hopeless, and afflicted. Peter would walk to the crowd and put his hand on the sick, feeling God’s power taking away their affliction. The smiles on the faces of the thousands healed from the infirmities of the flesh had to resonate in the hearts of the twelve men. Jesus gave them the power of God to heal, and they healed people, casting out demons and raising the dead. What an incredible power to have in their hands.

What is remarkable about the story of the twelve apostles is that they possessed God’s power and experienced God’s power in using that power. Yet, they continued to struggle in their faith to understand the will of God. The power of God was theirs, and they did not understand what they possessed. It is easy to judge the twelve and not understand how they could possess such power and not be full of faith in the work of the Lord. But they healed people, raised the dead, and still doubted and failed in their devotion to God. The answer to the dilemma of their faith is found in the faith of those in the body of Christ who possess the power of God. Miracles and gifts of healing ended nearly two thousand years ago. No one has the power to heal sickness, cast out demons, or raise the dead. While that power is gone, a greater power remains and is forgotten.

God sent His Son to help men fight the disease of sin. Physical disease will kill the body, but spiritual disease destroys a soul for eternity. Medicines can stave off disease for a time, and then death comes. Dying from sin will never change. The gospel of God is the greatest power man has ever known. The twelve apostles had the power of physical healing and spiritual healing. The Bible is the message of divine healing placed in the hands of God’s people to share with others. Did the apostles take for granted their power to heal all sickness? We can and often take for granted the power of the gospel to heal what is truly wrong with man – sin. Having the power and using it for its purpose is where we fail. We have the power. Share the gospel. Save a soul.

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Bring It To The Door

Whatever man of the house of Israel who kills an ox or lamb or goat in the camp, or who kills it outside the camp, and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting to offer an offering to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord, the guilt of bloodshed shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people, to the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they offer in the open field, that they may bring them to the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to the priest, and offer them as peace offerings to the Lord. (Leviticus 17:3-5)

Bring It To The Door

Central to the history of the nation of Israel was the center of worship during the wilderness wanderings and early history of the young nation. Moses received the Law from God at Sinai, including constructing a place where God would commune with His people. It was vital to the relationship of God to be near His people, and the Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting would serve that purpose. The tabernacle was made up of many parts, including the Ark of the Covenant, the Lampstand and Table of Shewbread, the Altar of Incense, and the Brazen Altar. Constructed as a portable tent, the tabernacle was set up at the center of twelve tribes, with the tribe of Levi responsible for the care and moving of the place of worship.

Moses was given specific instructions on how to build the tabernacle. When Moses was getting ready to build the tabernacle, God warned him to make everything according to the pattern He had shown him on the mountain. Moses obeyed the will of the Lord exactly as commanded. The worship also contained certain commandments that must be followed. One of those had to do with bringing the sacrifice to the door of the tabernacle. The door of the tabernacle was where God communed with Israel. When Moses entered the tabernacle, the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. When Aaron and his sons were consecrated, the congregation gathered at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. They were told to remain at the door of the tabernacle day and night for seven days until their consecration was complete. Aaron and his sons did all the things God commanded.

The people were also commanded with respect to the door of the tabernacle to bring their offerings to the door. God told Moses if a man killed an ox or lamb or goat in the camp and he did not bring the sacrifice to the door of the tabernacle of meeting to offer as an offering to the Lord, the man would be held guilty of unholy blood. The penalty would be that man is cut off from the people of God. To be cut off from the people was to treat the man as an outlaw or one who rebelled against the law. If a man kills an ox or lamb or goat outside the camp and does not bring the offering to the door of the tabernacle, he will be held guilty of the blood and cast out from among the people. If a man offers a burnt offering or sacrifice and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting to offer it to the Lord, that man will be cut off from the covenant of God.

It might seem a trivial thing whether a man brings the offering to the door of the tabernacle. If a man makes a sacrifice to the Lord by offering up an ox, lamb, or goat, he can believe he is worshiping the Lord and be pleasing to God by his sacrifice. Everything seems to be in order as a sacrifice is made, and a burnt offering or sacrifice is made in the name of the Lord. The Law of Moses demanded the sacrifice be brought to the door of the tabernacle. When Israel camped around the tabernacle, more than a million people were pitching their tents around the tabernacle. If someone from one of the outlying tribes made a sacrifice, they had to go to the trouble to take their sacrifice through the thousands of people standing between them and the tabernacle. They could not offer acceptable worship at the door of their tent. Salvation required them to do what God said – take the sacrifice to the door of the tabernacle.

