Are You a Church?

On this damp early morning, I go to my Father in prayer and ask what can I do to make the world a better place. The answer is always the same… “write My words.” Today, God speaks to me about Christians versus a church and its disciples. We have the purpose of serving the Lord, but in what capacity? As the church and a disciple, or just a Christian?

A great misconception is one may not be a good practicing Christian if they do not attend church. I’m sure glad Jesus never taught this theory in His ministry, or God would condemn many believers for life! In this blog, I do not want to discuss the downfalls of present-day churches, but how the house of prayer should appear to all Christians.

According to Britannica, “a church is the Christian religious community as a whole, or a body or organization of Christian believers.” My interpretation is it’s not just about going to church, but being a church. Why? Because if we are disciples, we ARE the church! Must we worship the Lord in the presence of others, and only within the four walls of a commercial structure, to be a Christian? Jesus taught that prayer and personal reflections were to be done in solitude. He rarely preached behind any four walls of a temple, but instead He witnessed to others.

Image copyright by LUMO Project (Big Book Media). Distributed by FreeBibleImages.org

So, what are the responsibilities of Christians and/or the church? I found some Bible verses that discuss the obligations:

1) Defend others in need.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8-9

2) In God’s grace, do what is good.

“Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarrelling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But when God our Saviour revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy…” Titus 3:1-7

3) Help other believers get back on the right path.

“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” Galatians 6:1-3

4) Love God before self and others.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second commandment is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

5) Preach the gospel to everyone.

“And then [Jesus] told [His disciples](NOT CHRISTIANS), “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” Mark 16:15

None of these responsibilities allude to the confines of a building. I find number (5), above, though to be the most important principle. It emphatically states we are to do God’s work, not just in a church building on Sundays, but every day. Many attend services and bible study classes and believe they’ve fulfilled their obligation as a Christian. This is a misconception! So, are you a church and discipling others? There are many good Christians who attend church, but fail to be disciples. Remember, a Christian is to preach the gospel to everyone.

Our occupations and other life activities are God’s blessings. Why not use it to preach the gospel to others? Spreading the Good News could encompass talking to the fallen regularly, or sharing godly social media posts and interacting with those who respond. How about blogging about your religion, visiting the ill and praying for them, or moreover becoming involved with a community’s less fortunate citizens?

Despite cultural challenges, I believe this era is the greatest opportunity for believers to witness since the time of Jesus and the apostles. All Christians, whether active or inactive in worship, represent a church as a whole. It isn’t about your sect of religion or that you attend church services. It’s about evangelizing the love of God as a church in the form of a disciple. Our highest and holy calling is to BE the church, not go to church.


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The Fear of God

The Bible reveals that the beginning of wisdom and knowledge is the fear of God. But this phrase, “fear of God,” has become a bit of a misnomer. The word fear denotes afraid of or threatening. So many unbelievers, today, view acknowledging a higher power is a threat to their freedom. As a result, they live in darkness with the shades drawn, blinded to the evil surrounding them. Christians understand the fear of God means standing in awesome respect of His power and majesty.

In Exodus 19:17-19, God wanted the Israelites to understand He was real and powerful. So, He asked Moses to lead them to the foot of Mount Sinai, and this event occurred…

“Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.  Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.”

If we read the scriptures just before Exodus’ verse 17, we discover the Israelites knew several days in advance they would experience God. Most of the people laughed it off and thought Moses was a joke. But as predicted, God terrified them when they witnessed His presence on Mount Sinai. The Lord speaks of fearing Him in the Bible to stop sinning, not because He is a cruel god. He wants us to understand we should run to Him when our enemies approach us.

Image attribute by Sweet Publishing/FreeBibleImages.org

Moving ahead thousands of years later, what attitudes have changed today about God since Mount Sinai? Did mankind learn anything from the Israelites? My opinion is the world’s lack of faith has steeply declined, and the fear of God is nonexistent. People are unbalanced in their understanding of the Lord. They’re naïve, or perhaps uneducated, so they follow the weakest link on earth – Satan.

God is sending many signals to the world today of His power – pandemics, earthquakes, and other catastrophes. Still, many continue to ignore His signs. Just as the Israelites, they, too, will cower in fear when He returns and it will be too late.

