Get Out of the City Doomed for Destruction Part II (I Peter 2:4-9)

Art from the movie "God's Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah"

2 Peter 2:4-9 (NKJV) For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,

Last time we examined what it means that Lot was considered “righteous”, even though his life ended up very ungodly. Today we examine how Lot fell away through his choice to live facing the city of Sodom. If you have not read Part I of this blog, click the following link to read    Get Out of the City Doomed for Destruction (I Peter 2:4-9) Part 1

DEVOLUTION FROM FAITH TO UNRIGTEOUSNESS

If God places us in a trial, it is for our good and his glory (I Peter 1:6-7). Should we choose to be in a place that He has not called us to, it may lead to our being “oppressed”. If we remain, we may be tormenting ourselves, leading to spiritual harm. Lot is a perfect example of this truth.

In Genesis 13:5-13. We find that Abraham and Lot’s families, had grown in wealth and size. Strife had arisen between the two relatives’ herdsmen, over resources. Abraham gave Lot first choice, as to where he wanted to settle his family.   Genesis 13:10-11 records…

Genesis 13:10-11 (NKJV) And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.

This is important, because the Eve, the mother of the living chose to eat of the forbidden fruit, based upon how pleasant and good it looked, regardless of the instruction of the LORD. It is also important to remember that Lot knew of the reputation of Sodom in its rejection of God. Despite knowing this Lot chose not only to dwell in the cities on the plains facing Sodom, but eventually lived right outside the gate.

The cities of the plain were like suburbs to Sodom. Sodom was a sprawling city that by even modern standards was a large city of millions. Why would Lot choose to live so closely related to such a wicked place, even advancing to right outside its limits? Because he naively thought it would not affect him or his family. He believed he could prosper from its commerce and culture, without its commerce, culture, religion, and social immorality affecting him. This was certainly the opposite of godly wisdom.

By the time Genesis 14:12 occurs, where Lot and his family are captured along with the king of Sodom, we find Lot and his family now living in the city of Sodom itself. The fact that Lot was taken with the king of Sodom is very unsettling, because the king of Sodom is considered a type of antichrist in the scriptures, so wicked in fact, that Abraham would take nothing from him. Lot may not have been participating in the wickedness of the city, but he was so worn down by what he saw by this time, that he was in league with its wicked king.

What began with Lot using the wealth and trade of Sodom for personal prosperity, drew him in to where he was now dependent on its wealth, culture, and prosperity. Although we see no active sin, we understand what he saw and heard “oppressed” him at first, but by the time of Genesis 14:12 he was “tormenting” his own soul, by choosing to stay.

Even though by the end of Genesis 14, where God delivered Lot and his family from captivity, where he saw Abraham treat the king of Sodom with scorn, dependent on for provision upon the city and its leaders.

Because he chose this path, his family’s heart was growing further apart from God’s heart and holiness. We see how far these progress by the time we get to Genesis 19:1-3, where Lot is now living in the middle of the city.

The angels sent to deliver Lot and his family would have stay in the square, which was always at the center of the city, for access and important meetings and events. Lot protested their decision and invited them to come under the protection of his home, which ought to have been sufficient, because of his relationship to the king of Sodom. Yet, the men of the city, desiring to have homosexual relations with the angels (whom they thought were men), call Lot to give them up.

Lot does the unthinkable, as he offers his daughters for the men to rape. The rest is history.

Can this type of devolution occur in us, to where we would behave so ungodly? Yes! The scriptures are replete with warning after warning, in the New Testament, that we do not fall away.

  1. II Corinthians 13:5
  2. Philippians 2:12
  3. Hebrews 3:12-15
  4. Hebrews 6:4-6
  5. Hebrews 10:25-31

Hebrews 2 reveals how this process of devolving from relationship to God in Christ.

Hebrews 2:1-4 (NKJV) ​ Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

We see it all begins with drifting. When one is in a raft on a creek, if not paying attention, they may drift quite a way, before knowing they have moved at all. By the time the creek runs into the river, the drifting person may believe they can paddle out, until they begin to weary themselves in the faster moving water. By the time they are in the rapids, there is little hope.

Remember that falling away, is much like being in a raft on a creek. Drifting begins with a slow and imperceptible floating, that picks up speed as you get further away from the beginning of the drift and closer to death. Lot’s slide away from a life that mirrored the outcome of faith in YHWH, his being deemed “righteous” in II Peter 2:7-8, began for him imperceptibly and slow, but progressed faster and faster, until it was too late.

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Get Out of the City Doomed for Destruction (I Peter 2:4-9)

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah | PeakD

We live in a world that is significantly different from the way the world was, after the seven days of creation. When sin entered humanity through Adam’s transgression, it not only infected all his offspring but brought the curse upon creation itself. This will not change until the Lord Jesus Christ returns and brings in a new heavens and earth wherein dwells righteousness (II Peter 3:10-13).

Because we live in a world that is not reflective of the blessedness of that eternal state, we live among brutal realities. Daily we are inundated with death, injustice, persecution of our brethren, wickedness, sexual immorality, and innumerable acts of violence. For the Christian, these dark realities can press on our souls, wear us down, and make us insensitive to God’s Spirit, if we are not careful to take our emotions and thoughts before the Lord (Philippians 4:6-7; I Peter 5:6-9).

If not careful, Living in a world so brutal, can lead to us tormenting our own souls, should we not be careful to guard what we hear, see, and depend on, from a worldly perspective. Let us read II Peter 2:4-9.

(2 Peter 2:4-10) For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds— then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority.

This passage gives us three realities to consider from the life of Abraham’s nephew Lot.

  1. Lot was considered righteous.
  2. Living among the wickedness of Sodom oppressed the soul of Lot.
  3. Lot’s choice to remain among them tormented his soul; meaning he was tormenting himself.
  4. A fourth reality, when considering Lot’s life as detailed in Genesis, is the outcome of his choice and how it affected his life, family, and relationship to God.

HOW WAS LOT WAS CONSIDERED A RIGHEOUS MAN?

For anyone who knows of the life of Lot, and the outcome after he left Sodom, hearing the word of God characterize him as righteous, can be a little confusing.

We understand that he wound up living in the most wicked city on earth, Sodom, and that the outcome of his choice led to the death of his wife and him conceiving a child with each of his two daughters, while he was drunk. It wouldn’t be fair to leave out that his daughters got him drunk on purpose, to fool him into conceiving with him, but we must also consider that his daughters’ warped thinking was a product of living in such a wicked city. Lot also allowed himself to get drunk.

These details are the reason we may be confused at Lot being characterized by the “righteous” in II Peter 2:8? The Greek word for “righteous” used in this verse means to be not guilty or innocent. The word is associated with the word justified, when considering the salvation of men, in God’s will.

Remember Lot’s uncle Abraham considered by the word of God, as the Father of the faithful (Genesis 15:6), where it declares of Abraham, “And he believed the Lord, and He (God) accounted it to him (Abraham) for righteousness”. We must remember that Abraham had some sketchy behavior in his life, but he was “saved” counted righteous by faith. This has always been the way the Lord has dealt with salvation, in both Testaments.

Because we are counted righteous by faith in God (not by perfect works), we can surmise that Lot believed in the one true God and attempted to by the belief. Because of this, Lot was counted or considered righteousness, by faith.

We are justified (considered not guilty, perfectly righteous as if never having sinned) the same way, through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we ought to rejoice and be warned by  Lot’s life, because even though he was considered “righteous”, the outcome of his life was anything but righteous.

