Free Will: Blessing or Curse?

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Freedom is a peculiar word that means something different to each and every person on the planet. In the United States freedom is more or less based on constitutional law depending on the specific interpreter of the law at any given moment. Another term with equally differing opinions is “democratic society”. Although constitutional law outlines a citizens (U.S.) freedoms and liberties, they are still subject to one’s interpretation and application of the law.

In other countries freedom is unheard of and the citizens are subjected to a dictatorship. A “democratic society” is often a farfetched dream and can only be realized by relocating to a free society, and calling it home. As with most things, as pertains to life on planet earth, there are positives and negatives to contend with. A major negative in a democratic society is that often a certain “freedom” is surrounded by a certain moral ethic. One group is opposed and another group is accepting. This causes major divisions in free society that seem to somehow branch off into other smaller sub-divisions of conflict. I suppose this is the equivalent of starting several small fires until you have one huge out of control fire. We should be able to agree, that freedom and free will, are not problem free! Free will is both a blessing and a curse! In its purest form it is a love gift from God. Exercised wrongfully and it can become a weapon of mass destruction in the hands of Satan!

I have laid this small foundation concerning freedom, as freedom and free will go hand in hand. To exercise your freedom is to exercise your free will. We, as humankind, have the capacity to choose to rightfully or wrongfully exercise its use.

I believe we can all agree that we are free moral agents possessing the ability to make our own choices and decisions concerning any matter we may be confronted with. Agreed, but where do we follow the roots of our free will? Contrary to what many governments would teach us, our free will was instituted and given to us by God Himself. Although scripture doesn’t state this verbatim, it is implied, as I will show you.

Let’s journey back to the Book of Genesis into the first few chapters. These chapters teach us of the creation of the heavens, earth, and mankind. Now, let us consider Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God spoke to Adam saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God then created Eve out of Adam and she became his wife, and the two became one flesh. Therefore, as one flesh, what one chose affected the other and vice versa.

I do not know how long Adam and Eve had occupied the Garden of Eden prior to the appearing of the serpent, but he did appear on the scene and approached Eve. The serpent asked Eve if God indeed said “you shall not eat of every tree of the garden”. Listen to her reply: “And the woman said to the serpent, we may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, you shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.” The serpent sealed the deal of deception by telling Eve that they would not die, and that God knew that if they ate of that tree, they would be like God, and have knowledge of good and evil.

The case for free will is hereby established: If Adam and Eve did not have free will then there would not have been any reason for God to tell them what trees they could and could not eat of. Furthermore, through deceptive tactics, the serpent presented Adam and Eve with the choice to exercise their free will and eat of the forbidden fruit. Also, Eve acknowledged to the serpent that God had told them not to eat of that particular tree. Our free will and freedom to choose originated in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve! As a result of their disobedience, Adam and Eve became aware that they had the ability to exercise their free will for good or bad. The choice they made, opened wide for us all, the knowledge of good and evil, along with the ability to exercise our free will, rightfully or wrongfully! God gave man free will, and I believe that before the “fall” Adam and Eve knew it a pleasure and something easy to do, in obeying the commands of God. Furthermore, if man was not a free moral agent, would God encourage us to choose His will?

So, Adam and Eve, influenced by Satan’s deception, chose to eat the forbidden fruit and their eyes were opened to good and evil.  The first thing they noticed was their nakedness! This should be interpreted in the literal sense, but let’s spiritualize it just a bit. I believe that not only did Adam and Eve realize their physical nakedness; they also came to a realization of their inward nakedness. They also had an epiphany of the inward man (woman) without the presence and Spirit of God. This new ability to choose wrong was overwhelming to them! Up to this point, they naturally chose right, as they just trusted and obeyed God at His Word!

What Adam and Eve do next is the fuel on the fire! They heard the voice of God in the garden and they hid from Him. God called out to Adam asking where He was, not because He didn’t know, but because He knew that Adam had sinned. Adam answered by telling God that He had heard Him and hid because of their nakedness. God in turn asked if they had eaten from the tree He had commanded them to avoid. Now, the “blame game” begins. Adam blames Eve and in a sense God and Eve blames the serpent. Adam and Eve tried to side-step their disobedience, refused to hold themselves responsible and accountable, and attempted to pass the blame forward. In the end God punished all three, Adam, Eve, and the serpent. He held each accountable for their individual actions.

The disobedience of our ancestors has had catastrophic results on humanity throughout generations past, and will continue through those to come. We have seen how humanity inherited the inability to “always” do what is right. Every one of us at one time or another has blamed someone else for our own actions.  Free will started out as a complete blessing, but as a result of the fall of mankind, it has been intermingled with curse. Now, we have what I call “hybrid” free will. Just as gold is not pure before going into the furnace! Think about this, we do not have to teach a child to be selfish and misbehave; we have to teach them to respect others and to behave. The point is that this side of mankind is what comes natural and effort has to be exerted to do differently.

