`Messages’ (Devotions)

CONTENTS

On Being Hypocrites

What Price Will You Pay (to See Someone Healed)?

The Devil is Not Your Friend

Catch up with Teonna (Sermon)

Red Words

“Come Up Hither!” (The `Rapture’)

On Fasting

Jesus Coming Back

`Snakes’

Heaven or Hell (or Earth)?

Normal Christianity?

The Circle of the Earth

He Spat

A Dove?

Wanton

I found something

All, or Some?

Learning to FLy

 

On Being Hypocrites

Definition of … (a hypocrite)

1. a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion

2. a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

Mark 2:3-12 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. … He (Jesus) saith to the sick of the palsy, … I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

What do you mean `take up my bed and walk?!!! … can’t you see I’ve got the palsy (I’m paralyzed)? … that’s why they brought me in on a stretcher, and lowered me through the roof!

John 5 … Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, … called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

I keep trying to get to that `magical’ pool …

I’ve been this way for 38 years, and you want me rise up, pick up my bed, and just start walking?!!!

Can’t you see I’m paralyzed!!!

I was hoping you’d do something magical? … you’d lay your hands on me, and I’d feel `all better’ … or I’d go home and wake up some time … `healed’

I don’t feel a bit different, and you want me to take rise up, take my bed, and walk?!!!

 

God wants us to take ACTION!

 

the pattern in the Bible is one in which the action is in contradiction to our feeling, or our stated belief (especially about our condition).

… if our stated belief, our inward thought, is in contradiction to God’s directive, His Word … He is asking us to be hypocrites …

 

… what belief has YOU paralyzed?!!!

 

Luke 17Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.

 

Aren’t you going to heal me first?  I’d be a hypocrite to start walking, pretending to be healed, still with leprosy … ” “No, you have hypocrisy all wrong … I want you to be a hypocrite with respect to being a lifelong leper!  Start walking … start acting like I’ve healed you!”

 

hypocrite 2. a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

 

Luke 12an angel of the Lord appeared … He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.

(you) stand up! … and your chains will fall off!

They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it.

(you) start walking … and see what opens up.

Joel 3:10  Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong!

not `feel’ strong … SAY, I am strong!

 

But you don’t understand, I’m sick! … I’m weak!

I’ve been sick so long that even when I start to feel better, I act and talk like I’m still sick. It’s my inward thought.

God wants me to be a Hypocrite!

By His Stripes I was Healed! … By His Stripes I AM healed!

The Church prayed for me … laying on of hands!!!

What am I waiting for?

I’m waiting to feel different … I’m waiting to think I’m healed … I’m waiting for something magical, or MEDICAL, to happen.

That’s not what God is after!

It goes something like this: we get all excited about following God, being a `believer’, and then something happens … a divorce, an illness, something someone says (or does) to us … and we allow it to change our inward thought, our deep-down belief.  We no longer believe we’re `eligible’ for God’s grace, miracles … and we support our belief by our feelings, circumstances. We’re stuck. In a rut. We know God can do something for us, but we’re stuck. It’s just too big!

God wants us to step out in ACTION. Faith is obedience … faith is `action’.

God does His `MIRACLE’ as we take the step.

Faith isn’t something we feel; it’s something we take action on.

It’s called the `ACTS’ of the Apostles … the ACTIONS of the Early Church.

Not the emotions of the Early Church, or the `past lives’ of the Early Church, but their ACTIONS!

 

To whom, or what, are you being authentic? If in your inward thoughts, or your testimony, you are being true to something other than what God says about you …You need to change, repent! …

 

hypocrite: 2. a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

 

You need to be a hypocrite.

there is no virtue in being authentic to (agreeing with) sickness, defeat, inferiority, infirmity!

 

But you don’t understand … I’m broken … WHO ISN’T (or WASN’T)! The Saints of the Bible weren’t Saints before they got saved and started taking Action … they started acting in contradiction to their former lives, their `old man’ thoughts and feelings, and DID THINGS!

But, I’m divorced!” … “I’ve been abused” …”

All those heroes in the Bible … those Early Church Christians … who did those mighty acts … guess what! … you don’t think each one of them had problems, history, stuff they had to `walk out of’???!!!

 

Daniel 11:32 For the people who know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.

 

There are times when I don’t feel like I’m an overcomer. God invites me to be a hypocrite, and believe that I AM (an overcomer).

There are times when I don’t feel like I’m healed … God says, `take up thy bed and walk’!

 

2 Kings 5 Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper. And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.” …

v. 8 (Elisha) … let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”

Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.

I thought something `magical’ would happen … I thought he’d put his hands of me and I’d feel different … or, `poof’ … the leprosy would be (instantly) gone!!!

v. 13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

 

Act like it … put on an `ACT’ … do the ACTIONS … play the part. Put on the NEW YOU! Do it.

Be a hypocrite if necessary!

… and see what happens!” 🙂 🙂 🙂 … see what God does!

 

JRF

 

+++++

 

What Price Will You Pay (to See Someone Healed)?

 

Matthew 17:21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Let’s read the whole thing …

14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. […]

19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

 

Mark 9 recounts basically the same event.

 

Let’s look at this, I see several things … 1) disciples attempted, and couldn’t do it; 2) Jesus addresses the crowd … `faithless and perverse generation’… 3) Jesus appears to cast out the devil with ease. 4) As to why His disciples couldn’t do it … Jesus answers … `because of your unbelief’. 5) … but then there’s verse 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

 

So, what’s the answer? UNBELIEF? … or Is / was prayer and fasting necessary?

 

Possible Answers:

1) Yes! Well, maybe! It doesn’t appear that Jesus stopped to pray and fast before casting out the devil. So, maybe not. After all, He is the Son of God. … So, maybe everyone except Jesus will need to pray and fast to cast this kind out. For Jesus it was `easy’, normal … 

2) Jesus was saying it in `jest’. “You people think this takes prayer and fasting.” This makes some sense from the explanation he gives his disciples … `because of your unbelief’. Simply `speak it’ … to the mountain, to the devil. `mustard seed’ … Jesus is basically saying … if you hand any faith AT ALL! …

3) Or, Jesus prayed and fasted … previously. Maybe the night before? Maybe ongoing prayer and fasting. A life of prayer. One might think that if anyone didn’t need to pray, that it would be the `Son of God’. Yet we have record of Jesus praying, sometimes all night.

 

Maybe that type of faith spawns only from prayer and fasting. Even for Jesus.

 

Jesus made the supernatural look easy. But was it? What price did He pay?

 

Was it because He was `The Son of God’? … or because HE PRAYED AND FASTED?

 

Though He is the Son of God’ … though He was BORN of God … and though He was Baptized in the Holy Ghost! … IT STILL TOOK PRAYER AND FASTING!!!

 

Maybe that’s why we can’t hardly do anything, compared to Jesus … Jesus was born of God … SO ARE WE! … Jesus was Baptized in the Holy Spirit … SO ARE WE? … Jesus prayed and fasted, some times ALL NIGHT. … DO WE???!!!

 

I like the `simply speak’ part … but it doesn’t work for me like it did for Him. It doesn’t work for me like it did for the disciples of the Early Church. Why? Hmmmm. Maybe I’m not paying the price, of prayer and fasting.

 

If Jesus needed to pray and fast … how can I avoid it?

 

Getting baptized in the Holy Ghost is relatively easy … someone lays hands on you, you open your mouth, and there you go! It’s a gift! (He’s a Gift.) But maybe that’s not all that’s expected.

 

Maybe BHS is basically entrance to Basic Training, with a Personal Trainer. HS is our Drill Sargent. Boot Camp. Let the pain begin.

 

What price will you pay to see people healed? What price will you pay see to be able to cast out demons?

 

Will you advise a person go see a doctor, letting them know you will `pray for them’? Will you cover the cost of the `doctor’s visit’? Will you cover their health insurance? … or maybe the co-pay?

 

What price will you pay for your own health? Are you willing to pay the price to cast the demons of sickness and disease out of your own life? Out of the life of another?

Are you willing to Fast and Pray? … or maybe just Fast? … or maybe even stop eating and drinking the things that are killing you?!!!

 

but I don’t yet operate like a disciple of the Early Church.  … WHY???!!!

 

What price am I going to pay to see those kind of things?

 

Could you not pray with me one hour?!!! (Matthew 26:40-45)

 

+++++

 

The Devil is Not Your Friend

God planted a garden … the Garden of Eden.

He put man in it, to tend and keep it.

Gen. 1: 31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good …

Gen. 2:16, 17 … Of every tree of the garden though mayest freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, though shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely diei.

Gen. 3:1- … And he (the serpent) said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

v.2 And the woman said … We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the Garden. But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die

I propose that, regardless of what we say we believe, we have an inward predominant thought, or set of thoughts, that is, are, deeply flawed. We believe God is mean, and we can be friends with the devil. We hide from God (Gen. 3:8), but converse freely with the serpent, devil, demons (Gen. 3:2 …). Though God has given us everything! … we believe He is holding back, He is not enough. We believe God is `controlling’ … and the devil offers freedom, liberty!

He gave man Planet Earth, dominion over it, in a state of fruitfulness, and abundance. He gave Adam and Eve an awesome vocation … taking care of God’s Garden. Full benefits; full stipend. “While you’re tending my Garden, feel free to eat of any of the trees … Oh, except for that one.”

God was looking out for them. “Life will be a whole lot better for you if you don’t eat of that one.”

Serpent comes along … tells us God is limiting us, holding back on us, being `stingy’ on us. God is being `controlling’, a tyrant.

Eve corrects the serpent at first, but gets confused. She believes they aren’t even to `touch’ the tree.

Here we (you and I) are. We are dropped into a world already full of good and evil. And our daily lives require, for the most part, exposure to it.

And where do our minds go? We look at our circumstances, and believe there’s lack in our life with God. God is holding back. Life is no longer good, but a struggle. Even the good things (the other trees) God has given us, … we think are bad. Not enough. The tree we’re not supposed to eat looks good. We go back and forth. Oops … we think about it. We `contemplate’ what the devil offers.

God didn’t say not to `touch’ the tree. I dare say that in `tending and keeping it’ they would at times necessarily touch it. What God warned about was us eating of the tree. What does this mean?

