ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Who Will Be Kept from the Hour of Trial?
By David C. Grabbe
As human beings, we have an aversion to pain. We try to avoid the uncomfortable, the unpleasant, and the hurtful. Equipped with the capacity to feel both physically and emotionally, we are continually taking stock of what could injure us in our environment. When we know something painful is approaching, our natural tendency is to draw back, skirt around, or run past it—to do almost anything to avoid it When we look at the state of the world, considering what is prophesied to happen during the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, our minds quickly become occupied with thoughts of how we might avoid having to experience those things. Protestantism comforts itself with the myth of a secret rapture—the idea that everyone who has professed Jesus Christ will be spirited away before things grow too bad. Knowing what the Bible says, however, to us that notion is an empty one.
Yet God does make promises of physical protection, so we do have hope. The letter to the church of Philadelphia contains one of the best known: “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).
Before examining this promise, it may be helpful to understand what it does not say. Note how conventional wisdom would paraphrase this verse: Because you consider yourself to be a Philadelphian, and because you are with the church organization that is doing the most to preach the gospel to the world, I will keep you from the hour of trial and will take you to the Place of Safety where you will be protected while all those who disagree with you will go through the Tribulation.
“Conventional wisdom” is not actually wisdom but what is generally held to be true by many, yet it may, in fact, be fallacious. This rendering of Revelation 3:10 is the conventional wisdom in some circles, illustrating how many take narcissistic liberties with this verse. It also shows why there is such an emphasis today on which church group is the best: because we are averse to pain and tend to try to avoid it. Thus, some convince themselves that they will be safe from what lies ahead because they are with the right church—rather than being right with God. This is extremely dangerous, as it indicates that they trust in the wrong thing.
The letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are written in large part from a perspective of “if the shoe fits, wear it.” In each, Jesus concludes with “he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”—plural—meaning we should glean all that we can from each letter rather than focus on our favorite one. In this light, a way to approach Revelation 3:10 is that perseverance is part of what Christ uses to define who a Philadelphian is. Thus, an individual is a Philadelphian because he keeps His command to persevere, in addition to exemplifying the other things He says, such as keeping His Word and not denying His name (Revelation 3:8). In short, a person cannot conclude that, just because he is fellowshipping with a particularly faithful group, he will be carried along in its positive momentum and benefit from the promise of protection and other blessings. An unfaithful individual in an overall faithful group will reap what he sows, not what the rest of the group sows.
Christ says similar things in other places, as in Matthew 10:22: “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved” (emphasis ours throughout). He makes no mention of group membership but addresses the enduring individual. Similarly, in Matthew 24:12-13 and Luke 21:36, He emphasizes what we do as individuals—our personal faithfulness and endurance—rather than the merits of a particular group. Just as Laodiceanism can be found in each of us regardless of the church we attend, so each of us can persevere and courageously endure no matter where we fellowship.
Revelation mentions patient endurance seven times. At the book’s beginning, John sets the tone by introducing himself as “I, John, your brother and companion (sharer and participator) with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patient endurance [which are] in Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9, Amplified Bible). The construction here is peculiar, but John uses three words to describe one thing—namely, the tribulation that is connected with the Kingdom and which requires patient endurance (see Acts 14:22; II Timothy 2:11-12). In the letters to the seven churches, several recurring phrases or themes appear. They all contain “I know your works” and “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Five letters contain the command to repent, and “patience” appears four times in three of them, a good indicator of the importance of patience to God’s church, especially at the end time.
In addition to the mention in Revelation 3:10, Christ commends the church at Ephesus for its patience: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.” (Revelation 2:2-3). Perseverance—patient endurance—is also a part of the praise that Christ gives to the Thyatiran church: “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience” (Revelation 2:19).
The patience of the Saints
As the prophecies of the end time unfold, the patience of the saints is highlighted twice more. The first is in Revelation 13:9-10: “If anyone has an ear, let him hear. He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” In the preceding verses, John describes the Beast, his power, and his blasphemy. God allows him to make war with the saints and overcome them. This is part of what the saints will have to endure. Some translations, like The Amplified Bible and the English Standard Version (ESV), end verse 10 with here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints, which fits exactly with Christ’s “command to persevere” (NKJV) or [keeping] the word of [His] patience.
The first part of verse 10 can be confusing because, even though the book was written in Greek, John is actually using a Hebrew idiom that signifies the certainty of approaching judgment. This can be seen in Jeremiah 43:11; 15:2. This Hebraism means that it is so certain that the Beast will carry out these things that none will escape being involved in some way. Thus, God calls for endurance and faith. Revelation 14:12 contains another reference to the perseverance of the saints: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”
The saints are defined as those who keep God’s law and maintain and give attention to the faith of Jesus. Again, the context is the time when the world will worship the Beast and receive his mark. As in Revelation 13:10, translations such as the ESV render the first part as “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints,” meaning that, when the saints see this occurring, their endurance and perseverance will be in greatest need.
In Jesus Christ’s promise in Revelation 3:10, the core issue is perseverance. The King James reads, Because you have kept the word of My patience, and patience is likewise used in the other verses in Revelation. But “patience” tends to make us think of passive activity, which is not what the underlying Greek word, hupomoné, actually means. Greek scholar Spiros Zodhiates describes it as “constancy under suffering in faith and duty,” and commentator William Barclay defines hupomoné as “having the quality to stand, facing the storm, struggling against difficulty and opposition. Obviously, activity is involved; it is not just passively waiting. It describes active, spiritual resistance—against Satan, this world, and our own carnality. The most succinct rendering of hupomoné may be “courageous endurance.” “Cheerful or hopeful endurance” is another good rendering, as it includes a degree of optimism—and when we remember Who is on our side and how this story ends, we have every reason to be optimistic while persevering.
The Hour of Temptation
To put this command into perspective, we must imagine what the world will be like at the time when this letter will be most applicable. A great false prophet will be active, and deception will be so widespread that it will threaten even God’s elect. A powerful and blasphemous tyrant will encourage or even command worship of himself, and he will institute financial controls, such that commerce will be essentially impossible without paying homage to him. Yet, it will be our responsibility to be constant and unwavering under the suffering imposed by that system. Further, it does not appear that the church of God will be unified at that time. Given the various prophecies that describe seven lampstands and seven letters to seven churches, it seems that division will be the norm within the church. Some of the letters in Revelation 2 and 3 indicate a low level of faith and a high level of carnality.
As Jesus says in Matthew 24:12, “Because lawlessness will abound, the love [agapé] of many will grow cold.” The world does not have any agapé, so He must be speaking of the church! True Christians will have to persevere through encroaching sin and dying love within the church. The temptation may be great to throw in the towel, to withdraw, to separate from the brethren because of offenses, but doing so would be the opposite of hupomoné—of courageously enduring.
The New King James speaks of “the hour of trial,” but the King James calls it “the hour of temptation.” This is a fitting rendition because during that time it will be tremendously tempting to give up, to give in, to compromise, to let down just a little, to sin (just a little!) in order to make life easier. It will be a time of pressure like never before and thus very easy to become distracted, not just because of the blatant idolatry and religious deception, but also because of the world’s increasing attractiveness and pervasiveness.
It does not have to be just a time of fascism and concentration camps. People will be eating and drinking and marrying—having a great time. Revelation 18’s description of Babylon focuses on luxury and ease and the avoidance of suffering. Jesus warns in Luke 21:34, “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. Distraction leads to idolatry. Whatever the reality of that time, “persevering” or “courageously enduring” without compromising will certainly be no small accomplishment. Yet Christ says that because some of His people have been keeping His command to persevere, He will keep them from the worst of it. They have already proved their faithfulness to Him; He knows where they stand, He sees their track record with Him, and He will not require them to experience everything that the rest of humanity will suffer.
In colleges and universities, some professors make the final exam at the end of a semester optional. This means that students take the final only if they need to bring their overall average up. But if a student already has an A from other tests and class work, the professor figures the student has already proved himself, and does not require him to take the final exam. This approach is analogous to Revelation 3:10. If the Christian is already faithfully persevering and resisting the spiritual foes, God may not require that he endure the very hardest test to prove what is in his heart. He has already proved it consistently through the course of his life. However, if, like a stereotypical first-year college student, he has frittered away his time, becoming involved in matters having nothing to do with college (even if they are not altogether bad things), he will have to prove where he stands. The final exam in this case is the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord, so it is in our best interest that we students demonstrate to the Teacher that we are serious before the end of the semester.
Perfect and Complete
The word translated “kept” or “keep,” used twice, plays into this. This word means “to attend to carefully; to maintain; to guard; to hold fast,” and the way that it is used indicates reciprocity. We certainly want God to guard, hold fast, and carefully attend to us. We would prefer that He guard us and hold us fast far away from the destruction and torment that will come upon the world! But the flipside is that He wants us to do the same thing—keep, guard, hold fast—with regard to our responsibilities to the covenant. In other words, if we want God to take an active interest in our well-being during that time, we should understand the principle of reciprocity and take an active interest in Him at this time. If we diligently guard the things He has committed to our trust, He will do the same for us.
Jesus’ brother, James, provides insight into the perseverance that Christ wants us to have: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). The perseverance that we will increasingly need as the end approaches cannot be developed all at once. Goofing off all semester and then cramming for the final exam rarely works in college, and it certainly will not work where our covenant and relationship with God is concerned. James counsels us to be thankful when our faith is tested, because all of those little exercises of faith not only prepare us for substantial trials, but also make us spiritually complete.
The upshot is that no man has the strength to endure and persevere through what lies ahead. Without God, we are all dead men, physically and spiritually, but because “power belongs to God” (Psalm 62:11), we can tap into the source of true strength through our relationship with Him. He decides the circumstances of our lives. He alone knows what we need to survive the trials and temptations at the end. More importantly, He knows what we need to be prepared for eternal life. Remember that God desires godly offspring (Malachi 2:15). He is creating sons and daughters in His image (Genesis 1:26; Romans 8:29). He is using His perfect creative genius to engineer the experiences and circumstances that we need to take on His image and have His eternal character formed in us.
For some, walking with God through the very depths of the end time is what they will need to become “perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” A large part of that may be a result of the choices that they make now, and their tendencies toward apathy, complacency, or compromise. For others who are already keeping His command to persevere, He will keep them from the hour of trial. It does not mean they will not see hardship: They must see hardship to endure courageously. But because of their constancy under duress—because God is not a stranger, and they are already accustomed to walking through life with Him and drawing upon His strength—they will be given a blessing of protection. “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:1-3 “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” Rev 3:10.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
PART 19 – Published by 4/30/22
ARE WE STAYING OR GOING – PART 4
Have you noticed, the only people who seem to be concerned about the rapture doctrine are the remnant? The casual religious people do not care enough about it to study it, because they are not worried about it. They just listen and trust a preacher, they believe that everything will be alright, and then head to Cracker Barrel for lunch. My friends, everything is NOT going to be alright! Look back through time at all the times of severe tribulation and see if God removed His people. Did He remove the Jews who were saved from the Holocaust? Did Jesus remove His disciples from persecution after He went back to Heaven? As I have said before, there is a difference between persecution and wrath. God saved Noah from the flood and Lot from Sodom, but He did not stop the tortures recorded in Foxes book of martyr’s. Have you ever thought about the people that God will speak to and say, “depart from me, I never knew you?” These were religious individuals who thought they were saved but were not. They thought they were ready for Heaven but they were not. Look around you now, can you see those who believe is real but do not live for Him? The Bible clearly explains the field of the world is filled with tares but only the wheat will be gathered into the Master’s barn.
I have been speaking about the pre-wrath rapture and I appreciate all those who have contacted me with your thoughts about this subject. This is a very important topic and if you will spend time researching Matthew chapter 24, you must ask who Jesus is speaking to? If the remnant bride is gone, why would He spend so much time telling us about the details during this time? When He says to watch in verse 42 and to be ready for the Son of man coming, who is He talking to? Go through Matthew 24 and you will clearly see the body of Christ is on the earth during much of the tribulation and at least up until God’s wrath is poured out. The question is when will God’s wrath be released?