Mentioned 365 times in the Bible, one would say the fear of God proves a point: it is time to adhere to God’s commands and not your own decisions. Take delight in fearing the Lord so you can walk in obedience and have the joy of a clean heart. It builds confidence for the judgment day, arriving soon. Fear of discipline helps us not to make mistakes. As we obey Christ, we remain in His love, and His joy will be forever in us.

The fear of God, and respecting His almighty presence, will build your eternal salvation. God bless you!

“They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.”  Jeremiah 32:38-40

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Send in the Doves

I took a reprieve from yard manicuring and sipped on a glass of tea. Without warning, three doves flew down to join me and fed on the seed my love scattered about the ground the previous day. They were only a few feet from my chair. Amazed and with exuberance, I surmised there must be a message in their trusting action. Am I being watched, I wondered? Is my every move being noted and written down for judgment day?

In scriptures, the dove is often used to represent aspects of God’s spirit, instructing our lives. It is a symbol of peace, but it held much more significance, for it affirmed Jesus as the Messiah. As John baptized Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in bodily form like a dove – the anointing of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, other heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; Matthew 3:16

Also, Noah experienced a connection with these birds. Following the Flood, he sent out a dove. It flew out over the sea but then returned to the ark. Noah waited a week before he left it go again. This time…

“…the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.” Genesis 8:11

The third time Noah sent out a dove, it did not return, revealing the dove had found a new home on the land of the earth. The message here? God had made peace with the earth and mankind.

Image courtesy of FreeBibleImages.org

The Lord held doves in greatness. One biblical event describes Jesus angrily driving out all the merchants from the Temple, including “those who sold doves” to worshipers (John 2:16). The happiest of birds, it identifies and represents divinity and purity, as Jesus acknowledged by His anger.

So, do you think God sends in the doves to confirm our faithfulness or as a subliminal sign He is near? It’s easy to comprehend because, after all,  signs from God are clear as the day is long.

I want to share a personal event in my life. I married my wife on a beach in Destin, Florida. Standing on a platform next to the tall grasses and sand dunes, we recited our sacred vows. At the exact moment the Justice of Peace declared us man and wife, three doves flew out of the grass and over our heads. We will never forget it!

At first, we believed it was our deceased parents showing their approval, but now we view it differently – it was the Lord! To this day, His abundant blessings affect our life.

So, Lord, send in the doves! I built my sanctuary in honor of You. It gives me the strength for all things of which I can do to serve You better. I keep one eye on my blessings and the other on Your arrival. Standing like a soldier, I shall remain in prayer and feeding the doves You sent to watch over me this morning.

I love the days I can share Christ with all my readers. So many seeks the Lord, but He joins me in my daily thoughts. Call on our Lord, and He will send doves your way if you just have faith and pray.  What a merciful Father, don’t you agree?

Send in the doves, Lord, and baptize us with powerful wings and life ever after.

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Final Considerations for the Coming ‘New Normal’ [Video]

Chinese Communist Party, COVID-19, Leftism, Socialism

The last segment of the previous piece in this series cautioned preparation for further encroachments upon individual liberties in the continuing response to the threat of the Chinese Communist Party caused pandemic of COVID-19. The final part of this series focuses upon some large overall threats, not from the virus, but from the Left’s political ambition to gain even more power over the rest of us.

This may seem like an extreme claim to some, but it is not. In fact, the evidence easily supports such a claim and more, as will be seen. With that in mind, here are some final considerations concerning the Leftist government figures and media apparatus that supports them.

Beware of the Leftist push for continuing the ‘lockdowns’

Inset.1.5.10.2020The Left has been aggressively pushing for continuing the ‘lockdowns’ in various states. In some, the state authorities are merely declaring that these draconian “stay-at-home” orders must be extended without any end date in sight.

These mayors and governors and others are being supported by the Leftmedia machine who keep telling us, both in America and around the globe, that the ‘lockdowns’ must continue or else we are doomed. What began seemingly as a necessary short-term cessation of activity in the name of “following the science,” has become a grasping for power and control of the population.