In society today, it seems that accountability and responsibility are fashions of the past. The “blame game” is one of the most used tools for selfishness and the lacking of holding oneself personally accountable. We tend to blame the bad things in life on our parents, grandparents, children, employers, employees, government, police, and who or whatever else we can think of. The most hideous of blame casting is when we throw it at God! Have we forgotten that He is our creator and if He chose to, could wipe all humanity out with one stroke? We are His and He can do with us as He desires. The truth is that He means us no harm, but somehow we still find reasons to blame Him. Maybe finding reasons to “blame” Him is just another way to try and reject Him?

In the United States, and in most states throughout the country, criminal law recognizes misdemeanors, felonies, and capital felonies. This means that misdemeanors are the lowest form of crime and capital felonies are the highest. As we see, man has determined that some crimes are petty and others are heinous. How does God view the law and our behavior? Sin is sin is sin! There are no differences in the eyes of God! A crime of murder is the same as petty theft, and is the same as not doing what we know to do. God tells us in His Word that the lack of belief is sin. Now, is that a misdemeanor or felony? Neither, it is the same as murder!

Another fascinating fact concerning our free will is that God will not revoke it or interfere with our exercising it. It is a gift from Him and the “gifts and callings of God or without repentance. Now, if we have received Jesus, and are considered a child of God, then through His Holy Spirit He will encourage us to do right and guide us in making the right decisions, but will never force us. Our free will is just that, free! Every one of us is responsible and accountable for our own actions and decisions. We have no right, it is never proper, and is always sinful to blame God!

We must all understand that here on earth bad things will happen, evil will exist, and people will make senseless, neglectful, and even evil choices. Jesus never promised any of us an easy ride. In fact, He told us that “through much tribulation we will enter the kingdom of heaven”. Why? Because man has free will, God is just, and therefore He cannot revoke free will or it would make Him unjust and a breaker of His own law!

In this world there has been much tragedy since the beginning of time. There has been domestic and international wars, religious persecution, bombings, shootings, catastrophes, mass destructions, mass taking of lives, and terrorism to name a few. All nations and people of the world have been victims and none are immune. But, beloved, I must be truthful and tell you that God is not the blame for any of this! Mankind, corporately and individually, are the responsible parties! Often, when tragedy strikes, and no answers are found, God is blamed and a torrent of questions rush forth; “Why did God allow it”, and “Why didn’t God stop it” among many others. I can’t tell you the answer to either question, but I do know that a reason exists in heaven and God knows what it is. I can also assure that He is not to blame.

The next time evil and tragedy strike, take a moment to think before you raise a clinched fist to heaven and blame God. He has promised “good to those who love Him” and that He will take the bad in our life and use it for our good. You can find this promise in the Book of Romans chapter 8 verse 28. God cannot be our Savior, Deliverer, and oppressor at the same time.

As we should have been taught, and hopefully have taught our children, there are consequences to our actions. Sometimes these consequences are serious and effect many lives. One single incident can have devastating consequences upon the whole of humanity! As we learn not to blame God and to turn to Him instead, let us remember these small and simple definitions: “Obedience” is rightfully exercising our free will and “Disobedience” is wrongfully exercising our free will. Free will can be a blessing or a curse depending on how we choose to exercise it! I pray the God of peace to protect and keep evil far from you, In Jesus name, ~Amen.

A Call to Repentance, Church!

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Today, as I was reading over my past articles, I had another “epiphany” from the Lord. I read my own writings occasionally, so that I too may learn something from them. I have found in the course of my spiritual walk with Jesus that He often will teach me through the words I speak and the things I write. This is certainly a lovely experience, as I am assured that the words I speak or write are Holy Spirit inspired!

As I reread my latest post, “The Love Trigger: God or Emotionalism”, I had the “church” come into spiritual view. I here refer to the church of Jesus corporately and not individual denominations. After all, if you have accepted the blood of Jesus as the payment for your sins, then we are one big family sharing the same blood line and Father! Therefore the only division needed is the “believers” and the “nonbelievers”, right? “The Love Trigger” article dealt with humanity seemingly only able to come together in times of tragedy.  If you are curious, please read that article, as here I am going to apply the same observations to the “church”.

I will call this writing a “holy spanking”, or at least a little “church correction”. When the “church” was birthed in the Book of Acts, love, unity, and caring for the brothers and sisters was at the very core of its inception. Church in those days was certainly different than the churches of today! Those of yesteryear promoted equal and fair treatment among the brethren, none went without, and unity and love were the virtues of the day. The church creed was clear and understood by all. In those days they truly lived for each other.

Now, let us look at the churches of our day and see the vast differences. We are not unified, our love has waxed cold, and at best some are only “lukewarm”. Our first love (Jesus) has been replaced with works, programs, activities, love of money, coffee shops, bookstores, concerts, bake sales, bible colleges, and I could go on for a while, but I think you get my point! Jesus told us to occupy until He comes, but I’m sure He had different ideas about what we are to be doing!

