I never got to answer the question.


I wrote to friend,

After I went on my rant about the Love of God, you asked a question, and I responded with, “there is an answer for that”, but I never got to answer the question. I would even say that you developed the question a little more specifically as the shouting went on.

First, let me say that I do not function well in an atmosphere of shouting. Secondly, I have had similar questions myself, and I have spent years looking at scripture, asking questions of what it said, and what I found is a God, more merciful than I had ever thought possible.

Because I had my bible open, 1John chapter 3 caught my attention. Verse 10 had already jumped off the page at me before you even asked your question, and I thought this answers the question of what becomes of the “non-Christian” dead.

Before we can answer the question, I think we have to adjust our thinking about whom God considers the non-believer, because we use parameters that are entrenched with faulty traditions and judgmental attitudes. God looks at the heart, while we judge things externally. Therefore, the person that makes a big scene at the front of the church, make be doing just that, making a big scene. While the person that says simply, God remember me, has more intentionality to their heart, even though they may not meet some criteria that religion establishes.

I took this out of the NIV because it states it clearly. I will tell you that I was looking at the NKJV this AM, and it said it plainly also.

1John 3:10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

Many versions emphasize loving the Christian Brother, but doesn’t that kind of go against the grain of God, seeing as we are to love our neighbor (and in my case, at least one of them is a Jehovah Witness.)

1 John 3:10 ESV By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

As you read something like this, apply it to the world, many of which have died and of course, have no other options.

Here in 1John 3:10, we have a clear definition. Many will refuse to see it that way, but that is the beauty of revelation. You can be reading something and suddenly God’s spirit reveals to you how it can, and most likely does apply to the world in general. This makes a lot of sense when you consider the statement, “for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” He had, and still has, a love for the world. There will be a day that his wrath is poured out on the earth, but that is not yet. Further more, God’s wrath has been against His own, Israel, and the nations that rise against His people. We, who are followers of Christ, are in Him, and we have been spared from wrath.

This passage in Romans is one example where it talks about us being spared God’s wrath.

Romans 5:9 ESV Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians is another example. In this one, the context is the wrath coming upon the earth during the seven years called the tribulation. Because we have salvation through Christ, we have are to be spared from the generalized wrath.

1 Thessalonians 5:9 ESV (9) For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

“This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are:”

If I give you a solid definition of what God deems someone who He considers a child of God, do I really need to define what the devil’s children do? To simply understand that anything outside of the definition are operating under a different principle, and will follow their leader to his destruction.

“Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child,”

The NKJV used the phrase “anyone who does not do righteousness”

Whether it is right or righteousness is irrelevant and implies the same thing.

Now, you must ask yourself what determines right and who sets the standard. The standard is God, but the standard existed long before the law came. God makes that clear when talks about the righteousness of Abraham.

Romans 4:3 ESV For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

What did he believe?

That eventually God, this person who showed up in his dream, would do what he said by making him a father, and the father of many nations.

Having been married for a while, and not producing children, you begin to think you will have none, ever, and that is exactly the mindset that we find with Abram. That is also one of the reasons that God’s promise of making Abram the father of many nations is such a big deal. I do not know why we make such huge assumptions and give our founders of faith ridiculous super human characteristics, which none of them had.

Was Abram that much different from the man next door, not really. Every follower of Christ eventually comes to understand that Adam and Eve, by eating the forbidden fruit, gained, not only, the knowledge of good, something they already had, but of evil also. As a young couple, full of energy, everything they did and explored, not only in the world around them, but with each other, was all good; having the knowledge of evil put a different spin on things, which is why they suddenly, were not only trying to hide from God, but each other as well.

If understanding “good”, gives me the comprehension that there is a God and he wants a voluntary relationship with me, then what would my judgment of what is evil be based upon? How others or I acted toward the creator and whether I acted anything like my understanding of the creator.

Warfare seems to give us one of the prime examples of this love, a love that most do not understand, for we have countless versions of guys that dive on hand grenades, or take a bullet to save a friend. Moreover, it is possible that never once did they say, I love the unknown God I serve. Without training, they may not have had any idea.

However, this takes us back to Abram again, for without the guidance and direction of the law, he lived a decent life, motivated by a belief in a God that he had not previously known.

God is a God of mercy.

“Nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”

I suspect that many will read this and say, it is an additional mandate, I do not agree. I believe that our brother could easily be our neighbor, but there is an implication of someone with which you have relationship. As we talked a little bit more, a situation was described where a person, hiking the same trail, slips over the side of a mountain trail. The right thing to do is to offer assistance. Does that have to have anything to do with their relationship to Christ? No, it is just the right thing to do, and nothing less than you would want.

Why did I say any of this? Because, there is that possibility that God sees a pattern of behavior that demonstrates His character, and that is all that He really demanded of those who died “without” Christ.

I heard a theology come out of one mouth today that demonstrated an angry God that is looking for people to punish in a final judgment. All it takes is an honest, open-minded read of scripture to see that this is not the case. (I say be open minded because the closed mind will refuse to consider any options outside of their traditional mindset.) I think that it is good to be firm about some aspects of our belief. Since Jesus said, “I am the way, truth, and the light, and no one comes to the Father but through me.” I am sticking with that concept. The other is the love of God toward me, and I am not moving off that.

The judgment seat that was spoken of is no secret affair; we can find it in Matthew 25.

One of the first things you need to notice is who is doing the judging. Now ask the question, if Christ was willing to lay down his life for us, those that accept Him, why would there be even the remote possibility of any of those standing before this throne?

Matthew 25:31-46 ESV “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. (32) Before him will be gathered all the nations,

In scripture, there are only three kinds of people groups: The Jews, the nations, and the church. He is not talking to the church. Although most of us came out of the nations, when we came to Him, He came into us and therefore we are one with Him, and considered the bride of Christ.

and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (33) And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. (34) Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (35) For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, (36) I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

It is their response to his kindness that catches my attention.

(37) Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? (38) And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? (39) And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ (40) And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (41) “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (42) For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, (43) I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ (44) Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ (45) Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ (46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Even here, God’s mercy keeps showing up.

I have had this argument/discussion on several occasions and I am not backing down from it, because it has the character of God written all over it, and I am not the one who wrote this, Holy men of God wrote as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. We have come to validate these scriptures as real, and from God himself.

Therefore, if you were to ask me, what happens to all those who died without Christ, I would have to say that God judges them based upon their good works and shows many of them mercy.

We all know or knew people like that, and this does not excuse my laziness, but shows me that God is more merciful than I, contrary to traditional thinking.

 

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I am writing these things to you so that


There is a song by Chris Sligh, off the Running Back to You album, titled, In a Moment. Lying here on the bed my mind began to wrap around those words, “In a moment” and it made me think of that day, which I do not think is that far away, where we will finally be returned to the arms of the Father who fought so hard to regain us, His family, back to himself.

I just finished my first 12 step group last Thursday 4/10/2014. It has been 10 months of the most amazing changes. Changes I did not think were possible. You see when you are deeply entrenched in your pain, you cannot imagine what it will feel like to be free, let alone breathe again. Thank God, I am free. On the 29th of this month, we will be standing before the audience, presented as graduates.

As I lay there this afternoon, trying to take a nap for I did not sleep well last night and I had to be up early this morning, I saw a vision of myself standing before the audience, all Celebrate Recovery attendees, most of them believers, and I heard this:

We all came here, wracked with pain, struggling to find answers, and our place in this world, but soon, we will be called home to stand before our Father, the Father that has loved us, longed for and fought for this moment with a desire that exceeds any desire that we could imagine. On that day, we will stand there clean, healed, and free of the exhaustion and habits that have beset us. Because on that day we will be changed in a moment, faster than your eye can blink, into someone whole, and free. Welcomed into the arms of love, never to struggle and hurt again.

Sadly, as I saw myself saying these things to the audience, I knew that some would sit there in unbelief. Riddled with hurts and anguish, as I have been, they cannot take it in, while others wept with joy, as I am doing now.