Verse 34 is confusing to many but they are not interpreting through the spirit. When Jesus said this generation will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled, He was not talking about the one they were living in. He is talking about that particular last day generation who has the spiritual discernment to see the “leaves” or signs appear (end time prophecies) NOT the people who were with Him in His earthy ministry. Verses 32–35 begins with His analogy to learn from the example of a fig tree. When the leaves appear, people know summer is coming. In the same way, when mankind sees all these predicted signs and prophecies, they should know Christ’s return is near. The generation who can discern those signs will not pass until they have been completed. Nothing will change this since His words will not pass away even though heaven and earth may pass away. This is another example of mentally reading the words in a literal light instead of having the ears to hear within the sensitivity and wisdom from His Spirit into our spirit. Anyone can read the Bible but very few can interpret correctly.
The more I learn, the more I see that I do not know. Let me say that we live in a world system that is based on legal control. Many believe that no one is telling them what to do, but they are already brainwashed with deception. The money we receive, our credit and items we purchase, our legal and political system, social media, what we watch, where we go and what we say are all monitored and this data is being used for a purpose. It is all about knowing where we are and what we are doing in order to manage us. Ninety nine percent of the masses are up to their neck with technology and have bought into this system without having a second thought. Again, religion did not warn them because they are an essential part of it. Groups like the Amish and those who have pulled away from the grid have a more serious understanding of this snare trap and are trying to prevent being entangled in this web of demonic influence. Our entertainment technology is a choice not a necessity. This latest experiment to see how the masses would react to a mrna vaccination should awaken us to what all of this is really about. People will laugh when I say this is all leading up to the mark of the beast where each person will choose to serve God or Satan. I’m sad to say that most everyone will agree with the world.
In The Book Of Revelation the reference to Babylon is talking about literal historical places while also symbolizing a Satanic spirit. John is carried away into the wilderness where he saw spiritual visions. Revelation 17:3-6 says, “A woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the SAINTS, the blood of the MARTYR’S of Jesus.” This Whore of Babylon is the spirit of a seductive culture, where politics and laws are actively engaged in the deception and destruction of God’s people. That she rides upon “the beast” means she is propped up by the forces of anti-Christian government. Just like the beast, who was, and is not and is about to rise, the “Whore” who sells herself to the highest bidder keeps surfacing in each generation. A particular brand of her seductive charm may fall into the dust and be buried by the sands of time, but before you know it, she will rise again in another place, known by another name, but waging the same destructive war against God’s covenant people. As it was in the past, so shall it be in the future. However, let it be declared and trusted that GOD IS WITH US EVERY STEP OF THE WAY whatever we will go through.
Even though this demon is clearly seen throughout history, when you speak with the average person about the dangers of this system, the response is laughing or scoffing with comments like you have gone off the deep end with conspiracy theories. I can assure you, global wickedness is raging and the New World Order is not an illusion. The population is walking into an ambush because they have no spiritual discernment. They are too distracted with television and social media to pay any attention to how they are being led as sheep to the slaughter. Have you noticed that friends and even close family members are becoming hardhearted and their love has turned cold? The strong delusion has come upon them because of their rebellion to God. They have been warned by Godly leaders and prophets, but they have laughed. They wanted freedom to sin and they are NOT prepared for what is coming. I’m not talking about storing food and water, I’m talking about selling their soul to Satan. Even those who call themselves a follower of Christ will deny Him when they are threatened to be persecuted and to lose everything they have. You see, our bank accounts have direct deposit and most people pay their bills with electronic transfers, debit cards, credit cards, or checks. Cash is slowly disappearing and soon there will not be any cash. Everything will be bought and sold through a computer system as we will have some type of identification that will allow us to conduct financial business and basically prove who we are, what we have done, our medical records, and all that we own. We are slowly making our way toward this satanic system and you must have it in order to live and provide for your family.
Parents with small children will be told they must have the mark or they cannot purchase food or fuel, pay their mortgage, car payments, electric, water and all utilities, access their bank accounts, make credit card purchases, and the list goes on. My question is how many mothers will refuse the mark while their child is hungry? How many fathers will refuse the mark when their family is looking to them for support and protection? It all comes down to our relationship with Jesus Christ and our faith in Him. I have personally heard Christian mothers say they would take it to save their children. Those who have NOT invested their lives into Yahweh while they had a chance will NOT be able to suddenly be filled with a high level of courage and faith to resist the mark. In fact, instead of being in fear, most everyone we know will believe this is the most intelligent idea that has ever been thought of. The devil is laughing at the world as he has been slowly leading them down the path of destruction and soon will take off his mask and reveal that he is the monster that will either control them or kill them.
Soon it will be exposed that amazing technology, prosperity, and pleasures all seemed like a paradise, but the spiritually blind did not realize they were dancing to the mesmerizing tune of a pied piper who was leading them down the path to hell. The Bible clearly says that all who accept the mark in order to save their lives will lose their souls for all eternity. Take a look around, how many people that you know who do not live for Christ will die for Him? Those who have good jobs, prosperous businesses, happy marriages, nice homes and vehicles, children and grandchildren, bank accounts and investments, will they just say, “Oh well, I do not care about any of this?” Only a tiny remnant who is preparing this hour for what is coming will have the deeper levels of trust in God to know what they will do.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Part 18 – Published 4/23/22
ARE WE STAYING OR GOING? Part 3
Many have heard of Corrie Ten Boom the precious lady who loved Jesus and her powerful testimony about working on the front lines of God’s kingdom and the agony she suffered trying to do His will. As a Dutch survivor of the Nazi Concentration Camps, Corrie learned what it meant to face persecution. Her family was dedicated missionaries for Christ, and this passion to save others brought much suffering upon them as they joined many others that were persecuted in the holocaust during World War II. In fact, her family was brutally murdered before her eyes for simply trying to protect those who were innocent. She and her family walked through a series of tragedies that is difficult to imagine, but they are only one family in the midst of a world who have been victims of persecution. Throughout history, we cannot count those who have been killed for who they are and what they believed.
Speaking of being persecuted and martyred, today there is much talk about a pre-tribulation rapture which means that all Christians will be removed from the earth BEFORE the anti-Christ appears and thus will escape any type of situation where they will be called to trust God and not compromise. Many believe they have figured out all the details about this event and I do not want to argue about it, but I do want to ask if you have done a personal study about this? The assembly where I grew up taught the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture and I’ve listened to many friends and family talk about how excited it will be to be rescued from this evil world and escape persecution. The idea is the remnant will be caught up in a twinkling of an eye before having to reject the mark of the beast. I am not opposed to the concept of a pre-wrath rapture whenever that will be, but I am not convinced in a rapture before the New World Order is set in place. Being rescued any second tickle our ears and causes us to relax, but is relaxing something we should be doing? I thought we are to be preparing our wedding garments and making sure we are ready to face death for our Lord like all the other martyrs before us.
Again, I’m not saying there will not be a rapture, because I believe at some point in time the saints will be removed, but it’s difficult to separate the rapture scriptures from those that talk about the Lord’s return. Evidently, He is coming back once to remove us from God’s wrath and again when He comes in all of His glory and destroys the armies at Armageddon. There are passages about the saints being taken from the earth and the dead being resurrected before He pours out His wrath, but I just want to ask, where does it say specifically that He will remove us BEFORE the beginning of the tribulation? Many Bible scholars say that a pre-tribulation catching away was not taught until the 1800s. It has long been claimed by those who interpret prophecy allegorically that the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture is a relatively new doctrine. Of course, it became wildly popular because any time someone points to a way of escape, everyone will run to it. It’s just a part of our natural instinct to accept an idea that prevents us from standing for Jesus, but it’s worth a careful examination to see if it is true.
Gary DeMar, President of American Vision, says: “A majority of prophecy writers and speakers teach that the body of Christ will be raptured before a future tribulation period. But did you know that prior to about 1830 no such doctrine existed. No one in all of church history ever taught pre-tribulation rapture” (cited from “Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation,” Our daily bread by Joe Ortiz). When Demar says the pre-tribulation Rapture did not exist prior to 1830, he is referring to The Morning Watch prophecy journal and the writings of John Darby which popularized dispensational theology in the 1800s. Others who study eschatology are convinced the Pre-tribulation rapture worldview was popularized extensively in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren, and this was taught in the United States in the early 20th century by the wide circulation of the Scofield Reference Bible. So, why would the remnant not remain on earth at least until God’s wrath is released?
God’s saints are called to experience the harsh violence of a world gone mad, and should also be PREPARED to walk in His presence and learn how to trust Him when faced with death. As Peter lied and denied Christ to escape being killed, will we not have the same opportunity to stand or deny? I believe these passages are a sobering message for us in this late hour. May we receive His us peace and understanding. “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:3-9).
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this, we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Many will say, “What difference does it make whether Christ comes before the tribulation or after.” My friends, it makes a world of difference. Most assemblies are afraid to warn the people about what is coming and have not only failed to present correct interpretations of this doctrine but there are many other views that Christians have been taught that are dangerously wrong. As the old saying goes, “things are not always the way they seem.” Almost everything that everyone believes has been taught to them and this is not the way it should be. 1 John 2:27 reminds us to stop being lazy and to study for yourselves. “And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him remains in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you remain in Him.” It is disturbing to know that the majority of Bible teachers were and are not baptized with the Holy Spirit. They cannot interpret the scriptures because they are not receiving revelation wisdom directly from the Lord. They are reading and comprehending with the natural mind and then teaching it as divine enlightenment.
This exposes the evil religious spirits and proves they are not listening to God because they are not close to Him. They want the people’s money and are NOT going to offend or cause them to fear. People do not want to hear about persecution, they want to hear about blessings. If the body of Christ is taken out of the world before the tribulation, people can continue worshiping materialism and their flesh as they have nothing to be concerned about. The remnant will have to walk through the tribulation, and many if not all of them will be martyred because they will never bow down to the system of the beast. The three Hebrew children refused to bow down to the image and the last day saints will not either. The point of this account was not that they survived but that everyone witnessed the manifestation of God and many believed. Are you now seeing why this doctrine it critically important?
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Jesus gave His life so that we could live
I admit I am an emotional person. I recall going to see the Passion movie a few years ago and I was disturbed to say the least. It’s not uncommon for me to shed a tear when I witness something that moves my soul and this was no exception. Recently, I was watching a program about the “Make-A-Wish Foundation” and how they provide a way for very sick children to experience a happy but most likely a last request and I cried through the entire program. As the agonizing scenes of what Christ went through were presented, I kept thinking how could someone watch this and not be deeply stirred in their soul? I feel the same way about the Chosen series. I’m not ashamed to wear my feelings on my sleeve and have no desire to act tough and pretend that expressing emotions is a sign of weakness. If we are not careful, we can become hardened by the harshness of life and lose our spiritual sensitivity.
Remembering the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ should be more than an annual holiday. For the Christian, it should be a constant awareness of His love. Once again we are bombarded with the celebrations of eggs, rabbits, baby chicks, baked ham, and new clothes that can be distractions from the focus of Christ suffering and dying on the cross and resurrecting three days later. The incarnation is another celebration where worldly traditions attempt to deflect and compete for attention. These holy seasons are a reminder of the gift of eternal salvation. We realize it’s never pleasant to imagine an innocent person being brutally tortured, but the fact that Jesus miraculously came back to life proves His infinite power and authority and why we are so filled with humility and encouragement. Jesus Christ did not just talk about love, He demonstrated His mercy and compassion by suffering and surrendering His life so that we could live.
When I think about Christ and the reason why He came to earth, it’s a comfort to know this was not a spur-of-the-moment idea, but rather it was a carefully planned mission by the Father to restore our fellowship with Him. Jesus willingly left the glories of heaven, submitted to His Father’s will, was betrayed and denied by those He trusted and mocked as someone delusional. The religious community rejected His message and the legal system along with the demands from the general population overwhelmingly agreed to publicly execute Him without a reason other than they hated Him. Sadly, these negative attitudes have not changed.
We notice that Jesus was constantly approached by those in desperate need and it was His perfect nature to be concerned and compassionate. The world has always been filled with human suffering and He is always ready to respond in love and mercy. Being emotional and even knowledgeable about the Bible is fine, but that does not necessarily mean that someone is following Christ. It’s what they do with what they have learned that transforms considerations into spiritual obedience. When we see someone who needs help or even an encouraging word, what good does it do to just look at them with pity? Christ was always ministering to those who would reach out to Him by faith and two thousand years later He is still pouring out His grace and forgiveness to anyone who will call upon His name.