Our churches have been turned into New Age country clubs and self-help programs. I assure you that you do not need “The Twelve Steps to a Better You”, you only need one step, choose Jesus Christ if you want a better you! Our churches have become banks and our Pastor’s bank presidents. More time is spent on preaching the tithe and offering message than on the meat of the gospel. Some of our churches are producing selfish and gluttonous Christians with the teaching of “sowing your seed for a large return.”  Of course the seed referred to is money. I have read and reread that scripture numerous times. I’ll let you in on some gospel meat; the seed is the word of God! Are we going to take our money and possessions with us when we leave this earth? Certainly not! Therefore, why strive so hard for the things that hold no spiritual or heavenly value? The Old Testament tithe consisted of fruits and vegetables. Take a bushel basket of these offerings to church next Sunday and watch the response. Green is what is desired, but not cabbage and beans! I’m not suggesting not giving monetarily at all, as I am well aware that it costs to keep the lights on. I do have issue with million dollar ministries not producing Godly fruit!

The house of God is not Wall Street and the only investments we should be making are in the lives of others. We have a hateful and evil world going to hell while our churches get rich and fat. What shameless nonsense! Is this the way Jesus wanted His church? The King of Kings and Lord of Lords came to this earth to serve and save dying humanity! He is the example we should be following, serving others! The very word “minister” means “servant”! The church looks just like the world! Sometimes uglier!

Our churches have become institutions of shameless wounding, and we wonder why people don’t want to go to church. Personally, I don’t blame them at all, but there are those that throw around the “do not forsake the assembling of yourselves” scripture to add salt to the wounds. Has it ever occurred to any of us leaders that these Christian non churchgoers have seen some light that we have failed to see? Have they realized that they are safer and freer to worship God in their own homes? I think this deserves some attention before we pass “judgment” on them! Furthermore, Jesus said that where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is also (or in the midst whatever your preference). Would not this be “church”? Jesus is the object of worship and edification is the goal!

We teach Christians not to entertain the “evils” and “pleasures” of the world, but truthfully, these same things have infiltrated our churches! Could it be that those who choose not to go to church are doing as they are taught, forsaking the pleasures of this world? So why do I point all this out? Plain and simple, the church is supposed to be influencing the “world” not the world influencing the church! Because of our wrong teaching, religious hypocrisy, loss of first love, being lukewarm or just plain dead, and our selfish desires, we are producing the wrong kinds of Christians! Remember church, sheep beget sheep! Our “babies” are replicas of us and their behavior is what we have taught!

If your spirit has not been quickened and thoughts of repentance are not in sight, as you read the things I write, and only anger and disagreement has rose to the occasion, then read Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. The seven churches listed there by our Lord represent the history of the church, past, present, and future, and I assure you that every church in every place all over this world falls under either, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, or Laodicea.

Why does the spiritual condition of the church cause me to reflect on humanity seemingly only able to love and come together during times of tragedy? Because presently, the world, outshines the church, in its love toward humanity, even if it is short lived in times of crisis. The church should be leading the charge in love, unity, peace, and selflessness, but has fallen short of its calling! Why do I write so brash and blunt? Because, I love the church, and those that are my brothers and sisters that make it a church, a family unified with the common will to serve and worship Jesus. It is a call to reflection and repentance before Almighty God! It has been prophesied in the Bible that the church will be in deterioration before the Lord’s return. It has been written that there will be a “great falling away”.

We can’t alter or dismiss what God has decreed, but I do ask, do you have to go down with it? Can you not repent and ask the Lord to steer you upon proper course? What say ye Christian, Pastor, Minister, Evangelist, Elder, Deacon, Prophet, and all of God’s people? It starts individually one heart at a time, and as sheep begat sheep, so one clean heart produces another. All is not lost; God is the God of second chances! I pray for our repentance and that God has mercy on His church. Help us Lord to be that salt and light you have called us to be. Help us Lord clean our own house before we clean another’s. Help us Jesus! Help us!  ~ Amen

The Love Trigger: God or Emotionalism?

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

I am compelled to write this article in light of the tragedy in Boston Massachusetts, United States. Not because I feel I must “weigh in” with my opinion or to add to the ever present rhetoric that has already flooded main stream media and social networks. I write because I have made some observations that caused me to “think” before the Lord.

The tragic event that took place in Boston yesterday caused me to reflect on violence, hatred, and calamity globally. I must admit that only in the last twenty or so years has the United States been plagued with large scale violence and attack. Sadly, it is not only from those that hate America internationally, but also from those within our country. Yes, sadly, we are domestically attacking and killing each other including our children! Evil has no boundaries and Satan has no conscience!

I am in remembrance of the civil wars that have been fought across the world, Syria to name a current one. I am reminded that Israel receives rocket fire daily, religious and political wars are being fought all across the globe. And, to add fuel to the already uncontrolled burning, we too, in America, add to the senseless and shameful taking of innocent life. These horrendous crimes range from petty theft to a demonically deranged maniac walking into an elementary school and murdering innocent school children. The victims themselves barely potty trained. And we ask why? Some look to heaven and curse God! Others are not even fazed, or use tragedy as an opportunity to promote political propaganda and “campaigning” tasks. And still others see tragedy as an opportunity to mass market violence and tragedy to make fortunes selling t-shirts, souvenirs, and the making movies, which we have the audacity to call entertainment and free enterprise.

The filth and disgusting messages that pours from our main stream media and so called Hollywood heroes has only served to numb us to the tragic realities of our world. Hate and violence are very real problems on a global level and sadly enough there is only one solution, the return of Jesus Christ. Not sad because of the return of Jesus, but sad because mankind has set itself on a course of self-destruction and depravity.

