Archive for the ‘Faces of Death’ Category

But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

“Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder.  Now others are building on it.  But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have–Jesus Christ.  Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials–gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw.  But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done.  The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.  If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.  But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss.  The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.”  (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)

“Then Jesus left Capernaum and went down to the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan River.  Once again crowds gathered around him, and as usual he was teaching them.  Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question, ‘Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?’  Jesus answered them with a question: ‘What did Moses say in the law about divorce?’  ‘Well, he permitted it,’ they replied.  ‘He said a man can give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away.’  But Jesus responded,He wrote this commandment only as a concession to your hard hearts.  But ‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation.  This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.’  Later, when he was alone with his disciples in the house, they brought up the subject again.  He told them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her.  And if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:1-12)

What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.  What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.”  (Isaiah 5:20-21)

“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.  For people will love only themselves and their money.  They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.  They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control.  They will be cruel and hate what is good.  They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.  They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.  Stay away from people like that!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

“One day Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting!” (Luke 17:1)

Last week was a historical week in both the world and for God, as the one nation on Earth that the whole world recognizes as a Christian nation made homosexual marriage legal in all 50 states via a Supreme Court ruling that required literally a majority of 5 votes.  5 people is all it took to pass this “law” and trump the 14 states left in America who were holding on to God’s definition of marriage, which was, is and will always be, the uniting of one man and one woman in a sacred union before God that makes the two of them one.  Therefore, the sexual union of any other variety of participants does not meet the requirements needed to fulfill the definition of sacred marriage before God.

One oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms bonded together makes water; no other combination of elements makes water.  Combining other elements together may make a variety of liquids, but calling any of those liquids “water” does not make it so.  For the Christian, one man and one woman bonded together in a sacred union before God makes marriage.  Calling any other union “marriage” does not make it so; it insults God, our Father, and the Author of marriage.

The spiritual implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling on homosexual “marriage” are enormous, as marriage, to God, is an earthly shadow representation of the Lord’s Heavenly, Holy and perfect order in the spiritual realm.  God created and defined marriage.  The Lord will not be mocked on this matter.  Any Christian who celebrates the “equality in marriage” law that was passed last week in America is deceived.  

The deception threatens the relationship with God of all Christians, not just gay Christians.  A straight Christian does not struggle with homosexual issues, but because of blurred lines on the definition of marriage now, as time passes, more and more straight Christians will find themselves on the slippery slope of not identifying homosexual unions as sin; they are in danger of encouraging and celebrating these unions, which defy the Holy and eternal ways of our Lord.  And if they encourage and celebrate it, they are tempting gay Christians.

I am not addressing the world, but the Church, the followers of Jesus Christ.

The world has always twisted the holy ways and laws of God, for it is completely enslaved to Satan who works incessantly to pervert and flip upside down anything that is sacred.  The world has its ways of doing things like “worship”, “love” and “marriage”, but they are not God’s ways and never have been.  That is nothing new.  The world has a secular version of every sacred thing of God.

No, the world is not the problem.

The Church is the problem.  The watered-down, lukewarm, deceived Church who loves to mingle with and flirt with and prostitute herself to the world; the fickle Church with wandering and batting eyes, who says with her mouth that she loves the Lord while she caresses the world.

If we want to know how this behavior makes God feel, we need only read the Book of Isaiah.

To gay Christians, no, your orientation is not a choice.  You had no say in that matter and your struggles are real, not imagined.  Your desire to experience love, to give it and to receive it, is real.  Your desire to express your love sexually with someone is real.  You do not fit the promiscuous stereotype of wild, perverted sexual immorality.  You just want and need to be loved, to have someone you call your own, to have someone to do life exclusively with. And to do these things with someone of the opposite sex is as foreign to you as doing these things with a person of the same-sex would be to a heterosexual person.  The idea is strange and repulsive.

And yet, when you pursue worldly love like this, you end up hiding from God.  Your conscience weighs on you.  You know you have chosen an idol (worldly love) over God and every day that you wake up and choose that idol, you reject God’s ways and His plan for your life.  Your relationship with God suffers.  You do things to try to nurture your relationship with God; go to church, volunteer, study your Bible, but the void and the shame remain.  God did not create you gay, so you cannot reconcile your desires and behavior with His holiness, and this creates a seeming impossibility for you.

If you are experiencing this, understand that the worldly love you want and need so badly is dominating your thoughts; your flesh is tormenting you and bullying you.  2 Corinthians 10:5 states that, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  We do this through the renewing of our minds through God’s Holy Living Word.

You did not choose your sexual orientation, you were born into it, just like everyone on earth is born into sin.  But if you actively pursue the desires of your flesh in this matter, your conscience will convict you.  If you override your conscience for the sake of having a romantic relationship, you may actually succeed in hardening your heart about it so that your conscience does not bother you anymore.  That IS your choice.

But know that everything will be subjected to the refining fires of God’s judgment and anything done apart from Him will be burned up.  We are born naked into this world and we leave this world just as naked when we die.  You cannot take your worldly love with you; it ends when you die.  And, your ‘love’, having been done outside of the holiness of God’s will, it will be burned up on judgment day.  You will have nothing to show for all your time spent in your ‘marriage’.