Lot being declared “righteous” is very intentional, considering the context of Peter. Consider how a “righteous man” and his family fell so far from living in righteous ways: once more considering Lot’s disgraceful end was to impregnating his two conniving daughters while he was incoherently drunk.

How did this all happen?

II Peter 2:7 we find Lot being “oppressed” by the filthy conduit of the wicked living around him; which means he was tired out into exhaustion in his soul. It would appear living in Sodom, everywhere one would turn they would see and hear evil. His being “oppressed means little by little his resistance to hold immorality as sin was waning. But we find he was more than oppressed.

II Peter 2:8 explains that Lot, by remaining in Sodom “tormented” or “vexed” his own soul by seeing what he saw. This means that because he chose to remain in Sodom, he chose to look upon things that tortured his soul, but in a way that reversed sanctification.

We understand that when the Lord places us in a trial, His purpose is to purify and or strengthen our faith and practice. The heat of the trial brings up the impurities, like a gold forge, which then can be removed (I Peter 1:6-7). The word for “tormented” refers to a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver, after it hardens, by the color of the streak produced on it by rubbing it. This process is to reveal the impurity, but with continued rubbing it mars the purity of the gold, or in this case the faith.

If God had called Lot to preach the coming destruction of Sodom, it would have been a trial to bring greater sanctification. But Lot was not there for the purposes of God, but his own selfish purposes, therefore, he was tormented and being reversed in his growth spiritually and in his relationship to God.

At this point we need to consider a truth. If God calls us to a particular place, ministry, or function, what we face in the way of trial is allowed or ordained by God, for His glory and our growth in Christ. When we choose to live by what is right in our own sight, hence without consideration of God’s will, we can be oppressed and wore down. The reason we have chosen to put ourselves where God has not called us. To be in that predicament can be dangerous and detrimental to our being practically sanctified.

Lots life certainly reveals this truth.

As we investigate Genesis, next time we will clearly see how this “righteous man” began falling away from righteousness the moment he made a choice to live facing the city of Sodom. This can happen to us. How did it occur with Lot?

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Help Me, Lord Jesus! I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

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So goes the cry for help, first seen on American television in the late 1980’s in infomercials for a product called Life Call (now called Life Alert). The original commercial and the woman who played “Mrs. Fletcher”, who first spoke the tag line in the commercials, have gone on to be cultural icons.

The genius of the product is a little box with a button that hangs by a chain around the neck of an elderly person. When in peril, through injury from accident or illness, they need only press the button hanging around their neck, and speak into the air. At that time, an in house receiver, which is connected to a call center, transmits their cry for help to the dispatcher who can help them.  

Life Alert claims to save 44,800 per year or at least one person every 11 minutes from a catastrophic outcome. 

Recently, I was reminded of Life Alert, in a time of spiritual difficulty, when I felt the weight of my old man of sin against my faith and life for Christ. In my heart, I felt the despair of an overwhelming spiritual struggle, because of an angry and sinful outburst, contrary to the Christ life we are called to walk in.

No matter how I prayed or what I did to make it right, it felt as  though I could not get up. In my heart I felt condemned and spiritually my mind was screaming “Help me Jesus, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”

Perhaps, you think me melodramatic, but I am sure many of you have felt this way at times as you walk with Jesus. What do we do when we truly have a moment where our old man gets the best of us and without thinking we snap in a carnal pattern of behavior, which reflects poorly on the Lord Jesus Christ and reveals a weakness in our Christian character? How do we mitigate the fall out?

It is important to understand that these falls do not arise from a heart that desires to sin, but in and among those who truly desire to walk in the righteousness of Christ. Let us consider the real potential we have to fall to sin, even when walking in the light, with potential to walk in the righteousness of Christ.

1 John 1:7-10 (NKJV) But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Let us dismiss a harmful default explanation of verse 8 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”. This does not mean that we sin all the time or that we are allowed to exhibit a continual practice of sin as a believer. In context, this means that those who walk in the light with Christ and in fellowship with other believers, will at times miss the mark of righteousness and sin. The good part is the promise that if we confess our sin, it is forgiven, our account cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.  

In addition to the benefit of forgiveness (considering our relationship to God), we understand that the promise guarantees us being cleansed of the sin pattern, which is part of sanctification. Although this is wonderful truth, we must admit that to fall down and sin, whether in a spontaneous inconsistent outburst or in some consistent and revealed weakness in our character, is grievous to our soul. Despite knowing the promise, in those times we can feel like, “we’ve fallen and we can’t get up”.

To be clear, this is not to encourage us to sin and then flippantly confess, “I repent”, without godly sorry, which is necessary for true repentance unto sanctification. We are called to live holy and walk in the righteousness of Christ, which ought not be in dispute. My intention is to encourage those who love the Lord with all their heart, but have fallen in such a way, that makes them feel they are damaged goods. 

In order to do this we must understand that painful falls, where sin reveals character yet to be touched by the Holy Spirit, are at times a necessary and painful part of the process of sanctification. Without these falls, we would seldom grow deeper than a profession of faith and a superficial relationship to God, a mile wide and a inch deep. Great trial comes upon those who sincerely love the Lord, who desire to be nearer to Him; intent on living with all their being to glorify Jesus Christ.

A.W. Tozer, in what he termed the “paradox of the Christian life” explained that our desire to be near to God, who is holiness personified, is a paradox for the Christian. The reason for this, is that the closer we get to the Lord of Life and glory, the more He reveals that in us which not yet practically sanctified. In other words, to be closer to Him means He must reveal the areas of our sinful character, that most hinder our relationship to Him; that the Holy Spirit may cleanse us from those carnalities.

In this paradox, we understand the adversary of  our soul, the Devil, walks about, looking for someone to devour (I Peter 5:8). His attacks make up a portion of the trials we face, that we are to rejoice in, which will galvanize our faith and purify us of existing patterns of sin (I Peter 1:6-7). In order to partake in this process we must recognize how our own emotions and feelings work against our godly desire to be transformed for the purpose of glorifying Christ.

In Hebrews 12:1-17 we find almost the entire chapter devoted to those who are in spiritual trial, under the loving discipline of God; and in danger of running from Him rather than dealing with their damaged emotions and carnal sensibilities.

Hebrews 12:12-17 (NKJV) Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

In light of this passage, we must understand that the potential exists for sincere Christians to fall away (Hebrews 6:4-6; Revelation 2:1-8). This is the paradox of the Christians life: To have the Holy Spirit empowering, leading and working in us, but miss seeing the damaged emotions and remnants of the old man, which can lead to us drifting away from the God we love. 

Even if we know the promise of God to forgive us and cleanse us from unrighteousness, we must admit that the aftermath of having blown it can be like being caught in a tornado of terror and emotional upset, where we feel “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up“. So what can we do? 

REMEMBER THE GRACE OF GOD BY WHICH YOU ARE SAVED

Peter Was Always Meant to Sink – Pastor Dave Online

When falling down, remember that you and I were never saved by keeping ourselves up right. We were saved by the grace of God, in the cross of Jesus Christ, because we could never fulfill the law of God. This grace is received by repentance and faith. Should we be in this state of grace, we still grieve at our sin and confess it, but hold to His promise and move on. If you are like me, you may get stuck looking back at the fall and forget the promise. Don’t, but remember…

1 John 3:18-21 (NKJV) My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

CONFESS YOU ARE STRUGGLING TO SEE AND NEED CHARACTER WORK

One of the things we tend to do when falling down is to declare “I do not understand why I can’t stop” or “Why can’t I overcome this emotion or sinful proclivity“. In asking questions we often miss the point that we are struggling to see.