Right now, at this very hour, I offer the cry of my heart before Almighty God and all who read this, and shout wake up world, including America, rise from your slumber and realize your need of a Savior! Not only for our sins individually, also for our sins corporately. None, not even one, are exempt from the need of a Savior. Each and every person on the planet has free will and is free to exercise it as they see fit within the laws of their particular lands. People of the world, you have a choice to make; turn aside my words with a deaf ear laughing me off as a “religious nut”, or heed my words of your need for a Savior and ask Him into your life. In the days of Noah the floods came and the people were living life as usual. We are no different across this world today.

This brings me to my point in writing. Have you ever noticed that when tragedy strikes it brings out love and compassion for each other, even if it is only short lived? Is it, that only tragedy is the trigger of brotherly love? Have we allowed the evil of this world to be the only thing that triggers our love and goodwill toward our fellow men and women? Have we reduced the worth of human life to only expressing love in tragic events? I for one am worn out, with rhetorical comments like “America is resilient”, “United we stand”, and “those responsible will feel the weight of justice”! What political nonsense! Is there really justice for such hate, evil, violence, cruelty, and senseless murdering? Do we really stand united? We fight and disagree violently over various political parties! Is this justice? I think not! Only forgiveness, as given and obtained through the love of God can bring peace and justice! The time has come when the people of the world should listen to the voice of God and not the voices of political leaders and governments concerning the things pertaining to God! “Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God”!

The time has come, when we as a people globally, should exercise this brotherly love and compassion toward humanity always, not only during tragedy, and the truth of the matter, this can only be accomplished in the power of the love offered through Jesus! Don’t misunderstand me! I am all for love, kindness and compassion throughout the world, but we need the “here stay” love and not the “whimsical” kind that seems to come and go upon the clock of tragedy. We need an abiding love, and that is only found in Jesus! When the smoke clears and the tragic events are entered into the history books, we tend to revert back to self-love. This is because although heartfelt, the love we had at “the moment of crisis” played more on our emotions, and as soon as the “high” of emotions wore off, we were no longer emotionally supercharged, and went back to living life for ourselves. We must realize that although love is emotional, it is also a choice that must be exercised or it dies!

I write this article fully aware that “world love and peace” is only an unfulfilled dream that cannot be had through mere human effort. It will only be accomplished when Jesus takes the throne in His Kingdom on the earth. So why write such articles and make such brash statement? Simply because I know, that lives are changed one heart at a time, and as a result, one changed heart and life will breed another changed heart, and so on down the line. With every person we have contact, an impression is given and a difference made in their life for the positive or negative. It is possible to love without Jesus but it is not abiding and with the guarantee of eternity. We must choose to live life daily in the love we find through tragedy and we must have Jesus to make this choice, one of abiding love. So, what is your love trigger, God or emotions alone?

Some will read this article and scoff over offering Jesus as a solution to all problems, and others will take issue with what has been stated. But honestly, if this article causes one soul to rethink their spiritual state and receive Jesus, the abiding love, then the “hate mail” will be well worth it. My heart then, has helped another heart change, and that heart will find another heart in need, and so goes the process of spreading the “love bug”. Truthfully, I believe the expressions of love we see through tragedy, is God’s response and love, through people. Some just don’t realize that God is not just using them to reach out to another, but reaching out to them also. The scriptures reveal that “God is love” and His love must come full circle.

Father God; open our hearts to this abiding love, and let our loving response to tragedy be our response to our fellow men and women daily, in times of quiet, peace, or unrest. And thank you Father for not loving us as you do, out of emotions, because if that were the case, we could not be loved at all. ~Amen

Love of the Brethren

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

In our world today it is truly a rarity to find and experience genuine Christian, or Brotherly love. This is shameful considering the masses that profess Christianity throughout the world. We are abiding in evil and violent times, and just watching an episode of our local news seems to sadly confirm this. I’m certainly not saying that Christian love is nonexistent, just that genuine Christian love is a rare find. The selfless, forsake my own desires and convenience, and live for another kind of love. You know; the kind of love as expressed in our Savior, Jesus. A love that richly and deeply testifies, confirms, and bears witness worthy of His attention. If this love is found even in the simplest of acts, it should be cherished and guarded as a gift from God. Godly recognition and honor should be given to the one that allows the love of Christ to so shine from their spirit.

The love I here speak of is not the kind of love the world offers. This love is the manifested love of God through His chosen to another. You see, there is a kind of love available that comes not from the throne of God. One person can love another and remain the enemy of God. The Word of God reminds us that even the heathen can give good gifts, but this love does not have Christ at its center. This love does not flow from the living waters of life. Worldly love, although heartfelt, is still somewhat superficial, and usually has a hidden agenda or some strings attached. Genuine Christian love as expressed from one human being to another is a gift from God and can only be obtained through Him.

I wish to relate to you an experience I recently had, where this Christian love I speak of, was shown towards me and my family.

Several days ago, super cell thunderstorms that were producing tornados moved across the Western to Eastern United States. I live in the State of Georgia and the storms were headed our way! These storms are my least favorite thing about spring in the Southern United States.  Might I add, our home has been struck once, and areas less than one mile from us have had recent tornado touchdowns! Needless to say, I hate these types of storms and over the last several years they have gained frequency and volatility!

