A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

January 18, 2020

The Pharisees, the Kabbalah, and Ancient Egyptian Magic - Part 2

     Yesterday, I began to write a theory about how ancient Egyptian magic has come down the centuries to influence the religions of the world and is still present in today's rituals and traditions. I began with the definitions of the Torah, the Talmud, and Kabbalah, and today will try to connect all the dots and give you the big picture of how the occult and witchcraft still survive in the modern world.
     First, we need to understand the definition of the term occult. The occult is a rather broad term that covers a lot of practices that are unholy to our God. It comes from the Latin word occultus and means "hidden, or secret". In its most simple understanding the occult is any person, group, or organization that tries to gain supernatural power, abilities, or knowledge apart from the Creator God, Jehovah. At its root is disobedience to God!
     Let's proceed ... According to a website which promotes the history of ancient Egyptian magic, the Egyptian Pharaohs practiced witchcraft to empower men with means and methods of making both demonic and friendly powers perform what they wanted. And I found this very interesting: in Egypt, the magical powers belonged exclusively to men of religion, and one who was skilled in the art and science of magic, was invincible. The domain of Egyptian witchcraft and occult was divine; a person who was an expert in this field of magic was considered immortal, or "like a god".
     So, now consider Exodus 7:1-3, "Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt", and verses 10-12: "So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts. For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs." Starting to get the picture? While in bondage in Egypt for 400 years, the Israelites would have seen the power of Egypt's occult. So God sent Moses to confound their occultic system, proving that His signs and wonders were greater. But did that stop the influence of Egyptian magic among the Israelites?
     Fast forward to Solomon, the heir apparent to King David, a man whom 1 Kings 4:29-30 says, "God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt." I looked up the word wisdom in Strong's Concordance and found that it is the Hebrew word chokmah, and it means "wisdom, experience, and shrewdness". But among its many connotations is that the one who receives wisdom is "to be endowed with special abilities given to him by God; and that the prerequisite for wisdom is the fear of the Lord". 
     There is a lot of extra-Biblical literature that suggests that Solomon practiced the magic arts that came from Egypt. The Apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon (220BC-50AD) mentions Solomon praying & receiving the “spirit of Wisdom”. Through Wisdom, Solomon knows of astrology and the “forces of spirits” or “powers of spirits” in this translation. Within the Dead Sea Scrolls, there is a very fragmented Apocryphal Psalms (11Q11[11Q PsAp]) that mentions Solomon in connection with demons. It reads, "[Of David. Concerning the words of the spell] in the name of [YHWH…][…] of Solomon, and he will invoke [the name of YHWH] {to set him free from every affliction of the sp]irits, Of the devils. [Liliths,][owls and jackals.] These are the devils, and the pri[nce of emn]ity [is Belial,] who [rules] over the abyss [of dark] ness…". Around 70 AD, Josephus compiled his Antiquities and included an excerpt about Solomon. When referring to 1 Kings, Solomon no longer speaks 3000 proverbs and sings 1005 songs, Josephus writes that now he has authored 3000 books of proverbs and 1005 books of odes. Solomon could also compose incantations to heal the sick and perform exorcisms. The belief that the original Temple of Jerusalem was built with supernatural help also emerged with Josephus. Then there is The Epistle to Rehoboam, a letter purported to have been written by Solomon to his son, Rehoboam, explaining the benefits of gaining power through the use of “plants, prayers, stones, but above all else…the seven planetary gods.” It contains a passage subtitled ‘Concerning Hygromancy’ in which Solomon instructs his son, Rehoboam, on how to use divination and astrology to secure sexual gratification, health, power, and wealth. The basis of Solomon’s magic lies in a precise understanding of astrology and cosmology. Finally, there is the Testament of Solomon (TSol) (2nd century AD), which describes Solomon building the Jerusalem Temple with the aid of demons. The text claims that Solomon wrote the Testament in an attempt to record all his wisdom after he had lost his powers. If you would like to do your own research on these ancient texts, you can start here at this link.
     Now, none of this is recorded in our Bible. But there is the warning God gives Solomon in 1 Kings 9: "“But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight... ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them". Then we see the fall of Solomon in 1 Kings 11: "Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done.  Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods."
     So, how does all this tie into our understanding of the Kabbalah as a mystical religion? Johannes Buxtorf (1564-1629) a professor of Hebrew, known by the title "Master of the Rabbis", defines the Kabbalah [in his book Lexicon of the Talmud] as "a secret science, which treats in a mystical and enigmatical manner of things divine, angelic, theological, celestial, and metaphysical; the subjects being enveloped in striking symbols and secret modes of teaching". OK, I can see some synchronicity in what the historical extra-biblical texts reveal about Solomon and his "wisdom". 
    But now, I'm going to take a big leap and link the ancient Egyptian mysticism and occult to the Kabbalah and to the secrets of Freemasonry. I am astounded at the number of websites that promote these occultic and mystic religions and organizations. In a fascinating article on the website called Gaia (named after the pagan goddess, known as the Mother Earth goddess), Ancient Egyptian history author, Alphonse Mariette, wrote of the Egyptian mystery schools, “To the initiated of the sanctuary, no doubt, was reserved the knowledge of the god in the abstract, the god concealed in the unfathomable depths of his own essence. But for the less refined adoration of the people were presented the endless images of deities sculptured on the walls of temples.” The Christian Priest, Origen, said that “The Egyptian philosophers have sublime notions with regard to the Divine nature, which they kept secret, and never discover to the people but under a veil of fables and allegories.” 
     If you've done any study of Freemasonry at all, you can surely see the similarities in the teaching methods.  Freemasonry is performed by way of symbolism and allegory and never revealed to the uninitiated (known as cowans). Masonic teaching centers on its initiation rituals. Each of Freemasonry’s three degrees takes the candidate through a journey steeped in history, symbolism, and allegory to teach him lessons of how to raise his divine spark, realize his relationship to a higher power (God, Grand Architect, Supreme Being, etc) and live a life of moral rectitude. Occult scholar, Lewis Spence (1874 – 1955) tells us of the same goal of initiation in Ancient Egypt: “The purpose of initiation is a conventional attempt to realize man’s place in the universe and in the divine scheme of things, and for this, I believe, the Egyptian Mystery System achieved for the first time in an orderly and philosophical manner … Have we no lessons to learn from Egypt? Aye, the greatest in the world, the knowledge of that divine introspection which alone can give man the likeness of the Divine.”
     But the incontrovertible evidence that ties Freemasonry to the ancient Egyptian occult is the use of Egyptian gods like Thoth and Anubis; On, Osiris and Isis in the oaths they take.  In the mystery schools of Ancient Egypt, a chain was placed around a candidate’s neck as part of his preparation for initiation. In Freemasonry, a noosed rope (called a cable tow) is placed around the initiate's neck. As in Freemasonry, the Egyptian candidate was also blindfolded to represent a state of darkness before emerging into the light of knowledge when the blindfold was removed. 
     When a candidate becomes a Freemason, he is presented with a white apron consisting of a square overlaid with a triangle. The apex of the triangular flap represents the divine spark we must endeavor to recover. It is the part of us made in the image of our Creator, and there’s no better geometric figure to symbolize this than the triangle. After all, geometrically a triangle is the very first shape that can be made by drawing straight lines. This is why the number 3 was venerated by the ancients and still is to this day. In Judaism, the triangle represents the past, present, and future. To the Chinese: heaven, earth, and water. To the Hindus: creation, preservation, and renewal. The three points of the triangle also represent the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, and the collective unconscious. The Ancient Egyptian ceremony of initiation led the candidate to a door shaped exactly as a Masonic apron: a triangle over a square, symbolizing his progression from an earthly, material existence (square) into a heavenly, spiritual existence of higher learning (triangle).
      These are just a few of the connections between ancient Egypt, the Kabbalah and Freemasonry. Were the traditions of the Pharisees steeped in the Kabbalah? Is that why Jesus asked them, "Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?" The Bible does not make that clear. But the reading of history and historical writings make some interesting assertions about mystical Judaism. Are we to question the Bible? Absolutely not! The Holy Spirit reveals the truth of the Word; it is divine and holy. But we cannot ignore what history tells us about the occult and witchcraft, and their influence in all the major religions of the world.
     The secrecy, the magic, the sorcery, and the "mystic traditions" are serious transgressions. Can you see the disobedience and rebellion against the God of the Bible? It is as ancient as time and continues to hold sway over mankind today, tempted by the Enemy to seek his own divinity. The connection between secrecy and science is unmistakable in the occult, whether in antiquity or the 21st Century. We must expose it and uproot it at every turn! We should take seriously the words of Paul to the Church at Ephesus: "Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light."