As His followers, we have been called to focus our attention on becoming more like Him despite a troubled world that justifies walking over the wounded and being self-centered. His command to take up our cross includes letting go of our natural way of selfish thinking and willingly embracing His character and nature. The more I learn about His life and His message, the more I realize that I am far from being who I need to be. As we meditate on His truth, we are given a deeper understanding of who He is, and what He wants to accomplish through us. The reverential fear and awareness of who Jesus is and why He came to earth is our only hope and it’s every Christian’s responsibility to keep their spiritual eyes focused on Him. Beyond the festivities and the feasting, may we consider spending time concentrating on the one who loves us and came to save us from being lost forever.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Part 16 – Published 4/9/22
Are We Staying Or Going? – Part 2
I have been trying to find a separation point in the coming tribulation between Satan’s domination and God’s wrath during the popular seven-year period commonly called the great tribulation. For those who study the end times, researching the 70 seventy weeks of Daniel is considered a timeline of future events, and of course, many weave passages such as the book of revelation and Matthew chapter 24 into the overall equation. This is difficult as we know there is a world of different opinions about these timelines and it’s very difficult to comprehend. For example, is the book of Revelation in chronological order, or is it a jigsaw puzzle? This one question alone can present many possibilities (and confusion). Personally, I have not felt led to spend time with future events over the years as I am more of a general Bible teacher and focus on human behavior and daily Christian living. I have read the Word and much speculation about eschatology, but have not felt confident teaching it. However, I do believe it is important to seek God for wisdom and discernment so that we might know what is happening around us and be aware of the signs that can help us understand spiritual prophecy.
Matthew chapter 24 is an amazing gathering of information that Christ has given to those who are interested in the rapture, tribulation, and His second coming. He mentions the days of Noah and how He would come (whether a rapture or His glorious appearing) at a time when people are not thinking about it and neither are ready to meet Him. In verse 43 He says, “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore, you must be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” I teach that a true disciple of Christ can have His mind, hear God’s voice and be given a correct interpretation of His scriptures when they fervently pray and ask Him. This particular chapter is a warning for God’s children to not only research His Word but to be ALERT and aware of the URGENCY to walk in His Spirit and maintain a spiritual sensitivity to everything that is happening around us. We are told to watch so this means He wants us to know.
First of all, I want to establish that I do believe that God’s people will NOT suffer His wrath. Lot and his family being removed from Sodom is a perfect example of how the Lord does NOT destroy His own children. He may punish and discipline His elect with whatever His sovereign judgments may require, but this is different. We read about sins that are punishable by death and we have seen many people die for the sins they have committed, but this is God’s perfect justice and only he has the right to make these decisions. However, when we talk about having to stand for God and suffering persecution and even death during the rule of anti-Christ, I see nothing that would prevent any Christian from having to go through a time of choosing whom they will love and serve. Since the first half of the tribulation period is a time of hardship and a test of faith, this is why I have a difficult time understanding the remnant being removed from deciding if they love God or themselves. This escape teaching gives today’s Christian a breath of relief, but is this really the way it is going to happen?
Many believe the anti-Christ is standing at the edge of the stage at the moment, waiting for his curtain call to step out into the spotlight and be the savior of the world. I agree. According to the majority of scholars, when he is recognized by the remnant as a son of perdition (which means eternal damnation and utter destruction), this will be the official beginning of the tribulation. There have been other dictators in history that have been influenced by demon spirits, but this ultimate Satanic representative has not appeared yet, or at least not to the point where we know without a shadow of a doubt it is him. I spoke to a Bible teacher the other day and he is convinced the anti-Christ will come from America and is watching the next president (whoever it might be) very closely. Many believe the anti-Christ will appear to be religious, have strong leadership, a powerful orator, and the ability to persuade those who are NOT walking in spiritual discernment and are without a renewed mind. This includes most of the world. The masses will rejoice and support this person who seemingly has all the answers, wonderful ideas, the ability to bring world peace, and even manifest miraculous demonstrations.
One of the numerous views is the first three and a half years are directed by Satan as God has given him authority to do so, (similar to how God gave him the opportunity to inflict devastation upon Job). We notice in this account that Job did suffer greatly but survived and was blessed by God for holding onto his faith in the face of horrible persecution. Is this a type and shadow of the tribulation and how the Christians will need to stand strong instead of cursing God and dying like Job’s wife wanted him to do? Wherever the seal, trumpet, or bowl indicates the ferocious wrath of God being poured out upon the earth, I believe this is where God’s remnant will be removed. What we need to remember is that after the Christians are taken, the Holy Spirit remains on the earth and the Word of God is being taught. The two witnesses train the 144,000 evangelists and the gospel message will be preached to the masses. Many people will be saved throughout this entire span of time all the way up to Armageddon, but most of them will be killed for standing for God’s truth. For those who heard the gospel but refused, is this a punishment for not reaching out to God while they had the chance? Or will the delusion from the Lord prevent all who rejected the gospel from being saved because they refused to submit to the conviction of the Holy Spirit during the days of grace?
Some agree these tribulation saints will be protected (Noah and the Ark) but why wouldn’t you and I also be protected if there were no pre-trib rapture? All of God’s people throughout time have had the choice to stand for Him or compromise and I’ve often thought the mark of the beast would be the ultimate opportunity to either save the body and lose the spirit, or save the spirit and lose the body. If every saint in the world will be removed before the anti-Christ is revealed, and we all agree that he is ready to be revealed, this view believes a pre-trib rapture could take place any second. This would mean there is no event that needs to happen before the saints disappear. It also means they will never know who he is, nor will they be subject to the mark. And yet, there is so much fear about not being able to buy and sell and being killed for our allegiance to Christ. If a person believes in pre-trib, they have nothing to worry about. The mid-tribulation view is a time of terrible hardship and persecution, but God’s people have always suffered this as Foxes Book of Martyrs describes.
A third speculation is a post-tribulation view which connects the rapture with the second coming as one event. The phrase the time of Jacob’s trouble comes from Jeremiah 30:7, which says, “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” If you believe that all saints will go through the entire tribulation, you must also believe that either God is going to protect His people or remove them. Whichever view a person embraces, it’s critical to be as close to God as you possibly can. The evil spirit of Babylon has always been trying to destroy God’s saints and the end times we know will be worse than ever. The government and social media are controlled by Satan and he is trying to lure as many people as he can into hell. This is not the hour to relax and wait to be rescued. There is much work to do as the fields are white with harvest. The pre-tribulation view in my opinion has caused the Christians to eat and drink and make merry as their seats have been reserved for the next flight out of here. This is a deceptive, selfish, and lukewarm attitude that has caused much damage. The reason why our government and legal system are now flooded with Satanic control is because the saints went to sleep and opened the door for demons to establish principalities and powers and to rule in high places. Compromise is corruption and the wages of sin is death. Today is the day for the remnant to pray without ceasing, ask for sensitivity to hear His His voice, study the scriptures and seek Him for the correct interpretation, and be obedient to what He is saying. Meditate on these things.
We realize the rapture doctrine is one of the most controversial topics within our faith and currently; I stand with the saints staying and enduring whatever Satan has planned but either removed or protected when God’s wrath is poured out. In other words, at this time in my spiritual understanding, I believe the saints will go through the period where they are demanded to take the mark and this will reveal the wheat from the tares. Again, we can agree there will be Christians on the earth during all of this because people will be saved until the second coming. At His second (or third) coming, we read how the saints who are alive are taken up before the battle of Armageddon? These two raptures or resurrections make it more difficult to understand the differences between all the passages that talk about the rapture and the second coming. Again, some believe these passages refer to the same event.
Lastly, as far as the 70 weeks, there are so many opinions about this timeline. Some begin as far back as the covenant promise with the rainbow all the way forward to when Satan is cast into the lake of fire. I read recently about how the book of revelation is divided into two separate explanations as chapters 2-11 and 12-22 are an explanation of the same events but with different perspectives. I’m not saying this is true, but one thing is for sure, it’s truly difficult to have clarity as the Bible cannot be read like just another book. It is a living revelation that is quickened into the spirits of those who have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying. Divine truth is hidden for us, not from us. We must seek or we will never find and must be enlightened through spiritual eyes and a renewed mind. Treasure is buried, not scattered on top of the ground. Let us invest our time wisely and pray that our eyes of understanding will be opened with greater discernment and wisdom. God’s message to us this hour is to embrace Matthew 7:7.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
PART 15 – Published 4/2/22
ARE WE STAYING OR GOING? – Part 1
When people talk about the rapture, they are referring to a moment in the future when Christ will remove His people from the earth to rescue them from the great tribulation. I was taught this as a child and most everyone I know today still embraces this doctrine. I want to begin by saying that I would always appreciate being rescued from harm and I hope this is going to happen. The problem I’m having is trying to see this in scripture as a clear and indisputable reality. Next, I am not saying there is no such thing as a “catching away” I’m only questioning if it will happen before the tribulation or after it. I believe Christ will rapture His people from the earth, but could it be that all the passages are referring to one event instead of two?
I have searched carefully and I do not see anything that exposes a rapture before the tribulation. Many will say it’s not important when as long as it happens. I disagree. If there is NOT such a thing as a pre-tribulation rapture, most Christian assemblies are blind and deceived about this. We are reminded of how the church at Laodicea mentioned in the book of Revelation refused to see reality with spiritual eyes, and sadly this religious spirit is alive and well today. We have said before that many scholars agree that the pre-trib rapture idea was not taught until the 1800s. However, news traveled fast and it spread like wildfire. Since this time, people have been very happy to know they will not be required to stand for God against a hostile system of government and laws.
As a minister, chaplain, and counselor, I’ve listened to a lot of opinions over the years and what I’ve learned is that most people are like children in many ways. They love to do what they want to do and they hate discipline. Most are not spiritually educated and are dominated by their own carnality. In short, this means we can give advice but do not expect their eyes to be opened or to be completely transformed in one afternoon. Here’s a general truth, humans are always looking for something for nothing, and going to heaven without suffering or being accountable is considered the best deal in the history of the world. If preachers had told the complete story instead of just quoting John 3:16 every Sunday, the crowds would have been even smaller. The emotions of an unrenewed mind are dangerous for all concerned especially when it comes to Biblical teaching. I stand back and listen to what people say and how they act, and I’m perplexed by what the average person believes about salvation.
Persecution of those who love Yahweh has been common since Yahshua was crucified, but very few want to talk about it. We know all the disciples, the early church followers, and down through the centuries, the Christian trail of blood has run deep. The Muslims and the Catholics have killed untold amounts of Christians and God’s people are being tortured and killed at this very moment. Those who stand for Jesus in this country today are being black-balled, scoffed, intimidated, mocked, and being made fun of because the world hates God and anyone who believes His word. Many modern churches have learned that in order to be successful they must compromise with sin and play political games with a socially acceptable cancel culture. Some will say, “what’s the difference?” If churches were all the same, why did Jesus rebuke the high priest? God has removed His candlestick from many of these religious moose clubs and they are turning against truth and the real Christians just like in Jesus’ day.
These places of comfort and happiness do not want to upset or offend people with spiritual reality. They say it makes people afraid and uncomfortable so they just give everyone a positive pep talk and sing songs that talk about how much God wants to bless you. The idea is to make people happy so they will support e programs with money. All messages about hell, chastisement, lukewarmness, being deceived, or changing your lifestyle from intentional sinning to a life of holiness and sanctification is considered negative and too extreme. More members mean more money and this is what pays the staff nice salaries. Many churches are run like a business instead of a spiritual training center and God has always been angry with this. He will judge those who have turned a holy calling into being a snake-oil salesman. These leaders talk about God but they do not know Him. They deny His power because they have no faith themselves. It’s just employment. If pastors revealed what surrendering our will and taking up our cross really means, they would only have a small number of supporters. These religious assemblies do not contain saints that walk in covenant with God, they contain those who only want the chocolate cake gospel that is content to play church.
Listen to these two verses; “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” I Corinthians 15:51-52.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” I Thessalonians 4:16-17.
These passages are commonly used to reveal a rapture of God’s people and rightly so, but as you can see, there is nothing that implies this is before the anti-Christ. Matthew 24: 29-44 is another widely used passage to explain how one will be taken and the other left behind, but where does it clearly say this is happening before the great tribulation? Can this not happen at the second coming of Christ where He removes His saints before He pours out His wrath? You see, all of the tribulation is NOT God’s wrath, as much of it is the rule of Satan. Yahweh has given him the authority to destroy and kill God’s people who stand in faith for God’s truth. I can see that God might remove His people from the earth before He pours out His WRATH, but who knows when this will be? Is it AFTER the 7 years of Satanic tribulation?