How do I know any of this, because I see it in the word of God. This is one of the many messages that the Apostle John tried to convey to us in 1John.

1 John 2:1-2 NASB My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (2) and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

Verse 1

My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin.”

What is it about the things he wrote that would, or should keep you from sin, or even better, create an atmosphere in you where you do not want to sin?

To answer that we need to understand what John had previously said.

  • We heard
  • We have seen
  • We looked upon
  • And our hands have handled of the Word of God.

The Life was manifested (made known) and we bear witness that our fellowship (communion, relationship, companionship) is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

This knowing, understanding, evidence is meant to produce not only a hope but also a confidence that what God said and promised is true.

Why does hope or confidence make you not want to sin? (Keep in mind that loosely translated sin means nothing more than missing the bull’s eye of a larger target.) Maybe because hope is built upon other things (spiritual things) and has everything to do with what motivates your goals, dreams and daily manner of living?

Let us assume that you are not that established and you do sin, rather consistently, then what?

“And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;”

Because of His actions, on our behalf, our relationship, from God’s point of view, is kept free of disgrace and is always open for communication.

Let us probe Genesis; for there I can give you some examples to prove my point, that God has never turned his back on us. Starting at chapter 3 verse 7 they have already acted selfishly and their eyes are now opened. They now understood what evil felt like. How did they respond to that? They both dive behind some bushes and try to form some coverings to hide their bodies, I suppose from each other, but particularly from God.

They heard the sound of God walking in the garden and they hid. How did the all-knowing God respond to that? With something that feels like respect when I read it, he asked where they were. You know He knew where they were, and he can certainly see through bushes. When God speaks with them, He spells out the ramifications of their sin, “makes” clothing for them (there is more to this scene than scripture lays out), and lays out his plan for salvation to them. Part of the clue to understanding this come from his comment to Eve found in Genesis 3:15.

If you fast-forward, the only two sons (since the fall) are old enough to be farmers and we find Able making a sacrifice with a lamb. Where did he come to this understanding? Cain, his brother, kills him out of jealousy and who shows up, God. God never turned his back on any of them. You might assume that they sort of lost contact with and God is just forgotten, but then you have a problem because with that kind of logic you cannot explain Noah.

There is one of character I want to point out, and that is Enoch. Scripture tells us that Enoch walked with God. What does that mean, and how did he learn to do that? It would seem that Adam had another son, Seth. Seth’s lineage produced Enoch and to the best of my understanding, Adam was 600 years old when Enoch came along. There is no better way to comprehend this than to assume that Enoch used to ask grandpa what it was like to walk with God. Enoch paid attention and did just that.

God was everywhere; we just do not look for it.

Verse (2)

“and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins”

Propitiation – that word is big enough to choke you. I asked the bible study what that meant (I knew the answer, I had it written down, but I wanted them to answer the question.) The new guy chimed in, after a quick reference check in his bible, with, the atoning sacrifice.

The atoning sacrifice was one that perfectly paid, in full, the debt, but Israel had the priests make these sacrifices all the time, only to blow it five minutes later. This is exactly why the writer of Hebrews had this discussion:

Hebrews 7:26-27 MKJV For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and made higher than the heavens, (27) who does not need, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice daily, first for his own sins and then for the people’s sins. He did this once for all, when He offered up Himself.

You find this theme in Hebrews 9: 1-26, where it is clearly spelled out that Christ is that sacrifice, offered once, for all.

It is so hard not to say this – We have got it made. While this is true from God’s point of view, your pushing of boundaries always comes with a payment while you are here on earth.

Have you ever thought about how many there are, sitting in prisons, that lacking knowledge, gave in to their flesh or peer pressure, committed crimes and are in some cases permanent residents of the prison system; all while not realizing that they, if they are in Christ, have a good heart and an unbroken relationship with the Father.

“He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

Putting himself on the cross brought a result that was all-encompassing. No human will ever be judged, as a prerequisite to an eternal relationship with the Father, based upon sin. We will be judged according to what we did with Jesus Christ, but is that really the end of it?

Look, those that are in Christ will be caught up to meet Him in the air someday very soon. You and I are not the judges of what that entails because there is that scenario in Matthew 25, that details ten virgins, all with intentions to go to the same wedding; and why not, they all have invitations. The end of the story implies that 50% are not ready to go.

I am going to throw this last bit in for free.

After the rapture, we assume that the only persons on earth left are those without Christ, what becomes of them?

Considering that the snatching away of the bride marks the beginning of the seven years of tribulation, the time after the rapture is often called the great tribulation. I happen to believe that the “great” part is specifically referring to the last three-and-one-half years.

(Tribulation is a relative term, for many are experiencing horrendous tribulation even now. Just today 4/10/2104, someone posted a photo of a girl who had her mouth and eye sewed shut because she was a Christian in the nation of Syria.)

Many of those left after the rapture will accept Jesus Christ as Lord. Even that can be loosely defined and here is why. While some will recognize their error and turn to Him, others will attempt to resist the control of the beast. This concept of the beast maybe easier to visualize if I say, the Beast is Islam, and you will be forced to worship Allah, taking some indicator of your submission, or die by the sword. It would seem that choosing against Islam and dying marks you as a martyr for God. Scripture deems you a Saint, and after Jesus Christ returns physically to earth, you will reign over the earth, for a thousand years with Him.

Here is the problem we followers of Christ seem to have. We believe that there must be a clearly stated acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord. Islam will not be that technical. Have you not noticed how Islamic rebels sweep into a Syrian, Christian community and arbitrarily kill everyone. They do not tend to ask questions, and their acts of torture have more to do with sadistic pleasure than a conversion.

John tells us in Revelation that the number of martyred Saints before the throne cannot be counted.

Since this started with my asking a generalized question, what exactly do I have left here on earth? People who come to Christ, and those who wish to see them killed. Scripture defines the haters (killers) as the nations.

In what other scenarios do we see the nations? Read Ezekiel chapter 38 and 39, for they speak both of Israel coming out of the nations, and the nations rising up against Israel with God coming to Israel’s defense.

The nations brought Israel down with Idolatrous ways, and Israel went into captivity among the nations.

Ezekiel 39:7 “My holy name I will make known in the midst of My people Israel; and I will not let My holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.

 

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Is there a way to stay in the light? Still wading through 1John 1:7


1 John 1:7 MKJV  But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Is there a way to stay in the light?

James 1:27 NASB Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

“And the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from every sin.”

It sounds as though we are free and clear. Every sin means past, present, and future.

So, are you telling me there are no repercussions for the life I have lived?

No, even Israel, roaming in the desert, before the law, had to deal with people based upon the severity of the act. Rebellious children could be brought before the city and stoned to death, and the entire city had to take part in the punishment. Considering the vulgar brutality of stoning, how often do you think that happened, not many?

The point is that there are penalties to pay for crimes committed. As we roam through life, my suggestion is that you stay out of the crime arena; it is just less hazardous. While we may have to pay for the fulfillment of our fleshly desires with prison time or worse, God has released us from the debt of death (eternal separation from God) that was placed upon us all through Adam’s treason. (I suspect that even Adam was extended mercy through the blood of Christ.)

Even though the statement (“And the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from every sin.”) gives the appearance of a complete restoration of rights, this does not guarantee us a home with the Father. That only comes by your acceptance of the fact that Jesus blood was paid on your behalf and you admitting that you need him.

My analogy goes like this. This earth is a large adoption agency and we are all in it. God comes down to pick out those He wants in his family. In doing so, he realizes He cannot leave any behind and so he pays the price necessary for all of them to come home with him. The only stipulation is that you have to agree to come. Some begin to whine, demanding to know what there is to eat. God responds with, why is that important, I own everything and my table is never empty so come, but many choose to reject his offer because that is not a clear enough answer for them. Others, thinking that he will make them cut their hair refuse to go. Some ask Him to wait while they get cleaned up, even as he assures them they are welcome as they are. Still others waste time in indecision and miss the bus. Many, even those with bad attitudes, put their name on the roster by accepting the fact that he paid the price in full, get in the bus and it leaves. Those with bad attitudes charge right in with their old behaviors saying, I do not take out trash, and where is the video game controller. The Father deals gently with all that, showing His amazing love toward those He paid such a huge price for; why? Because God regained a family that was willing to come, live, and have fellowship with Him.