The mantra of “following the science” is still mouthed by the Leftmedia and their allies, but the actual data that has been gathered over the last two months reveals that if we were really “following the science” the ‘lockdowns’ would have ended at least three weeks ago. You see, the actual data tells us many things contrary to what the public health officials have been claiming with one gratuitous exception.

We have known almost from the beginning of knowing about the pandemic that those in the greatest danger from this virus are the elderly. The numbers now show us that the failure to focus upon this aspect of “the science” has reaped a death toll that is approaching half of all the cases in America!

Moreover, the newest data from the state of New York reveal a startling fact, most startling to those advocates of continued ‘lockdowns’ in the country. Something strange has also been revealed specifically in New York. In his press briefing of May 6, 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated that according to the hospital records, even though more than 90% of people are honoring the lockdown requirements, the numbers of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 show that,

18% come from nursing homes, less than 1% came from jail or prison, 2% came from the homeless population, 2% from other congregate facilities but 66% of the people were at home…disproportionally older, but by the way, older starts at 51.

In other words, in the state of New York, two out of three cases of COVID-19 serious enough to be hospitalized came from the people who were staying at home in obedience to the state overlords! It is past time to abandon this strategy not only in New York but everywhere else as well.

It is now clear from studying the numbers around the world that the ‘lockdowns’ made little or no difference in the spread and certainly not in the lethality of the virus pandemic. Sweden is perhaps the best example of this as they never did the ‘lockdowns’ and the data show that they are no worse off than most of Europe and actually are in better shape than places such as Italy and the United Kingdom that did the ‘lockdowns.’

Dr. Neil Ferguson, the man upon whose model the world economy was virtually shut down has proved both horribly wrong with his death predictions, and a hypocritical liar who used his own ‘quarantine’ to hide his affair with a married woman. Oh and just by the way, he is also a hardcore Climate Change enthusiast befitting the profile of the typical Leftist ‘elitist.’

Beware of the Leftist promise that this is only to keep us safe

Inset.2.5.10.2020This pandemic panic began with the first promise fostered in America by the inaccurate predictions of the aforementioned Imperial College professor, the lockdown for 15 days to “flatten the curve” of the spread so that our hospitals and health care system would not be overwhelmed with cases of COVID-19. President Trump, under tremendous pressure by the “experts” both here and around the world, then extended the nationwide lockdown until April 30, leaving the states to determine their own timelines thereafter.

This attempt amounts to a quarantine of those who are not sick along with those who are ill. Reaching back to primitive civilization, it has always been the sick who were quarantined away from those who were well.

The biblical rule was a separation of the ill person from the camp for 14 days, not a lockdown of everyone in the camp [Lev. 13:1-6]. The promise from the Left that all this is necessary ‘to keep us safe’ from the virus runs literally contrary to everything we’ve known and practiced until two months ago!

Therefore, it should not be too surprising to discover that the continuation of the lockdowns is causing more harm than good, and endangering far more people than it saves if it is saving anyone at all! One need only examine the astronomical unemployment numbers to recognize that 30 million people without the means to support themselves or their loved ones are in immediate danger from the government policies and not from the pandemic.

Worse yet, these same people are not being allowed to leave their homes unless it is to go to places approved by the government. This fosters despair and discouragement accompanied by an increase in spousal and child abuse as well as suicides, and that problem will increase the death toll.

Moreover, what of our healthcare system in the wake of these extreme measures? Instead of being overwhelmed with virus cases, some hospitals are sitting almost empty, and even in the worst-hit state of New York, the need for hospital space is not nearly as critical as was predicted.

Yet, few are talking about the fact that this all-out push to make hospitals treatment centers for COVID-19 has resulted in fewer people getting procedures done to alleviate issues such as cardiac disease, cancer, and strokes, either because some of these have been declared “elective” procedures, or because the fear-mongering by the Leftmedia has persuaded them not to go to hospitals at all.

Neither the government nor the Leftmedia can keep anyone safe without someone or a lot of someones paying a severe price. If the Left has its way, that price will be paid by the common citizens and it will be the forfeiting of liberty in America and anywhere else this phony bargain of giving up freedom for security takes place.