If Christians are taken out before the times of persecution, they will be the only humans who have been excused from being martyred for God in the history of the world. What makes the end-time saints special? All the passages that talk about standing and enduring would not have a chance to be tested if all the saints were removed. Also, does this mean the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth? If all the saints are gone, who will preach the gospel during the tribulation? However, if they are removed AFTER the tribulation and before God pours out His wrath, they will join Noah and his family and Lot and his family as an example of God removing His people BEFORE He brings destruction. This next passage says, “Immediately AFTER the distress of THOSE days…
“Immediately after the distress of those days, [what days? The tribulation?] the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” [So, are these the saints that have died and are waiting in Paradise? Does this include the saints who are living on the earth?]
“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” [why would we be told to keep watch if we had been raptured seven years earlier?] “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Again, if the saints have already been raptured, who is this verse talking to? The idea of vanishing at any moment is a nice thought, but is it true? Has the teaching about being raptured caused the saints to prepare for persecution or has it caused them to rest on their beds of ease and not worry about anything? When a person feels no urgency to prepare for trouble because someone told them they are going to be rescued, why should they work hard to prepare? Is this the reason why the religious world is asleep and will continue to fall away from God in the last days?
We will continue with this subject next week and I would love to hear your comments on this topic. Whether the saints are raptured pre, mid, or post-tribulation, we know that God loves us and is preparing a place for those who have given their hearts and lives to Him. The key is to develop our faith today that we might obey His will, pray for an awareness of His presence and a sensitivity for His voice, discernment, wisdom, a correct interpretation of His Word, and a constant reverential fear of God which will keep us walking on the narrow path of holiness. “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” John 14:1-3.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Part 14 – Published 3/26/22
In this dream, I was on a 250-mile hike through an untouched wilderness that was mostly forest. I was in search of answers and thought if I could get away from all distractions, I could maybe hear God speaking to me. I was seeking His truth, and was desperate to know about things like; His return, the tribulation, our purpose, Heaven, and the requirements of salvation, just to name a few.
I do not know what country this forest was in. I carried a large backpack with a tent, sleeping bag, food, water, etc..and a pistol for protection. The plan was to travel 100 miles North into this uninhabited wilderness, turn 50 miles to the West, and then return. I had no time frame. This was a dense area with a few small mountains and the occasional stream. In my dream, it was clear that no humans lived here only an abundance of wildlife.
I would walk during the day, pray, and sometimes cry asking God to please speak to me to which I mostly only heard birds and the wind blowing through the tops of the trees. In the evenings I would build a campfire and see what I could find to eat and read my Bible from a small battery lamp. I brought some food but was always on the lookout for berries and I would try fishing when there was a chance.
After about a month into my journey, one day I smelled smoke and was very concerned that maybe there was a forest fire and I was heading into it. As I kept pushing forward, I noticed a clearing up ahead and when I stepped into the sunlight, I thought I was hallucinating. There was a small house and the smoke I smelled was coming from the chimney. I just stood there staring in disbelief.
The house had a front porch, gray siding, and a dark green metal roof. A tall black iron fence was about 10 feet from the dwelling and completely surrounded it like a fortress. There was a pile of split wood in the yard along with some other things like plastic sleds, a chain saw, an ax, and other such tools. I snapped out of my trance when I watched a man step from the porch and open the iron gate. He said hello and asked what I wanted to which I spoke up and replied I was just hiking through the forest and meant no harm.
He told me not to move and started walking toward me. He pointed toward the ground and said, “see this wire? Be careful and step over it.” When my eyes adjusted, I could barely see a thin wire that was obviously some type of warning system. I stepped over it and he invited me in. When I came to the iron gate, I noticed there were spikes sticking up on the ground all around the front of the iron fence. I thought it would be very painful if anyone were to try to climb the fence. We went inside but I do not remember introducing myself or him telling me his name. I know it sounds strange, but I also do not remember what he looked like.
His presence was warm and comforting, like a grandfather, and it’s hard to explain but I felt secure even though I had just met him. He gave me a glass of cold water and he shared what he had been eating with me. As he placed a plate in front of me, He asked why I was walking alone in such a remote wilderness and I told him my story about seeking God and His truth. I knew He was smiling. He served me fresh fruit, cornbread, and fish fillets from an iron skillet. He blessed the food and prayed that I would find what I was seeking.
I remember asking where in the world did the fruit come from, and I cannot remember the exact details but it had something to do with him calling in supplies and a package being dropped every so often. I know this sounds vague but only certain parts of the dream are clear. I asked if he hunts animals and eats them and he said he did not hunt but he did fish in a creek that was down over the hill. He said he loved animals and all creation and he thought they were too beautiful to kill. I asked how he was able to haul wood without machinery or even a horse. He explained there were plenty of dead and fallen trees around and he just pulls his plastic sled into the forest, cuts the trees, and pulls them back to his house. He said this keeps him in shape. He lived a very simple life and the shipments provided things like fuel, coffee, sugar, clothing, and whatever he needs.
After we ate and had some coffee, I started asking him questions about the Christian life and the Bible and he was very wise. I do not remember knowing why I thought he had the answers, but I did. I had a notebook and started writing down his responses. Time passed very quickly and it became very late. He said I should get some sleep if I planned to resume my journey in the morning. There was a guest room with a bed, a small chest, and a window. Very simple, just the basics.
When I laid down, a sensation of peace came over me like I had never felt before. I went into a deep sleep that seemed more like a coma. I rested soundly as it was if my spirit was floating in a state of tranquility. I woke up the next morning refreshed and he served me some coffee and a bowl of oatmeal and fruit which tasted amazing. I told him I really appreciated his hospitality, I had a wonderful night’s sleep, and I was grateful for all the things he shared with me about God. He led me through the gate and revealed where the tripwire was and as I headed out I turned and waved goodbye.
The dream continued as I kept walking north. After several weeks of travel, I had a change of plans and decided to turn around and head back to the man at the house to ask more questions and maybe stay with him again before heading home. I was really looking forward to seeing him, but when I came back to where he was, I was shaken to my core. There was the clearing, but everything else was gone. Where the house once stood, there was now just a field of grass and small cedar bushes. Standing completely still, all I could hear was an eery echo of a crow cawing in the distance. I knew this was exactly the right location but was I losing my mind?
I walked around the perimeter of the field and I noticed something posted to a tree. I walked over and saw that it was a plastic envelope that had Billy written on it. The four corners were nailed and I pulled it off tearing the corners. I opened it and there was a letter. It said; “Dear Billy, the few who willingly sacrifice this life for me, I will welcome them to live with me in Heaven forever. However, those who ignore me in this life will not be given this invitation. They have decided eternal life was worth trading in exchange for their earthly independence.” This is where the dream ended. I wish I could have read more of the letter. I’m sure there was more. I’m now praying for a deeper understanding.
I am the truth seeker in this dream. Every day I pray for wisdom, discernment, an awareness of His presence, sensitivity to hear His voice, and a correct interpretation of His Word. I see that geographic location does not matter when it comes to searching for Him and His truth. We search for God within our mind, conscience, and spirit, and this passionate determination requires complete concentration. This is why Satan is trying to lure you away from Yahweh with all types of addicting distractions. Wake up and turn away from the world! Prepare today to refuse the coming mark of the beast and be ready to say NO when the system requires you to bow down. God does appear and speak through His servants and His nature. He is everywhere, we just need to pay attention. We will never walk in His Spirit until we are totally sold out to Him. Constant perseverance, praying without ceasing, focused and dedicated to submitting our will in order to follow and obey His. All of Him – none of me. “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” Jeremiah 29:13.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
PART 13 – 3/19/22
WHO IS REALLY THE CAPTAIN OF OUR VESSEL?
Many are familiar with Psalm 23 and I want to look at a specific portion of this incredible passage. First of all I want us to read verse two. “He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside still waters.” I realize we have all been given free will, but do you notice here that our Creator provides a way for us to walk in the peace and abundance of His Spirit? This can only happen for those who have invited Christ to sit on the throne of their heart and rule as Lord. These are the remnant who are the genuine bride that places their relationship with Him as their highest priority.
The casual religious person will not take up their cross because they love the world more than they love Yahshua which means Yah’s salvation. This is the difference between goats that hate to follow and sheep that have an internal nature to follow. Another point I want us to observe is verse three. “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” Why does the writer declare about the Lord restoring his soul? The soul is the seat of the emotions and directly associated with the mind and will. Why would the soul need to be restored? The Lord was trying to explain there is a battle between our flesh and His Spirit and in order to stay on track with the King of kings, our soul must always be submitted to the Holy Spirit. He will lead and restore, but our submission to His desires is an intentional act of our will. The covenant that is offered through the blood atonement of Christ does not allow the mind to lead and make decisions independently from Yahweh, neither does it force us to follow His voice, but rather we are restored and empowered by yielding the seat of our soul willingly to His Lordship.
Some might ask, “how often would my soul need to renewed?” Without being legalistic, our soul needs to be renewed constantly. Generally speaking, every moment we are receiving information that needs to be filtered through the Holy Spirit or we risk being deceived. This is how we discern what is right and wrong and divine wisdom helps to keep us on the straight and narrow. Knowledge is only information until it has been quickened into spiritual revelation which is imparted and engraved on the tables of our hearts. When it comes to the many different types of deceptive snare traps, our soul can very easily become distracted and fall back into our old habits of mental reasoning and logical thinking.
It’s true the Almighty did give us the potential to have a powerful and sound mind, but we must be aware of the dangers of seeing our surroundings with an emotional perception instead of a spiritual revelation. The ability to discern does not come automatically and only comes with much prayer as the Bible promises those who knock that it shall be opened. The ones who are desperate to have spiritual sensitivity will learn what it takes to walk in the awareness of Yahweh’s presence. Adam and Eve fell in the Garden because they removed their concentration away from Elohim and followed the feelings and judgments within their souls. They fell and humanity has been falling since that day.
We can say for the carnal person (whether they consider themselves a Christian or not), the soul is the captain of their vessel, however, this is not the way Yahweh intended for Adam and Eve or any of His children today. Many who claim to be righteous live in denial about who is really in control. This hypocrisy can harden the heart over time and cause a strong delusion that disables the ability to be convicted by truth. The old saying about someone being “set in their own ways” is a very sad state of existance and leads to death in this life and the one to come. The mercy and grace of conviction is something we should recognize and be eternally grateful as one of the most wonderful gifts from Heaven. It is Yahweh intervening into our life and trying to get our attention because He loves us and has our best interest in mind. This sensitivity is how we are able to listen and walk on the narrow path of His will instead of drifting into the wide gate and broad way of destruction. Without this spiritual sensitivity we are blind and deaf and will drift aimlessly on the sea of fear and confusion.
We can call ourselves anything we want, but Romans 6:16 declares that we are servants to whom we obey. If we follow our own thoughts and always do what we want, Yahshua is not our Lord. The masses do not recognize the difference between a religious facade and a personal relationship and this is the most dangerous spiritual deception in the history of the world. Everything we need to receive eternal life with God has been provided except the sacrifice of our will which is our part of the covenant. Redemption is offered and can be received but it is not free as it will cost us everything just like it cost Yahshua everything. Humans are always looking for something for nothing and have misunderstood the concept of salvation. Covenant is based on both parties being loyal to one another and until we give Him our heart, there is no salvation.
This war for the control of the mind is addressed in the Bible from cover to cover, but it’s only the remnant who lives and moves within the awareness of His presence. Satan works day and night to convince all humans to live according to their opinions and how they feel and this sounds wonderful to the old default carnal nature. However, we cannot walk in His Spirit if we have no desire to obey what He is saying. Throughout the holy scriptures, the history of the world, and all around us today, we see individuals who made the intentional decision to be led by their soul instead of their spiritual destiny and the result is great loss. Whether the masses who work hard to avoid Yahweh will admit it or not, trusting the soulish realm instead of His divine truth leads individuals into gross error and in many cases even into the depths of eternal hell.
