Missing the Revelation of Job

Related imageMany people, regardless of their religious persuasion, have heard of the O.T. biblical character named Job. The reason for this knowledge among the general populace is that Job encountered a wide range of suffering. His suffering included the loss of livelihood, wealth, children, health, the comfort of his wife’s loving support, the pain of assault on his integrity, and most profoundly the silence of God. Of all that humans may suffer, Job’s suffering runs most of the gamut of possibility; and his tragedies occurred almost all at once.

In my opinion, overemphasizing his sufferings have colored our outlook on perhaps the most overlooked lesson from the account of this man’s life, which is the greater revelation of God’s Person Job received on account of what he lost.

I realize what I just wrote may confuse more than a few, which is part of the problem. We teach Job improperly. We use the book as a kick in the pants for the person who is suffering, either to say “Buck up friend, it could be worse”—or to move their focus to the “spiritual battle” taking place between God and Satan—or to encourage the sufferer to “remain faithful and God will restore to you double”.  Although I believe those truths are contained within the account of Job’s life, sadly they are not ultimately what is being communicated, although they may be a means to God’s end.

Let’s begin by accepting that Job did have some good theology. We can see that Job made sin offerings to God, which were required, even before the law of God was given. We also can ascertain to a certain degree, that his sacrifices were rightly a reminder of the One who would ultimately be our sacrificial Atonement.

(Job 19:25-27) 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God,27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Related imageIn this we see Job lived by faith as he served as the priest of his family. Despite this understanding Job also battled with his fears and his fears would muddy his motive for sacrificing. Remember he declared “For I know that my Redeemer lives”. In this he understood that redemption was an all encompassing act that was individually applied, as the one sinning would procure the sacrifice having been convicted of sin, and ready to turn from it. Yet in Job chapter 1:5 we find the man sacrificing for his children, unsolicited by them, for “it may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts”’ Job did this regularly.

Although it would appear Job knew to some degree that his sacrifices would cover his sin, until the Redeemer came to take it away permanently, it would also appear he was sacrificing out of ungodly fear.

(Job 3:23-26) 23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in? 24 For my sighing comes before I eat, and my groanings pour out like water. 25 For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me. 26 I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, for trouble comes.”

What was it that Job feared? He, like so many of us, feared the loss of what we think makes us who we are: family, wealth, health, and our good name. Yet in spite of his fears, and all the unnecessary things he did to protect it, he lost it all. In the end, what he would gain would be beyond measure, and I am not referring to the return of good standing and a good name, more children than he had before, or more wealth exponentially.

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(Job 42:1-6) 1 Then Job answered the Lord and said: 2 “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ 5I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. 6 Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job’s conversation with God, actually begins in chapter 38. Prior to his interaction with God, both Job and his three friends offer all sorts of reasons for his suffering. Some of their reasoning has the scent of truth, yet most of it is ill applied to the current situation they are discussing. In Job’s comments, although he does not curse God, he comes dangerously close to misrepresenting the LORD’s character. Therefore, when the LORD speaks for the first time in chapter 38, He now questions Job…

(Job 38:1-4)1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:2Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. 4Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.

After almost four chapters of God revealing Himself, Job is floored and abhors himself and repents. Why did he repent?

Before the loss of everything, Job only knew about God, subsequently, most of what he did in sacrificing and being a good boy, was to avoid losing what he possessed. Therefore, we see his motive was not for the purpose of having a greater relationship with the LORD, but to maintain the life he loved. As we discovered earlier, Job did have some appropriate understanding of the One coming to be our Redeemer, yet he did not know Him. He did not know Him because of all he had accumulated.

Sadly, it was not until Job lost everything that he found to be precious, that he was truly able to know the LORD, who is precious beyond measure, “I have heard about you with the hearing of my ears, but now I see you with my eyes”. It was not till he lost it all that Job actually met the Redeemer face to face. Remember it was not God that engineered this loss (Satan), but He did allow it to bring a greater revelation of Himself to Job.

Related imageDon’t our lives often reveal this same struggle? We know Jesus is our Savior. We understand what He has done to remove our sin, transform us into His righteousness (by the indwelling Holy Spirit) and bring us to be with Him forever on that great Day. Yet as we live we accumulate stuff that we see as blessing, and it becomes personal to us. At times we fear the loss of these things and move to secure them, only to feel them slipping away. The very things we hold as precious in this life can stand in the way of our knowing the presence and power of God. Make no mistake child of God, the more we work to save them, the more they will slip away. This is a reciprocal law Jesus taught us.

(Luke 9:23-25) 23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?

In light of the word of God revelation above, we would do well to prayerfully consider Paul’s testimony about what he sought as most precious.

(Philippians 3:7-11) 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

It is not God’s desire to take away the things we count as precious, but there can be no doubt He demands He be our most precious One (Exodus 34:14). Should the LORD gain that sole place of prominence in our lives, not only will we have appropriate perspective on what we ought to value, but we will move to discard that which hinders our relationship to Christ. When Jesus has that place of prominence, knowing Him more deeply and intimately flourishes, no matter what our circumstances or physical condition.

Thank God for the Book of Job; one man’s journey to know the God he served, personally and face to face. May we too move from hearing about the LORD with the hearing of our ears, to seeing Him with our own eyes.

