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Is Love Growing Cold?

By Watchman | September 18, 2013

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.  But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13)

     Amongst prophecy scholars, much has been written about blood moons, signs in the heavens and on the earth, wars and rumors of wars, the warnings of God in our changing weather patterns.  We are undoubtedly living in the age in which evil is considered good and good evil; when many “put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5: 20)  We see this on every news broadcast, in every segment of society, and from the decisions made by our own government and applauded by a majority of our nation.  I think Jesus’ words in Matthew, however, may be the ultimate sign that the end of the age is near.  For years, those of us who believe we are living in the end of days have watched as Biblical end-time prophecies have come to pass till there is little left that must take place before the return of the Lord: certain wars and the rise of antichrist are still to come.  We are now experiencing love growing cold, and I believe that it is this that will bring on the chaos yet to come.

     In what ways are these perversions of love being manifested?  The answers are manifold, but I will present a few of the most common…and the most dangerous:

1.     The love of the church (i.e. the body of Christ) for the word of God is being diminished by the desire to be all things to all people.  Too many churches and, indeed, too many Christians are more interested in proving publicly that they are open-minded and all-inclusive than they are in proving the true love of God as evidenced in Scripture.  According to His word, the laws that God laid down were for our good and to His own glory, and we ignore them at the risk of being in rebellion against Him.  Many churches believe that we cannot offend those living outside of the will of God and so commit the sin of not introducing the unbelievers or the pagans to the only path of righteousness in Jesus.   Although I rarely like to point the finger at any particular minister or church, I have lately been appalled at the decision of the new pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, to announce that some unbelievers may be saved by just “following their consciences” rather than by belief in God, and also at some of the churches which are trying to find “common ground” between Christians and Jews and those who follow Islam.  The most important contention seems to be that “we all worship one God.”  That may be true, but I must point out that we do NOT worship the SAME God!  God clearly indicates to us in Scripture that we are not to partner with those who follow Satan; and make no mistake:  those who follow a false religion are following the enemy of God! Some are publicly condemning Israel–and thereby God’s chosen people–in order to show sympathy to those following the false religion of Islam, and are incurring the wrath of God in their rejection of the role He has laid down for us to be a blessing to that nation.  Too many are following the demonic new-age teaching of “there are many paths to God,” and so condemning untold thousands–maybe millions– to an eternal death all because they choose not to seem narrow-minded and so will not preach the truth that all men must hear. That, my dear brothers and sisters, is not love.  Love seeks to stop pain and depravity and damnation and to shed light into all the dark places of our hearts.

2     Racial and ethnic conflicts are causing hatred now where little existed even a few years ago.  There have always been people who disliked others because of their ethnicity; as my mother once told me, there will always be someone who can find an excuse not to like you.  Most countries have at one time or another had some sort of conflict based on race or ideology or differences in customs and traditions, but we are experiencing an upsurge of racial conflict in the world today which is worse than any I’ve seen in my lifetime. Islamic extremists are persecuting Christians in countries throughout the Middle East and even condemning other Muslims who do not follow the path of Jihad, and the rise of antisemitism around the globe is at its highest point since the holocaust.  Here in the US, there has been a massive break between the black and white communities that has reached a head since the Martin/Zimmerman case that began a little over a year ago with the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman who claimed he shot in self defense.  We can never be sure of what exactly happened that night, but we can certainly see the evil consequences.  Fed by a media that thrives on controversy, anger and pain and abetted by those same media sources that will not report these actions since they would deem such articles as “racist”; condoned by a governmental administration with its own agenda to fulfill, angry young black mobs have been attacking white people in many cities in retaliation for what they see as white supremacy.  There have been murders committed in Trayvon Martin’s name, beatings, rapes and a growing number of “flash mob” robberies.  Whites have not neglected to pass these stories around endlessly on the internet.  No real attempt has been made by Christians to reduce the growing hatred and violence on either side; most have simply chosen up sides.  Racism in any form is wrong, whether it is between blacks and whites, blacks and Hispanics, whites and Hispanics, whatever.  However, we cannot continue to condemn what is happening without trying to address the problem from a Godly standpoint.  Making ourselves angrier and angrier and creating an even greater divide between the races will do nothing but harden and burden our hearts.  No matter what race we belong to, we need to remember that all people are creations of the most high God.  I’ll be dealing with this issue at greater length in a later post since we need to decide how to react to all that is going on.