January 15, 2020

The Pharisees, the Kabbalah, and Ancient Egyptian Magic - Part 1


     Sometimes, when I start trying to connect the dots in the Bible, my questions lead me to more information than I know what to do with. And while I know it is all important in order to understand what I'm reading in the Bible, it is going to be a process to discern it properly. Let me take you on this journey with me, and you will know what I'm talking about...
     As I've expressed in recent blogs, I am studying the Book of Matthew again, and I cannot escape the numerous times that Jesus castigates the Pharisees.The entire Twenty-third Chapter of Matthew finds Jesus telling the people to follow the laws the Pharisees taught, but not to do what they did. And in Chapter 15, verse three, Jesus asks the Pharisees, "Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?"
     It would be easy to read right over that simple question, but something made me stop and consider it deeper. I find it interesting that Jesus used the word transgress to describe how the Pharisees were treating God's commandments, which consist of the Law. That word is used in relation to sin, but not just "to miss the mark"; instead to "willfully rebel" in missing the mark. It means that the Pharisees knew they were disobeying God's law in some capacity -- for the sake of their tradition. But what constituted their tradition? Was it just the teaching, instruction, and interpretation of the Law? And if so, wouldn't this be a good thing? Don't the commandments of God make up the Law? Or were they in rebellion to God by observing traditions that were sinful in the eyes of God?
     You see, I love the history of the Bible, and I want to know the back story and the context in which the Bible was written. I believe with my whole heart that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, but I believe it is important to know the history of the time in which the Bible was written and the social, religious, and political influences that shaped the people, places, and events in the Bible. We are naive if we think we can just interpret Scripture according to modern Western understandings and interpretations. 
     So, I wanted to take a deep dive into what contributed to the knowledge of the Pharisees, a religious and social movement that became a school of thought in the Holy Land during the time of Second Temple Judaism (which occurred from 536 BC to 70 AD, when the Romans destroyed the Temple). Their belief system became the foundation for Rabbinic Judaism and the basis for religious worship and rites and rituals. Why was Jesus in so much conflict with them? Is there a history there that would shed more light upon this conflict than just the fact that Jesus threatened their control of the masses?
     What I want to share is a very condensed version of some of the "religious" influences upon the Israelites that might have guided the Pharisees "traditions", and how these influences are still alive and well in the 21st Century. This subject matter is convoluted and complex, but I will try to give you an abbreviated commentary that I hope you will find as fascinating as I did.
     First it is important to understand some terminology that will help us to comprehend the history of Jewish religion and its practices. So, here are the foundational terms we need to know:
Torah - The first five books of the Bible; includes God's instructions for the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Feasts, and the Sabbath.
Mishna - Considered "the Oral Law"; various interpretations of selective legal traditions that had been preserved orally since at least the time of Ezra (c. 450 BC). It was finalized by a group of Jewish scholars in the 3rd Century. According to Jewish tradition, the Oral Torah was passed down orally in an unbroken chain from generation to generation until its contents were finally committed to writing following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, when Jewish civilization was faced with an existential threat, by virtue of the dispersion of the Jewish people
Gemara - The written commentaries on the Mishna. Various rabbinic scholars interpreted and gave their own views on the Mishna. 
Talmud - Consists of the Mishna and Gemara; NOTE: The Torah is of divine origin. The Talmud is considered (by Rabbinic Judaism) to be divinely inspired, written by many scholars over many generations. The Torah was written in the 3rd millennia BC or earlier, and canonized in the 3rd century BC. The Talmud was written between the 2nd and the 5th Centuries AD.
Kabbalah - a branch of the Jewish mystical tradition (a secret knowledge) that concerns the use of magic. It was considered permissable as white magic by its practitioners. It was reserved for the elite, who could separate its spiritual source from the evil realms if performed under circumstances that were holy and pure. Its teachings include the use of Divine and angelic names for amulets and incantations. Its historical origins are obscure, and I read various dates ranging from 1500 BC to 1300 AD. According to Wikipedia, originally, Kabbalistic knowledge was believed to be an integral part of the Oral Torah, given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai around the 13th century BC according to its followers; although some believe that Kabbalah began with Adam in the Garden of Eden. As you can tell, there is no definitive date for the beginning of the Kaballah. However, it is still practiced today.
Sadducees - Religious sect who only believed in the Written Law of Moses (the first five books of the Bible).
Pharisees - Religious sect who believed in the Written Law, and placed an emphasis on the Oral Law (Talmud).
     So, while fascinating, how could this information possibly affect us today? Well, here is something that I found extremely informative: Traditional Judaism believes that the Oral Law was given to Moses at the same time as the Written Law, because "without an Oral Law, blind adherence to the plain text of certain Torah commandments would lead to unethical acts, or would cause the practitioner to violate a commandment elsewhere in the Torah" [according to Wikipedia]. Furthermore, "Moses received the Torah and handed it down to Joshua; Joshua to the Elders; the Elders to the prophets; and the prophets handed it down to the men of the Great Assembly... all the way to the rabbis who compiled the Babylonian Talmud in the 4th Century AD. NOTE: The Bible does not tell us anything about an Oral Law given to Moses. So, while none of this is substantiated by our Bible, these beliefs are profoundly held among religious Jews today and have survived for thousands of years. Is God the originator of these beliefs, or is there a more evil power at work here?
     Here is where all this is leading me ... according to our Bible, Moses was given the Law by God to give to the Israelites after they left Egypt. It was important that they know He was Holy and would not tolerate the sins of Egypt that they had left behind. But what exactly were those Egyptian influences? I found a website that provided a fascinating history of ancient Egyptian magic, and a treasure trove of information. According to the website, "The main goal of Egyptian witchcraft was to empower men with means and methods of making or compelling both demonic and friendly powers to do or perform what they wanted. These magical powers belonged exclusively to religious men who were skilled in the art and science of magic. And their practices permeated the social, religious, and political lives of everyone in Egypt, including those held in bondage and slavery.
     Men of magic in ancient Egypt used to utter or recite some important words in a systematic manner and deep intonation to heal sick people, by curing the incurable diseases, [cast a] spell off the ghost residing in the body and restore the dead soul back into the physical body. They could even converse with the dead souls to provide them power to get rid of their guilt and sins to become saner bodies!"
     We know the profound influence that Egypt had over the Israelites through the Bible's accounts of Joseph and the 7-Year Famine, Moses and the 10 Plagues, and the story of the Exodus. How much of the magic arts did the people who would become the nation of Israel carry forward with them? Did you know that one of the Egyptian goddesses was called Hathor, who was worshipped in the form of a cow or as a cow with stars above her? Did you know that she was the mother of Ra, the Egyptian sun god? Could she have been the impetus for the golden calf that Aaron built and the people worshiped at the base of Mount Sinai while Moses was receiving the tablets?
     There are some who posit the theory that while Moses was receiving God's Law, Aaron was establishing and giving the Kabbalah (the mystical Oral Law) to the Israelites, and that this Oral Law has continued through the centuries. There is so much of Israel and Judah's histories that we receive mere glimpses of in the Bible, but those partial views provide some clues as to why Jesus was in conflict with the Pharisees. 
     The truth of the Bible and our God has been under attack from Satan and his pagan religions since the beginning of time, and I'll expose the hidden mysticism that has infiltrated our most sacred institutions and faith. We will explore those concepts in the next post, and see how that ancient sorcery is still at work today.