Beware of the Leftist pursuit toward a totalitarian state

Inset.3.5.10.2020A very astute observer of the current situation in our culture writes the following from the website “Intercessors for America.”

A sense of social responsibility has entered our culture like I have never witnessed. Have you seen mask wearers at the grocery store look condescendingly at the non-mask wearers?  There seems to be a new breed developing of those who choose the good of the collective state and feel a sense of righteousness for their views and choices. If this choice of the collective over individual freedoms continues unstopped, we will be headlong into socialism and not even realize it! This super social responsibility is fueling a perceived obligation that government is our ONLY provider for safety.  Christians who have a biblical worldview (and many don’t) should question the unchecked willingness of people to obey any authority other than the God of the Bible.

A moral elevation of the “collective” over the “individual” is indeed a very dangerous path to trod. That attitude plays right into the Left’s agenda to convert us into a Socialist nation.

Moreover, the Left is united in this cause in the areas of the media, big business, and political power. Enormous pressure is being applied to ensure that the nation knows that the state alone can give or take away freedom and that they will brook no dissent against their plans.

This union of businesses, government, and the media from the Left means to transform the United States of America into a government much like, well, like China who gave us the pandemic plague. The media is especially hyped for this opportunity to tell us that our constitutional republic is wrong, immoral, and outdated.

The writers of The Atlantic article mentioned in the video are not the only media mouthpieces who believe and encourage this. The New York Times editors seem quite comfortable praising the Chinese Communist response to the virus and criticizing America’s response in turn.

However, those in the Leftmedia are not very eager to share some of the more grisly details that emerged from the “Chinese model” response that they embrace. A former dissident who escaped from China in 2012 reported on videos that he had obtained shot in February 2020, by some very courageous journalists.

Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, a blind scholar and Nobel Peace Prize nominee who escaped from house arrest and found asylum with the United States in 2012, wrote about China’s authoritarian response to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak at the Washington Post last week. One of the charges he leveled in the article is that people suspected of infection in Wuhan are being welded into their homes by the authorities, their doors and windows sealed with metal bars so they cannot escape.

The enthusiastic praise of the Chinese Communist Party also routinely fails to mention that once they discovered the danger of this virus they allowed travel from the epicenter in Wuhan to other countries, but not to other places in China! This is in addition to lying about the transmission of the disease from human-to-human contact through December of 2019 and January of 2020.

It almost seems as though a good portion of China’s strategy was to make sure the rest of the world got a hefty dose of the pandemic while they imprisoned their sick and punished those few brave souls who spoke out against them. This is totalitarian power on display and the Left is praising and practicing much the same in cities and states throughout America.

Our coming ‘new normal’ should bring back much of the old, pre-COVID-19 ‘normal’ and add extra precautions against the more dangerous virus of Marxist/Socialist thought the Left so cherishes. Lovers of liberty must beware of these purveyors and promoters of collectivism else the longest-running national government of, for, and by the people will indeed perish from the earth.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.  Colossians 2:8 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Tim Green’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Harry McGregor’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Thomas Del Coro’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Democracy Chronicles’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published in TIL Journal

 

 

God’s Glorious Creation

Women are God’s glorious creation who fit perfectly into His grand plan. She expands His temple by giving birth and training her family to live adult, productive lives. How incredibly valuable mothers are to the Lord! But this nurturing reality didn’t exist for women in biblical times.

When God created Adam and Eve, he gave them equal reign of the earth. But as the forbidden fruit was eaten, so too, was the woman’s rights to help dominate the land. As the Judaism religion developed, they overplayed this scene – women had no rights. Their primary purpose in life was to give birth, raise children in the Jewish faith, and attend to all the needs within the home and for her husband. She was never to be seen outside socializing with others, nor within the temple walls.

However, under Mosaic Law, Israeli women enjoyed an honorable status, and men recognized their rights. Though husbands were head of the household, the wife could freely express her religion and work a job.

So, who made the world change their view of women? Jesus loved the female genus, and He highly respected them. He healed their ailments, allowed them to travel with Him, and made disciples of a few. To express their importance to Jesus, He even chose a woman to bear witness to his resurrection (Mary Magdalene).