Posted in Christian suffering, God's Power, God's Presence, Philippians 3:10, The Book of Job, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Tainted Fruit?

tree-manipulation(Psalm 1:1-3) 1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

Psalm 1 describes the prosperity of the godly man; a man who continually plants the the word of God within himself (look at Psalm 119:9-12). He also plants himself in the soil of a life of prayer and loving obedience to the word of God. As the godly man is planted in this soil, He taps into the fullness of the Holy Spirit, from which He prospers spirit, soil and body. This truth is indisputable.

Yet let the godly man, sow to his flesh a little, he will grow weaker in resolve and open himself up to the possibility of sowing to his flesh a little more. Should this continue, and even though he may still seek to plant within himself the word of God (even attempting to continue in prayer), he will find he is now planted in the bitter soil of flesh pleasing. This truth is also indisputable

Once we have moved into the bitter soil, loving obedience in the joy of our faith, becomes obligation. The adventure of following our Savior’s example in a godly and righteous life (powered by the Holy Spirit), becomes carnal religiosity because “it’s the right thing to do”. Should this grow over any sustained period of time, we will grow less aware of the corruption creeping through our life of faith. Therein, the great risk is not only damaging our relationship to Jesus and our Christian witness, but tainting the good fruit we have produced; fruit which can begin to taste worldly rather than sweet like life giving fruit of Christ (Galatians 5:22).

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Followers have to understand that the godly are “like trees planted by rivers of water”,  when sowing to the Spirit of God. Yet when sowing to our flesh, we see how we are unlike “trees”; trees have no feet and no choice as to where they plant themselves.

It is for this reason the Holy Spirit admonishes in to “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16) and warns us in Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will reap of the Spirit everlasting life“.

Men of God (and yes woman of God as well) need to discipline themselves to be “as trees planted by rivers of water”, rather than to use our feet  to walk in the flesh a little here and there, while living for Christ “most of the time”. That we can do this with little effect on our relationship to God, is a lie from the Satan himself; we have zero compatibility with anything that is produced by the world, the flesh or the devil. Therefore, the righteous in Christ should never justify even a little compromise, whether overtly sinful or not (read I Corinthians 6:12-15, 10:20-23).

When we justify “a little bit” of worldly compromise, whether in practice, thinking, emotional response, religiosity, preference pleasing, or even recreation and rest, we behave like “trees” with feet; whereby we pick ourselves up out of the good soil of God’s the word, prayer and practice (“day and night”), for the soil of worldliness (with its promises and passing pleasures). The soil of worldliness is like a field where chemicals have seeped into the soil and ground water, in which the fruit begins to taste like the tainted soil the tree is planted in.

How does this manifest in the lives of godly men? It manifests not only in their own diminishing spiritual effectiveness and power, but in the lives of those who partake of their lives. I am referring to those whom godly men disciple, whether wives, children, other believers, friends or neighbors. To observe corruption in others, brought on by our sowing to the flesh, is painful . To levy this corruption in them, knowing it is a result of our being “trees” with feet that uproot from the good soil, is almost intolerable.

Related imageMy wife and I have have been abundantly blessed with five children. Very few things have caused me more grief, than to see a carnal tendency, a fall into to sin, or spiritual confusion, in the lives of my children. Often I am reminded, by the Holy Spirit (especially with the three older children who are 14, 16, 18), as to how a potential choice to “relax” and “chill out” or choose a “normal” human and not apparently sinful thing, may effect their lives going forward.  I also must admit there are times where my compromise has been called out, as I have been disappointed with contrary behavior in my children. In those times the Holy Spirit, usually in the midst of my correcting them, reveals their behavior as being a product of my own previous carnal compromise.

Therefore it is incumbent we learn to stay planted in the good soil of God’s presence, having the seed watered by the Holy Spirit, who is the River of Living Water (John 7:37-38). If you see corruption in your life or those who partake of your life as fruit, uproot from the compromise and replant in God’s good soil. Who wants to produce tainted fruit?

Just in case someone decries that we can’t possibly live practically as Psalm 1 declares, let me say, read your bible. Psalm 1:1-3 is no more impossible to live than the greatest command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind”, so long as we are walking in obedient faith. The last time I checked, He is the God that makes the impossible possible in those that love Him.

Posted in fruitful Christianity, Psalm 1:1-3, the godly man, trees planted by rivers of water, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Father! Your Kingdom Come…

Related imageThe “Lord’s Prayer”, as taught by our Savior, is a pattern (or outline) of our communion with God in prayer. Our prayer ought to always begin and be maintained in awareness of the awesomeness of our Father’s character, as revealed in His “Hallowed” name. As we discovered last week, we need to intentionally take time to meditate on “The Name’, for in it God communicates that He exists to give those who fear Him: healing, atonement, sanctification, peace, His presence, His power and protection (and many other promises). In His name we can expect every prayer according to His will to be heard and answered (I John 5:14). (to read last weeks article on “Father! Hallowed is Your Name”, click the title in blue)

How we pray  is of great importance, and it is to this end, we look to the next section of Christ’s outline for prayer…

(Matthew 6:10) Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

As with the first verse of Jesus’ prayer instruction, where we can miss the significance of His name and its relation to our praying, we can also miss the important precept of prayer communicated in verse 10. In order to understand this truth, we must understand Christ’s position and ours in relation to each other.