Isaiah 44:25    I am the Lord ... I make fools out of those who tell the future using their secret ways. I turn back wise men, and make their learning foolish.

January 11, 2020

Jesus's Message To Those Who Refuse To Receive the Kingdom of God

     There are a lot of quotes from Jesus that, frankly, are quite alarming and terrifying. They challenge us as Christians and Believers, and serve to put us on notice that our professed faith does not make us immune from judgment. But perhaps the two in Matthew 10 and 11 should make us all sit up and take notice.
     In Matthew 10:5-15, Jesus sends out His twelve disciples, instructing them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived. They are told to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and cast our demons. They are told that when they come to a town to find out "who is worthy", and to stay there. They are to let their peace come upon the house if the inhabitants are worthy; and if anyone will not receive them or listen to their message about the Kingdom, then they are to shake off the dust from their feet and leave that town. And here is the warning: Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
     Before we dissect the meaning of that dire warning, we need to understand what Jesus meant by being "worthy". According to Strong's Concordance it means to be found righteous on the grounds of being fit for the Good News of the Kingdom. And "being fit" means a willingness to receive the Kingdom; to "see" it and "enter" it. And as we know from John 3:1-5, Salvation is the entry point into the Kingdom. Once Saved, we are called to "do" the works of the Kingdom and take back dominion over the earth [defeating the devil's kingdom], starting in people's lives by healing them, casting out the demons that have kept them in bondage, raising them from the dead [if it is before their time], and teaching them to share this Good News and do the works of the Kingdom themselves, thereby expanding it until it covers the earth. 
     But Jesus says that if a town is witness to these evidences that the Kingdom is here, and they refuse to listen or receive it, then they will be judged harsher than Sodom and Gomorrah. Wow! Most of us know that the Bible tells us how wicked and evil Sodom and Gomorrah were and that God destroyed Sodom. But do you know the extent of their wickedness? The ancient Book of Jasher gives us more historical insight into the deeds of Sodom. [NOTE: I am not saying that the Book of Jasher is inspired Scripture! But it is referenced in both the Old and New Testaments as a book of historical record. I have found that it fills in some of the gaps in the historical narrative of the Bible, and I believe God inspired the writers to reference it so we would have additional information to illuminate His inspired Word. Remember: It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search it out {Proverbs 25:2)].
Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
So, back to the story of Sodom. In the Bible, we tend to see Sodom as one city, but actually it was a kingdom. And our Christian doctrine primarily describes the sin of Sodom as either rape/sodomy, lack of hospitality, or pride. But it was much more! According to Jasher, the cities of Sodom had four judges to the four cities. These four judges issued a decree that beds were to be erected in the streets of the cities, and if a man came to these places, the citizens were to lay hold of him and force him to lie down on the bed. They would measure him according to the length of the bed, and if he was shorter, they would stretch him until he died. If he was longer, they would fold the bed up and crush him to death. 