3.     Family relationships are dying.       No nation can survive when the family dynamic breaks up, and most developed nations are experiencing this.  The causes in nearly every nation are the same.  The easy access of divorce led to couples separating who, fifty years ago, would have worked harder to keep their marriage afloat.  It was President Ronald Reagan who signed into law the “no-fault divorce” in the US, and he later said it was the one decision he made that he wished he could retract.  Divorce became so easy and so common that we have forgotten that love is a choice we make.  We decide who to love and when to stop loving.  Adultery is one of the results of the “you can’t help who you love” philosophy.  Not only can you choose to not love someone other than your spouse, but you can choose faithfulness over treachery; we are living in an age which has determined that we cannot help ourselves when it comes to feelings.  Witness the families that that attitude has destroyed.  The prevalence of abortion has inculcated in us the unacknowledged belief that blood kinship carries little obligation.  Paul tells us in the third chapter of Timothy that in the last days people would be “without natural affection.”  What could more indicative of the truth of his words than abortion, the killing in the womb of one’s own child–surely the most natural of affections?  He also points out that people would be “lovers of themselves…disobedient to parents..”  All is becoming selfishness; love turned inward instead of outward.  Children, many raised in broken homes or in homes where a father never existed for them at all, are all too rarely being taught the laws of God and the loving of their neighbors.  So many mothers choosing their careers or their relationships over their children’s well being, and so many fathers choosing their sexual freedom and independence over their duties to their children!  Love indeed is growing cold.

4.    Christians in the west are so busy fighting for their rights that they are forgetting to love.  It is quite true that Christians are having to fight for their right to freedom of religion.  If we lose that right, (and the courts are increasingly inclined to rule that a Christian’s freedom of religion must be secondary to the rights of Muslims, homosexuals, atheists, etc.) then our chances of bringing the lost into God’s kingdom will be lost as well.  We are more and more frequently put into the position of choosing whether we will follow God’s law or the administration’s.  We must always choose to stand on the word of God and preach the Gospel of the risen Jesus, no matter what comes against us.  As we do this, though, we need to remember to be on our knees constantly in prayer for those who are working against us.  We are to pray that the word of God prevails, but also that the Holy Spirit touches the hearts and minds of those who have constituted themselves as our enemies.  In short, we are to love them: the kind of love that would pull a friend out of the way of an oncoming bus, or a loved one from the flames of a house fire.  When reading most articles about the growing suppression of Christianity in the western nations, often written by ministers or acknowledged people of God, I have noticed a trend away from calling for Christians to pray for the salvation of those who are our enemies.  Please take note, my dear friends:  if we cannot show the love of God to one another; if we cannot call the unsaved to repentance and salvation; if we insist on condemning our fellow Christians loudly for unimportant differences in modes of worship, then we can do no good for the kingdom of God.  He calls us to righteousness and to the carrying out of the Great Commission: to make disciples of all men, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  He calls us to obey Him and to stand up for the holiness of God, and He calls us to love.  It is an unfortunate truth that sometimes we are so busy fighting for God that they lose sight of God Himself.

     Yes, love is growing cold:  love for our families, other Christians, even for God Himself.  We can see it in the faces of people we pass on the street,  in the dead, empty eyes of those who are committing heinous crimes, in the blasphemy frequently displayed on our TV sets and in our homes.  Do you feel it in your heart?  If you do, Jesus stands ready to revive your love with an outpouring of grace if you will only ask Him for it.  I am doing so now, and I pray that each of you does the same.

 Maranatha!

Topics: A Special Word for Today, According to Scripture, Anger and Forgiveness, Current Events and the End of the Age, Just A Thought, Kingdom Living, Salvation | 1 Comment »

Rending the Heart

By Watchman | June 12, 2013

” ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.’  So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of  great kindness…”  ( Joel 2:12-13)

     The world truly is in great turmoil.  Most of the nations of the world are experiencing financial crises for which there seems to be no practical way out.  Those of us here in the United States have seen an unprecedented increase in government control and abuse, and we are rapidly losing our position of world leadership and, I might add, our ability to continue helping those nations who are friendly to us.  Radical Islam is spreading throughout the West and endangering human rights throughout Europe and N America.  The time is certainly propitious for the rising of Antichrist.  For those not looking up and watching for the return of our Lord, anyone who could arrive on the world stage and promise peace and a restoration of plenty would be instantly embraced; even at the cost of loss of  the rights and freedoms that so many gave their lives to ensure.  It would not be difficult for such a person to be accepted as ruler of the world.  But, my friends, there is only One who is the leader of the world!

     It appears that one of the first targets marked for oppression is fundamentalist Christianity.  Already Christians are being silenced and castigated for holding views contrary to those of our government leaders, and Christians are certainly losing their collective voice in the arena of public opinion.   Many, many believers have been fighting this both in their communities and via media–especially TV and Internet–and it is a battle that must indeed be waged as we continue to stand up for God and the values He has told us we must hold to.  However, as I read the above passage from Joel yesterday, the thought crossed my mind that we have become much better at publicly rending our garments than we have at privately rending our hearts.  We have become quite adept at loudly protesting and mourning our loss of religious civil rights (and rightfully so), but we haven’t been nearly as successful at addressing our own failings and sins or at showing the unbelieving public why God’s way is the best way.  Before we become much more involved in fighting the admittedly ungodly and unholy proponents of the New World Order, we need to go before the Lord for cleansing, healing, strength and wisdom.

