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

May 20, 2024

What Does God Demand of Us, and What Does the World Tempt Us to Covet?

As I have expressed in past posts, I want less of what the world has to offer. And as I advance in my faith [and my number of years on this planet], I yearn, instead, for more of the Kingdom in my life. Furthermore, as I learn what it means to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, I can discern the differences in a life lived surrendered to Him, and one that answers the call of the world.

So, these considerations have led to an awakening in my spirit of the ways our Enemy diverts the paths of Christians and steals our peace and joy. It's easy to see how the Unbelievers respond to the world. For them, there is no contemplation of what the Lord might ask of them, or how He might desire they live their lives. Instead, those with little or no faith simply are drawn to what the world tells them has value, or that promises them they will receive validation from their fellow men. 

What does that look like? It's easily seen with spiritual eyes. The world sets the standards ... you must have a big house with a pool; hundreds of followers on social media; the latest hairstyle, clothes, and weekly pedicures; belong to the "right" club, group, or clique; climb the corporate ladder; have a title, whether it's in the boardroom, the community, or the church. And above all else, the world teaches us that we put ourselves first; that self-gratification is our means to achieve happiness, success, wealth and power -- it all culminates in the indulgence or satisfaction of one's own desires. 

But did Jesus teach any of that?? What does God demand of us? What does He desire our lives to look like? If we call ourselves Christians, there is an obvious Bible verse that shines a light on what God desires. It's Micah 6:8 ... And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness [compassion], and to walk humbly with your God. Put simply, God wants you to live a lifestyle that shows you know right from wrong. Such a lifestyle is characterized by being just [ethical, moral, righteous, principled, full of integrity] in an unjust world. Jesus is our example. Consider how He conducted Himself in the midst of Roman autocracy. He did not respond as the world would have responded. He hit the mark on every one of those descriptions that I used to describe what just means. But the world would have us react out of anger, pride, and vengeance. Just turn on the TV and watch the News channels, talk shows, and the live broadcasts of our Congress in action.   

Secondly, God desires that we love others and practice kindness, compassion, and mercy. Remember that at the time Micah wrote this, Israel's religious focus was on their rites and sacrifices as the way to curry favor with God for forgiveness of their sins. But their emphasis was all wrong! They were convinced by hard hearts to add to the sacrifices sanctioned by the Law of Moses. They followed the pagan culture and began sacrificing their firstborn sons as a means to cover their sins. That gives such a profound meaning to Jesus's quote in Hosea 6:6 ... I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I think God's most intimate desire is that we know His love and how to share it with others. That is the most important thing to Him; He sent His Son to model that for us. He does not demand rigid, religious rites. He desires changed hearts which reflect Him to the world; justice, mercy, and love are the foundation of God's Holy Nature. The modern Church has sadly compromised with the world, and too often subverts God's holy commandments in order to listen when the world's culture whispers "diversity, equity, and inclusion".   

Thirdly, Micah 6:8 tells us God desires us to walk humbly with Him. Again, this shows a heart fully surrendered to God; one that sets aside worldly pride to stand committed to showcasing God's glory and His attributes, rather than our own. Let's be honest, it is easy to recognize a person who puts God first in their life. They do not call attention to themselves [as the world tempts them to do], but rather, they simply do what is right, and people are drawn to them because of their loving heart. Their walk with Jesus is their way of life. And that brings us to another thing God desires of us: that we walk in all His ways in our steadfast relationship with Him. That requires a healthy fear [or reverence or awe] of the Lord, rather than idolizing what the world holds up for our entertainment and worship. His goodness should motivate us all to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and spirit because He is worthy of such adulation and respect. Walking in the ways of the Lord means it is incumbent upon us to seek knowledge of His Word, and to walk in obedience to do what He calls us to do, wherever He sends us, giving all honor and glory to Him. The world, however, encourages us to love ourselves and what it defines as worthy -- money, fame, beauty, material things, power.

And anyone who has experienced life with Jesus knows that those things are empty and meaningless in the Kingdom of God. Regrettably, I have seen those very temptations draw people [that I love dearly] further away from a life that will lead them to God. The world speaks lies that these idols are worthy substitutes for a life lived in the midst of God's love, and the joy and peace it brings. It doesn't mean our life in the world will be a bed of roses -- in fact, our Enemy will do everything to persuade us to abandon our allegiance to God and His ways. But, I will continue to pray that I grow more into the image of Christ, that they may have the dirty veil removed from their eyes and see the world in all its decay and deceit. Until then, I will do my utmost to live a righteous life; show kindness, compassion and mercy to others; and to walk in humbleness before my Lord. I know I am not perfect and there will be times I fail [a lot], but I also trust that He knows my heart because I know He is full of forgiveness for the repentant.

So, join me in praying for the world; pray that we who desire to please the Lord by following Him in all His ways can be a righteous influence and role model for those who desperately need to know Him. Let's show them that they don't need to follow any religious rules, but just allow Him to come close to them. They are His delight and His joy, and He paid everything for them to restore their relationship. And then let us invite them to tell them how we know!

2 Peter 1:4     And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires.  

May 16, 2024

Prophets and the Pagan Gods

I am aware that this blog post may not be everyone's cup of tea. I think the peoples of the world are so hungry to be free of what they innately discern is the crumbling structure of their lives that they only want to hear what makes them feel good. And I understand that! Too often, I am awakened in the middle of the night with discouraging thoughts, and it is only through focusing my soul and spirit on Jesus that I am able to take those thoughts captive and receive His peace. 

But that doesn't mean that I ignore the reality of what I clearly see as the truth of our situation. And I want you to know that I am cognizant of the whispers of the Father of Lies, so I am careful to vet the Source of what I am seeing [and hearing]. We no longer live in the times of the Old Testament when God primarily spoke to His people through the prophets [oftentimes in dreams and visions]. Today, He speaks to us through His Son, who has given us the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us in His ways. And you can count on the Spirit speaking the Lord's truth... When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you in to all truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.

It has become apparent to me that it is not just any spirit that speaks the truth and prophesies what is coming, but the Holy Spirit! It is not my spirit, or another man's or woman's human spirit, but the Spirit that is God! And it most certainly is not a demonic spirit who owes its allegiance to Satan. We cannot trust the latter two spirits to be speaking truth. And it must be discerned among the people of God that the demonic spirits can come from worshipping false [pagan] gods who love to fool our human spirits into accepting what "sounds like" it's coming from the One True God. I often think it's inherent among the human race to always be looking to replace what they don't like about the state of their existence with a new vision of their own creation, instead of looking to the perfect existence in the True Creator. 

And that takes me to an unlikely reference to what I'm trying to express. The 70s anthem, "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who, communicates the need to be critical in our assessment of whose voice we are listening to as we strive for truth and transformation that is real and lasting in the Lord. The song is a picture of Satan's unchanging and predictable plan of causing chaos that leads to rebellion, and then convincing people it's all new. It could be the anthem for today ... There's nothing in the street looks any different to me. And the slogans are effaced, by-the-bye. And the parting on the left is now parting on the right. And the beards have all grown longer overnight...I'll get on my knees and pray we don't get fooled again.  

You see, the prophets of old were called by God to be His spokesmen and share His message to His people within the historical context of what was happening in their lives. They reported the will of God in the particular situation. The prophets not only exhorted and challenged men to obey God's will, but entailed His plan for the situation, and either encouraged the righteous according to God's promises or warned the people of coming judgment -- all according to what God revealed to them, the prophets. Because of the people's preponderance to follow false gods, worship idols, and disobey God's laws, the prophets of old spent lots of time rebuking sin [and repeating God's warning about the punishment He intended] if they didn't answer His call for repentance. 