So what? Are you supposed to just not have anyone to love?  Are you supposed to go through life alone while everyone else you know has someone to experience life with, to marry, to raise a family with, to grow old with?

If you are asking yourself these questions and you think you are hopelessly alone, you are wrong and really quite a bit self-absorbed.  Beware of pity as it is one of Satan’s most effective tools to destroy people with.  There are straight people all over the world asking the same questions.

But any of us who look further into the future than THIS DAY, hoping for this and that, are in danger of temptation and being deceived.  

We are to be grateful for this day we’ve been given.  We are to focus on our Lord, Jesus Christ.  We are to be one with Him.  We are to follow Him.  We are to follow in His ways and obey His commands.  We are to live quiet, productive lives, serving others, spreading the Good News of salvation in Christ Jesus BY THE WAY WE LIVE.  

Choose today whom you will serve.  And when you make that choice, stop complaining that life is not fair and that you got ripped off.  Christians suffer for Christ as Christ suffered for us.  If your suffering is in the form of ‘loneliness’ because you choose Christ over worldly love, accept your lot cheerfully.  Other Christians are suffering in prison, are living in fear of being ‘outed’ for their Christianity, are being rejected and persecuted by their own families, are being driven from their homes and hunted like animals.  Other Christians are being beheaded and mutilated because they choose Christ over their own lives.  And as we rush faster and faster to the end, all Christians everywhere will suffer.  Suffer your lot joyfully for Christ! Separate yourself from the world while there is still time.

Choose each day whom you will serve and be grateful for this day, the present day.  Be focused on the present day and live it with the Lord if He is the One you choose.

Then you will enjoy His love, His friendship, His companionship, His provision for your every need.  And yes, your “need” for worldly love will take its rightful and proper place in submission to your relationship with Christ.

Straight Christians, please understand that gay Christians carry an enormous burden, as the need to find a partner in life is a basic human instinct and an overwhelming one.  Extend some grace.  Have mercy.  Gay Christians do not fit in anywhere.  They go through life knowing their very existence does not fit the way things are supposed to be and this knowledge alone has driven countless precious people to take their own life.  Jesus’ command to treat others as you would have them treat you applies to straight Christians in a major way in this matter and you will answer for how you treat them and for every idle word you speak to them or about them.  Take heed and do it fearfully and humbly, as the Lord Jesus Christ LOVES them very much.

Never forget that Satan’s endgame is to kill, steal and destroy.  It is his deepest desire to rob every one of us of our eternal inheritance as God’s children.  He covets everything that has been designated to us in God’s love, especially our eternal life.  If he can confuse us as to the ways of the Lord so that we accept the lie over the truth, he will succeed in robbing us of our eternal future.  We must always stay on guard and be alert to everything that is happening so that we can rightly discern the truth in all things.

Lord Jesus, please come soon.  And in all things, may Your will be done.

Just as the rich rule over the poor, so the borrower is slave to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)

Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to love one another.” (Romans 13:8a)

Do not charge interest on the loans you make to a fellow Israelite, whether you loan money, or food, or anything else.  You may charge interest to foreigners, but you may not charge interest to Israelites, so that the Lord your God may bless you in everything you do in the land you are about to enter and occupy.” (Deuteronomy 23:19-20)

“Remember this–a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop.  But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.  You must each decide in your heart how much to give.  And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure.  ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’ And God will generously provide all you need.  Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.  As the Scriptures say, ‘They share freely and give generously to the poor.  Their good deeds will be remembered forever.’  For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat.  In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-10)

Our age is the age of entitlement and instant gratification, evidenced by debt.  How rarely we take the time to save our money for something we want.  For the sake of having things we want right now, but cannot afford, we willingly put forth our wrists and ankles for the shackles of debt to bind us as slaves.  We may not realize this, but financial debt is also spiritual bondage.  How can we contribute to the Kingdom of God if everything we have to our name and the money we work so hard for is not even enough to cover our debts?

God’s people are forbidden from charging each other usury (interest) on debts, yet in the world, and especially in the West, each day is ‘business as usual’.  It has never been easier than it is today to merely swipe a credit card in exchange for anything we want to have right now, but the exchange is a trap from hell, meant to enslave us and take away the joy of sowing into the Kingdom of God and advancing His Kingdom as we’ve been commanded to do.  Debt, quite simply, robs the Kingdom of God.

In these end times, Christians must stay alert and watch.  We must lead quiet lives in dignity and righteousness, owing nothing to anyone, except the debt of love.  We are to lead the world by example, staying on the narrow path and not mingling our ways with the world’s ways.

Indeed, the whole world is falling apart because of debt; whole countries are bankrupt, their people suffering unimaginable hardships because of the destruction caused by debt.

