The First Death Is Just The Beginning!

“Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Unless Jesus returns before we take our final breath, we will die (or fall asleep) and our end will only be for the earthly measurement of time. The heavenly measurement of time begins when He returns and all the dead in Him (those who died believing Him to be their Savior) shall rise at the sound at the trumpet and they shall be judged first.

It is not the first death that we need to concern ourselves while we live. It is the second death–the assignment of eternal resting place–in heaven reigning with Jesus or in the lake of fire, being tormenting continually for eternity.

While I know there are those who do not believe in heaven or hell, according to God’s Truth they do exist and in the end, we’ll all discover their existence. But while we wait for the end to come, we must know that our final resting place for eternity is determined by what we do while we have breath to live. Notice what John says, about who ends up in the lake of fire.

“The cowardly–those who are always fearful because they do not know that love casts out fear. The fearful do not know love for it they did, they would not fear. The unbelieving–those who refuse to accept God’s existence so they can do whatever their flesh dictates. The vile–those who do every imaginable evil thing they can without concern about how their actions impact others. The murderers–those who have no respect for life and consistently are responsible for the deaths of others. The sexually immoral–those who use sex as a tool for pleasure with anybody and everybody without discrimination or adherence to God’s plan for sex. Those who practice magic--misusing gifts of discernment and abilities given by God for monetary gain or fame. The idolators--those who worship things made by the hands of man or people–holding the things and people in higher esteem than God. The liars–those who twist and malign truth (especially God’s Truth) for their own personal agendas in order to influence others into doing what is pleasing in their own sight–totally ignoring God’s plan for man.” All these–when they have chosen to do these things–will end up in the lake of fire, unless they choose to live as God desires before the first death.

No person–can send another to hell and God won’t either. The eternal resting place in which we end up is determined by what we do when we are alive, having the ability to choose and choose wrongly. Every person–believer and unbeliever–chooses their final destination and they have no one to blame but themselves.

No matter how our end comes the first time–illness, accident, war, acts of violence or old age, our greatest concern should be the second death.

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Is America The Modern Day Pergamum?

 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. ” (Revelation 2:12-15 NIV)

Though this message was for the early church in the Middle East, governed by Rome, it still  serves as a reminder to us today. When reading this, I began to wonder if America has become “Satan’s Seat” of  all that is wrong with society today.

The message to the church acknowledges that there are some who remain true to their faith and will not renounce the belief and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, even in the face of persecution and those will be rewarded. However, He goes onto to say what He will hold against those tho entice people to sin and to hold onto cultic teachings that worship idols and false gods. This is in reference to the Nicolaitans (those who brought in idolatry and encouragement to live in opposition to God’s Word). Doesn’t that sound just like what is occurring in the Christian Community today?

Whenever I hear someone attempt to justify a lifestyle that is opposition to God’s Word, I know they cannot know God and yet they quote scripture–out of context–that we who know to do right are not their judge. “God said don’t judge.” They quote it and have no idea what it means. Jesus said in Matthew 7:1,2 “Do not judge or you too will be judged, for in the same way you judge others (without The Word), you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” The judgment that He references is based upon man’s intellect, not God’s Word and it is a warning that when we exclude God’s Word as a guide for living, we set ourselves up to be judged by the same standards (man’s intellect). They who live according to their flesh have already been judged and condemned by The Word–not us. If they knew God and had read His Word, they would know how ridiculous their attempt to quote Him is to justify their behavior.

And then their claim to sexual orientation is not a choice is further evidence of a lack of understanding about “words.” An orientation is a process designed to encourage a practice. A preference is a process of selectively choosing what one wants or does. Both–orientation and preference–are choices, not civil rights or birth designs. This is how Satan deceives and unfortunately, there are many who buy into the deception.

But we can take heart in the knowledge that not all Believers are seduced by a lying devil and we will hold fast to God’s Word, no matter what and we will not entice others to participate in ritualistic sin. What we must remember–the messages in the Bible are for Believers–not the unbelieving, for they would not believe it any way. Judgment begins at the household of faith–for all who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. For those who are not followers in the truest sense of the word, their only hope is repentance and restoration to living a life that is pleasing to God.

We can no longer teach a sugar-coated message of Salvation in an attempt to not offend. Yes, Jesus died for all, but all must come to acknowledge that He is God and nothing in His message when He walked the earth, changed God’s Word or intent for mankind. The only hope the worldly have is for those of us who know Truth, to teach God’s Truth, not our own. We must say what God says in the context in which He said it.

