Autumn in October

A silence resonates from heaven as Christ fills the voids deep inside my soul. I see the troubled storm clouds approaching, and they make not a sound. A busy world persists, running in circles, but I keep an eye on the sky, for only my God do I wait.

Standing at the edge of a great canyon where extinction begins, and life ever after looks like a desert floor, I harbor the love Christ sends me. Within His peace, windows open with new opportunities. The canyon is far and wide, and in times of adventure, it seems an impossible crossing. For some, it’s a quest, but for others, it’s a stepping stone to enter eternity and be with Him.

I bundle my love and faith and wear it as a code of honor. It’s autumn in October… seasons change, and life emerges with new horizons. The sun salutes the night watchman, and I bid farewell to another night. God, in his miraculous way, restrains the spiritually encountering distance. His quiet voice calls, and I must be patient. It’s autumn in October, and the hour grows nearer.

Seeking my own passage, I step lightly on the ledge of fate. The rocks are jagged and sharp, and death is just a slip away. But God watches over me with a promissory note I pledged to Him. The canyons divulge how minute I am as I step out where courage calls.

In the autumn of life, the Lord’s love is upon me. He gathers His herd of humanity for a voyage to explore the canyon walls of life. The fiery nights beacon October, and it quenches our thirst and hearts. Please, Father, turn the desert floor into meandering waters. The quests are over – some I failed, but some I conquered by Your blessings.

It’s autumn in October, and a new child is born. Goodbyes of another life are hard. Still, a new life is always on the horizon, for as one door closes, another is born again.

Another adventure, another voyage as the pride of time, sets my course upon another mission. Only God will bridge the heavens as I wait at the ledge of the canyon walls. I built my caves… now it’s time to surrender. The slope is deep, but it is in God’s hands to bestow the faith as He calls me home.

Love is filled with memories, in yet another autumn in October. The mystical canyon mourns, and the life which once prospered refrains in the setting sun. The shadows long for God’s calling… come home with Me when you’re ready.


Our blogs will resume next Sunday, November 10, when we celebrate Christmas with the “Everything Christmas Blogs.” Please be sure to join us!

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The Fact Remains

This world still evolves in the past tense. I quoted a proverb in Ecclesiastes 1:9 which reads, “there’s nothing new under the sun,” and I’ll be darned if it isn’t true. Solomon wrote this statement, 500 years before Jesus’ birth, to emphasize the cyclic nature of human life on earth and the emptiness of living only for the “rat race.” It’s a life separated from God. But, our gracious God continues to rain down His love on us… even amidst the turmoil.

I’m not a great biblical scholar, but it’s obvious we, as God’s children have not learned a thing. It’s clear the hardships of Jesus are repeating themselves in the modern-day. How odd to read the trials of Jesus and then observe Christianity today.

The Pharisees and Jews took it upon themselves to discredit the Son of man. Jesus came to save the world and to give us salvation, but we’ve still not learned our lesson. He was a man so brutally beat, chastised and ridiculed because no one believed him. It was easier to side with the laws of the land, then to be uprooted to another religion.

But, a few knew the truth about Him in biblical days. They did not fear the religious upheaval, but embraced the faith, which led them to Him. In all His splendor and integrity, Jesus ultimately proved His identity when He died for our sins.

Today, our system finds it easier to ruin and destroy His direction than to believe in our Savior, who came to deliver us, two thousand years ago. The evil brews to the point of boiling, for unbelievers are monumentally winning over the world. The fact remains, if not for the faith of believers who held on to their principles, the rampant corruption would go wild. This is a prophecy in the Bible that our world is quickly fulfilling today.

My Dad, God love him, always said it’s easy to find fault in a person. I believe goodness lies beneath hatred when the truth slowly emerges from the layers. I can’t help but think back when Jesus walked on this earth. His ministry was short, for evildoers who had little faith and didn’t believe in His integrity blemished it. Doesn’t this sound familiar today as many allow the media’s march to undermine the truth of God’s word? I cannot imagine the inner turmoil of those who do not have faith in anything for they relish in hatred.

I energize my faith in the name of God’s glory, for the great master and overseer of all evil, brings to light the doers of animosity. Just as in biblical times, the proof takes a while to expose, but eventually, the truth will be revealed for it is God’s will!

Pray for those who live in doubt and fear faith because they find it easier to condemn than to compliment. The fact remains, God’s love will intervene in their destructive behavior.