They also announced what God told them regarding their deliverance that would come with the Messiah and His kingdom. The difference between a true and false prophet could be discerned by which prophecies were fulfilled. And that is an interesting detail in light of today's "prophets". How many of our modern-day prophets were proclaiming worldwide "revival" and the Third Great Awakening just a year ago? And how many of those same prophets have now reversed course and are warning that worldwide war, persecution, and dark days are coming? 

I guess my basic question is this: Are you truly hearing from the Lord? Are your prophesies coming from your own discernment? Or are you prophesying what the people want to hear? And because our Lord predicted that false prophets would abound in the Last Days to lead us astray, I am careful to observe if today's prophets are only relating conditions and events in the world without pointing us to Jesus and His promises. I am not a prophet and do not claim to have the last word on whether a proclaimed prophet is the real deal or not. But I am able to see evidence of their fruit [or not]. I have simply been assigned to stand on the walls of this nation and warn against what the Lord shows me are the dangers we are being tempted to participate in. I do NOT require people to believe me. They must take what I've been equipped to see and ask the Lord for confirmation and act accordingly.

Both my husband and I are particularly sensitive to the idolatry the Lord is highlighting as our nation is influenced by the pagan gods of old to adopt spirits of greed, perversion, ungodly rituals, sacrifices of children, and a reliance on the pursuit of Religion instead of the Kingdom. You see, in ancient history, those gods were worshipped as Mammon, Moloch, Baal, Chemosh, Astarte, etc. Today, we know them as Wealth, Power, Lust, Abortion, Knowledge, and again, Religion with a capital "R" [which Jesus never brought, nor asked to be exalted]. The names and means of worship may be more sophisticated, but the results are the same: suffering and a painful separation from God. Our Bible tells us that any elevation of a false god above the One True God comes with consequences. You shall have no other gods before Me makes that pretty clear. 

And I want to make it clear that I have not heard from the Lord as to His plan of judgment or punishment, and am not called to prophesy of their certainty. At the same time, my God repeatedly points me to His Word for confirmation that both are grave possibilities when He shows me what He wants me to see from my position on the wall. But I am to only report what I see, and what could happen, not declare what will happen. Hopefully, that makes us all take stock of where we are in our obedience to God's will.

In conclusion, this is what I know for sure ... God can [and has] delayed His judgment; sometimes for hundreds of years, in the hope that peoples' hearts will change and they will return to Him. But He will not be mocked and He will not be patient forever. The Word says that there will come a time when The Restrainer's hand will be removed. For now, I pray that I will continue to clearly see what the Lord is pointing out to me, His Watchman; and that the true prophets will be easily discerned as authorized mediators who speak for God. I read somewhere that even in Elijah's time, there were 450 false prophets for every authentic one anointed by God! One anointed prophet is more than enough to overcome Satan's strategies of delivering false warnings and/or promises. I pray that we come together with pure hearts and reject every false god, false prophet, and false religion, all for the glory and power of the Kingdom of God! From my view on the wall, the time is now! Amen!

Philippians 2:10-11      ... so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord [sovereign God], to the glory of God the Father.    

May 12, 2024

How Satan Is Using Men, War, Power, and Greed to Enslave Humanity

From the beginning of this Age, the fallen angel, Satan, has sought to control this world. As Christians, we know that from our Bibles. Actually, his plan has been pretty transparent ... his pride was the instigator in his rebellion against God, thinking He could be like the Almighty. We see that desire to cause rebellion and chaos exhibited  in his temptations of Eve and Jesus, and again in his accusations against Job, Joshua [the High Priest], and so many of us. Satan's own selfishness and greed for power led to conflict and hostility between God and His former "guardian cherub". 

This led to Satan's fall and his subsequent position as a powerful ruler in the spiritual realms, with a sizable order of demon followers that help him accomplish his purpose to "steal, kill, and destroy" those that belong to God. And those demon powers influence men on the earth, who have made a choice to align with Satan rather than their Creator. The Bible reveals that this battle between God and Satan has continued to escalate since the devil's fall and will eventually culminate in the final War between Good and Evil at the end of the Age when Jesus returns to defeat Evil, once for all. 

But it has also become evident to me that it has always been Satan's intention to build a Council of War, so to speak, [on earth] to bring about his desire to obliterate man's relationship with God and to establish his own power bases to help carry out his oppressive and tyrannical control of the world. Sometimes he enlists the help of a single man such as Herod, or Antiochus Epiphanes, Hitler, Stalin or Mengele. At other times he recruits organizations such as terrorist groups or corporations to instigate his agenda of destruction.These people and groups might not inherently be considered "evil", but through demonic and spiritual influence they evolve to serve his unholy will.

And one of his favorite weapons is War [and the threat of War] to bring about his totalitarian control of all mankind. Jesus, Himself, told us that we would continually hear of "wars and rumors of wars". When I was in college, God opened my spiritual eyes to see how this works. For the first time, I saw how the international bankers used War to create wealth for themselves and their nations, creating a military/industrial cabal that periodically masterminded conflict in the regions of the world to bring enrichment to the members. And then about 12 years ago, God again revealed the hypocrisy of the United Nations, whose stated objectives are "the maintenance of international peace and security, the promotion of the well-being of the peoples of the world, and international cooperation to these ends". 

Yet I haven't seen too much "international peace and security" happening in the last few decades. It seems the world has been in constant war, with the UN gaining more and more power to usurp the sovereignty of nations and their self-government. You see, each new war that erupts is not isolated. The world now finds itself immersed in "global conflicts", which in turn are used to create a "global crisis" that must be mitigated by... you guessed it, the one organization that is charged with the "well-being of the peoples of the world" ... the United Nations. 

So, what are these "crises" that require the UN's supervision? I'm sure you can identify them -- we currently have food, health, energy, economic, and environmental crises declared on a global scale. And, if you have spiritual eyes to see, it's not hard to discern that this is exactly what Jesus said would be the fallout when nations rise against nations, and kingdoms against kingdoms. And then He infers that what follows War is famines and earthquakes, plagues and great signs from heaven; "the whole land shall be a desolation". There we see the crises of food, health, and environmental. The Book of Revelation reveals a rider on a black horse who is holding a pair of scales  in his hand. "Two pounds of wheat for a day's wages, and six pounds of barley for a day's wages". That certainly indicates an economic crisis. And the energy crisis? All the wars in the Middle East over the last few decades have been fought for control of the Earth's oil. But has man forgotten that "the Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof"? Apparently so, because Satan, our Enemy, has tempted men to go to war for power and greed. And then he manipulates organizations like the UN in ways to purportedly promote our "well-being". 

And just how has this august organization proposed to institute our welfare, happiness, and prosperity? Initially, it was through Agenda 21, which was designed as "a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally, and locally by organizations of the United Nations system, governments and major groups, in every area in which humans impact the environment". But that wasn't enough! In 2015, the UN announced Agenda 2030, which was billed as "a new Universal Agenda for humanity; a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity". In addition to addressing the environmental, or "Climate Change" issue, this new Agenda set ambitious goals for those areas already mentioned, such as economics, health, energy -- and a whole host of new issues such as education, agriculture, and gender equality. 

But don't think Satan is through using the UN for his global takeover. In September of 2024, they will hold their "Summit of the Future", with the goal of introducing "Multilateral Solutions for a Better Tomorrow". The Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, has indicated new radical and drastic reforms in the structure of the UN. What does that mean for the people of the world? Guterres reports that he is calling for the UN to be the one world global response organization, having all power in global emergencies, with the power to oversee emergency responses. They suggest that the crises could involve the climate, economies, pandemics, a black swan crisis (an unpredictable event with potentially severe consequences), or even something from outer space. 