Proverbs 31: 25-30 expresses God’s deep love for mothers:

God also gave guidelines to husbands and children:

“Honor your marriage; keep it pure by remaining true to your wife in every way.” Hebrews 13:4

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect…” 1 Peter 3:7

“My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” Proverbs 6:20

Mothers mold their offspring with love and integrity. In moments of illness, strife, or despair, their children remain foremost in their thoughts. They adorn their families with our lasting memories. Mothers, the Lord chose YOU to rear His creations and to love them as you love His Word. You are truly a gift.

To all the mothers who grow God’s kingdom, may you have a blessed and Happy Mother’s Day! Know you are so special and loved!

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A Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer. The United States Congress asks people “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.” Though praying should be an everyday occurrence in our homes, on this day, many faiths will take part in the annual event. Rev. Billy Graham initiated this day in 1952, so please join me in prayer.

Dear Lord,

Our Father in Heaven, we come together in humility, asking you to bring salvation to all those who are in prayer today.

Please guide our clergy, missionaries, and others blessed to spread Your Word. Comfort the souls with broken spirits and cast out the germs that try to infiltrate their hearts. Many walk our land with little or no faith, and they desperately need led to Your spiritual being before leaving this life.

Lord, lead us to the still waters and green ferns during this tumultuous time of upheavals around the world. We pray for the safety, and immeasurable responsibilities of our leader, President Donald Trump. Father, please endow him with Your wisdom and comforting arms. Speak to all the members of our congress and other political positions. Guide them to make better decisions based on the country’s needs and not their own. Help America to once again come together in unity.

Many families have suffered job losses and deaths because of COVID-19. Lord bless them with Your peace and reassure their souls. Keep us healthy and shield us from harm, Lord.

We pray, Father, for the churches in America to unify under Jesus Christ’s name. Help us see all religions in the cross’s light. We pray to be more humble, gentle, and patient with one another. Bless us, Lord, with the unity of the Holy Spirit through the bond of peace.

Lord, please be our shepherd! Jesus Christ is the Only Savior, and our only hope in this world.

Amen

Like a Fragile Flower

Quietly the sun rises through the woods, giving me time to reflect on the world. Looking off into the branches of time, I wonder where life has quickly gone. I remember my childhood days of climbing the hills and running into the valley of flowers. What I wouldn’t do to return to a world where Shwinns was the fastest way to find our friends!

I often sit alone with my coffee and reminisce over the smell of its grounds. I would love to see the neighbors who undoubtedly have gone to be with Jesus in heaven. Oh, the younger years I took for granted! They can never be replaced, but in my solitude of living color are the names of the smiles I so profoundly remember.

But, I understand, now, it is our Father who grants us the privilege of recollecting memories. I guess everyone has that incurable desire to go back in time and recall our beginnings. I know some may not agree with me, but it’s okay to disagree, for we’ve all conquered our own adolescence.

Our powerful and almighty God, in all His awesomeness, handles us like a fragile flower. It is written in 1 Peter 1:24, “For “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,” So we sit in our own little world, cecum to the fact we are here because of His higher plan. And so God says we are to be born and live as prescribed by our heavenly Father.

We are part of His magnificent imagery. Where there was once a seed in the fertile soil, there is a blossom because of Christ. He comforts His fragile flowers thriving amongst the splintered branches. Even in the blowing winds and stressful times, He quenches His chosen ones.

In the circle of life, the petals eventually fade, and God cuts some lives shorter than others. Mourning the delicate flower which once stood tall for all to admire, we hold on to the cherished remembrances.

“For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”  Psalm 103:14-15

Like a fragile flower, the beauty of Christ and His Word bestows upon us the hope for a better future in heaven. View your memories through the gospel, and you will surely witness God’s grace at work. The experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for our future work with the heavenly Father.



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Strength of Faith

Shall I send you a card with best regards, or should I pray for Christ to defeat your battles in life? This world is our enemy, but God warns us not to cecum to the evil spirits lurking at every threshold. The Bible tells us God’s eternal power is the only strength to ward off those who offend us. Fighting battles on different fronts allow us the privilege of knowing Jesus Christ is our strength of faith.