Don’t Be Moved!

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (I Corinthians 15:58 NIV)

As we prepare to say goodbye to 2014 and face the challenges of 2015--don’t be moved–tempted to join the masses in thinking there is no hope.

No matter who sits in the White House, they are not God–they do not hold our future in their hands and there is nothing they can do to change God’s plans. They may be used as part of God’s plans, but they cannot change God’s plans.

Neither will it matter who holds the majority votes in either the House or the Senate–God is still God–even if some politicians think they are, they’re not.

No matter how negative the media reports every event–they will have to stand before God one day, too and give account for how they reported news and so will their producers–whose biases are represented in the news reports.

No matter how many people are killed by the negligence of gun owners, police, or criminals–God still has the last word–and soon, very soon, all will know that the NRA is not God nor do they represent Godly behavior.

No matter how many people appear to suffer at the hands of dictators and godless leaders–God will wipe the slate clean and all who honor and respect Him, will be vindicated.

No matter who attempts to change the intent of God’s Word to appease the masses for fleshly pleasure–they, too will stand before God and give account of themselves, but before that–they will see firsthand how the wrath of God deals with those who profess to know Him, but live in opposition to His Word.

No matter how many people say we, who Believe are foolish and unlearned–don’t be moved–the same was said of those God used to inspire to write down what He said. Remember this–the fool has said in his heart there is no God and then allowed his lips to utter the same expression. Don’t be moved by their unbelief, God will move them.

No matter what 2015 brings into our lives–stand firm, unmovable, in the faith that we are victorious in all things and no matter what the enemy attempts to do to deter us–we shall not be moved because with God going before us–He is more than the world against us! Hallelujah!

Beliefs, Confession, Guidance!

In this coming new year, we all need to get an understanding of what it is we believe and then our beliefs (what we confess with our mouths) should guide everything we do.

If we say we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (God in the flesh) and we should live according to The Word, then we should not promote any beliefs or conformity to anything that does not align with The Word.

We should not hate or humiliate others simply because they do not believe what we do or because they are different. What a boring world this would be if we all looked alike, thought alike, and talked alike, and did everything the exact same way. If God had wanted clones, He could have accomplished that. He created us uniquely individual, capable of doing all sorts of great things to His glory, according to His Word. He has given all gifts–that differ–so we might all enjoy the collective benefits of all the gifts He has given.

The gifts I reference are not just the spiritual gifts needed by apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists, and teachers or those listed in I Corinthians 12–tongues, interpretation, miracles, healing, discernment, wisdom, knowledge, faith, or prophecy–these are needed to build the Kingdom of God so that all needs are met. I’m referring to the “natural gifts” that He gives so all may benefit–the gift of writing, creating music, singing, painting, sculpturing, nurturing, counseling, parenting, comforting, encouraging, helping, and a host of other gifts–that many can enjoy whether they are saved or not.

However, being saved–puts us in a unique position to promote the Gospel with the gifts He has given. The Believer should always utilize the gifts given to promote the Love of God and in obeying His Word. The unbelieving are also gifted and most of them use their gifts to entertain the masses according to their gift and in many cases, entice people to live in opposition to God’s Word.

It is not that Believers are superior to unbelievers; it is simply a matter of Believers knowing our Risen Savior and living to please Him, rather than appeasing fleshly dictates.

When the end comes, we are all going the same path–through death (if The Lord delays His return), so none are better than the other, but some are more astute than others because of the relationship established with Jesus!

Tell The World!

“Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.”(Psalm 96:10)

In order to convince all the “heathen” (those who do not acknowledge the God of the bible) we must keep telling them–The Lord Reigns–the world He established shall not be moved and He will judge “all” (believers and unbelievers) alike, when that time comes.

No matter how difficult remaining steadfast becomes, we who know and have a relationship with God, must be determined to keep telling the Gospel, sharing God’s love, and encouraging others to enter into the joy of the Lord and live according to His purposes. Nothing should get in our way–not their unbelief or disdain, their belittling or attempts to undermine what we do–as believers–we must keep telling God’s Truth, not our own, so His judgment will be just!

As difficult as it might be, we must keep our focus on Jesus and not what the world does in its attempts to glorify worldliness instead of Godliness. We must sing songs of praise to Him in the streets, in our homes, anywhere others can hear and especially when we are alone–to encourage ourselves in the Lord, and not be discouraged by the waywardness of the world around us. We can change the atmosphere around us–spiritually and naturally–by keeping our focus on doing what God has called us to do and not allowing the enemy an opportunity to deter us with foolishness. We do not have to argue with anyone about God, just tell them, smile and move on to the next person if they choose not to receive the Good News.