There is truth to this concept if we look at Adam as our Father. When he chose to listen to his wife and not God and partake of a forbidden fruit, that moment he died. No, he did not just drop over dead, although that process began in him instantaneously. What did happen, fellowship with the Father was broken that very moment. Think about it. Adam’s demise took us with him.

Romans 5:12 GNB Sin came into the world through one man, and his sin brought death with it. As a result, death has spread to the whole human race because everyone has sinned.

Did God, in disgust, run from them shamed and embarrassed? No, it was just the opposite. We find them attempting to hide from Him, as He sought them out.

Did God cease to try to talk with them? No, not only do you see Him speaking to them in the garden but also tells them they are banished from the area where the tree of life existed, and later tells them about other aspects of the death they have thrown themselves into. God reaffirms that Adam and Eve will continue to play a role in the redemption of man. You can come to the understanding that God did not break off relationship, they did. Ask yourself, how long does it take God to make skins for them to wear? And during that time turned his back on them, grumbling the entire about lousy, rebellious children? No!

I am going to throw this in for free.

Although it is not spelled out in black and white, God gave them the specific instructions necessary for making a sacrifice and why. How do I know this, because Abel did what was proper, and God challenged Cain, stating, that if he did what was right would not he be accepted; so God continues his desire to “fellowship” by speaking to Cain about the murder he committed? Doesn’t that tell us that the laws, only written in the memory of man gave man no excuse to run havoc outside the law that would require a sacrifice being made?

If you are going to be honest then you have to admit that the fall of man brought with it the knowledge of good and evil, NOT JUST EVIL, and we all inherited what Adam brought upon us. Therefore, it is embedded in the DNA and cannot be removed. Since the soul of man was created in the image of God all that had to be done was to wash it clean. We, who have accepted him, have accepted that the blood of Jesus, the payment for sin, was enough, and it was. Therefore we have been made new creatures, almost as though we do not have that old heart anymore.

Did God sarcastically say, you morons, do you think I cannot see you and your nakedness in those bushes? No, he demonstrated respect, mercy, and grace by asking them where they were. God knew exactly where they were.

The point here is that God did not change His desire or stance toward the man he created.

I am sure some of you have recently seen Russell Crowe as Noah. If you have a biblical perspective on the Noah story, then you know that God was eventually sickened by the thoughts and violence of virtually every man on earth when the flood took place.

Did it ever occur to you that even though God eventually brought the condemning flood upon the earth, that He provided the people with Noah, a prophet, and a one hundred year span in which to turn from their evil and get on the boat? Reality tells me that there was no way in which all the people on earth would have been able to fit on that boat along with all those animals. Obviously, God knew that they would not come, but the opportunity to restore fellowship was still extended.

Allow me to back this last statement up with some logic from God’s word.

Hebrews 11:7 KJV By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

1 Peter 3:20 MSG because they wouldn’t listen. You know, even though God waited patiently all the days that Noah built his ship, only a few were saved then, eight to be exact–saved from the water by the water.

Have you ever thought to yourself, why did it take 100 years to build a boat? Maybe there were no printed plans? That might slow someone like me down. Maybe, unlike in the recent Noah movie they were not in the middle of a forest with an unlimited supply of trees. No, God gave Noah the plans, so I do not think that was the issue. Perhaps a lack of manpower, considering that we have no record of boats or a need for them yet, that may have been a problem in securing help. There are so many variables when I apply my human thinking. Maybe I am right, and God was giving man the opportunity to repent.

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The person that lives in the light shares that light with others.


1 John 1:7 MKJV But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

The contemporary English version translated as “live in the light”

Walk – To make ones way, progress. (KJV)

Light – Anything emitting light; Truth and its knowledge; That which is exposed to all; God’s ways.

In contrast to the person that claims companionship with Christ but walks around in darkness, the person that lives in the light (Jesus is the light and we have that assurance in his word.) shares that light with others.

Think about it; if you emit the eternal light how do you prevent others from seeing it, or walking in it?

“But if” – There is always a variable; sadly, not everyone lives or walks in the light.

“As he is in the light,”

“He” can take on three possibilities.

  1. God – He is light (unapproachable light.)

1 Timothy 6:16 CEV – Only God lives forever! And he lives in light that no one can come near. No human has ever seen God or ever can see him. God will be honored, and his power will last forever. Amen.

Exodus 33:18-23 NASB – Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” (19) And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” (20) But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (21) Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; (22) and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. (23) “Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”

 

  1. Jesus – Since He is God, the Son of God, and the Word by which all things exist, then we can have him take the role of “he.” I suspect this is most likely whom John is referring to.

Hebrews 1:3 AMP – He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God's] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power. When He had by offering Himself accomplished our cleansing of sins and riddance of guilt, He sat down at the right hand of the divine Majesty on high,

  1. “He” can also represent the follower of Christ that walks in the light.

Let us be honest with each other once again. We all know “Christians” that are an embarrassment to many of us; I am one, but I am trying to figure out this “light” thing.

As many of you know I am in a Recovery group because circumstances put me into what feels like a lifetime of inadequacy and anger. Only recently, I vented that rage at my girlfriend again, and now I am single (so to speak, I have been single for 20 years) once more. I am writing this because I have an insatiable desire to understand God’s character and love for me.

If I can let you in on a secret, God’s mercy and grace reach so much farther than the damage of my sins – (my constantly missing the mark while I was trying to hit it.) However, that does not mean that I do not do damage; I do, but it does mean that His love for me is unbroken and unending. I have accepted that as fact, and isn’t that all God asks of us? God makes the offering of life with Him through Jesus Christ. All we have to do is accept that we have that life in Him.

The problem is that we are broken people, and we do not like it when someone walks in freedom when we think they should have their heads down in shame. That is called judgment and clearly not our job. Wow, that really spoke to me, but it took several rereads for me to catch it. This is exactly what my attitude has been toward the girlfriend for several days now.

In “Recovery”, you have to make amends so long as in doing so no one is injured physically or emotionally again. There are plenty of divorces that end in death; clearly, we are talking about physical injury in this case. So much like an early American fur trapper, there is no need to stick your foot in a vicious trap again.

Allow me, with the sincerity of my broken heart, to show how to forgive someone.

Father, as I have been writing this, you have made it clear to me that have judged her and held her in my heart with animosity, feeling as though she owes me. You have forgiven her no less than you have forgiven me, and you have released us, your creation from the debts we could never repay. She may never even consider her actions as something that she needs to repent of, therefore I must release her from any debt that I think she owes me. I hand her over to you, her Father. Deal with her lovingly, as I know you will. Father as the days go by and I deal with the loss and pain I ask that you remind me that she belongs to you and that you are in control. Remind me that you are teaching me something that is meant to bring about the fullness of your life in me. Show her your love, because apparently I could not. Oh, and Father. Teach me what it means to be a man who is not co-dependent, and yet loving without giving up my strength, in Jesus name.

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Problems with identifying the Roman Empire as the fourth kingdom.


One of the things that dominate my thoughts is how we are lacking in our understanding of end times events and scripture about them. I am also fully aware of how alternate points of view can make closed-minded people angry because it rocks their traditional worldview. I happen to believe that we are in the last moments of the ballgame with one out to go, and then Jesus will return to gather His long-awaited bride, the church.

If you have watched the news about events in the middle east then you are aware that he has already gathered so many of the saints home to himself. While I honestly wish I were home myself, I believe that he has given me a mission, and that is to share and encourage those of us still here, paying attention, and have a heart that longs for an adventure.