In the West, the clock is ticking, especially in America, where the government is in debt over $18 trillion, a number that the human mind cannot really even fathom.  The people of America, no matter now long they work cannot pay this debt, ever.  America is bankrupt and the storm on the horizon when that debt is called in is going to shake the whole world to its core in a most apocalyptic way.

Let the people of God, those called by His Mighty Name, not be a part of this demonic system of debt.  If any of us are in debt, now is the time to take it to the Lord in prayer for His help, stop spending money on things we do not need and get our necks out from under the slave master’s boot of debt.

We must be aggressive and eager to escape the shackles of debt, the way we would aggressively try to find a way to escape the trap of a psychotic captor who we knew intended to kill us.  The slave master is Satan.  We are free in Christ Jesus, Who freed us.  Let us live truly free in Christ Jesus during our brief life on Earth, not as slaves; not as helpless captives.

The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die.” (Psalm 116:15)

The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love me.  I will protect those who trust in my name.  When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble.  I will rescue and honor them.  I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”  (Psalm 91:14-16)

“You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.  And we are witnesses of this fact!” (Acts 4:15)

The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” (Psalm 37:23)

The following video is a segment from a documentary called “Precious Life”, from 2010.

From YouTube channel Facu S: “This Palestinian mother was shown such kindness by Jews when her young son was treated, free of charge, for his heart problem in an Israeli hospital. She freely acknowledges this, but she still hopes that her child will grow up to be a martyr. This video is a rare look into the mind of someone who worships death and destruction. She describes the difference between her culture and all of Western society perfectly when she explains that for her people, life is meaningless.”

The Palestinian woman in this video says the words she is supposed to say to satisfy the demands of her religion, but her face tells a different story; her face reveals that every fiber of her being rejects the very words coming from her mouth.  Her words defy the Author of Life and instead glorify death.  As a creation of God Almighty, her body itself resists every word she utters, yet she obediently repeats the chant of death and destruction she has heard her whole life.  If only she knew how precious she is to the Lord.

For Muslims who read this blog, your life IS precious and most valued by God Almighty, the Author of Life.  The truth is that God formed you in your mother’s womb, carefully knitting together every detail of your body.  He knows the very number of hairs on your head.  He knows your thoughts.  He knows your dreams, your hopes.  He knows everything about you because He created you.  You are His masterpiece.

Read the Psalm below and ask yourself if this sounds like a God who thinks your life is meaningless.  On the contrary, no one has ever invested themselves so wholly into your life as God.  We know this by instinct!  We have to defy our very instinct knowledge of our Creator to think for one second that we do not matter to Him.

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.  You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.  You know everything I do.  You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.  You go before me and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!  I can never escape from your Spirit!  I can never get away from your presence!  If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.  If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.  I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night — but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.  To you the night shines as bright as day.  Darkness and light are the same to you.  You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous –how well I know it.  You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.  You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.  How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!  I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!  And when I wake up, you are still with me! O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!  Get out of my life, you murderers!  They blaspheme you; your enemies misuse your name.  O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?  Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?  Yes, I hate them with total hatred, for your enemies are my enemies.  Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139)

“And he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High. (Daniel 7:25)

“Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.”  (Matthew 24:12)

“One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl.  She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters.  She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”  This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her.  (Acts 16:16-18)

“A few days later Felix came back with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish.  Sending for Paul, they listened as he told them about faith in Christ Jesus.  As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix became frightened.  ‘Go away for now,’ he replied.  ‘When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.’ He also hoped that Paul would bribe him, so he sent for him quite often and talked with him.  After two years went by in this way, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus.  And because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish people, he left Paul in prison.” (Acts 24:24-27)

“Then Delilah pouted, ‘How can you tell me, ‘I love you,’ when you don’t share your secrets with me?  You’ve made fun of me three times now, and you still haven’t told me what makes you so strong!’ She tormented him with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it.  Finally Samson shared his secret with her.” (Judges 16:15-17)

The Following Excerpts are from Watchman Nee’s “Let Us Pray”–Chapter 7, The Wearing-Out Tactics Of Satan

Satan has a work, which is attacking the children of God.  His attack may not come suddenly; oftentimes, it comes gradually and slowly.  Daniel 7.25 mentions how Satan shall wear out the saints of the Most High.  Satan has in fact a plan against the saints of the Most High, which is to wear them out.  Hence let us clearly recognize that the work of Satan in the lives of God’s children is frequently not very noticeable, since his work is slowly to wear them down.  What is the meaning of the phrase, “wear out”? It has in it the idea of reducing a little this minute, then reducing a little further the next minute.  Reduce a little today and reduce a little more tomorrow.  Thus the wearing out is almost imperceptible; nevertheless, it is a reducing.  The wearing down is scarcely an activity of which one is conscious, yet the end result is that there is nothing left.  Hence this principle of Satan’s working in the lives of God’s children is to wear them out until they are worn down completely.  He will wear you out a little today and then a little more the next day.  He will make you suffer a small amount now and a little more later.  You may think this to be something insignificant, nevertheless Satan knows that the consequence of such wearing away is to wear the saint out completely.” 