     For what are we actually doing battle?  Is it for our rights as Christians or for the restoration of God’s word?  The difference may seem to some to be a trifle obscure, but I think it is important to identify which we are doing and determine which we choose to do.   The difference lies within the heart and our own spiritual natures.  We know Who is ultimately going to prevail in this war against the one, true, perfect and holy God, but we cannot prevail in our more secular personal arenas without the help of the Lord.  If we are fighting what we see as a personal attack against us, then we are not so much fighting for God as we are showing resentment as a people achieving minority status and God may or may not stand with us.  Remember that Jesus told us to bear in mind that if the world hates us, it hated Him first.  In other words, if the world hates us, it is because He loves us.  As I’ve noted before, this is not a war against Christians; it is a war against Christ.   If we are fighting for the love of God and heartsickness at the way in which our society has attempted to marginalize and neuter the power of the Holy Spirit and the word of the Father, then we prevail even when the tide goes against us; though we be metaphorically spit upon, arrested or even killed.  Before we attack the unbelievers in power and those following the dictates of false/demonic gods, we must be certain that our hearts are righteous enough and our spirits white enough to withstand the battle and perhaps win a few souls for the kingdom of God.  We can only get to this point of effectiveness if we spend time in His presence, praying with humble and repentant hearts for His forgiveness, and listening to what He tells us to do and how we should conduct ourselves.  We must learn to show His love, even in the midst of persecution and turmoil.  We may be the only contact some have with Scripture and the Holy Spirit.  If we speak too intemperately, if we speak out of anger instead of love, if we call for violence against those who disagree with us, we are not sharing Christ.  (Note here:  I am NOT speaking of those in the military fighting for our freedoms and to squelch tyrannical governments.  I am referring to our public, personal arguments with those who are on the side of those who would vanquish the mention of our holy God in public policy.)

     Listen, Christian believers:  We cannot demonstrate love as we call for hate.  We cannot speak out for God with language unfit for children to read or hear.  We cannot condemn those who are living lives outside the will of God without trying to show them the light of truth and the love that comes with placing one’s heart in the hands of our almighty God.   Hear me, “emergent” churches!  God is not mocked and will not be fooled by congregations kneeling in pews and taking communion yet living unrepentant in sinful lifestyles.  Take heed, false pastors who are leading whole congregations away from the inerrant word of God:  Much has been given to you, and much will be expected of you before the final judgment.    Rend your hearts; not your garments.

Maranatha!

Topics: A Special Word for Today, According to Scripture, Current Events and the End of the Age, Just A Thought, Kingdom Living, Salvation, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Concerning Those Who Have Never Heard of God

By Watchman | April 29, 2013

“For as many as have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”  (Romans 2: 12-16)

         I doubt if there is a Christian around who hasn’t been challenged at least one time (and most of us many more) by someone asking why God would condemn to hell people who had never had an opportunity to hear about Him.  Some people ask in all sincerity, and some with that “Aha!  I got you there!” attitude that I frankly find so obnoxious I have trouble responding politely. (Not for nothing do I have a T-shirt which reads “Lord, keep Your arm around my shoulder, and Your hand over my mouth!)  It is sometimes difficult for some to answer this, because we know that people are judged by God by whether or not they have loved, followed and at least tried to obey Him.  We know that God loves us and wants no one to be condemned to hell; we know that that He is righteousness and justice, and we know that He plays fair.  Yet we also know that there are people–and have been even more in past ages–who never had an opportunity of hearing the word of God, and have never even been told the name of God and His Son, Jesus the Christ.  So how does God deal with them?  Does He indeed shut the doors of heaven against them?  Not necessarily.  I believe that the answer is to be found definitively in Paul’s words to the Romans.

     God has put within every person a special spot that instinctively knows of His existence.  We are created in His image (Genesis 1:27), and so have a spark of Him in our hearts.   Those of us who have been fortunate enough to live in places and times that allowed us access to knowledge, the law, the Scriptures and the sharing of the Gospel will be judged one day on whether or not we accepted Christ as our Savior, and God as our Father.  Probably nearly everyone in our day and age will be so judged, as even the most primitive villages in Asia and Africa appear to have at least a few TVs and missionaries have spent 200 years in the spreading of the Gospel message around the world.  Although Paul was addressing the Jewish community in Rome when he referred to the differences in knowledge between the Jews and the Gentiles, (in those days this equated to being either a Jew or a pagan), his words remain true today for the differences between the Jew or Christian believers and the followers of false religions.  He makes it clear that those who are completely unaware of the existence (or at least the names) of God and Jesus will NOT be judged by the same standards as those of us who have been given the chance to hear and follow His word.  There is a concept explained later in Romans called the “circumcision of the heart”, and I am as certain as I can be that this is what those who never heard the word will be judged by.  Paul speaks of those who do not have the law (i.e.:have never been taught about God or Christ) who “by nature do the things of the law”, and “who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience…accusing or excusing them.”  In other words, those who have never heard of God but who yet listen to that “still, small voice” of His that sends those of us who yearn for peace, love and redemption on a search for the divine; and who develop the instinctive sense of right and wrong that He has placed within us, may well receive their salvation.  God is so good!  He is imminently kind, overpoweringly loving and always merciful and righteous.  Hell is for those who knowingly reject His message of love, and/or deliberately quench those fires of goodness that God has put within us in order that we might meet with and commune with Him.