Many churches today offer similar sacrifices to what is found in the Bible. Sadly, they have chosen to make their sacrifices where they are, refusing to come to the door of the tabernacle. The religious world teaches baptism is not necessary for salvation. In other words, a man can be saved without going to the door of the tabernacle. Taking a sacrifice to the door of the tabernacle may not make a lot of sense, but if a man refused to obey the word of God, he was cut off. God requires assembly to worship. Many refuse to come to the door. Marriage is sacred in the eyes of the Lord, and God hates divorce. Men ignore God’s law. The Lord forbids sexual immorality, and the church turns a blind eye. It is easy for men to pick and choose which commands they will follow. They worship God in form but refuse to come to the door. If a man does not come to the door here, the door of Heaven will be shut there. Come to the door. Eternity depends on it.

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Is Resurrection Possible?

But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. (1 Corinthians 15:35-38)

Is Resurrection Possible?

The belief in life after death did not come from the wisdom of human judgment but the divine word of God. Nothing in humanity’s arsenal would suggest what is beyond death because man cannot see beyond the grave. No matter how advanced science or technology will become, peering into the realm before and after life will be impossible. The suggestion of eternity comes from the revelation of God. Through the power of the Creator, life is given to a man and woman to create life. There is no instrument to declare the beginning of life, only the mind of God. When a man dies, he cannot return. The Lord has established the habitation of man that limits his power. Death is final; whatever is beyond death cannot be known from human wisdom.

Resurrection has been accepted by believers in the one true God since the beginning. Abraham believed God had the power to raise his dead son and acted in faith, believing the Lord would perform such an act. Saul spoke to Samuel from the grave. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah defied the orders of King Nebuchadnezzar because they believed the fiery furnace would not end their life and their God would deliver them. Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead after four days. The apostles performed miracles, including raising saints from the dead. Believing in the resurrection was challenged in the first-century church as the people of God wrestled with the questions of how and what. The church of God at Corinth was rocked by disbelief that the dead could rise again because some began to doubt Jesus Christ had risen from the dead.

Some were asking how the dead were raised. It was an honest question. The curious mind of man wants to understand the mechanics of how something is done, and bringing a dead body back to life was a huge concern. Death is final. Nothing in the wisdom of man could change that. To witness Dorcas raised from the dead defied logic and human understanding, but Peter brought her back from the dead. The question by the Corinthians was valid. How are the dead raised up? Paul used the illustration of sowing seed as an example of God’s power. A seed is planted in the ground in one form, dies, and breaks the soil in another form. How does that happen? God makes it happen. If God can show his power in the wheat seed, why can He not raise up the body of a man? How are the dead raised up? By the power of God.

If a man accepts that God can raise someone from the dead, the second question is, what kind of body will they have? The answer to this question is more vague than the first because it requires an understanding that is beyond the wisdom of human logic. Using the illustration of the seed planted in the ground, Paul shows that a new body comes from the tiny seed. When wheat comes out of the earth, it does not have the form of the seed. The seed died and transformed into another body – so it will be with the human body. A man will die in one form and, in the resurrection, arise in another body. Defining what the image of the heavenly man will be is difficult to describe. That does not suggest there is no resurrection. Understanding what kind of body a man will have in eternity is challenging, but this does not deny the resurrection.

A change occurs in death when a body removes the tabernacle of flesh and lives on in the eternal spirit. Most people do not understand that death does not make one an eternal creature. Every human being is created in the image of God. A man does not possess a soul; instead, he is an eternal creature first who inhabits a fleshly body. The spirit a man possesses from creation will never cease. That spirit takes on a new body, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Mortality will be swallowed up by everlasting life. That new body will never die. Eternity comes to all men, good or bad. The difference will be how that eternal body will spend time without end. Most will be in darkness and endless pain. The faithful will rest in the bosom of God in peace. Are you ready for the resurrection?

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What God Sees In The Blood

But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:13)

What God Sees In The Blood

Blood to the naked eye does not look different, whether human blood or animal blood. The blood of humans is always red, and most animals have red blood. Typing blood (A, B, and O) was not discovered until 1901. Science has unlocked many mysteries about blood, including the makeup of human blood consisting of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. When the Hebrews were preparing to leave Egypt, nothing was known about blood at the cellular level. A man’s blood did not look much different than the blood of an animal. Distinguishing between the blood of a camel, bull, or goat was not possible. Smearing blood on a piece of wood would further hide any evidence about the origins of the blood. The blood looked the same to the human eye with no distinguishing marks.