My dad’s words ring out once more!

Proverbs 26:24-26

“A hateful person disguises himself with his speech and harbors deceit within. When he speaks graciously, don’t believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart. Though his hatred is concealed by deception, his evil will be revealed in the assembly.”


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Low Octane

Certain formulas just make sense, as in the Hi-Performance engines of my younger days. We raced muscle cars every Friday or Saturday night if the weather cooperated on those days. Low octane fuel was for little less-powered engines. But, if we wanted great strength and power, high octane gave us a much better performance. Our health and well-being run on the same performance factors, and it’s equated to the relationship we have with God.

I’m sure some of us have observed people who sat in the back of a church and appeared as though they slept in their clothes. Some believers come to take up space and really don’t take part in the songs of praise. But in the front pews of God’s church, sat the brilliant Christians, praising the Lord, and magnified by God’s glow. Those beautifully dressed believers in the front rows, with their hands held high to receive God’s word… need I say more? They are full of high octane. Then, I examined those of ill-faded color, dull complexions, blemished, and disheveled, and it was apparent their spirituality may be (or was) filled with low octane. Their engine’s performance could be directly related to the quality of octane they put into their bodies.

“If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:17

Though a remarkable difference in the congregation is clear, there appears to be a more profound correlation not so noticeable. My theory is purely hypothetical, so I did some research to discover the accuracy of my prognosis.

“You shall serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you.” Exodus 23:25

Jesus proved in His healing work that it is God’s will we have good health. Many examples in scriptures reveal the miracles of Jesus healing those with ailments. Our health is the inevitable result of knowing God and living a life filled with His love and direction. Let’s look at a few of these examples.

My wife’s mother was a devout, God-fearing Christian who lived her life by God’s commandments. When she passed away at ninety-five years old, she barely had a wrinkle on her face. She glowed in God’s spirit, and He took her from us peacefully, without pain and struggle. I have a high school friend who has not had a natural heartbeat since 1995. Pacemakers have been the source of her existence, but she praises the Lord for her health and life. Looking at her today, she is the epitome of health – glowing skin, smiling ear-to-ear, and shiny, beautiful hair. She runs on high octane and lives every day to the fullest. God bless her heart!

On a more notable scale, the evangelist, Billy Graham, was ninety-nine years old when he quietly passed away. He struggled with cancer and eventually died of pneumonia, but until the day he died, he looked healthy. He had God’s glow of high octane. The late Bishop Eddie Long, head of one of the largest mega-churches in the U.S., is another example of one who passed away from cancer. He maintained his youthful appearance and high octane looks until the day he left us.

Our health is a gift to all of God’s children. We can overcome disease and sickness, in some sense, by living a faithful life to Christ. Now do not misinterpret my words to mean we will never get sick or recover from terminal conditions if we live on high octane. God doesn’t promise us life with no pain or sickness. But one has to wonder… why are those with spiritually low octane, appear not so healthy, yet those who run on high octane rarely show any illnesses? Pay close attention to those around you who are suffering ailments and tell me if my observation isn’t correct.

The principles of well-being are not only our mental health but the condition of our physical health too. It’s simple – God is the highest octane you can receive for your body. Where can you get it? We obtain it through prayer and living a godly life. The more the Lord resonates in your life, the better you will look and feel. Let the love of God be Your octane bust!


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The 8 Most Powerful Women in the Bible: Part Three

What makes a woman powerful? Is it money, fame, a political position, or is it an Oscar-winning actress? Any of these attributes may be true in today’s society, but not in biblical days. Many excellent examples of strong, influential women grace the pages of the Bible. Now two thousand years later, everyone may find much wisdom in the biblical females. Use them as a guiding tool in your personal lives and to develop a relationship with God.


Did you miss the first two parts of this series? Click HERE for Part One. Click HERE for Part Two.


Joanna the Apostle (also known as Junia)

Joanna does not have a specific story as some other women in this series. In fact, her life is pieced together by many scriptures throughout the Bible, but what an influential person! She was an upper-class Jewish woman in 1st century Palestine. Her grandfather was Theophilus, the High Priest in the Second Temple, in Jerusalem.

The earliest mention of Joanna was in Luke 8:3, where she is referred to as the wife of Chuza, a steward to Herod Antipas. They were married when she was very young, and they both maintained jobs in Herod’s royal household. I’m sure this placed Joanna in a very unpopular category with ordinary Jews. One of her husband’s duties was to make sure everyone paid their taxes to Herod.