Glory be to God!

Maranatha!

Topics: According to Scripture, Just A Thought, Salvation | 1 Comment »

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

By Watchman | April 24, 2013

Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude,  for the battle is not yours, but God’s…Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you…

(2 Chronicles 20: 15, 17)

    I’ve been fighting battles for some years now.  Some have been just small skirmishes, and some have seemed like insuperable and bloody conflicts.  Yesterday I was praying over my latest battle and, as I often do, I asked the Lord to show me through His word what I should be doing.  When I pulled out my Bible, it opened immediately to the twentieth chapter of 2 Chronicles, and my eyes fell first on the scriptures quoted above.  God is so good!  He showed me clearly and concisely that although I had made the decisions that led to my current situation (God does expect us to do a certain amount of commonsense thinking on our own), He is waiting to fight this particular battle for me.  I am already victorious, because the battle is His!

     What battles are you facing?  Battles are not only waged on the battlefields of wars.  They are fought in our communities, in our own homes, with our own families, and even in our own hearts.  Sometimes they may be battles against poverty or illness; sometimes they may be battles between our flesh and our spirits.  And sometimes, we are at war with the enemy, Satan, who seeks to draw us away from the Father.  Satan loves to whisper in the unsuspecting ear words of despair and depression.  It is he who wakes us in the middle of the night to lie awake for hours worrying that we are useless, helpless or hopeless.  It is he who speaks words of discouragement into our hearts regarding friends and relatives who are unbelievers, that they will never heed the call of God and accept the wonderful gift of grace and salvation offered by the Lord Jesus.  It is he who tells us we are not worthy to be called children of God.  I know, because all of these fears have from time to time infested my thinking.  This, my dear friends in Christ, is thinking that originates straight from the father of lies–and NEVER from the heart of our Father God.  The law of binding and loosing spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 18:18 comes into play here.

“Truly I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Satan and his wicked assaults upon our self-esteem, our  families and even our knowledge of the nature of God can be bound and rendered harmless by calling upon the name of Jesus.  He who has a name above all names is prepared to bind in heaven what we bind here on earth.  Although it sounds arrogant and conceited to say it, this is our birthright as born-again believers.  If only others who are not yet believers could understand how truly humbling this knowledge is for us, rather than a source of pride!  As with all the gifts with which God endows us, we have done nothing to merit this ability; we cannot earn it or ever do anything spectacular enough to justify it.  It comes to us because Jesus loves us and died for us, rose again from the dead to lead us to eternal life , and because the battle actually does belong to the Lord.

     That the battle is the Lord’s does not mean that we will never become battle-weary, or that we may never sustain some battle scars.  Most of us will at times, without a doubt.  But in the battles we fight we know that the Lord sustains us by His right hand and will lead us through victorious; and at times we may be able to get through without a fight at all, when God tells us, “Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you.”  

     I feel blessed that my Lord has taken my fears and my problems and my battles upon Himself, and I can sing along with Jehoshaphat’s appointed singers:  “Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever!”

Maranatha!

Topics: A Special Word for Today, According to Scripture, Just A Thought, Kingdom Living | No Comments »

What Shall We Wear For Easter?

By Watchman | March 30, 2013

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature…  For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

      Most of the larger department stores have been running TV spots for weeks, advertising their specials for Easter outfits.  I remember even back when I was a child, every girl wanted a new Easter dress, and most women bought something new to wear for the holiday, often including new gloves and fancy hats.  After all, who wanted to go to church and be seen in last year’s finery?  I’m not sure I ever questioned the spiritual validity of this until I became an adult although, because my family was not well-to-do, my sisters and I often didn’t get the whole new outfits, but had to be contented with the new white patent leather shoes, or some article of clothing that we really needed.  Although few women today still wear fancy hats as part of the general ensemble, and fewer still wear gloves, the desire to show up for church on Easter Sunday (often one of the only two days some people think to attend services) wearing something striking and new is still with us.  It has only been in the last ten years or so that I have begun to question for whom we are dressing.  I am in favor of dressing in the best of what we have when we go before the Lord.  I try to dress decently when I go to a friend’s house for dinner; I can do no less when I join in the Lord’s Supper, as a courtesy to Him.  But is our outward appearance what He is paying attention to when we come before Him?