In our daily lives we touch the world. It’s unfortunate, perhaps, but it’s the world we are in. Maybe our job is particularly `worldly’ or has worldly elements. Maybe our roommate is particularly worldly. We touch it all day long. But we cling to Jesus to stay clean. We get washed by His Word. We get washed by the fellowship with other believers. We are saved, and kept, by His Grace.

But, like Adam and Eve, we are tricked into `just taking a little bite’ … of … evil. I don’t get the impression they ate the whole tree. Nor do I get the impression the devil was saying `eat it all!’. We think that just a few minutes of that movie, or YouTube video, or that website … just a little `taste’ would be okay. Evil cozies up to us; we cozy up to it. We stop talking with God, and have another conversation, in our head, or with the serpent (or at least a set of his lies). We think about it. We convince ourselves we need a bit of indulgence. God wants us to be `happy’, doesn’t He? We take a bite, and now we are bit. We are poisoned.

The devil is not our friend!

God is our friend.

We need to stop believing the lies that God is holding out on us … that God is just waiting to punish us … that God is `testing’ us … just waiting for a slip-up.

God is Love; He is generous; He’s pulling for us; He’s given us everything we need!

The devil, enemy, Satan, is not our friend! He’s trying to KILL us.

We necessarily touch the world … good and evil … but we are not to EAT it. We may have to `touch’ it in life – but it is not our life. The knowledge of good and evil, the experience (just a little bit) of sin, IS SO HARMFUL!!! It poisons us.

We cannot sit around and feel sorry for ourselves that people in the world get to enjoy the delicacies of sin, while we believe we live in poverty with God. LIES!!!

God gave us HIMSELF, JESUS, for us to EAT for life. “Take this, this is my body!”

We need to retrain our brains, correct our inward thoughts … God is for us; God blesses us; He holds back nothing!!! The devil, on the other hand, wants to kill us … he rejoices in our suffering … (he laughs at our stupidity) … sure, he has temporary `taste good’ or `feel good’ items, but they bring death. And he blocks us from the truly good gifts from above! Or our negative thinking blocks us from those gifts (unbelief). Or both!

Let’s believe God; get our life from God!

 

Catch Up with Teonna (Sermon)

Men’s Meeting (Luncheon)

April 29, 2023

Voice of Truth Church

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me speak what you want said, and help us hear what you want heard, in Jesus’ Name.

OPENING TIDBIT: … I love moments of clarity. Riding my bike this morning … let’s say your doctor tells you that you have a vitamin D deficiency. Well, …

1) spend more time out in the Sun

2) take a vit D supplement

3) change your diet

wishing it go away won’t do it. I dare say that `praying’ won’t make it go away.

You’ll need to do some, maybe all, of the above, and stick with it.

Of course I’m not going to talk to you today about Vit D. I’m going to talk to you about being MEN.

If the Great Physician shows you some deficiencies … wishing them away probably won’t do … I dare say prayer alone won’t do it. You are going to have to pray a price, do the work, for change.

Starting the Christian Life … being `born again’ … was free … maybe also some bottle-fed milk as a baby Christian … but growing as a Christian Man is going to cost.

+++++

TEONNA

I REALLY LIKE what’s going on in TEONNA’S LIFE. I don’t know her very well, or her background … but looks like she’s having a good, what I assume is, a second run. She’s gonna finish well. MEN … we need to catch up with Teonna!

[the Pastor] … said it on Wednesday: if God can’t find a good man, He’ll use a woman!

The other day Linda was walking around listening intently to something on her EAR-pad … I assumed she was feeding her addiction to CSI:Miami … CSI: Chicago … CSI: Pell City … I gave her a hard time about it – only to find out she was listening to the … Nehemiah! … The BIBLE!

Oops …

We have some highly spiritual women in this Church … but spirituality is not to be left up to the women …

we need to catch up,

we need more highly spiritual MEN in this church!

>>> THE LADDER <<<

GOD-MAN JESUS, SON OF GOD, SON OF MAN

Huios Anthropos … the Real Deal … the exact Image of the Father … my Lover and King!

MAN OF GOD MOSES, ELIJAH

MAN OF WAR KING DAVID

SOLDIER FOR CHRIST APOSTLE PAUL

MEN SOLDIERS GENERAL PATTON

MAN’S MAN MY DAD

`run of the mill’ man normal, neither HOT nor cold

CIVILIZED man … lots of us

DOMESTICATED man some of us … TV commercials

ABDICATING man sometimes

EFFEMINATE MAN wimps, … white men on tv, media … men as `morons’

Men in traditional women’s jobs

Women filling Men’s jobs

Women Executives

Men in women’s clothing

Men in women’s BATHROOMS …

Men in women’s sports

Men undergoing surgery to become women.

NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING A WOMEN … unless you’re a MAN!

As men we are to be `Providers’ … and `Protectors

PROVIDE … 1st for our own needs, and

2nd the needs of others.

→ your spouse …

→ family … your wife and kids …

→ providers in the community.

in our society, typically involves getting a job

working a farm … `

→ catching a deer’ …

→ butchering a cow

Every year Linda tasks me with getting a certain number of deer … “Yes Maam!” … I try hard … I’m a numbers man, I found out I spend 40 hours per deer … are you kidding me! BORING! … I decided to read my Bible out there … … hate to know how many deer have walked by … at least I got good Bible reading in.

If I’m not successful with the deer, that’s when butchering (one of Linda’s favorite) comes in.

BUT as Christian Men, we are also to provide SPIRITUAL FOOD.

What is spiritual food? … the BREAD OF LIFE, JESUS.

It’s not the Pastor’s job to feed your family spiritual food. Okay, on Wednesdays and Sundays you `go out to eat’ … but the rest of the week it’s on YOU …

The Pastor provides an overall spiritual covering for this Church … But there are GAPS … that we MEN need to fill.

HOW???

… THE WORD … JESUS IS THE WORD.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS GOD.

GET INTO THE WORD!!!

BENEFITS!

1. … we get knowledge, wisdom, light, truth, guidance

Ps. 119:105 … Thy word(… WORD, SAY IT!)

is a lamp(… LAMP, SAY IT!)unto my feet

and a light(… LIGHT, SAY IT!)unto my path

2. LIFE!, Eternal Life!

John 6:68 … Peter said … you have the words of Life!

I have been sick the past couple years … some days it’s only been a MORSEL of Bread (of LIFE) from the Word … that’s kept me going.

3. We get more Holy, Ready, Pleasing to God … Righteous Living …

Jer. 23:29 Is not my Word like a Fire (FIRE, SAY IT)!

(for cleansing/purification)

I’m still trying to figure out all this `Rapture’ stuff … one thing for sure … I want to be part of the Bride! … … I don’t want to be `left behind!’

EMBRACE THE FIRE!!! … INGEST the FIRE!

4. Use in Battle! … sword, hammer!

and like a Hammer (HAMMER, SAY IT!), that breaketh the rock in pieces!

Victory over strongholds, the devil, demons, problems, addictions …

5. Victory over sin …

Ps. 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy Word.

v. 11 Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

having trouble with sin in your life? … CAN’T QUITE GET FREE???!!!

Praying, and still struggling? Asking the H.S. for help, … asking the Pastor for help? …

and still struggling?

GET MORE WORD … JESUS … in your life.

DISPLACE THE DEVIL, THE FLESH, WITH JESUS … THE WORD!

+++++

Linda and I follow (as we can) a Missionary in Mexico …

1. he reads the entire Bible front to back 5 times a year

2. he reads the entire NT at least once a week

3. has grown (from nothing … ) to a ministry that has grown to overseeing over thousands of churches covering every continent …

4. he spends half his life in prayer and fasting

Jeff: “I’m too busy just helping Linda with our farm to do all that!”

oh, oops … 5. he has a farm so he can feed the poor … (there are lots of poor people in Mexico)

At last count he has raised 39 (SAY IT!) people from the dead.

What’s my excuse?

RED WORDS

Linda and I … 2nd marriage for both of us. Combined … a century of Christian teaching … but very DIFFERENT Christian teachings. As we came together, we had (and still have) some rather `spirited’ conversations about what `I’ believe versus what `you’ believe …

Finally, I said … “What does JESUS say? What does the WORD say? Let’s go to the Source!” So, we picked up the NT, and read ONLY the red words (and just enough adjacent to get context). We committed to suspend what we had previously been taught about Christianity … and started a journey …

It went like this: …

1) Linda would read ALOUD!, and I would listen …

2) we’d talk about what we read

3) and we’d then try and live it.

If you have never done something like this … I invite you to (do it)!

(She came around … )

Rev. 1:3 (NIV) Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it […] and take to heart what is written in it,

BLESSED … (SAY IT!)

is the one who reads … (SAY IT!)

ALOUD (SAY IT!)

ALOUD! … not to yourself! … ALOUD … so someone else can hear it!

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God … hearing because someone was saying it.

Doesn’t say faith comes by reading … reading silently, to yourself, thinking about it …

maybe `study to show thyself approved’ is `to yourself’ … but the Bible talks about READING, ALOUD … and HEARING.

… it says ALOUD!!!

The Bible is LOUD! …

Ps. 149:5-6 Let the saints … SING ALOUD upon their beds … let the HIGH PRAISES of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.

LOUD … So you’re spouse (children, brother, sister) can hear it … so God can hear it … so demons can hear it. So you can hear it.

so it’s not just a silent little thought (hidden) in your head, but something that resonates in the ears of others, resonates in things, and in you!

… blessed are those who hear it (SAY IT!)

You want to bless your family … let them hear you read the Bible.

Reading and Hearing is POWERFUL.

TIDBIT: the next time you have to memorize a number or a word or phrase, say, a security code for online banking, or whatever, don’t just `read it’ (silently, to yourself) … SAY IT, OUT LOUD … and in so doing you’ll also HEAR IT. Instead of it being just in your `mind’, it will be in your ears, and whole body. You will better remember it because you `heard’ it.

MEN, TAKE THE INITIATIVE!

Let your legacy be that your kids remembering that you read the BIBLE OUT LOUD to them …

don’t just hand them a `smartphone’ and assume they’ll be smart with it.

>>> THE WORD AND THE HOLY SPIRIT <<<

John 14:26 … But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

we need to have heard it … to get it remembered. It needs to be inside of us already.