Sounds to me like anything can be declared a crisis by the Secretary General, and then all power and authority would go to the UN. Did you know that that there is an agency within the UN, called the UN Population Fund, dedicated to figuring out how to drastically cut the population of the planet? And what better way to depopulate the earth than with war? The international bankers get wealthy and the global elite get rid of those who are taking up space and using up their resources. And what better way for Satan to accomplish his goal of stealing, killing, and destroying God's creation than to use ungodly men and organizations to do his bidding? 

But once again, I am left concluding [and encouraging you] that hope is not lost! God always has His remnant! I don't relish writing of these plots and plans to enslave humanity to a global government that climaxes with Satan ruling the world. But now is the time for good men and women to wake up and see what is behind the curtain. Throw off the blindfold and the tactics of our Enemy to hypnotize us with our computer screens. Satan isn't the only one that has influence over humanity. Good men with morals and values; followers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, are willing to stand with God against Satan's tyranny. But God expects us to do our part! And we have the heavenly host backing us up! Yes, it seems as if the physical world is submerged in war. But we need to understand that our God fights for us, and there is a war going on in the spiritual realms as well, and it's on our behalf. So, we need to put on our full armor of God and get in the fight! Heaven is cheering us on!

[Thanks to usawatchdog for insight to these latest global plans of the UN]. 

2 Corinthians 10:4    The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.      


May 9, 2024

A Confession: Longing to Die to this World and Live for Christ

I know the title of today's blog may sound depressing to some. But within it lies the hope and longing for my true purpose in this world. So, as you may surmise, I am in a place of deep contemplation. Maybe this naturally comes with the aging process. When I was young and could only see the value of life in how it served me and my selfish desires, the meaning of death [in all its ways] was not even on my radar. The world was full of prospects and hope for an exciting, profitable, romantic future. I couldn't wait to see what the world would bring to me.

So, therefore I thought the world would bring me adventure and success and love that exceeded all my dreams. And, of course, being the world, it didn't really care whether I succeeded or not. And, in reality, it never had my best interests at heart. It wasn't until my junior year in college that I began to be taught [by the world] that there were forces actively involved in making sure I was defeated. One of the most pervasive lies [that has now exponentially invaded our culture through social media] is the false principle that "you should change everything about you that is not desirable to the world". That includes everything from your thoughts to your profession to body shape, morals, laws, gender, clothing, education, hair color, sagging skin, social status, the car you drive, your ideas, your politics ... EVERYTHING  that society has not stamped with their approval. But that makes you a slave to the world, doesn't it?  

It took a moment of youthful rebellious pride, on my part, during that junior year of college, in which I discovered it was frowned upon to be independent. You had to stay within the strict boundaries of the University code of loyalty to whatever mindset the elite Board of Regents deemed appropriate to satisfy their overlords. As an employee of the institution, one was not allowed to question policy or "color outside the lines". So, I turned in my resignation. I will admit to a spirit of defiance and unrest in my soul. I could have compromised and continued to toe the line, but my heart was uneasy at the subterfuge and deceit that I witnessed, and although my rash decision left me with no financial means to continue my education, and no place to live, I was more unsettled about the state of my spirit. [It didn't help that I heard my father say he was disappointed in me! That was an arrow to the heart for sure!) 

Then the fear of the unknown set in. I instinctively cried out to Jesus! Although I had no personal relationship with Him, I knew of Him, and my inner being knew that somehow He was the answer. I knew I didn't want to fit in with what the world was showing me as "the right way to live". And in the depths of my despair, He slowly began shaping me and speaking to my heart that He was "the Way, the Truth, and the Life". I'm not going to lie -- my transformation saw many ups and downs; one step forward, two steps back; taking wrong turns on the path He laid out before me; and many years of questions and searching for a way, often living with one foot in this world, and one foot in Jesus's domain.

But it was always obvious that when I was tempted by the world, I was miserable. Something profound was missing! I knew Jesus had the answers, but I didn't know how to disentangle myself from the world. It seemed that I was always being overrun with worry about paying bills, and the couple of relationships I had were unhealthy and brought no fulfillment. The Churches I attended preached the message that faith in Jesus would bring you the riches of the world. But I began to realize that I didn't want what the world had to offer! People were miserable whether they had money or not. I didn't see any relationships that seemed satisfying. And the people in the Churches were just as miserable as those outside. How could I get to Jesus? I knew He was there and holding out His hand. Why couldn't I break loose and run to Him? I wanted Him and not the world!

All was not hopeless, because it was as my crisis of faith was escalating that the Lord brought the man whom He had chosen for me into my life. Mark was the light in the midst of the world's darkness. He had a visible faith and a strength in spirit that helped me begin to seek Jesus in an honest, sincere way. After two years, we became engaged. Then one night, I believe the Enemy laid out his plan to keep my union with Jesus and Mark from ever happening. A hit-and run driver slammed into the rear-end of my car on a well-lit [and well-traveled] stretch of a major highway through the heart of downtown Austin, TX, sending my little car rolling end over end up an embankment. I cried out for God with each rotation, glass shattering all over the interior, and the roof caving in just an inch from my brain. No one stopped to help. I was able to climb out of the car through the passenger side and run [with heart pounding and adrenaline skyrocketing] across the highway to summon help at a hotel. I ended up with only a mild headache and only 6 stitches in my head. God had gotten my attention!

To make a long story short that was the beginning of my separation from the world. I had a hunger to know Jesus and His plan for my life. That also meant that I began to feel that I didn't belong to the rest of the world. Both mine and Mark's goals became different and distinct from everyone we knew -- our family and friends struggled to identify with us in the same way they had before. Our life looked different than everyone else's. But I was blessed with a husband who filled His Godly mandate as the leader of our home, and who took his cues [regarding who he was to be in this world] from the Creator of the Universe. We were a team; devoted to encouraging and equipping each other to be who Jesus made us to be, and to have the courage to follow His lead. I will tell you that Mark has never questioned His trust in the Lord, while it has been a lesson in perseverance for me to reach that same level of certainty and freedom of doubt that the Enemy is so good at sowing into our minds.

It's been a life of gaining the knowledge of the Lord and the revelations of His purpose for me.And once I learned that my relationship with Jesus is my answer to the disappointments of this world, I am not afraid of death -- of physical death; of the death of my dreams; of the death of worldly ties and temptations. In fact, when I die to those things is when I will be the most alive. While on this earth, I long for separation from this world and yearn for the excitement and adventure of belonging to Jesus! Because I know that He lives in me, I know the possibilities of all I can receive directly from Him as the Holy Spirit helps me to follow the path He has laid out before me. The riches of a life lived in obedience to Christ overflows into every aspect of this physical world. It colors it vibrantly and dramatically, bringing love, joy, and peace -- even in the midst of the defeat the Enemy is whispering.

You see, I know that as long as I am on this side of Heaven, Satan's forms of physical and spiritual death are always stalking me. They are always fanning the flames of doubt, fear, anxiety, and abandonment; aiming those fiery darts at my heart, causing confusion. But those times of "shaken confidence" are like the shaking I felt in that out-of-control car on that dark night. The result is that I cry out to God, and His Life [in me] rushes in to support my mind, heart, soul and spirit! I know who I am and whose I am! I know that I don't need to change everything about me to satisfy the desires of this world -- I long for the death of all those desires; to die to this world as I long only to change everything in me to please the will of my God, and my Lord and Savior. 