     A quick hour of flipping through pages of Scripture convinces me that the Lord isn’t half as impressed with our fashion sense as we are.  Although I am quite certain that He does not object to our dressing nicely, there is no doubt in my mind that what He wishes to see on and in us has nothing to do with how much we are able to pay for our Sunday go-to-meetin’ clothes.  (By the way, I’m aware that I have several readers who don’t live in the US: for those of you who didn’t understand the significance of “go-to-meetin’ clothes”, it’s just a silly way of saying our best clothes!)  I’d like to share with you a few things that I found in the Bible concerning what we should wear.

     First, what Scripture says about the way women should dress is really a bit daunting.  Paul dampeningly  tells us in I Timothy 2:9-10, that women should “adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”  That is, of course, his advice and not a decree from God, and although his point is well taken, may be a little harsh!  Peter also gives women advice on godly dressing, but his is a little softer:  “Do not let your adornment be merely outward–arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel–rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (I Peter 3:3-4)  Should there be any men reading this I’ve managed to not lose once they saw what this post was about, you may be thinking, “Gotta show this one to my wife!  Just like women!”  Well, this actually applies to you all as well!  I can remember many times being in a wealthy church where young men not dressed in suits and ties were looked at askance by men in the congregation.  Vanity is not a sin exclusive to women.

     Second, there’s no way to get around it:  God has often listened most quickly to the prayers of those who were seeking His favor and/or forgiveness while clad in sackcloth and ashes!  The Lord told the women of Israel in  Jeremiah 6:26 to mourn the nation’s fate in sackcloth and ashes.   Daniel, while seeking the Lord’s prophetic word for the Hebrew people in bondage during the first diaspora,  set his “face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” and made confession to God.   Jonah took his message of God’s wrath to Ninevah and so touched the king that he covered himself with sackcloth and ashes and decreed that every man and beast do the same and repent of their evil.  Because he did, Ninevah was saved from destruction (Jonah 3: 5-10).  Although sackcloth and ashes are not a part of our 21st century experience or mindset, they do tend to show that God cares more for us coming before Him in repentance and humility than in fine clothes.

     Third, we are also given many examples of what the Lord wants to see us in.  There are many more than I am sharing today, but this may give you some idea of how the Lord likes us to dress!:

1.     Job 29:14:  I put on RIGHTEOUSNESS,  and it clothed me.

2.    Isaiah 52:1:  Put on your STRENGTH, O Zion.

3.     Isaiah 59: 17-18:  For He put on RIGHTEOUSNESS as a breastplate, and a HELMET OF SALVATION on His head…and was clad with ZEAL as a cloak. (I deliberately left out the garments of vengeance, because this belongs to God alone.)

4.     Isaiah 61:3:  (The Lord anointed the Messiah) to console those who mourn in Zion, …to give them…the GARMENT OF PRAISE for the spirit of heaviness.

5.     Romans 13: 12, 14:  …let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us PUT ON THE ARMOR OF LIGHT…PUT ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST…

6.     I Corinthians 15: 53 (although this refers to a future event, this occurs to some extent when we are born again!):  For this corruptible must PUT ON INCORRUPTION, and this mortal must PUT ON IMMORTALITY.  

7.     Galatians 3:27:  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have PUT ON CHRIST.

8.     Ephesians 4: 24  …PUT ON THE NEW MAN WHICH WAS CREATED ACCORDING TO GOD, in true righteousness and holiness.

9.     Ephesians 6:11, 14-17:  PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

10.    Colossians 3:14:  But above all these things PUT ON LOVE, which is the bond of perfection.

Wow!  Not one word about putting on suits, ties, lace, gauze, silk or pearls!  Humility, righteousness, holiness, love and obedience are the clothes that the Lord most wants to see on us!

Before I finish this out, I’d like to share a story that a friend sent me via e-mail some years back:

     An old man once went to worship in a beautiful church.  His clothes were clean and well ironed, but old and patched, and many people looked at him disgustedly as he worshiped.  After the service the pastor went up to him and shook his hand, then asked if he didn’t think the Lord would would have something to say about his coming to church in his old, patched clothing.  The old man didn’t know, so the pastor told him to go home and pray and seek the Lord over this.  The next Sunday the old man returned to worship.  His clothes were clean and well ironed, but old and patched, and he received many more distasteful looks from others  in the congregation.  After the service, the pastor again stopped him, and asked if he had not talked to the Lord about appropriate wear to the church.  The old man admitted that he had.

“And what did He tell you?” asked the pastor.

“Well, Preacher,” answered the old man, “He said He didn’t know what was appropriate here because He’s never been in this church.”

Happy Resurrection Day!