The DISCIPLES had three years of teaching … hearing Jesus’ WORDS … then the HS came.

We gotta give the HS something to work with.

I have often been fascinated with the early life of Jesus

He didn’t just get “beamed down” here at age 30, and start ministering …

He spent 30 years … doing what?!!! What was going on?!!!

… his Momma read the Bible (our OT) to him when he was young.

And once he could read, he read it.

And he’d talk to others about it.

He didn’t just spend 30 years playing video games, waiting.

He was GETTING READY!

In all things He was tempted, tested, as we … that means He had to embrace `Christian Disciplines’ also.

I proposed that He had to get the Word in Him just like you and I are expected to. (But, you say, “He was God!” Yeah, but He emptied Himself of His Divinity to become a human, like us.)

Holy Living

Getting filled with the Word of God

… READY to be used by God!

Ready for that day He would get the B.H.S.

HE GAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT SOMETHING TO WORK WITH!

We gotta give the Holy Spirit something to work with.

Gotta have something for the HS to bring to remembrance.

are we going to pay the price, do the work?

… of giving Him something to work with?!!!

Where are you on the LADDER?

Are you climbing up? … or stepping down?

Left to myself, I tend to step down, … abdicate, draw into myself, stop initiating … (way easier)

Are you embracing your calling as a man, or shrinking from it?

2 Sam 23:20 … Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, … slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down … and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow:

Climbed down into a pit and slew a lion … on a snowy day … huh???

Why not just stand on top and shoot arrows?

Was it Godly?

Was it Spiritual?

Was it the `right’ thing to do?

IT WAS THE MANLY THING TO DO!

Was it `in the Bible’ (to do it)?

No, but it was in the Bible AFTER he did it!!!

David’s Mighty Men …

Stupid? Risky? Right or Wrong? … MANLY!!!!

Proverbs 22:13: The slothful man saith, there is a lion without; I shall be slain in the streets.

Are we `practical’, `domesticated’, `fearful’, `slothful’??? … or do we get up from out tv, out into the street, and take on the lions?

Yeah, there IS a lion in the streets … at least one roaring like a lion.

What are WE (ME|N!) GONNA DO???!!!

Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Daniel 11:32 … but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.

King David … Did MANLY things … fought God’s enemies! … A WARRIOR!

Fought and Killed the Giant

Fought and Killed the Lion, and the Bear!

WHAT FOR? … protected the sheep! (natural)

… Protected God’s People!!!

2 Sam. 10:12 (NIV) Be strong (SAY IT!) and let us fight bravely (SAY IT!) for our people and the cities of our God.

Get out there on POINT! … at the front of the BATTLE!

Men, we need to be STRONG, and fight! … there’s a devil tearing things up … IN THIS CHURCH … tearing up VOT.

(We Were Soldiers)

Col. Hal Moore, Ia Drang Valley, Viet Nam, Nov. 1965 … surrounded by the enemy, and taking heavy casualties, called by his superiors to leave the battlefield

I am in a fight! I will not leave my men on this battlefield.

Where are you on the `Man’ ladder?

>>> SPIDER BITE! <<<

Linda and I get along great, almost 100 percent of the time. Even when we don’t agree on something … we disagree agreeably. One day, and it’s VERY RARE, I was upset with her. We were still talking, but barely. In the spirit our relationship was broken at my end. Even if only for a few hours …

that was the day (hour) that she got bit by a brown recluse spider. Almost killed her! Game over. (I’m told that the brown recluse bite can be worse than a rattlesnake bite.)

Was it MY fault? Did I give the enemy opportunity to attack my wife?

Idk, but what I do know, is that I CAN NEVER LET THAT HAPPEN AGAIN.

Our lives are NOT secular … random … they are cause-and-effect

Our lives are NOT OUR OWN

there are spiritual implications to everything.

We need to be MEN …

Provide and Protect!

We need to fight for the people of God.

God’s word is like a HAMMER (SAY IT)! … we need to start SMASHING enemy strongholds!

God’s word is a SWORD! (SAY IT)! … two-edged Sword … OT and NT … are you getting good with it?

Are you using the WORD/sword on your wife? … other Christians? … you’re SUPPOSED to be using it to BEAT UP THE DEVIL!

Where are you on the ladder?

Going up, or down?

Becoming a Soldier?

Striving to be more like Jesus?

when we see Him next … it will not be as a bloodied Lamb … but as a MIGHTY CONQUEROR … covered with blood, yes, but of His enemies!

Are we becoming Soldiers for Christ?

We need to climb that ladder.

 

Red Words

My wife and I just celebrated our Ten Year Anniversary.  Our marriage is a second one for both of us.  We have been Christians our whole adult lives, but, from our earlier marriages, and before, spanning well over, combined, a half century, we came together with very different Church backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs.  Mine were predominately Non-denominational Pentecostal, complete with going to and teaching in a Church Bible College, and Lay Ministry; hers were from various Baptist denominations, and serving as a Missionary family in Mexico.  So, understandably, when we came together, and though both serious Christians, we have had some different beliefs. Since there are few things so necessary to hold on to as one’s beliefs, we’ve had some rather `spirited’ conversations. But we both have had a desire to learn, particularly about one another, the other’s beliefs, and to grow in God.

Finally I said, “You believe one thing, and I believe this other thing; let’s see what Jesus actually said about these things.”  We agreed to suspend what we had previously learned, particularly from `church’, and go straight to the Source.  We had a `Red Letter’ Bible, and starting in the New Testament with the Book of Matthew, we determined to read only the Words in Red, and whatever few words in front of them to give context.  We also decided that we would do our best to LIVE what the Red Words said.  It went like this: 1)  Linda (or I) would read Red Words aloud; 2) I (or she) would listen; 3) we would discuss what we had read; 4) we would discuss how we would walk it out; and 5) later, we would discuss how living it out went.

The Red Words Journey had several results.  First, we found that a lot of what is taught in church(es) is not taught by Jesus.  Second, it produced a oneness in daily life and journey.  Third, it has produced an amazing oneness of what we understand about the Bible, God, etc., despite our very different backgrounds.  If you have never done a `Red Words’ journey, I recommend that you do so.  And do it with a partner.  You will be rewarded.

Oh, there’s a spinoff to this …

Revelation 1:3  Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

 

+++++

“Come Up Hither!” (The `Rapture’)

NOTE: Linda calls this a `rant!’.

Day 1

I feel compelled to write this; my wife will edit; and then I’ll post. Listening to sermons sitting in our local church, and listening in on sermons of other churches (online), I hear about `The Rapture’, and what I hear of it alarms me. In short, it’s a belief, with variations, that, without warning, we Christians will be `raptured up’ to Heaven, leaving loved ones, co-workers, unbelievers, and our clothes and shoes, `behind’. I simply don’t see this in the Bible. I don’t see it in `Revelation’ (Book of), nor in the other Books, nor in the Bible as a whole. Not seeing something in the Bible doesn’t necessarily alarm me; there’s no doubt lots of things I don’t see. What alarms me is where this `Rapture’ belief leads, or can lead. I believe it’s dangerous. And I believe I’m right. Right or wrong, follow along, and I’ll try and explain the danger. I will also say that I still struggle to know my own human heart; I will not pretend to understand the hearts of my Christian Brothers and Sisters in this matter.

Since I have been reading the Bible for nearly a half century, I’m going to start at my conclusion. If this endeavor takes me to a different ending, that’s fine. Follow along.

I see two major themes in the Bible as relating to difficult times. The first theme is that of (the need for) preparation. Read Proverbs 27:12 in several translations. The second theme, and I don’t like it, is that God’s people are not generally exempt from suffering. I do, however, see a third theme, that of Divine Protection (Psalm 91), (but) reserved for those who get as close to God as they can (Psalm 73:28). The idea of a `Rapture’ coming where we all will be `poof-ed’ away, before it gets really bad, is dangerous, as it invites us to not prepare for difficult times. In fact, the closer we appear to be getting to truly calamitous times, I see less and less preaching that we prepare for it.

All of that now said, let’s see what Scriptures says, actually says.

Day 1 – Revelation 1 – 4

Verse 4 … to the seven churches which are in Asia. So we know who the Book is to. It doesn’t say `only to’, and it does say that it was to be written and read, so let’s assume that the Book can be embraced for what we, modern, Western, Christians, might learn from it. (But, see Revelation 10:11.)

V. 7 Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall behold Him. I don’t know for sure what the `clouds’ here are; maybe they are actual clouds, perhaps like the ones He went up into Heaven with. (Yeah, maybe they are actual clouds.) It does say that every eye shall behold Him. This is no secret event.

V. 9 … John, who also am your brother and companion in tribulation.  So, John and the readers/hearers were subject to tribulation.

V.10 … fear not those things which thou shalt suffer. Ouch. Are you getting the picture? John and his hearers wouldn’t be exempt; why would we assume to be?

… ye shall have tribulation ten days.

V. 11 … he that overcometh. This is repeated to the other Churches. These churches were not told to sing songs and play church until they got poof-ed away, ahead of tribulation; they were told it was coming, and that they would need to `overcome’.

Chapter 3:2 … be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain. I am dumbfounded that the closer we truly appear to the `End Times’ the less and less Christians are talking about it, much less preparing for it.

V. 10 Because thou has kept the word of my patience, I will also keep them from the hour of temptation. I like this, but who did He say this to? He said it to those who had kept the word of His patience. It doesn’t say He’d rapture them away; but that He would keep them from the hour of temptation.

Chapter 4 …

V. 1 “Come up hither!”

I love this. I long for His Voice to say to me, “come up hither!”

V. 2 … and immediately I was in the spirit. John was in some way commanded to climb up, spring up come up, into Heaven. It does not say, that I can tell, that his body also went to heaven. Was this a `vision’? I suspect that John’s body (clothing, etc.) was (were) still on Patmos. While not really the point, and while amazing, this does not appear to be a `rapture’ or resurrection.

 

DAY 2 …

Rev. 4 – 6

Circling back to Chatter 4

… verse 1 … “Come up hither!”

I love this. Jesus is calling me higher. Higher, higher! Climb up here. Spring up! Yes, Lord Jesus.

… verse 2 … and immediately I was in the spirit.