God told Moses the final plague against Pharaoh and the people of Egypt would be the death of the firstborn. The Lord instructs Moses to say to the congregation of Israel to take a one-year-old male lamb with no blemish or defect as the sacrifice. On the fourteenth day of the first month, the lamb (taken from the sheep or goats) will be killed. The people shall smear some of the blood on the sides and top of the house’s doorframes. They will eat the flesh that night roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. None of the animal shall remain; if any is left, it is to be burned in the fire. The people are to have a belt on their waist, sandals on their feet, and a staff in their hand. When the Lord passes through the land of Egypt on that night, He will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast.

The blood commanded by God to be put on the doorposts and lintels would be a sign, and when the Lord saw the blood, He would pass over the house and not kill the firstborn. As the Hebrews prepared for the night of death, the question of the blood must be answered. When the blood was put on the doorposts, what difference did it make what kind of blood was there? Who could tell the difference in the blood that was smeared on the wood? As far as the human eye could see, the blood of a camel and the blood of a lamb were the same, and smearing camel’s blood on the door would look just like the neighbor who put a lamb’s blood on the doorpost. If a man decided to put camel’s blood on his house, what would happen to his firstborn? They would die! Did it make a difference in the blood? It may not have looked different to the human eye, but to the eye of the Lord God, it made a difference.

When the Lord passed over the land of Egypt, He was not looking for blood on the doorposts and lintel; He was looking for obedience. God could tell if the blood was from a lamb without blemish through the divine eye of discernment. Even modern science cannot tell from blood if a lamb has a broken leg or some blemish. God could make that discernment. The Lord wanted to see the blood of a male of the first year that had been killed on the fourteenth day of the first month. With all the science of modern technology, can forensic science determine on what day a lamb is killed? God can. The lamb must be killed at twilight. Where in the study of blood can scientists know what time of day it is killed? When the Lord saw the blood, He knew if it was killed at twilight or the third hour.

The religious world tries to fool God into believing it does not matter what kind of blood is smeared on the doorposts of the house. To the religious world, one blood is as good as another. Churches fill the landscape of every community with the false doctrine that nothing really matters to the Lord and variety is accepted. If the religious leaders today lived in Egypt with the Hebrews, they would tell people, “Choose the blood of your choice.” People are being led astray with the false doctrine of the wrong kind of blood. They go through the motions and believe the blood will save them. Then the night comes with the judgment of God, and they die. Did God see the blood? Yes, He saw the blood, but He knew it was the wrong kind of blood. Does it matter what type of blood the Hebrews put on their houses? If you asked those who lived through the terrible night of death, rest assured they emphasized how important the one blood was to their salvation. They may have been ridiculed for believing in the one blood, but salvation was in their house when morning came. What blood have you put on your house? There is only one blood, and it matters when God sees the blood!

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Do Not Profane God’s Name

Therefore you shall keep My commandments and perform them: I am the Lord. You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 22:31-33)

Do Not Profane God’s Name

The Ten Commandments forbade taking the name of the Lord God in vain and included severe consequences for those who did. Swearing by God’s name was an abomination. There was an incident where an Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the name of God, and they took him out and stoned him to death. Using God’s name in vain will bring destruction to all those who trifle with the holy name of God. Aaron and his sons were also warned against profaning the name of the Lord, but it was more than using the name of God in vain. As priests, they served the Lord in the holy things when they made sacrifices for the people. They were forbidden to profane the name of the Lord by serving in an unclean manner before the Lord. If a priest were ceremonially unclean when he approached the sacred offerings that the people of Israel consecrated to the Lord, he would be cut off from the presence of the Lord. His actions would profane the name of the Lord.

Profaning the name of the Lord goes beyond the verbal swearing of His name. Priests of the Lord could not present themselves before the holy things with uncleanness. They would be cut off from the presence of the Lord. The priests were given a long list of regulations regarding what made them unclean and how they must cleanse themselves before coming to serve the Lord. What was sanctified by God could not be profaned by the disregard of those who served the Lord. The holiness of the Lord required His people to honor Him in their speech and conduct.

The Law of Moses has long passed away, and its laws are no longer binding. Reading the Law is a body of truth written for the children of Israel, but the principles and applications of the law remain the same. Profaning the name of the Lord was a sin before the Law, and it is a sin after the Law. Holy people living unholy lives profane the name of the Lord. God has always demanded His people to set themselves apart from the world in their conduct. Since the fall of man in the garden, evil has overshadowed the world with its power. As lights set on a hill, the righteous must let their lights shine brightly in a dark world. A Christian who lives as those of the world profane the name of God’s Son.