From the scriptures we know that Jesus at this very moment is seated at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:1-3). We also believe that Jesus the Messiah is interceding for us before the Father and ministers as the true High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:13-25). In conjunction with His position in heaven, we understand that our Savior dwells in His manifest presence, in the midst of His church: the body of Christ (II Corinthians 6:16-18); by the Holy Spirit Jesus promises to dwell “with” and “in” every believer (John 14:21,23; Colossians 1:27). These truths are God’s reality in Christ Jesus our Lord, and in no way contradictory.

When considering our position in relation to Jesus it is important to affirm that His desire is to be “in” us, as well as having us dwell in the midst of His immeasurable person. The former takes place when we are Baptized by Christ into the Holy Spirit. The latter occurred when we received the fullness of His atoning death and resurrection on our behalf, through repentance and faith (Corinthians 12:12-14). These truths once more are in no way contradictory. Yet in regard to Jesus’ instruction to pray for His “kingdom come” and His “will be done, on earth as it is in heaven“, we need to consider one more reality of our position in Him.

(Ephesians 2:4-7) 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

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If not careful, we can read verse 7 and assume that our being seated with Christ is for a future time only. This would be a tragic error, as our being seated with Him in heavenly places is a present tense position. We understand this because the word “sit” in verse 6 is in the present tense in the scriptures original language. Therefore, not only are we in the midst of Christ on earth, as we continue to dwell in the body of Christ, we are also in Him  in heaven, as He ministers in the heavenly tabernacle.

Consider some of the implications, such as when we may sin. We already understand that in His omnipresence, our sin is committed in His sight (Psalm 51:4). Yet that is not only from the perspective of God’s omnipresence in His created universe, but from the perspective that we literally are sinning, or being carnal, or apathetic, or neglectful; as we are seated “in” Christ in heavenly places. If you are sweating a bit, so am I. Thank God for His mercy and instruction when we fall “If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:7, 9).

HOW THIS RELATES TO PRAYER

The redeemed of the Lord Jesus are in such a unique and privileged position, where we literally are able to bring God’s Kingdom to earth. One need only to have 1/2 a clue in the area of spiritual discernment, to grasp how much this world needs to encounter the kingdom of God. When Jesus walked this earth, He was and is the kingdom of God, as its only King. His first message was “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Before Jesus death He prophetically announced the reality of the kingdom of God, after He would complete His work…

(Luke 17:20-21) Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

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Simply put, Jesus’ declaration was and is fulfilled in the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Without getting into an unnecessary debate, it is enough to understand that in each believer being filled with the Holy Spirit, the kingdom of God has come. In those redeemed and full of the Holy Spirit, they literally become a highway on which King Jesus travels to manifest His resurrection power, in salvation, deliverance, sanctification, and healing. This is how the kingdom will comes and is done. Yet it is not enough to proclaim it. Bringing His will and Kingdom authority to the earth is a battle against dark and supernatural foes. We do not wrestle against them openly, but in the secret place.

(Matthew 6:6-7) But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Everyone who wants that open reward, raise your hand! But let’s remember that does not take place unless the battle is won in prayer first. Consider for just a moment the prophet Elijah (I Kings 17 through 19). In chapter 18 of I Kings, Elijah prays a simple 2 and 1/2 line prayer, which God answers with a pillar of fire from heaven in the sight of the entire nation of Israel. That sounds strikingly like an OPEN REWARD, and it was an open reward. Elijah’s confidence in God answering him was cultivated in the secret prayer relation He had with YHWH, where every need and ask was answered supernaturally. The kingdom was manifest on earth. This is how our position in Christ, seated with Him in heavenly places, relates to “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.

Prayer is not a list, but our speaking to God concerning the needs of our brethren and of those around us that are not even in the kingdom. In speaking to Abba about the need, we ask for wisdom to pray according to His will (James 1:5; I John 5:14). As we wait on Him, the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of King Jesus) reveals how the need is true in heaven. Once we know the way King Jesus sees the situation or circumstance, we pray accordingly. You’ll find the more you operate in this manner, the more supernatural answers you’ll receive; for God is not into doing things that humans produce, He does things that are uniquely Him . A practical example is in order.

Related imageLet’s consider division leading to splits in fellowship in churches, which is a major problem in the church in America.  The kingdom way to deal with this is “to let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away; with all malice as well” and “to be tenderhearted and forgiving, just as God forgave us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 4:31-32). As a pastor I have spoken that specific passage to many a soul embroiled in conflict and divisive behavior. Guess what? Often times speaking it is not enough. Therefore, we must approach Abba for power, and a pathway to have the kingdom will and power in the Ephesians verses come to earth.

We approach our Father, and speak concerning the trouble. If we do not know why the division exists, we ask for wisdom. He may reveal a hidden sin, a demonic entity seeking to wreak havoc, a lack of the fear of the LORD, a need for deep healing in one or both parties, a lack of Christian love, or the need for discipline by the Holy Spirit alone. Once we ascertain the need we ask Him to do what only He can do and avail ourselves to be of service, if He instructs. This is how the kingdom will is done on earth, as it is already done in the fellowship of the saints in heaven.

The whole point of the example is to say, its not as easy as stating the problem and asking God to do what you or I think should happen. In Christ, God literally calls on us to manifest the kingdom of God on this sin cursed earth, for His glory.