I want you to visualize an event with me. Jesus is gathering up the disciples after telling them that He is to be betrayed and specifically hands the chunk of bread to Judas indicating who it was that was to do the betraying. With this announcement, He has made it clear that he is about to die at the hands of the Jewish priesthood, and now his compulsion from the Holy Spirit is driving him to his favorite place on earth, the olive garden. He knows exactly where he is going, he prayed there often. This is the place where Peter and John saw him glow. In addition, Moses, whom they had never seen showed up and they recognized him. He pauses, and then turns looking Peter right in the eyes and says, grab some swords. Peter stunned, replies, we have two. We can buy more. Jesus responds, no, that is enough. It was not about the swords but the readying and the glory of God about to be demonstrated.

If you are a follower of Christ then you know that the sword is His Word. I am asking you to do what the Apostle John tells us that they did:

1 John 1:1(b) NASB …. “what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life”

The word looked in Greek, theaomai, is to view attentively, or to contemplate. I am asking you think about what I am about to say. Look attentively at the scriptures, do not be afraid to challenge God, ask him questions, He can handle your questions. Consider the direction that things are going in the earth. You are surrounded by wealthy people who want control so badly they can taste it, and they are doing it at your expense. This is not just mere circumstance, it is a directed, intentional effort, and if you are paying attention, and student of scripture, then you should be aware that this is all spelled out in the Revelation.

I will tell you straight out this was initiated because of someone coming back at me with, “no its not! We are supposed to be waiting for the revised Roman Empire.” They demonstrated no interest in changing their point of view at that moment, and I do not convey myself well at times. I wish my head could retain information, it does not, but my computer does. I got away for a couple of days and pulled enough information together to reestablish my knowledge base in my head, and write sufficient information to show others what is happening in the immediate future.

I guarantee you that I could not have said this any better than the author Joel Richardson. It his books, “The Islamic Antichrist”, and “The Mideast Beast” that opened my understanding of Revelation, Daniel, and in general, what is going on around me. I have taken portions from his book “The Mideast Beast” in order to convey a clear intent, and added my own comments as I thought necessary. I have indicated quotes from Mr. Richardson’s book by placing an asterisk in front of it.

Problems with identifying the Roman Empire as the fourth kingdom.

*”The first problem with the Roman identification of the fourth kingdom is that the Roman Empire does not meet the specific criterion of Daniel 2:40. This verse, speaking of the nature of the rise of the fourth kingdom, says that when it emerged, it would crush all three of the other kingdoms:”

Dan 2:40 then there will be a fourth kingdom. That kingdom will be strong like iron. Just as iron breaks things and smashes them to pieces, that fourth kingdom will break all the other kingdoms and smash them to pieces.

*Later in Daniel 7, speaking of this same empire, we find a similar description:

Dan 7:23 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.

The three other kingdoms that are to be trampled are spelled out in scripture.

Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece.

*“The three empires never coexisted, and thus we must ask what the text means when it says that the fourth empire would “crush” all the others.”

Daniel 5:28 spells out the kingdom that follows the Babylonian.

Dan 5:28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

We call this the Medo-Persian Empire, and are the second kingdom that is to be crushed.

The third empire to be crushed was the Grecian empire.

Dan 8:21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.

male goat … large horn. This is the third Gentile world power, the kingdom of Greece, and specifically Alexander the Great, the notable and “first king” after conquering Medo-Persia. Cf. Dan_11:3. (John MacArthur)

Richardson implies that word crush, as used in Daniel 2:40 means geographically. When I look at the meaning of the word, I find this in the dictionary:

CRUSH, v.t.

1. To press and bruise between two hard bodies; to squeeze, so as to force a thing out of its natural shape; to bruise by pressure.

2. To press with violence; to force together into a mass.

3. To overwhelm by pressure; to beat or force down, by an incumbent weight, with breaking or bruising; as, the man was crushed by the fall of a tree.

4. To overwhelm by power; to subdue; to conquer beyond resistance; as, to crush ones enemies; to crush a rebellion.

5. To oppress grievously.

6. To bruise and break into fine particles by beating or grinding;

Joel Richardson proves his point with historical fact.

*”the Roman Empire only conquered roughly one-third of the regions controlled by Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. About two-thirds of the regions controlled by these empires were left entirely untouched by Rome. In fact the Roman Empire never even reached the two Persian capital cities of Ecbatana and Persepolis.”

Others have claimed that *”because the Roman Empire succeeded Greece, which succeeded Medo-Persia, which succeeded Babylon, the Roman Empire did crush all the others.” Richardson acknowledges a professor named Stephen R. Miller, as substantiating that view, but Richardson goes on to say that the view is based on faulty reasoning because it goes outside the biblical text.

*”Although the Roman Empire did conquer portions of the land holdings of the other empires, it clearly did not conquer all of them, not even a majority of them. The Roman Empire only conquered roughly one-fifth of the land holdings of the Medo-Persian Empire, whose capital cities of Ecbatana and Persepolis forever remained hundreds of miles out of the Roman Empire’s reach.”

The only empire to fully, absolutely, and completely conquer all the prescribed lands was the Islamic Caliphate.

If the definition of crush is expanded beyond geographic to mean culture, religion and language, what do we get when we do a comparison between the Roman Empire and the Islamic Caliphate?

The Roman Empire is known as one puts down rebellions. Putting down rebellions does not qualify as the crushing descriptions found in Daniel’s prophecy.

*”When we consider the nature of the Roman Empire, it was far from being a purely destructive influence to its conquered peoples. Rome is better known for being a nation-building force of the ancient world. When the Roman Empire conquered a people, rather than destroying the culture, abolishing its religion, and imposing a new language, it generally tolerated these things while adding law, building roads and infrastructure, and creating order.”

Referring back to Daniel 2:40 once again:

“Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces.” NASB

According to criterion of Daniel 2:40, the Roman Empire does not fulfill the requirements of scripture.

If the crushing means something other, such as, culture, religion, and language, then what do we find when we compare the Roman Empire against the Islamic Caliphate?

Since its inception the Islamic Caliphate (Rashidun Caliphate in 632 AD ending with the demise of the Ottoman empire in 1923) *was an Arab-Islamic-supremacist force that crushed and erased the cultures and religions of the peoples it conquered. This is due to the uniquely all-encompassing ideology of Islam, which includes every facet of life. Islam has rules and commandments that pertain to far more than just theology. It also dictates law, government, language, military, and even the sexual and hygienic practices of those under it authority.”

* “The very name Islam means submission to the laws of Allah, the Muslims’ god, as well as the practices of Muhammad, their prophet.”

*“Wherever Islam spread, it brought with it this oppressive ideology of submission. Islam conquered all the regions of the former Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Grecian empires. It exported and imposed the Arabic language onto a vast proportion of its conquered peoples. Today, in Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and throughout much of North Africa, the people speak Arabic. While the Persians and Turks have retained their own languages, their alphabets were both Arabized. Later, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk enforced a new, anglicized alphabet in Turkey.”

 

*“As an Imperial force, Islam imposed Arab religion and culture onto all of its dominated peoples, while erasing evidence of previous religions and non-Islamic cultures.”

 

Consider where we have seen the evidence of this type of activity. The first I can recall was when the Taliban shelled two large images carved into the side of a hill. These two images were considered global art treasures. Although we have witnessed the death of, not only the worshippers of other religions, but also the destruction of any identifying symbols of religion outside of Islam. Under the guise of overthrowing a regime, this destructive activity has gone on in many nations including: Indonesia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, Nigeria, Sudan, most any northern African nation, and we are beginning to see this in Britain as well.

There is calculated effort to destroy any evidence of a historical Jewish connection to the temple mount in Israel today. This has actually been going on for several years.

*“Examples of Muslim ‘Temple Mount denial’ in both popular and academic contexts are legion. The former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, has stated on many occasions that the Jewish connection to the Temple was a myth. In 1998, Sabri stated, ‘Moslems have no knowledge or awareness that the Temple Mount has any sanctity for Jews.’”