Living in an unholy world is a difficult challenge. The child of God must remain in the world but be separate from the world. The Christian can’t live without the world’s influence, but it must be the constant work of a diligent heart to remain above the world’s trappings. Too many Christians look like the world, talk like the world, dress (or lack thereof) the world, and think like the world. Coming before a Holy God with unholy lives profanes the nature of the righteousness of God. Jesus died to set men free from the bondage of sin to glorify the Father. Shedding the cloak of sin is a daily battle to fight against the wiles of the devil. Keeping the commandments of the Lord and doing the will of the Father honors the name of God. Refusing to keep His commandments profane His name. God must be hallowed in the life of the child of God. Do not bring shame on God’s holy name. He will display His holiness in the world through the sacred lives of His people.

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Have Fun But Be Careful

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity. (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10)

Have Fun But Be Careful

Life is a series of transitions from infancy, adolescence, young adulthood, maturity, and old age. Each portion of life has its blessings and dangers. There is discovery in the heart of an infant. The adolescent is sorting out feelings of identity. Young adults investigate the avenues of life with deep curiosity. The age of maturity is when life becomes more real with responsibilities. Old age is a time of reflection and awareness of mortality. Some of life’s most important decisions will be found in that time of investigation when the spirit of youthfulness runs down the paths of adventure, seeking answers to life. God created man to enter each phase of life with a unique pattern of knowledge, preparing them for the next. That time when young men and women open their hearts to the world can be enjoyable and rewarding.

God created the days of youth to be a time of joy. The Lord tells young people they are living in a wonderful time of life. There is no reason not to enjoy what God has created. Youth is a time of energy and fun when hearts are carefree and not burdened with the issues of life. God wants young people to enjoy every minute of life, soaking in all the gusto of a time in life that seems unbounded. The days of youth fade quickly, and God desires young people to embrace the energy that will one day be gone. Yes, youthfulness is a time of unlimited vitality, but it comes with a cost. The Lord warns young people not to sow their wild oats and expect a crop failure. What they reap in their youth comes due for the rest of their lives.

The warning the Lord gives is a sobering reality that one cannot spend his youth in folly and not suffer consequences. For every action of youthful failure, there will be a time when the debt comes due. God encourages young people to enjoy life and do what they enjoy, but only with the knowledge that every action comes with a penalty. Everyone will give an account before God for everything they have done in life. The advice of wisdom to young people is to enjoy life but never make decisions that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. A shadow of guilt for mistakes made in youth will never make life the full purpose God intended. Many a man has entered the latter part of life looking back at the mistakes of youth with deep regret. God tells young people to live in such a way as to diminish regrets in life.

There is a judgment that comes upon the young and the old. Sometimes, the judgments come to bear in life. Sexual immorality may be fun in youth, but infidelity will scar a soul for life. There are consequences to the freedom one thinks he has as a young man or woman. When maturity comes later in life, reflecting on past decisions will make it difficult to deal with future realities. God warns young people to enjoy life but measure their decisions with the counsel of sowing and reaping. He counsels young people to put away sorrow and remain pure. Do not allow evil to corrupt the joy of youth. There is a judgment coming that will not bring happiness. Life is painted as a time of freedom to let young people live without restraints. The wisdom of God teaches the consequences of youth will live on in life. Life is better lived with restraint to enjoy a time of joy without the consequences of youthful decisions.

God reminds young people there is another judgment coming. This judgment comes when all men stand before the Creator. Solomon ends his thesis on life, reminding everyone that God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. That includes secret things of youth, good things of youth, and evil things of youth. Everything will be there. The best advice is for the young man and woman to enjoy life and live full lives with youthful energy – but to do so with a cautionary warning to sow seeds of righteousness. It is much easier to harvest a crop of goodness than evil. Enjoy life. Make right decisions.

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The Indictment Against Jesus

Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.” (Luke 23:1-2)

The Indictment Against Jesus

When the Jewish leaders brought Jesus to Pilate, they needed to establish a cause as the first step in a criminal proceeding. The indictment or Nominis Delatio against Jesus was that He was perverting the nation with His teaching. He taught the people to refuse to pay tribute to Caesar, placing Himself as Christ, a king. Pilate ignored the first two parts of the indictment and touched on the matter of high treason, the charge against the prisoner. Jesus answered Pilate with respect to his authority to interrogate Him judicially but explained to the Roman ruler His kingship was a spiritual kingdom. The defense of Jesus was clear; the indictment against Him was false, and Pilate immediately saw the shallow ground of the charges brought by the Sanhedrin. Hearing the answer of Jesus, Pilate declares an acquittal.

In a bold and radical move by the Jewish authorities, the crowds became more fierce in their insistence on a guilty verdict against Jesus. Seeking to appease the masses and deflect the responsibility of his office, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. This act by Pilate was illegal as an acquittal had already been established. Sending Jesus to Herod was not such much a trial as an examination. When Jesus was returned to Pilate, what proceeded bears little resemblance to a lawful proceeding. A coward sat on the seat of law, and the blind fury of the mob drove the decision to kill Jesus. The result was judicial murder.