I am not oblivious to the deterioration of this world; of the destruction that may soon come upon my nation and my family. I am very aware that Death is coming for all of us who profess our undying faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. But I also know that out of that darkness will spring forth the Light of the Universe; a Love so powerful that Victory is ours! We need have no fear of the sting of death; no anxiety as to our future; no worry about our destiny. I truly believe that the Lord Jesus has prepared a table for us in the midst of our enemies; that He has anointed and refreshed our heads with oil [the Holy Spirit]; and our cups [of spiritual provision] will overflow. As we die, more and more, to the demands of this world, He is preparing us for our service to His Kingdom -- the one presently on this earth, and the everlasting, fulfilled Kingdom when we are re-united with Him in Eternity. So, I glory in the freedom from the demands of this world that comes when I seek to willingly die to self. Each day brings me closer to being in His presence, and absent from this earthly realm. May the Glory and Majesty of the Lord come soon!

Psalm 23:4    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me. (Amplified Version)  

May 5, 2024

Today's Christian and the Quandary Over Romans 13

It goes without saying that Romans 13:1-7 has been a subject of debate among Christians since it was written nearly 2000 years ago. But as with any critical consideration or interpretation of Biblical text, one must evaluate this passage within the context of what Paul is experiencing in his environment, and what God wants him to teach readers. I will admit that it is difficult to do that in the midst of our own experiences and environment; we are always wanting to contrast the two.

But this isn't about explaining our own biases in interpreting Romans 13. We must comprehend what Paul is explaining to the First Century Believers, with the clear understanding that God intends for us to take this teaching and apply the same Godly principles, not substituting our own prejudices. It's not an easy thing to do, and can lead to false justifications for our actions. So, let's dive in and see what we can discern.

It's important that we understand what has led Paul to this point in his letter to the believers in Rome. Remember, all the chapters prior to this one have related to instructing the Jewish and Gentile believers that God has a had a plan to reconcile [and bring into unity] all those who will believe in Jesus as His Son and the Redeemer of the world. God sees no difference between a Jewish believer and a Gentile one. In Chapter 12, Paul's letter brings everything from the previous chapters into focus to reveal that God demands our action [towards each other] as well as our believing and thinking, which leads to faith that expresses itself in obedience. 

All that coalesces into the instruction in Chapter 13 to "Submit to Authorities" or "Be Subject to the Government", depending on your translation. But here is what is not made clear in this short chapter. At the time, the Roman government imposed a hefty tax burden upon its subjects [which included the Jews], and those taxes had to be paid in coins [called a denarius] that portrayed the image of Caesar with an inscription calling him "divine". In addition, the Jewish people had a temple tax, which was required of Jewish males over age 20, and the money was used for the upkeep and maintenance of the temple. In this case taxes were paid in shekels.   

This information brings Romans 13:1 clearly into focus ... Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. Here, I believe, knowing the context of the culture Paul was writing from, he is saying, "Whether it be Caesar, or the Temple authorities, we are to render ourselves as subjects". Why, you may ask? Verse 2 tells us ... For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. These authorities, whether a nation's leaders or church/synagogue leaders have been appointed by God to serve a purpose in His plan. The problem is that citizens, whether in Paul's time or our own, are short-sighted. We have only looked at these leaders as to how they have served or affected us, instead of understanding and honoring that God appointed them for HIS purpose.

So, here is what we need to come to terms with: God has not always appointed them to bless the people. Sometimes He puts them in place to judge the people or to ripen the nation for His coming judgment [bring His judgment to maturity]. If we would rightly discern the Word, we would see that neither the Lord nor Paul disputed or denied the authority of either the Roman Emperor or the Pharisee priests. In fact, both Jesus and Paul would suffer and be killed by the Roman authorities, having been targeted by plots of religious Jews. 

Just as Jesus did, we are not to resist [governmental] authority because to do so is to resist the decree of God. [NOTE: The exception to that is if authorities order us to do something in contradiction to God's law. We see that instruction in Acts 4:19, when Peter and John told the Sanhedrin that God's law superseded the laws of men, including the Sanhedrin's]. Back to Romans, Paul teaches that those who resist governmental authority will bring civil judgment and penalties on themselves. This should be a warning to all the people... if you do what is good, according to the law, then you have nothing to fear from the civil authorities, because they are God's servant to you for good. And in contrast, if you do wrong, then you should expect to be punished for going against God's protectors of society and social order. 

The mention that the civil authorities carry a sword of punishment and law and order seems to imply that force may be used, when necessary, to maintain order. If the authorities are acting in accordance to God's mandate to them, and the citizens comply with ethical and principled laws, then society operates in unity, everyone knowing what is right before God. It is through just punishment that government serves God's plan to hold man's sinful tendencies in check. IF a government fails to carry out this mandate from God, then it will find itself subject to God's own judgment and correction. This should be a stern warning to all the DA's who are not upholding our laws as we see crime escalating at extreme rates.

Then comes the verses that are most problematic for American Christians. Romans 13:6-7 says, For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. From our cultural context, these verses rub us the wrong way. Having been birthed in rebellion to governmental authority, our national inclination is to object to an overlord that taxes our own hard work that has made us prosperous. But remember, Paul is writing to the First Century believers in Rome; both Jew and Gentile. We are to give to the state the money, honor and respect which is due them, while also giving to God for the work He desires to do. 

But it must be made clear [and understood] that these verses are implying that the taxes collected are for the purpose of restraining evil and keeping an orderly society -- not to line the pockets of the government officials. Paul leaves a lot of questions unanswered at this point in his letter. So, here we are in the 21st Century wondering how God wants us to respond to government authorities whom it is clearly discerned are not acting as righteous servants or ministers in accordance with His governmental "plan and purpose". At what point do we take a stand as Peter and John did? When and how do we justify actions to resist these ungodly authorities? We must remember that they are sometimes put in place [by God] to render judgment, not blessings, to a nation that has fallen far from Him. We must all be seeking God for these particular answers. We do not want to interfere with His purpose, but we want to do His will.

At this point in the chapter, Paul switches to the only "debt" we are to carry: Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. Yes, we are instructed that we have an obligation to pay our taxes and follow the laws our government has put in place. That is all the responsibility we have to our society. But Loving our Neighbor is a "forever" obligation and a debt that is never released. You can be religious and do all the "works of man", but to love like God loves is true obedience to our Lord and Master. 

Then we come to verse 11, which speaks so deeply to my spirit ... Do this, knowing that this is a critical time. It is already the hour for you to awaken from your sleep [of spiritual complacency]; for our salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed [in Christ]. This verse reminds me of the parable of the Ten Virgins, five of whom were asleep in their spiritual contentment and slackness; unprepared for the hour that would divide those invited to enter and receive their kingdom inheritance from those whom the wedding feast was withheld. We cannot sleepwalk into the Kingdom! We must be wide awake, clothed in righteousness and in Christ, with our armor on and ready to defend our faith in the Name of Christ, as well as attack the forces of Evil that are readying for the return of our Lord! 

Romans 13 is a call to spiritual arms for every Believer in Jesus Christ, the Messiah! We must be discerning of both our government and church authorities. We must do right by God and His appointed authorities, trusting that whether they have been appointed to bless us or judge us, God will be with us and for us. And so, we look forward to that day we hear the trumpet blast that announces His return. It can't come soon enough for me!

Proverbs 21:1    The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He will.