Jesus is giving John a vision, a prophecy. As far as I can tell, John’s body is still on Patmos, along with clothing, shoes, etc. (I’m having fun here, just a bit.)

I will shew thee things that must be hereafter.

Hereafter when? After the things spoken to the Seven Churches? After the time of the vision? Speaking of the End Times? I believe we can assume that Jesus is giving John a download of information (vision) that can be heard/read more broadly? … (heard/read by you and I, as we head full speed closer and closer to the End).

Chapter 6 … The Horsemen

… v. 8 … pale horse … over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with huger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

v. 9 … under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.

Are these martyrs through all of time? They weren’t raptured (exempted from being killed)! They’re up in heaven without their bodies, so this is before being resurrected.

v. 11 … and it was said unto them that they should rest yet a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be [ … `raptured’? … no! ] killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

So, post fifth seal, and pre sixth, John is shown that there are yet to be martyrs. There is no discussion of a group of Christians to be raptured (exempt).

v. 12 -14 … sixth seal … earthquake, sun turning black, moon blood red, and stars falling to earth. As of the time of this writing, these things have not happened yet.

v.15 … heaven departed as a scroll … every mountain and island moved … and hid themselves in dens and in the rocks …

Nuclear war?

v.16-17 … it appears a lot of people will be `running for cover’, and an admission of God’s wrath.

 

Day 3

Book of Revelation, Chapters 7 – 9

v. 1 … `four corners’ … hmmmm … the term doesn’t lend well to a spherical earth. The `Flat-Earthers’ may have something here.

v. 4ff … 144,000 sealed, of all the tribes of the Children of Israel. The older I get, and hopefully the wiser, I tend to take the Bible as literal as possible. Other prophecies in the Bible, especially pertaining to the Messiah, Jesus, are/have been fulfilled with such precision, why would this be an exception. So, yeah, 144,000 of the tribes of Israel. Those sealed don’t get hurt (see Rev. 9:4). That I know of, I’m not of the tribes of Israel … (and so by this means escaping getting hurt).

I checked … the list of 12 here is a tiny bit different than the list in Genesis (Ch. 46). Dan is missing in this list (Rev. 4), replaced (?) by Manasses. What happened to Dan? It’s not how you start, but how you end up. Eternal Security? Not for Dan. Commentators today say Dan fell to idolatry.

v. 14 … these are they that came out of great tribulation.

… “came out” … I looked it up (in the Greek) … the definition is fuzzy to me, but I didn’t see the word `rapture’.

“great tribulation” … afflicted, affliction, anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble … same word is in Rev. 1:9, 2:9, 10, 22 … oh, and look at Acts 14:22 … tribulation being something we Christians are expected to go through.

Nothing here about being raptured.

Chapter 9 …

(v. 17 … yes, it’s a vision)

So, have all the Christians been martyred? (Or raptured?) Are there any left on earth? Right here it seems rather silent … are we `gone’, or maybe `hidden’? I do NOT see anything to clearly say we were `raptured’.

The whole of the Bible speaks of being prepared for difficult times … preparing to avoid them, or endure them. Yes, God quite repeatedly steps in and delivers! But not `raptures’. Where in the Bible do God’s people get `poofed’ away, leaving shoes, clothes, jewelry, cell phones? WHERE?!!! I just don’t see it, or anything like it. When Jesus went up to heaven, it doesn’t say the disciples were left looking at his clothing, sandals, left on the ground. When the Children of Israel left Egypt, they probably left a lot of stuff behind, but, as near as I can tell, there’s nothing to suggest they weren’t `clothed’. Did Enoch leave his clothes behind? What about Elijah? The closest thing to `leaving clothes behind’ is … 2 Kings 2:11 … there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. v.12 And Elisha … saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them into two pieces. v.13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him … Was this all that Elijah was wearing? I don’t know what all people wore back then, but I would doubt not. I wasn’t there … I didn’t see it, but the sense I get is that the mantle fell from heaven, or the whirlwind, or the chariot, … so even if it was the only thing Elijah was wearing, he wasn’t left naked, exposed. This whole thing of park benches, passenger seats of cars, pilot seats of airplanes, being strewn with empty clothes, is just plain silly. Nonsense. Where else in the Bible is there any indication of God’s people exiting like this? Do God’s people simply vanish (become invisible)? There are cases of teleportation, yes, but not just vanishing! Jesus VISIBLY went up to heaven, and it says that He’ll VISIBLY return. And if Christians are visibly raptured, without their clothing, they would be visibly NAKED. Where does it say anything like either of these scenarios, either explicitly, or by pattern, in the Bible. You simply have to MAKE-BELIEVE this stuff! The only time God’s people left the scene naked, was when they were shamed during deportation from their land by their enemies.

Oh, here I go again, blurting out the finish before we get to the end. Maybe when I get there I’ll come to a different conclusion, but the common `rapture’ belief appears to be nothing more than a fairy tale. I want to say … `laughable’. Great if true, but if you’re holding on to it with resultant careless living, that’s scary!

Day 4 … Rev. 10-12

Chapter 10:1 … `clothed with a cloud’. I looked up the words … clothed = clothed … cloud = cloud … presumable one of those white fluffy things.

v.11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. Is this (Book of Revelation) that prophecy? John certainly had a message, this or other, that went beyond the Seven Churches.

Chapter 11 … the Two Witnesses … I love this part. One thousand, threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. This comes out to 42 months, or three and a half years. Who are these two witnesses? Some say Enoch and Elijah, theorizing these two fellows didn’t taste death, and `it is appointed to man once to die’ … so they have to yet taste death. I don’t necessarily argue. I tend to think they might be Moses and Elijah, who appeared on the Mount with Jesus. The Bible actually says who they are … v. 4 They are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

v. 7 … the Beast does indeed kill them. (I don’t love that part.) If anyone would be spared being martyred, I would think it would be these two … but no. If anyone deserved being raptured, it would be these two.

v. 12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come Up Hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

Come up … 305 in Strong’s Concordance … to come up, spring up, climb, arise! (I love it.) It does not say they disappeared, quite the opposite; their enemies beheld them (watched). Nor does it say they left their clothes behind. Hither … come up to this place … heaven!

Chapter 12 …

v. 1 … I assume the woman is the nation of Israel.

v. 5 … man child … I assume this to be Jesus. This would mean things in the vision / prophecy are not in pure sequence. But I’m not certain of it. Maybe it’s the true manifestation of the sons of God, fully mature Christians! … it’s a stretch! … and they do get raptured up to heaven (caught up to God, v. 5).

Caught up = harpazo! … 726 in Strong’s … to seize, take up, pluck up, catch away, take by force. RAPTURED! … Yay!!!

v. 6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her 1260 days (three and a half years).

Who is the `she’? The Church? Israel? And who are `they’ (who feed her)?

v. 7 war in heaven

v. 8 and (the dragon and his angels) prevailed not

v. 9 dragon/devil/satan cast out of heaven, with his angels

v. 10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. v. 11 and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Nothing in those two verses about being `raptured’.

v. 12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth, and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth he hath but a short time.

v. 13 And … he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.

… woman = church? Israel?

v. 14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. (This looks like v. 6.) v. 15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. V. 16 and the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. (Yay!)

v. 17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

… remnant … `remaining ones’

Who are these (remnant)? … are they the ones `left behind’? Or simply the ones not yet martyred? There is certainly no solid (or even weak) indication that the remnant is a group of people who were previously `luke warm’, or agnostic, or … and suddenly `woke up’ and `got serious’ with God, having seen relatives, co-workers, bus drivers … raptured away!

They are definitely Christians!!! … having the testimony of Jesus Christ!

Day 5 … Rev. 13-15

Well, so far, only one person gets raptured (harpazo!) … Rev. 12:5 … (but) I think it’s Jesus! And if it is Jesus, even He didn’t escape death.

I believe we must take the Bible as literal as possible. If we don’t, where do we start (to not take it literal), and where do we end? Did He actually die for our sins? Did He rise from the dead? Did He Himself raise someone from the dead? Did He heal the blind … feed the thousands? If we don’t believe it ALL, where do we place the line?

Chapter 13 … Beast coming up out of the sea … sea being humanity? … or actual sea … given authority and power by the dragon … being satan, the devil?

One of his heads wounded to death … healed … all the world wondered after the beast.

42 months …

v. 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them …

v. 8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life …

v. 10 … seems a person’s destiny is set by the time we hit this verse.

v. 15 … life unto the image of the beast … hmmmm … modern technology?

v. 16 – 18 here it is … the mark of the beast.

Discussing this with my wife … she makes an interesting point … though the beast is given authority over mankind … it doesn’t necessarily say that he’s successful at exercising/executing it … by that, some refuse (and are martyred?) … perhaps some escape?

Chapter 14 …

The Lamb on Mount Sion, with the 144 thousand … the firstfruits … this is one of those verses I would take literally. The `bar’ is pretty high to be in this group (not to mention being a descendant of Israel).

v. 6 … the Angel with the Everlasting Gospel, but … v. 7, the good news doesn’t appear to be redemption, or salvation, but judgment.

v. 8 … Babylon … I’m hearing more and more preachers saying that Babylon is the USA, and or NYC???

v. 9 … warning … don’t worship the beast, or take his mark …

v. 10 … it doesn’t say you’ll be forgiven if you take the mark … but that you’ll drink of the cup of the wrath of God … v. 11 … for ever and ever

v. 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

v. 13 And I heard a voice in heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.

v. 14 and on … reaping … Son of Man, with a golden crown … and another angel … v. 16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel … gathered to the great winepress of the wrath of God.

Seems to be 2 groups of people here. Is the first group those that are `alive at His coming’? …

Chapter 15 …

v. 2 … and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name …

So far I just don’t see a group of people being `raptured’ away from all this mess. I see only one kind of Christian … the kind that is expected to have patience, and overcome. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth … “

Raptured? Exempted? I just don’t see it. Ugh. I am impressed that, as a Christian entering these times, (that) I NEED TO BE STRONG!!!

If I get some kind of `raptured’, and avoid all this tribulation, fine. But if I’m counting on a rapture, and am not preparing myself (getting strong), and a rapture doesn’t happen … I’m in trouble!

