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In this blog, I share what the Lord shares with me. I reference scripture a lot in support of what is being said. I realize that what is in each entry is NOT a complete 'word' on what is being said, but is rather enough information to stimulate our spirits to dig deeper (remember the Bereans Acts 17:10-11) thereby gaining a fuller understanding for ourselves.

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

5-26-2018        The Works of their own hands

Working Hands

When I was a youth and even as a young Christian I heard about the “Apostate Church”, the church that turns away from Jesus just before His return.

Don’t be shaken by spirit nor by word nor by what preachers say concerning the return of Christ.  Don’t let anybody deceive us but the son of perdition shall be revealed and the church (at least in part) shall fall away from the true faith.  They will follow him who calls himself, and has set himself up as God (2 Thess. 2:1-4).

We are living in a time when men love wickedness and have forsaken God offering praise to that which is Not God or sacrifices to the works of their own hands (Jer. 1:16).  They are pushing God farther and farther from their consciousness.  I’m not talking about just the ‘world’, I’m also talking about the church!  Think about how many public places have removed, not religious, but Christian implications from view over the past several decades.  References to “God”.  When I was in school, we always opened the day with the “Pledge of Allegiance” and the “Lord’s Prayer”.  Not anymore, unless you’re in a Christian school.  God is being eradicated from people’s thinking – in the world!
Falling away?  Look at the Old Testament.  Adam was with God (in the garden), disobeyed and fell away (cast out of the garden).  Through the guidance of Moses, God delivered Israel out of bondage and out of Egypt.  But how long did it take them to start grumbling?  Not long – “give us food”, give us water”.  Once in the promised land, when Israel was beset upon by their enemies, God raised up judges to deliver them.  You would think that one judge would have been sufficient but Israel had twelve judges from Othniel to Samson and Samuel was also considered a Judge and argument can be raised the kings and prophets who followed as to whether they have been considered judges as well.  Israel would come to the Lord, then fall away.  From King David through the final kings of Israel, Israel would follow God then get comfortable, settle back and then start follow their own devices instead of the living God.  When off track, God would raise up a king or a prophet to get Israel back on track.  That would work for a while, but, once things settled down, Israel would become complacent once again and forget God, falling back into doing their own thing.

Read the book of the Acts of the Apostles, then the letters which Paul and the other Apostles wrote.  From the encounter on the road to Damascus until his death, Paul served the Lord about thirty years, not even a generation.  The New Testament epistles were written because the fledgling churches had already gotten off track.  How quickly can the enemy get our focus off of the Lord and into the world.  Not even thirty years!  Save John, all the apostles were gone by about seventy AD.

Things haven’t changed much over the past two millennia.  Alas, it is easier to take the easy road and that seems to be human nature, than to follow the narrow path (Mat. 7:14), living how God has directed.

We think that today’s church is pretty stable, right?  That’s why we have the Roman Catholic Church, the ‘mainstream’ Protestant Churches, the ‘Pentecostal’ Protestant Churches and all the other ‘independent’ Protestant Churches functioning independently, many thinking that ‘they’ have the only way into eternal life.  The body is “cut off for our parts (Ezek. 37:11), that is divided with each part (denomination), pretty much, going its own way, serving God all by itself. 

But, even so, all is well, right?  How intense has interdenominational ‘infighting’ been in the past?  “Their” doctrine is wrong, ours is right, one has to be baptized only in the way we baptize – sprinkling vs immersion, in “Jesus’ name” or “Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  How many clergy have been brought down because of misappropriation of funds or sexual misconduct?  What does the church tolerate today which God clearly speaks against (Lev. 18:1-22 & Rom 1:18-29)?  How many Christian couple “live” together without the benefit of marriage?  How many churches, which we might be aware of, have crumbled because of disagreement over personal opinions that don’t even pertain to our relationship with God or salvation?   

Our passage from Jeremiah implies that ‘man’ can easily get ‘hung up’ in worshipping other gods or even the works of his own hands.  Remember, worshipping other gods doesn’t necessarily mean bowing down to a “Baal” but can be anything that turns us away from the Creator of heaven and earth.