Let’s face solid truth. Christ’s kingdom and will are unopposed around His throne, where angels and powerful creatures are 100% desirous to obey and carry out God’s commands; it is their delight. Jesus Messiah is unchallenged in eternity, yet because of Satan’s rebellion, and man’s subsequent fall, all of creation has been infected with the curse that rebels against God’s rule.

(Romans 8:20-21) For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Reading the underlined portion of the passage above, it sounds an awful lot like “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done”, does it not? And although this liberty will not fully be realized until the new heavens and the new earth, God wants both His eternity and His creation to be in seamless union; this is realized in the redeemed who pray, walk by faith and seek obedience to His commands.

Have you ever considered how important our  kingdom prayer is? It is time we all do, for TIME has had its moment (in light of eternity), and one way or another God will have His sovereign rule and His glorious kingdom shining with the Love of Christ.

 

 

Posted in Matthew 6:10, on earth as it is in heaven, That kingdom come, thy will be done, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Father! Hallowed is Your Name!

Let’s be honest, we can be so familiar with the Lord’s prayer, as to run the risk of turning it into the same “vain repetitions” Jesus warned us against. Because this is a high potential, I will not assume you understand how to “pray” as Jesus taught His disciples. Let me briefly explain the method Jesus outlines for us in this very important passage of scripture. First the text from Matthew 6:9-13

9 In this manner, therefore, pray:Image result
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.

Let me begin by reaffirming that reciting this prayer from start to finish weekly in church, or even daily is not Christ’s intention. We understand that prayer is more than asking for and getting answers. Prayer is the heart of our relationship to God in Christ Jesus, and has every bit as much to do with our hearing from God, as it does us speaking to God. That reality is for another time, but sufficed to say, reciting “the Lord’s prayer” is not what Jesus had in mind. What did He have in mind?

Simply put, to provide us with a pattern, that as we wait on God He directs us concerning what to pray and how to prioritize the what under normal circumstances. In the first place, we are to be aware of the awesomeness of God as revealed in His role as our Father  (Abba). We have heard the question “What’s in a name?”. For our God and Father His character and personal relation to the crown of His creation (us) is revealed in His name. As we begin in prayer, we are to be in awe with joyful thanksgiving, as His name reveals His personal care for us. This rejoicing is then the gateway to His presence, as God sits enthroned in the praise of His people (Psalm 22:3).

Before  we look a bit further at our Father’s Hallowed name, lets remember that Jesus calls us to the secret place to pray, where we set apart the time to meditate on our God’s glory and grace to us in Christ Jesus. Setting apart this time as for God alone does not deny that there are times when we come boldly before the throne of God, to obtain mercy and grace in a time of need (Hebrew 4:15).  In spite of the need for bold and desperate prayers Jesus’ model is to be our consistent guide and we need to be deliberate and well paced, or we will miss God in our praying. Let’s consider Jesus first instruction “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your Name”.

“Hallowed” is a very interesting word for it means the name of God is set apart above all our names and profane and common things”. This is very important in understanding the name Jesus is referring to. Let us understand that the Old Testament reveals God’s character through many names…

  • (Genesis 1:1) Elohim means God
  • (Genesis 14:18) El Elyon means The Most High God
  • (Genesis 15:1) Adonai means Lord and Master
  • (Genesis 17:1) El Shaddai means the Lord God Almighty
  • (Genesis 21:33) El Olam means The Everlasting God

As magnificent as these names for God are in communicating His nature above all other gods, they do not communicate the personal nature the name Father (Abba does). It is for this reason Jesus is referring to God’s chief name in revealing Himself. That name is YHWH. This name for God is referred to by the Jewish people as “The Name”, and is unspeakable to the most Orthodox. remarkably of Jesus Christ our Lord, this is the name given to Him that is above every name, from Philippians 2:5-10, which was written by Paul (self-defined Hebrew of Hebrews), who knew the significance.

(Philippians 2:6-11) 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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The theological term for the name above every name “YHWH” is the tetragrammaton. What this name means is simply “I exist”. One may find this a bit unremarkable, but remember this is coupled with the knowledge that “I Exist” is “The Most High God” and “Lord and Master” and “The Lord God Almighty” and “The Everlasting God”. Yet when we explore further, we find “I Exist” with what follows it, we find something remarkable to guide our heart to prayer and praise….