Make a decision today–go into the neighborhoods, the malls, the market places, the eating places, wherever you  are or can go and share the Good News and loving people as you go!

 

Love, Obey, See Him!

“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:22,23 NIV).

The manifestation of God’s love towards us–coming down in the likeness of flesh in the person of Jesus Christ to save us from ourselves as demonstrated by the work on the cross.

The manifestation of our love towards God–keeping His commandments–loving Him and others as demonstrated by our actions towards Him and others.

The manifestation of unbelief–denial of God’s existence, the work on the cross and God’s love for others as demonstrated by those who denigrate and undermine those who believe.

At the end of this journey called life–we must all–believer and unbelieving–give an account for what we have done. God is not accountable to us–we are accountable to Him. As a believer and child of the most High, the only words I plan to hear from my Father are, “Well done, my child!”

What will you hear?

When we love God, we see His love manifested in what we do for others and in our obedience to Him.

Lord Jesus, help our unbelief so we may see You and the manifestations of Your goodness in our lives!

Misjudged!

I’ve read a number of blog posts that address the birth of Jesus–more specifically–Mary and I have been thinking about how she managed to hold up her head when everyone around her was judging her–or rather–misjudging her.

Superficiality–judging a matter based on surface appearances or externals has been the cause of missteps throughout our history. People have been misjudged because of the tribe from which they came, because of the color of their skin, because of their family connections or affiliations, because of their intelligence quotas or the special needs, because of their faith or lack thereof, because of their gender or nationality–all this misjudgment–declaring something is so without having sufficient evidence.

During the time that Mary was pregnant with her precious Son, she was supposed to have been stoned to death, according to the law. We know that people did not think that Joseph was the father or they both could have been stoned to death--with the presumption that he was the father. For centuries now, whenever a woman gets pregnant without the benefit of marriage–she bears a stigma for life and in many cases so does the child. That stigma–judging a matter without all the facts–stems from a lack of compassion or self-righteousness or even worse–a superiority complex. There are some people who can never feel comfortable in their own skin unless they are attempting to make others inferior to them.

Fortunately, Mary rose above the rumors and held up her head with pride, knowing she had no reason to be ashamed. Most who have a relationship with God, understand the inference in scriptures and know how Joseph felt–but what a champion he became to his betrothed. No matter what some may say, I believe that love–Mary’s love of God and His love for her, along with Joseph’s love–gave her the strength to prevail against the naysayers and the hatemongers. She understood her purpose. She did not attempt to explain to those who would not have understood anyway–how she had been chosen by God to bring forth the Savior of mankind. They would not have believed her anyway–not then. But now–when we have historical records to review–there are some who are still unbelieving and would rather judge those who do believe–misjudging!

For as long as people have a right to believe whatever it is they believe–others will be misjudged when they do not agree. I pray that believers everywhere will develop the stamina and strength to stand up for their beliefs, regardless of how they will be misjudged by those who do not believe. We have a Risen Savior, born into circumstances beyond His control whose mother was misjudged and so was He. They had a purpose to fulfill and they did so, in spite of the naysayers.

Today, each one of us has a purpose to fulfill and many may not understand why we do what we do and we will be misjudged. Proceed with the knowledge that God loves you, and He will never leave you alone. People will talk and misjudge you, but don’t allow their thoughts about you to deter you from God’s plan for you. Hold your head high–not from self-righteousness or sense of superiority, but in the knowledge that you are doing what God would have you to do.

During this season–remember Mary and what she endured to bring us our Savior. Now endure what you must in order to please God and your reward will be great from Him–even if others don’t understand and misjudge you.

Father, in the name of Jesus, we ask that You grant us with more wisdom from on high–to do all that You would have us to do. Thank You for loving us, in spite of our shortcomings and Your willingness to experience misjudgment for our sakes. Thank You for giving us chance after chance to get our relationship right with You. Thank You for the gifts–both natural and spiritual–being developed in all right now so we can fulfill the purposes You have established for us. Help us stand in the face of adversity, knowing You are always right by our sides and we hold our heads up high. Amen!

We Can Ask Anything?

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (I John 5:14 NIV).

I just came to a conclusion about expounding upon scriptures, verse by verse. If I wrote about any “one” scripture a day, I would probably not live long enough to address all of them. Therefore, I try to explicate those that encourage confidence in our belief and promotion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, remind of instructions given and rewards for obedience, and warn of the consequences of disobedience.