So what are other gods?  What are the works of our own hands?

The easy thing to do is to turn from the only true and living God because He is too hard to follow and literally start worshipping things (idols) made of wood, stone, ideas, etc. but we’re too smart for that right?  Following other religions that profess eternal existence through anything other than Jesus also falls into this category.  I’m not going to name names, but how many religions can you think of that deny Jesus as the Son of God?  That deny Jesus IS God (John 1:1-14)     

Denying God’s existence is another ploy the enemy (Satan) uses to get us off track.  Science has done such a good job at trying to explain how God did things, rather they’ve convincing many that God doesn’t really exist.  Everything that exists just “happened”.  Ask yourself this, has science ever given the odds of this being true.  I don’t know, but for everything to come into being as we see and know it today, those odds must be phenomenal.  For Cells, molecules and organisms to come together in the right combination to have what we have (???). 

In Jr. High (am I giving away my age?) I remember those mathematical theorems from Geometry.  The ones where you had to follow a specific procedure to prove your answer.  I never could get the procedure to work, even if I copied it straight out of the math book, but I could tell the math teacher what the answer was.  Yes, I got it wrong because I couldn’t use the formula.  I couldn’t prove  how I arrived my answer.

Proving our answer, of course, is the foundation of scientific thinking and I suspect, today, even if it means juggling (or maybe manufacturing) the facts a bit to make it work is OK.  People do this with the bible, too.  The poisonous snake jumped out of the woodpile and bit Paul on the hand (Acts 28:1-6) and he suffered no ill effects when he should have either dropped over dead or at least became extremely ill.   Because of this, there is a segment of “Christianity” which ‘proves’ their faith by playing with rattlesnakes and the like.  Have they forgotten the passage where Satan challenges Jesus to jump off a temple pinnacle (Matt. 4:5-7).  After all, the angels watch over Jesus, right (Psalm 91:11-12)?  And Jesus’ response? “It is written, you shall not tempt the Lord your God (Matt. 4:7).  In case you missed it, with Paul, Father showed how He protects us for Paul didn’t know the snake was there.  Yet, today, Christians will take the bible out of context even to prove how ‘spiritual’ they are. 

Okay, so let’s think a bit about things that may draw us away from God that aren’t so obvious. 
I deserve that week-long vacation, which I’ve planned on all year.  Going to the beach, mountains, taking a cruise, whatever.  I need the rest, right?  I agree.  If we’ve worked hard, we do deserve the rest.  When we normally spend time with God, then we go on that vacation, do we also vacation from God? 

God asks only a small portion of our day to be devoted to Him.  Think of our tithes.  The top ten percent of whatever our increase ($$ or anything else) belongs to God (Lev. 27:30), it is His.  So, do we put our vacations ahead of God.  That is enjoying our time of relaxation but forgetting about God.  I didn’t say we had to be in our home church, after all, is the only time we talk with the Lord when we’re in church?  I would hope you have personal time with the Lord at home as well.  The scriptures do say to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).  That personal time is when we can sit down in a quiet place and commune with our Lord, one with one.  And it can be anytime, anywhere.  Remember praying with the Lord is talking with the Lord, pouring our heart out to Him in repentance, praise or petition for He knows our heart (Psalm 139:23).  Our prayer be spoken in our ‘native’ language but can also be just a groan or a noise for we may not know what to say at times (Romans 8:26), or how to say it.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with desiring nice things, nice, house, awesome car, beautiful lawn, nice clothes, etc. but we don’t let them become our focus, our goal.  We may have to work towards some of these, but we don’t become consumed with desire for them (Rom. 6:14-18). (Paul said that he knew how to have and to not have (Phil. 4:11-13) and he was content in whichever state he was in.  Can or do we say the same?  That doesn’t mean we don’t try to improve our ‘lot in life’.  We should always be trying to improve ourselves, to be better off tomorrow than we are today.  But has improvement become our God?  The only thing we care or think about is being ‘numero uno’?  Our car, home, family, sports team, TV, whatever?  What are we addicted to?  This includes substance abuse as well as ‘things’.  What can’t we ‘live’ without?  I’ll just die if I can’t have my Hershey bar!  The only life and death subject that really matters is our relationship with God the Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord!  And the fact that through’ salvation’, the Holy Ghost living within our hearts, makes that eternal relationship possible and solidifies it.  He is our strength.