  • (Genesis 22:14YHWH-Jirah reveals to those in the faith “I Exist to provide atonement”. This is so very important for this name was revealed to Abraham when he was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac. As the word of God records the Lord commanded him to stay his hand. He did and as Abraham earlier declared to his son “the LORD Himself will provide a sacrifice”, so “I Exist” did. Why is this important to us? It communicates the truth that from the beginning YHWH exists to Himself make atonement for the sins of man through Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 13:8).
  • (Exodus 15:26) YHWH-Rapha reveals “I Exist to heal you”. After Israel came out of Egypt God declared Himself to be the LORD that heals you. This promise to  all the faithful from both Old and New Testaments ,through the atonement of Christ in His sacrificial death. As with the previous name God giving of Himself to those who do not deserve the benefit of His presence in our lives (Isaiah 53:3; I Peter 2:22-25).
  • (Exodus 17:15) YHWH-Nissi was revealed at the conclusion of Israels defeat of the Amalekites. This name means that no matter what we face or fight again “I Exist as your banner of victory”. Simply put YHWH exists to fight our battles and bring us victory through Christ.
  • (Exodus 31:13) YHWH-Mekoddishem I am the LORD who sanctifies you. In this revelation of His character Abba reveals “I Exist to set you apart and make you holy as I am holy” This is a great relief to the sincere lover of Jesus who wants to obey and glorify Him with His life (I Thessalonians 5:23; I Peter 1:13-16).
  • (Judges 6:24) YHWH-Shalom was revealed to Gideon in a time of great anxiety. The timid man to God was called to go up against an impossible enemy and YHWH declares His name above all names is “I Exist As your peace”. This of course is repeated by Jesus in John 14:27 and repeated in the New Testaments warnings to be not anxious because Christ Himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).
  • (I Samuel 1:3) YHWH-Saboath means “I Exist as the LORD of the armies of heaven”. This is important for the armies of heaven fight on behalf of the faithful, in fact we know specifically that Jesus is the “Captain of the LORD’s hosts” (Joshua 5:13-15). Is it any wonder we find that angels minister to those who inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14).
  • (Psalm 23) YHWH-Raah The LORD is my Shepherd. Our God “Exists to personally lead us through life”.
  • (Jeremiah 23:6) YHWH-Tsidkenu What an encouraging revelation to those in exile from their country and God, because of their sin. In this passage God declares, not only will He bring a remnant back in salvation, but He Himself would be their righteousness. This name means “I Exist to be your righteousness”. Jesus of course did this through His atonement, yet this is not only position (I Corinthians 1:30), it is also practical and perfecting, as those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (the equity and character of Christ’s life) shall be filled (Matthew 5:6). Even when failing to walk righteously, by confession of the sin, we have not only a cleansing of account but also cleansing of the pattern (I John 1:9)
  • (Ezekiel 48:35) YHWH-Shammah In another prophecy concerning Israel in exile, the LORD tells them of their return to the Jerusalem, where He declares concerning the city “I Exist to dwell therein”. Now this prophecy only had partial fulfillment in their return from Babylon. Its ultimate fulfillment is on the Great Day when the throne of God and the Lamb is in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:1-5). Yet this name of God “I Exist to dwell therein” is fulfilled in His dwelling in followers of Christ through the Holy Spirit, as well as in His church (John 14:21,23; Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 2:19-22;I Peter 2:4-10). It is this last revelation in the name YHWH that makes all the rest possible.

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Let us remember that this exploration of the name of Father which is “Hallowed” is in relation to prayer. As we head into secret communion with God it is right to meditate and praise Him for His greatness revealed in His name. It is more than possible that on any particular day, life and what you have encountered will bring reverence, gratitude, praise or the fear of the Lord based on the character of Abba revealed in His great name.

At the very least we can understand through His name why it is the name above all names. All the other gods are selfish and self-serving. These false deities do not do anything that does not need coaxing from humans, and in vile and common ways at that. YHWH “I Exist” EXIST’s to give of Himself freely to any who come to Him through His Son, Who is the heir of THE NAME!. Take some time to consider how the God above all, who “holds all things together by the Word of His power”, EXISTS to bless you with His presence and love.

 

Posted in Matthew 6:9-13, The Lord's Prayer, The Name above all names, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Spectacle”

Related imageThis past Wednesday, while in prayer for one of our elders, a passage of scripture was brought forth as a direction for prayer. As the passage was read, I immediately knew the Holy Spirit had this particular word in mind for me. Below is a more extended portion of what he had read, as originally only Hebrews 10:32-36 offered.

(Hebrews 10:32-39) 32 But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33 partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 34 for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. 35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

37 “For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
38 Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”

39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

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The reason this text meant so much to me, comes down to context. The Hebrew believers were suffering more intense and consistent persecution with each passing day. They were suffering because they had not hid their faith or love for Jesus Christ. This was the very reason the devil was bearing down on them. Many of them were anxious, afraid and beginning to count the cost of following Jesus at all. In the midst of their trial the Holy Spirit admonishes them to hold fast to their faith in Christ’s finished work (confidence), because the promise is the greatest of rewards. What is that reward?

(1 John 3:1-3) 1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

In American cultural Christianity, this reward, although biblical and maybe even mouthed by many, has to a large degree been swallowed up. What has swallowed this essential “blessed hope” up, is that Christianity in America has become about self-fulfillment, self-realization and “Your Best Life Now” (to a large degree). This reality has grown to epic proportions, because for most of American history the church has not faced persecution of any real weight. But “O the times they are a “change’in”.

What would you think if I told you that the persecution of the readers of the Book of Hebrews, as well as that of the Church throughout all history, is God’s plan for His children? Though it makes little sense to my flesh, Christian suffering is within the will and plan of God. Therefore we must be appropriately equipped to endure, by focusing on our blessed hope, but also by understanding what God is accomplishing through that suffering.

Consider Jesus Himself, as described in Isaiah 53, where the entire chapter reveals the Messiah’s purpose in making atonement for the sin of all humanity. Note that this suffering was prophesied hundreds of years before it took place and that this plan existed in God’s mind “before the foundation of the world”. Reading Isaiah 53:10 makes this point, even more clear…

Isaiah 53:10 10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin,

When I think of the relationship Jesus had with the Father, where on more than one occasion the Father thundered from heaven “This is My beloved Son, I delight in Him”, It presses me towards reconciling those statements with the contents of Isaiah 53:10. The reconciliation is much more practical than we might think: God the Father was living His life through the Son; this is sort of similar to the inclination of human parents to live their desires through their children.