These atrocities by Islam and it’s followers are many, outlandish, and ongoing.

*“Wherever Islam has spread, the conquered culture is gradually erased, the symbols and evidences of the former culture destroyed. The religion of the subjugated peoples are most particularly targeted. This is Islam’s heritage, the perfect fulfillment of the criterion of Daniel 2:40.
Richardson warns us to stay within the context of both scripture and Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, a concept we Westerners struggle with, because we trace much of our culture and history through the Roman and Greek empires. We also tend to look at the Bible from a Western perspective. I consistently admonish my bible study to remember that for the most part the scriptures were written primarily to a Jewish audience; we are fortunate to be included by adoption. Changing the way we think will definitely aid in our understanding.

THE DEMISE OF THE FOURTH KINGDOM

The second problem for the Roman identification of the fourth empire is the criterion of Daniel 2:34-35. The verses spell out the demise of this fourth kingdom, its destruction, and the return of the Messiah and His kingdom. Christ’s kingdom is that rock-cut out, but not with human hands. This is a specific destruction of the Antichrist’s kingdom, but also of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece; all at the same time.

Daniel 2:34-35 NASB “You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. (35) “Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

 The point to this is that this empire is so all-encompassing that it takes all these with it. You could not and cannot obtain that level of destruction based upon the effectiveness, and conquering abilities of the Roman Empire.

BABYLON DID FALL

Exactly as the prophecy declared. Later, the Medo-Persian Empire was conquered by the Greek Empire by Alexander the Great. But in the midst of Alexander’s conquest of the region, he dies leaving the empire to be split four ways among his generals/successors.

This is discussed in detail in Daniel 8 and 11.

And so did the Roman Empire

The “Roman Empire” ended in 1453 with the death of Constantine XI and the fall ofConstantinople to the Ottoman Turks.

There is only one entity that does everything that Daniel’s interpretation covers, and that is the Islamic empire or Caliphate. They have conquered every piece of property and more. They have obliterated and crushed entire religions in their path, and are more than willing to do that again. There are only two things that have stood against Islam in their efforts to gain world dominance; one is their inability to get along with each other. This strife was demonstrated during our first ventures into Iraq, as Sunnis and Shiites fought against each other. This will never end. Look at what God says about this:

Genesis 16:11-12 NASB The angel of the LORD said to her further, “Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction. (12) “He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers.”

The other thing that stands in the path of Islam is Jesus Christ coming physically back to this earth. When that happens he will slaughter those that blatantly oppose him, and radical followers of Islam will fall into that category. Scripture tells us that anyone worshiping the beast will be cast into outer darkness with their leader, Satan. This is difficult for me to write about because tradition (yes, I struggle with it too) gets in my way. What I see clearly, is that even in the last days God is merciful. I know this because while we as followers of Christ want to see a world purged of sin, all you have to do is read about the millennial reign, and you will find statements implying that there are vile sins going on as nations not turning their hearts willingly to Christ are forced to participate in the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem every year. Choosing not to participate results in no rain upon your land for a year. A second offense brings a plague upon and what sounds like a rather instant death. While that does not sound so merciful at first read, you have to understand that tradition and poor teaching would have these people wiped out so that all the happy people can have free reign of the 1000 years.

Why then do we have those martyred being brought back to life to rule and reign over this earth during that time period?

Who are they reigning over, other followers of Christ?  I do not think so. There will be middle of the road people that refused to worship the beast and yet do not a solid relationship with Jesus Christ. Perhaps mere compliance during this time grants you entrance into the 1000 years. It also sounds like life just continues.

Don’t fight and argue over this stuff. Take the time to look intently into it, and you will see exactly what I am talking about.

Should you not know this Jesus Christ I speak of, you can. Merely ask him into your life and allow him to have all of it. That is actually a process, but know this, He will come into you immediately, as you are. You do not have to do anything like shower, and fix your bed, just ask him. He will change your life as you allow him the freedom.

 

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That which was from the beginning


With only a short span between our year long adventure in the Gospel of John and the start of “The Story”, several weeks ago we opted to jump into 1 John.

Due to circumstances beyond my reasonable control, something I will remedy quickly, I chose to focus on one man in the group who seems to struggle with understanding the bible (we should all admit that at times) and he wants to be a missionary. While being a theologian does not seem like a mandatory issue to me for being a missionary, having a foundational soundness should be; 1John comes off as being exactly that, foundational soundness.

I did a quick overview of 1John, and focused on verse one exclusively. If I base success on how I feel, I felt like I conveyed a good deal on verse one alone, and got some interaction out of my target audience. I often try to get the guys to interact, but there is always one guy that has to dominate, and this aspect is my thorn-in-the-flesh.

This last Sunday it was not my turn to lead, and yet I am so disgusted and exhausted by this battle with  dominant personalities that I was ready to quit.

You do understand that we humans, and especially followers of Christ have an enemy that one purpose in mind, to steal, kill, and destroy; his name is Satan. Religious folk will ask why I include humans as targets too. My answer to that is that we were all made in the image of God. Just because our image is tarnished by our own actions, as we choose to act selfishly, does mean that you were not created for communion with God. The general consensus is that non-believers are generally no threat to Satan’s deceptions and therefore leaves them alone; really, do you really believe that? Why then, is he trying so desperately to kill off even those who we presume will have no impact for the kingdom?, because God is in control, not us, and he has plans that we do not see or understand.

I say all that because I have had a rough four days, and I helped to make it rough, but not all. The thought that most guides me lately is, “Lord, what are you trying to teach me?

God has been working me over, probing into childhood wounds of abandonment and rejection, and either God or Satan is using people who are close to me, or claim to be Christians to aid in this probing. I will just tell you straight out, it still hurts. I have asked Jesus to enter into this wound with me, and to heal me, so, I guess I should have expected this onslaught.

I would never call myself a Theologian, most of my experiences with them have been horrid experiences. What I am is someone who absolutely loves the look in people’s eyes as they look into God’s word and it comes alive to them. Primarily because of one man I am losing that joy, and something has to change before it changes me.

Enough blabbing, let’s dive into 1 John with my short overview.

John was known as one of the son’s of Thunder, a title that does not convey much love. Here is an example of why.

Luke 9:54-56 NASB When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (55) But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; (56) for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."] And they went on to another village.

Jesus gave the two young men that name.

Mark 3:17 NIV  James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”),

I always point out that Jesus did not tell John that what he was asking was impossible; merely that it was an inappropriate reaction.

What was the proper reaction?

I suspect in some ways they saw and heard this on daily basis.

Matthew 5:43-44 NASB “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ (44) “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Jesus was asked, what is the greatest commandment of all? His response:

Mark 12:28-31 NASB One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” (29) Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; (30) AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ (31) “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Now, consider our perceived assessment of who and what John was in contrast to the message these three books attributed to him convey. “There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Something, or someone took John from being a son of thunder to being a man who finally understood that it was all about love, and John figured it out!

1 John 1:1 KJV That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

That which was from the beginning,”

Seems like something so simple that it really needs no discussion, but think about it. John MacArthur states, “This phrase refers to the proclamation of the gospel that centers in Christ’s person, words, and works as contained in apostolic testimony.”  I am not sure why I even put this MacArthur quote up here. He uses theology speak to merely say, that the phrase applies to his time, as recorded by the apostles. That may well be, but for me that limits my thinking, and there is no way that can happen, God cannot be contained by my limited thinking.

So what then could we consider the beginning to be?

I asked this directed question to one of the guys, and he essentially said the same thing I would have. 1. The beginning of Jesus time with the disciples, or 2. His time at the beginning of creation.

Luke 4:13-21 KJV And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. (14) And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. (15) And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. (16) And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. (17) And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, (18) The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, (19) To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (20) And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. (21) And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

This was the beginning of the three years.

Are there other possibilities?