During insurmountable battlefronts, Jesus protects us by being our shelter and protector. Psalm 91:4 tells us, “Under His wings, shall you trust and find refuge.” No matter the circumstances, He makes us inaccessible to the enemy. Many people walk unharmed through all kinds of dangerous situations today. Here are some biblical examples, too:

  • Paul, the Apostle, was brutally beaten and jailed, yet he could walk fifteen thousand miles to spread the word of Christ.
  • Daniel survived the lion’s den by his strength of faith in God.
  • When Moses was born, his mother set him afloat down the Nile river to stop the Pharaoh from killing him. God protected his life because He had higher plans for the infant.
  • God saved Noah and the ark from the greatest flood on earth. Noah’s strength of faith was rewarded with many future generations.

Often, I’ve struggled in a bitter war as enemies tried to impede my ability to move forward in life. The almighty Lord came to my rescue every time! Believers are temples of the living God. He goes everywhere we go when we are filled with His strength of faith. Your shield must be the Word of God – this is your part to receive His protection.

Ask God to direct your path each day, and in all circumstances, not just in the bad times. Let the joy of the Lord be your power of faith, for the only way to win life’s wars is by the strength of Jesus. Trample down the gates of evil and watch God take over the battle. His power is higher than any man who walks amongst us!

Let us pray –

Dear Father, I pray You will save me by Your precious grace so I may have everlasting life with You. Give me the fortitude to conquer the evil of everyone who seeks to harm me. I pray Your strength will be my fortress. Let me walk in Your footprints before me, so as not to falter or be misled into devilish corners. Bless me with a greater strength of faith, Your armor, so I am not held captive by the enemy. Thank you, Lord, for the battles Your awesome power has seen me through in life. Let my love in You now be my strength in faith and my forever fortress. Amen.



Our Faith is Being Tested

The brisk wind stirs my mind, and I ponder our current events. Shelves are empty in the stores, and a virus plagues us. Quarantined from life, it seems it’s against our nature not to roam freely with our adventuresome instincts. My excitement usually comes in the early light, but boredom sets in now as it rains throughout the day.

Are today’s trials set in place by God’s admission or schemed by Satan? Everyone has their hands tied, and the world has come to a screeching halt. No God in heaven would wish this on His chosen people… or would He? Perhaps He is telling us to take a stand. Our faith is being tested!

In the biblical scriptures of Matthew 24:6-8, Jesus speaks of the End Times events as “birth pains.” Besides food shortages and economic collapse, He also spoke of viruses and locust infestations. Throughout the Bible, God sent plagues and pestilence to deal with his own people.

Medical science has proven the coronavirus natural host is bats, and the Chinese consume them in the form of soup. Did you know the Bible labels bats as forbidden meat? China detests Christianity and persecutes believers in their country. It is undoubtedly interesting COVID-19 figures today show that over 21 million Chinese have died from this virus. Is this a message from God? It is probable He is putting you on alert.

You may ask why a loving God would allow the death of His children from a pandemic. This is a wake-up call for those who refuse to repent their sins or surrender to Christ as their Lord and Savior. After all, history repeats itself.

All the wealth and knowledge of mankind will not stop our Lord’s intentions. Are you concerned for your safety? Staying home helps… or does it? Yes, it can UNLESS it is God’s will for this to happen. I cannot affirm the coronavirus positively is such a plague, but be aware of the signs. What I write for you today may shed light on the secrets of the future.

The Lord is watching and preparing our new home. Life, at this moment, mirrors biblical prophecy, and our faith is being tested. Trying to make sense of an incomparable condition is better left to those chosen scholars of God.

Should you fear the ultimatum, or should you remain faithful? This disease is a test of our personal faith in Jesus Christ. Let Him be your refuge for peace and comfort. It is so essential in these times you pray for His protection, study the Bible, and ask for healing.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

A final thought –  a man recently delivered some lumber to my home, and he had a profound point of view on faith that I need to share with you. He said, “You can’t line dance to gospel music.” Thanks, Ira! Great perspective! Stay in faith, everyone… you’re being tested!


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Who Attempted to Stop Easter?

Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. He was part of God’s prophecy to send a Son to live a sinless life and to suffer, die, and be raised again. How else could God send the message He is sovereign over our land? Because there is no other way to enter the Kingdom of God except through His Son (John 6:44), Jesus’ mission was to save believers from God’s condemnation.