May 2, 2024

Our Counterculture Mindset Needs Jesus

As I was considering the span of years in my life, I was actually amazed at all the changes in our culture; how it seemed as if each decade was beset by new challenges to societal values. In addition, the years seemed to also foreshadow the forces that were coming as counter to our "accepted" national culture. But we must recognize that the word "Culture" is hard to pin down. That's because a National Culture is usually identified as a group of people that share certain expectations of how things should be done, and share the values that surround these expectations. But within that social construct, Americans are a conundrum. 

True, we like to espouse individual freedoms, equality, diversity, patriotism, privacy, and democracy as hallmarks of our common American culture. But because we are a melting pot of other cultures with their own individual norms, behaviors, customs and values, we have often been at odds with each other -- and at no time more than when we fought a devastating Civil War in the 19th Century over how our national culture would be defined. 

I'd like to say that we've always celebrated the differences in our American culture; that we've honored those differences with respect, and have accepted others' values and standards of behavior as falling within our moral fabric. I'd also like to say that we've been a nation founded on Christian principles, continuing to be faithful and consistent in following Jesus's commandments in our government, churches, commerce, schools, and everyday lives. I'd like to say that ... but honestly, I can't. 

You see, there has been a spiritual power that runs counter to any Godly culture we might have, or have had. And it doesn't even try to hide its purpose as we examine the various "counterculture" movements that have swept through our land -- just in my lifetime! I first became cognizant of the term counterculture when I was in high school in the mid-late 60's. It was the era of the "hippies", free love, and the Age of Aquarius, in which a New Age of peace and understanding, self-awareness, and the brotherhood of man was proclaimed. And of course, all that self-examination led to an attack on God in our culture with the removal of prayer from the classroom.

It was also the age of Woodstock, a burgeoning drug culture, psychedelic rock n' roll, and anti-war and civil rights demonstrations, which were often violent. Obviously, these swings away from the uniformity and conformity of American culture in the 1950's represented a culture that was becoming counter to the norm. You can see how Satan was influencing the hearts and minds of our American psyche. But you can also see how God counterpunched with the Jesus Movement, an evangelical movement of American youth that, in itself, was countercultural in its desire to return to a Christianity that favored the historical Church movement in the First Century, in contrast to the religious interpretations of the traditional 20th Century American Church.

With each advancing decade, we saw America embracing the idea of being countercultural; adopting values and norms of behavior that differed considerably from mainstream society. In the 70's it was personal liberation and rebellion against authority. Feminism changed the shape and foundation of the family forever, leading to Satan's most devastating accomplishment: convincing women that willful abortion was acceptable. And Roe v Wade became the law of the land. The first Earth Day was observed, opening the door to worshiping Mother Earth, rather than God, its Creator. Student protests turned violent and Kent State happened. Students no longer respected the U.S., and the radical ones began infiltrating the university educational system. Americans began doubting their government as Watergate, inflation, the energy crisis, and Three Mile Island occupied the news cycles. 

Thus began what could be called the "counterculture revolution", with the 80's, 90's, and the new 21st Century decades becoming characterized by political and social liberalism, consumer materialism, the meteoric rise of technology, globalization of everything, and the ultimate polarization of society, as common values were disregarded in favor of personal standards. The absolute truth of God's moral principles were discarded for moral relativism; the only truth that mattered was what a particular individual or group believed was true. And the most destructive aspect of these forms of counterculture was the transformation happening in the Church.

Even the idea of God, who He was, and how we are to relate to Him, came up for debate. Everything about Him was questioned; from theological doctrine to whether the Bible still had value as our moral guidebook. Lines were being drawn between those who still believed in the "old paradigm" of the virgin birth and the deity of Christ, and those who were members of the "new paradigm", believing that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God, thereby freeing people who identify as Christians to create their own version of God and what He commands. Long story short, it became all about a "Me-first" mindset and "what I want", instead of a "God-first" worldview and what He commands from His followers. 

Our slide into "counterculturism", so to speak, has led to a lamentable separation from God. We see it in the shift of our societal standards. Sadly, marriage, gender, what is considered Godly faith, the treatment of children, how we treat our neighbors, what we worship, and what we value are now often counter to God's standards set before us in His Holy Word. And I am left with the heartbreaking question ... How have we Christians failed to influence this culture that is hell-bent on becoming counter to everything God stands for?

It's easy to become enmeshed in our Christian communities, whether small or large -- thinking that we are being an obedient follower of Christ and accomplishing great things for His Kingdom -- and still be blind to the fact that the culture has influenced the Church-at-large, instead of the other way around. Are we cocooned in a comfortable mindset, convincing ourselves that the state of the American Church and Faith are healthy? But let's step back and look at the big picture ... Can we honestly say that the institution of Religion, as evidenced by the American Church, has not amassed wealth by society's standards? That many denominations have not accepted new definitions of marriage, family, and what is defined as "life" for a fetus? If Jesus came back today, would He praise or rebuke "the Church"?  

So, in this matter of counterculture values, where does that leave the faithful follower of Jesus? We know that His teachings were definitely counter to the cultures of the religious rabbis and the Roman Empire. To declare that the poor in spirit were blessed because the kingdom of heaven belonged to them, must have sent a tremor through the elite who ruled over the people. The people had been conditioned in that culture to receive their physical needs from those with earthly and material power over them, whether religious or political power. So, when Jesus explains that the meaning of His teaching is from God's perspective, and that riches and poverty are a description of our spiritual conditions, we see that He challenged the culture of the time.

Again, when He teaches that "whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant", that runs counter to the culture of the Gentiles [as well as the religious leaders] who exercised authority over the people. This teaching is definitely not a "Me-first" prescription for self-actualization [which is the fulfillment of becoming the best version of yourself, according to your own desires]. Here's the thing; somewhere along the way, I wonder if the American Church has forgotten that it belongs to Jesus. It is His values and behavior that we should be imitating, not the culture's. If we say we truly belong to Him, then our values and behavior are going to be counter to the culture's. We aren't going to desire to look like everyone else, or compare ourselves to the culture to see if we measure up -- no matter how much the social media [that we are in bondage to] tells us we should. 

Think about that -- we belong to Jesus! He paid for our sins and He expects us to change the culture to look more like Him! That's a tall order, considering how far off the reservation we've allowed the culture to roam. But Jesus has created each of us with a purpose for His Kingdom. So, that means we all won't look alike. But how we think, what we say, what we do in [and with] our lives will look counter to the culture -- we will stand out. And we may even look different from each other. But if we are truly righteous, we will reflect the heart of Jesus, and recognize that we each identify with the culture of Heaven and our Sovereign God. 

I believe in the Remnant of God; those whom He has chosen, knowing they will be constant in their faith and devotion to Him and all He commands. I also believe that this Remnant can and will challenge this corrupted culture to turn from their rebellious ways. We must persevere in showing Society and the established, institutional Church that following God's way is the only way to finding meaning in this world. He is truly the way, the truth, and the life that will meet all our needs. If nothing else, the Remnant will be unquestionably counter to everything the rest of the world is chasing after. Our lives will reflect a conflict with everything our society and culture lust after -- popularity, wealth, and power. Let us provide the same challenge that Jesus did, and in the process, draw others to Him. We are the faithful counterculture, and our movement comes from Heaven, where our Lord awaits His return to change the world forever!

Revelation 22:11    Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy [vile, impure], still be filthy; and the one who is righteous, still be righteous; and the one who is holy, still be holy.


April 28, 2024

Politics or Jesus? Man's Government or God's?