Jesus was accused of perverting the nation. The indictment charged the teaching of Jesus excited the people to incitement to rebellion and turmoil. In the early stages of the ministry of Jesus, multitudes in the thousands followed Him. On one occasion, He provided food for five thousand men, not counting the women and children. Many people came to Jesus to be healed of disease. On a few occasions, Jesus raised people from the dead. The Pharisees, scribes, and Chief Priests tried in vain to trap the man from Nazareth in His teaching and failed every time. When Jesus finished the sermon on the mount, the people were amazed He taught with such authority. Jesus never sought to pervert the nation but to convert the nation. The Jewish leadership was envious of Jesus from Nazareth. Pilate could see the charge of perversion was empty.

The second part of the indictment was Jesus leading the people in a tax revolt and refusing to pay taxes Himself. Some Pharisees and supporters of Herod had tried to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. They knew Jesus was honest and impartial and refused to play favorites among the people. Jesus was asked directly if He thought it was right to pay taxes to Caesar or not. Seeing through their hypocrisy, Jesus took a Roman coin and asked them whose image was stamped on the coin. He then told them to give to Caesar what belonged to Caesar and give to God what belonged to God. Desperate to show Pilate the evil nature of Jesus, the Jews presented a false indictment against an innocent man. Charging Jesus with forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar was a blatant lie. Pilate ignored the charge.

Jesus was charged with a third crime, calling Himself a king. It was on this part of the indictment that Pilate would focus. It was ill-advised to call oneself a king in the Roman Empire. There were many who tried to revolt against the Romans but were crushed by the iron will of the Roman Army for insurrection. Pilate examined the charge against Jesus and could see that Jesus was only a man who had visions of some spiritual identity to be a king but was no threat to the Roman government. To the more serious parts of the indictment, Pilate found Jesus innocent. The trial should have ended at that moment as the accusation was proven invalid, and no proof was offered to substantiate the charges. Only later, when Pilate ignored Roman law and bent to the will of the mob, he delivered Jesus to be crucified.

The greatest travesty of human jurisprudence took place that day, but the result was the greatest example of divine jurisprudence in the history of man. An innocent man was charged with false accusations; yet the guilt of man was judged that day. Jesus died with sinless perfection before the mob demanding His death. Mercy was given on a day when no mercy was shown. Love poured out in a world filled with hatred. The sacrifice of one man brought salvation to all men. A lamb was sacrificed on the altar of grace so that the human heart could find the joy of peace in a man from Nazareth. The indictment against Jesus was false, and the indictment against man was validated. Jesus Christ is a king – the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

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The Futility Of The Climate Agenda

For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:5-7)

The Futility Of The Climate Agenda

Global warming is the focus of the world seeking a zero-emission climate to avert global catastrophe. It is believed and widely politicized the reckless actions of humanity destroying the world, leading to the total annihilation of man on earth. The Green Agenda pushes the doctrine of human wisdom’s capability of destroying its domain. Rooted in the pride of the arrogant heart of those who do not believe in God, the climate agenda seeks to convince the naïve world that man has the power to destroy his environment. Using data based on skewed perceptions of self-driven agendas, pundits for climate change seek to have their voices heard above the voice of reason and truth. The reality that many do not realize is what God says about climate change and the end of the world.

The Bible is not just a book about the divinity of God. There are many parts of the word of God that answer questions that concern people of every generation. Before modern science and technology, human pollution filled the air and desecrated the land. The 1970s were a time of global consciousness to make the world a better place. Walt Kelly’s famous Pogo cartoon shows his character standing in the middle of the Okefenokee Swamp with the caption, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Yes, man can make a mess of his world. The question is not whether humanity can defile the earth with pollution, but rather the question if it is in the power of human waste to destroy the planet. The answer is a resounding, “No!” There is nothing within man’s wisdom and power that will ever end the world. Using fear to drive people to a “green world” is nothing more than a tactic of a godless world.

Earth is man’s domain and will always be the residing place of humanity until God decides differently. Man will never live on the moon, much less on Mars. The counsel of the Creator determines the habitation of man. The earth will continue to exist and experience seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night. That will never change. Peter declared what men forget. The world was destroyed a long time ago, not by global warming but by global flooding. In the days of Noah, God looked at the hearts of men and saw nothing but wickedness. Ironically, the pollution of the heart destroyed the world when God brought a global flood that killed all life on earth except eight souls. Using the flood as a backdrop, Peter shows the world that exists is held together by the word of God. It will not change unless God says so. There will be a day of global warming, but it will not be warm – it will be so hot the universe itself will explode in one giant conflagration. Then, and only then, will the earth be destroyed.