     Another favorite pastime of Sodom was equally appalling. If a poor man came to their land and entered their cities, they would give him silver and gold, then decree that no one in the city could give him anything to eat. Should he die from starvation, then the inhabitants of the city would come and lay claim to their silver and gold and fight over the man's clothes and belongings. 
     Then there is the story of Paltith, a daughter of Lot that we don't read about in the Bible. During Lot's sojourn in Sodom, one of the men of Sodom takes Paltith as his wife. The Book of Jasher says that Paltith's soul was so moved with pity for a man who was being starved in Sodom that she secretly fed him bread and water, and he was revived. When it was discovered that Paltith was aiding the man, she was seized and taken before the judges of Sodom and was burned to death. Another young woman attempted to aid another traveler in the city of Admah [in the kingdom of Sodom] and her judgment was to be covered with honey from head to foot and placed before bee hives. Jasher records "the young woman cried out... and her cries ascended to Heaven. And the Lord was provoked at this and at all the works of the cities of Sodom, for they had abundance of food, and had tranquility amongst them, and still would not sustain the poor and the needy, and in those days their evil doings and sins became great before the Lord. And the Lord sent for two of the angels that had come to Abraham's house, to destroy Sodom and its cities." And that's where our Bible picks up the story.
     It is hard to imagine anything more despicable than these works of the cities of Sodom, and they will certainly be judged for their evil ways. Yet, Jesus [in Matthew 10] says on the Day of Judgment, it will be more bearable for Sodom than for towns where the people will not receive or listen to the Gospel of the Kingdom! The cities of Sodom did not get the opportunity to hear about the Kingdom or see the works of the Kingdom displayed. Today, Christians DO have that opportunity! And I know the frustration of trying to share the Kingdom message and its works with people I think are worthy, and having it rejected. But when I see the judgment that is coming against those who refuse what Jesus commanded, it breaks my heart.
     And if you doubt the truth of this warning, Jesus makes it again in Matthew 11:20-24! He warns the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum because they witnessed the mighty works of the Kingdom of God, yet they refused to repent -- which is refusing to change the way they think and "see" and "enter" the Kingdom of God which was being presented right before their eyes. Again, He tells them it will be more bearable for the evil towns of Tyre and Sidon, and more tolerable for the land of Sodom, than for these cities who were blessed with confirmation of the Kingdom.
     But now, I have to ask ... is it any different for us today? Won't be held to the same standards as Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum? Won't the same judgement be issued for those who have seen evidence of the miracles of healing, and the casting out of demons, yet refuse to step into the Kingdom and continue the works of Jesus as He commands in the Great Commission? Yes, we have the benefit of Salvation, but Jesus commanded more. He preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. He didn't stress Salvation as our goal. We can't even see or perceive or understand the Kingdom without Salvation, so it is the essential first step. He tells us to seek the Kingdom first! Salvation is a given at that point. There is more to our purpose, and it is to advance the Kingdom through the works He did and to share the Good News that these works are part of the Kingdom; restoring us back to our original state of dominion. 
     It is time we take these warnings in Matthew 10 and 11 to heart. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We are not exempt from the judgments He decreed over the people in the Book of Matthew. I pray that a holy fire of revelation and faith in the promises of the Kingdom of God will sweep our land. We have much need of repentance and an acceptance of the Message of the Kingdom. We need to not only hear it and receive it, but do it! It is time to preach it, teach it, equip and train! 

John 12:48        If you reject Me and refuse to follow My words, you already have a judge. The message of truth I have given you will rise up to judge you at the Day of Judgment.  

January 8, 2020

Kingdom Changes Our Circumstances

 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

     This passage is part of what the Bible calls "The Great Commission". Although the Church has long acknowledged that we have been given a commission, I'm not sure the 21st Century Christian could explain what his commission is.  I'd like to share the journey I've taken in dissecting these important verses.
     So, this is where it is really important to understand the meaning of words and what they tell us about who we were created to be. To begin with, it is important to comprehend that we are on a co-mission with Christ. This can be perceived in two, yet equally valid, ways -- 1) Jesus was given a mission by our Father in Heaven, and we are to be a partner in that mission (think co-worker); and 2) We have been given a legitimate commission by Jesus to accomplish something in particular; we have been officially charged with a particular task or command. 
     Then it is important to know that the mission of the Body of Christ (as outlined in the other Scripture about the Great Commission, Mark 16:15) is to Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel [of the Kingdom] to the whole creation. That means proclaim it to people, plants, mountains, the wind, the sea; everything on the earth. And before you think that sounds like some New Age craziness, remember that Jesus is our model! He cursed the fig tree and it died. He spoke to the storm, and it calmed. He took command over the water, and walked on it. Furthermore, Jesus challenged the Pharisees who warned Him to tell His disciples to keep quiet about the works of Heaven (miracles) that they had seen, praising God in His glory, and Jesus responded, I tell you, if these [disciples] were silent, the very stones would cry out (Luke 19:40). And let's not forget Romans 8:22-23 when Jesus says the whole creation has been groaning along with us for the redemption of our bodies. I believe He is showing us that there is a huge difference between having faith IN God, and having the faith OF God, which can move mountains and calm the seas. 
     It is that faith OF God that enables us to carry out our mission for the Kingdom of Heaven. It was the vision of God, from the beginning, that He would create Earth, where He would rule [as He rules His kingdom in Heaven] through His children. But that plan was derailed in the Garden of Eden. So now His vision is the same, but we have been given another chance to accomplish our mission [to preach the Good News that the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived on earth] by doing everything His Son has commanded us to do. As I've said so many times before, that is clarified in His instructions spoken in Matthew 10:7-8,  And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. It couldn't be any clearer!
     Put simply, our goal as Christians should not be to get to Heaven, but to make Earth look like Heaven. But RELIGION tells us we shouldn't be satisfied on earth until we go to Heaven. But that's a wrong picture of God's vision! There is no sickness in Heaven, and by using the power and authority Jesus gave us, we can come against sickness here on earth as Kingdom citizens and ambassadors. Sickness can't defeat the Kingdom, and in all reality, Kingdom solves the problem of sickness and conquers it!
     We see this principle displayed in Luke 13:10-17, Now he [Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.
     Notice, Jesus is in the synagogue preaching; He is in the church and notices a woman who had "a disabling spirit" and was obviously so tormented that she could not stand up straight. She had suffered for 18 years and I believe it is reasonable to suspect that she had been coming to that synagogue hoping for relief and healing. So what does Jesus do? He changes her circumstances by laying hands on her and releasing the healing power of God that is present in Him through the Holy Spirit. But the religious ruler of that synagogue is indignant because Jesus dared to heal her on the Sabbath! That priest's words and actions show that it was more important to keep his religious traditions than to set her free from her circumstances of disability. 
     But what is Jesus's answer to this condemnation? I'm paraphrasing here, but His answer was something like this ... Isn't this woman not more valuable than an ox, which you would choose to water on the Sabbath? She comes from Abraham's lineage and got healed under Abraham's contract with God that by his seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. That should satisfy you religious people. But there is a bigger contract than the one with Abraham! I have brought the governing principles of the Kingdom of God with Me, and we don't allow sickness in Heaven. So, I have changed the circumstances under which she's lived the last 18 years by the Kingdom principle of healing. You religious leaders here in the synagogue could have tried to heal her, but instead, you kept her comfortable in her circumstances; you kept her helpless against the torment of the Enemy."
     Can you see that our churches too often do the same thing? How many people have been sitting in the pews of their church for 18 years [or longer] suffering from debilitating physical ailments such as diabetes or arthritis; or tormented by lust and pornography; or burdened with the shame and guilt of promiscuity or abortion? Oh, they are wonderfully saved and believe that Jesus died on the Cross for their sins, but they are still suffering physical pain or the pain in their souls and spirits from the lies of the Enemy about their past. Jesus brought the Kingdom of Heaven to earth so that we don't have to continue in our circumstances! When we become Saved, we have the ability to see and enter the Kingdom of God, and that Kingdom citizenship gives us a right to be healed! But our church doctrines and traditions don't make that healing available. Instead, they serve to keep us comfortable in our harassed and tormented states, teaching us that we just have to wait until we get to Heaven and we will be healed of everything that caused us pain. That's not what Jesus taught!
     In Luke, Chapter 9, the Bible says that Jesus called his disciples together and gave them "power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick". That is our commission, too! It's really that simple ... "Spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God to all the nations, and then the end of this age will come" [Matthew 24:14]. That means the end of sickness, the end of death, the end of poverty, the end of pornography, the end of the sex trade, the end of corrupt government -- the end of everything the devil has used to support his dark kingdom on this earth. 
     Isn't it finally time that we begin changing the circumstances in the lives of people who love Jesus? Isn't that the underlying message in my opening Scripture? Jesus said to make disciples and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you .... tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and then heal the sick [in all the manifestations of that word]. KINGDOM CHANGES OUR CIRCUMSTANCES!