2 Peter 1:5-11 (NKJV) But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is very important we understand that even mature Christians can fall to old habits, haunts and sins. When we are in that place, it may be that sanctification has been hindered in some way. We could begin to take stock of what we are missing, but it is far more important confess to God, we are shortsighted and struggling to see the why. In this confession we ask that the Lord to reveal what wee are lacking in the way of Christ’s character and what must be removed by Him. Remember He is the one who reveals.

Psalms 139:23-24 (NKJV) Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

It is important at this stage to remember that we are to confess our faults to one another and pray for one another to be healed, for the effective and fervent prayers of the righteous avail much (James 5:16). We need not suffer in silence, when we can confide in the brethren and have accountability and reinforced strength, in seeking to overcome. Call on the brethren to assist you.

REMEMBER HE IS THE ONE WHO WILL PICK YOU UP

This is so very important. When we fall and sin, we try and try to get up on our own. Like the Galatians, whom Paul rebuked, we begin, being saved by grace (in the Spirit), only to fall attempting to get up and be perfected by carnal strength (Galatians 3:2-3).  In order to get up, our Life Alert is not a button, but a path to the Father opened up by Christ Himself, where we can go boldly before the throne of grace, finding mercy, grace and empowerment, in time of need (Hebrews 4:15). Let us remember who saved Peter, when he sunk, attempting to walk with Jesus.

Matthew 14:28-32 (NKJV) And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

When we remember daily, that apart from Him we can do nothing, we hold to the truth that He is always keeping us upright; especially when we are falling to our old man carnalities. It is often in these falls, that He reveals the truth that it is Him alone that enables us to get back again; because He is always with us and ready when we cry out “Lord Jesus help me! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up“.

Let us rejoice, for if we call on Him, He will never let us fall to where we can’t get up. 

 

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Refuse To Be Weighed Down in Foreboding?

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Praise the Lord that the church is awakening to the “sign of the times” our Lord prophesied would come before His return, for they are upon us. With the fulfillment of these prophies we can experience an exultant joy that our God is faithful and the day of our blessed hope is closer than ever.

Along with this source of joy, their is a very real danger of living under a sense of anxiety and foreboding (sense of heaviness of what may come), because regardless of when a person estimates the timing of the rapture, we are told that all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (II Timothy 3:12). When we consider the sign of the times and the fulfillment of scripture, even those of us in the relatively little persecuted Westernized countries must be prepared for difficulty on the rise.

Matthew 24:4-14 (NKJV) “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Mark 13:8-13 (NKJV) For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows. “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

Luke 21:7-19 essentially declares the same as the above passages and all three take place prior to the 7 year tribulational period. It is for this reason that many Christians are being swallowed up in depression, anxiety and fear, as we attempt to peer around the corner to shield ourselves from potential blows or secure enough provision to survive.

With the onset of so many different governmental and societal changes, which are contrary to our faith, as well a new mandates, which are strikingly similar to what we know to be the Antichrist’s final solution (Revelation 13), it is easy to leave off of exultant joy over the faithfulness and perfection of God in the prophetic scriptures, as we are pressed into anxiety over something wicked which comes this way, that we may not be able to avoid.

What do we do?

  1. Remember that anxiety is based on “what if’s” which may not come to pass. This is why Jesus commands us not to be anxious over what we we need for provision or protection (Matthew 6:25-27).
  2. Therefore we reject anxiety. We simply refuse to worry. We punish anxious thinking by presenting our thoughts and feelings to God, honestly (Philippians 4:6-7) and by taking our thoughts captive in comparison to what God’s word declares is true (II Corinthians 10:3-7).
  3. We also recognize that fear which robs us of peace and joy, comes not from God, but the world, the flesh and the devil, so we reject FEAR (II Timothy 1:7).
  4. We accept that uncertainty is a part of the growth process and ministry of the saint. Uncertainty forces us to our knees where we are meeting with Christ and gain what is needed for what we face in the day (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15-16).
  5. We live in today, and seek His righteousness and will, not what we want or think we need (Matthew 6:31-34).

Dearly beloved in Christ, there is much on the horizon that will be contrary to our faith. Perhaps, we feel so uneasy, because up till now we have not had to risk much to keep in the faith (at least in the United States), but Christ has promised to never leave us nor forsake us and to give us what we need in each day. That means if we need grace to walk in the fellowship of His sufferings, He will give it, but that does not mean we ought to attain peace today for things we may or may not go through until tomorrow.

We keep this straight by one principal. Even before asking for our daily bread, we seek His kingdom will in our lives. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and what we need in the day will be given.

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Hey Pilgrim… This World Will Never Be Home.

See the source imagePsalms 84:5-7 (NKJV) Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring;  the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion.

For many Americans, the word pilgrimage often conjures images of those who landed at Plymouth Rock Massachusetts in 1620. Many do not know that the pilgrim voyage to America, for the purpose of avoiding religious persecution, was not their first pilgrimage.

The pilgrims first left England for Holland in 1607 and attempted to live in the city Amsterdam. Having been of the persecuted puritan Christian sect (persecuted by the Church of England), the pilgrims found freedom to worship as they resided in Amsterdam. They also found a new threat to their faith from hundreds of practices in the the liberal city’s culture. They decided to move to Leiden (another city ion Holland, over concern that their young people would be enticed to leave the faith for the worldliness immorality of Amsterdam.

Many of the pilgrims did well in Leiden, as they shifted to industrial work rather than the agriculture they were accustomed too. There were some, because of their good morals and practice, who even attained government and college level employment; but many struggled. After about 10 years they began to notice signs of early aging, an inability to adjust to Dutch life in some of the older puritans and their younger community members falling away from the faith. 

They learned an invaluable lesson, one that would repeat in America in a short time: when pilgrims find a home, they are no longer pilgrims. When the reason pilgrims are on pilgrimage is no longer an issue, they lose sobriety and their faith is at risk.

In Holland the pilgrim faith and practice began to diminish, as they settled into their new home; a home city which placed no pressure from persecution against their faith. One would think that the environment of religious freedom would be wonderful, but alas it seldom produces stronger faith. In this environment there is a real risk of a watered down caricature of the faith. The pilgrim leaders recognized this and decided another pilgrimage was necessary to preserve their puritan faith. On July 20, 1620 they set sail for the  North America continent.

Many believe, in error, that the pilgrims had much to do with the founding to the United states of America; that is an incorrect understanding of history. It is true when they founded their governance, it was separated from other English colonies, and reflected a more biblical form of governance. But the Massachusetts Bay Colony (founded upon the mayflower compact) was reformed as the Massachusetts Bay Province in 1691, which was under English governance and Church of England dominance. The remarkable reality is that there was no pilgrim uprising and no pilgrimage to escape English tyranny.

The reason for this outcome, is that after the pilgrims landed and found “religious freedom“, where their faith and practice was no longer at risk. In the years that followed they fell away from the fervency of their puritan Christian faith. By the time of the founding of the United States the pilgrim faith and practice was not influential.

We must regard well what occurred when they found a permanent home. In Psalm 84 we are reminded that Christians are always on “pilgrimage“. But what does that mean?

“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage”

Let us remind ourselves that the person who knows they need God’s strength, having their faith tested and at risk repeatedly by the world around it, is the person who will be strong in the strength and power of the Lord. 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NKJV) And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

It is the person described above that is set on “pilgrimage“.