ONWRD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Part 11 – Published 3/12/22
THE TIME TO PREPARE FOR CHRIST IS NOW
You would have to be living in a cave to not see the world is changing daily and not for the better. Many hideous things are being planned behind closed doors and as the Bible has prophesied, we know that terrible events are coming and will happen just as the Lord has promised. I pray that you have s desire to be close with the Lord today. There are many things that cause us to worry, but this is the opposite of faith. We cannot be filled with fear and faith at the same time, we must choose to believe in God’s promises or what those around us are saying. I’ve seen many people through the years refusing to care about developing a personal relationship with Christ, and then when something bad happens, they do not have a clue what to do. A crisis is like an ambush that attacks without warning and uses the element of surprise to overcome those who were not prepared. They cannot understand why this is happening and start crying out for everyone to please pray and make it go away. They have not invested the effort to build faith and when they need it the most they do not have any. This is another way that Satan lures people into his spider web and then he can steal, kill, and destroy them because they were not prepared to fight with faith. The hour to start building our trust and wisdom of who God is and a line of direct communication with Him is NOW! Focusing will involve being dedicated and determined to spend quiet time alone with Him and this means that we MUST turn away from the powers of carnal persuasion. When we are on our deathbed, it is too late to generate a comprehension of God’s revelations.
As followers of Jesus, He transforms us into a new creation. We have a brand new spirit and have been called to work diligently to allow the Holy Spirit to reform our conscience and renew our minds. Our spiritual identity is immediate but our spiritual maturity does not happen automatically. Our new way of living is established by learned behaviors that are dependent and conditional upon our free will. If we dedicate our full attention to Him, we will develop into what He has called us to be, however if ignore God’s convictions to be consumed with Him, we will not be able to know His thoughts and there is a chance of falling completely away from Him. If we continue to refuse to heed His corrections and discipline, He is sovereign to judge and do what He needs to do. There is also a strong possibility we were never truly born again at all. There is a huge difference between what we feel, and the way things really are. The remnant is the small group of genuine believers in the midst of a huge world of religious attitudes which are deceived. The remnant is called to develop a strong awareness of God and to follow His voice in every decision. They guard what they see and hear and keep their hearts pure and holy as this is the only way to know what He is saying. We notice in Luke chapter 11:21-23, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Those who play religious games do not guard their soul and are always vulnerable to being overcome by the enemy. They are easy victims as they are not filled with the spiritual authority of faith and truth which God graciously equips for those who love Him.
We know that Satan is doing everything he can to keep the divine truths about salvation a secret, but isn’t he also trying to distract everyone from knowing what it means to live the Christian life? In the tenth chapter of John, we read where he has come to steal, kill, and destroy, which includes no rules or boundaries when it comes to him causing human suffering. The devil and his demons work around the clock to make sure everyone is watching television, playing video games, and being snared in the deceptive spiderweb of social media. Why? This is all a carefully planned strategy to distract us from praying and studying God’s Word. When the Lord said that His people were destroyed from a lack of knowledge, He was talking about those who claim to follow His voice and yet neglect the divine revelations of His truth. I know people who have attended Christian assemblies all their lives and have never read or studied the Bible. They only believe what they have been told and have no idea why they support the personal views they stand for. Can you see how easy it would be to be deceived? No matter if we go to an assembly or not while yielding to the temptations of the world every minute of the day, we are not going to walk in God’s presence or be able to hear His voice. Can you not discern how these powerful persuasions of carnality tempt, confuse, hinder, distort, and influence humans to love and be addicted to drama, to enjoy worldly pleasure, and entice the heart with lust, envy, greed, and jealousy. Why? To keep every person focused on everything except what God is saying. Are you guarding your heart today and protecting it from being contaminated and corrupted by Satanic influences? Do you sense the danger of being manipulated like a puppet by the kingdom of darkness? If not, you are already held firm in this diabolical snare trap of denial.
I am surprised at how little the average Christian knows about God and the Bible. We hear the term Bible scholar, and this is impressive, but we fail to realize that God wants each of His children to be one. Where did the idea that a Bible interpreter was a special gift and calling only reserved for a few? God said for the remnant to study and show themselves approved, rightly dividing the word of truth and this means each child of God. The idea of only a few people making the sacrifice of energy, determination, to learn spiritual truth, while the other 99 percent of the people lay around is abnormal and dangerous. This concept came from the ancient priest who spoke Latin, but the followers did not. The people had to trust what was being said and they did not even understand a word that was spoken. Nonetheless, the baskets were passed and the ministry was financially supported much like it is today. The point is that each member of the body of Christ is a “full-time” minister with a responsibility to teach God’s Word, have a burden for the lost, live holy above reproach, be sensitive to divine appointments, and be subject to persecution. We can look around and see that most who call themselves Christians are asleep and have no intention of being what God desires for them to be. This attitude of thinking one is saved while living like the world is one of the most devastating deceptions in the history of Christianity. The pre-tribulation rapture escape doctrine is another reason for global spiritual lukewarmness since 1830, but we will discuss more about this at another time.
I want us to imagine how much deeper we could go with the Lord Jesus if we started eliminating the diversions of the world and turned our focus upon Christ. Of all the people I know, there are only two people who have turned away from television and social media because they recognize the purpose is mind control. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as a person thinks in their heart, so are they: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.” What we notice in this verse is a person who is saying one thing with their mouth, but their heart is in a completely different place. The thoughts and inclinations of the heart shape the reality of who you are. They shape your thinking which will ultimately shape your actions. That’s why what you think about matters because it is forming the basis of who you will become. Here is the problem. Who you are on the inside and what you say and appear to be on the outside, may not always be the same thing. The Pharisees, for example, were very good at presenting themselves as very pious, devout, religious people, yet Jesus called them hypocrites and vipers. This word hypocrite in the Greek means actor. The Pharisees were playing a role on the outside that didn’t reflect who they really were. Remember, Jesus said they were like whitewashed tombs, but on the inside, they were like dead men’s bones. If you need to know who a person really is, you can’t always determine that by the things they say or the way they act, you have to look at the root of who they are, and that root is the heart. The true intentions of the conscience flow out of their heart. It is the core of the soul and a reflection of the spirit. Jesus said you will know a tree by its fruit which is simply a reflection of the root it’s connected to. You will never get an orange from an apple tree root. The core of who you are is confirmed by the thoughts or roots of your heart. That’s why what is on the inside is so much more important than what is on the outside. You can mask the outside to others, and play hide and seek with God, but ultimately, what’s in your heart will be what He will judge.
Let us be reminded that this is not the day or time to relax and use the world’s entertainment as an intentional distraction from the fears and worries of what is going on around us. Instead of searching for things that are fun and that make us comfortable, we should be searching for God’s perfect will and His personal instructions for us. If we would invest the same amount of time in seeking His voice that we do with seeking the voices of the world, we would walk in the power and wisdom of His Spirit instead of cowering in confusion and anxiety. Do not go to sleep thinking that you will be caught up and escape having to stand for God and His truth. God’s remnant have the whole armor of God and are on the battlefield of spiritual warfare accomplishing the miracles that Christ is calling for. Come out from under the bed and join your brothers and sisters in this last day stand against evil. Today is the hour to prepare to engage against the darkness and possibly lose everything you have – even your life for His sake. If you are not for God – you are against Him. “Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Isaiah 60:1-3.
In closing, I want to say that above all things that are going on in the world and all the things that you believe are important, there is nothing more important than making sure your wedding gown is without spot or wrinkle. Remember the ten virgins where five had their lamps filled with oil and the other five were trying to find oil at the last minute. The five who had their lamps filled were prepared to meet their Lord and they are called wise. Are you being wise today or are you falling prey to the kingdom of darkness that is trying to corrupt your heart and steal your soul? Pray for personal awakening and pray for wisdom, discernment, sensitivity, and an awareness of God’s presence. If you will sincerely ask for God to open the eyes of your heart. He has promised to provide for those who knock, ask, and seek. However, do not plead for this unless you are willing to take up your cross and surrender your will to Him. Unless you agree to come out of the world and stop believing that you can live however you want and that God does not care, you will continue living on the wide and broad way of destruction. Millions are going into eternity every day and hell is rapidly expanding. Today is not the time to eat, drink, and be merry without being brokenhearted for a blind and lost world. If you spend more time with television and social media than you do praying and seeking God’s face, you have already made it known to whom you pledge your allegiance. If you have truly decided to follow Jesus, your life will need a complete overall and this will include some drastic changes that will be very difficult. Prepare to suffer persecution and to be mocked, but walking in God’s presence means more than everything in the world. Do you have the faith to stand in the days of tribulation, are you ready to meet Him today?
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
PART 10 – PUBLISHED 3/5/22
Waiting in the Wings
By Jan Markell – March 1, 2022
Gog is stirring and evil is rising. The bear has always been wicked but now it is as though Mr. Putin is possessed. He is showing aggression not seen in decades. Observers say he has transformed recently into ultimate evil and with the images playing out in front of us, that is obvious.
Nuclear forces are now alerted in Russia. Talk about perilous times (II Timothy). Israel is on alert because we know Vladimir Putin will not stop with Ukraine. Much more territory is in his sights, and he longs for the spoil (wealth) stored up in Israel (Ezekiel 38-39).
Society became fear-based two years ago with the pandemic, which opened the door for government overreach. More and more, the world longs for a leader, a Mr. Fix-It. Right now, such a person is not prominent. He may be obscure at this time, but he is waiting in the wings.
The Church will never know who the Antichrist is and the leader of the Russian invasion is not the Antichrist. But Vladimir Putin is “Gog-esque.” His ultimate goal could be “the mountains of Israel” (Ezekiel 38:8). Thanks to this blundering invasion, more than ever, he needs the natural resources and other “wealth” of Israel.
The conflict in Ukraine is an end-time turning point. It is much more than “wars and rumors of wars” predicted in the Bible for the end-of-days. It is further destabilizing a world that is already groaning, fearful and weary.
It is impossible to keep up with the signs of the times. But the world lacks a strong, forceful leader. You cannot point to a capital in the world today that reflects leadership. And that’s when tyrants rise. One wonders if it is 1942 or 2022. Watching refugees on the run, having left possessions, people and even pets behind, tears at the heart. One day they had a normal, prosperous life and the next, they were being hunted.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Part 9 – Published 2/26/22
THE WHEAT AND THE TARES
Today, we are seeing a clear dividing line between those who are in bondage with demon spirits and those who are breaking free from the enticements of the world system. The ones who play religious games are exposed because the eyes of their heart have not been opened. The remnant of God is advancing in their discernment and wisdom and can now more easily recognize deception and demonic activity.The window of grace is open now for all those who desire to be wise virgins. Developing an awareness of God’s presence can be obtained but it will require much devotion and determination to spend time with Him. We can be as close to God as we want, the question is how close do we desire to be? 2 Timothy 3:1-9, “But understand this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, opposed to what is good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, loving pleasure rather than loving God. They will maintain the outward appearance of religion but will have repudiated its power. So avoid people like these. For some of these insinuate themselves into households and captivate weak women who are overwhelmed with sins and led along by various passions. Such women are always seeking instruction, yet never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. And just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these people—who have warped minds and are disqualified in the faith—also oppose the truth. But they will not go much further, for their foolishness will be obvious to everyone, just like it was with Jannes and Jambres.
Outwardly these people seem religious. They make a profession of Christianity, but their actions speak louder than their words. By their ungodly behavior, they show that they are living a lie. There is no evidence of the power of God in their lives. While there might have been reformation, there never was regeneration. Weymouth translates: “They will keep up a make-believe of piety and yet exclude its power.” Likewise Moffatt: “Though they keep up a form of religion, they will have nothing to do with it as a force.” Phillips puts it: “They will maintain a façade of ‘religion’ but their conduct will deny its validity.” They want to be religious and to have their sins at the same time as described in Revelation 3:14-19, “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” It is the fearful portrayal of an apostate Christendom, an ancient religious spirit of paganism masquerading under the name of modern Christianity. Pray for spiritual sensitivity to know the wheat from the tares.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Part 8 – Published 2/19/22
TAKING A PERSONAL INVENTORY OF OUR HEART
We have known people in the workplace that openly betrayed the very Savior they claimed they were following. These people publicly took God’s name in vain and yet at the same time professed to be faithful Christians, involved church members, strong family leaders and trusted confidants. So, what is it that makes someone a hypocrite? It is not a lack of holy knowledge, but rather the absence of mental discipline. Transforming the mind was never intended to be an option in the Christian life but a Heavenly demand if we have any intention of becoming a reflection of His image. Unfortunately, no one is exempt from the disease of having a carnal mind and it cannot be hidden as the scripture in Luke 12:3 declares, “Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear.” It’s true we all slip up and make mistakes and its also a fact that whatever the circumstance, it’s discouraging to know that some people are not what they seem to be. This unfortunately applies to friends, members of our assembly, co-workers, and even our family members. To stay encouraged we must learn to keep our focus on Christ and live in a constant awareness of His presence.