January 5, 2020

" A Fool Flaunts His Folly"

     I chose the title of this blog [from a phrase in Proverbs 13:16] after watching CBS's 60 Minutes presentation on a research study into the use of psychedelic drugs to help people who suffer from anxiety, depression, and addiction. This episode caught my eye because we are familiar with these spirits of anxiety, depression and addiction in our Inner Healing sessions. I wanted to see how the research corresponded with our findings of healing through Jesus Christ. I was actually pretty astounded at the similarities in the language used and the experiences that were shared. The difference lies in the fact that in the case of the researchers and study participants, the healing is credited to a large dose of psilocybin, the psychedelic agent in magic mushrooms, while participants in our Inner Healing sessions receive their healing from their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
     So, I 'd like to share parts of the transcript from the episode and contrast it with testimony of what I've seen the Lord do (which is in bold). The interviewer was Anderson Cooper, and I will introduce each of the people he spoke to and the connection they had with the study. Cooper states that these powerful, mind-altering substances are now being studied seriously by scientists inside some of the country's foremost medical research centers, and the results are impressive as participants go on a six-hour life-changing journey into their own minds. My response to that is that the Beloveds that come to the table to meet with Jesus spend two-three hours on a life-changing journey with Him into their spirits.

     The first study participant that Cooper interviews is a woman named Carine who suffered from an addiction to cigarettes for 46 years. Her experience under the influence of psilocybin was, in her own words, "terrifying".
ANDERSON COOPER: Do you remember specifically what you were seeing?
CARINE: Yes. The ceiling of this room was clouds, like, heavy rain clouds. And gradually they were lowering. And I thought I was gonna suffocate from the clouds.
    At this point, the episode shifts to Cooper interviewing Scientist Roland Griffiths who is involved with similar studies at John Hopkins Behavioral Biology Research Center.
DR. GRIFFITHS: We tell people that their experiences may vary from very positive to transcendent and lovely, to literally "hell realm" experiences... They come to a profound shift of world view; they are less identified with that self-narrative. People might use the term "ego." And that creates this sense of freedom.

     I will tell you that the Beloved who experiences Jesus's inner healing is not exposed to "the hell realm"; only the love, gentleness and kindness of Jesus. In the couple of hundred [and more] people we have ministered to, no one has encountered a terrifying experience. And, yes, their world view does change -- away from the false identity that the Enemy whispers, to an identity of self in the spiritual realm that is founded on who they are in Christ. And their freedom is unmistakable!  It comes from Him and not a drug. 

     The second participant interviewed was a young man named Jon, who suffered from an addiction to alcohol, drinking a staggering 20 cocktails a night, until his doctors told him he would die if he didn't stop.
JON: During one psilocybin session, [I] was flooded with powerful feelings and images from [my] past. Stuff would come up that I  haven't thought of since they happened.
ANDERSON COOPER: So old memories that you hadn't even remembered came back to you?
JON: Yes, and I felt a lot of shame and embarrassment throughout one of the sessions about my drinking and how bad I felt for my parents to put up with all this.
     Jon took psilocybin in 2016. He says he hasn't had a drink since.

     In our Inner Healing sessions, people are able to visit their past in the spirit, seeing images that always include the presence of Jesus. They see Him; they hear what He has to say about them, correcting the lies of the Enemy that have resulted in feelings of guilt and shame, similar to Jon's. The difference is that, through the Holy Spirit, they are able to hand over those condemning spirits to Jesus and walk in the freedom of their new identity.
     Here's what I discern in both Carine's and Jon's experiences with addiction. We have learned through our experiences and study -- people with addictions are trying to distract themselves from the feelings of being unloved. They have empty holes in their hearts, and when they have not received true, unconditional love as a foundation in their life, they are always in search of getting a need fulfilled. 
     As Dr. Henry Wright says in his profound book, A More Excellent Way, "The need to know God's love can open us up to look for love in all the wrong places. This need leaves us vulnerable to the deception of Satan, who seduces us into believing the world offers us a better substitute". Hence, we see people like Carine and Jon using psilocybin as a better substitute than God.  Jon was listening to the seductive lies of Satan and the spirits of shame and guilt, and was able to get rid of them through a manufactured mind-altering drug.  Those who come to us for Inner Healing defeat those spirits with the love of Jesus, who then fills those empty holes in their heart with the Holy Spirit.
     The third interview was with a woman named Kerry, who was diagnosed with stage III lung cancer in 2013. During her psilocybin session, she found herself trapped in a nightmare her mind created.
KERRY: [I was in an] ancient, prehistoric, barren land. And there's these men with pickaxes, just slamming on the rocks. So…
ANDERSON COOPER: And this felt absolutely real to you?
KERRY: Absolutely real. I was being shown the truth of reality. Life is meaningless, we have no purpose. And then I look and I'm [lying there] still, like a witness to a beautiful, shimmering, bright jewel [emphasis is mine]. And then  it was sound, and it was booming, booming, booming. "Right here, right now".
ANDERSON COOPER: That was being said?
KERRY: Yes. "You are alive. Right here, right now, because that's all you have." And that is my mantra to this day.