The word “pilgrimage” in its original Hebrew from Psalm 84 means “to be passing through, as on a turnpike“. The man or woman who is strong in the Lord is one who sees himself as “passing through this life“, as a pilgrim with no homeland on this earth.

How long is this pilgrimage? Our entire life, as we are on the narrow road with Christ, walking through the Valley of the shadow of Death; from the moment we are saved, until we are with Him forever.

A “pilgrim” is therefore one who passes through life and denies the desire to be tied down to the world in any way. They claim no ownership of anything, because they understand that the temporary material things of the world can be taken away–they understand that being tethered to stuff, culture, or politics, robs us of energy, time and focus needed to  live out God’s will. The Book of Hebrews reveals this pilgrim character we are to have.

Hebrews 11:13-16 (NKJV) These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

For those who truly love the Lord, we must carry the attitude of heart that we are passing through and our destination is not the American dream, not even a better life here. As soon as a Christian finds home in this life, and we may take their eyes off of our eternal home. In this state, we become protective of what is ours, forgetting “naked have I come into the world and naked shall I go“, forgetting we will be clothed with His righteousness forever.

When we prayerfully maintain a heart disposition led by the Holy Spirit, then and only then can we appropriately relate to the lost world around us.

1 Peter 2:11-12 (NKJV) Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

The word “sojourner’s” means “resident alien“. This understanding fits right along side the reality that we are “passing through“. With the new circumstance facing Christians in America, we can now see that the idea of a “Christian nation”, this side of heaven, is antithetical to what it means to be a pilgrim passing through. Now we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (Christians of all nations tribes and tongues), His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9). This really hits home as we consider a few more verses in Psalm 84.

As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring;  the rain also covers it with pools.

The phrase “Valley of Baca” literally means “Valley of Weeping” This was a literal place, but also a metaphor of the life of the one on pilgrimage. Simply put, the follower of Christ, on pilgrimage, will pass through the Valley of Weeping often, because it is synonymous with the pain and perils of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Once again we are reminded this world does not reflect the glory of the new heavens and the new earth, but is passing away and dying. 

The point being, that as we walk the narrow road through the Valley of Weeping/Valley of the Shadow of Death, we make it life giving like an oasis in the desert. This occurs through the fullness of the Holy Spirit in and through us. Let us recall…

“As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring;  the rain also covers it with pools

It was the Lord Jesus Christ in John 7:37-38 who told us, whoever believes in Him, as the scriptures declared, will have a river of living water spring up from their innermost being. It is the apostle Paul, who testifies through his sincere prayer, what it is that brings us into such union with Christ, that we are baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 3:10-11 (NKJV) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

The power of His resurrection is to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. Not only was it Paul’s desire to know the Lord Jesus Christ intimately, but also to be filled with the same power that raised Christ from the dead. Why would the Lord bless us so? Because we are committed to the “fellowship of His sufferings” which come as we walk after Him through the Valley of Weeping. 

What far too many charismatic and Pentecostal Christians forget is that being filled with the Holy Spirit is not a badge of honor or for spiritual prestige, but the gift of the Father is to glorify Christ alone. This gift is for all but is only given to those who absolutely surrender in faith; who’s love and faith for Christ is so sincere that they will obey him even if it puts their health, livelihood or life in jeopardy. That person is one who is on pilgrimage.

As that person passes through the Valley of Weeping and are squeezed by the “fellowship of the sufferings of Christ” out pours the former and latter rain of the Spirit of God, to being life to those who are seeking to avoid the second death.

So, “Listen here pilgrim, this world will never be our home”. Let us go forward on pilgrimage untethered from the world and the flesh, that in the difficult times ahead, we will remain on pilgrimage, until we reach our eternal destination. Only then will we fulfil our calling, and set our navigation on our eternal home with our Lord and God.

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GRIEVED, FRUSTRATED and HOPEFUL

Canadian pastor Artur Pawlowski was arrested, after returning from a trip to the United States for some preaching engagements. Born behind the Soviet “Iron Curtain” in Kozuchow Poland, he immigrated to Canada in 1995 and became a Canadian citizen in 2004.

He has pastored for several years in Alberta Canada, and had become known for standing up to Albertan and Canadian authorities that imposed mask mandates and restrictions on church gatherings. In a viral video he ran off police encroaching upon the church’s observance of a special Passover service, prior to Resurrection Sunday.

I found out about his arrest through a Facebook post by an American pastor, who is a friend of pastor Artur. The post troubled me greatly, in fact, it left me grieved, frustrated and at the end feeling a little hopeful. My irritation has nothing to do with pastor Artur, or his arrest. To be honest, I expected that and expect more to come, even in America. I also expect that in addition to more church leaders, faithful lay Christians will be jailed or worse.

So my irritation was not over the growing persecution of Christians. Why should it be? The Lord Jesus told us this would occur in all of His teaching on how we relate to the world, especially in relation to the the very last days before His return.

GRIEVED

What grieved me was the the rising anger and rhetorical vitriol from the pastor who was sharing the information of Artur’s circumstances. The host’s demeaner seemed out of place, given the fact that as a pastor his biblical knowledge ought to have regulated his emotion and response.

Let me say first, that I completely support Artur in His obedience to Christ, and as a pastor will never freely cease providing an opportunity for the saints to gather together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, as this is commanded by the word of God (Hebrews 10:19-31). I fully expect that if I live long enough, I will find myself jailed for the sake of my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, or worse. 

I am in lock step with the young pastor’s heart for our brother Artur and grieve deeply for his family and fellowship, for as long as they are without him. That said, we America Christians need to open our eyes to what we have been missing; we must begin to understand suffering for Christ not as unfortunate circumstances, but part of how we glorify God by denying ourselves. 

It is important that by the fruit of the Spirit of self control, we can control our emotions; remembering that the anger of man is not always reflective of God being angry. In that case, we misrepresent the character of God to those whom we lead. Remember, this was the issue concerning Moses sin in Numbers 20, where he was told to speak to the rock for water, but struck it instead. 

Numbers 20:12 (NKJV) Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”

What grieved me about the the brother’s “righteous anger” is that, only now, when soft persecutions measures are closer to us in the United States, are we seeing the serious nature and risk of living with faith in Jesus Christ. In fear, many are having a similar un-christlike response.

I have advocated for the persecuted church world-wide over the last 15 years and have consistently  found, most America pastors and Christians have been clueless to Christian persecution world-wide. Many are too busy to know and sadly many simply don’t have heart or time to time to care.

Let me ask the questions of those of us who are American Christians, where was our outrage over the Christians persecuted around the world, over the last 20 years?

Where is the outrage over the slaughter and torture of North Korean Christians since the United States halted its military mission in 1953? It is likely that in my 24 years as a Christian, that North Korea is the most brutal and pervasive of persecutors of our brethren in the world.

Where is the outrage for the pastors and laity reduced to forced poverty, jailed and killed in Vietnam, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia or the Philippines over the last 20 years?

Where is the outrage over the brutality against the church in Columbia from FARC militant groups, corrupt government officials and drug Lords?

Where is our outrage over our brothers and sisters in India, who are beaten to death, stoned to death, have their houses burned, are evicted from home and village, or left out of jobs? Recently an 11 year boy, who was a leader in his church was burned with acid over 65% of his body (3rd degree). Where is the outrage? In India the government has used covid-19 to stifle the church, because they want and entire Hindi state. Where is the outrage our angry rhetoric?