It’s normal to listen and receive information from many different sources, but these influences must be filtered through the Holy Spirit to prevent us from absorbing error and being deceived. Even those who teach Biblical doctrines and insights sadly many times play the same game of persuading to control just like everything else that has developed from the idea of commerce. For example, when individuals had a plan to sell snake oil proclaiming that it would heal sickness and disease, word traveled fast among the greedy thieves that it was a dependable moneymaker. Those who sold it were passionate, charismatic, and articulate orators while the naive ones who drank it were convinced under the power of emotional perception that it was true. Thus, the world of marketing and advertisement for medicine was born which paved the way for a world-changing acceptance of magical drugs created by global conglomerate pharmaceutical companies. Pay attention to the avalanche of commercials on television and magazines that are constantly telling us how we need these medicines. Are we being slowly turned into someone we were never intended to be? Many doctors participate in prescribing these experimental trial drugs so they can share in the riches with one of the most lucrative industries in the world. It is all in the name of the mighty dollar and they are not worried about the damage they could cause. How are these medications affecting our brains, hormones, our organs, our personalities? In another area, what are genetically modified foods doing to our bodies?
We must ask the question if these chemicals are actually helping or is much of it a placebo effect? Do you believe in such a thing as the power of persuasion and do you you believe it would be impossible for people to take a sugar pill and swear they feel much better? The placebo effect is when a person’s physical or mental health appears to improve after taking a placebo or fake treatment. Placebo is Latin for “I will please” and refers to a treatment that appears real, but is designed to have no therapeutic benefit. The idea was intended for experimental studies where half the group is given a drug and the other half is given a sugar pill but the participants are not told which one they received.
The same pattern evolved with man-centered religious ceremonies and worship rituals; aggressive and deceptive personalities learned that the weak, and uneducated masses were emotionally vulnerable to fear, sadness and excitement. These leaders of men discovered that a person’s admiration, loyalty and money could be controlled through the spoken word. The parable Jesus describes in Mark chapter 4, verses 30-32 compares the Kingdom of God with a mustard seed that grows into a large tree where the fowls of the air live. “And he said, whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it grows up, and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadows of it.” While often interpreted as being a happy or normal prediction of the growth of the Christian church on earth, some scholars believe this parable and the parable of the leaven, which immediately follows it, are related and is trying to warn us about an imitation gospel. A picture of the abnormal growth and response to a deception that becomes controlled with demonic activity as denoted by the presence of birds. These fowls may be seen as an undesirable thief, since they would eat any new seed that is sown and this carnal atmosphere could represent false teachers manipulating those who would rather have religion than relationship, thus preventing the masses from advancing in true spirituality.
Many who are involved with the ideas of religion are more focused with prosperity, psychology of self-improvement, and dominion theology and have unknowingly missed the heart of Christianity which is living in the awareness of God. By emphasizing the priority of church membership and beautiful buildings and drawing larger numbers, instead of having a personal relationship with Jesus, many have somehow missed God somewhere along the way. Another familiar religious group is the “seeker movement.” Critics claim that it is providing a, “don’t worry be happy” type of spiritual security where most of the content is chocolate cake and ice cream. With non threatening messages, and easy going music, the absence of commitment or accountability is popular and the religious wolves will declare whatever it takes to herd these followers into supporting this agenda. When people can gather in a local assembly and feel comfortable, coming and going without feeling the anointing or conviction of the Holy Spirit, something is wrong. The truth cuts like a knife as incorporating wisdom revelation into our mind and behavior is God’s plan for our personal growth. To go down the list of what is being taught and practiced in many modern assemblies, it’s almost identical to the failures and hypocrisy found in the churches mentioned in the book of Revelation, chapters 3 and 4. Mega churches are leading the way as they provide a safe place for people to hide without dealing with their sins. While the larger numbers are seen by the world as religious success, the private battle cry of board meetings behind closed doors is focused on the one question, “did we make budget?”
I personally continue to be drawn to the small independent house church model because of the agape love and sincere humility it can manifest. No salaries, no building programs or debt, no competition with the group down the street, no strife, clicks or politics, no professional entertainment or performances or having a focus to grow into a larger ministry to prove success. These are opportunities to have humility where no one is trying to be famous but everyone is recognized as a minister of the gospel. No more compromising sermons that tickle our flesh or music without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and no more fleshly agendas or ideas, just simply waiting on God’s presence and devoting time and resources to the poor and needy. Whatever happened to these kinds of assemblies and when will we see them again? We will see them when the remnant becomes filled with the Holy Spirit and thirsty for God. We must open our eyes and see that we cannot be dictated and ruled by fear. Most pastors are afraid to speak the truth because they believe many of the members will leave and take their checkbooks with them. When teaching God’s truth must be approved and depends on what the members want to hear, that assembly is in trouble.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Published 2/12/22 – Part 7
KNOWING GOD’S EXPECTATION FOR OUR LIVES
How many times will it need to be declared that we can have as much of God as we want? And how many tears will we shed from the sadness of knowing that most people only want enough to get by? How often we find ourselves being so overwhelmed with problems, worries, and stress that we are just too exhausted to invest time with the Lord, and its sad but common that many of us are guilty of basing our attitude toward Him according to what type of mood we are in. In Jeremiah 33:3, the Lord invites us to seek His face regardless of our emotional state. “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show you great and mighty things which you have never known.” It’s worth considering that not having a passion to communicate with God could be the reason why many people are anxious and fearful about their future.
The battle between following how we feel and obeying what God is saying is not to be taken lightly. To choose which side we will accept has everything to do with our destiny and the joy we experience in the journey. When our mind and conscience agree that we can steer our ship according to our own compass, we have failed to comprehend the true meaning and purpose of our lives. Our creator brought everyone into His world and offers them an opportunity to be redeemed and spiritually transformed in order that they might live with Him forever. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” John 3:18-19. Those who would rather be the manager of their personal affairs and not accept this invitation of salvation will not only suffer loss in this life but possibly the next one as well.
Maybe some of you today are discouraged and frustrated for whatever reason and we know that being in the wilderness is a challenging and difficult place to be. Sometimes it feels like we have been dealt a terrible hand of cards and within the sadness we are not sure what to do or have anyone we can talk to about it. I have listened to others share about their bitterness and pain from life’s disappointments that can become so heavy in our soul that it’s difficult to envision ever having hope and joy again. Allow me to say, these attacks on our heart and mind can be defeated when we give them to Jesus and allow Him to be our Lord. Aside from the mocking and relentless accusations from the devil, or the painful consequences of our decisions, we have been designed to meditate about our discouragement and suffer through our grief in order to learn from our experiences and advance in our wisdom and grow stronger in our spiritual maturity. We are given the choice to learn how to overcome or keep going around in circles. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” James 1:19-20.
Within our human nature, we are vulnerable to physical and emotional affliction and there is nothing wrong or sinful with going through these experiences. We are not robots that cannot feel rejection and we are not immune to the despair of loneliness or the agony of being betrayed. Many of us have walked through severe trials and tribulations, yet let us not forget that Christ in His infinite wisdom and His own personal sufferings can relate to everything we have endured. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” Be encouraged today and know that God has always loved you and is waiting to reveal your destiny. We are a work in progress and our life is to be a continual classroom dedicated to learning who God is and who we are in Him.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Part 6 – Published 2/5/22
GOOD CONFESSIONS BRING GOOD RESULTS
“I repent of my sins and any trespasses against you. With my sins of commission and omission, I ask you to forgive me and wash me clean with your blood as white as snow. I confess by FAITH that my mind is influenced and controlled by your Word and that I have a passionate desire to live under the persuasion of the Holy Spirit! I choose to gird up the loins of my mind by reading and absorbing your truth and filling my mind with your thoughts and promises. Dear God, your Word strengthens me and keeps my mind free from unbelief and lying strongholds. I plant your Word deep into my mind and it will grow a harvest of wisdom and revelation. Your holy divine truth develops my faith into a strong and bold lifestyle. Please give me more desire, fire and passion to serve you and self-discipline to resist temptation. I understand that I can draw as close to you as I want, but my flesh is so weak. Help me to be more determined and give me perseverance to prevent the devil from finding access into my life! Each me your ways that I might be an overcomer for you. I love you Oh Lord, I trust you, I bow down to you, I worship you, and I ask all of this in the name of Jesus, amen”
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” These simple prayers and confessions are a part of the warriors armor. God is ready to equip His children but our spiritual development comes from the inside out. Absorbing His Word and speaking our prayers, decrees, and confessions OUT LOUD is a part of the word of our testimony. Revelation 12:11 declares, “And they overcame him (devil) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
It’s true, the dedicated follower of Christ is always under attack from the devil and the closer we come to God the more intense the spiritual warfare will be. However, let us not forget that our greatest enemy is our fallen carnal nature and if we can discipline our flesh, we will not need to worry about what the devil says or his temptations. How many will take this battle seriously? It’s much easier to ignore the responsibility to pray and turn away from what is pleasing in His sight. In fact, “floating down the river” takes no work at all and explains why the true Christian remnant are few and far between. We are not referring to a religious ritual but we are talking about those who have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and a passion to be wise, sensitive, holy, fearless, and filled with the Holy Spirit.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” II Corinthians 10:4-5. This is reminding us to not fight and argue in our own intelligence but rather to enter into our prayer closet and see the power of God produce miracles for His glory!
God is pouring out His Spirit today as His return is very soon. His Bride is carrying the light of His presence. This remnant is called to demonstrate His character and commissioned to speak His truth! Joel 2:28-32 declares, “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.”
Isaiah 55:11 promises, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” God honors HIS Word and His Word NEVER fails! As we allow our heart and mind to become filled with God’s Word, we can release His truth into the atmosphere and allow Him to energize and empower these words to accomplish His will. Let us take a moment and become saturated with His love, faith and hope.
Let us spend a moment confessing with our mouth and declaring what we really desire to be in this life.
What is our highest desire? May you be renewed with His strength and confidence as you draw closer to Him. When you speak these confessions it will help engrave these truths into your heart. Knowledge must be converted into wisdom and then transformed and quickened into life-changing revelation. Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results. These positive and optimistic confessions when released into the atmosphere will breathe life into your mind and spirit and empower you with a surge of spiritual hope and encouragement. Tape these on your bathroom mirror, speak them before you go to bed, take them with you wherever you go. “As a man thinks in his heart – so is he” Proverbs 23:7.
WHERE YOU LEAD I WILL FOLLOW
LORD, I DEDICATE MY LIFE AND WILL LIVE FOR YOU NO MATTER IF NO ONE ELSE DOES
I AM ALLOWING YOU TO CHANGE MY LIFE AND TO MAKE ME A LIVING SACRIFICE FOR YOUR GLORY
I AM DETERMINED TO HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE IN ALL THINGS
I AM IN POSITION TO RECEIVE YOUR BLESSINGS AND FAVOR
I HAVE FAVOR WITHOUT MEASURE
IF I HARBOR SIN IN MY HEART – YOU WILL NOT HEAR ME
I WILL PRAISE AND WORSHIP YOU WITH LITTLE OR WITH ABUNDANCE
JESUS, I KNOW YOU PROVED HOW MUCH YOU LOVED ME ON THE CROSS
THIS DAY I GIVE MY MIND AND HEART COMPLETELY TO CHRIST
LORD YOU GO BEFORE ME AND MAKE THE IMPOSSIBLE – POSSIBLE – AMEN!