     How sad! As a Christian, and a daughter of King Jesus, I know she heard a lie from the pit of hell! Did anyone else identify what she was witnessing as a "beautiful, shimmering, bright jewel"? If not, let me quote Ezekiel 28:13 -- "You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared." This is a picture of Lucifer! And I am here to renounce the lies she heard!
     Life is NOT meaningless! We DO have a purpose! And "right here, right now" is NOT all we have.  And that's the beauty of our ministry -- people leave the table knowing that they are valuable to Jesus and the Father; that they were created to represent the Kingdom of God down here on earth. And they learn that they are so valuable to God that the Enemy has done everything he can to stop them from fulfilling their purpose; from knowing who they were created to be. Then they leave with renewed purpose for their life; they are not just waiting to die and go to heaven. 

     And that made me even more sad for Kerry. At the end of 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper finishes up his interview with her. She maintained that her session with psilocybin was freeing. Though her cancer has now spread to her brain, her crippling anxiety about death is gone.
KERRY: Yeah, it's amazing. I mean, I feel like death doesn't frighten me. Living doesn't frighten me. I don't frighten me.
     Cooper reported that most of the 51 cancer patients in the Johns Hopkins study experienced "significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety" after trying psilocybin. Two-thirds of them rated their psilocybin sessions as among the most meaningful experiences of their lives.
KERRY: To this day, it [the expereience on psilocybin] evolves in me.
ANDERSON COOPER: It's still alive in you--
KERRY: It's still absolutely alive in me.
ANDERSON COOPER: Does it make you happier?
KERRY: Yeah. And-- and I don't necessarily use the word happy. Comfortable. Like, comfortable. I mean, I've suffered from anxiety my whole life. I'm comfortable. That, to me, okay. I can die. I'm comfortable. (LAUGH) I mean, it's huge. It's huge.

     How I wish I could visit with Kerry before her impending death from cancer. I would tell her that anxiety is closely associated with the spirit of fear. And there is so much more than just feeling "comfortable" about her death. Jesus wants her to know the joy that those who leave our ministry session experience. He wants her to know that there is a life to be had beyond this one; that more than her psilocybin experience is alive in her -- He wants to be alive in her and wants a relationship with her! 

     But perhaps the most intriguing part of this episode was the interview Cooper did with author Michael Pollan, who wrote about the psilocybin studies in a bestselling book called "How to Change Your Mind." As part of his research, he tried psilocybin himself with the help of an underground guide.
ANDERSON COOPER: The kind of things that cancer patients were saying, like, "I touched the face of God." You were skeptical about when you hear phrases like that?
POLLAN: Yeah. Or, "Love is the most important thing in the universe." When someone tells me that I'm just like, "yeah, okay." It gives me the willies as a writer. And I really struggled with that cause during one of my experiences I came to the earth-shattering conclusion that love is the most important thing in the universe... And one of the things psychedelics do is they peel away all those essentially protective levels of irony and cynicism that we acquire as we get older and you're back to those kind of "Oh, my God. I forgot all about lo
ve." (Laugh)
     Pollan said he also experienced what the researchers describe as ego loss, or identity loss - the quieting of the constant voice we all have in our heads.

     I hope you are able to see that the research into the use of psilocybin and psychedelic drugs to heal the pain in people's lives comes quite close to mirroring the sessions in our Inner Healing ministry. But as Satan has so convincingly done throughout the ages, he whispers just enough truth that people [who don't want anything to do with God] can convince themselves they are free and living their best life.  Perhaps each of these people did receive some freedom from their addictions, anxiety, and doubt. But it was a temporary freedom from this world. And I believe that the use of psychedelic drugs tears open the veil between this world and the second heaven, where all the spirits reside and spiritual war is conducted against us humans. 
    Rather than "expanding their minds", these people need to be renewed in the spirit and receive the Truth of Jesus Christ, which will set them free, indeed! But as long as the secular and Godless world is willing to take the easy route offered by the devil, there will be those who seek an inferior substitute for the reality and blessing of Christ. I thank the Lord for His persistence in pursuing me. And I will be forever grateful for my freedom in Christ! 

Proverbs 15: 21    Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.  

January 1, 2020

Will 2020 Usher In the End of This Evil Age?

      I wasn't going to write anything about the New Year, but my spirit kept getting nudged to acknowledge it. So I will give you this short message that I hear the Lord telling me to share. For the past several months there have been an abundance of prophecies for the year 2020; most proclaiming revival and a new era of bold faith. I certainly hope these prophetic words are true! And then yesterday, a powerful prophetic word was spoken over mine and Mark's ministry. It was actually overwhelming, but came at a time when, to be honest, I was feeling a little discouraged. But I don't want to make this post about us. I will tell anyone who will listen that we are no one special. We do not hold ourselves higher than anyone else who has a heart to be obedient to the Lord and walk in His commandments.
     That being said, it is time that the rest of Christendom join us in the ministry of spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom. I hear more and more people waking up to the realization that evil is real and increasing. It is no longer hidden, but out in the open, and taunting all that is good. It is so apparent in every aspect of our culture -- entertainment, politics, government, technology and the internet, etc. While I can appreciate the prophetic word that is prevalent these days -- the prediction that a holy fire will spread through the ranks of Christians and a resurgence in faith will extend across the land -- I am praying that the fulfillment of our responsibilities to the Kingdom will be a part of that renaissance.
     So my message this New Year's Day, 2020, is really very simple. We need to walk in the hope of Jesus's own prophetic word in Matthew 24:14: Yet through it all, this joyful assurance of the realm of heaven’s kingdom will be proclaimed all over the world, providing every nation with a demonstration of the reality of God. And after this the end of this age will arrive. 
     It is my prayer that this prophesied revival includes more than just growing numbers of people coming to Salvation. It is my prayer that the Church moves beyond their Salvation experience and proclaims that the Kingdom of God has come to the earth and they will not only provide every person with a demonstration of the reality of God, but help them experience His power in every life. I want the Body of Christ to be true disciples of Jesus; transforming lives and doing the works of the Father, as Jesus commanded. I want the world to witness sickness, demons, unclean spirits, and yes, even death all defeated, in the mighty Name of Jesus! That is a real demonstration that God is real! When we learn to walk in our purpose, power, and identity, THEN the end of this age [of darkness and evil] will happen and the complete fulfillment of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth will arrive with the appearance of our Lord on the clouds! 
     Will 2020 be the beginning of the end of Satan's dominion on the earth? We will see. But Mark and I are not waiting for the world to get on board.  The two of us are going to keep on the path the Lord has appointed us, inviting every one to join us in the Kingdom, believing that we are sowing for a harvest that we may not ever see.  And we are trusting that our efforts for the Kingdom will resonate with other followers of Jesus until together, we become a wave of Kingdom righteousness that sweeps the nations and makes way for the King to return. So Happy New Year! And please join me in making 2020 count for the Kingdom!