Many biblical names hated and loved Jesus while He walked the earth. Had man believed in God’s ultimate plan for Jesus, these people would have realized the attempts to stop His crucifixion and/or life were futile. Five men failed God’s test.

So, who attempted to stop Easter?

SATAN

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Satan and Jesus were always brutal enemies. Their most well-known confrontation was Satan’s visit while Jesus fasted in the Judaean Desert for forty nights and days. Satan tempted Him to create bread out of stones to relieve his own hunger, and leap from a pinnacle and rely on angels to break his fall. But when Satan asked Jesus to kneel before him in return for all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus became furious.

“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matthew 4:10)

Can you imagine Satan’s fury? If he were successful in tempting Jesus, there would be no Easter. Luke 22 claims Satan was most likely at the crucifixion as he was spotted in the area days before this historical event. He probably smirked with happiness, but little did he know…

King Herod

Image by James Tissot Collection (Brooklyn Museum)/FreeBibleImages.org

King Herod held the throne during Jesus’s time of birth. Furious to learn there was a Messiah who would be more loved than himself, he tried to find the pregnant woman. However, his plan backfired when the three Wisemen never returned with Herod’s information. He ordered all boys, in the age range of Jesus, to be executed. An angel warned Joseph and Mary to go to Egypt for safety as it was not part of the Roman territory.

King Herod was unsuccessful in finding our baby Savior. He died, instead, attempting to stop Easter because he was not part of God’s grand plan.

THE SANHEDRIN

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The chief priests, the Sanhedrin, were the Jewish council who hated Jesus. They wanted to kill him, so they looked for false evidence, such as blasphemy. Though it may appear they were fruitful in finally murdering Jesus, God’s plan overpowered their contempt. The empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection made news. The Sanhedrin’s attempt to stop Easter failed too.

PONTIUS PILATE

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Pontius Pilate was the judge who would not give the eventual decision on Jesus’ death. Consciously, Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, but the uproar of the people shouting, “Crucify him!” intimidated his decision. High-ranking Jewish officials blackmailed him to kill Jesus. Finally, he gave the ultimate choice to the people.

If Pilate ordered Jesus dead, we would always know him as the man who stopped Easter. But our powerful God had a better way to save the world.

SIMON PETER

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Simon Peter was one of Jesus’ closest friends. In the Bible, Jesus often referred to him as Peter. We know his famous story as the fisherman who couldn’t catch his daily supply of fish… that is until Jesus arrived on the scene. He convinced Simon to return to his boat and drop his nets overboard. Soon  the nets overflowed with fish. Simon was a faithful follower of Jesus’ ministry, and later became an apostle.

When Simon was alerted that Jesus was arrested, he headed for Jerusalem. At the unmerciful sight of our Lord’s whipped and beaten body, he drew his sword in anger. He cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant before Jesus stopped him (John 18:10-11).

Jesus said to Simon, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

Simon Peter felt as if he failed to save his friend’s life. How could God allow this to happen if Jesus was really who He pronounced Himself to be – the Son of God? He, too, doubted his friend’s identity until God resurrected Jesus. The Lord’s plan for mankind was greater than Simon’s attempt to stop Easter.

There lies a common theme in this morning’s Easter message: God is the ultimate ruler of our life. He sent His son into the world to give us eternal salvation, but what we do with this gift is our decision.

Today, as we reflect on our lives, we beseech God to intervene with the world’s problems. May He save us from a scenario we didn’t invite into our life. Some are trying to stop us from celebrating Easter. Is this a life experience and are we part of God’s ultimate plans? You bet! The evildoers won’t or can’t stop Easter. We may not enjoy egg hunts after Easter service, but we will exult our Lord Jesus, in the name of our heavenly Father, God.

On this Easter Sunday, we are challenged – is Satan behind the mass hysteria again? You bet! How else could a virus travel so fast around the world? It’s entered places where people do not visit often. Only Satan can try to stop Easter. I, for one, won’t let him do it!

God bless all our family, friends, and subscribers! Have a blessed, healthy, and peaceful Easter.