Although I understand and have expressed righteous indignation, we must remember that we are called to be swift to hear, slow to anger and slow to wrath; for the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20). Let me ask another question…

Is the Lord more grieved by lost people doing lost people things, when He told us exactly what the lost would attempt to do to us (please read John 15:18-25 and John 16:1-4), or by His children who have for so long turned a blind eye to the suffering of their brethren world-wide and are angry because the heat has been turned up a little on them?

To me this is a rhetorical question, and it leads me to why this pastor’s post FRUSTRATED me.

FRUSTRATED

he Facebook post I am referencing reminded me of a huge problem that has been diminishing the spiritual effectiveness of the church in America for the last 125 years. This problem is outlined in a very powerful and long forgotten hymn, “Am I a Soldier of the Cross

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Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own his cause,
Or blush to speak his name?

Must I be borne to Paradise,
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vain world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord;
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by thy Word.

When thine illustrious day shall rise,
And all thy saints shall shine,
And shouts of vict’ry rend the skies,
The glory, Lord, be thine.

The second verse discusses the mindset which stirs my frustration. Because the dominant position on the rapture in America is the pre-tribulational position, most America Christians believe the were borne for paradise and will get there transported on flowery beds of ease. This is the American Christian mindset, while our brethren world-wide have been led as sheep to the slaughter all day long (Romans 8:36-39), fighting to win the prize and sailing through bloody seas, we get to ride to glory on flowery beds of ease.

When would suggest counter to that false narrative, in anger we rant and ignore the truth that no sincere Christian avoids tribulation.

Now for those who are pre-tribulation brethren, note I did not say “no sincere Christian avoids the tribulation period“, but “tribulation“. Observe the words of Jesus Christ Himself.

John 15:18-20 (NKJV) “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

John 16:33 (NKJV) These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV) Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Whatever rapture position one holds (except post-tribulationism which has not biblical merit), being “caught up” does not mean we avoid satanic attack, in fact we find scriptures where the Lord God allows Satan to appear to win.

Revelation 13:6-7 (NKJV) Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them.

Here is the frustration, because of the wrong mindset concerning an escapist rapture (We are only guaranteed we are not appointed to the wrath of God): We see persecution as an evil to be stamped out, when it is exactly what God uses to purify, strengthen and fill His church with the joy of the Lord (I Peter 1:6-9; 4:11-12; James 1:2-9).

When we recoil at persecution, rather than embrace the will of the Lord in it, we miss the blessing and benefit of being afflicted for Christ’s sake. This is the source of my frustration, because although I do not like pain or the prospect of confinement, torture or death, I realize some of all of those painful things are built into my salvation in Jesus Christ; in fact suffering is our calling in Christ, every bit as much as the joy of salvation.

Philippians 1:27-30 (NKJV) Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

We must remember that in the first persecution against the church, chronicled in Acts 3-5, we see a very different response than anger, outrage or even shock. When the apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin their response was not laced with vitriol or angst at all.

Acts 4:18-22 (NKJV) So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” 

When they were brought a second, before their nations leaders they replied “We ought to body God, rather than men” (Acts 5:29). When this answer led to them being beaten with rods and severely threatened, their response was remarkable.

Acts 5:41-42 (NKJV) So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

This is where I speak of the HOPE I have after viewing the young pastor’s video. Despite the anger arising from fear and wrong headed thinking about how Christians in free lands ought to expect a different outcome to their faith (than the rest of the world’s Christians), we are seeing the church awaken.

The Church is awakening to its calling in Christ. The Church is awakening to the precious nature of our faith and the risk and reward of living absolutely surrendered to our our Lord Jesus Christ. Daily the church in America are seeing the signs that Jesus told us would proceed His return. Therefore we can hope in life eternal to come, rather than scraping by on this sin cursed rock, looking for ways to spruce up what Christ will purge with fire.  

I have hope that all who truly love the Lord Jesus Christ will not look to politicians for provision, protection or solutions, but to Him to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. I have hope that in the short years to come (before Christ’s return), real deep Holy Spirit empowered fellowship will grow and the church well shine brighter than it ever has, in testimony of our God and Savior. I have hope, for our redemption is nearer than when we first believed and many of us will be those who hear last trumpet of God, the voice of the arch angel and rise to meet Christ in the air.

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Weighed Down and Weary

Luke 21:34-36 (NKJV) “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

 Let me be honest and truthful. When I read this passage almost a month ago, I did not know how much I needed to heed its admonition.

“But take heed to yourselves”

 I kind of missed the “yourselves” as I thought on how much the body of Christ needs this admonition, in the times we are living in. At first, I began to muse on the implications this passage has for those I pastor, especially, how to communicate the truth contained in the text, but then four weeks passed with world-wide circumstances significantly impacting the bride of Christ; more than a few have become pressing on my own family.

Just a few days ago, I noticed a tiredness in my body, mind and emotions, that revealed I was “weighed down”. The phrase “weighed down” in the Greek language Luke’s gospel was written in, means to be overcharged or overfull.

It is an interesting phrase to say the least, especially when considering how we get to being overcharged or over full.

 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life”

 The Lord Jesus Christ is warning us not to become weighed down with carousing or being overcharged with the things of the world, the flesh, and the devil—Not to be overcharged or overfull with drunkenness or substances—not to be overcharged with the cares of this life.

When dealing with an overcharged battery, one would think,  “great, that means more power on hand”, but that is a grave misunderstanding. When a battery is overcharged, the power cannot be called upon because the components of the battery turn on itself. The extra power will cause the battery to overheat, causing the content of the battery, sulphfuric acid and water, to boil and swell; even seeping out. If even a small amount of electricity passes through a battery in that state, an explosion could occur.

It is my opinion that this is a fairly accurate metaphor of what occurs in a Christian’s life when we are weighed down. Our lives get overwhelmed by something and rather than being “anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving we make our request to God, whereby we gain His peace” (Philippians 4:6-7), or “casting our cares on Him for He cares for us (I Peter 5:7), we stew and fall into a sinful pattern of thought and behavior.

If we do not catch it quickly enough then we are “weighed down” or overcharged. In this state, without even being aware, we can turn on ourselves, having our faith challenged with continual doubt and despair that leads to unbelief. Make no mistake about it, to have that occur is a spiritual explosion.

This is where I found myself, not at the point of spiritual explosion, but becoming “weighed down”. What was the event or events that brought this about? We can answer the question by returning to where Jesus commands all of us to “take heed of yourselves”. Context is everything.

Let’s begin by understanding that our Savior is speaking to the original disciples and sharing with them the events and timeline of the end times, culminating with the phrase “and that Day come upon you unexpectedly”. What was Jesus referring to?

The phrase “that Day” is clearly defined in both the Old and New Testaments in many different places including, but not limited to Ezekiel 7:19, 30:3; Joel 1:15, 2:11 and 31, 3:14; Amos 5:18 and 20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7 and 1:14; Malachi 4:1. In these passages “that Day” is called “the day of the LORD’s wrath” or “the day of the LORD”. In the New Testament “that Day” is also referred to as “the day of the Lord”,the day of Christ” and “the Day” (Luke 21:34-36; I Corinthians 1:8, 5:5; II Corinthians 1:14; I Thessalonians 5:2, 5:4; II Thessalonians 2:3 Hebrews 10:25).

In the Old Testament passages the focus is one, the day of the Lord is a series of events at the very end of the age, where God pours out His wrath on mankind in devastating supernatural events. In the New Testament “that Day” is the event which precedes the outpouring of God’s wrath, which is the rapture of the Church.