YOU PROVIDE MIRACLES AND OPEN DOORS FOR ME THAT NO MAN CAN CLOSE
YOU ANSWER MY PRAYERS ACCORDING TO YOUR PERFECT WILL
MY FAITH, ANOINTING, AND CONFIDENCE IN YOU IS INCREASING
I AM BECOMING SPIRITUALLY STRONGER AS YOU PURIFY ME
I WILL FAST AND PRAY FERVENTLY TO LIVE IN YOUR HOLY OF HOLIES
I AM ADVANCING AND PROGRESSING IN MY FAITH AND CONFIDENCE IN YOU
ANGELS ARE ENCAMPED AROUND ME AND WORKING ON MY BEHALF –
I AM INCREASING IN SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT, SENSITIVITY, AND POWER
MY TALENTS, ABILITIES AND SPIRITUAL GIFTS ARE EFFECTIVE IN YOUR KINGDOM
MY HEART AND MIND IS BEING CHANGED FROM THE INSIDE OUT
I AM BEING PURIFIED AND SANCTIFIED BY YOUR HOLY REFINING FIRE
MY CONSCIENCE IS BEING RENEWED AND TRANSFORMED THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT
I AM INCREASING IN THE WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR WORD
I SURRENDER MY ALL TO YOU RIGHT NOW
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Part 5 – Published 1/29/22
BECOMING WHO GOD CALLED US TO BE
The key to being a good soldier is being obedient. No one including God wants a soldier that runs off or that is rebellious and always wants to do things their way. Every effective military has strict discipline for a purpose and this is for making sure the soldier is focused on what the leadership is saying. One reason for going through boot camp is to learn certain skills while training the soldier to build strength so they are in excellent physical condition. Going into battle is very strenuous and demands for each team member to be strong and confident. But even more importantly than building physical endurance, their minds must be educated and renewed to follow orders and ready to respond without fear under the most terrifying and difficult situations. To have someone’s attention, the person must trust and respect the one who is in command. Both of these physical and mental components are crucial to being victorious. As you can see, the concept of awareness and discernment cannot be over-emphasized in our relationship with God our Lord and King.
In the summer of 2021, I began praying and asking God to help me develop an awareness of His presence along with His wisdom and discernment. I wrote down a few statements to confess in my prayers and during the day when it would cross my mind. I added a few things here and there and it came together like a jig-saw puzzle and it is becoming a revelation to my life. Information is only a piece of knowledge until it becomes quickened as divine truth and wisdom to our mind and conscience. Many people know a lot of facts, but until truth energizes and activates conviction within the heart, it will not change our destiny. I have asked God to help me recognize errors so that I might know the correct interpretation of His Word. I am consistently asking to have more spiritual sensitivity for His voice so that I can know what He is saying. It has taken a while but I am noticing a positive change within me. I am slowly drifting away from being mesmerized by the chaos of the world and things that were once important are no longer that way. However, this is an attitude that must be constantly maintained. We can fall away from God in moments if we choose to embrace the temptation to sin. Many believe in the dangerous deception there is no need for a persistent attitude of repentance. Lukewarmness brings a false sense of security by blinding the conscience. For years I have been a truth seeker and have pleaded with God to open my spiritual eyes to His truth, and I believe Him when He promised all those who seek will find.
Like a fire that begins with some tinder and a few smaller sticks, then larger branches are added before finally placing a log in the flames, our prayers are tempered with patience and persistence. We may not see immediate results from our petitions because God is sometimes waiting to see if we are truly serious. It is the repetition of our faith that generates His authority to move in His perfect time. As the woman in Matthew chapter 15 approached Jesus and would not take no for an answer, we should always remember that Persistent prayer is the demonstration of faith in God who, while at times may delay His answers, will always act decisively and justly with respect to His people. Although it seemed that Jesus was ignoring her and not willing to answer her request for healing, she would not give up. She was relentless and was not going to give up. As a testimony to all of us, her persistence eventually paid off. Even Christ was amazed at her tenacious faith and granted her miracle – even though He told her earlier in the conversation that it was not time yet for Gentiles to receive the blessings of the Kingdom of God. In this light, she was able to single-handedly usher in a new dispensation of the Kingdom of God earlier than anticipated. She received what she needed because she would not let any obstacle stand in her way! Are we that determined? How long are we willing to stand for our miracle?
I am a believer in positive confessions and speaking forth God’s Word as much as we can. The Bible says in First Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing as this is no doubt trying to teach us the importance of being focused on God and the power of constantly declaring the decrees of His will. I will relay some of the specific declarations the Holy Spirit has revealed to me. You can use the list as it is, add to it, and make your own. The important message here is to memorize these requests and brand them into your heart as a passionate and fervent desire. Yes, every Christian should have a prayer journal where you can keep up with individuals and situations who need intercession, and out of establishing a more detailed communication with God, you will naturally have a deeper relationship with Him. However, we are also to release decrees and desires into the atmosphere when we are working, driving, or wherever we are and to believe that God is listening. When God created everything in seven days, He did not use a hammer and nails. He SPOKE everything into existence and still does. Since He lives inside of every Christian and has promised in Isaiah 57:19 to create the fruit of our lips, we must understand He wants to SPEAK through us. If this is not a reason to believe that words have creative power nothing will. If we speak God’s general and specific will in faith, we know that He is going to honor our petitions. Remember Mark 11:23, “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”
When we depend on God doing all the work while we watch TV, we are not working together nor are we activating faith. This is another dangerous assumption that God is not closely paying attention to how we live. But when we choose to make the investment as a dedicated prayer warrior, we will sense His Spirit revealing more about what He wants us to do. When we agree to accept a burden for the lost, the sick, and those with serious problems and needs, we agree to remove our eyes from what we desire and place them on the pain of others. This includes sacrificing the pleasures and control of our selfishness and pride. This will only happen when we plead for a deeper love for God and others. When we are only thinking about our problems and desires, we do not have the time or concern about what others are going through. This is a lifestyle of responsibility that only a few people (the remnant) are interested in. The religious masses usually decide they are not willing to become this extremely involved. They might say that’s too bad or isn’t that awful, and then never think of it again. This is not the compassion and love of God and this is not the heart of the good Samaritan. When we hear an ambulance, we should immediately pray for the one who is in a crisis. When we hear of someone suffering we should include them in our prayer journal. Let’s take this a step further. Do you believe God has a plan for everyone and He longs to intervene in everyone’s lives? Do you believe He is waiting for you to pray for others so that you can add more faith and power to their requests? In this light, when we choose not to pray, it is obvious we do not care what God wants nor do we care whether other people receive a miracle or not. It shows we have no love for God or others which are the two greatest commandments ever given. First Corinthians chapter thirteen proclaims that without love we have nothing and are nothing.
“Lord, I ask for an awareness of your presence. I know this is the only way to walk in your Spirit. If I am aware that you are constantly with me, I will walk in the reverential fear of you and I will not sin. Fearing your majesty is the beginning of wisdom and I plead with you to fill me with your wisdom and discernment. I am thirsty for you as the deer pants for the water. As Solomon was given a choice to name anything in the world he wanted, he asked for wisdom and discernment because he wanted to be a good leader and to always answer everyone with your perfect truth. You gave it to him and I believe you will also give this to me as you are not a respecter of persons and I receive this in your holy name! Of all the things in this world, I ask to know, speak, and live according to your wisdom. Jesus, I long to demonstrate your character and nature. Give me agape love so that when the world sees me they see you. I desire for my life to be none of me and all of you. I make the holy vow to live in blood covenant with you and I honor your gift of salvation. Give me the correct interpretation of your scriptures that I might show myself approved and teach your word with accuracy. Father, make my heart so sensitive that I may always hear your still small voice. How can I obey you if I cannot hear what you are saying? How can I respond to divine appointments if I cannot understand your directions? Give me a burden for the lost and that I might pray without ceasing. Come and sit on the throne of my heart as the King and Lord of my life. I worship you in Spirit and truth. Give me a passion to be holy and may every sin make me nauseous. I receive your power and authority to do your works for your glory. I am willing to walk through the refiner’s fire and be made pure as gold. Break me, melt me, mold me, use me. I am preparing my wedding gown that it might be without spots or wrinkles. I cast down my carnal flesh and speak to my old nature to die once and for all in the name of Jesus. Open the eyes of my heart, and allow me to see everything the way you see, and give me the mind of Christ. Whatever it takes, I will stay focused on you and I will surrender my all to you. I lay down my will. All to thee I surrender.”
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
PART 4 – Published 1/22/22
HEARING FROM GOD – Part 2
Continuing from last week, we are taking a closer look at how God wants to speak to His people, but rarely has the opportunity to share His thoughts. Why is this? Because there are conditions to receiving revelation wisdom from God. Most of these conditions apply to how serious we are about hearing His voice. A good way to measure how desperate someone is to hear from God is to know how much time a person spends in prayer and studying God’s Word. These are spiritual connections with God that develop lines of communication with Him. For anyone to believe that God will pour out His profound wisdom on someone that is not paying attention is deceived. As we have said before, His mysteries, secrets, and answers are not just laying on top of the ground where we can go out and gather them. They are buried deep where only the diligent seeker will find them. There is a peculiar passage found in Matthew 7:6 that explains why God does not share what is holy with those who do not have a passionate love for truth. “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.” If you say that someone is casting pearls before swine, you mean that they are wasting their time by offering something that is helpful or valuable to someone who does not appreciate or have a desire to research and understand it. The same as God knows the hearts of every person and does not speak His mysteries to those who have no interest, we also are to have discernment to know the spiritual level of what others can comprehend or what they want to hear.
Sadly, God has removed His candlestick from many churches and all that is left is a gathering of powerless programs and demonic spirits of control. To bring back the fire and authority of God, there would need to be a complete overhaul and a rededication unto the Lord. The truth would need to be spoken about how the assembly lost its first love and how it must repent and allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse the gathering and for the people to regain the reverential fear and respect for God’s holiness. Each heart would need to recommit their lives to Jesus and to understand how they have been deceived. The authority would need to be turned over to God and they would need to let go of their desire to dominate what happens in the church. Until a congregation realizes the church is God’s church and the Holy Spirit is in control, there will be no manifestation of God’s glory. God’s presence is evident where there are people who love Him with all of their heart and are desperate for His presence.
I have written about how important it is to have an awareness of God’s presence for years and I have tried to develop this attitude. I am stunned at how difficult it is to obtain this higher level of sensitivity. When we give our attention to the things of the world and seek to entertain and pleasure our flesh, we give control to our default nature and automatically obey the lust of the flesh. We know the mind is the battlefield for this control and unfortunately the flesh usually wins. Our old nature is ready to fight to the death to maintain control and as the old saying is true, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Humans do what they want to do, and walking with God is not very high on their priority list. I know a man who has this vision to have Jesus as His Lord and tries to constantly focus all of his attention on Christ. It has cost him everything. The sacrifices he has made to live in the secret place of the Most High has been painful in the natural but rewarding in the spiritual. He understood the only way to go all the way with the Lord was to let go of the world and yield his will to the Father. This is the way Jesus lived and the same way God expects us to abide with Him in His covenant.
Sadly, we can clearly see the assemblies are filled with members that do not read or study their Bible, and neither do they spend time in meditation, worship, or prayer. In the days before media technology, people could only read the Bible and books to learn about God and of course they had to travel to hear people teach and preach. Since the majority of individuals were uneducated, their views and convictions were shaped by what other people believed and this is true today. Those few who entered into the ministry were considered the “experts” of the Bible and were trusted the same as doctors were trusted to know about the human body and sickness. The problem with this way of thinking about the spiritual life, is this caused the masses to be lazy and study on their own. It’s true, that certain clergy are called into the five-fold ministry and spent time preparing devotions and working in God’s kingdom, but this caused the congregation to live however they wanted and spent their time thinking thought about other things. Instead of every Christian developing a personal relationship with God and a constant awareness of His presence, they assumed that going to church once a week was good enough. The masses came up with the idea that it would be much easier to pay someone to give sermons and visit the sick that it would be for every member of God’s church to embrace their responsibility to be led by God’s Spirit. This carnal attitude opened the doors to a religious spirit of lukewarmness that has done extensive damage to God’s kingdom.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Part 3 – Published 1/15/22
HEARING FROM GOD
The organized Christian world spends a lot of time discussing how to hear from God. There is always a constant flow of music, sermons, devotions, and books that encourage us to move closer to God so that we can hear what He is saying, and this is good. However, it seems there is something wrong, as I wonder how many people are actually communicating with Him? Maybe, even though we are aware of our responsibility, we have already drawn our line in the sand, and decided that we will only go so far in our personal relationship with Him, no matter what anyone says. For many spectators, the idea of forsaking everything for the sake of Christ is not much more than a comforting thought that we might consider some day but for the present, we are not going to spend much time worrying about it. It’s like being overweight and out of shape and knowing what we should do for our health, but we are just too tired to do anything about it. Since the majority of people are not really that close to God to begin with, it is a tall order to inspire anyone to just suddenly start praying and reading their Bible. This explains why the average person is not being led by His Spirit much less on fire to do His will.