The only verse I can find dealing with people leaving their clothes behind is in 2 Kings 7:8 … and it was the Syrians who left their clothes behind.

Day 6 … Rev 16-18

Psalm 17:8 Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings …

Psalm 27:5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion; in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

Psalm 57:1 Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be over past.

The Book of Revelation, Chapters 16-18

I just read Chapters 16 through 18 again three times. I still don’t see it. I told (my friend) Dick, … “I’m up to Chapter 18 in Revelation, and still don’t see the `Rapture’.” (He brought up the subject.) He gave me the usual … 1 Thessalonians 4:17, 2 Thessalonians 2:7 … no mention of the Church after Rev 3, and so on … (almost as though from a script). I asked him about `until he be taken out of the way’ (v. 7), which he (Dick) says is the Church. I asked him where else is the Church referred to as `he’?

I told Dick … “I’m pretty sure I’m right … but if you’re right, that’s okay, because it would be really nice to get `raptured’ up and avoid this mess. I see a lot of suffering and Christian martyrs ahead. The thing that concerns me (Dick), is that if there isn’t a rapture, then there’s going to be a lot of surprised and unprepared Christians” (for the suffering ahead).

(More on 2 Thess later.)

Chapter 16 …

Seven angels, seven vials of God’s wrath … bad stuff for those that worship the beast, and take his image.

v. 15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is the man that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

Okay, even if there is a `rapture’, we need to quit this nonsense of leaving our clothes, shoes, belts, cell phones, jewelry (I guess) behind. It’s just ridiculous, silly, laughable. Where in the Bible is there anything even close to this idea? Oh, were the Jews naked when deported to Babylon???? Yeah, leaving clothes behind is associated with shame, not rapture.

Chapter 17 … judgment of the great whore

v. 6 … drunk with the blood of the saints … (these saints didn’t get `raptured’)

v. 16-17 … thinking of current events I wonder if the great whore / Babylon, is NYC, or the United States … having ruled the world, and made the world rich … and now the powers-that-be are turning against her.

Chapter 18 …

… for the current conversation, this is the important part … v. 4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

Warning, warning warning!!!

 

Day 7 … Rev 19-22

The Book of Revelation, Chapters 19 through 22 …

Note: there’s a lot going on in these Chapters, but I attempt to focus on the topic at hand.

Chapter 19 … the Bride, Wife, those called unto the marriage supper … and the armies in heaven … one group, two, three? …

v. 20 Those that were beheaded rule with Christ a thousand years …

beheaded, not raptured …

I still don’t see any indication, clear or obscure, that there’s a group of Christians who were raptured … exempted.

Ch. 21: 7 He that overcometh! …

Ch. 22:8 … don’t add to these words!

Start to finish … the Book of Revelation … I just don’t see a rapture, or a group of saints who are / were raptured … clear or obscure. Something this important should be CLEAR in the Bible … and it should be built on what is actually SAID. Modern Rapture thinking appears to be totally ADDED to what is actually said. Based on what is actually written, I would have to make myself believe in the Rapture … (it’s a nice idea, but …) in my opinion it’s `make-believe’. I just don’t see it. Jesus, if I am blind, open my eyes … either way …

I WILL GET AS CLOSE TO YOU AS I CAN!

 

First and Second `Thess’

As promised, in search of `The Rapture’, I just read and read again 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

1 Thessalonians … there is a continuous theme that we, Christians, suffer afflictions, tribulation … e.g., 1 Thess. 3:4.

About His Coming … 3:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

There’s no suggestion (that I can see) of it being secret, or that the `coming’ has two parts, or that saints are taken (raptured) away,

… but that He is coming HERE, (and) with all his Saints.

4:13ff … the issue Paul is addressing is the fate of those who have `fallen asleep’ (already died). There is `hope’ for those who have died … (there is `an afterlife’) … and that God is going to bring them with Him.

v. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.

`Bring’ … not take away

So, God is going to bring HIM (Jesus), and them (the dead in Christ) with Him (Jesus) … (when He comes).

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Shout!

Voice of the Archangel!

Trump of God!

… caught = harpazo = seized, plucked (up), taken away!

… meet = encounter

We’re not taken away, as out of the picture! … we’re very much still in the picture … we’re taken up to join the dead in Christ as we meet Jesus in the Clouds!

So … 1) the dead in Christ shall rise first! … 2) those of us (Saints) who are alive and remain shall be caught up with them (the dead in Christ, arisen) … 3) to meet Jesus (at His Coming).

Remain = survive

I can’t help but think here of Genesis 18 … where God appeared to Abraham … Abraham ran to MEET him … God didn’t `snatch’ Abraham away (leaving Sarah perplexed finding only Abraham’s clothing), but Abraham went out to meet Him and bring Him to his abode.

So we will meet Jesus, at His Coming. We’ll meet Him COMING HERE!

It says we will forever be with the Lord. It doesn’t say `in heaven’ … but the whole of Scripture indicates HERE! We will rule and reign with Christ forever … where? … HERE!

I don’t see anything in these versus to suggest we’re taken to heaven … that there’s some kind of secret coming, and us vanishing. We all simply meet Him at His coming … here!

And it’s loud!

5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

… unto the COMING! … not unto the `Rapture’

… unto the coming … I just don’t see multiple comings … just one coming … and we’re to `hold out’, `hold on’, SURVIVE, be faithful till He comes.

Second Thess …

1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.

Paul talks only about one coming, when Jesus is revealed … nothing hidden, secret, not a coming and going.

2:1-2 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

… our gathering unto him … a single day.

V. 3-9 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

SO, … 1) that day (His coming) cannot happen until there is a falling away, and the man of sin is revealed. 2) there’s something/someone holding back the revealing of the man of sin. 3) the withholding agent/person/thing/whatever (sorry, I haven’t quite figured this part out yet) will be taken out of the way 4) then the Wicked shall be revealed. 5) whom the Lord shall destroy at the brightness of His coming.

I don’t know who `he’ is in verse 7 … I don’t believe it’s the Church, since the Church is typically a `she’. I don’t think it’s the Holy Spirit, as I understand the role of the Holy Spirit is that of being a companion/comforter to the Church.

… `is taken out of the way’ can’t be the rapture (harpazo), since the rapture (harpazo) happens with the return of Christ, which happens after the Wicked is revealed.

So, there’s nothing to even suggest a secret, quiet return, of Christ, where the Christians are taken away (leaving clothing, jewelry, gadgets, behind).

I just don’t see it. If it’s there, Lord Jesus, show me.

What I do see is this:

There is clearly ONE (Second) Coming of Christ.

It is loud!

It is after the Antichrist is revealed.

The dead in Christ will rise first at His (Second) Coming (in the clouds).

Those of us who survived will join the Dead in Christ, in the clouds.

We will MEET Christ at His Coming.

He is coming HERE!

We will be with Him forever.

We are by all means encouraged to prepare for and to endure tribulation.

SURVIVE!

If there is something as important as a (pre-return) rapture, in which we are snatched away, ahead of tribulation, where we simply `vanish’, leaving our clothes and loved-ones behind, it would be clear in Scripture. (Like being `Born Again’ … Jesus made that part clear!)

But it is not.

Jesus, I would be more than happy to escape this mess, and just watch from above, but your Word seems to stress just the opposite … that I/we need to be strong, prepared, not deceived! Help me be strong to the end!

 

 

 

 

On Fasting

August 7, 2023

I just finished a five-day fast. Originally I intended to take a three-day water-only fast. In my mind I knew the benefit(s) of fasting, but had not for a long time done any, except for several one-day fasts and/or false-starts on longer ones. But now, being more particularly ill, and more desperate, started one with more intention. The purpose of the fast was several fold: spiritual, to exercise discipline / self-control, and part of a health plan. I started the fast mid-morning on the first day, having only drinks (coffee, tea) beforehand. On the second and third days I added cabbage juice, and on four and five, bone broth.

At the third day I expected a watershed increase is `spirituality’. Years ago on `Day 3’ of a `three-day’ fast I had a `deliverance’ of sorts. I did not experience anything huge this time, and, in retrospect, what happened on Day 3 of the earlier fast may have been more mental, than spiritual (but no less worthwhile). But I do sense a `lifting’. The things of God are so invisible, to the eye, intellect, and emotion, so I won’t say that nothing happened. Good is good, and faithful, and honors our movement to him. At the beginning of the fast Linda prophesied that I would learn to love fasting, and do so often, like [deleted]. I did learn, for starters, how completely `in love’ I am with eating … the thought of missing a meal, or drink, loathsome.

On the sixth day I announced that I would stop. My weight was getting too low. (I had already lost fifty pounds.)

I learned some things. First, on the health side, for the last couple of years I have been dealing with a health issue by nutritional / supplements means. It is, I surmise, very complicated. In perhaps an overly-brutal self-assessment, due to wanting to get fixed fast, and my `love’ for food (and drink), I found I had been approaching it on somewhat of a piecemeal, do-which-parts-of-it-I-want (or like) basis. And what were the results? Piecemeal.

The bigger picture is this: that’s how I/we approach Christianity. We are immersed in information. But we apply it piecemeal. We apply it as we want, or see fit. And I dare say, then, we don’t really live Christianity. We adopt Christian thinking, but our actions, our life, our polity, our choices … are still nothing like Jesus’s, or those of the Saints in the Bible. And, so, no wonder we experience so little of their spirituality, the signs and wonders, and miracles. Here is what I am forced to face: if I want the spirituality, the signs and wonders, the miracles … of the Bible … I need to live more strictly to the instructions in the Bible.

I long to know Him better and better. I long to see His miracles, works, wonders in my life, and to others. I want Him to pick ME, as His Bride, and then His Wife. I long that He use me, love me, ravish me. Come Lord Jesus.

Maybe fasting is a part.

 

Jesus Coming Back

As I was going through a gate on my property the other day, taking care of farm matters … I had a vision (not like in a movie theater, but a grace from God, a knowing, a seeing … something that does not happen to me often, but at times): Jesus walked with His disciples physically here on earth for three years. Then He died for our sins and went to heaven. But He appeared here and there to His disciples and followers afterward, and to more than five hundred. Then He we went up in the clouds to Heaven. So will be / is His return. He will appear to individuals and groups, to apostles, and with increasing frequency, and by some, perhaps many, accounts, already has (`started Coming Back). Then, just as He went up in the clouds, He will return, once again, for all to see, and be here to live among us. I stood mesmerized, ‘raptured’ by the vision. Oh how I can hardly wait to see HIM! Come Lord Jesus!