Maranatha!

Topics: According to Scripture, Just A Thought, Kingdom Living, Special Seasons of Worship | 2 Comments »

Nothing But the Blood of Jesus

By Watchman | March 29, 2013

What can wash away my sin?  Nothing but the Blood of Jesus;/ What can make me whole again?  Nothing but the Blood of Jesus….

Nothing can for sin atone, nothing but the Blood of Jesus;/ Naught of good that I have done, Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.     (Robert Lowry–1876)

     I thought perhaps since this is Holy Week it might be a good time to talk about who killed Jesus, and why.  Most of us have at some time or another heard someone say they don’t like the Jews because the Jews killed Jesus.  Well, yes, indeed the leaders of the Pharisees in charge of the synagogue had Jesus arrested and brought before Pilate.  Most of us know that it was a garrison of Roman soldiers that arrested Jesus, scourged Him, diced for His clothing, wove a crown of thorns and placed it on His head; drove nails through His hands and feet, attaching Him to a cross, watched Him suffer for hours and finally, thrust a spear into His side.  So yes, the Jews and the Romans were both complicit in the death of Jesus.  But it is important that we understand who actually killed our Lord:

I did.

Does that surprise you?  Whether it does or not, it is true.  Jesus loved me and took my sins upon Himself on a cross at Calvary so that I wouldn’t have to pay for the sins I have committed against the God who created me; the God of my salvation.

You did also.  So has every person who has or will ever live.  It is our sin and God’s decision to send His Son to be the perfect sacrificial lamb so that we might have eternal life with Him that put Jesus up on that cross.

     God tells us very early on in Scripture that only a blood atonement can wash away our sins.  Blood is life, and so eternal life was to be had only by the shedding of blood.  Because He loved His people, God allowed the ancient people of God to make vicarious atonement entailing the sacrifice of animals.  Unfortunately, that didn’t keep people from continuing to sin after God had forgiven them, and so there was a need for continual sacrifice.  So God sent His Son–perfect, righteous, sinless–to be the perfect offering for the sins of the whole world.  He was fully God–begotten by the Father before the beginning of the world, and fully human, feeling love, joy, pain and sorrow.  He laughed, sang and danced with His friends, He ate and slept, and taught everyone with whom He came into contact that they could have eternal life through Him in heaven.    He loved those of wealth and power who came to hear Him, whether they paid attention to His words or not; He loved and preached to the poor, the desperate, and the sinful, whether they left their sins behind them or not.  He called for all people–man or woman, rich or poor, free or slave–to repent of their sins and follow Him.  He calls for all people now–man or woman, rich or poor, free or slave–to repent of their sins and follow Him.  His message is always the same:

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.’ “  (John 11:25-26)

     Jesus died for the sins of the world.  He died for me, and He died for you, too, because He loves us.  His resurrection proved His entire life and message, and promises the same resurrection for us.  He overcame the darkness of death and hell to which we would be condemned if left to our own devices.  He came to forgive our sins, show us the Father, and be a Light unto our paths!:

“And he who sees me sees Him who sent Me.  I have come as a light to the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”  (John 12:45-46)

     I once read that when Jesus cried out from His cross, “It is finished!”, He used the same words that prison officials used to put on the doors of prisoners whose sentences had been fulfilled.  He had paid our debt, bought us out of hell at the price of His own humiliation, blood, sorrow, pain and death.  Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

          When I think of my sins, the sins that He has cast as far from me as the east is from the west, I am so ashamed and so humbled that it brings me to tears.  When I think of His forgiveness and His faithfulness to me, I can feel only gratitude and a great love for Him.   My sins were (and are) no “better” sins than those committed by any one else.  Sin is sin, rebellion against God and His word, and worthy of death.  Yet my God has had mercy on me and washed me white as snow in His precious Blood!   Now, when I sin–as I sometimes still do–I know that I can go to my heavenly Father with a repentant heart and He will forgive me, because of the Blood of Christ.  I know that when I pray to God, He looks at me and sees not the sinner that I am but the image of Christ within me.  I know, beyond question, that I can approach God in the Holy of Holies and that He will hear me whether or not I can hear Him all the time, because Jesus died to make me a child of the most high God, and a princess in His kingdom.

     Yes, I was one of many who is to blame for the death of my Lord, and in return, He has given me new life and put a new spirit within me!  What or who else could have washed away my sins, made me whole or paid my debt?  No one, and nothing but the Blood of Jesus!  Blessed be the Lord!

Maranatha!

Have a blessed Resurrection Day!

Topics: A Special Word for Today, According to Scripture, Just A Thought, Salvation, Special Seasons of Worship | 1 Comment »

Spring is Coming!

By Watchman | March 25, 2013

The following is from my friend Alan Lake, who hosts the Watchman on his domain and is anxiously awaiting the return of our Lord!