5 Ways Satan Wears Out the Children of God:  THE METHOD OF GRADUALISM

1) “Wearing out the Physical Body — He makes the child of God eat a little less today and sleep a little less tomorrow.  He causes him to feel a little tired today and a little more tired tomorrow. By thus adding a little at a time, a believer’s health can finally become entirely shaken.  Such is the work of Satan.”  See Job 2:7,8 and 2 Corinthians 12:7

2) “Wearing out Man’s Heart — Upon first believing in the Lord you may feel very happy, joyful and peaceful.  But if you are not watchful –being ignorant of what the enemy can do –you will find yourself one day mysteriously uncomfortable.  You feel somewhat restless today, somewhat unhappy tomorrow, and somewhat depressed the day afterLittle by little, your peace is completely lost, your joy totally gone.  This is the way the devil wears you down to a state of fatigue and despair.”

3) “Wearing out the Spiritual LifeHe will take away your prayer life little by little, and cause you to trust God less and less and yourself more and more, a little at a time.  He will make you feel somewhat cleverer than before.  Step by step you are misled to rely more on your own gift, and step by step your heart is enticed away from the Lord.

4) “Wearing out Our Time —  Felix often sent for Paul and communed with him.  After two years of conversation with the powerful and gifted apostle, he was still unsaved.  This is the enemy’s device to wear people out.  Paul is invited to talk without any result; tomorrow he is again invited to talk, with still no result; and the day afterwards he is once more invited to talk, and again, without any result.  Paul was inveigled to engage in “result-less” work for two whole years.”

5) “Wearing out Samson’s Consecration — Samson had failures, but he should not have lost his consecration nor his testimony of separation.  For the loss of consecration means the loss of power, and the loss of testimony signifies the loss of the presence of God.  Samson was a Nazarite, one who was consecrated to God.  Satan knew that the source of this man’s power lay in his consecration.  Hence in order to touch Samson’s lifespring, he must take away his consecration.  How did he do it?  He used the woman Delilah, who ‘pressed [Samson] daily with her words, and urged him, that his soul was vexed unto death.  And he told her all his heart’ (Judges 16.16,17)  Thus did Samson reveal the secret of his power.  And subsequently, he fell into the snare of Satan: he lost his consecration, power, testimony of separation and the presence of God.  Such ‘pressing daily’ is done by the enemy.”

After identifying these 5 ways that Satan wears us out, Watchman Nee says something very interesting.  The Christian’s reaction to the realization that we are daily being worn down by Satan should be a reaction of utter exasperation and anger.

How do we react to people who wear us down and annoy us to the point that we are sick and tired of it and won’t take any more of it?  We experience feelings of detestation and loathing of these people.  But the real enemy behind them is Satan. 

Nee further says the “Children of God should be angry at Satan and should detest him.  By being angry and showing abhorrence they cease experiencing the wearing down of the enemy.  How frequently as you are being worn down by Satan you keep silent, patiently enduring and quietly suffering until you feel so disgusted within yourself and become so angry that you declare: ‘I oppose this, I will not have it!’ Just by saying this, just by being infuriated about it, you are delivered and the wearing out process ends.  God’s children should therefore rise up to repudiate and reprove the enemy.” As the archangel Michael said and as we should say to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 9)

Lastly, Nee explains, “Whether or not you can resist him depends on how much you detest him….let us realize that if we patiently endure, the work of Satan will most certainly continue; but if we are outraged, he will immediately leave us alone.  Let us understand that all means of resistance are of no avail except we speak out to resist, and then we shall see that Satan is forced to retreat.”

“I resist, I oppose, I do not accept such wearing down.”  May we proclaim that God covers us with the blood of Jesus, which delivers us now and forever.

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.  Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.” (Ephesians 6:13)

 

“As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut.  It is evil to make mindless offerings to God.  Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God.  After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth.  So let your words be few.  Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool.  When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools.  Keep all the promises you make to him.  It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it.  Don’t let your mouth make you sin.  And don’t defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake.  That would make God angry, and he might wipe out everything you have achieved.  Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities.  Fear God instead.”  (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7)

“You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.  But I say, do not make any vows!  Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne.  And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool.  And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King.  Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black.  Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”  (Matthew 5:33-37)

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches.  Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.  For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5)

We have all made promises.  In moments of desperation, anger, a determination to prove ourselves worthy of trust, a determination to hold ourselves back from sin, we have made promises to ourselves, to others, and to God.

The problem with making a promise is that the very act supposes that, by our sheer willpower and strength, we can keep the promise.  This is a rotten fruit of pride.

Human willpower and strength is puny and if we think differently, we are prideful.  We may have the determination to keep some of our promises, but the burden we carry on our shoulders to keep them is tremendous.  And, ultimately, we are human, living in a fallen flesh in a fallen world, and much more often than not inevitably do the opposite of what we intend.

When we break our promises, we hurt ourselves and others.  Even breaking a seemingly innocent or insignificant promise yields subliminal and spiritual consequences that are indeed significant, since at the very least, we face the fact that we did not keep the promise, regardless of the reason.