Like Mary Magdalene, Joanna, too, had demons in her body. She was often curious about Jesus and His miracles. Would He cleanse her as well? On the days she traveled away from the royal household, she would sit as a bystander and listen to His sermons of parables. One day, Jesus directed his attention to her and spoke with conviction. As the healing miracles of Jesus’ power tell, He knew she was possessed, too, with infirmities…and so He healed her.

Joanna gave a lot of money to Jesus and His disciples. She was wealthy, well-connected, and influential, so she was able to protect Him in subtle ways. She became instrumental in the success of His mission. In this biblical age, it was scandalous for a woman to be financially supportive of a man, much less a female who came from King Herod’s house. But, she took the risk, even though she witnessed her employer, King Herod, behead John the Baptist.

Ruins of King Herod’s palace

At some point in Joanna’s marriage, she becomes single again. One can only imagine the reasons why this happened – perhaps Chuza divorced her, or was he murdered for his position in the royal home? The Bible does not state a specific cause. But, Joanna was in the ranks of the Galilean poor with no social standing or financial security, but she held her head high, turning her life to serve Jesus.

She memorized the Lord’s parables and joined Jesus in storytelling among the poor villages along with a few other women. Many of their listeners were rejected for their conversion to Christianity, so Joanna could sympathize with their feelings. Indeed she was inspired by Jesus’ teachings. She traveled as far as Rome, being a witness to the Lord. She was eventually named an Apostle.

It is spoken in scripture Joanna and Mary Magdalene prepared the cloths to wrap Jesus’ body after His crucifixion. She was also a witness to the empty tomb after His resurrection. Her love for Jesus was deep, and she served Him faithfully until the end of His life.


What made Joanna a powerful woman?

Joanna was brave and proud. She faced public condemnation by becoming single and leaving a royal household, but she held her head high amidst the turmoil and confusion. I’m sure her conversion to Christianity was a radical change too.

When she lived among the elite and wealthy, she gave her money to Jesus and the disciples. She was generous to a fault. Her high values didn’t place wealth on personal belongings, but rather to God.

Joanna was inspiring because she transitioned from an aristocratic woman to a humble servant during her life. She didn’t mourn the loss of possessions but became a witness to the strength of the Lord. Money was a means-to-an-end to serve others.

Jesus healed her ailments because he recognized the self-power she had inside her to change.

Her stewardship to Jesus and the Gospel was uncompromising, and in return, He blessed her with grace.

After Jesus’ death, Joanna became a traveling missionary. It is implied that if she died outside the Holy Land, they brought her body back to Jerusalem. In the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, they adorned Joanna a saint.


EVE

Imagine if suddenly your body just appeared as an adult. You are facing another human who looks different, and his name is Man. Everything around is magically beautiful. Objects called trees stand taller than yourself, and the ground is green with grass and shrubs.

God spoke to them saying they could eat from any fruit of the trees except for the tree of good and evil in the middle of the garden. God warned them if they ate from the tree, they would die. This scenario is precisely the one Eve faced on her creation day. I wonder what her thoughts were at this exact moment?

As she walked through the shrubbery, she saw a slithering serpent who spoke to her. (Genesis 3:1-6, NIV)

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Eve responded, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”

“You will not certainly die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” the serpent retorted.

The fruit on the tree looked delicious, so she picked it off the stem and took a nibble. Then she handed it to the Man who also took a bite of the irresistible fruit. Their eyes opened wide when they realized they were naked. Ashamed and embarrassed, Adam and Eve pulled fig leaves off of the trees, sewed them together, and covered the most intimate parts of their body.

Suddenly, they heard footsteps walking in the garden, so they hid, in fear, among the trees. The Lord God approached them and asked why they were hiding. Adam spoke first… “I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Adam and Eve hung their heads down.

Adam answered, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then Eve responded to God, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:11-13 NIV)

God sternly faced Eve and said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 NIV)

Then the Lord God said to Adam, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19 NIV)

The Lord made garments of skin for them to wear and moved Adam to the east side of the Garden of Eden, where he would work the land for food. Adam and Eve procreated, and a son, named Cain, was born. Later, another son, Abel, was born. As they grew older, their children learned to struggle, working in the fields.