John 1:1 KJV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 John 1:10-12 KJV He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. (11) He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

So here we have a beginning, one that takes us to the first moments in time, one that clearly shows us Jesus as an integral aspect of creation.

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible attempts to define this for us.  “That which was – Here means, He which was the Word himself; afterwards it means, that which they had heard from him. Which was – Namely, with the Father, 1John_1:2, before he was manifested. From the beginning – This phrase is sometimes used in a limited sense; but here it properly means from eternity, being equivalent with, “in the beginning,” John_1:1.”

So we have another voice that takes the beginning, that John refers to, all the way back to creation. This makes so much more sense to me as it is easy to comprehend the understanding that John, and every other disciple came to develop, and that was that He was God.

Consider how, so many years after Jesus has been gone, John writes with such majesty and clarity how that Jesus was God.

John 1:1-14 KJV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) The same was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (4) In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (5) And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (6) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. (7) The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. (8) He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. (9) That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (10) He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. (11) He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (14) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The next aspect of 1 John 1:1 centers on foundational aspects of our faith.

These are the things that give us strength when the world goes dark and lonely. These foundational aspects are the things on which we anchor our hope of a future with Him.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

What is it that we struggle with, belief? We are challenged daily as to how we can believe something that, as the world claims, has no evidence, or that the evidence is so weak that we are fools to believe it.

John is determined to display that evidence before us.

We heard him, – Who heard him? The disciples and many others; they not only heard with their ears but with their hearts as well, and in time came to understand.

We have seen with our eyes, – Strong’s concordance opens this simplistic line up for us with: to stare at (compare G3700), that is, (by implication) to discern clearly (physically or mentally); by extension to attend to; by Hebraism to experience;

“We looked upon him,” – A prolonged form of a primary verb; to look closely at, to study.

Our hands touched him (repeatedly) – We talked about this extensively when we covered John chapter 20. While the other gospel writers might have given us so much more in terms of fine details John came right to the point, after all they went through, struggling through the shock and the perceived loss, they came to understand that He had done exactly what he described, and followed the pattern that scripture laid out for us to understand. He was and still is God, He is alive, and His authenticity gives us a solid hope for a future with the Father.

John stated, “We, not only heard the words of life, but we came to realize that He was the Word of life there before us.”

Try to imagine for a moment what it would have been like to walk daily with the King of the Universe. I want so badly to know that feeling, of perfect peace and contentment as I live in an open communion with him.

While the other gospel writers might have given us so much more in terms of fine details John came right to the point; after all they went through, struggling through the shock and the perceived loss, they came to understand that He had done exactly what he described, and followed the pattern that scripture laid out for us to understand.

He was and still is God, He is alive, and His authenticity gives us a solid hope for a future with the Father.

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Saturday morning journal, or “you are not moving my stuff”


Last night I sent another response to my brother-in-law. He had written me several weeks ago and asked me five, rather in-depth questions.

I was trying to respond to his question with the significant changes or impacts I had experienced because of Celebrate Recovery over the last year. I think I gave him several distinct things I can see but I know that there are more. The problem is that what seems so clear one moment is faded weeks later when I try to recall it. I need to carry my journal with me and write this stuff down.

As I opened my copy of “Wild At Heart” by John Eldredge this morning I get this: “That is the way we are with our wound, especially men. We bury it deep and never take it out again. But take it out we must, or better, enter into it.”

It was about this time last year that the Boot Camp experience began for me. God had warned me before hand that he was going to open a large wound in me. Standing in line for lunch I looked back at the table where I had placed my belongings. I had chosen this seat so that I could spend a few moments with the guy that had worked so hard to get me here. That is when I see my stuff getting moved to another spot by none other than one of our pastors that had gone. He is a big man, a football coach, and he used to repossess cars to make money while he was in college. At that moment I could care less who he was, because you are not more important than me, and you are not moving my stuff to convenience yourself. This idea that I am worthy of importance is so foreign to me, and in total opposition to the way I was raised, for mom made sure that I understood that everyone is more important than me.

It is easy to defer to someone and typically falls under mere human decency, but when you have lived with a prisoners mentality all your life, a life in which you rarely saw anyone show you respect, you come to a point at which you will snap, and you may react with an in-human rage. That was me at that moment.

I refuse to recount all the things that went through my mind as I stood in line that day. I had been bullied all my life, and at some point I determined no more. The Spirit of the Lord started speaking  to me immediately and said, “I warned you that I was going to open a wound in you, and you are not going to do any of those things you just thought. Now go and quietly sit down where he moved your stuff. I will take care of him.” I did.

Something I think I need to clarify. As I looked back at my belongings being moved, my friend looked at me and then spoke to the pastor. The pastor in turn looked back at me too, and made one of his sarcastic faces that told me tough nuts pal, you got moved.

Just moments after sitting the pastor begins to say something to me. I think he got three words out when I said, Don’t you say a word to me! He stopped immediately, but continued his conversation with my friend. Soon he was gone. Almost immediately my friend walked around the table to me and said, he did not know it was your stuff. To which I angrily replied, I would not have moved your stuff, and he too walked away.

Bullied all my life I had learned to put up a huge defense system to prevent incidents like this from happening anymore. Much of my defense system entailed keeping unsafe people at a distance. I sometimes wonder how God was able to get past all that. If I had not intentionally begun, years before, to find out what the character of God was really like he may not have. My efforts to understand his demonstrated to me that He was jealous over me, and would have sent his only Son just to die for me that day. God reaffirmed to me that day that he wanted me healed, and when I calmed down, he told me what to say to the pastor. I had to tell this pastor that I loved him and affirm him, to his face, that he was my leader.

I shed a lot of tears that weekend, and still do as God reveals to me more of the areas of wounding. A thought comes to me as I write. I have been watching Saving Private Ryan, a very emotional movie for me. At one point, Wade, the medic, takes a deadly bullet wound through his lung. Clearly in pain and bleeding to death he asks the Captain, “are there any wounds that are bleeding more than the others?”  I have been wounded so many times; perhaps God went after the one that may have been bleeding more than the others.

I sit in various groups and every one of them is filled with men that have been wounded in so many ways. There is only one hope for any of them, and it is in their submitting their lives to Jesus Christ. In Celebrate Recovery we make it very clear from the start that there is only one higher power, and his name is Jesus Christ. We don’t exclude anyone, but you can tell who the followers of Christ are, for as they stand before you, introducing themselves, they will most likely say, Hi, my name is …… I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, and I am celebrating recovery over ……… .

It is so easy to join the family of God and come into restoration. Start by telling God that you are powerless to fix this yourself, and that you would like for Jesus, the Son of God, to come into your life and take it over. He will and the healing with begin.

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I can understand Thomas. Part 5 of 5


This section on Thomas seems like it could stand alone, we often get sermons that do just that, and yet it is deeply intertwined on the basis of belief, doubt, and mercy. Thomas, it seems, is unfairly singled out, for he believed no more or less than the others. No doubt, Thomas was very open with his thoughts, that does not necessarily make you a dissenter. Historically we know that Thomas died a martyr in the service of Christ, proving his loyalty to the master.

In John’s gospel, chapter 11, verses 1-54, despite imminent danger at the hands of hostile Jews, Jesus declared His intention of going to Bethany to heal Lazarus,….

John 11:8 NASB The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?”

Thomas alone opposed the other disciples who sought to dissuade Him, and protested,

John 11:16 NASB Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”

I can understand Thomas; I relate to him easily. He sees things in black and white, this is the kind of reaction you get from someone who has experienced grief and pain. I know, I have been there.

John 20:24 NASB But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

I made an assumption once again. I assumed that Thomas was with them in the house. Every flannel graph I ever saw as I was growing up in church school, showed Thomas there with them. Truth is we do not know where Thomas was; perhaps he was with his own family. He does not come back into the picture for eight days.

John 20:25 NASB So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

Thomas had not gone to the tomb; he did not hear Mary’s testimony of how Jesus appeared to her; he was not there when Jesus appeared in the closed room with them, and showed them the wounds in his wrists and feet.