December 30, 2019

The Religious Police vs Kingdom Citizens

     Oh, boy, I'm sure that this post will not win friends or influence people, but I feel it is time to take a stand. So here goes ... I am seeing a growing chasm between Christians; namely those in the camp I will call Reformers and those in the Kingdom camp. And I have to say that the rhetoric from the Reformer camp is getting uglier and more divisive. The articles on one of their more prominent websites, pulpitandpen.org, show me that they have designated themselves as the heresy police of Christianity. They decide who is a "real Christian" and who is not; often using Scripture sporadically, broadly, and frequently out of context. Furthermore, they categorize anyone who is Kingdom-minded as members of the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation).
     I will admit that I do not align myself with the NAR either, as I have discerned many of their adherents seem to be chasing prophetic gifts and titles. However, just because I am not so inclined, it does not mean that I condemn them or give individual pastors and teachers no credibility. I will leave the final judgment of their fruitfulness up to the Lord. As long as I see fruit from a group or movement, I join my husband in deciding to "eat the meat and spit out the bones" -- agree with what I see as fruit-bearing activity, and disregard areas that my spirit challenges. Not so, the Pulpit and Pen crowd.
     Their latest tirade is against Bethel Church and their attempt to resurrect a two-year-old child of one of their members through prayer. Here is some of what they wrote in an article entitled, Bethel 'Dead Raising Team' Fails To Save 2-Year Old:  "Of course, Bethel Church does not have the power to raise the dead. This is not the Apostolic age, and there are no Apostles or prophets (because we have the written word of God, (Hebrews 1:1-2). Some will look at this article and think it is cruel. Compare it to the actions of Jenn Johnson [worship leader and preacher at Bethel], publicly calling for this poor baby girl to be raised from the dead, giving her parents false hope and immeasurable pain instead of being content in 2 Corinthians 5:8, that for this child to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Instead of giving hope in the coming resurrection, they sell false promises. They are wicked, and Jenn Johnson should shut her evil mouth."
     WOW! Is that showing the love of Christ from one Christian to another? Is this the image of Christians that "the Church" wants to show the world? Or do these people more accurately resemble the religious Pharisees of the Bible? To be honest with you, it doesn't surprise me that this condemning language came from this website, one of the most outspoken of the Reformers. They have a history of defaming women who dare to declare themselves representatives of the Lord.
     Another of their articles titled, Are Women-Only Gatherings Biblical? Thoughts from John Bunyan, reads [in part] like this: "Essentially  [Bunyan's] argument is that prayer is – at its heart – doctrinal. Corporate, public prayer should contain doctrine and teach doctrine." The writer of the article [who is also the publisher of Pulpit & Pen] goes on to quote many of John Bunyan's opinions on the subject, but let me give you the condensed version as I surmised it ... Prayer is a serious business with doctrine at its center, and "there's no way to teach doctrine without authority". But look how they define who is entitled to walk in authority: "in a godly church where doctrine is closely checked and the pasture dutifully guarded, the calling of studies or prayer meeting or conferences – and their oversight – belong to the men commissioned for the office of pastor" ... therefore, it should not be led by whom the Holy Spirit calls the “weaker vessel.”
      So, it should not be surprising that Jenn Johnson, being a woman in what they see as an unbiblical position of preacher, should be their latest target. But I have a few things to say about both these articles. First, in regards to Bethel's attempt to resurrect a child who had tragically passed away, our Lord commissioned us to do just that! In Matthew 10:7-8, Jesus tells the Disciples, And as you go, preach this message: ‘Heaven’s kingdom realm is accessible, close enough to touch.’  You must continually bring healing to lepers and to those who are sick, and make it your habit to break off the demonic presence from people, and raise the dead back to life. Freely you have received the power of the kingdom, so freely release it to others.
     Now, I know the Reformers will say those instructions were given only to the Twelve Disciples and not to us. NOWHERE does Scripture say that! That is man-made doctrine called Cessationism. In fact, in what is called The Great Commission in Matthew 28, Jesus tells the Disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 
     Follow this with His declaration in Luke 10:19,  Now you understand that I have imparted to you all my authority to trample over his kingdom. You will trample upon every demon before you and overcome every power Satan possesses. Absolutely nothing will be able to harm you as you walk in this authority. Follow that with John 14:12, which says, Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.
     Just connect the dots! Disciples of all nations were to be taught to do what Jesus commanded the Twelve, and raising the dead was specifically commanded. Furthermore, He says that He has imparted ALL His authority and those who believe in Him will do the works that He did. Guess what? Raising the dead was part of the works he did to defeat the devil, along with casting out demons and healing the physically and spiritually sick. So I'm just a little tired of the ugly and slanderous language towards Christians who are seeking to follow not only Jesus's model, but His specific commandments.
    Secondly, the attacks on women as not being qualified to speak for Christ is also not biblically sound. And to quote the writings of a non-biblical source (John Bunyon) as truth is a little hypocritical, don't you think? And the writer/publisher shows his disingenuous intent when he asks at the end of the article, “Why? Why do we feel like women-only gatherings are obligatory or essential to our spiritual growth?” As a woman, I have never stated that I felt women's Bible studies were either obligatory or essential -- anymore than I think men's Bible studies are. As a matter of fact, I'm for any group of people who wish to gather together in search of Scripture's truth. 
     What I find burdensome and troublesome are self-appointed arbiters of what Christianity is supposed to look like. God inspired Scripture as His Holy Word. But when men decide they can re-interpret it according to their man-made doctrine, then differences of opinion are going to arise. Those differences are not inherently heretical. (Think "eat the meat and spit out the bones" -- as long as your spirit discerns there is nothing anti-Christ in the presentation). But Jesus never called for a religion. He commanded us to do what He did. He never said "Adopt this doctrine". And the Bible Study Tools website says "Doctrine is scriptural teaching on theological truths." But whose truths? Jesus's or John Bunyon or Pulpit & Pen or Jenn Johnson? It seems to me that it's important, as a follower of Jesus, to determine whose teachings line up with His. 
     And to call fellow believer's heretics or tell them to shut their evil mouths doesn't line up with Jesus's heart. And I just have to say that in the end, it all comes back to the fruit. Both camps are Saved and love Jesus. But only one camp is going to inherit the Kingdom. In Matthew 7, Jesus warns of pretenders ... Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the realm of heaven’s kingdom. It is only those who persist in doing the will of my heavenly Father. On the day of judgment many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, don’t you remember us? Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we cast out demons and do many miracles for the sake of your name?’ But I will have to say to them, ‘Go away from me, you lawless rebels! I’ve never been joined to you! ... Everyone who hears my teaching and applies it to his life can be compared to a wise man who built his house on an unshakable foundation... But everyone who hears my teaching and does not apply it to his life can be compared to a foolish man who built his house on sand..."
     The Kingdom of God on earth is built on the foundation of those who followed Jesus and did what He did, which was the will of the Father. Before we condemn each other for being heretical, perhaps we should see if they are following Jesus's teachings -- not John Bunyon's; not John Calvin's; not Bill Johnson's; not mine, nor any man or woman's personal doctrine. Jesus is the model and we are clearly instructed to follow His teachings! 