Mankind can mess up his world, and that should not be. As the earth’s caretaker, he should take as good care of his environment as possible. To think that any generation has the power to destroy the world is a failed theology. The agenda of the climate alarmists and Green Deal doomsayers are not based on truth but the lie of human wisdom. God will not allow anyone to do what is in His power and will to do. When it comes time for the earth to end – God will speak. Then, those who did not believe in the Bible will realize another climate agenda. There will be a climate of joy and peace in heaven, and there will be a climate of darkness in a lake of fire. The best climate change a man can make is seeking salvation from God’s wrath. Spend more time changing your heart. That is where true pollution is found. Let the blood of Jesus Christ cleanse your heart.

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Going To Church In 1420

Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. (Acts 9:31)

Going To Church In 1420

The 15th Century was a time of upheaval and war. The Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War was the largest land battle in Medieval Europe, England was fighting against the Welsh uprising, and Joan of Arc was burned at the stake while fighting for the French. Johannes Gutenberg invented the first printing press. Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire, and the War of the Roses was fought in England. During the 15th Century, Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas looking for a passage to the Indies. It was a busy time for the world. For the commoner, little was changed by the historical events of the 15th Century. When it came time to go to church, he had limited opportunities.

Many religions existed in the 15th Century, including Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism (Taoism), and Islam. The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church dominated the Christian world. In Europe, the choice of where a person went to church was limited to only two places: either the apostate Roman Catholic Church or the New Testament church of devoted disciples. Many people do not realize that in 1420, the landscape was not filled with churches of different faiths. The Lutheran Church was one hundred years away from being organized, and the Baptist Church would not be established for 187 years. There were many cathedrals but no Presbyterian or Methodist. If you were religious and went to “church,” in all likelihood, you were Catholic, not a Protestant. The 16th Century would introduce the world to the Protestant Reformation. A Catholic monk named Martin Luther was successful in beginning a period of reforms from the apostate teachings of the Catholic-dominated landscape.

The Lutheran Church was established in 1520, followed 14 years later when Henry VIII of England created the Church of England or the Episcopalian Church. Two years later, in 1536, John Calvin started the Presbyterian faith. The Baptist Church was not founded until 1607, and the Methodist came 132 years later. If a man lived in the 14th Century, he could not go to any of the Protestant churches that are so familiar in modern times. The Bible teaches the New Testament church existed in the 1st Century and, according to the Bible, was a kingdom that could never be shaken. In the midst of the prophesied apostasy, the New Testament disciples continued to serve the Lord as devoted saints of the true pattern. The historical reference through the centuries may not have recorded their enclaves of influence, but God knew where they were. Nothing stopped the New Testament church from its mission.

Bible-believing people need to recognize the apostasy of the church when men build something that is not found in the Bible. The Lutheran church is only 502 years old. If you lived 600 years ago, where would you go to church? No Lutherans, Methodists, Baptist, Mormon, Adventists, or Jehovah’s Witnesses existed in 1492. If these churches did not exist for nearly fifteen hundred years, why is it so easy for anyone to embrace those churches as Biblical? None of the names of the churches are found in the Bible – does that not make an impact on the hearts of truth-seeking people? If the Bible is the word of God, should we not declare our faith in what is found in the word of God and no other allegiance? Demand truth from where you go to church. Let the Bible be true and every man a liar. Find the New Testament church and follow its pattern. That is the church that Jesus built.

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The Halo

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

The Halo

There is nothing new under the sun, and the empty traditions of men have been around since the beginning of time. What makes an error sometimes difficult to clarify is the long assumed acceptance of a truth that is, in fact, false. Truth does not change but creating a false narrative can be believed to be truth if enough time passes and the falsehood is not examined closely. Such is the case with the question of the halo. A halo is an image found in religious art depicting a globe of light surrounding the head of a holy or sacred figure. Using a light around the head predates Christ, as Greek artists would embolden the figures of their heroes with a ring or crown of light. This distinction is also found in Asian art. The halo began to be used by artists in the Christian age around the fourth century.

The Bible never mentions a halo or suggests the heads of saints glowed. Jesus was transfigured on the mountain where His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as the light, but this was not a halo. Artists old and new suggest the face of Jesus glowed or shone as He walked among men. Isaiah, the prophet, described the image of Jesus as less than attractive. The truth about the image of Jesus is that in a crowd of twenty people, no one could pick out the Son of God from others as He looked as average as the common man of His day. God never allowed images of His Son to be produced by the whims of men. There is no evidence of what Jesus looked like (how tall he was, the length of His hair, His body size, etc.). Jesus did not come to leave a totem that men would worship.