Many people had or have encountered selfish parents, who are either past their glory days or never had them, yet push their children into the spotlight, driving them to succeed. Although I believe this to be potentially destructive to both child and parent, it is natural for Mom’s and Dad’s to want their child be a “chip off the old block”. Our problems begin when we want our children live our dreams and aspirations, whether those are their dreams and aspirations.

Related imageWith Jesus the Son and the Father, there is no such danger, as Christ is the expressed image of His person (God’s exact image), the “God-head in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:1-3). The Christ, willing laid down His own prerogative to accomplish the Father’s will (Philippians 2:1-10). Jesus greatest joy was in making the Father known and He declared “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me” (John 14:11). Therefore, we understand Jesus was manifest in the flesh to reveal the glory of the Father. The greatest revelation of God’s glory in Christ is in the cross of Christ. This greatest revelation “pleased” our Father. This means it satisfied His justice against sin. It also pleased Him for another reason.

(Colossians  2:13-15) and you, being dead in your trespasses and the circumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven all your trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers. He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them.

How was it that Jesus made the principalities and powers a “spectacle”? The wording itself declares, that He made a public “exhibit” of His power over them, in His death and resurrection.

How was this ultimately accomplished? It was accomplished in Jesus being made a humiliating “spectacle” of suffering for all to see. God showed off His power, glory, mercy, justice, redemption and love for all men, through His Son’s great suffering. Wow.

In light of our passage from Hebrews this has very practical and significant meaning for us.

(Hebrews 10:32-39) 32 But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33 partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 34 for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.

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Above we can see once more the word “spectacle”. In Hebrews 10:33 the word is a little more nuanced than Colossians 2:15. It does mean to be exhibited, but as criminal for the crowds in a theater or arena to watch, as the criminal suffered; think of gladiators suffering for the delight of blood thirsty Romans. This illustration aids our understanding. Just as Jesus suffered as a condemned criminal for us, we are seen as criminals on His behalf, before a hostile and perishing world that hates us. Whereas His death justifies us, our suffering for Him, in the Spirit’s power, pronounces His glory to all creation.

Is it too much for us to believe our suffering vindicates Jesus before the world of men? Is shocking that in suffering for the testimony of Christ, by the fullness of the Holy Spirit, God’s glory and gospel are revealed better than when we are in no pain at all?

(*Consider Paul’s understanding of this truth II Corinthians 4:7-12).

God our Father proudly displays those who truly follow Christ, in front of the watching world, to prove the testimony of the Messiah by their…

  • Enduring great sufferings of reproaches and tribulation for Jesus name in faithfulness.
  • Identifying with and supporting those who are being persecuted, by ministering to them in their suffering, which means to open themselves up to suffer as well.
  • Identifying with and supporting those who are being persecuted, by giving whatever they have on hand materially, even if it means they are without what ever is basic to their needs.

In light of these truths, are prepared for what our redemption calls us too? Do we have the same heart and mindset of Paul; “to live is Christ and to die is gain”? Maybe the most necessary question is how do we get to that place in our life, when it seems to be what God requires of the recipients of His grace?

My encouragement to you: don’t try to conjure up faith that laughs in the face of fear; I’m not sure that even exists. Remember if we are truly in Christ, the measure of faith needed already exists within the heart of every believer; it simply may need to be unlocked with love.

What do I mean? Simply put, our endurance is directly related to how much faith we express in trusting God’s word in the midst of suffering. The expression of that faith in endurance is directly related to how much we love Jesus. How much we love Jesus is directly related to how much we know God loves us. In order to endure suffering fix your eyes on Jesus, who is the manifestation of God’s love.

Take your eyes off the T.V.

Take your eyes off the computer or wireless phone

Take your eyes off your desires

Take your eyes off your fears

TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS 24/7

(Hebrews 12:2) looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy before Him, endured the cross. despising the shame, ad is sat down at the right hand of the right hand of the throne of God.

Posted in author and finisher of our faith, Hebrews 10:32-39, Looking unto Jesus, Spectacle for God, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Andrew Murray on Revival

2700Below are two extended quotes by Andrew Murray (1828 to 1917) from his book entitled “Revival”.  Murray was South African writer, teacher, and Christian pastor who believed the “Great Commission” as given by Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is the chief end of the church.  During his life and ministry, he personally witnessed the revival of the church in South Africa, as it began in his congregation. Murray has written many classic Christian works, on healing, ministry and most famously prayer. His book “With Christ in the School of Prayer” is a must read for every follower of Jesus. His writing here needs no further comment from me, but feel free to comment on what you read below.

“If revival is to come — greater, deeper, broader than any that has yet been — one great part of its powers will be in the conviction it will bring.  Many of us will be convicted of the sin and shame of all the carnal ease, and comfort, and self-indulgence in which we have been living — while the dying, perishing world that has been given into our charge was waiting for us, and the infinite love that had entrusted self to us was mourning that we were to slow to go and tell of it.  The conviction of sin must be greater, deeper, broader than we have known it.  Judgment will have to begin at the house of God.  The great deep will have to be broken up.  The formality and the worldliness, the selfishness and self-confidence, and the self-complacency of much of our Christianity will have to be revealed in the light of the actual life, worship, devotion, and self-sacrifice in the power of the Spirit to which God has called us.