Knowing that these storms were coming and already moving across other states, I asked publically for prayer through social networks. Several people responded indicating that they would pray, but one particular “prayer warrior” sticks out from the crowd.

I have never met her face to face and we live thousands of miles apart. She is in England, and I the United States. We have developed a strong spiritual friendship through the Twitter network. In fact, I have come to love her as my Christian sister very deeply, and some day in heaven, will be able to greet her with a holy kiss and hugs. The distance between us is not a hindrance to God. He made sure we met because it was His will. The friendship we share has the foundation of Jesus and through His Holy Spirit we are able to draw close. When God blesses you with a treasure such as this, never let it go! The gift of a person such as this, is valuable indeed!

My friend in England assured me that she would pray for my family and me and even included our entire country! I expected a small prayer to God asking for our safety and wellbeing, but what I received was so much more than that. It is important to point out that there is a five hour time difference between us.

Later that night, I received a Twitter message from my friend. Looking at the clock, I realized it was after three o’clock in the morning in England! She was checking to make sure that we made it through the storms. Her timing was perfect, as the last bands of the storm were moving through as she contacted me. I sent message back letting her know that we had indeed made it through the nasty storms. She replied by thanking and praising God for our safety, sending her love, and telling me that now she was going to bed. She had to be up for work at six o’clock in the morning.

I sat back in awe that my friend was concerned enough to contact me at three o’clock in the morning, her time. As I sat warmly thinking of my friend, the Spirit of God rushed me like a bolt of lightning! She said, “NOW I AM GOING TO BED”! The Ever-Shining Light dawned on me, she has sacrificed her sleep to stay awake and pray for my family and me!

What selfless love! After all, we have never shared the things that most friendships are allowed. Never shared a meal; a quite chat outdoors on a warm spring day, our deepest secrets, or even an encouraging hug. Those things are certainly nice, and I would advocate them to this day, but when Jesus is the founder and the strong root of a friendship they aren’t overly necessary! Through the friendship we share, God has reassured us of His awesome and unending love, gifted us both with a loving friendship, and sealed our covenant through His Holy Spirit, sight unseen.

This experience brought to memory a Bible verse: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.” (I John 3:14) NKJV

I thank God for the safety and security He provided for my family and me during those storms. But, I am equally thankful to God for my friend in England.

Rosemarie, thank you for your friendship, love, prayers, loyalty to Jesus, and the sacrifice you made for me personally. I love you and you will always have a special place in my heart. You show that you have passed from death into life.

Intercessors aren’t well known and most always go without even a “thank you”, but they are the most important gift in God’s ministry. They are the backbone of any descent and Godly ministry and I believe all fellow Pastors and Ministers would agree. If not, you may have missed your calling! Someone is always behind the scenes praying for the Pastor, ministry, and Ministers. I have certainly come to know my “someone” and again Rosemarie, I thank you from deep within my heart.

Father I thank you for my friend, Rosemarie. I ask that every Christian might experience this love that comes from you and a friendship where words aren’t necessary. In the beautiful name of Jesus, ~Amen

Defending the Faith and Promoting Christian Love

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

It is amazing how much Satan hates the Book of Revelation! Since posting the first articles, I have been confronted with attack and resistance from several directions. Yes, as does the Lord, so does “ole sleuth foot”, by working through people. I suppose like the “Hatfield’s” and “McCoy’s”, some feuds just never end. One of the strongest arguments concerning this book is the subject of the “Rapture”! Why this subject?

Not very many people take serious issue concerning the tribulation period or The Battle of Armageddon. Have we become so numb by mass consumption of reality television, Hollywood’s latest gossip, and media filled violence that we have lost focus and view these as the “norm”?  Why not attack the rebukes of the Lord and the symbolism that unites our churches of today with those of Asia Minor. Our churches today have only added to the already serious problems brought to light in the seven churches of Asia Minor. Our church leaders, who remain blind to the infiltration of Satan, have accepted genuine false doctrine and turned the Lords houses of prayer into the dens of thieves. They have become the spiritual version of Wall Street! Invest now for a “Big” return! The throne of God has been turned into a virtual ATM and drive through service! Children are being harmed and abused in our churches and we dispute over the “rapture”?

I personally know more Christians right now that do not go to church than ones that do. To be bluntly honest, I don’t blame them one bit. Many of them have received more serious wounds in the “houses of God”, than what the devil or the world could have shot them with on their best day. Pastors and ministers have shipwrecked the faith of many! Why? Why do we not take up these arguments? Why the “Rapture”?

Beloved, please just let me continue a little longer. It is past time that these things are pointed out. Why the “Rapture” when there are so many other things that deserve our attention and firm rejection? You know, this is “the bottom line”; there are two “basic” opposing sides of the rapture argument. One side believes in a pre-tribulation “catching up” of the church and the other does not believe this, but believes that the church will have to endure the hardships and trials of the tribulation period. I happen to be one on the pre-tribulation “catching up” side. No, not because I fear the mark of the beast, the wrath to be poured upon the earth, or the final Battle of Armageddon, or shall we say World War III, but because of my study, deep relationship with the Lord, and the witness of His Spirit.