Eve realized the curse God placed upon them, for life was a battle. Childbirth was unbearable, and then she endured the death of her son, Abel. The Lord punished Cain for killing Abel and placed him in the land of Nod, east of Eden, to become a wanderer. We must do what is right before God or reap the consequences.


Many misunderstandings about Eve swirl throughout the generations and since the beginning of mankind. She is held responsible for the sin of humanity by eating the forbidden fruit. Some believe she ‘enticed’ Adam to eat it, too. However, there isn’t biblical truth to this statement. The fact is, Adam did not have to take the fruit and eat it, but he did, knowingly aware of the consequences.

Eve is mislabeled with names such as “the devil’s gateway,” “temptress,“ and “wicked persuasion.” My response to any of those unwarranted titles come from this standpoint – Eve did not know of evil, nor Satan and his lies. How can she be singly be held accountable for the fall of mankind?


What made Eve a powerful woman?

Eve was the first woman, no other before her.

She is “the mother of all living,” for she is the beginning of humanity. Eve represents the maternal potential of adult women. She proclaimed the sons she gave childbirth to were created by man and God.

Eve was created with a pure heart, and her only knowledge of life came from Adam and God.

Created in God’s image, Eve carries the feminine qualities of the character of God. Her power of being a woman teaches us mankind cannot exist without ‘womankind.’


Eve’s powerful story wasn’t so much about her good qualities, but what she taught us about life and a relationship with God:

Disobedience to God leads us to follow our own will, thus unfortunate consequences. She believed Satan rather than God. How many of us, today, act on impulse versus praying to God for the correct answer to problems?

When we compromise God’s Word by blocking out or changing the parts we refuse to hear, it becomes a means to continue sinning.

If we do not resist sin when it presents itself, we will eventually give in to the temptation.


Next Sunday will be the final two women in this series. Be sure to join us!


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“The History of Hope”

Today, I acknowledged a miracle of words when I picked up my sacred golden pages known as the Bible. I was seeking special words of encouragement to share with my readers when a light shone on a preface. Among the Scriptures and descriptions of my Bible were four simple words clear as the morning sky – The history of hope. Wow! This Christian compilation of sixty-six books and letters, written by over forty authors, says more about the complexity of God’s holy words than anything else. What better way can you describe the Bible than hope!

If I ever find time to pen, ‘A Bible for Dummies,’ I’ll use these encouraging words to show the love God shares with humanity. I often mention the voids we have in our souls. We look for something to fill the emptiness deep inside us. Its HOPE, of course, hopes our faith will withstand the depression of the world we live in today.

This divine and extraordinary book is God’s plan for our salvation. The Bible gives us deliverance from sin, repentance, a roadmap for faith, and a refuge in times of trouble. It’s a sourcebook for everyday living, regardless of your religion. Even though its stories took place in Asia, Africa, and Europe, the message is still the same for all believers – everyone needs hope.

Everyone dreams of a better future, but what do we use as guidelines to make it happen? We can rely on our wisdom and knowledge, or we can refer to biblical scriptures for the exact answers. I know someone right now is saying, “I can’t understand or comprehend the Bible.” Guess what? Neither can I, but I take one passage at a time, and I ask for God’s help…and it works! Another resource for better comprehension is to do a careful search on the internet. Only use resources written by the church and their ministry.

The word “hope” in the Bible means “a strong and confident expectation.” It deals with things, yet unseen, and the testimony of God’s promises. In other words, the Bible is HOPE. Hope – based on heavenly realities, which gives us the power to live courageously, and to be all we can be through Christ Jesus.

The words “The history of hope” alone alludes to peace and sovereignty. Hope gives us strength and courage. Never give it up nor the hope in the power of our Lord!


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Fall Calls

The night sparkles and a less humid night clears the way for a splendid view of the heavens. Flowers fade, and the lack of chlorophyll yellows their leaves. Fall calls… the chill in the air tells the story. I love this time of the year! My mind reverts to a time when the faded foliage lined the river banks. It was a time to take a deep breath and inhale the crisp chill of the Severn River autumn air.

I remember the autumn days my Dad and I sailed his 28 foot Triton, hard to the wind. It seemed as if nothing else mattered, even as the chilly breeze threw a summer spray of water onto the deck. Courtships blossomed on that boat, and many friends were also delighted to join me in an occasional afternoon of sailing on the Severn. Gazing out over the picturesque shoreline gave a luster of the magnificence of God’s fall calling.