The other day I listened to a short 3-minute soundbite from a sermon delivered by Pastor Loran Livingston, of Charlotte, NC. Although I'm not a fan of the "hellfire and brimstone" manner of speech of some Southern preachers, I was definitely in agreement with his message. He lamented that the Church is lacking in their practice of praying and reading the Bible, which can "directly affect a believer's mindset and interaction with the world". I agree wholeheartedly! And I would like to dive into this discussion, with the understanding that I do so with a heart that has nothing but love and respect for my fellow Christians, even though we might disagree on some aspects of this conversation.

To begin, Pastor Livingston's main focus was how much faith and reliance believer's seem to be putting in politics as the answer to our country's woes. I found it interesting that he said, "Some of you bring politics into the church. You think politics is spiritual stuff. Don't be talking to me about my spiritual responsibility to vote! I don't have a spiritual responsibility to vote. I have a civic privilege"! 

What he is describing is a tension fomenting within the Body of Christ, between those believers with a particular attitude or philosophy that gives credence to the idea that if we just elect good Christian men, they will pass laws that provide for the welfare of the American citizens; and those believers who feel that politics will never be the answer to our problems precisely because it relies on men making laws to change our world.

The part of the church that believes the right men in office can turn things around also thinks that if more good Christian men and women got involved in getting these righteous people elected [by voting], then we could count on our representatives in government to stand up for our rights and do the moral and ethical thing ... i.e., stop abortion, stop human trafficking, protect parents' rights, rid our school libraries of pornographic reading material for middle schoolers, ban drag queen story time, decide how to reduce our taxes, and which wars are the justifiable and/or moral ones. Those would certainly be issues God would approve of! But have they fulfilled their oaths of office and promises to us? 

In other words, some of our fellow brethren believe that getting engaged in elections and voting is our civic duty [obligation or responsibility] -- if we call ourselves a Christian and a representative of the Kingdom of God. Perhaps they hold that position, believing that there is hope for change in the culture of a nation that has lost its way. That by electing Godly men as officials of the government, they will defend and promote Biblical truth and Christian principles and values. That would be wonderful if it was true! But sadly, I do not believe that any man or woman who goes to Washington D.C. sees themselves as the savior of the Biblical worldview and a moral culture warrior!

I believe elected officials know how the process works ... they know they will be part of the activities, actions, and policies [that men and women] use to gain and hold power in order to influence the decisions of the government/governing bodies. That in itself is not a bad thing. That is the purpose of a government in the world! But what's the first thing you see these newly elected officials do? They jockey for those coveted seats on the prestigious Committees in Congress. They know they are entering into a power struggle among men to assert rival interests. That is called "politics". And it is of this world! Yet, somehow, Christians have come to believe that by voting or getting involved in the voting process -- or championing one person running for office versus another -- we can bring God's Kingdom into that activity. Oh, how I wish that were so!

But, let me present a couple of questions. Doesn't the mere fact that these elected officials are called "representatives of the people" point to whom they serve? This governmental body openly declares that its job is to serve people. They don't say they are elected to serve God! That indicates [to me, at least] that they are laboring for things of this world. Yes, we are called to do the work of the Kingdom wherever we find ourselves in order to transform this world into Kingdom territory. But that is the job of the Church, not elected officials! 

Don't get me wrong -- I desperately want Godly men and women to serve in our government bodies. But the work they do there is work in the world. They write and pass man-made laws; they are to see to the welfare of their states and constituents; they answer to their political party; and too often, their allegiance is to themselves and the power the worldly government has given them.  The idea of Heaven's government is a totally different construct.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 16 that the form of government He brings from Heaven is called the Ekklesia, NOT the Church [which is a common mistranslation in our modern Bibles]. And listen to what He says ... On this rock [foundation and cornerstone] I will build My Ekklesia; and the gates of Hades (death) will not overpower it. I will give you the keys (authority) of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth will have (already) been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have (already) been loosed in Heaven. 

So, let's do a quick dissection of this passage ... The word EKKLESIA is translated from Greek to mean a "called out assembly"; a group separated from others, whose purpose is determined by the context in which Jesus uses it. Here, He contrasts it to GATES. The first mention of a gate in Scripture is found in Genesis 19:1. The gate was central to community action; where courts were convened; important civic business was conducted, and the governing of men decided. KEYS is used in Scripture as a symbol of authority and power; signifying the intrusting to someone with an important charge. And the charge of the Ekklesia is to "bind and loose" what has already been established in Heaven -- in other words to bind [to restrict, constrain] what is UNLAWFUL [according to Heaven's government] in the earth, and loose [release, deliver] what is LAWFUL in Heaven into the earth. If the men and women we elect would see themselves as, and act as, the representatives of Heaven, rather than of men on earth, perhaps we would have better choices to vote for.      

I pray that those with spiritual eyes to see, and ears to hear, might understand that Jesus intends us to discern that He is pointing to the affairs of men in this world, and it is "the Most High who is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes". It is God who determines our leaders. YES, we have a voice in the election of our leaders, and we can [and some argue should] exercise that right by voting for those whom we think best demonstrate our Christian values. But is Jesus calling the Church [as the entire Body of Christ] to do this, or is this the commandment to the Ekklesia -- those called with this particular mission of governing?  

NOW, think on this for a moment ... Do you see anywhere in the Bible that Jesus or His disciples spend time teaching new believers how to reform the pagan world of their evil, corrupt governments? Do you see them call for what is known as "civil disobedience" towards the Roman Empire's immoral and violent rule? Certainly, there were valid reasons to do so! Instead, we read about Jesus commanding us [as He taught His disciples ] to proclaim the gospel to everyone, and to live our lives so that they are testimonies of the transforming power of God in the earth. That is the primary purpose of the entire Body of Christ [the church]!

Please hear me when I say I honor the hearts of my God-fearing Christian friends who seek to return God to our halls of government. I see the time and energy they put into this mission. The Good Lord knows we need that! And I do not question the hearts of Christian men and women in our governmental bodies who are serving the people out of hearts that love God. But ultimately, don't we have to ask the questions, Where is the fruit of that service? Have we seen government take back territory from the kingdom of darkness? Is the culture of our nation more moral than it's ever been? 

PERSONAL NOTE: As much as I hate to say it, I have seen Christians rally around elected officials who openly and dramatically espouse their faith and their intention to put that at the forefront of their time in Congress. The recent newly elected Speaker of the House is a good example. And then when the time comes to stand on that testimony for the betterment of the people they say they came to serve, they cave to the pressures of this world. I am beginning to understand why the Remnant in the body of Christ are no longer willing to put their faith in men and our current process of governing. Jesus is our only answer! 

So, I think that, as Christians, we have to offer grace to each other as to how we choose [or not] to devote our time and energy  -- whether to social reform and activism in local and national government; or to do the work that Jesus did: heal the [physically, emotionally and spiritually] sick; cast out demons; cleanse the lepers [social outcasts]; raise the dead; and spread the Good News that the Kingdom of God is reclaiming the earth! Whether you're called to one or the other [or praise God, both!] is your decision, and I honor your heart to serve others. 

For me, the bottom line is this ... We have to ask ourselves, what is God's purpose for us, as the body of believers in Jesus Christ? How do we incorporate our civic privileges and responsibilities in the world with our Heavenly mandate to bring Heaven's redemption to mankind? Our situation in this country, in this century, is no different than the history of countless nations that have come and gone since God established nations in Deuteronomy. Ungodly governments and faithless cultures have always existed among us. Yet history shows that faithful people in the One True God not only survived them, but flourished under them. And sometimes evil governments were part of God's plan to refine and cleanse a nation of its evil ways. Just a thought ... Remember how it turned out when the people of Israel decided on their own leader, rather than waiting on God to anoint him? They got Saul instead of David! 