Our blessed hope, the appearing of our great God and Savior the Lord Jesus Christ for the purpose of bringing us to Him, is the closing of the door on the age of grace. We are not to be caught unaware of the signs and circumstances which proceed that day, we are to be prepared and looking for it.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-10 (NKJV) But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

That we ought to be comforted by the fact that we are not appointed to wrath, being among the redeemed of the Lord Jesus Christ, ought to cause us comfort. So why have I been feeling weighed down?

Returning to our original passage we must understand the context it was written into. The context is that of the Lord Jesus Christ explaining the times and signs proceeding His return. Among them are…

Luke 21:8-9 (NKJV) “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore, do not go after them. But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”

 The Lord declares that we are not to be terrified, for these things shall come to pass. Why the admonition? Because without our blessed Hope in Christ, these commotions would be unbearable, at best. Let’s look.

Luke 21:10-11 (NKJV) “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.

We have every reason to believe these things are in line with Matthew 24:4-8, which Jesus defines as the beginning of the sorrows. Should we be alive on earth at this time, we will see these things and they are catastrophic, in fact some of these I believe are upon us. Yet listen to what our Lord reveals in the next 6 verses, where we discover that before these things (vs. 12)

  1. They will lay their hands on us and persecute us, delivering us up to the authorities and prisons ( 12)
  2. We will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake ( 12).
  3. Despite the trouble, it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. The Holy Spirit will give us the words we need to speak in the moment ( 13-14).
  4. We will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives, and friends; and they will put some of us to death ( 15).
  5. We will be hated by all for the sake of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ ( 17).

Let us agree that the church has been suffering these things since the day of Pentecost. The point is that as we draw nearer to the beginning of the sorrow’s events in Luke 21:8-11, the incidence and force of the persecution intensifies exponentially. Consider that the number of Christian martyrs has increased exponentially since Israel became a nation in 1948. In fact, the number of martyred Christians in the last 73 years has exceeded the amount of martyrs from the beginning of the church aged until 1948.

It is these realities that can overwhelm us, if we are not careful. This is Jesus’ point in admonishing us But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.

 As I prayerfully considered why I was blue in spirit and fighting against anxiety, I had to admit, that the news reported moment by moment concerning the pestilence of our time (Covid-19) and the mandating of an unproven, ineffective, and potentially dangerous vaccine for this virus, is unsettling. In addition to that the potential of being shut out of society for refusing it is real. This reality is not just potential in America but occurring in Australia, Israel, Great Briton, Canada, and many European nations. This tyranny is the rule in most of the non-westernized nations, where these “vaccines” are available.

As I considered how these realities will affect how I provide for my family, I was tempted with sadness, fear, anxiety and was overcharged by the cares of this life. This continued until I laid hold of my hope in Christ and the reality that to be sober, means to watch for His return daily, adjusting my life in real times to what comes each day.

This is the point of our Lords admonition. Take heed, because the times we are living in are fearful, in fact so fearful it is raising the number of deaths from the number one killer in the world throughout the ages… heart failure.

Luke 21:25-26 (NKJV) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

 Taking heed means we understand our proclivity to be taken by fear of what is to come, and we deal with it, by casting our care on Him (for He cares for us), through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-7; I Peter 5:5-7).

If we do not, then we are targets for being weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of this life. When we fall into any of those, we may deaden the pain, but we can become ensnared in lethargy and insensitivity to the word of God and His Spirit, and unprepared for “that Day” of Christ’s return to rapture us. Which means we will be unworthy to stand before Him.

So let us take the admonition and obey the Lord. Difficult days are ahead, but so long as we keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ and pray watchfully, we will endure till the end and see Him face to face. To do so we must seek the Lord and refuse to give in to fear about down the road days, as we are called to live one day at a time.

Luke 21:36 (NKJV) Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

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THE MERCY OF PREACHING THE JUDGMENT TO COME

 

The image on the right is a lot closer to our reality, in 2021, than it being a tongue and cheek cartoon from December of 2012. Each and every day around the world, normal people are aware that something is dreadfully wrong. People are looking for answers, in a world that seems to be rushing over a cliff of despair. Christians do have the answer, if we are willing step out in faith and testify to the truth.

The cartoon above represents a way of truth telling that many Christians either are uncomfortable with or utterly despise. It is my biblically informed opinion that our disdain for this type of declaration is absolutely out of step with the biblical narrative as a whole.

Consider Jonah. Though he may not have had a sandwich board with “Repent or Perish” boldly written across front and back, it was Jonah’s bold proclamation to a people who were dedicated for destruction by the LORD for their wickedness. Let us consider Ezekiel’s message on God’s behalf to the people of Israel.

Ezekiel 14:6-8 (NKJV) “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the LORD will answer him by Myself. I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.

To understand the force of the prophet’s message against Israel, which warns of judgment for unrepentant sin, we look no further than the call of God to Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 3:16-18 (NKJV) Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.

The call of the children of God is to reveal the love and grace of God, but without the guarantee of the LORD’s judgment on the unrepentant, His love and grace are not love and grace. Another way to frame it is that to be saved means we are saved from something: THE WRATH TO COME.

When seeing a person such as the brother in the image to the right, many American Christians have an adverse reaction. Some would say it is not a proper way to share God’s love or that it is even foolish. Is it really? Is it more foolish to call people to repentance to avoid the coming judgement of the wrath of God, with a bull horn and sandwich board, or to be as Noah and build an ark?

This is more than a fair question. Consider that Noah was called to build a very large boat-like structure, in a region where there is no significant body of water to float his boat. Consider that he was called to pronounce through building this vessel (over the course of over 100 years) and through his preaching, that God would send a flood upon the earth, which will kill all the unrepentant. Consider Noah’s object lesson and preaching were to people, who had never seen it rain, in a region with no significant body of water.

In comparison to the sandwich board Christian, Noah would certainly win the contest concerning what appears to be more foolish. 

Let us now consider we live in times where the character of man is eerily similar to that of the majority of the world’s population around the time of Noah. Genesis gives us a sobering snapshot of that character.

Genesis 6:5-6 (NKJV) Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

The point is not that we ought to all wear sandwich boards, but that we need to use the sign of the times and the coming wrath of God, as a means to call people to repentance, that they may receive God’s love and grace in salvation. Remember that God is working with us to reveal His wrath to come and His grace through the Lord Jesus Christ

Romans 1:16-20 (NKJV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…

It is the fear of the LORD (which is the beginning of knowledge), which leads to conviction of sin. This in turn begins a process leading to salvation.

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV) For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

NOAH’S ARK FORESHADOWS CHRIST

Christians have been mislead by teachers and pastors for decades concerning not only how to share the Gospel, but about the very nature of the gospel itself. Even 23 years ago, when the Lord Jesus Christ saved me, I would hear of “Hell fire and brimstone preachers” almost in a derogatory fashion. It was as if preaching the judgment to come was supposed to be off limits, being deemed legalistic or even cruel.

Christians were also inundated with statements such as this “If the lost do not know you love them, they will not want to know what you have to say about salvation”. At first, hearing that statement sounds compassionate, perhaps even loving, but it is a total falsehood.  The word of God expressly declares that we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Our motive is love, but our mission is that of Paul the apostle.

Colossians 1:28-29 (NKJV) Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

What is it that we are warning them of? THE WRATH TO COME, upon the unrepentant! It is this warning that leads to the fear of the LORD, which brings wisdom to understand the weight of our sin. Knowing the weight of our sin brings godly sorrow, working repentance leading to sorrow.