A halo is a popular icon to describe “saintly people.” Angels are shown in art with haloes. The halo is a misrepresentation of a principle found in scripture that never suggests an image of light shining around the head of God’s people. This would also indicate that the person is not good or saved without a halo. Regardless, a halo is an invention of men that is accepted as a part of the religious world. It may come as a surprise to some that the halo is non-Biblical. The acceptance of a man before God is based on the heart, not a glowing head with a halo. Instead of trying to live to attain a halo, seek to follow the will of God where truth resides. Always be careful to measure the teachings of men with the word of God and reject what is clearly an imagination of human fantasy.

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Jesus Returns With A Lot Of Noise

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)

Jesus Returns With A Lot Of Noise

The first time Jesus came to earth, He was conceived in the womb of a woman. There was no fanfare, no trumpets blowing, and only one person who knew He had come. It would not be until later that Joseph found his wife pregnant. The angel Gabriel had told Mary she would be with child of the Holy Spirit, and Joseph was told by an angel the pregnancy of his wife was according to the divine will of God. During the first thirty years of His life, Jesus lived in obscurity, with few people taking notice of Him. He was the son of a carpenter with brothers and sisters. When He began His ministry, the religious leaders began to take note of Him as multitudes flocked to Him for teaching and healing. At Golgotha, the only noise came from the mockers who hurled insults at Jesus hanging on a cross. As far as the world was concerned, the man in the middle of the two thieves was a criminal and deserved to die. The soldiers bartered for His garments with no knowledge that He was God’s Son. Few people cared that Jesus of Nazareth died on the cross. No mournful trumpets blew at the death of Jesus, and the world continued as it always had.

When Jesus died, the veil of the Temple rent from top to bottom. It was during the offerings of midday Jesus died, and the priests would have heard the incredible sound of the huge veil ripping. An earthquake shook the earth, and the rocks were split with graves opening of the saints who had fallen asleep. Then the world went silent. Life continued as usual. There have been loud noises piercing the world, but only in a local sense. What may happen in one part of the world will not be heard by someone in another. Life goes on. And one day, all of that will change.

A day will come when there will be a noise that will fill the vacuum of space and time. It will echo in the heart of every human being living on the face of the earth. Those in the northern hemisphere will hear what those in the southern hemisphere will hear. Every person in every country will hear the sound. The cities filled with millions will hear as well as those villages tucked away in the Amazon jungle. Those on the top of mountains will recognize the same sound as those in the lowest valleys. It will be instantaneous. The earth will seem to shrink to an atomic level when every man, woman, and child hears the same sound at the exact moment. This is the day Jesus returns a second time; and His final time.

Jesus Christ will ascend from heaven with a shout. No definitive human reasoning can describe what the shout of deity will be like. Every inch of the earth’s circumference (24,901 miles) will reverberate with the sound of God. It is unclear what the voice of an archangel sounds like, but it will be something everyone will know. On one occasion during the ministry of Jesus, God spoke to His Son to glorify Him, and those who heard said it was like thunder. The voice of an archangel is going to be louder than thunder. As if the shout of Jesus coming and the voice of an archangel would not fill the earth with a sound beyond imagination, the trumpet of God will also be heard. A trumpet is a shrill and loud sound piercing into the souls of men. Every human being on earth will hear God’s trumpet.

The coming of the Lord will not be a quiet affair. For those who follow the false teaching of the rapture, they will hear the same sound. Jesus is not coming back to establish a kingdom on earth but to bring a noise all humanity will hear. And then, as quickly as the noise blasts across the depths of the universe, it will all go quiet. Judgment begins, and another sound is heard in eternity. For the saved, the sound is rejoicing, praise, and honor to the Lamb that was slain. To most souls, it will be the crying, gnashing of teeth, and horrific cries of torment as they languish in an eternal flame. The sound of the lost will fill the emptiness of eternal darkness. Heaven will burst forth as saints sing the praise of the day Jesus returned and took them home. You will hear that sound. Are you ready?

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The Lord Hates

These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

The Lord Hates

It is inconceivable to view God as hating anything. The picture of the Lord is one of beauty, glory, and full of love. These attributes are true of the character of the Heavenly Father but to accept these as the only traits of the Holy God is to misplace loyalty to His true nature. The proverb writer ascribes seven things the Lord hates but does not suggest the list is complete. Using poetic prose to draw attention, the writer shows there are things the Lord detests. Pride, liars, murderers, evil hearts, mischief, and discord are highlighted as things God hates and sets apart from righteousness. The seven things listed summarize the nature of the Lord to despise those things that defile His holiness. Men must realize that God is a wrathful God full of vengeance and recompense against those who disobey Him.