 

`Snakes’

So, on a weak afternoon, and after several glasses of wine, I decided to do some `weed-eating’ with our battery-powered trimmer (`weed-eater’) in tandem with checking fences. Tennis shoes without socks, in shorts without bug repellent, only added to my lack of judgment. I attacked the weeds around a junk pile behind the shop. Then I went through a gate to the other side of the pile, to resume fence-checking. And just about stepped on a timber rattlesnake.

Linda happened to be in the shop, so I yelled for her to grab a gun … the urgency in my voice, real or imagined, had her somewhat panicked. By the time she arrived, the snake was gone.

The incident was a wake-up call. I normally check the fences armed (typically with a shotgun). And in `snake areas’ I am also often `armored’ (boots and snake gators, not to mention long pants). The junk pile is an acknowledged snake area. How careless! Grateful for the kindness, the loving care of an omnipresent God, showed upon me. I resolved the following: 1) God is kind and did not let me fall harm to my foolishness; 2) in snake areas I am reminded to be `armed’, and 3) `armored’. How stupid to take this activity on in a stupor of wine. “Be not drunk with wine, but filled with the Spirit!”

A day or so later, checking traps and other stuff on my trails in the woods, armed and armored, I came upon a big black snake. Normally I let black snakes live, as they are harmless (to humans), but this one was close enough to one of our chicken coops to potentially give Linda a scare, plus it had some egg-size lumps down its length, so it died.

Down and around on my trail, there was caught a raccoon in one of my traps. As raccoons sometimes take the blame for missing chickens, it also died.

Further on the trail, now down by the creek, a big gray snake, motionless, half way across the trail, having spotted me first, was poised motionless, head and neck raised and cocked. A water moccasin! It died.

Hours later I went back to deal with the dead. All of these creatures are capable of harm, particularly when wounded, and if mad, so my practice is to make sure they are really dead before dealing with them. (A dead snake can still bite.)

Upon inspection, it turns out, that the `big gray snake’ was a Yellow-belly Watersnake, harmless compared to the water moccasin. Nonetheless, it did look nasty, particularly `at the time’. I put it back in the water (yes, dead).

At church we were running up to a three-day teaching on `demons’. How interesting. How timely. Snakes fall into categories. Some snakes are essentially harmless. They may or may not look `scary’. Some snakes are harmless but indeed look like they are harmful. And some snakes are indeed harmful, even deadly. So the lesson learned is this: 1) be not drunk with wine; 2) be alert; 3) be armed; 4) be armored. Some demons are harmless, others are harmless but look scary, and some are indeed dangerous … be filled with the Spirit; be alert! … and don’t give them space and opportunity to bite. Be armored in case they do. And be armed to protect yourself and others.

I don’t go looking for snakes, but they do live in, and come onto, my property. Don’t be stupid. There may be a place for a glass or two of wine, but it is probably best at the dinner table, and not before going to places of actual danger. Don’t be presumptive, or stupid, in potentially life-or-death matters.

… Oh, and 5) per Sun Tzu in Art of War … don’t get in front of the conflagration you cause to stir your enemy.

 

Heaven or Hell (or Earth)?

I think perhaps we’ve all been led down a fairy-tale path.

From my earliest memories, the `Gospel’ has been `turning from sin, to God, so that you go to Heaven, instead of Hell’. Am I right? Or, perhaps, `you must be born again … otherwise you’ll go to hell when you die’ … or … `do you know if you die tonight that you would go to Heaven?’. The assumption of these statements is that there are only two final destinations … two places in which humans will spend eternity. Where did we get this? I don’t see it in the Bible. Just today, as I was reading one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, Psalm 37 … for examples, v. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait on the LORD, they shall inherit the earth … 10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; indeed, you will look carefully for his place, but it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth … 22 for those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth … 28 For the LORD loves justice, and does not forsake His saints; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off. 29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell in it FOREVER. (no just `till Jesus comes back’). 31 Wait on the LORD, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land.

Where did we get the idea that we would spend eternity in Heaven? Heaven is where God Almighty lives, but his intent, from the beginning, now, and forever, FOR US HUMANS, is to inhabit, inherit, conquer, occupy LAND, Earth!!!

Same with Jesus, the Perfect Man … right now He’s in Heaven … but He’s coming back (here, Earth!)! He’s not coming back to snatch us to Heaven, but to JOIN US ON EARTH!!! We will live forever with Jesus, on LAND, EARTH, HERE … this present earth for a thousand years, and a NEW one after that.

In the mean time, until Jesus comes back here, it appears that the righteous dead go to be with God, and Jesus, in Heaven … but only in waiting to come back! Jesus is going to bring the righteous dead with him, to join those still living at His return, here. Here! … not Heaven.

Rev. 21 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men*, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.”

Our eternal home is here, on land, Earth …

Jesus, the perfect man, coming to join us, on a new earth!

And God is coming to dwell with us!!!

* … not us with God, but God with us.

Normal Christianity?

Pentecostal churches maintain that Speaking in Tongues is the `normal’ evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. And there are certainly New Testament scriptures to support this position. Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 10:44 … 46 And while Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word … For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them, and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. We see the word `all’ several times. Does all mean `every single person’ (spoke in tongues)? In other words, is it possible to be baptized with the Holy Ghost and not speak in tongues. I’m not entirely sure. (Jesus was certainly baptized in the Holy Ghost … even without measure, and we don’t have record of Him speaking in tongues. The Spirit of the Lord came upon King Saul, and he prophesied, but it does not say that he spoke in tongues. And so on.) But that’s not my point. Oh, and Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. And continuing: Mark 16:18 They shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. My point is this, a question: what is `normal’ about those baptized in the Holy Ghost? Speaking in tongues is accompanied with prophesying, taking up serpents, praying for the sick and they shall recover … SIGNS. Powerful stuff. I speak in tongues. Specifically, I speak fluently, to God, maybe devils, in a language I have never learned, and, in fact, do not know (cannot translate). It is a vehicle of praise and worship. It is also a weapon in spiritual warfare (the `devils’ part). Praying in tongues gives me peace; makes me `in tune’ with God. Praying in tongues gives me push-back with evil spirits. I wish everyone had this Gift; it (He) is Wonderful. I was `baptized’. Yay!

I believe we ask the wrong question, when it comes to Baptism in the Holy Ghost … “were you or weren’t you?” I speak in tongues daily … but those other things listed … taking up serpents, prophesying, healing the sick … no, not so much! What if the Pentecostal church took the position that some, or all, of these `evidences’, need be active in a Christian’s life, for him/her to be `Baptized’ in the Holy Ghost. I rest my case, primarily against myself, that if I am to be a Born-Again Spirit-Filled Believer, that all, most, perhaps some, but hopefully more than just one of the signs … should be normal in my life!

And now that we’re talking about `normal’, let’s talk about salvation and healing. (I will go about this in a somewhat round-about way.) Normal Christianity where I live seems to go something like this: of highest importance is Football. Yes, Football! I have seen no higher zeal than that which people here have for football. (Perhaps people get as crazy in rock concerts, but I don’t know, since I don’t go to concerts.) Second, I think, is the week-long falling into the clutches of sickness, disease, and the `cures’ of the medical industry. Third, is Church (on Sunday, if not too sick). Oh, don’t get me wrong! … there’s good preaching here … Pentecostal, non-denominational, denominational, whatever. Gotta get saved! Gotta come to Jesus to get your sins forgiven, to be Born Again, and for the Pentecostals, to further get filled with the Holy Spirit.

But all week long people dine of fast food with their lives full of doctors visits, surgeries, and trips to the pharmacy. What?!!! What is salvation? Normal salvation in the Bible is the message of forgiveness of sins AND healing of sickness and diseases. Exodus 15:26 … for I am the Lord that healeth thee. Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions … and with His stripes we are healed. Matthew 9:35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages … preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. Matthew 10:7-8 And as ye go, preach, saying, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils … Matthew 12:15 … and great multitudes followed Him, and the healed them all. Acts 5:15-16 … Peter … and they were healed every one. Acts 28:8- 9 … Paul … others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed. The Gospel in the Bible is one in which forgiveness/salvation from sin is paired with healing of the body. When did we separate the two? The Gospel is BOTH! Normal Christianity is both! To get our souls saved at Church on Sunday, and Monday through Friday get our bodies `saved’ (healed) by doctors, is not the Message of the Bible. So what is the Gospel of Salvation if it does not include healing of the body? Is it actually salvation? It’s not a very robust one! Is speaking in tongues (though supernatural indeed) an indicator of Baptism in the Holy Ghost? Maybe, but if it’s alone, it’s not a very strong one.

Settle down! I’m preaching to myself in all this! I pray in tongues a lot, but my `signs’ (of Baptism in the Holy Ghost) are scant, and need to grow. My reliance on God for health and healing (realization of the other part of the Good News) needs to grow. I still venture, reluctantly and cautiously, into medical arenas, for help.

These days it seems like we need to preach hard (beg, convince, connive, trick, lure) to get even a few converts. If we truly exercised a `normal’ Gospel, I think the reverse will be true. If/when we are functioning as truly Baptized-in-the-Holy-Ghost Christians, with signs following, we won’t have any trouble at all with people (also) wanting, begging, running to us/Jesus to get their sins forgiven, and to be Born Again. Interestingly, Jesus healed everyone, but only some followed, and even fewer kept following. We experience the opposite. A lot of people follow Jesus, but without healing. Hmmmm.

O Lord God, Father God, may we grow up into the fullness of your Son, come to maturity, be `normal’ Sons and Daughters of God, Sons and Daughters of the Kingdom, preaching and doing a `normal’ Gospel, with signs following! May we be `true believers’!

 

ENDNOTES:

1. Linda thinks this is another `rant’. Maybe so, but … (see 2.)

2. Shortly after, we watched this video (I don’t normally post other people’s stuff): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HfrRGw9QsA

 

The Circle of the Earth

Isaiah 40:22 It is He that sittith upon the circle of the Earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.