 

I was sitting at my computer this morning and became very aware of the
advent of Spring. The temperature is still below freezing and snow
still covers the ground, but inside this old chest was springing the
desire to go somewhere. Nowhere in particular, but somewhere.
That desire sharpened as I looked at a video from the “Texas Country
Reporter”. Their videos take viewers on Texas’ back roads to points of
interest. The thought occurred to me that I’ve never lived in Texas,
though I’ve traveled through the state. I have no reason to anticipate
that I’ll ever get to Texas again. So, why do these videos excite my
wanderlust? I can’t give you a reason, though I can guess.
Reading the news connects to my feeling that spring is near. Obama’s
trip to the Middle East seems to be a foreign policy disaster, as are
his initiatives within the country. None of the troubles facing the USA
are necessary, but are the result of our abandonment of godly principles
of government and a rejection of the nature of man as is spelled out in
God’s Word. But I associate these things with the freezing temperatures
and snow covered ground here. There is something in my soul that says
that while the latter contains within it the promise of daffodils,
flower blossoms and green grass, the other contains within it the
promise of our Lord Yeshuah that “When you see all these things, know
that He is near — at the doors!”
Spring is coming, dear ones! We’ll soon go outside without a coat!
Blessed be the Name of Him who brings the spring into this world after
each winter and who will soon bring the Spring of His presence for us to
bask in forever.
Rejoice!

Topics: A Special Word for Today, Current Events and the End of the Age, Just A Thought | 2 Comments »

Two OT Kings Today

By Watchman | February 25, 2013

Then [the prophet] Ahijah took hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces.  And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel:  ‘Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you…So I will take you, and you shall reign over all your heart desires, and you shall be king over Israel.  Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways and do what is right in My sight to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house as I built for David, and will give Israel to you.’ ”  (1Kings 11: 30-31, 37-38)

So the king (Jeroboam) took counsel and made two calves of gold.  And he said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.  Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”  (1 Kings 12: 28)

“Now it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom and had strengthened himself, that he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel along with him.  And it happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the Lord…And he took the fortified cities of Judah and came to Jerusalem.  Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah, who were gathered together in Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, “Thus says the Lord: ‘You have forsaken Me, and therefore I have left you in the hand of Shishak.’ ”  So the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, “The Lord is righteous.”  Now when the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the word came to Shemaiah, saying, “They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance.  My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak.  Nevertheless, they will be his servants, that they may distinguish My service from the service of the kingdoms of the nations.”…When he humbled himself, the wrath of the Lord turned from him so as not to destroy him completely; and things also went well in Judah…And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord.  (2 Chronicles 12: 1-2, 4-8, 12, 14)

         After the death of King Solomon, the land of Israel was divided into two nations:  Judah, which was made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin as well as all of the Levites who left their lands since “Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them from serving as priests to the Lord” and which was led by Solomon’s son Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:14); and Israel, the other ten tribes, led by Jeroboam.  Rehoboam was by right of blood the king who should have ruled over the entire nation, but he refused to listen to the wants and needs of his people, so most of them chose to break away from his rule and live instead under the kingship of Jeroboam, as Ahijah had prophesied.  Yet even after being told by God Himself through His prophet what the Lord had in store for him IF he heeded all of God’s commandments, Jeroboam chose instead to create idols for his people to worship so that they would not go to Jerusalem to worship God and, possibly, choose to return to Rehoboam.  Rehoboam allowed the Levite priests to continue to serve the Lord, but once he gained strength he  turned away from the Lord.  In return, the Lord allowed the king of Egypt to come against Jerusalem.  Although Rehoboam and his people repented, the Lord still allowed Shishak to come and take away all the treasures belonging to the king and the temple, in order to show them the difference between living with Him and choosing to live without Him.   However, He spared their lives and Judah prospered again, only to fall away from God again later.   Today, the same rebellion is being repeated in our land.  Rehoboam and Jeroboam are inhabiting high places in our government, our communities, and even in our own homes. Read the rest of this entry »

Topics: A Special Word for Today, According to Scripture, Current Events and the End of the Age, Just A Thought, Kingdom Living | 2 Comments »

What’s Keeping You Away?

By Watchman | February 18, 2013

Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.  Lament and mourn and weep!  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.  –(James 4: 7-10) 

     If you are one of the many who has not yet made a choice to ask Jesus to be your savior,  I am addressing this post specifically to you.  Why have you not given your heart to Him?  What is keeping you away from the Creator of the universe; the One who loves you, calls to you, offers you forgiveness of sins and eternal life?  As I’ve said before, time is growing short.  Already we can read the signs of a society that will not much longer tolerate the urging of the Spirit or allow the widespread proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  So I ask again, What is keeping you away from Him?

Read the rest of this entry »

Topics: A Special Word for Today, According to Scripture, Just A Thought, Kingdom Living, Salvation | 3 Comments »

Come Out Of Her, My People!