Remember that Noah is defined in scripture as a “preacher of righteousness” (II Peter 2:5). We must consider that this means he preached repentance from sin and a return to God, for the covering of their sins. The covering of their sin was in the blood sacrifice of an animal, which was to point to the coming of the Lamb of God, in the fullness of time. 

His preaching of righteousness, had to come with a warning, or there would have been no incentive to repent or return to faith in God. For over a century Noah’s preaching came with a really big reminder of the judgment to come… the ark.

The message to be considered by Noah’s generation… only those who repent and walk after God, can be saved from the wrath to come through the flood.

Noah preached how to be counted righteous through repentance and faith. To do so is God’s love to the lost of this generation.

Noah preached that those who reject repentance and faith in God’s mercy, would die in the judgment to come. This warning is God’s love to his generation. Sadly none but Noah’s family responded.

Noah’s ark was antitype (a pattern of something greater to come), revealing something for future generations concerning Christ. What does the Noah’s ark foreshadow?

Without repentance and faith in Christ, where we are saved by grace through that faith and placed inside Christ, the true ARK of God, there is only the expectation of God’s wrath and eternal judgment. I Peter 3:20-21 illuminates this truth and shows water baptism as a sign we are in Christ.

We also, like Noah, Jonah and Ezekiel are called upon to preach the wrath to come, because it  may lead the lost to seek Christ for salvation. It is true that the majority will not heed the warning, but it must be given and we know that it is and will be given.

In the Book of Revelation, we find that the world is not atheistic in the last days, but living in hatred of the the one true God, as they follow the antichrist, whom is Satan’s counterfeit.

Revelation 6:15-17 (NKJV) And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

Revelation 6:15-16 (NKJV) And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!

Revelation 16:8-11 (NKJV) Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.

All three of these passages reveal the state of men, after the church is raptured and before Christ’s physical return to have His victory over the wicked world, at Armageddon. How do they know it is the Wrath of the Lamb? Because the church warned them of the wrath to come.

Brothers and sisters, we need to love the lost around us. We do this by warning them of the wrath to come. If we do not they will die in their sin, but their blood will be upon us.

The people of the world understand that something very threatening is growing every day. We know it is the unfolding of prophecy. which will end judgment for them, without hearing the full gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We understand that as it was in the days of Noah, where “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”, so it is now.

Time is short, the world needs to know that the end is near, that they may have a everlasting beginning in Christ. Let us pray for God’s grace to be His messengers of Christ’s love in the cross. It is our calling.

Philippians 2:14-16 (NKJV) Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

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Sports Illustrated and Sinister Swimsuits?

(Matthew 24:37) “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

(Genesis 6:5) Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition sells over 800,000 single copies yearly, in addition to the copies that are received through yearly subscriptions. The single-issue accounts for 10% of the company’s total revenue. Altogether, the Swimsuit Edition reaches more than 66 million adults annually and more men ages 18 to 34 than the Super Bowl. The Swimsuit Edition can earn as much $35 million in ad revenue for Sports Illustrated.

As we know, sex sells and anything that engendering the lust of the S.I. Swimsuit issue, will be a top seller. Herein is the trouble. the S.I. Swimsuit Edition produces more provocative and content with each passing year. The company’s over the top exploitation of women, is soft core porn, which serves as a launching point for even more perverse forms of pornography. The magazine is a gateway for millions of young men, into seeking to relate to women only for pleasure.

If that is not enough, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition for 2021 has put a transgender man, who has had sex reassignment surgery, on the front cover. This was done while not revealing that the man, who looks like a swimsuit model, is indeed a man masquerading as a woman. The only information the magazine gives, is the man’s chosen feminine name, Leyna Bloom.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro questioned the message S.I. is sending and the confusion it will create for those who have no idea they are looking at a man, surgically changed to look like a supermodel. He asked why they did not place the man who calls himself Laurel Hubbard, the transgender weightlifter from New Zealand, on the cover; stating that the weightlifter is more representative of the minute population of men, who believe themselves to be women.

The answer to that question is quite sinister indeed. Let’s agree that true female swimsuit models, do not represent true womanhood, because most women do not look like swimsuit models. The models in the Swimsuit Edition represent a lie that men have been told, concerning the ideal woman, which is a lustful fantasy.

This fantasy carries over into Hollywood and even pornography. In this lustful fantasy, men expect that women are pleasure objects, and the images are to arouse the lust of men. Not only do theses images arouse lust in the moment, but they also change male expectations of women, which are impossible for any woman to live up to. This is one reason marriages break apart and sexual immorality is prolific in our day.

Sex has been redefined for personal pleasure, rather than an act of beautiful mutual submission between a husband and wife; for the potential of bringing godly children into the world. Our Creator made sex is a beautiful gift for a husband and wife, but the world sees it as “pleasure yourself at any cost”. This is why the Swimsuit Edition choice to place a man made to look like a woman on the cover is so nefarious.

Let us consider the words of Jesus’ concerning adultery and sexual immorality.

Matthew 5:27-28 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart

 We see that God’s definition of sexual immorality is not confined to the physical act, but extends to lusting after a person in ones heart. This lusting is an intentional trip into fantasizing about the person being looked at. For followers of Jesus Christ, male or female, this truth out to cause sobriety concerning what we allow our eyes to fall upon.

Sexual immorality is everywhere. One can still images or video for free at the touch of a screen, and enter into a Pandora’s box of perversion. Most Christians have viewed some pornographic images in their life, and sadly many are regular unrepentant practitioners. CHRISTIANS SHOULD NEVER LOOK AT IMAGES MEANT TO GENERATE LUST. I have not included the S.I. Swimsuit cover photo for this very reason.

It is with this in mind that we return to the sinister action of putting a man on the cover, who has been physically altered to look like a female swimsuit model, rather than a man (whose name is Gavin Hubbard), who has gender reassignment, who weighs well over 260 lbs. and stands almost 6 foot 1 inches?

If the answer is not obvious, I’ll let you know… Because no man who lustfully looks at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, would buy or look at a copy, with a surgery altered male that is that large and in a swimsuit. This is why The Sports Illustrated publication for this year, is absolutely sinister.

With no marking on the cover stating that Leyna Bloom is a “transgender woman” (actually a man), who has had his male parts surgically removed and altered (as well as have other parts added), no one would question that the cover model was anything other than a woman.

This may not be obvious to everyone, but men do not purchase the Swimsuit Edition to read the articles. Therefore, text in this issue is slim to none. A male looking at this cover, with lust, is not only guilty of sexual immorality, but that of the homosexual kind; not knowing that the person he is lusting after is actually a man.

To say that Sports Illustrated is intentional in their sick, sinful publication, is an understatement. This publication is part of the world antichrist system fooling the world with the last great deception. It has been bad enough that their annual lust fest has opened the door to more graphic forms of sexually immoral content for millions of men; now it is opening a society to more perverse rejection of God’s order.

This mainstream gender bending, which erases the lines of true masculinity and femininity, through sensual and perverted imagery meant to confuse, has brought us to days just like that of Noah…

 (Genesis 6:5) Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Once more, America leads the way into perversions which signal the imminent destruction of the United States of America or its identity a player in end times Babylon. Those who speak the truth in love, against this darkness, are now in the minority, and the majority, who are LGBTQ supporting, will come for us.