Regardless of who we get as the next leader of our nation, we are taught by the Bible to honor, respect, obey and pray for all leaders because they are there at the discretion of God's will. It is also our instruction that they are not the source of our provision or our preservation from judgment or destruction. Only Jesus is our Deliverer!

I would like to leave you with this quote from a Christian website, called Got Questions. It is not a judgment against anyone, but a statement on which I believe the Body of Christ can find common ground ... "Political entities are not the savior of the world. The salvation for all mankind has been manifested in Jesus Christ. God knew that our world needed saving long before any national government was ever founded. He demonstrated to the world that redemption could not be accomplished through the power of man, economic strength, military might, or politics. Peace of mind, contentment, hope and joy -- and the salvation of mankind -- are provided only through Jesus's death and resurrection". 

And I would like to add to that my own postscript ... and because Jesus came to reclaim the earth for His Father's Kingdom, He not only died for my sins, but gave me the power and authority to speak into the world to change hearts; and thus, truly change the culture of our nation. Whether I choose to cast a vote or not in this world, it will not change my heavenly mandate as a citizen of Heaven to be the light of Jesus and show my true Source of hope. I am trusting in God; that His will be done on earth [in everything] as it is in Heaven! Let there be fruit in my life for Your Kingdom, Lord! 

Daniel 4:17     "This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers and the decision is a command of the holy ones, so that the living may know [without any doubt] that the Most High [God] rules over the kingdom of mankind and He bestows it on whomever He desires and sets over it the humblest and the lowliest of men".      



April 25, 2024

Are You Prepared to be Part of God's Remnant in the Last Days?

I do not ask this question lightly, because it is a very serious one. First of all, does the Body of Christ even understand what and who the Bible calls "the Remnant"? If I had to guess, I imagine most of the Church would say it's a small group of Believers who are left to serve God; either when the rest of the world has fallen away or has suffered His judgment. That would be correct, from a rudimentary point of view. But the true Remnant plays a very critical and crucial part in God's End Times plan. 

Make no mistake, the Bible tells us that God has always had an authentic Remnant throughout history; a small minority of people who remain faithful to Him in times of trouble and tribulation. He knows who they are and they have a distinct purpose and calling. They are very valuable in that their faith remains strong, holy, and steadfast; usually in the midst of God's divine judgment due to apostasy, rebellion and disobedience among those who claim they belong to Him.

We are all familiar with those whom God called "His remnant" in the Old Testament. In the days of Isaiah, the prophet, God revealed the wickedness and betrayal of the Kingdom of Judah and its capital, Jerusalem, as they strayed from Him. In fact, God declared in Isaiah 1:3, But Israel does not know [Me as Lord]; My people do not understand. Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded down with wickedness [with sin, with injustice, with wrongdoing], offspring of evildoers, sons who behave corruptly! They have abandoned (rejected) the Lord; they have despised the Holy One of Israel [provoking Him to anger]; They have turned away from Him.  

God goes on to reveal to Isaiah that it does no good to strike Israel [which includes both the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah] or punish them again because they only continue to rebel. There is nothing healthy in the nation's body and He has had enough. But even in the midst of all their idolatry, depravity, degradation, despicable sins, and ultimately, their destruction, God has called a remnant to seek justice, rebuke the ruthless, defend the fatherless, and plead for the rights of the widow in court. A small contingent of survivors will still serve Him in righteousness and goodness, paving a path of redemption for those who will truly seek it. 

Again, in the Old Testament, we see Noah and His family as the remnant who is left after God sent the Flood to destroy evil from the earth. Both Abraham and Moses served as God's remnant, displaying their faith and trust in God that He would choose them to lead a people set apart unto Him alone. Then there is the story of Gideon, whom God gave a remnant of 300 men [out of 30,000] through which He would rescue the Israelites; and give them victory over their enemies, the Midianites. We also read the witness of Elijah, who in the midst of hopelessness, declares that he is the only one left in all of Israel who has not bowed down to Baal. But what is God's answer to him? He has reserved a remnant of 7,000 who "have not bowed their knee to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him". Through these examples [and many more], we can be assured that God will always keep to Himself a remnant to uphold His holy ways and assure the faithful that He is still at work in the world.

But as the world advances in these Last Days, do you still trust God to provide a righteous remnant that will survive the tribulation and persecution that the Enemy will heap upon it? And are you prepared to be a part of that chosen assembly? Because if your answer is "yes", I believe there are some things you need to understand. In these Last Days, the remnant will be sorely tried and tested -- not only by the world, but by God, Himself. You see, the tribulations, [the pressures, the distress, and the oppression] we will be facing, as Jesus says, "are such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will [be again]". So I believe God will be testing those who have hearts [like none other] to be close to Him and be free of the burdens of this world. They will be people who have no fear of witnessing [to those who hate them] of the glory of God!  

I can certainly identify with my fellow Believers who want nothing more than to abide in the Lord, and to be continually in His Presence. I am so tired of this world and long to be in holy communion with the Lord, and away from all the false Believers and pretenders of faith. I find myself wanting to be separate from society, yet possessing a heart that burns to witness and testify of God's purpose for the Kingdom in every member of society that I come in contact with. As you can imagine, that creates a tension in my soul. And one can find themselves quite lonely in the midst of both the secular community and the "Christian" brethren, because no one understands your battle with the world and "the Church", and they do not see what you see. They don't experience the grief and sorrow over wasted lives who have no fruit to show in their lives or for their love of Christ. And they don't contend with your worry about how these people will endure the suffering of their souls [and the testing of their faith] when the hard times come.

Are you prepared to carry your Cross? Because, you know, Jesus said [in Luke 9:23] that if we want to truly be His disciple, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. And that means sharing in His persecution, His abandonment by those who professed to believe in Him, His loneliness, and His death. You may even question if you're worthy to be considered or chosen for the Remnant because you know its your heart's desire to be like Jesus; but you also know you fall short. And yet, you still seek to pay the price to abide in Him. You don't want the accolades of men. You seek only to be tested and refined by the Lord to walk in righteousness with Him. 

The question for each of us is this ... Are we satisfied to be a part of what feels comfortable to our souls? Do we long to belong to the masses who proclaim their love and faith in Jesus? Are we content to believe in a Rapture theory that promises we will escape all that Jesus said we would have to endure to follow Him? Or ... are you ready to lay down everything you are, and everything you own, in order to  remain uncompromised in your faith? Do you believe it when the Bible tells us that we will be hated by the world and despised by those who call themselves "the Church"? Are you ready and willing to stand apart from the crowd and be your authentic self? 

The truth is that those of the Body of Christ who will be qualified to be part of God's Remnant are those who follow His every commandment; those who remain true to their calling and don't look for fortune or fame as they walk out their purpose for God's kingdom on earth. They will be like the five wise Virgins who stayed focused on being prepared for the moment of Christ's return. Only those who know the cost and the eternal rewards of following Him will be called to the Remnant. 

And that reminds me of two instances in Scripture when Jesus reveals the characteristics of those who might be considered for the Remnant. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus makes it clear that not everyone who calls Him, "Lord, Lord", will enter the kingdom of Heaven. In fact, He says that prophesying in His Name, driving out demons in His Name, and performing miracles in His Name, is not enough. He says, "I will declare to them publicly, 'I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands]". 

Then in Luke 6:46, Jesus says, "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord', and do not practice what I tell you?" Again, it is apparent that Jesus demands and expects His commandments [which are the commandments of the Father] to be acted upon, not just read or recited or heard. The Remnant will be comprised of those loyal followers who are awake, aware, and ready to be all they were designed to be, even in the midst of the most evil times mankind has ever seen or endured. 