Those were the young, innocent days as God watched over us with shades of red, orange, and yellow. Though my dad passed, I still thank him for the love he instilled in me for sailing on the river. The irretrievable years of childhood are gone now, and I fight to survive in another autumn’s cycle. Sometimes we’re hit with a monsoon of situations, but faith and God carry us through these times.

Fall calls once again, and I look forward to walks with my wife in the crisp evening air and chatting with neighbors who enjoy the refreshing breeze too. I will look up to the heavens and thank my awesome Father for His wonderful gifts.

Life is full of unexpected circumstances – things like a leaky tire we forget to fix or to put trust in someone who didn’t keep a promise. But we, somehow, adjust always thanking God for protecting our destiny.

I’ve learned one lesson since my anointment ten years ago, and it’s to armor yourself in prayer every day. Build your surroundings with a strength to endure the cold streaks. Honor God for Satan waits at the corner of every turn in life. Just keep moving toward our Almighty.

Fall calls, so breathe a sigh of relief! Protect your autumn traditions as placed by our Lord Jesus. The season brings us nearer to His great paintings of majestic colors. The earth presents itself in an array of shades and much needed cooler temperatures. As the leaves wilt and die, they, too, will flourish in a rebirth. It is our promise of glory.

“The seasons come and go, so focus on the God who remains unchanged and unchanging. “LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”

(Psalm 90:1-2)


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Familiar Signs of the Antichrist

I recently reread the Book of Revelations to digest the word “Antichrist,” a beast who will rise to power during the end times. If we study Apostle John’s writing (called the “Beast from the Abyss”), he claims there will be many antichrists (false teachers) between the time of Christ’s first and Second Coming, but only one great Antichrist. Paul the Apostle even painted a great picture of this character. Though the Antichrist is considered an entity, it will be led by one person. So, let’s review this person’s attributes according to the Bible.

ATTRIBUTES OF THE ANTICHRIST

1 – He speaks blasphemies against God (Revelation 13:5) and changes the words of Jesus. The Antichrist also claims priests can forgive sins (but only God can do this). (Luke 5:21) He will also deny Christ lived as a human being. (1 John 4:3)

2 – He has the authority to rule over every tribe, people, language, and nation. The Bible considers those who follow him as the names not written in the Book of Life before God made the world.

3 – He has great political power as he rises to power as a very influential, charismatic, political, or religious diplomat. The Antichrist won’t appear to be evil at first.

4 – This person will be an economic and foreign policy genius.

5 – He will institute lawlessness across the nation.

6 – The Antichrist will emerge from one of ten countries in Europe as a Gentile. (Daniel 7:7-8) This constitutes the revival of the Roman Empire. (Daniel 7:16-24)

7 – He will be a liar and deceiver whose natural abilities Satan enhances with a counterfeit supernatural power to confuse people.

8 – He will claim himself to be God. (2 Thessalonians 2:4)

9 – He will represent a world religion, not predominately Jewish. (Revelation 13:11-18)

ANTICHRIST MOVEMENTS ARE EVERYWHERE

Today, there is a movement called the AntiChrist Warriors. They are on a rampage to destroy Christianity, a sign of the end times. Some of their names include anti-Christian, anti-Christ, and atheism. They cause upheavals such as the use of “Happy Holidays,” not “Merry Christmas.” They petitioned for the US Capitol Christmas tree to be called the “Capitol Holiday Tree.”

The AntiChrist Warriors also fought for the removal of prayers in schools. We can witness their lobbying at abortion clinics, Hobby Lobby, Family Planning clinics, florists, and wedding venues. As you can tell, they are the leaders of Christian persecution.

Events predicted in the Bible which precede the Antichrist include a substantial increase in Christian persecution. Random attacks of Christians will come from hundreds of thousands of Antichrist minions around the world. These individuals, organizations, and events were foretold thousands of years ago, so Christian friends, be on high alert.

IS THE ANTICHRIST AMONGST US TODAY?

Many people today are trying to figure out who the Antichrist is in the world today. My opinion is we have not seen him surface yet. This Gentile will be a staunch non-believer of Christ, and he will hail from Europe, Greece, or the Middle East. It’s unfathomable a great leader will convince the world that no god exists, but Revelations predicts the event. In the meantime, his followers are in place around the world.

HOW CAN CHRISTIANS AVOID THE ANTICHRIST?

Is there any place to hide from the power of the coming Antichrist and his followers which live amongst us? As Christians, we cannot hide from the world’s corruption – it’s in our backyard. But, instead of hiding in the pages of the Bible, we should continue to live by the Lord’s Word.