Verse twelve and thirteen of this same passage provide us with a foundation for our beliefs. John says that “whoever has the Son of God has life (hope for eternal life) and whoever does not have Him, does not” and then he explains why he’s writing to the churches.

If we believe that we have Jesus in our lives, and we have given Him authority over our lives, we have access to heaven and our mansions. If we don’t believe, we won’t have. But with the belief comes the confidence that we can go to God, on our own, and ask Him anything, and we know He hears us. If He hears us, will He not respond to us?

There are many who do not believe in God, and certainly don’t have conversations with Him, but for those of us, who do–we know-we can talk to Him any time, expect Him to hear us and respond to our requests. When we ask of Him anything that aligns with His Word (His Word is His will), we can expect to receive it. John knew there were those who scorned believers and tried to make them feel foolish because of their beliefs and he wrote to them to remind them--they knew Truth and they could count on Truth to do all He said He would do.

So, go ahead, ask God–anything–in Jesus’ name–and see for yourself that He will respond. For believers, you know what I mean.
For scorners who don’t believe–don’t believe! Asking God for anything foolish or evil will not happen, but then if you don’t believe, why ask Him anything?

Father, in the name of Jesus, I ask You to strengthen the faith of believers everywhere so they will develop confidence in You and know that whatever we ask of You in Your Son’s name, will be given. Amen!

Everyday People!

“I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations” (Romans 6:19a NIV).

I cannot begin to explain how many times I have heard some people say, “the bible has no relevance for us today.  That was then, this is now.” If they really understood, having a heart open to God, they would know that just as “everyday” was for that time, “everyday” is still the same for us today.

When Paul was writing to the Church in Rome, he was very concerned about how the people in the church were selectively choosing which rules to live by.  Some wanted to hold people to the letter of law, while he was trying to explain the difference between the spirit of the law and the wonders of grace–to everyday people.

In this passage of scripture (please read the entire chapter), he is specifically talking about people who commit sin, what grace has done, and why we should not continue to sin.  God’s grace, His unmerited, we can’t earn favor, does not mean we continue to commit sin or encourage others to do so.  Paul reminds the everyday people that once in our lives before knowing and understanding the work of the cross, we did commit sin, but now that we know better, we should not participate.  And he used, examples from everyday life (as it was did and is applicable now), to illustrate what he said.  The strong language–“once slaves to sin” still applies to many today.  Many everyday people are slaves to–drugs, porn, fornication, adultery, alcohol, stealing, lying, manipulating, favoritism, complacency (“I’d rather you were hot or cold instead of lukewarm”), etc., hence the use of everyday examples (relevant now), about everyday people.

I think it was Sly and The Family Stones who wrote the song, Everyday People, (if I have the wrong artist, feel free to correct me).  God does not expect us to live like people in ancient times, but He does expect us to adhere to righteousness, using everyday life examples.  He gave us His Word as a guideline because of our human limitations (unwillingness to hear The Spirit of the Lord) so we would be without excuse.

O God, help us–everyday people, to live  every day in righteousness, to your glory.

Delight!

“Take delight in the Lord (learn how to please Him) and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4)

When we take pleasure in finding ways to please God, it gives Him great pleasure to give us the desires of our heart–even the hidden things we not vocalized.

When I look at the sky, the clouds, the birds and squirrels playing, the mountains that I love so much, and the water–no matter where you find it and peace–I am always amazed at God’s creations.  When I hear about selfless acts that people do for others, I am equally grateful for our ability to have compassion for others.  I delight in what I see God has already done for us collectively, and I am always humbled by His favor–every where I go.

I am delighted with His love for me and the life He has allowed me to have.  I try at all times to do those things that I know will please Him, but I’m not perfect and I’m sure I don’t always make it, but I never stop trying.

Yesterday was a particularly delightful day for me when I was “under attack by unbelievers” online.  What I realized is that the more I am doing right for God, the greater the attack by those the enemy has influenced.  I did not get angry or belligerent, but thanked them for paying attention to me.  I knew that God had to be pleased with the fact that I openly acknowledge Him at all times and the enemy was afraid of how my words might influence others to come to themselves and acknowledge God’s existence.  I am also grateful that over 90% of my followers on Twitter are Believers!  Hallelujah!

If you have not received your heart’s desires “yet”, think about what you’re doing.  Are you spending your time pleasing God or pacifying “man”?  Delight in all He has done, is doing and will do in your life and watch those desires–the ones you have not even voiced–come to pass!