We were not strong enough, thoughtful enough, trustworthy enough, honorable enough to keep our promise.   The result is the obvious subliminal and spiritual implication that we are not good enough.  And the more it happens, the more it sinks in and affects our self-image and our relationships, especially our relationship with God.

Making a promise to God is dangerous business.  It should be avoided. Christians have been told in God’s Holy Word that we can do nothing apart from Christ.  So it is utter foolishness to make a promise to God.  If we’re foolish enough to make a promise to God and we fail, we risk facing His Holy anger and the consequences may be devastating.  Just don’t.

If we need a reminder of what the outcome of making promises to God look like, we need look no further than the story of Jephthah (Judges 11).  Jephthah was one of Israel’s judges and a mighty warrior.  When he was about to go to war against the Ammonites, he prayed to God for victory and VOWED that, in return, he would give the Lord whatever came out of his house to meet him when he returned home in triumph.  He vowed he would sacrifice it as a burnt offering.  Perhaps Jephthah imagined the family dog would come running up the road to meet him upon his return and he could just kill it and offer it to God.  That would have been disturbing enough, but it was Jephthah’s daughter who was first to greet him upon his return.  He tore his clothes in anguish when he saw her and cried because he understood it would be better, even under these circumstances, to fulfill his vow to God than to break his promise and suffer the consequences along with his family.  Pretty harsh, but this is how serious the promise making business is.

Imagine the thrill our enemy Satan enjoys at our peril when we make promises.  He needs only sit and wait for us to fail. He does not even have to do any work.  We harm ourselves. 

This is why Christ Jesus said “Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous.  He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.  For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.  People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.  This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time.  God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26)

“Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.  May your Kingdom come soon.  May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)

So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar.  Go and be reconciled to that person.  Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” (Matthew 5:23-24)

“‘God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this.  Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand.  And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.  For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.’ So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!’ Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?‘ Peter replied, ‘Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, and to your children and even to the Gentiles —  all who have been called by the Lord our God.’ Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation!'” (Acts 2:32-40)

Guilt, noun; the fact of having committed a breach of conduct especially violating law and involving a penalty

Guilty, adj; 1) Responsible for or chargeable with a reprehensible act; deserving of blame 2) Suffering from or prompted by a sense of guilt

Repent, verb; 1) to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life 2) to change one’s mind

One of the most sobering realities of the story of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, is that he punished himself for his sins instead of repenting of his sins.

Judas had plotted with the leading priests and teachers of religious law as they tried to find a way to kill Jesus and, ultimately, took 30 pieces of silver in exchange for Jesus’ life, famously betraying Jesus with a kiss, which was the way Judas agreed to single Jesus out from the group of disciples.

He stood there and watched Jesus get arrested and led away to what Judas knew was certain death.

When the weight of Judas’ action settled into his conscience and he realized how reprehensible his act was, he was wrought with guilt. We can imagine that the inevitable “Oh, what have I done?” bombarded his mind and conscience.

We know he rushed back to the religious leaders and tried to return the 30 pieces of silver to them in an attempt to wash himself of the blood that was on his hands.  “When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse.  So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he declared, ‘for I have betrayed an innocent man.’ ‘What do we care?’ they retorted.  ‘That’s your problem.’ (Matthew 27:3-4)

Overwhelmed with remorse and tormented by his guilty conscience, Judas made another horrible and permanent decision to pay the ultimate price for his sin by killing himself, “Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:5)  Satan won that battle through guilt and Judas pays the eternal price.

In sharp contrast to the way Judas responded to guilt, we also learn about the Pharisee Saul, later known as the Apostle Paul.  Saul, too, had innocent blood on his hands.  He was feared far and wide for his relentless persecution of Christians and was present for the murder of Stephen at the hands of an angry mob.  He’d approved completely of Stephen’s stoning and actually hunted down many other Christians before being confronted by Jesus Christ himself on the road to Damascus.

Saul had a choice to make once he saw his sin.  Upon experiencing overwhelming remorse and guilt, he repented.  When confronted with his sin, he changed his mind, turned from his sin, and dedicated himself to amending his ways.  In other words, he took action to reconcile himself to God and the followers of Jesus.

Because of our sin nature, we are more than capable of horrendous sins against God, against others and especially against ourselves.  Our sins can be blatant, intentional, or unintentional.  The most tricky of all, we can follow paths that seem right to us, but that are wrong and sinful and lead to spiritual death after wreaking havoc in our lives.

For the Christian, our conscience, the Holy Spirit inside of us, checks us and shows us when we are wrong and have sinned.

Guilt should be a healthy prompt for us to take action for reconciliation, to repent.  If we don’t repent, we cannot be forgiven. Repentance is part of salvation.  Repentance is the evidence that we are not the lord of our own lives, but that we submit to the will of the Lord Almighty and agree with our conscience that we have violated His ways and need to immediately make it right.