The hatred of God is based on His own righteousness. Hatred in the heart of man comes from an evil heart. God hates because it impugns the holy character of what is right and wrong. A lawgiver establishes law, and as the Creator of the universe, the Lord God has the divine right to determine what is right and wrong. Pride is a sin because God hates a proud look. The righteousness of God is what makes sin detestable. Adam and Eve were given a law forbidding them from taking the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and they ignored the righteousness of God when they took its fruit. What is immoral about eating fruit? Nothing. The reason they were punished was that they challenged the authority of God and followed their own path. Sin brought consequences because God hates rebellion.

Disobedience to the will of the Lord puts man in disfavor with God through the righteousness of the law. Everything contained in the word of the Lord is for the benefit of man’s well-being. When the will of man rejects the word of God, he conflicts with the purpose of law. Idolatry is detestable to the Lord because man worships a worthless object. Man falls down to a god he created. God hates idolatry and views it as an abomination. The wicked do not accept the grace of God. Living for the lust of the flesh and the desires of the eyes, rebellious men reject the word of the Lord to consume themselves in their passions.

God hates the wicked and those who love violence. His holiness is the reason for His hatred. God hates divorce because of its consequence. The holiness of God establishes what is right, and only by keeping the will of the Lord can men find true peace and happiness. The Lord God is full of love and has shown His love through Jesus Christ, His Son. The other side of the Lord God is his wrath and hatred for wickedness. No man should deny the hatred of the Lord. There is a place prepared by God for those who rebel against the word of the Lord. God prepared this place. It was not His desire, but His holiness demanded it. Hell is real. It becomes the fulness of the hatred of God.

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Celebrity Or Servant?

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)

Celebrity Or Servant?

One of the oldest ailments in human history is the need to be famous. This generation is called the “me-generation” as if it is a new moniker; labeling the spirit of the modern age focused on self to the exclusion of others. Sin, at its root, is bedded in need for self-exaltation. Lamech was one of the most narcissistic, self-centered, and egotistical men of his time and was only six generations removed from Adam and Eve. Throughout Biblical history, men like Pharaoh, Saul, Ahab, Nebuchadnezzar, and the Herods of the first century sought to find their place in history as celebrities of note. The gospel of Jesus Christ attacks the need for self-exaltation with fervor and piety to show that greatness is found in slavery, power in humility, and glory in bowing down.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, yet the divine nature of Jesus did not keep Him from becoming the greatest servant of all time when He emptied Himself and became His creation. Throughout His ministry, Jesus told the people He came to serve, not to be served. The day would come when Jesus would be served as King of Kings and Lord of Lords but not before sacrificing himself as the eternal servant as a lamb led to the slaughter. Through the example of servitude dying on the cross, the principles of servanthood are demanded of those who follow Jesus. No one can be a disciple of Jesus without bearing a cross. Crucifixion was not only a most painful experience but the humility of the process was experienced by Jesus as an example of being a servant.

Slavery is never a popular subject in the woke world of failed human wisdom, and yet the nature of service is at the core of the Christian life. Paul reminds the brethren of Galatia that to be a child of God was to be a servant or slave to others. Liberty brings freedom, and freedom in Christ brings servitude. Every child of God has been called to be free in Christ so that one can serve others through love. The admonition of Paul describes the work of Jesus. God asked His Son to bring freedom to mankind. Jesus, as the lamb, took the scroll from the hand of His Father and became the lamb of sacrifice. He did not use His glory for His own glory but for the glory of the Father. Through love, Jesus served humanity by dying on the cross without sin. He could have called twelve legions of angels to deliver Him, but He died to save the world.

The focus of the Christian’s life is not on himself but on others. Like Jesus, the child of God is concerned for others more than themself. Servitude is fulfilling the law of God. Becoming a slave of Jesus Christ is being exalted to the glory of the Father. Freedom in Christ removes fear, doubt, despair, and hopelessness because the focus is turned from self to serving others. The Christian life is not about being a celebrity but a servant. Servitude is found in helping, teaching, supporting, and finding ways to serve others in their daily walk.

It takes courage to be a servant. When a man humbles himself before the throne of God, he will find the glory of servitude as an eternal blessing of God’s love. It is not about me and my needs and my wants. Being a Christian is about the will of God and serving others. Life is short, but there is so much service to provide during this short life. Servanthood will change the heart and make more willing the hands to serve. To be like Jesus, we must be servants.

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