What we put ahead of God becomes our God).  So what do we put ahead of God?  Jesus says we should love the Father with all our heart, mind, soul and strength (Mark 12:30).  Is He first in our life?  When we consider the ‘tithe’ again, giving God ten percent of our lives, time, finances, etc. Still leaves us ninety percent with which to work.

I’ve already said that ten percent of everything that we are belongs to God, but let’s use time as an example.  There are twenty-four hours in a day.  Let’s assume that we need eight of those hours to sleep, get rest.  That leaves sixteen hours.  Let’s say we have a job and, of course we have to travel to and from that job so let’s allot another ten hours for that.  We’re down to six hours now of ‘free time’.  If we give God ten percent of our total day that would be about two and a half hours which would leave three and a half hours four whatever.  Okay, I haven’t mentioned weekends yet.  Most of us only work five days a week.  I said most of us.  So whatever days our weekend falls on we gain back about ten hours each of those days – no work, no travel time so we have twenty more ‘fluff’ hours on our days off from work.  Understand that those two and a half hours Father requires doesn’t have to be all at once, but when we do give it, it should be our best.  At a time when we can give Him uninterrupted attention.  Daniel prayed three times a day to God (Dan. 6:10), even when the king said people could give nothing precedence over him and God honored him giving him favor, even with man (Dan. 2:46-49). 

We should find the best time of the day to give God our best, our first fruit.  To start the day with Him would be good, but you may not be able to focus early in the morning.  Find your time.
As one reads the Old Testament, when Israel forgot about God and cast Him aside is when they ended up in bondage but when they put God first, things went pretty good.  God hasn’t changed how He works (Heb. 13:8).

Our gods and the works of our own hands are what we put ahead of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This doesn’t mean we can’t do anything, but those things we do, worship, work, play, even relax, we do as unto the Lord, to please God (Col. 3:23).  This is how we keep God in and on top of the things in our life.


Friday, May 11, 2018

5-11-2018   What does a fig tree have to do with dry bones?

                 The Fig leaf                                                  Valley of Dry Bones

Matt. 24:32-34

Learn the parable of the fig tree.  While the branch is tender and still putting forth leaves, know that summer is near.

Likewise when you see these things (v 3-31), the time is near, even at the doors.
And I tell you that this generation shall not pass until all these things are fulfilled.

Ezek. 37:1-14

The Lord took Ezekiel to a valley full of dry bones and had him walk in, around and amongst them.

            Son of man, can these bones live?  You know, O Lord.

Tell these bones to listen to the Word of the Lord – I will cause breath to enter you and you shall live.  I will lay sinews upon you, flesh and cover you with skin.  I will breathe into you and you shall live and you will know that I am the Lord.

So I prophesied as I was commanded and there behold, there was a noise, a shaking and those bones came together, bone on bone.  And I watched as sinews came upon them and flesh (muscle) covered with skin, but there was no life in them.

Then the Lord said prophecy to the wind, son of man, and tell it, thus says the Lord God, come breath, from the four winds and breathe upon these slain that they may live.
So I did and breath came into them and they stood up on their feet, an exceedingly great army. 

Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel and look, they cry our bones are dry, our hope is lost and we are cut off for our parts.

Prophecy to them Thus says the Lord God, behold, my people, I will open up your graves and cause you to come up out of those graves and bring you into the land of Israel.  And you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and brought you up out of them.  And I shall put My Spirit in you and you shall live and I will place you in your own land and you shall know that I the Lord have said it and done it.

The fig tree represents Israel, but it also represents today’s church.  God promises Israel to bring them back to their rightful place in the scope of things.