By Watchman | February 13, 2013

And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.  For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.”  (Revelation 18: 4-5)

          Revelation 18 refers to a political Babylon that will be in some way powerful during the tribulation period, so the above scripture is actually a reference to end-time events.  The “her” (Babylon) that is spoken of references some sort of world system or structure that is opposed to God and to all people that belong to Him.    However, as the Lord has been showing me this verse repeatedly for a while now, I have come to realize that like most of the Bible, there is an application to those of  us who are believers right now.  God’s message is clear.   Too many of us are succumbing to the world system–we are exhorted to live in the world, but not to be of the world.

     Brothers and sisters, our world is changing so rapidly that many people don’t know how to cope with it.  Some are being swept away by the lulling thought that wrong is a judgment, and therefore no wrong exists, except paradoxically in condemning sin.  Some of these people sit in church pews each Sunday, yet refuse to accept the laws and commandments God has set upon His people.  Many prefer to memorize only a few out-of-context scriptures that present God as weak and all-accepting.    Some are trying to fight back against the tide of unrighteousness that seems to be overpowering us:  fighting against the rise of anti-Christian and anti-Jewish sentiment that the world is fast embracing; fighting against liberal policies that will bankrupt and weaken our nations; fighting against the rise of Islam and shariah law in the US as well as all around Europe.  Well, my friends, this is indeed a time to stand against the enemy, but we need to make certain that we fight our battles in the correct manner.    A few thoughts:

1)  We cannot fight anger with anger.  Anger, unless it is truly righteous anger,  is of the world; it is not of God.  Can righteous anger be expressed as obscenities or with crude language?  “Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues !”  It is so easy to fall into the trap of feeling great fury towards those who stand in opposition to us!  John said that we are not to marvel if the world hates us (1 John 3:13)…and if we shouldn’t marvel at it, then we shouldn’t let it upset us.  Although we may feel it necessary to stand up to powers and principalities that are setting ungodly and unjust or tyrannical policies, we need to remember as we do so that our greatest duty is to show those around us the light of Christ.  What and how we say what we need to say matters!  It matters that we show unbelievers and the undecided that we love them and want their salvation even as we chastise them for ungodly behavior.  It matters that we model the holiness and righteousness to which God has called us.  If we do, then there will be those who having been blinded by the god of this world, will behold the Lamb of God.  Satan’s hold on them may be broken.

And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death–Rev. 12: 11

2)  We cannot fight evil if we compromise with it at home.  “Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues!”  Even we believers seem constantly to flirt with the edges of evil.  We condemn what is evil in the world, then spend spare time reading books that glorify unrestrained sex, revenge and violence.  We watch movies that  drip blood and vitriol and mock the very name of God, and allow our children to watch this filth even as we encourage them to pray and worship the Lord.  We often spend more time listening to pastors who tell us of all God wants us to have than to God telling us all He wants us to be.  We fool ourselves into believing that because we are believers in Christ all our resentments against others are in some way sanctified and made holier than other people’s resentments.  We even can discover within ourselves a kind of spiritual conceit because we have obtained the salvation of our Lord–the same salvation He offers to every person who repents and calls upon His name.  “Come out of her, My people!”  We are called by His name, and that requires us to not only believe, but to live in and for Him.  It requires that we heed His voice and search our hearts, our minds and our homes for those places that need to be cleansed and renewed.  Evil must be countered with good; filth with purity.

3)  We cannot fight the battles we are choosing to fight against the “powers and principalities” by our own strength or in our own names.  The battle is God’s; we are His agents.  We fight by the power of His might and in the protection of His name.  We can sign petitions and partake in demonstrations–there’s nothing wrong with joining together with other like-minded people to try to change the trend of an ever degenerating culture.  However, when we forget who we are really fighting and Who we are really fighting for, then we become only another end of the same secular spectrum, and all our works will be as dust.  “Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues!”  We cannot fight the spiritual Babylon by behaving as the world does, but by putting on

“the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”–Ephesians 6: 13-17

     One day we will all–good or evil, saved or unsaved–stand before God and receive His judgments.  Those of us who love Jesus and are saved will walk with Him in eternal glory; those of us who reject Him will be cast into hell and will never see the glory of God.  Surely the most important thing we can be doing in these tumultuous, chaotic days is reintroducing Christ to our fallen and lost society.  We must preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus; His life, death, resurrection and atonement for our sins.  We must preach His love, His mercy, His holiness and His judgments.  We must live as Paul tells us we must, as “ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us:  we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  (2 Corinthians 5: 20-21)    If we are truly children of the Most High, then it is time to be heeding His call:  Come out of the world, my children!

Maranatha!

Topics: A Special Word for Today, Current Events and the End of the Age, Just A Thought, Kingdom Living, Salvation | 5 Comments »


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