Above all, the sin of having had the love of God to the world given into our hearts for the one purpose of communicating it, and then having congratulated ourselves on the small gifts of silver or gold for which we sought to commute our personal service, will become such a burning thing that our penitent confession and our cry for deliverance will work and entire revolution.  We shall indeed yield ourselves and wait on the Holy Spirit to work the life of Christ Jesus in us that, even as He, each of us in our measure may live exclusively for the glory of God in the salvation of the lost.Image result for andrew murray Revival

The sin of this neglect in the church of God — in not accepting and proclaiming this great “whosoever” (to whomever will receive the gospel) of God’s love, in not living to make God’s love known — has had and is having such appalling consequences that even Christians fail to realize what is meant.  We are told that every year there are thirty million unbelievers passing away into utter darkness.  We count up those years and think how this has been going on through the ages since Christ gave the great command to His church as its watchword.

The mind refuses to comprehend it.  It is as if this wonderful love of God might have interfered, might have done more.  It looks as if it is to awful to put upon the church, upon us Christians of today too, the burden and the guilt of these perishing multitudes.  And yet it is so.  The Father in His love gave the Son to reveal it on earth.  The Son committed it to His disciples, to His body, the church, with a charge as plain as words can make it.  Carry that love to every creature, to all nations, to the ends of the earth.  That was the one thing the church was sent into the world to do — even as He had been sent, and for nothing else.

It is due to nothing but selfishness, unfaithfulness, and neglect on the part of the church that this holy mission has no yet been accomplished.  More than one person has said: ‘We have been playing at missions.’  And yet how we congratulate ourselves on all the wakened missions interest!  And all the while the number of believers who really follow in the footsteps of Christ — counting their joy to give their whole heart and strength, to live and die, whether in prayer or in work, for the glory of God in the salvation of others — is so small” (pg. 68-70).

Murray also continues…

41+CIdNQy+L._SY346_“The question will be asked, and is most needful and natural that it should be asked: How is it, if God really meant His children thus to bring His love to their fellowman in the way Christ brought it — by living and dying for it — how is it that the church has failed so terribly?  Does God’s Word actually teach and claim such entire devotion?  Is it indeed an attainable degree of grace, a state that can actually be realized?  Or must we take into account the weakness of the human nature, and consider the present state of the church as all that could really be expected?  We must indeed take into account the weakness of human nature, but only in a much greater degree than is usually done.

It must be seen that human weakness is such utter impotence that it makes the life of God on earth an utter impossibility except as the supernatural power of the working of God’s Spirit is waited on and experienced.  And if the question be again asked how it is, God’s Spirit is not more sought and known,  the answer leads us again to what we have called the root evil of the low estate of the church.  It is because God’s wonderful commands and promises are all understood and accepted in a certain human sense, not in their divine quickening meaning and power”(.pg 68-70).

May God quicken our heart, mind and soul to the leading of the Holy Spirit as He directs us unto taking up the ministry and cross of Jesus, until the whole world hears!!!

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The End of The World… and I Feel Fine!

end of worldLast week in a House of Representative hearing, the U.S. Congress learned that North Korea is capable of an EMP attack on the United States. An EMP attack (electro magnetic pulse) would occur if a nuclear missile or nuclear bomb device is detonated hundred of miles above the United States. In this kind of attack, the immediate fiery and destructive force of the blast is contained in space, but the EMP produced would hit the country, frying everything electrical. In essence, the nation would instantly be living in the dark, with little hope of recovering electrical power, within a year, if ever.

Under these conditions, there would be no water, sanitation, or delivery systems being that they all function with electricity. Hospitals would be useless, as well as first responders, as their transportation would be lost. The rank and file populace can forget about driving off to escape to Canada, for all vehicles within the EMP blast zone will never work again. Within a week the food supply will be gone through looting and rioting, because with no media, there will be no way to bring calm to the populace. Congress was told that within a year 90% of the population would be dead; that means 297,000,000 Americans would most likely die. The U.S. population would shrink to 33,000,000 people. If a solution is not proffered within that first year, millions more would die in the following year.

When I consider this scenario, I am more than momentarily unsettled. Like the picture above I want to run and get to some safe island with my wife, five children and my brother’s and sisters in Christ. The question which brings me back to reality is where in the world would we go?

Death through famine and war abound around the globe, there is rising satanic and bestial human behavior on every continent. Since the August 23, 2017 solar eclipse (less than 2 months ago), there have been four catastrophic hurricanes, more than a few major life taking earthquakes. The world has experienced many volcanic eruptions, including the possibility of the eruption of the Yellowstone super volcano, which could send the world into a volcanic winter. It would appear there is a distinct possibility Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:6-8 are  coming to pass…

“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 with rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these things are the beginnings of the sorrows.”

There are two key elements, aside from the list of troubling things Jesus itemizes, which we must address. The first is that the catastrophic evens and rumors of them are “the beginning of the sorrows”. The second is that we are not supposed to be troubled by any of them.