The dry bones represent Israel and it also represents today’s church.  God tells Israel that He will reestablish them as a nation.  Father promises that today’s church will return to full operation (and more) as the early church experienced, (after Jesus’ ascension) taking its right place in the scope of current things.

The fig tree and today’s church.

Jesus explained that the fig tree is, of course, Israel.  In May 1948, Israel declared its statehood (as a country) under a United Nations resolution.  The fig tree was planted for end times as fulfilment of the gospel of Matthew.  But as Israel continues to struggle with full reunification (all of Jerusalem is not Israel), it is still budding.  Even today.

This budding also has spiritual implications for the church of the “New Covenant”, today’s church.  The rise of those who follow Jesus Christ. Christianity, living in the fullness of God’s love.  Buds eventually become blooms.  This blooming is the full operation of the Holy Spirit, as it was 2,000 years ago.  Contrary to general belief, Christianity is still budding for even though blooms have come and gone, the wind has blown them away, the mature fruit is still pending.  The church flourished at first, then settled down, even in its own strength, even becoming complacent, until the Protestant Reformation.  The Reformation caused a radical change, to even suggesting the common man can know God on a personal level.

Paul tells us not to trust in the flesh, for he says he counted everything he gained in the flesh as a loss for Christ.  Our faith is in Jesus and all that He means to us, but we should continually be striving towards Jesus (Phil. 3:1-16). The fruit will never be fully ripe until we are living, literally, in the presence of our Lord Jesus when ALL things will then be revealed and victory will be complete over sickness and death (Rev. 22”1-21). 

The things the apostles and early disciples experienced with the original church are available to us today.  The bible tells us that the state of the latter house is greater than the first (Haggai 2:9).  For the New Covenant church this means that as the believers can do all that Jesus did and more (John 14:12), but as Haggai suggests, the latter believers will do even greater works than what the early believers did.  In magnifying and glorifying Father and in demonstration of His love towards mankind.  After all, we are the only example the world sees of Jesus as we keep His commandments (John 15:8-10)

For the past 100 years Father has been rebuilding the New Covenant church with a greater infilling of the Holy Ghost.  He’s preparing for a “big” move of His Spirit within the body.  And those “rumblings’ are already evident.

Many say that there is a major revival coming, even at our doorstep.  I say that there is a massive spiritual explosion pending, greater than just a revival, and it is getting ready to kick the door down. 
The rumblings are already in place.  Now it’s just a matter of Father getting His “cast” into place.  The men and women who will become His foot soldiers igniting the ‘fuse’.  Is the ‘church’ listening?  Will the church be obedient?

The valley of dry bones

The ”valley of dry bones”, as well as to Israel, also relates to the body of Christ which coincides with the past six seasons (600 years) of rebuilding.  Father has been preparing the bride of Christ, for this time (Isaiah 61:10).   

This rebuilding also coincides with the dry bones in Ezekiel.  Father has been realigning the body of Christ.  He has been and will continue to gather those scattered, dry bones, placing them in their proper places, until there are no more dry bones to gather or until He decides it is time to bring us (His church) home.  He has been rebuilding that body through a ‘reformation’ and several ‘awakenings’ as He continues to reconnect those bones.  Not only has He connected those bones so they won’t become scattered again, He has been covering the church with the ability to function as it is should be, as we learn how to apply His Word into our lives.  And He is covering all of that with ‘skin’, the reflection of His image.  His image of love.  As we learn to allow that love to pour out from our being.  He has even given us His Spirit so we can walk in His power and yet the church cries out “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost and we are separated.”  Denominational differences and dogma prevent the church from – not being – but performing in unity.  They still argue over the ‘differences’ between the denominations. The church not yet ‘Spiritually’ unified.  All the church does not yet walk in the fullness of His power. 

Even though the church (as a whole) does a lot of what it is supposed to be doing, we are still lacking.  For we have yet to allow God to fully pull us up out of our graves.  We are still learning how to totally yield to Him.  Because until we (the church) learn to actually sup with Him, walk hand in hand with Him, we have not yet fully matured (spiritually).  We have not yet fully come up out of our graves.  Our body is not yet fully complete (mature).