Maybe another reason the religious masses have not spiritually awakened is because deep down they realize the more of God that comes into their conscience the more of themselves that will need to be extracted. My first album back in the early eighties was titled, “All of Him – None of Me” and the message was simply about being sold out to God’s will. I believe the masses would actually be more excited about the idea of life being, “Some of Him and most of me.” It makes sense that if we know something is going to be painful, we are not really going to be excited about doing it. Trust me, I get it. Especially since we have the option to do it or not, I realize that most people no matter how old they are will most likely put off getting right with God until some other day. The sad part is that day will probably never come which will leave us in a dangerous spiritual condition. I was speaking to someone nearly ninety-years-old recently, and they were actually making jokes about their occupation in hell. Shocking? Not really. I hear this more often than you would think. I assume that many believe God is very lenient and overlooks most every sin except hideous deeds and hopefully this way of living is good enough. Imagine having more faith in God’s mercy than His warnings.
My wife Cheryl has always had a strong gift of discernment. She says it is difficult to explain, but she can usually tell when someone is deceiving, has false motives, or is an impostor. She will occasionally mention that she can see through the “darkness” in someone’s eyes, which she describes as a hidden entity secretly peering back at her. It’s true that God gives different spiritual gifts, and anointings so they can be used of God within His plans, but spiritual discernment should be developed in every Christian. Similar to how important it is to have all the correct ingredients in a perfect recipe, this is where Christians have an opportunity to be effective and fulfill their purpose as contributing members to the body of Christ and His Kingdom. One of the problems that can alter our judgment and tempt us to compromise is familiarity, not only with others but most dangerously with ourselves. The ability to be objective and honest with everyone is much easier than looking in the mirror. If we never examine our own heart, no wonder we cannot see the log in our own eye. It is common to become disappointed and discouraged in our views if we are spending all of our time watching and judging others. But what about neglecting to constantly examining our motives and attitudes?
Concentrating and limiting our convictions to what we see and hear with what is going on around us can make us miserable. Our views should not be based on the opinions of others, because the enemy can easily be counted as a voice of respect. Christians must filter information through the Holy Spirit and pray for wisdom and discernment to know what is true. Also, when we turn inward and recognize that we have our own collection of problems and errors, we can learn how to observe our heart and then process our own failures in order to humbly develop compassion, understanding, and forgiveness toward others. This process is an excellent way to build spiritual maturity within us and a divine revelation of agape love. However, self-examination is often neglected because of arrogance. If you do not believe me, just ask the average person about analyzing their conscience and they will say, “everything is fine.” Churches used to focus on repentance because truth brings freedom. Now we have a lot of entertainment, but very little time spent on prayer and soul searching.
I admit it is discouraging to know that most of the world is headed in the wrong direction. Sometimes we are so upset and disappointed with humanity that we feel like withdrawing into isolation. We dream about how peaceful it would be to go off the radar and live with God alone because everyone is snared with deception and they do not seem to care. The world’s population are like fish swimming with the current toward the ocean and God’s truth seekers are swimming against the current the opposite way. Personally, I have blamed the deceptive spirits of religion and politics for the mass mind control and brainwashing that controls the world’s thinking. However, I also believe that everyone is responsible to live for God. Yes, of course Christians are being persuaded and attacked every hour, but we must resist and fight against it. Proverbs chapter 7 is a wonderful illustration about how the devil is relentless with enticing and tempting us with sin. Satan is crafty, and he begins with something small and then leads us into the depths. Whatever it takes for him to distract and take our eyes away from Jesus is exactly what he will try. Just as Samson flirted with disaster, we know he was not defeated by outside forces making him sin, but rather he was eventually destroyed by his own foolishness.
The kingdom of darkness is like a spider’s web and we can only run around on it so many times until one day our foot becomes stuck and we are easy prey for the spider. Listen to this warning in verses 24 through 27 of chapter 7. “Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.” Who is she? We notice the writer uses a young woman and a man in this story, but the harlot represents any sin and the man represents every person. Satan cannot make anyone sin. They want to sin. If we pray to hate sin and are serious about sin making us nauseous, we are walking on a path of light and holiness. If sin is a normal part of our everyday life, we are not easily convicted with shame and guilt.
I want to include there are still a few sincere individuals that are trying to do God’s will. I would like to say that many are innocent because of the lack of spiritual knowledge, but since we have been given free will to be as holy as we desire, we all have a choice to be as “unlearned” as we want to be. I’m convinced that even though the old saying declares that “ignorance is bliss” it will not be an excuse at the judgment. Our nature loves to be comfortable and happy but we have seen that terrible things can happen when a heart turns a blind eye to God’s demands. Wherever there is an abundance of human carnality we can be sure the seeds of sin will harvest a crop of every evil imagination. All it takes for the world to become saturated in darkness is for those who know truth to refuse to demonstrate it.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Part 2 – Published – 1/8/22
Living in the awareness of God’s presence
There is a touching story found in John chapter 12 about a humble servants love for her Lord. Verse 3 reads, “Then Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” Judas managed the finances for the ministry of Jesus and was angry about how the perfume should have been sold and the money used to help the poor. Jesus spoke up and said, “Leave her alone: against the day of my burying has she kept this. For the poor, always you have with you; but me you have not always.” We can picture this scene in our minds as a beautiful example of the importance of having our priorities in the right place. Mary was not intimidated by the criticism of the world because she was mesmerized in the holy aura of God’s presence. She discarded what this realm considered logical and practical and was only concentrating on the revelation of who He was. Her personal relationship with Jesus was her highest calling and nothing was more important than becoming one with Him. This is a glimpse of humility that has made the bold decision to be free from embarrassment and fear and is now determined to live and serve God whatever the cost.
Pure and love are not two words that we often connect together because much of what we know about love in this world is not always pure. We are flawed humans and realize that love many times has a slightly twisted angle or ulterior motive. Within our dysfunctions, it’s common to feel that we need to earn someone’s love as we learn how to exchange and trade love in order to receive it. However, the wonder and beauty of God’s love is not based on how much we can do or how well we perform. He loves us with a pure unconditional love which means that even in our worst moments – He loves us just the same. When we receive this revelation of His pure love for us, we are broken and drawn to express our sincere love back to Him through worship. When Jesus was on the cross, we were on His mind and we will forever bow before Him in gratitude. To recognize who He is and to love Him with all of our strength, mind and soul is all that He has ever wanted. What more can He say, what more can He do?
Brother Lawrence, whose 17th century work, “The Practice of the Presence of God” details his determination to re-train his conscience to become so discerning that he considered every situation in life as an opportunity to know and serve Christ. By allowing this reality of spiritual awareness to transform who we are, we are given a wonderful opportunity to mature into a higher level of spiritual sensitivity. Understanding that the Christian lifestyle is a learned behavior that establishes and maintains a bond of intimate devotion with God. This attitude allows our mind and heart to be changed into a reflection of His image. It’s not just about the world watching us sing a worship song to Jesus, but it’s comprehending that our true worship is demonstrating His nature and character in every thought, word, and deed. Brother Lawrence is quoted, “many times the most powerful sermons are without words.” People will forget what we believe, but they will never forget what Say and do.
If we truly desire more of God, we must choose to deliberately pursue Him. Walking in the Spirit of The Almighty does not just happen out of the blue. The Bible talks a lot about seeking and searching and this is because His truth and secret mysteries are not just laying on top of the ground. They are buried not to keep them from us but rather they are preserved for the seeker. First, we must have a desire to dig and study or we will not really care enough to know for ourselves. Many people who profess to be Christians do not actually read or study themselves, but rather listen to the interpretations of others. This is one reason why the public assembly is popular. It’s much easier to be a spectator than a participator, however it does not make walking with God satisfying. If those we trust are wrong, we have been deceived and will not recognize the error. This is dangerous and was not God’s idea of the spiritual life. Spiritual discernment and wisdom comes from spending time in the quiet place with God meditating, worshiping, and seeking His face. There are no substitutes.
How do we get to know someone? We spend a lot of time with them and same is true with God. Every moment He patiently waits for us to acknowledge Him and get alone with Him. The old song says, “We walk with Him and talk with Him” and this is what being His child really means. We will never take up our cross and know what it is to be a living sacrifice if we do not care about the awareness of His presence. It is enlightening to discover that the more He is on our mind the more sensitive we are to His voice. When all is said, and done, and we stand before His throne, the amount of our thoughts we allowed Him to occupy will reveal what meant the most to us. The extent we are filled with Jesus depends on how much of our will we surrender to Him. When Christ is invited to sit on the throne of our heart as Lord, the constant awareness of His presence will become a lifestyle.
This is an excerpt from my book, “A lifestyle of worship, living in the awareness of God’s presence.” Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com
Greetings everyone! We finished our theme for last year, “Our Spiritual Awakening” and our new theme for this year is, “Onward Christian Soldiers.” After praying and seeking the Lord about the direction for this weekly blog, I was sensing the realities of spiritual warfare and how God is going to pour out His Spirit on all those this coming year that are passionate about walking with Him. We must be dedicated to wear our armor and have our shield and sword ready at all times. As God’s anointing and power increases within us, so will the resistance and the persecution from the world against us. My fellow soldiers, Jesus is going to empower and enlighten the remnant followers and we will become the overcomers for His glory. He is not returning for a weak and anemic church, but rather for a glorious bride whose garments are without spot or wrinkle. Let us march forward in unity and rejoice that His glory will be revealed in all the earth. May He continue to give you His wisdom and understanding. Shalom!
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
PART 1 – Published 1/1/21
A PERFECT TIME TO BEGIN BRAND NEW
The New Year is here and I’m excited to see what 2022 has for us! My hope is this coming year will be a season of abundance not just with material prosperity and success, but of love, health, and spiritual awareness. As we plant seeds of faith, may we have the patience and expectation to witness the harvest of God’s blessings. One of my personal resolutions is to be more generous and joyful even when things are not going well. I’m reminded of a quote by Mother Teresa who said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.”
January means “beginning” and as we plan our resolutions this is the perfect occasion to consider developing physical, emotional, and spiritual lifestyle changes. You notice I used the word developing because our goals are often a lengthy process. For example, eating a salad today is not going to automatically make us healthy, but it’s a positive first step that will pay off if we can embrace that little secret weapon called perseverance. Today let us believe that anything is possible and just like everything else in life, being diligent and determined are important aspects of personal transformation.
There have been many adaptations from the original Al-anon credo that encourages everyone to be realistic about trying to change everything all at once as it’s important to realize that changing who we are is a lifestyle and not just a whim. No one else can do this for us. We must see our need to change and be willing to do whatever it takes to be victorious. There is nothing wrong with having long-term goals and we should release our faith into accomplishing our destiny, but it’s also important to focus on our mission one day at a time. It would be better to take it slow with permanent results than to go through the motions and become overwhelmed with frustration and eventually give up.
Our world has changed and facing our fears and uncertainties is now a normal way of living. I’m very sorry for what many of you have gone through these past two years as God brings comfort times of sorrow. I encourage us to be brave in this New Year as we consider the old saying, “a ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what a ship is built for.” May we live in the moment and begin each day with gratitude. Let’s laugh more and take the time to consider those around us and how much they mean to us. We have the choice to see the glass half-full and to use our voice to bring hope and love at a time when the world needs it the most. John Bunyan is quoted as saying, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
Let us not forget that while we are advancing in our own journey, that we have a responsibility to demonstrate and teach wisdom and truth to the younger ones. Children may outgrow their shoes, but they will never outgrow the positive and encouraging messages we leave with them. Most of the time we are so busy that we rarely consider how easy it is to ignore what is truly important. Realizing that optimism is a learned behavior allows us to know that personal awareness and transformation is hard work. It’s not about how smart we are or how much we can achieve but our motive should be to allow God to empower us and work through us to accomplish His plans.
Finally, let’s make a sincere decision to exonerate those who have wronged us and allow forgiveness to cleanse our conscience. When we hold grudges it’s like an infection within our soul, but when we choose to forgive, we will experience a refreshing that will flood our soul with joy and peace. If we have wronged someone, may we have the courage to step forward in honesty and tell them we are sorry. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” Ephesians 4:32. Edith Lovejoy Pierce is quoted as saying, “We will open the book. The pages are blank. We are going to write the words ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” I wish you all a very blessed New Year!