Guilt should never be a burden we carry around with us like a heavy, smothering coat.  If we carry guilt from day to day, we are making a choice of inaction instead of repentance.  The inaction may be because we would rather live with the guilt than stop committing the sin that’s causing the guilt. It may be that we’re afraid of the consequences of confessing our sin and attempting reconciliation with the person we’ve sinned against.  Pride may hold us back from repentance as we talk ourselves into believing some justification for our sins over submitting to the urgings of our conscience. Our repentance may mean that the world of someone else will be turned upside down and we fear that consequence as well.

Whatever the reason for inaction, and however convincing it may be, it is simply disobedience to the will of God.

The Holy Scriptures admonish us work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  (Philippians 12:2)  Our repentance is most certainly part of working out our salvation and it is truly the only appropriate way to respond to guilt.

If we feel guilty for anything, we have a choice to make — Repentance, which frees us from the bondage of guilty torment, or inaction/continued sin, which leads to death. 

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

“A tree is identified by its fruit.  If a tree is good, its fruit will be good.  If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.  You brood of snakes!  How could evil men like you speak what is good and right?  For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.  A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.  And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.  The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matthew 12:33-37)

“Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus.  They asked him, ‘Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition?  For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.’  Jesus replied, ‘And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?  For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’  But you say it is alright for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you.  For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’  In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents.  And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition.  You hypocrites!  Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’  Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear.  ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘and try to understand.  It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.‘  Then the disciples came to him and asked, ‘Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?’  Jesus replied, ‘Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them.  They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.’  Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.’  ‘Don’t you understand yet?’ Jesus asked.  ‘Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.  But the words you speak come from the heart — that’s what defiles you.  For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.  These are what defile you.  Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.'” (Matthew 15:1-20)

The phrase, “Follow your heart” seems like great advice, but to God, it is utter foolishness.  According to God, the human heart is the most deceitful of ALL THINGS and desperately wicked.  The heart is so bad, in fact, that no one can even measure how bad it is.

Knowing this truth, the worst thing we can do during times when moral clarity is critical to our lives is to follow our heart.

How many atrocities have been committed because certain actions seemed like the right thing to do?

The Holy Scriptures show us a few instances in the book of Judges of really bad judgment calls made by both individuals and whole communities, with a simple explanation of, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (Judges 17:6 and Judges 21:25)

History shows countless crimes against humanity due to an individual or a society or an individual leading a society to take action according to what seemed like the right thing to do.

God gave us His Living Word to clearly show us right from wrong, to separate righteousness from wickedness and draw a bold line through otherwise gray area.  He guides us by His Eternal Word, which is everlasting, while all else withers and dies.

“Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field.  The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord.  And so it is with peopleThe grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:6b-8)

In our world, now more than ever, there is a lot of talk; a lot words are being spoken and written.  From news outlets to social media, in our individual lives and in our societies, we must be able to discern between what sounds good or seems right and what really is good and right.  When our own hearts contradict the Word of God, as Christians, we are called to submit to what the Word of God says.  Likewise, we must be able to discern when our leaders speak or take action in ways that contradict the Word of God, so that we aren’t deceived into following them, doing what ‘seems right’ and being led astray from the true right path.

In hindsight, it is hard to fathom how Adolf Hitler convinced the whole nation of Germany that following him in his ideology and trusting him to lead them out of their time of desperation was somehow the ‘right thing to do’ and yet, time after time, when Germans were asked why they had supported him, “it seemed like the right to do” is all they could say. They were caught up in emotion and desperation and Hitler’s words and actions appealed to their desperate, fearful hearts. Such is the folly of following the heart or someone’s words instead of the commands of God. And we would be wise today, in the midst of great worldwide fear, to remember that horrible point in mankind’s history and the events that led otherwise decent people to follow the path to destruction.

There is only one way to gain discernment, the essential spiritual weapon in the Great Spiritual War, and that is to hear the Word of God so that it takes root in our hearts and becomes our lighthouse in a world of darkness and confusion.  As we hear God’s Holy Word, as we read it, as we spend time thinking about it and applying it in our lives, God is with us, quietly checking all of the activities of our hearts against His eternal truth and showing us the true and right way to live.

May we all cherish His Holy Living Word and rely on it in these perilous times.

I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again.  Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes.  Three times I was beaten with rods.  Once I was stoned.  Three times I was shipwrecked.  Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.  I have traveled on many long journeys.  I have faced danger from rivers and robbers.  I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles.  I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas.  And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.  I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food.  I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.  Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.  Who is weak without my feeling that weakness?  Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?” (2 Corinthians 11:23b-29)

“How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again.  I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me.  Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.  I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.  Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty” (Philippians 4:10-14)

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.  For God has said, ‘I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.'” (Hebrews 13:5)

“Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Discontentment; 1) a restless desire or craving for something one does not have. 2) a longing for something better than the present situation. 3) a dissatisfied, unhappy, disgruntled state.

Complainer; 1) one who is discontented with his lot in life

Thanks; an expression of gratitude towards someone who has helped you, given you something, etc.