John left off the part where none of them believed upon seeing the wounds, wounds that the people in that room knew would have been there, and they failed to mention that when Jesus spoke to them about all the things written about Him in scripture, things He had previously told them about Himself, still did not convince them. It was only after he asked for and ate some broiled fish that their eyes were open and they believed.

There is that word again, believe.

How many times now, in this twentieth chapter have we seen this concept?

What did they believe this time?

John 20:26 NASB After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”

Eight days after the first appearance of Jesus He appears again.

Again there is a significance and I missed it. Truthfully I am not getting it fully but here is what I am picking up on. While the death of Jesus put them into a depression, and sent everyone back to whatever they had known so that they could continue living. The disciples still had one common bond, and that was to meet together on the first day, Sunday. In that house, a place they have been so many times, they ate together, talked about what they saw and heard Jesus say that day; they talked about what was to become our life in Christ, and they bonded with each other. Do we see that directly by our casual glances at God’s word? NO! We have to pay attention to details.

Apparently life was permitted to get in the way at times and that may be what we saw with Thomas. Jesus death was certainly a life event and none of us knows how deeply it affected Thomas.

(If you read this, thinking it’s farcical conjecture, then I ask you to think about almost every event that centers on Jesus as you read the gospels. Where were they when these things took place? Jerusalem, near or in the temple or synagogues, or in the court-yard that women and gentiles had access to. The Sabbath is over and they are allowed to travel beyond the distance limit that Jewish law prescribed. And the fact that Sabbath ended at sunset making it the perfect time to recap a days events. This kind of thought opens all kinds of doors for speculation about how they lived their lives. They may have fished throughout the week and made the migration into Jerusalem before Sabbath began, making base camp at “the house”. Can you imagine what it would be like to spend even 24 hours in the presence of Jesus one day a week. I want so badly to say my life would be changed, but then the thought occurs to me, He lives in me!)

John MacArthur’s commentary says this about Thomas, and I agree with his conclusion. “Thomas has already been portrayed as loyal, but pessimistic. Jesus did not rebuke Thomas for his failure, but instead compassionately offered him proof of His resurrection. Jesus lovingly met him at the point of his weakness (2Timothy_2:13). Thomas’ actions indicated that Jesus had to convince the disciples rather forcefully of His resurrection, i.e., they were not gullible people predisposed to believing in resurrection. The point is they would not have fabricated it or hallucinated it, since they were so reluctant to believe, even with the evidence they could see.”

I am always battling past the voices in my head that try to tell me, “You have said enough already. No one needs to hear your rambling on anymore!” I could not tell you distinctly what a demon voice sounds like. (Well, there was that once when I was a child and I heard this distorted voice come out of a beautiful woman that the “men” of the church were praying over in an attempt to release her from demon possession. She sounded like some of those creepy voices they make up in the movies; you know the ones that make you lose sleep for weeks, as she said with a cackle, I know who you are.) Most of the time they are familiar voices; the same ones that sound like an old supervisor, your dad, your mom, an ex-wife; probably the same ones that told you cannot do it, make it, or succeed.) See, you are not so different from me. And we, are not so different from the disciples.

The next two passages really need no great discussion, for we have seen this, almost word for word when Jesus appeared in the closed room eight days earlier.

John 20:27-28 NASB Then He *said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (28) Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

I will give Thomas this. At this gesture he believed. The rest of them had to sit through a foundational study given Jesus himself, and still could not believe. It was not until Jesus proved he was not a ghost by eating some fish, that they believed. Thomas bypassed two steps in his ascent to faith.

Perhaps we make the assumption that Thomas’ statement was literal, and that he shoved his hands into the hole in Jesus side. Just the thought of that is disgusting. You ought to understand by now that Thomas was “Mr. Brash Statement” guy himself. Jesus, disgusted by the disciples lack of understanding, told the guys they were going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Thomas responds to all this with, “let’s go to Jerusalem and die with him.” Everyone understood what he meant, and the possibilities were real. If that was to be their fate that day, it would have happened. But do you think Jesus was going to allow anything outside of the Father’s will to happen?

John 20:29 NASB Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

I do not know if it is the emphasis that a preacher puts on this passage, but I cannot remember a time that it ever came across as a positive for Thomas.

Think about what John has shown us by word pictures. Jesus showed up in a closed room. Gives a common greeting of peace, and begins multiple attempts at proofs necessary for bringing them back to a foundation of belief. With Thomas, Jesus does the same thing, but does not have to go through every step, and Thomas believes. The other disciples, and those with them, DID NOT BELIEVE, and took so much more convincing.

(It may have been necessary, because the believer that has poured over scripture has seen that this foundation is rehashed many times in scripture, and is foundational to our belief as well. This may have been purposefully done this way as a way of establishing these concepts in them. I am glad they did.)

So, who believe without seeing could be directed at us. We only have the words on a page, and images those words build within us. Not seeing this Jesus, but trusting His words, I believe.

Perhaps it all boils down to this:

John 20:31 MSG These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it.

If there was a person that could sell this to us, it would be John.

He had to work through all the unbelief and doubt,

He had to conquer his anger and rage,

He had to learn what love really was.

When you think about all the years of mellowing that God put him through, initiating him into manhood, it is easier to see more clearly what happened this day, as John did.

 

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It is so easy to do, create a formula for success. Part 4 of ?


Having once again blessed them with a declaration of peace and telling them, “I also send you” he gives them the greatest gift of all, the Holy Spirit.

John 20:22 NASB And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

The best thing I can do to explain or define what the power of the Holy Spirit can do in a person is to show you how it exuded from Peter. You are going to have to read it, for it is effectively the entire second chapter of Acts. The result of Peter’s oration, in direct response to the leading of the Holy Spirit, was that about three thousand souls got saved that day.

He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

It so easy to do, create a formula for success. The chief priests and scribes had done just that, and added reams of laws that not even they could keep. Perhaps Jesus in his own way had tried to show that creativity is not inappropriate, for he made mud from spit and had the man wash in the pool of Siloam, knowing full well that he was breaking Jewish law by doing it. He went against the grain of society and cleanliness laws just by speaking with the woman with the issue of blood; this was wrong on so many levels. And he spit in another mans eyes to bring about a healing. Good lord, he even ate with sinners.

He breathed on them this evening and said, .. Receive the Holy Spirit.

Is there any doubt what happened to them?

But do we see the dramatic results that we see in the second chapter of Acts? No. Don’t get discouraged. Jesus never said a prayer that did not get answered. He was God of course, but dependent upon the instructions of the Father by choice.

What happens next is mind-boggling, and would be completely unrelated if he had not said, “..as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

John 20:23 NASB “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”

“If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them;”

Had they heard something comparable to this before?

Matthew recorded this: Matthew 16:19 NASB “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

We see another example in: Matthew 18:18 NASB “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

Ask yourself, why did Jesus go to the cross?

This of course has a multifaceted answer, but one of the answers that stands out was to, like the scapegoat, take all the sins, once, for all time, of the world.

Jesus Christ took them already, that makes John MacArthur’s assertion much more valid.

This does not give authority to Christians to forgive sins. Jesus was saying that the believer can boldly declare the certainty of a sinner’s forgiveness by the Father because of the work of His Son …”

There is more to this quote but I cannot agree with it.

But that is only half the sentence. It continues with: ..if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”

The book of Acts makes a statement that brings clarity to this.

Acts 13:38-39 NASB “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, (39) and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

Forgiven and freed because Jesus put himself on the cross. As a stand alone statement this idea of retaining someone’s sin is muddy water indeed.

Jesus gave them the privilege of telling new believers that their sins have been forgiven because they have accepted Jesus’ message” (Life Application Study Bible)

Robertson’s Word Pictures states, The power to forgive sin belongs only to God, but Jesus claimed to have this power and right (Mar_2:5-7).