Now, consider this, if the believers that believe in the rapture are wrong, all we have to do is rely on the supernatural strength of God to see us through for a short seven years and then forever be in the presence of God, but if those that don’t believe in the rapture are “raptured” before the tribulation period, then praise God we all missed the seven years of hell on earth and will remain forever in the presence of the Lord! In either case I imagine while we all stand in the presence of God, it won’t much matter which was right or wrong, and I seriously doubt that the “right” side will be able to gloat very much. Do you see my point? Either way it is a “win, win” situation! We will all still experience and receive the promises God has given us!

I think we would fare better, if we could agree that the only way to get “home” is through the blood of Jesus Christ and His Atoning work on Calvary’s cross, and not dispute about taking the “high” road or the “low” road, as long as we all meet in the “family room” once we get there. It is also beneficial for us to check our motives and position before we bring correction. Correction is not a bad thing if done biblically.

As I have stated several times before, I teach what I believe and I believe what I teach. I teach what I do as a result of my study and the instruction of God through His Holy Spirit. I only share my beliefs and understanding of the scriptures and each one has the liberty to accept or reject what I teach. No one person, denomination, or group has all the answers. We have to at least agree on the basics of Christianity as the Apostle Paul pointed out. God has the power and resources to give us anything we ask for. My greatest request of God has been and remains, His Wisdom and understanding of the scriptures. Armed with these nothing is impossible within the will of God!

Let us as a church, the church of Jesus, period, give ourselves a spiritual checkup and find out where we register on the “pleasing to God scale”. Let us defend our faith righteously and choose our battles wisely. The only common denominator will always be Jesus.

Beloved of God, thank you for listening and please know that what I shared, I shared in Christian love. I love my brothers and sisters, the church of Jesus, and God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit very passionately. I will resume my teaching on the Book of Revelation very soon as I reject defeat. I will finish my course and win my race and would be honored to have you on my team! Blessings to all, and I pray that the clay remains in the hands of the potter. I have provided a couple of scriptures for us to consider:

“But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.”

(II Timothy 2:23) NKJV

 “But foolish and ignorant questionings refuse, knowing that they gender strife’s.”

(ASV)

 “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.”

(ESV)

 “But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.”

(NASB)

 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

(I Peter 3:15-17) NKJV

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (The “Rapture”)

Rev

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

I pray that thus far you have enjoyed our study together, and that the Holy Spirit has brought you abundant “revelations” of Revelation. I promised to take a simple and practical approach, but I never promised it would be short! It is my goal to present God’s Word in all its beauty and wonderment and I hope that this is accomplished here.

After this brief teaching of our study, I am going to begin presenting the Book of Revelation in a chapter by chapter analysis. I have contemplated much about presenting another controversial subject here, and have decided that if I am to present God’s Word in full, and in all its wondrous beauty, I am under obligation before God to do so. That said I will briefly touch on the subject of the “rapture” of the church. We shall prepare in our traditional manner:

Father in the beautiful and mighty name of Jesus, I ask that You guide me as I teach according to Your Holy Word. I ask that if I misrepresent or improperly instruct, You will call me on it, and lead me to the proper rendering. Father, provide for me Your Wisdom and fill me with Your Holy Spirit of Truth. For these that read, I ask for their spiritual eyes and ears to be opened, that they read with an open heart and mind, receive the witness of Your Holy Spirit, and are flooded with the wondrous joy, nay rapturous joy, of soon meeting You in the air. Teach us, Your people, oh Lord. We come hungry for more of You. Satisfy our thirst for righteousness, and lead us into all of Your majestic Truth. It is with praise and thanksgiving that we pray and request. In the name of Jesus, ~Amen

“The Rapture of the Church”

I am well familiar that the word “rapture” is not written in the Word of God, but its meaning and implications certainly are. The word means “caught up” or “carrying off” and is borrowed from the Latin Vulgate Bible (Roman Greek). In the King James Bible the English translation of the word is rendered “caught up”. As I have mentioned before, I will not argue over these doctrines. I will however do my best to answer any questions. What I teach is what I believe, and I believe what I teach because of my study of the Word of God and the witness of His Holy Spirit. I am told in His Word that the Holy Spirit will guide, lead, and teach me in all things, and I just simply study and believe Him for His teaching. If one will apply themselves to the study of the scriptures, you are promised understanding and teaching, in His timing of course.

The “Rapture of the Church” is the moment when Jesus will come and take the believers with Him to heaven. The second coming of Jesus is divided into two parts: “His appearing” (rapture) and “His return”. In His appearing He doesn’t actually return to the earth, He remains in the air and receives the believers to Himself. As, I will later show, His return is when He, and we, return to the earth at the end of the tribulation period to bring an end to the Battle of Armageddon and begin the earthly kingdom and reign of Jesus. Therefore, His appearing is our redemption and His return is as Triumphant King!

The entire Old Testament Exodus story is a type and shadow of these events. God, from the beginning, has established a pattern of protecting, providing for, safely delivering, and sheltering His people! Why would this pattern of deliverance and protection change at the onset of the tribulation period? It won’t! God never forsakes a promise and in His own Words, “changes not”. Consider a few other Old Testament types and examples of the “rapture”; the “translation” of Enoch before the flood, the sealing of Noah and his family in the ark to protect them from the flood, the “rapture” of Lot from Sodom, and the “taking” of Elijah in a whirlwind in the early times of Israel.