Job 38:4 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.

Psalm 105:4 Who laid the foundations of the Earth, so that it should not be moved forever.

Is the Earth flat? I’m not completely sure. It sure seems flat. Maybe there’s some curvature. But, according to the Bible, it is not a spinning ball (sphere), flying through space.

Having read though the Bible, whole Bible, dozens of times, I’m at the place currently of looking at the Scriptures for what they actually say, and say as a whole. I assume that the important messages of the Bible are not hidden, nor mentioned merely once, but if there are important messages that God has for us, they will be clear, and oft repeated.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Earth is a sphere, globe, ball.

It does say `circle of the Earth’ … that’s different! Though I have not seen them first-hand, there are old maps showing the Earth as a circle (bounded, interestingly, by Antarctica, and a whole other conversation).

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Earth is flying in space.

The Earth is unmoved; it is founded … has foundations.

It says the Earth has `ends’.

The Bible speaks of North, East, South, and West as actual locations, and directions … not relative ones (if you keep going west you’ll end up in the East, and so on).

So, you can believe that the Earth is a ball, spinning, while it rotates about the sun, and everything flying through space from the `Big Bang’, but it’s not in the Bible. Knock yourself out! But don’t tell me that you believe the Bible is the Word of God, and that it is truth, and accurate. It’s either all or nothing. And if some of it isn’t accurate, then the rest is up for grabs. If the Earth isn’t founded, solid, sure … then maybe the central message of the Gospel isn’t either. Maybe Jesus didn’t die for my sins … he was just a good person!

****

I love looking at the night sky. I have learned to tell time (at least approximately) by the positions of the stars and moon. Beautiful. Marvelous. Fascinating. Light from the stars coming from big objects millions of miles away. Wait, as much as I’ve been told, and have believed, that’s not what the Bible says. The Bible describe the heaven(s) as a curtain … providing a tent for us to live in. Whoa. Yeah! How else could they be `rent’, `rolled up’, `opened’.

So, yeah, knock yourself out! If you believe that those stars are millions of miles away, discrete `objects’, surrounded by billions of cubic miles of nothing … go ahead. I still think that myself, but my mind is being transformed as I believe something quite different … I believe what the Bible says, even though my brain lags behind. One of these days I’m going to look up and see JESUS! And He’s closer (and sooner) than you may think!

And nowhere in the New Testament did Jesus say that some of the information in the Old Testament needed to be updated!

 

He Spat

John 9 And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him … when He had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which is by interpretation, Sent). He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. … said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said, a man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash, and I went and washed, and I received my sight.

There is so much to say here, and I have left some of the passage out, but for now let me say, first of all, it appears that the people of the day were caught in a `religious’ loop connecting sickness, disease, etc., with sin. We look for blame, when it comes to sickness, physical maladies … yet Jesus came to heal, to free us … free us the sicknesses and maladies themselves, and, at least in this case, the connection between every-day maladies, and our sins. Was this malady (the man’s blindness) `set up’, say, `from the beginning’, to show the works of God? I don’t know. Maybe it was just the plight of the human race … but, once Jesus came on the scene, the malady became a situation by which the works of God would be made manifest. This is important, as we (or at least `I’), tend to blame sin (mine), as a block to (my) healing.

But, let’s get to the `event’. Jesus `spat’ on the ground, and made clay of the spittle. What?!!! I don’t think this was necessarily a repeat of the story of the creation of Adam, but if so, only weakly. (God took of the dust of the ground, formed man, and breathed into it, no mention of spit in Genesis 2.) But look! … this is crazy! The ground … I don’t see this as pristine soil that I might imagine in the Genesis 2 account, but, rather, dirt along the road … no doubt mixed with the dung, rotting garbage, maybe road-kill, McDonalds wrappers, and other stuff, … stuff of the roads of the day. And spittle! … from which He made clay! This so bombards everything they must of thought about healing, health, and being `clean’. Physicians must have been aghast. Religious leaders must have looked in disdain. Jesus made a `concoction’ that was anything but. And He put it in the man’s eyes. It doesn’t say that Jesus created eyes, and inserted them into empty sockets … it says he `anointed’ the man’s eyes (that were there). Hmmmm … it was not a matter of creation, but of anointing, of touching. And what is anointing? I’m not familiar with the practice of anointing of the day, but I speculate that it was not just a tiny drop at the top of Jesus’ finger … but something more messy … they man’s eyes were, I imagine, dripping with this concoction … quite perhaps why, at least in part, Jesus told him to go `wash’. Jesus is absolutely bombarding what everyone would assume to be a part of a healing event … nothing `medical’ about `this’ event! Jesus hadn’t figured out a secret (medical) formula for healing … I believe He demonstrated just the opposite … that there’s no special formula, other than the healer showing the works of God, and the person being touched … believing, obeying, and receiving from, God!

And, look! … the man wasn’t healed by the mud, or at least the touch of the mud, or at least `instantly’, tangibly … he could see once he washed. The man could have just walked away, with mud dripping down his face, thinking, `nothing happened’. In fact, maybe he did (think that.) He had to stumble his way to the Pool, and once there, washed, was healed (could see)!

Note that the man didn’t ask for healing, that we know of. Someone came along and put mud in his eyes! How inconvenient! It probably even hurt! He might have been in a hurry to get the mud out of his eyes. He had to wash his face anyway … sometimes, when we least expect it, we get healed … when our mind gets off how `un-healed’ we are.

We may not get healed `instantly’ when we are prayed-for, or touched … but we are healed. The Bible says `by His stripes we WERE healed’. When we’re saved, we’re (also) healed. We need to follow through, sometimes stumble along, in obedience, in the journey of realizing it … realizing what Jesus has done for us. Don’t get bogged down in the details … believe, obey! Have faith. It’s a walk of faith, obedience, not necessarily instant results.

 

A Dove?

Luke 3:22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him.

We have been handed down depictions of Jesus’ baptism as showing an actual `dove’ landing on Jesus.

I wasn’t there, nor am I an expert of the actual text in Scripture … but I don’t think it was the form of a dove that landed on Jesus, but the form of a person … a person of the Godhead … the Holy Spirit. Is there any other place in Scripture where God is described as a `dove’? I don’t think so. No. It was the `descending’ that was like a dove.

I am a hunter. I watch doves. They are lovely creatures. They land with such grace. And they fly away at the first hint of something not right. I believe `like a dove’ as being the Holy Spirit, coming down from Heaven, and finding a proper place to land … a safe place, a good place, a nothing-to-be-afraid-of place.

If we think of the Holy Spirit as a dove, we too easily think of Him as an `it’ … a mute creature, a dove. We don’t think of Him as a PERSON. We tend to think of the Holy Spirit as a `feeling’, or emotion, perhaps one of peace, gentleness, comfort. While, perhaps, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit `provides’ those feelings, let us not disregard that He is a PERSON. He is a PERSON residing in us. It’s not like the Holy of Holies in the Jews’ Temple, where we go to see God in residence; on the contrary, as the Holy Spirit, He resides in us.

John 1:33 And I knew him not; but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same SAID unto me …

Genesis 1:3 And God said …

Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the Garden …

Isaiah 30:21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, this is the way …

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word …

Revelation 1:1 … and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.

God’s deal is talking! Speaking! Voice! Words!

What happened when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit? …

Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to SPEAK with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

It doesn’t say that they felt different, although I’m sure they did.

It doesn’t say that they thought different, although I’m sure they did.

It says they SPAKE!

God is all about words, speaking.

The Holy Ghost is all about words, speaking.

HE WANTS TO SPEAK TO YOU … TO ME.

He most likely IS speaking to you … me … unless we have tuned Him out ( … or scared Him off).

Psalms 81:10 … open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

Ezekiel 3:27 But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and shout shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD …

Numbers 11:29 … Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!

1 Corinthians 14:5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied …

Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came upon them; and they spake with new tongues, and prophesied.

The Old Testament if filled with God speaking … speaking through His Prophets, through the Psalmists, Old Testament Saints.

The New Testament is supposed to be all about God speaking by the Holy Spirit through His people (disciples, believers).

There is a `voice’ in my head … yeah, it’s the Holy Spirit! I best believe Him. I best take Him seriously. I best Obey Him.

Hebrews 3:15 … To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts …

It doesn’t say … if God speaks, hear His voice … He’s already speaking … it’s all about hearing what He is saying, and wants to say.

There are emotions, doubts, complaints, analyses, … all kinds of other junk in my head … I best NOT speak (most of) those.

Give God full charge of your MOUTH! Let your mouth be the mouth-piece of God … the Holy Spirit in your heart!

This isn’t about “ … is speaking in tongues for today?” But, in a way, it is. Why would God … why would the Holy Spirit … ever STOP speaking in tongues? … why would God ever stop speaking to, through His People, by any means?

Open your mouth! If some words of some unknown language bubble out … whoa! … that’s in the Bible! … it’s called `speaking in tongues’. If some words in your known language come out … whoa! … that’s in the Bible also … let the words in your innermost being, your heart, where the Holy Spirt dwells … COME OUT!!!

Don’t scare Him off, … open your mouth, and LET HIM OUT!!!

Wanton

Per my routine (awake early, start fire in wood stove or turn on furnace, brew coffee, pour and mix the fresh brew with coconut oil, honey, and pinch of turmeric) [ … ] I sat down with my morning cup(s) of coffee, and began to pray. I briefly (as usual) acknowledge God/Jesus as King, … God the Father, with Jesus and the Holy Spirit listening in … and then launch straight in to my requests. My `wants’. Ughhh. How distasteful. Yuck. God is breaking me of my `wants’. The Lord is my Shepherd: I shall not want. Many of my wants are already provided-for, promised, or given. Dan Mohler would say that God doesn’t even hear these kinds of prayers. Prayers out of scarcity, doubt. Prayers that proclaim I’m empty, unworthy, or barely so. Prayers that say I need something to be complete, whole. So I stopped. If not a list of `wants’, how do I pray? Requests are not wrong. The Bible says we are to let our requests be made known to God. But not out of want. How?

I remember being on an airplane flight to Butte, Montana, to check out a college as I would soon graduate from High School. Butte is literally a hole in the ground (mine), but a mile high in elevation. I could not have been a Christian at the time, as I was `born again’ some time later, after graduation. I remember the episode as though it was yesterday. And though not then a Christian, I had a bit of understanding, and even was living, a Christian truth that I seem to only barely grasp now, if at all.