And Jesus has given us those commandments to show us the way to persevere in these Last Days. We must not surrender them to the ways of the world. We must desire to be His Remnant and testify of His righteousness; looking different from the world, and standing with our wicks trimmed, ready to light the way for His Second Coming! And then we will experience the joy of our glorious Homecoming and the rewards of our eternal inheritance. Hallelujah! God bless the Remnant!

Revelation 12:17     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.


April 22, 2024

How Will You Receive the Bible's Prophecies? Are They Our Warning Signs?

I have always been intrigued with the prophecies the Lord gave to His messengers, the prophets, and what they are to mean to us in the 21st Century. We are all familiar with the Messianic prophecies that have been fulfilled: the Christ child would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 2:1); He would be a healer of the blind and downtrodden (Isaiah 35:5-6); He would be despised and rejected by men, and wounded for our transgressions, like a lamb led to the slaughter (Isaiah 53); He would be resurrected from the dead and ascend into heaven (Mark 16); where He sits at the right hand of God, with all angels, authorities, and powers made subservient to Him (1 Peter 3:22). What blessings of hope these bring to us!

So, do we, as modern-day Christians, read all prophecies in the Bible as predictions of future events that will happen? The problem is that we've never learned -- or been taught -- [in the Church] how we are to rightly discern the predictive truth of prophecies? If the Lord gives a prophet a message to share with the people, can we assume that it will happen? And can a prophecy in the Old Testament [which was fulfilled] also apply to us in the present? There seem to be similarities in ancient prophetic world events that coincide with what we're seeing in 2024. Are those prophetic outcomes meant to be warnings to us? How does God want us to perceive our truth in His prophet's messages?

For instance, ancient Babylon has long been considered [by theologians and Biblical commentators] to be a "type" for wicked nations and governments that rebel against God. And I have certainly written about the obvious parallels in Revelation 18 between ancient Babylon and New York City. Since God doesn't specifically tie the two together, are we to recognize the shared sins, yet dismiss the possible judgment? Or has God intended for His Word to be examined and researched by righteous people in the hopes they can receive His warning of judgment? Prophecies -- are they meant to "predict the future", or are they simply warning signs; or both?

Interestingly, as I've contemplated these questions, I have come to realize that all of the above are possible, and a lot of the outcomes depend on people. The prophets shared what the Lord had spoken to them at the time about how things could be in the future (either judgment or blessings), depending on what people decided to do. Predicted punishment could be avoided if the people repented; or a predicted blessing could be withheld if they continued to do evil. Because God is sovereign, He reserves the right [and the possibility] to change direction at any time -- even after the prophet speaks a blessing or a curse!  

Scripture makes that very clear in Jeremiah 18:5-10 ... Then the word of the LORD came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the LORD. Just like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it.  

I don't know about you, but I can clearly see that we might identify as the nation that God built, but since we've quit listening to His voice, we thereby face the very real possibility that He has changed His mind about continuing to do good to us. This is a very explicit warning to all nations! Prophecies like this one are not predicting an unavoidable future, but hopefully pierce the hearts of people to change their behavior and activate their will to avoid the predictive outcome. 

For those who doubt the accuracy or purposes of Biblical prophecy, how do you explain Daniel's inerrant dream of the four empires from Babylon to Medo-Persia to Greece to Rome? He even predicted that there will be a final, Divine Kingdom that will never be destroyed. The truth that these empires really existed in history, just as Daniel prophesied, gives credence to the importance of learning from Bible prophecy. So what are we to do in the midst of a world that seems to be sliding ever further towards violence, destruction, and moral decay? Is there value in reading what God had to say through His prophets in similar times? Can we get clues as to whether we are headed towards blessings or judgment/curses? And can we discern how to avoid any judgment that are due to mankind's rebellious nature?

Let's consider the Book of Habakkuk. In the first chapter, Habakkuk talks to God about his concerns that God is going to use the Babylonian empire (called the Chaldeans) to bring judgment on Judah because of their sins. Let's listen in on parts of their conversation: 

Habakkuk:  O LORD, how long will I call for help and you will not hear? I cry out to You, "Violence!", yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? For destruction and violence are before me; strife continues and contention arises. Therefore, the law is ineffective and ignored and justice is never upheld, for the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice becomes perverted.

[The LORD replied,] "Look among the nations! See! Be astonished! Wonder! For I am doing something in your days -- you would not believe it if you were told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans [who rule in Babylon], that fierce and impetuous nation who march throughout the earth to take possession of dwelling places that do not belong to them... They all come for violence; their horde of faces move [eagerly] forwards, they gather prisoners like sand... They will sweep by like the wind and pass on. But they will be held guilty. They [and all men] whose own power and strength is their god".

Habakkuk: Are you not from everlasting, O LORD, my God, My Holy One? ... Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look favorably on wickedness. Why then do You look favorably on those who act treacherously? Why are you silent when the wicked destroy those more righteous than they? ... I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the tower; And I will keep watch to see what He will say to me, and what answer I will give [as His spokesman] when I am reproved. 

Then the LORD answered me [Habukkuk] and said, "Write the vision and engrave it plainly on tablets so that the one who reads it will run. For the vision is yet for the appointed [future] time. It hurries toward the goal [of fulfillment]; it will not fail. Even though it delays, wait [patiently] for it, because it will certainly come; it will not delay. Look at the proud one, his soul is not right within him. But the righteous will live by his faith [in the true God]. Moreover, wine is treacherous and betrays the arrogant man, so that he does not stay at home. His appetite is large like Sheol, and he is like death, never satisfied. He gathers to himself all nations and collects to himself all peoples [as if he owned them].

Will all these [victims of his greed] not take up a taunting song against him, and in mocking derision against him say, 'Woe [judgment is coming] to him who increases that which is not his -- how long will he possess it? And woe to him who makes himself wealthy with loans. Will your creditors not rise up suddenly, and those who collect from you awaken? Then you will become plunder for them..."   

You get the picture, right? Yes, this is a prophecy against the kingdom of Judah who received judgment because they had fallen into idolatry and forgotten the God who had delivered them from Egypt and blessed them in the Promised Land. 

Now, you can stop there and look at this from a purely historical perspective. Or you can receive it as a warning to our own nation who suffers from the same sins -- we have become proud; the soul of our nation is sick. Our leaders have become drunk on their arrogance and do not take care of those at home. Their hunger for power and wealth is huge; they are never satisfied. We have acted as if we own the world, doing to other people and nations what we please, adding to our wealth. But how long will we possess the blessings we have accumulated? We owe trillions of dollars in debt and we see our creditors chomping at the bit to collect. Was the Lord's warning to Habakkuk meant for us, too? "You will become plunder for them".

How will you receive these prophecies? It is up to you. You can choose to see them as fixed and literal [for another time], and therefore of no significance to us. Or you can do what Habakkuk did... Live by your faith in the One True God, and let them strengthen you and anchor you. Stand at your guard post; become a watchman to see what God will say to you and have you speak to those with ears to hear. 

We must receive the truth that God did not speak to His prophets so that His Word would die in the hearts of the spiritually dead. I believe that He intended -- and expected -- that His prophetic words be shared through all generations; especially those that included warnings to His people about the consequences of choosing the path of wickedness over the path of righteousness. 

It's true that God never changes. He judges righteously and we can receive His blessings or we can receive His judgment and wrath. His prophecies make it plain and simple that it's up to us. Heed the warnings! Pray and Repent for our nation, that we might avoid God's judgment and change His mind about what we deserve! 

Habakkuk 3:2      O LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make it known; In wrath, remember compassion and love.