Now we shall consider some New Testament scriptures revealing the rapture of the church:

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

(John 14:1-3) NKJV (Emphasis mine)

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.  Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

(Matthew 24:36-44) NKJV (Emphasis mine)

“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

“In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one, who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.

(Luke 17:26-36) NKJV (Emphasis mine)

“…—such a one was caught up to the third heaven.”

(II Corinthians 12:2) NKJV (Emphasis mine)

 

“For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the first fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.”

(I Corinthians 15:21-24) NKJV (Emphasis mine)

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changedin a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

(I Corinthians 15:51-53) NKJV (Emphasis mine)

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

(I Thessalonians 4:13-18) NKJV (Emphasis mine) 

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.”

(I Thessalonians 5:9) NKJV (Emphasis mine)

“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth”

(Revelation 3:10) NKJV (Emphasis mine)

      Beloved, I will close here with this portion of our study. I have intentionally submitted the above scriptures without explaining them. I want to allow the scriptures to speak for themselves, affording you the opportunity to listen for the voice of the Lord, concerning their accuracy of our subject. Also, I have intentionally avoided discussing the various beliefs and arguments concerning this subject. I am familiar with them in fair detail, but wanted to present the subject here as neutral as possible, as not to cloud or taint your thoughts. I trust that the Lord will minister to you concerning what I have written. As I have stated before, the scriptures support one another, and I believe those presented support well.

I ask your forgiveness as I am being led to comment on one scripture, the last one, Revelation 3:10 and it is supported by 1 Thessalonians 5:9. This scripture is spoken by Jesus Himself (red letter). He states that He will “keep you [the church] [us] from the hour of trial which shall (meaning it has not happened yet) come upon the whole world (globally, everywhere, worldwide)”. What hour of trial will He keep us from? With respect to biblical history what event(s) have yet to take place? Furthermore, how will He keep us from this hour of trial? Beloved, I have searched the scriptures and inquired of God, the only answers to these questions, are that He will keep us, the church (true body of believers) from experiencing the “Tribulation Period” by removing the church before it begins, which is referred to as the “Rapture”! Until we meet again, I pray for continued understanding and peace.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (The Seven Year Tribulation Period)

Rev

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Before pressing into a chapter by chapter teaching, I believe it necessary and highly beneficial to discuss the “Tribulation Period”.  This subject by far, has been one of the most controversial concerning the Book of Revelation, especially the “rapture” of the church. Personally, I don’t see the reasons for argument and contention other than Satan wanting to stir strife, and willing people letting him come on in, to steal, kill, and destroy! But, that certainly is his ways and it has caused many people to be “off track” concerning what this period is and how it came to be.

In my opinion, understanding this event is foundational to the understanding of Revelation as a whole. Remember, I mentioned that Revelation was a book of the past, present, and future, meaning the history within is completely harmonized and supported by other scripture. The “Tribulation Period” is a prophesized future event as is the “rapture” of the church. I will teach more about the “rapture” later in our study.

I would also like to bring to remembrance, that I stated that this study is not an exhaustive work, and the subject at hand is no exception. There is much more scripture to support the biblical facts of the tribulation than what I will point out here. I only wish to lay a basic foundation here, and if you study with an open heart and mind, allowing the Holy Spirit to bear witness, you will be supplied with enough information to carry you through eternity!

“The Tribulation Period”

What is it and how did it come to be?

        A quick and simple answer to this question is that it is the seven year period of time remaining before the return of Jesus Christ, to rule and reign in His unending kingdom on the earth. This is a great answer, but it does not answer the second part of our question, how did it come to be?

In Leviticus 25, God commanded Israel to set aside the seventh year of each agricultural cycle to allow the land a “Sabbath Rest”. Leviticus 26 warns Israel of punishments if they did not obey the commandment. Israel lacked proper spiritual response to God’s command and as a result, for 490 consecutive years, Israel never let the land have a “Sabbath Year’s” rest. This totaled 70 missed Sabbath Year’s rest for the land. As a result of Israel’s disobedience, God allowed them to be taken into Babylonian captivity for 490 years.

“Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all these he took to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions.  And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

(2 Chronicles 36:17-21) NKJV (Emphasis mine)

        The Babylonian captivity was prophesied by the Prophet Jeremiah. I know that 2 Chronicles comes before the Book of Jeremiah, but allow me to point out that 1 and 2 Chronicles is more or less a summary of 1 and 2 Kings. Therefore, Chronicles contains “chronological” events of the Kings of Israel although they may not have come to pass yet. Remember that the Bible is not necessarily in chronological order from cover to cover. Now let us look at Jeremiah’s prophecy:

“And as the bad figs which cannot be eaten, they are so bad ‘—surely thus says the Lord —’so will I give up Zedekiah the king of Judah, his princes, the residue of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt. I will deliver them to trouble into all the kingdoms of the earth, for their harm, to be a reproach and a byword, a taunt and a curse, in all places where I shall drive them. And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence among them, till they are consumed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.”