Mark 2:5-7 NASB And Jesus seeing their faith *said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (6) But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, (7) “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?

We can take one of two approaches to this.

  1. Only God has the power to forgive and He did this already. That being said and/or established then we have to decide what Jesus was trying to say. We may need to also ask, what was John trying to tell us as he conveyed what he saw and heard that evening for it implies that we have authority to proclaim forgiveness over people. (Really, that seems ridiculous considering the bloody sacrifice Christ made of Himself to gain our freedom.)

  2. If we are going to believe that God gave the power of forgiveness to us, then what is our responsibility and reasonable method of approaching this?

Obviously Jesus took all sin on the cross.

I know of no better way of making this next idea clear other than to tell what I can remember of an old ranchers philosophy. Cattle tend not to be very smart and run themselves into fences many times over to get feed and water. Instead of consistently damaging the cattle you put them in an environment that has a fresh water supply and they will stay within close proximity.

So if I equate us to cattle and Jesus the water (He is!), then, in theory, we would not wander far from the water supply, and in reality no one would have to worry about us. But that never happens, and we get bombarded with sermons on sin. It is something that we have to deal with constantly.

Perhaps the problem lies in how we approach the inconsistencies of life (things we call sin). If Jesus took away the penalty for sin His actions apply primarily to those who accept the fact that He did this. Those who choose to stay outside of belief will not be judged for the sin, that is gone (the penalty/bondage was taken by Jesus voluntary actions), but they will be judged for not accepting the one who took the sin upon himself.

I cannot refute God’s word, and it says we are all sinners still.

… the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (8) If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:7-10 NASB

Our sins may not be so overt, like murder, or manufacturing drugs, but may be what we think of  as little indiscretions.

I will tell one that recently challenged me. I attend several groups. One of them was a book study. In there we would read, stop after a period and attempt to discuss what we read. Often, after a painful silence (I refrain from speaking at times because I feel like I talk all the time,) I will bring up something that touches me deeply. After I expressed myself, keeping this personal to me, I was attacked verbally by one of the guys. I am not just being overly sensitive about this as a friend of mine picked up on the attack and verbally went after this guy. (I sometimes have to choose to not retaliate, because I can easily swing over into a rage, and I am not really that skillful at impromptu apologetics.) I left that group over the negativity and the personal need to return to John Eldredge’s Wild At Heart.I deemed that man unsafe and judged him unfairly. As I sat in a recent recovery meeting, where this young man gave his testimony, God spoke to me and said, “you judged him unfairly.” and he reminded me of what I had said in my heart. If I am going to be honest, this is sin.

What is sin? Missing the mark! As a former archery competitor I can tell you that from 80 yards out the “mark” seems to be about an inch wide. The overall size of the entire target is about 3 foot wide. My goal is to hit the three-inch spot in the middle. It is very easy to miss the center, but you have to go out of your way to miss the 3 foot wide target. If I hit the target while trying to hit the center, at least I am trying.

My judgment of this young man, meant that I was not even trying. When God spoke to me about what I had done I knew immediately that I had to take care of this. Moments later I went to my small group meeting and when it was my turn to speak I told them about what God had said to me. A week later I was able to get access to this young man and addressed my bad attitude toward him. He thanked me for that. I believe that this is what we are supposed to do.

Eventually Peter would write: 1 Peter 2:24 NASB and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

Jesus knew that Peter described had happened, but did they?

If they could have recalled what Isaiah had prophesied perhaps then his statement, “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” would make more sense. (By reading, not only John’s gospel but Luke’s as well, I was able to understand that He had walked them through the scriptures that spoke of Him.)

Isaiah 53:4-6 NASB Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. (5) But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. (6) All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

I opened with “It is so easy to do, create a formula for success”. Is there a formula that we could use here? Maybe. If I start with a relationship with Christ as a basis, then start making efforts to hit the target, preferably the bulls-eye. If you miss, then pay attention to the voice of the Lord and He will tell you how to correct it. You don’t have to focus on SIN; focus on the giver of life, focus on hearing His voice, focus on Jesus Christ – the one that took your sins, and gave you his life.

If you are mess then it is time for you to get honest and get yourself into Recovery. Look, this is not about alcoholism, it is about your inability to fix yourself, something that you have tried for years, with no success. At what point do you admit that you are powerless and need accountability partners and people who are willing to walk through recovery with you.


 

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They still could not believe. – Part 2


One of things you have to do is take the superhero cape off these guys. The were just like you and me, and, they struggled to believe.

John 20:20 GW When he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were glad to see the Lord.

Again I ask, what were they willing to believe?

Luke 24:40-45 NASB And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. (41) While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” (42) They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; (43) and He took it and ate it before them. (44) Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (45) Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,

Given all that happened in that room, and so quickly; the holes still there in his wrists and feet where they drove the spikes, and still no one is buying into this being Him.

While they still could not believe it..”

Luke 24:41-43 NASB While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” (42) They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; (43) and He took it and ate it before them.

Remember, John said he believed at the tomb. I think he was putting pieces of the puzzle together.

We all looked to see what he showed us, there is no sense denying that curiosity, but the thing that changed everything was when he began to recount all the words he had pointed out in scripture about himself, just like a did to the guys on the road to Emmaus.

Nope, that did not do it. Alright, how do I prove I am not a ghost? So he said to them:

“Have you anything here to eat?” (42) They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; (43) and He took it and ate it before them.

As one of the guys noted at bible study, “these guys believed in ghosts!”

Matthew 14:26 NASB When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.

I can just imagine Jesus thinking, I have to get them past this, and so he began to speak.

These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (45) Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,

The game was back on. Jesus brought them back to reality and changed the game plan.

John 20:21 NASB So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

Shalom Aleichem, as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

He had sent us out before, but we knew we would be back and he would be here. We all had the most amazing things happen; healings, demons leaving, and none of us needed a thing for people took care of us, just as Jesus had said they would.

Albert Barnes commentary says, “As God sent me to preach, to be persecuted, and to suffer; to make known his will, and to offer pardon to men, so I send you.” I recently got a recruiter calling me to see if I was interested in an appliance repair position. They always give you a 15 second overview of the position, but that never answers all the questions you might have. When Jesus recruited these guys he told them that he would make them fishers of men. If you are a fisherman then you know that catching is in involved, but what are you trying to say now? Three years later he has just come back from the dead, and is now telling us in detail that his life and death is now our path to follow.

Would you have signed up if you knew the cost?

One of the things I see as I have migrated through scripture is that we need empowerment, and that only comes through the Holy Spirit. I think time and religion have clouded every aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work on earth, but this day was the beginning for them. They were looking through new eyes.

Having once again blessed them with a declaration of peace and telling them, “I also send you” then he gives them the greatest gift of all, the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is a gift.

Should I offer a gift and you:

  1. Take it, but never open it. Then it never does you any good.
  2.  You  can refuse to accept the gift. Once again you have lost out.
  3. Your third and best option is to receive all that God has for you.

Accepting the free gift of the Holy Spirit is your choice, but it is a wise one. Think of it as a tool, one in which you get to communicate with the Father and no one can monitor your communication.

  • In Mark 1:8, Mark is relating how John the Baptist indicated that Jesus would baptize in the Holy Spirit.
  • Luke gospel (1:15) is referring to John the Baptist being filled with the Holy Spirit from his birth.
  • Luke 2:25 conveys: ” there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”
  • Acts 1:8 NASB  but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
  • Acts 2:1-6 NASB  When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  (2)  And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  (3)  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.  (4)  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.  (5)  Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.  (6)  And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.
  • Acts 8:14-17 NASB  Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John,  (15)  who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  (16)  For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  (17)  Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.
  • Acts 19:2-6 NASB  He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”  (3)  And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.”  (4)  Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”  (5)  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  (6)  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.
  • John 7:37-39 NASB  Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  (38)  “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”  (39)  But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Dive in, it is there for you. Allow the rivers to flow through you.

Be blessed, in the Name of the King, Jesus the Christ.

 

 

 

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