Matthew 25:34     "Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." 

December 27, 2019

A Tree, an Oath and The Everlasting God

     As I've explained before, I am once again beginning in Genesis and reading the Bible through to Revelation. Each time I take this journey, I glean more spiritual knowledge of my Creator and Savior. Words and verses jump out at me that I've never taken notice of before, and as I research the history and meanings behind these new treasures, I am always overwhelmed by the glory of God.
     So, this time I found a Biblical jewel in Genesis 21:33. It reads, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. There is so much in this one verse that I'd like to share. First of all, let me set the scene ... Abraham is sojourning in the land of the Philistines, and there arises a quarrel over a well that King Abimelech's servants had seized from Abraham. When Abraham approaches the King about this slight, Abimelech tells Abraham, "God is with you in all that you do" and asks Abraham to swear that they will deal with each other from that day forward with honor and trustworthiness. The Bible records that Abraham gave the king sheep and oxen and set aside seven ewe lambs as a witness that it was he who had dug the disputed well. Then verses 31 and 32 say, Therefore that place was called Beersheba [well of the oath], because there both of them swore an oath. So they made a covenant at Beersheba. 
     Which leads us to verse 33 and the notice that Abraham plants a tamarisk tree. Something so notable is not by accident. He could have planted any number of trees or bushes. Why the tamarisk? Here's what my research showed:  It is an extremely slow-growing tree and has to be cared for in order to do well. To a Bedouin or a Jew, you don’t plant a tamarisk for yourself, you plant it for the generations to come. From this story of Abraham in Genesis, we get the idea that Abraham planted this tree to say, “for generations to come, my family is going to be here”. “This shade is for the generations to come, I’ll never get to use it.” Other significant facts about the tamarisk tree is that it sends its roots down deep and scatters huge numbers of seeds. So Abraham didn't plant the tamarisk tree for his own comfort or use, but rather he was planting the seed for generations to come -- as shelter and protection; not only for his generational line but for all who are of his spiritual seed.
     I want you to connect all the dots that are laid out before us in this verse. From the significance of the tamarisk tree, we see that the place where Abraham plants it also has some meaning. Beersheba, which means "well of the oath" was founded at the site where Abraham and Abimelech made their covenant.[mentioned in Genesis 21]. In biblical terms, a covenant is a mutual agreement confirmed by calling on the name of the Lord.
     But this isn't the only time that this important city appears in biblical history.  Jacob had his dream about a stairway to heaven after leaving Beersheba. (Genesis 28:10–15 and 46:1–7). Beersheba was the territory of the tribes of Simeon and Judah (Joshua 15:28 and 19:2). The sons of the prophet Samuel were judges in Beersheba (I Samuel 8:2). Saul, Israel's first king, built a fort there for his campaign against the Amalekites (I Samuel 14:48 and 15:2–9). The prophet Elijah took refuge in Beersheba when Jezebel ordered him killed (I Kings 19:3). The prophet Amos mentions the city in regard to idolatry (Amos 5:5 and 8:14). Following the Babylonian conquest and subsequent enslavement of many Israelites, the town was abandoned. After the Israelite slaves returned from captivity in Babylon, they resettled the town. According to the Hebrew Bible, Beersheba was the southernmost city of the territories settled by Israelites, hence the expression "from Dan to Beersheba" to describe the whole kingdom. The city has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the centuries, and today is a thriving metropolis with a population of over 209,000.
     Now I want our dot-connecting to end at this final destination ... Abraham plants the tamarisk tree in Beersheba  and there calls on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God.  First, we need to understand that in the Hebrew Bible "to call on the name" of someone indicates a dependency on, and an obedience to that person. You are, in essence, summoning aid from someone who is not only able, but willing, to respond. Here, in Genesis 21:33 Abraham is planting seeds [both physically and metaphorically] for generations to come as he declares an oath to the God whom He depends on; whom he obeys; and whom he trusts will respond. And he tells us that the name of that God is "the Everlasting God" ... El Olam.
     Now you are most likely familiar with the more common names of God: Adonai [Lord, Master]; Yahweh [Lord Jehovah]; El Elyon [the God Most High]; Jehovah Jireh [the God who provides]; Jehovah Rapha [the God who heals]; El Shaddai [the All-Sufficient One]. So, now I would like to introduce you to El Olam [the Everlasting God]. The Hebrew word olam, means "eternity, in the sense of not being limited to the present". But it also means "for ever and ever" or from the most distant past time to the most distant future time. At the heart of El Olam is His continuity, His definiteness, and His unchangeability.
     We get that sense of Him when we consider His pronouncements of an everlasting covenant -- one which is not separated into Old and New, but a covenant with His creation that is represented by that tamarisk tree -- seeds are planted that will benefit generations to come -- where by mutual agreement [through our faith and His promises] we Believers can count on His presence being secured to us every moment of every day. It is continual, definite [undeniable and certain], and unchangeable [permanent, enduring, abiding, lasting, indestructible, irreversible].  He is El Olam and we can trust in Him forever! 

Genesis 17:7   I will confirm My covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

Luke 1:55   Keeping his promises to Abraham and to his descendants forever.