(Jeremiah 24:8-10) NKJV (Emphasis mine)

“I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

(Jeremiah 25:10-11) (Emphasis mine)

        In the above scripture, “the bad figs” represent Israel, and all of the above scriptures show that God allowed Israel to fall victim to Babylonian captivity for a “490 year period”.  The Prophet Jeremiah is again used to prophesy concerning the “Tribulation Period” during which Israel will severely be under attack, but this time also speaks of its eventual restoration.

This particular prophecy is known as “Jacob’s Trouble”. Remember that “Jacob”, was the son of Isaac, twin brother of Esau, and the grandson of Abraham. His name was changed by God to “Israel” and out of his loins came “the twelve tribes of Israel”. I point this out because “Jacob’s Troubles” actually mean “Israel’s Troubles” symbolically.

Now, we shall introduce the Prophet Daniel into the equation. It is of utmost importance to give a definition of a prophetic term before we continue. In the Daniel prophecy we read the word “week or weeks”. As used in prophecy, one “week” equals seven years, so seventy “weeks” equals 490 years. Also, remember that God operates on a lunar calendar, and has from the beginning of Genesis. His calculation of “time” only allows each month 30 days, where our civil calendar allows for a 28 and 31 day month.

Toward the end of the 490 years of captivity, the Prophet Daniel realizes that the time is almost complete and prays to God. This is known as “Daniel’s Prayer”, one in which he confesses Israel’s sin, failure of obedience to God’s commands, and failure to follow the messages that God’s prophets spoke. It also recognizes Israel’s captivity as being a direct result of God’s righteousness. God heard his prayer and sent the Angel Gabriel with an answer. Gabriel delivers to the world through Daniel, the “70 Prophetic Weeks” prophecy, or “Daniels Seventy Weeks”. Daniel’s prophecy was to run concurrent with that of Jeremiah, but with a slight difference as decreed by God.

God does not violate His Word nor repent of His promises and the 490 year price charged against Israel will be paid! With Daniel’s prayer and God’s prophetic answer, Israel was credited for their “time served”, but the “full” price would still be paid. As a nation they will go through the tribulation period and suffer the attacks from around the world, but they shall be delivered, restored, and saved. I will bring this prophetic picture into clearer focus with the following scripture and accompanying explanation:

Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty- two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. “And after the sixty- two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”

(Daniel 9:24-27) NKJV

        Now, I will explain the symbolic, as well as the literal meaning of the above scripture. I will be explaining it from beginning to end as if told as a short story.

The “seventy weeks” are the 490 years that run concurrent with the prophecy of Jeremiah. From this point until the “end”, God will accomplish for all, finishing the transgression, make an end of sins, make reconciliation for iniquity, bring in everlasting righteousness, seal up vision and prophecy, and anoint the Most Holy. He will accomplish these through His Son, Jesus Christ!

The command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem including the wall was given in Nehemiah 2:1-8 and was accomplished “Until” Messiah the Prince, meaning the first coming of Jesus. “Seven weeks” equals 49 years, the time that was needed to rebuild Jerusalem and its walls. The “sixty-two weeks” or 434 years, is the time from the completion of rebuilding to the coming of the Messiah. “After” “sixty-two weeks” (the 434 year period), Messiah will be “cut off”. This represents the literal time of Jesus’s birth, ministry, and dying on the cross for the sins of all humanity. It is also the beginning of the dispensation of the Grace of God, or the “church age”.

From the beginning of verse 24 to verse 26 we have accounted for 483 years of the determined 490 years decreed by God, therefore, we have a remaining balance of one “week”, or 7 years.

The “prince who is to come to destroy the city and the sanctuary (Temple)” is Satan through the powers of the Roman Empire. The Temple and city was again destroyed in 70 AD. Remember, Jesus spoke to His disciples about its destruction!

He (the Antichrist) will “confirm a covenant with many for one week” The covenant is a false “peace treaty” between Israel and unknowing to them, the Antichrist. The “one week”   represents the remaining 7 years of the determined 490 years, or “The Tribulation Period”.

This period begins upon the signing of the “peace treaty” with Israel. “In the middle of the week” is the halfway mark or first 3 ½ years into the tribulation period. This is the point where the Antichrist shows his true colors to Israel and revokes the “peace treaty.” The only “exact” time frame we are not given here is the amount of time between the crucifixion of Jesus and the “rapture” of the church. It is an “unknown period of time” that God reserved only for Him to know. This is shown in “until the consummation (wedding of the Bridegroom to His bride) which is “determined”.

The “church age” occurs between the 69th and 70th weeks. It began with the ministry of Jesus and ends with the rapture of the church. Since the “church age” is the same as “the kingdom of God on earth, we know its beginning. We also know that it ends (church age) with the rapture, which precedes God’s last seven years of work with Israel. We are presently living in “this time of the end”, Daniel’s term for the closing of the church age, which does not imply “doom”. At the end of the church age the tribulation period begins.

I pray you will continue to join me in this study. God wants us to know and understand His Word and the Book of Revelation is the beautiful climax of His creation! Until we come together again, I pray you are filled with the peace of God that surpasses all understanding! ~Amen