Church, it is time to speak the truth in love—call the lost to repentance in Christ Jesus and prepare to endure persecution. It is time for us to completely come out of the world, with its entertainments and recreations. It is time for us to renounce the world, the flesh, and the Devil, and hide the word of God in our heart, for they cannot take that away from us. It is time to stand in the truth, love our enemy, and look for our blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 6:14-18 to 7:1) Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”
Therefore

“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the LORD Almighty.”
 

(2 Corinthians 7:1) ​ Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

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A Movement to Hinder His Manifest Presence Among Us #2

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In our last post we began to look at world events and how they have led to the church considering the importance of God’s command that we “forsake not the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some and so much the more, as we see the Day approaching“.

We have come to understand that Covid-19 is yet another dangerous man-made crisis meant to break national sovereignty, remove personal freedom, and ultimately divide the church of Jesus Christ into silence.

In addition to the last objective, we must understand that dividing the church of Jesus Christ from gathering, has been the objective of every totalitarian regime, from the founding of the church. This is true whether that government be democratic, communistic, or fascist. It matters little whether there is an emperor, dictator, king, president or premier.

This is the plan for two reasons. To hinder or cease face to face gathering of the saints (1) Hinders the power of sanctification, discipleship, and evangelism (2) Because hindering the gathering of the saints hinders the promise of Christ’s manifest presence, in the His people collectively.

To illustrate this first point, please read Acts 2:40-47. You’ll notice, that gathering together brought about consistent teaching concerning the true nature of Christ and our calling as the church (apostles’ doctrine). This togetherness also founded the church in prayer, which led to disciple making and signs and wonders strategically placed, for the purpose of amplifying the preaching of Christ to the lost. Therefore, the church was added to daily.

Let us remember that their gathering together was not only Sunday, but fellowship that blessed, benefitted, and produced God glorifying work, daily and house to house.

In Hebrews 10:19-25, before a stiff warning that walking away from fellowship brings the judgment of God upon the Christian (Hebrews 10:26-31), we find the dynamic nature of sanctification and its effect when we gather in God’s presence.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (NKJV) Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

 In the 4 underlined statements we see that gathering together, has a four-fold purpose in our sanctification…

  1. To give assurance of our salvation in Christ, and cleanse us from patterns of sin, so long as we continue in the faith (Let us draw near).
  2. To encourage one another to testify of Christ to all we encounter (Let us hold fast our confession).
  3. To agitate one another if necessary to do good God-glorifying works (Let us consider one another in order to stir up).
  4. To point one another to our blessed hope, Christ’s return (not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together… the Day approaching).

Not only does forsaking bring judgment upon the individuals drawing back, but it also hinders the power of sanctification in the fellowship. Yet there is something even more perilous, when considering not gathering together as commanded.

Matthew 18:19-20 (NKJV) “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

 Before we get to Christ’s manifest presence, it is important to give the context of His teaching. Matthew 18:15-20 is part of a teaching where Jesus deals with brothers in Christ who offend through unrepentant sinning. After laying out the process of discipline for someone who is in unrepentant sin and who refuses to repent even if brought before the entire body itself, He commands they be banished.

This sounds extreme and it is, because unrepentant sin damages the body of Christ and affects the presence of Christ among us. It is important to remember the primary context of verse 20 is the discipline of a sinning brother, but the context does not make Christ’s presence, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am in the midst” exclusive to only church discipline. Scripture clearly reveals the breadth of His manifest presence among the two or three.

The entirety of the New Testament, as well as the testimony of God’s presence among the Israelites in the tabernacle and temple (in the Old Testament), inform us that Christ is with us, when we gather wherever we gather and for any purpose pertaining to the will of God.

To understand Christ’s manifest presence among the saints, let us begin dealing with His presence with each individual Christ; before we revisit Matthew 18:20.

Please read I Corinthians 6:9-20. In the first 3 verses we are given a list of unrepentant sins that will lead to a person being prohibited from entering the kingdom of heaven, regardless of their confession of Christ—we then read that we ought to know better than to partake in this sin—followed by instruction for us to consider our behaviors well, as not to fall away. Then we read…

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (NKJV) Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

 From this passage we understand that each individual Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit. This means that the Holy Spirit of God, who is fully God Himself, dwells in each individual believer (see also John 14:15-18; 23). Therefore, He who is Holy, demands we expel sin from our personal life, rather than practice it. The warning of this passage brings us back to what occurred in Ezekiel 8 through Ezekiel 10, where the prophet is shown all the abominations and sins of the leaders of Israel and her people; and how it caused the glory of the LORD to depart the temple, in chapter 10.

This truth, concerning the individual presence of Christ is so important, for each individual temple is a living stone, being built into the spiritual house of Almighty God (I Peter 2:4-5, 9-10), where God in Christ comes to dwell, not only in eternity, but now!

Ephesians 2:19-22 (NKJV) Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Now we can understand Jesus’ declaration in Matthew 18:20For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.

Let us remember that Jesus’ declaration is in the immediate context of judging and binding a sinning brother from fellowship (This was powerful, because so long as the brother remains unrepentant, they are outside of God’s protection, provision, and presence. If the Lord’s words were only concerning discipline, that would imply Christ’s presence is not with us when two or three evangelize, receive communion, pray together, or even teach the word.

Read Acts 2:40-42 and see their fellowship empowered and held together by the presence of Christ in the Holy Spirit, who had just been poured out, and how the fear of the Lord was on every soul. Please look at Acts 3:1-12 and 4:31-37 and see the results of Christ in their midst; it is truly wonderful.

Look once more at the death of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 and the results in verse 11So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who hear these things”.

Let us also consider the warning in I Corinthians 11 concerning receiving the Lord’s Supper, in an unworthy fashion. The NASB really lays it out well.

1 Corinthians 11:27-30 (NASB) Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.

 The reason some were sick, and some were dying, was because they were not judging the “body rightly”. We understand that they were selfishly approaching the table of the Lord, not putting others ahead of their desire. This selfishness is against the mind of Christ. They would gather together with grudges and factions among themselves and eat as if nothing was wrong; this was not judging the “body rightly”.

They were offending the presence of Christ, in and among the living stones, which are His spiritual house. Is His presence powerful, tangible and really present? Yes! Perhaps, this is the reason the body of Christ in America is the most medicated and infirmed group of Christians in the world; because we receive communion and exist so divided, even in individual fellowships. Are we not to have the life of Christ for our bodies and our bodies to be for the Lord?

In one of the churches, I had been blessed to pastor, I met a person who was raised as a Christian and was in ministry for 21 years. This person had chosen to walk away from Christ and live openly in sin, after the Lord did not meet their unreasonable expectations. As I was speaking to them one day, they told me that they were anxious about moving so close to a church. I asked why and they told me “I did not want to be around the presence”.

Even though they did not say Christians, let’s admit, God does not inhabit buildings anymore, He inhabits the saved and the gathering of the saved.

 Church, Covid-19 is a bioweapon that is not going away, nor are the mandates associated with it that impinge upon those of conscience. The world’s population went along easily and far too many churches ceased gathering, being convinced we could meet online. How do you gather for communion online, lay hands on the sick online, share the gospel with those outside the kingdom online, with a mind for discipleship?

Regardless of threats, and they will come, we must obey the Lord and gather, trusting His protection, provision, and presence. These measures have been worldwide, and their target will ultimately be people of one particular faith. Those of the faith of Jesus Christ, must obey God rather than man. No matter what, we must together meet, even if its two or three, because Jesus Christ is in the midst and will be mighty to save, sanctify, heal, and give hope for His return.

Refuse them who attempt to mangle the manifest presence of Christ, which is our heritage as Children of God.

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