The airplane was small, a `puddle-jumper’, small plane suitable for short flights, small passenger load, and landing/takeoff at small, regional airports. This one hosted pilot (presumably two) and one or two attendants. On this flight they offered cinnamon rolls. Gladly I took one. And so did others. I don’t remember the mix of words (if any), but the attendant and I had eye contact, and in the moment I felt worthy of two, a `second’, and by mix of words (if any), eye contact, and perhaps a bit of body language, got my second roll (the only one on the flight to do so). Sure I wanted a second roll. But it wasn’t out of lack, or hunger; it was more out of `yes, I would like’ … out of `delight’ … I’d be `delighted’ to have another. (And they weren’t even offering `seconds’.) I remember the flight attendant as though I was looking at her right now. She wanted the very cinnamon roll she was giving me. It was a different kind of want … a wanton want. I was not promiscuous those days, thankfully, but if I had wanted `more’ (than just a cinnamon roll), I am sure she that would have provided it. I knew in the look. A wanton want. A woman who would sell short, for her wants. A want out of lack, emptiness, using others to fulfill. In a flash I saw it. (True or imagined.)

That is how Christians fall into sexual sin … or at least is one way in which we fall … even the most knowledgeable, experienced, `spiritual’ … we consider ourselves empty, lacking, needing to be filled.

We cannot (must not) live in want. It’s based in lack, and all thoughts, intentions, and actions, are only to fill, fulfill. To fill a hole that can only be filled by God, God-given humanity. And, want, emptiness, lack … leads indeed, unavoidably perhaps, to the predominately sexual definition of the word wanton. Sexual/sensual desire. The desire to please, feed, fill self, leads to all forms of evil.

Some years later something similar happened … but not the `wanton’ aspect. I was on a business trip. This time it was at big airport, serviced by much bigger airplanes. At the gate an airline agent asked for names of passengers that would be willing to take a different flight, should the one for the gate be overbooked. And the change would be rewarded with a voucher for an additional free one-way future flight.

I approached the agent to have my name placed on the list, and to discuss details. A `delightful’ conversation unfolded. Not one of want, need, … but of ‘I would love to’ take a different flight, and with a voucher for a free future flight. The agent happily took me to another counter, booked me for a different flight, in fact, one that would get me home sooner, and proceeded to print out the free flight voucher. Yay! Suddenly, she stopped. “Oh, wait! I wasn’t supposed to do that yet; we don’t know if the flight was overbooked!” Then she smiled; the deed was done, and she wouldn’t reverse it. Not only that, the new flight was on a DC-10 `Heavy’, one of my favorite airplanes.

Delight releases blessing! Delight goes beyond the carnal, natural mind.

Why is this so clear to me?

“Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

In attempt to be more honest, real, and clear with God, I so often pound Him with my wants.

I need to get back to `delighting’!!!

I need to get back to `liking’, `loving’.

Why do I want, and pray for, things already provided for, promised, already given? How icky! What a slap in God’s face! Does God even hear those kind of prayers?

If all we could ever want is already provided, promised, given … we should ignite in praise, adoration, and thanksgiving. And the few things we have not yet realized, believe that they are ours, and come to Him, and live in, thanksgiving!

 

I found something

I said to a friend, ” … now that I’m retired, I’m a `18-year-old’ trying to figure out how to live in a 65-year-old body.”  He replied, “When you figure that out, let me know.”   Well … I found something!  I found out how!

I will type it letter by letter, because I want it to sink in, be a part of my life, me POSSESS IT, and for it to POSSESS ME!  I thought it was just me, but no! … It’s in the Bible. God said it. I’m going hold Him to it … hold Him to His Word.  I’m going to believe God!  Here goes!:

Psalm 103 Praise the Lord, my soul. Praise His holy Name, all that is within me! Praise the Lord, my soul, and never forget all the good He has done. He is the one who forgives all your sins, the one who heals all your diseases, the one who rescues your life from the pit, the one who crowns you with mercy and compassion, the one who fills your life with blessings, so that you become YOUNG again, like an EAGLE!

When I retired, I wanted to be young again. Eighteen! An eighteen-year-old in a sixty-one-year-old body. I had been active, and healthy my whole adult life, plus I had some things that I had not done in my adult life, and there were some things I felt were `stolen’. So, yeah, why not!???

Then I got sick. SICK! So my bubble got popped!

But look what I found! … the one who HEALS ALL YOUR DISEASES, the one who RESCUES YOUR LIFE FROM THE PIT, the one who CROWNS you with mercy and compassion, the one who FILLS YOUR LIFE WITH BLESSINGS, so that you BECOME YOUNG AGAIN…!

I serve a God who heals! I serve a God who restores strength! I serve a God who makes me YOUNG AGAIN!

Yeah, in my humanity I may be wobbly, for the moment, but not so with God’s help!

God restores!

God healed me! It’s been nearly a three-year process, but I’m just about back up to full speed. I’m feeling young again, and engaging life! Yeah I’m doing it with some moderation. I haven’t figured out how to live totally supernaturally. It’s a dance. A journey.

… because of sin, God said we would die (not live forever), but He did not say that we would get there all old and decrepit along the way. Sickness, `old age’, disease … are things that we have given our assent to, bought into … we have been convinced of.

The Psalmist says: Each one of us lives for 70 years – or even 80 if we are in good health. But the best of them bring trouble and misery. Indeed, they are soon gone, and we fly away. (Psalm 90:10)

But look! …

Deuteronomy 34:7 Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eyesight never became poor, and he never lost his physical strength.

He had just climbed to the top of Pisgah (summit) of Mount Nebo.

Of Caleb, the Bible says … Joshua 14:10-12 “So now look at me today. I’m 85 years old.  I’m still as fit to go to war now as I was when Moses sent me out. Now give me this mountain region which the Lord spoke of that day… .“

I thought it was just me, but no! … It’s in the Bible. God said it. I’m going to hold Him to it … hold Him to His Word. I’m going to believe God!

I WANT THIS!

Even death itself isn’t a sure thing.

Enoch was taken up.

Elijah was taken up.

Those of us who remain at His Coming will be transformed! (not die).

I WANT THIS TO POSSESS ME!

…..

And now, we see some Christians are indeed walking in it!

 

All, or Some?

All, or Some

Psalm 103:1-5

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and ALL that is within me, bless his holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not ALL his benefits.

Who forgiveth ALL thine iniquities,

Who healeth ALL thy diseases,

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction,

and crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that they youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 68:19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.

Selah.

Some, or ALL?

We sell ourselves short.

We sell GOD short.

We believe He forgives all our sins, but only heals some of our diseases.

We believe He rescues us from future hell, but still live in (some) turmoil, fear, and stress.

We accept aches and pains, getting `old’.

We have a physical `symptom’, freak out, drop everything, and go to the doctor.

Moses … Deuteronomy 34:7 Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eyesight never became poor, and he never lost his physical strength.

Caleb … Joshua 14:10-11 … So now look at me today. I’m 85 years old. I’m still as fit to go to war now as I was when Moses sent me out. Now give me this mountain …

And that’s OLD Testament!

If we think that God only heals some of our diseases, maybe He only forgives some of our iniquities.

(In which case some of us are in real trouble, or perhaps all of us.)

If we think He only heals some of our diseases, and lets us live in some fear and distress, we sell God short. We sell ourselves short. He has so much more for us. All His benefits.

If we think God only heals some of our diseases, then we must be thinking the scriptures that say otherwise aren’t really true … in this case only nice `poetry’.

If we say He only heals some of our diseases, we are also saying He’s a liar, because He says ALL.

“Oh, but Moses, Caleb, others, … they were `exceptions’. Yeah, so. I’d rather be `exceptional’ and take God at His Word, than be normal, and call God a liar.

Psalm 84:11 … no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want (be in scarcity, lack, fear, deficiency).

Let us not forget ALL His benefits. Think them. Say them. Grab hold of them. Live them.

LIVE ALL OF THEM.

 

 

 

Learning to Fly

I will share a story with my friend Kyle. I had a friend who had a pond. He lived a bit out of town. In the morning I would stop at the donut shop and get donuts for the two of us. He would make the coffee, black, of course.  I would park out of sight from the pond, grab my shotgun, and ‘jump’ (sneak up on) it to see if there were any ducks or geese, and often there were. Boom, boom, boom! If successful, I’d take his rowboat out to retrieve them. Then I’d go in and we’d have our coffee and donuts. Afterward I’d jump the pond again, in case any ducks or geese had returned, and sometimes they did. (Boom, boom, boom!) Sometimes I would hide out of sight at one end, and my friend would jump them at the other end, and they would fly my way. (Boom, boom, boom!)

But that’s not the story here. One year two wild geese stuck around after hunting season and each mated with domestic geese. They both had baby geese. It was a lot of fun watching the two families of geese grow. (Though hunting season was over, it was now fishing season; the coffee and donuts continued.) One day I got in the row boat and ‘chased’ after one of the families of geese. The mommy goose pushed her little ones ahead of me, and, interestingly, to a place where, once on shore, there was a steep bank, no place to go, too steep to climb. She had purposefully pushed them to a place where they HAD TO FLY. They had never done so before. But now they did. In an instant of time. It was incredible. Amazing, beautiful. They flew out over the pond, and made some sloppy (yet beautiful) landings. As they day progressed, so did their flying. In short time they were `experts’, as though they had been flying all along.

(Continuing)

The first flight was so amazing that I decided to pursue the other mommy with her family of baby geese. But the result was different. She couldn’t get them to fly. They didn’t. They wouldn’t. They would only do what was familiar to them … walk and swim. It was sad. As the summer continued I watched the two families. The one family eventually flew off, permanently. The other family stuck around. Sadly, they were killed by stray neighbor dogs.

Kyle, we were made to fly!!! We weren’t made to just swim and waddle about, stuck here on the earth, subject to death and depredation. God has given us wings, to fly in the heavenlies with Him … to fly well above all our earthly problems.

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.

Let us grow up into all that God has created us to be.

And let us let challenges … challenge us … even force us … TO FLY!