Be selective of your friends and acquaintances. I have a personal example to share with you. I knew a woman who attended my church and was part of the choir. She sang the praises of the Lord. Her demonic behavior soon surfaced when it was revealed she was labeled a “black widow.” She married seven times, just long enough to steal the money and possessions of each husband. In the 90s, she and her parents began a mission church. But, God halted that when she was arrested for extortion. The lawlessness of the Antichrist’s believers, which Paul the Apostle warned us about, are everywhere.

From one Christian to another, stand up for God! Do not crouch behind your TV screen and silently watch the Antichrist protests and destruction. Fight for your beliefs by voicing your opinion. Disconnect yourself from the media, which gives glory to the Antichrist movement. Do not be misled by clergy with ulterior motives – money and fame.

Be an avid reader of the Bible so you will be familiar with the signs of the Antichrist and false prophets. Follow God’s word for your eternal salvation. God bless.


BEGINNING NEXT SUNDAY!


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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

God can change your course of history. Have you ever been between a rock and a hard place, where you have to make a choice between two unpleasant options? I grew old from throwing stones, so I conceded to stay in prayer.

I’ve found myself at dead-ends of lonely highways, and at the edge of cliffs I thought was a gentle shoreline. I drove in storms where no man ventured, unaware I was being protected by God. Do you, too, look at your world and question how you ended up where you are today?

Second-guessing our world allows Satan a place to rest in your life. No rest for the weary may have more meaning once you understand the complexity of the verse. Being placed between a rock and a hard place is best described as a vice on your spirit. God will not allow our hearts to be bound if we continue in loving prayer. We can apply God’s command by choosing His way…

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him.”

Deuteronomy 30:19-20

How does God give us direction? He guides us by the wisdom of the Bible and wise biblical counsel from His servants. It addresses every complexing situation in life. Sometimes, though, answers may not be clear through scriptures. Search out guidance in a library or Christian websites to gain a piece of broader knowledge.

“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14

Maybe you’re afraid of deciding about something which you may regret later. Everyone has to make choices, and my friends, our Father’s abundance of grace and mercy freely flows to His children. His forgiveness is unending.

I give God the glory! The mighty savior’s strength protects us from the storms. He knows we face situations of being caught between a rock and a hard place. But in the sanctuary of His safety, He delivers answers within the ferocious winds and the sigh of calm waters. The Lord’s love abounds among the fear. He mends the broken threads of Satan’s fury for His way is forevermore.

I pray your prayers will make miracles happen when you are between a rock and a hard place. Wouldn’t you rather find peace in a quiet harbor than on a violent sea? Pack a paddle and head for the Lord!



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Enemy #1: Miseo

The most massive resistance to Christianity encompasses all the thoughts of evildoers. It’s black or white –  you either love or do not love. A lack of love carries traits of bitterness, jealousy, rejection, and envy. How sad we instigate not loving another human being! So I ask, can you truly love if there is an ounce of hate in your heart? There was only one word which described Christ’s mission and it was the word “love.” Jesus, the son of God, surrounded His ministry with this word. It gave birth to Christianity.

Miseo, the Greek word to love someone else less than you love the Lord, is found 173 times in the New Testament. It’s a viral unrest in the world which extends back as far as time permits. Why I wonder, do some hate so much, especially if they claim to be a Christ-follower? I ask my Father in heaven, why can’t we denounce hatred and share the benefits of having You in our life? How can I word this emotion best?

I can begin by explaining Satan’s evil ways. Though he runs rampant in the world, Satan will be short-lived because God has bigger plans for his demise. Hatred is a dominating force where prevailing winds howl – a lack of compassion. Wikipedia defines it well though as “a prejudice-motivated crime.” It’s a fear of things different from us and a lack of empathy. Did you know to hate others is also to hate yourself and God? This is an emotion the Lord never created humans to endure.

If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

— 1 John 4:20-21

I’ve often read and was told Jesus “hated” throughout his life. Let me start by saying the Bible was translated hundreds of times from its original script. Certain words, which could not be interpreted accurately, entered the scriptures we read today, and “hate” or “miseo” is one such example. Our Lord is not a God of hate, but true, righteous, and holy. “Hate” in the Bible only describes the intense feelings of anger God has toward sin and persistent sinners. It also implies, “to feel less love”. If Jesus hated people, He would not forgive sin nor the sinner.