Discontentment is a dark spiritual fruit of Pride, the sin found in Lucifer which led to the disruption of the heavens and war against God Almighty.  To be discontent is to be dissatisfied, unhappy and restless, believing we deserve more or better than what we have. To allow this poison to seep into our thoughts and hearts is to invite destruction and death into our lives, but it is a subtle, smooth poison, very hard to detect since it has no obvious effects at first.

Once infected, the discontented heart is easy to identify, as it is capable of little else other than complaining“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of–and that’s what defiles you” (Matthew 15:18)  The Complainer is sick to his core, poisoned and dying, poisoning others and taking them down with him; he is a danger to himself and others.

A person living in a state of discontentment never has enough, no matter what they have.  They cannot enjoy what they do have because they are consumed with desire for what they do not have.  They live with tunnel vision, aiming down their scope at the only thing they can focus on; and in the crosshairs of their sights are the perpetual “others” who have “fill in the blank”.

Discontentment -> Envy -> Bitterness -> Resentment -> Hatred, the progression of the poison.  Each of these stages are emotions/feelings and each of them can be acted upon with destructive results.  The person living in these stages justifies each stage in his heart with “I deserve better than…”

While things take place in our lives that may elicit complaints from us, living in a state of chronic complaining is one of the fastest ways to annoy God since complaining, at its roots, is really professing that we aren’t satisfied with God and we do not trust him.

The Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years because they would not stop complaining about their circumstances.  Where giving thanks would have ushered them straight into the Promised Land, their complaints against God kept them in their unsatisfactory situation for 40 years, at which point God ran out of patience and forbid them entry into the Promised Land at all.

They were barely out of Egypt when they started complaining that they were sure Pharaoh was going to catch up to them and massacre them (Exodus 14:10-12).  They watched as God saved them, only to complain 3 days later that they were thirsty (Exodus 15: 22-24).  Then, they complained that they were hungry and wished God had just killed them in Egypt (Exodus 16:1-3). God miraculously fed them dew, manna, and quail from heaven only to hear them complaining again for water (Exodus 17:1-7). While Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days, fellowshipping with and receiving the 10 commandments from God, the Israelites again complained until they had a gold calf idol to worship in place of God Almighty, leading to a devastating judgment (Exodus 32). The trend of complaints continues on in the book of Numbers when the Israelites leave Sinai until Moses, in his anger, finally loses control and sins against the Lord, forfeiting his chance to enter into the Promised Land he had so faithfully worked towards. (Numbers 20:10-11)  This is one of the most significant examples in Scripture of how discontent complainers affect and even rob righteous people of their blessings.

THERE IS A REMEDY IF YOU’VE BEEN POISONED WITH DISCONTENTMENT

The remedy to the poison of Discontentment is Thanksgiving.  The human heart cannot be both thankful and discontent.  Thankfulness overrides discontent; it neutralizes the poison.  Thankfulness brings the proper perspective back into our hearts and checks the imposters of greed and envy at the door before they can sneak in.

Thanksgiving is the appropriate spiritual weapon that we wield against Pride and every dark root of Pride and it is the only way to overcome discontentment.   “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Each day, purposefully think of and write down 3 things you are thankful for.  Give God thanks for those 3 things and watch your life break free of the spiritual poison of discontentment.

“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!  Worship the Lord with gladness.  Come before him, singing with joyAcknowledge that the Lord is God!  He made us, and we are his.  We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.  Give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” (Psalm 100)

Poison Bottle

I said to myself, ‘Come on, let’s try pleasure.  Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.’ But I found that this, too, was meaningless.  So I said, ‘Laughter is silly.  What good does it do to seek pleasure?’  After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine.  And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness.  In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world.  I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards.  I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees.  I built reservoirs to collect water to irrigate my many flourishing groves.  I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household.  I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me.  I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces.  I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines.  I had everything a man could desire!  So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me.  Anything I wanted, I would take.  I denied myself no pleasure.  I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors.  But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless — like chasing the wind.  There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11)

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”  (Matthew 6:19-21)

“Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is slave to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)

“But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”  (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

“Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River.  He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days.  Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.  Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”  But Jesus told him, ‘No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’ Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  ‘I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,’ the devil said, ‘because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it to you if you will worship me.’ Jesus replied, ‘The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” (Luke 4:1-8)

As Christians, we can count on our Lord to command us to behave exactly opposite of what comes naturally to us.  The ways of God are not our ways, since the ways of God are not tarnished by sin.  As long as we live on earth, we will experience the struggle between what naturally enters into our thoughts and desires and what is spiritually right.  It is ALL Spiritual Warfare.

The Holy Scriptures teach us that money and possessions are of this world and not to be desired by us, yet naturally, we want these things.  We think that the more we have, the happier we will be.  We think that the more we have, the higher up the status ladder we will ascend; when we have everything we’re dreaming of, then we will be important, respected, powerful, envied by others. We’re all the same in this way. We are so predictable.

We are so predictable, in fact, that our behavior and desires were addressed in the Scriptures thousands of years ago and the right way to live was also presented to us so that we can properly discern and make a choice.