In considering the phrase “the beginning of the sorrows”, we understand it to be a reference to child birth. The “beginning of the sorrows” is the time from a woman’s first contraction, which is uncomfortable (and a sign of greater discomfort), until the contractions (very painful) right before the baby comes down the birth canal. Similarly, the events Jesus mentioned in “the beginning of the sorrows”, become more intense, painful, frequent and consistent the closer they come to the big event. This of course suggests that as intense an anxiety causing current events are, they will become even more terrifying, as we come closer to the time of tribulation Jesus spoke of following the “beginning of the sorrows”. This brings us to  the second element of Jesus words.

woman-in-labor-pregnancy-humorIn the midst of speaking of things which would cause the Incredible Hulk to being fearful, Jesus instructs us “See that you are not troubled”. This instruction is remarkable, even for born again men, because of what the word troubled means in the Greek language; “to make no outcry”. Placing the word in the context of child birth, it would  be like the doctor commanding the mother giving birth “Stop crying out in pain, you wimp, no fear and no pain in the midst of your birth, be quiet or smile”. My wife gave birth to 5 children and I would never have suggested anything remotely close to that.

Yet Jesus is telling us, don’t do what is natural in the fear and pain. Jesus tells us not to cry out in fear or in pain, nor try to avoid either by running away. I must admit, when I think on the events in Matthew 24, as well as recent current events, my humanity not only wants to cry out in fear, but it wants to run and hide all that is important to me. Yet, in my born again spirit, soul and body, a different desire rises within me, prompting me not to run away, but toward my God.

(Psalm 91:1-3) He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor the arrow that flies by day, Nor the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noon day.

It is only in His presence we can truly find peace. In this truth we must take our fear of what is to come, and bring it to the LORD Himself. This is what sets us apart from others in practical every day life. It is not that we are fearless, or that the problems of the world do not have the potential to trouble us (there is much to fear), but that in fearful and troubling circumstances we have a guarantee of real peace from God Himself.

(Isaiah 26:3) You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on you.

(John 14:27) Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

(Philippians 4:6-7) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God, and the peace that passes understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

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In the troubling times which are sure to come, the peace we are given is not some ethereal haze of numbness. Our peace is a confidence and freedom from fear and anxiety, based on the solid promise of the word of God. All of this is brought to us by the Holy Spirit, as we surrender to His will.  Consider the three Hebrew young men, who were given a command to worship an idol. Think of the potential pain, and anxiety arising from the thought of being placed in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3). These men knew their refusal to follow the kings command would lead to their death, still they had confidence in God’s promise. Read their confidence birthed in the secret place, being spoken for all to hear “…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king (Daniel 3:17-18)”. Whether rescued or not, they would be no slaves to fear or faithlessness.

In spite of the rising intensity and consistency of catastrophic events, we are called to run to the presence of God. In spite of the growing satanic hatred, which seeks to slaughter His beloved like sheep, we are to cast our care and anxiety on Him, for the peace that passes understanding. In spite of the increasing risk in America against followers of Christ for our faith, we are called to trust in the promise of God. If we continue to live, it is all for Christ’s sake, no matter the consequence. If we die, it is for our gain, for we will be with Christ. Therefore our desire is that whether by life or death Christ is magnified (Philippians 1:20-23). These are the promises which bring us peace in the midst of that which terrifies the world around us.

As we run to the secret place of the Most High in the troubling events of this life, we gaze at Jesus and strengthen our motive and gain fuel for the privilege of suffering on His behalf (Philippians 1:29). This is why Jesus called us not to be troubled;the world around us will lose its mind, while ours is kept in peace by the Holy Spirit of God. When troubling seasons arise, then the people around us will truly see the love of God and the peace of Christ, as we worry not about death, famine, catastrophic death, wars or suffering; but with confidence, love, hope and joy we look to our eternal future which is guaranteed.

(Titus 2:11-14) For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify His own special people, zealous for good works.

(I John 3:2-3) Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Fear of what is coming is a defiling spiritual toxin that can only be cleansed by our hope in Christ’s return, as we live in the light of that hope. It is that hope that enables us to continue in faith when the unbearable has come upon us. One need only to look to the persecuted Church to see that, for wherever the persecuted church is living in light of this hope of Christ’s return, the unbelieving world around them continue to see the power of God. As proof of this manifested truth, multitudes are running to Christ from the perishing world.

5714033_keep_calm_j_e_s_u_s_is_comingIsn’t it time the perishing see the peace of Christ in us rather than political and cultural panic? No matter what the peril, we must face it with Christ. We must allow Him to be seen through us in the common suffering of the nation in which we live, as well as the suffering we will face due to our hope in Christ alone. Remember that Christ manifest through our lives is the only antidote to the selfish and unholy demise of humanity. He is love, peace, power, joy, hope and life. We can give them this gift.

Trust the Lord, and whether it be an EMP attack, hurricane, earthquake, war or persecution to wipe us out His bride, run to the secret place of the Most High. Here His voice.

(Isaiah 41:10) Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes I help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

 

 

Posted in I John 3:2-3, Isaiah 26:3, It's the end of the world as we know it, John 14:27, Keep Calm, Matthew 24:6-8, Philippians 4:6-7, Psalm 91, the Blesed Hope, the peace of God, Titus 2:11-14, Uncategorized | Leave a comment