All this also correlates with the preparation of the bride of Christ, as the bride prepares herself for her groom (Rev. 19:7-8).  Not that Jesus is coming back tomorrow, but He wants His bride ready for when He does come.  The five wise virgins (of the ten) were in a constant state of preparation awaiting the bridegroom which gives us indication of how we should be, always ready (Matt. 25:1-13).

God has been rebuilding the body of Christ for six seasons.  Since the time He encouraged ‘man’ to bring the bible to the ‘common man’ (think John Wycliffe and Martin Luther), everyone should be able to read the bible for himself.  Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies (Heb. 9:3-7), before Christ.  The veil between the “sanctuary” and the “Holy of Holies” was torn in two through the cross (Matt. 27:51).  We are a royal priesthood, aren’t we (1 Peter 2:9)?  We ae become the “High Priest”.  We now have direct access to the Father through Jesus (Eph. 2:13-19). 

No other ‘man’ could open my heart up to Jesus.  I had to do that, with the prompting and direction of the Holy Ghost.  I had to acknowledge, confess, repent and believe thereby opening the door for Him to come in (Psalms 32:5, 1 John 1:9, Rom. 10:9, Rev. 3:20).  Yes I had to hear the word to believe (Rom. 10:17) and I had to be obedient to the prompting of the Holy Ghost, but it was my decision, my choice to agree with Him.  Agreeing with our heavenly Father means living with Him, in Him and for Him – always (John 15:1-12).

Have you noticed how much crazier thing in the world have gotten?  Wars and rumors of wars, natural catastrophes in places where they didn’t used to occur?  To greater magnitudes!  The world is going totally bonkers (Matt. 24:1-31).  Things aren’t just happening.  They are happening more frequently, more intensely and becoming more widespread.  

Am I saying that the end of the world is around the corner?  Absolutely not!  It might be.  But the point is that Father is preparing His church, the body of Christ, so that we are ready when the time does come.  The end of the world could end when Christ returns for His church or for an individual, it could end tomorrow.  Tomorrow is not ours (James 4:13-14).  We have it by the grace of God.  As an individual, we don’t know when “our” time is up nor the day nor hour of Christ’s return.

Now is the time for increased worshipping of God for the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy (Rev.19:10).  A time of encouragement into the Kingdom of God.  Now is the time to make sure we are abiding in His love.  Now is the time for people to be able to see the fruit of the Spirit operating in our lives – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance (Gal. 5:22-23), and then reaching out from our hearts.

Now is the time to seek and receive the “gift” (whatever it may be) God has given each of us fulfilling our place in His grand scheme so we can be effective ambassadors of His kingdom in this world.

Father knows that not everyone will receive Him, but His heart’s desire is that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9).  No matter how far we are or have moved away from His love, He will receive any and all who truly repent.     With open, forgiving and loving arms He will receive any and all who desire to come into His fellowship, receiving us into His family.  We can’t change ourselves.  We come to God as we are, but He can transform us (in this world) through the Holy Ghost drawing us closer and closer into His love, molding us into His image.

What does a fig tree have to do with dry bones?  Father is preparing all, who will, to come home.  The fig tree says time is nigh.  Father has been revitalizing those dry bones and is now in the process of re-infilling those dead bones, those lifeless bodies, with His Holy Spirit so all that receive Him might truly live.

We need to open our hearts, allowing the Holy Ghost unlimited operation in our lives, not just testifying of Jesus, but praising God with all our heart, mind, soul & spirit, yielding completely to Him as we come into the holy of holies to sup with Him (Rev. 3:20). 

Because we keep His commandments, we are His friends (John 15:14-15).  Because as we are learning to and pursuing the living in His love we await the time we can hear the words we desire to hear “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:23).  Because we have made our election sure, we enter into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:10-11).  And because we live in His love and in His will we know that our eternal home is secure (1 John 5:13).
The fig tree and the dry bones are God’s call to His body to come home and abide in Him.