The temptation for money, possessions, and power is so significant in the human story that if anything could have stopped our Lord Jesus Christ from fulfilling His purpose had He submitted to it, it would have been this.  After all, isn’t that what God is: Lord Supreme over all?  Satan knew this and presented our Savior with the ultimate temptation while He was hungry beyond measure and physically at His weakest.

But Christ rejected the offer and He set the example for His followers.  We are to store up treasure in heaven, not on earth.  We are to be servants of the Most High God, not slaves to Satan.

What possessions and money we have are to be used for God’s glory; helping others, spreading His Kingdom.

How can we do that when we are buying things we don’t actually have the money to pay for?  How can we do that when our thoughts and hearts are tied up with the cares of this world; wanting more, obtaining more, worrying about how to get it, how to pay it off, how to keep it?

We are slaves to Satan when we have debt.  The money we earn is obligated to debts for things we could not afford but bought anyway, thus cycling back into the world and not into the Kingdom of God.  How unfortunate.  Yet, this is reality for most of God’s children, especially in the West where it is easier than ever to consign ourselves into debt slavery, acquiring anything our hearts desire, but never having quite enough.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we know deep down that Solomon was right: it’s all meaningless, futile.

Let us take an honest look at our lives, our possessions.  Do we possess them or do they possess us?  Are we proper stewards of God’s Kingdom, free to make decisions and take action for the glory of God with our resources or are we helplessly obligated to this world and its things?

There is an amazing spiritual liberation to lightening the load and clearing the clutter from our lives.  But it is one of the hardest actions we will ever take.

“Someone came to Jesus with this question: ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ ‘Why ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied.  ‘There is only One who is good. But to answer your question — if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.’  ‘Which ones?’ the man asked.  And Jesus replied: ‘You must not murder.  You must not commit adultery.  You must not steal. You must not testify falsely.  Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘I’ve obeyed all these commandments,’ the young man replied. ‘What else must I do?’ Jesus told him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.’ But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.  Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  I’ll say it again–it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!’ (Matthew 19:16-24)

Jesus told them, ‘Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many.  And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic.  Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.  Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.  But all of this is only the first of the birth pains, with more come.  Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed.  You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.  And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other.  And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.  Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.  But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:4-14)

“The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about–the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.” (Reader, pay attention!) Then those in Judea must flee to the hills.  A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack.  A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat.  How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days.  And pray that your flight will not be in the winter or on the Sabbath.  For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began.  And it will never be so great again.  In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive.  But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.”  (Matthew 24:15-22)

“Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life.  Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap.  For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth.  Keep alert at all times.  And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”  (Luke 21:34-36)

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself.  Only the Father knows.  And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!” (Mark 13:32-33)

“Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.  They will say, ‘What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.'” (2 Peter 3:3-4)

The subject of the “End Times” is so important in Scripture that it can be found in almost every book of the Bible.  So many books have been written about it that entire libraries can be dedicated to this subject alone.  All events taking place in the world are leading to this point of culmination, and no matter where we turn, what we see and hear are increasingly perilous and seemingly hopeless.

Spirits of fear, worry and hatred blanket the planet and everyone living on earth is affected by them as evidenced by wars, threats of wars, skyrocketing violence and apathy towards it, the moral corruption of the world’s leaders and the moral rot in our individual societies, record-breaking natural disasters, man-made disasters, devastating financial disasters and the effects of these events on the worldwide populace.  Because of technology, the world’s inhabitants quickly know what is happening anywhere on Earth, and more and more, what we hear about is turmoil.

As Christians, we know that life will get increasing harder for us on this planet.  We are not welcome here and the world is hostile toward us. Those who don’t enjoy the freedoms that the western world currently provides face death every single moment of their lives just because they love Jesus Christ.  Jesus specifically said not to panic.  He commanded us to “watch out!”, to “stay alert” and to “pray”.  We are to continue our work in spreading the Good News to all nations and people while there is still time to do so.  We’ve been told what the end looks like and we know that it will be worse than anything the world has ever known.  This is scary knowledge to have and it can be distracting and even paralyzing if not understood from the proper perspective; the perspective of a soldier.

Soldiers are fully aware that their training and purpose is for the battlefield, the place where their lives can end or where they can be victorious. They don’t know when the battle cry will sound and their number will be called.  They are expected to be ready at all times.  And so are we.

Things will get worse.  Persecution will get worse.  Christians will continue to disappear from cities across the world, just as recently happened in Mosul, Iraq, where no Christians are left.  The world will quake and groan more and more violently under the spirit of evil that has taken hold, just as the Scriptures say.  Everything is NOT the same as it ever was, though many scoff that it is.

Christians are to be prepared, watch, pray and diligently continue on with the Great Commission of Christ.  Worry, panic and fear are not part of our equation.  Worry, panic and fear are not from God.  Our hope is in Christ and He is all we need. Our brothers and sisters all over the world face the end of their lives every day and if we are called to suffer as well, so be it. We are commanded to be bold in Christ.

Whether the End of Times occurs in our lifetime or not, none of us know when we will die, only that it’s sure to happen.  Let us live as if each day truly is a gift from God and use our day to glorify His Great Name.