Hate is a state of mind and as barbaric as the animals in the wild. It is an unwanted gift conceived by the principals of a demonic character. Where there is hatred, there is no love. It’s impossible to speak of love (and mean it) from one side of the lips yet spew out verbs to imply hatred from the other side of the mouth.

I have a Sunday series currently posted about Paul the Apostle. This was a man who fought the hatred of Christianity every place he traveled in his missionary trips. It caused riots, his brutal beatings, imprisonment, and even his ultimate demise… and for what? Christianity is still alive. Paul stood up, dusted himself off, and walked back into their cities filled with love for the nation who despised him! What was the purpose of the Jews hating what Paul stood for when he always had God on his side? Hate’s negative energy doesn’t serve a purpose except to the sinner committing the crime.

If you pay close attention to your TV or even your children’s electronic games, evil hatred is broadcast, subtly agitating the subconscious of the brain. Enemy #1 becomes a deadly virus waiting to encompass someone’s life. Spiritual warfare is more pronounced today as Satan’s time is nearing the end. Fight to avoid falling into his pit of fire for it goes against the grain of our heavenly Father. God will, as always, prevail in your times of disasters and feelings of anger. Fill your ark with prayers for “Enemy #1: Miseo” to go away. A Christian must uphold God’s commandment to love one another.


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The Dynamic Story of Paul the Apostle: Part 3, Second Missionary Trip

Paul and Barnabas settled back home and enjoyed leisurely visits with the disciples. They discussed their handpicks for church leaders in their first journey. They also detailed how God used them to open the door of faith to people of all nations. Excitement filled the air.

Not long after their arrival home, some Jews from Judea appeared at Antioch (of Syria) and insisted they must circumcise every man for eternal salvation. A fierce protest ensued, so the church sent Paul, Barnabas, and a few others to Jerusalem to settle the dispute. (Acts 15)

The Jerusalem conference happily received Paul and Barnabas. They knew about the good works of the two disciples. The meeting began, and it wasn’t long before they argued both sides. After a long period of heated discussions, James (the brother of Jesus) declared the decision. Non-Jewish people would not be burdened with circumcision. A letter would be given, instead, to every male – ‘Do not get involved in idolatry, guard the morality of sex and marriage, and do not serve offensive food to the Jewish Christians.’

Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch, reported the decision of the conference, and it relieved many – they were pleased with the result. It was time to return to their missionary work. Paul wanted to return to a few of his earlier churches to give them continuing encouragement. But Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways. Paul chose Silas, a leading member, and preacher of the early church, to make this three-year journey with him through Asia Minor.


Image of Paul’s second missionary trip courtesy of freebibleimages.org

LYSTRA/ PHRYGIA (Acts 14:8-16:40)

It was the fall of 51 A.D., and Paul and Silas arrived in Lystra. He met a disciple named Timothy whose excellent reputation preceded him. Paul took the young man under his wing and mentored him, but one stipulation applied before he could travel with Paul… he must be circumcised so he wouldn’t offend the Jews who lived in Lystra. Timothy became one of Paul’s most steadfast and trusted companions as they traveled from town to town, presenting the Gospel. Day after day, the congregations grew larger and stronger in faith throughout Lystra and Phrygia.


MYSIA to MACEDONIA (Acts 16:16-40)

The apostles went to Mysia (northwest corner of Turkey) at the suggestion of the Holy Spirit. They finally arrived in the seaport of Troas which sat on the Aegean Sea. Macedonia would soon prove to be an eventful trip.

The night of Paul’s arrival in Troas, he could barely sleep. He had a vision of a Macedonian standing on the far shore yelling to him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” Paul understood God’s message; He wanted Paul to settle into Europe, so he quickly put his plans and map in place.

When they arrived in New City, Paul and Silas walked to Philippi, the main city and a Roman colony of Macedonia. They prepared the list of cities they would visit, which also included Apollonia, Amphipolis, and Thessalonica.

Several days later was the Sabbath, and the apostles strolled down to the river where there was to be a prayer meeting. They sat amongst the women who gathered there and talked with them. Lydia, a purple-dye textile dealer from Thyatira, was a good God-fearing woman. She developed a lasting relationship with the disciples, and they even stayed as guests in her home until they moved to their next location. But, before the disciples left, Paul baptized Lydia and her family. Today, we know her in the Bible as the first European convert to Christianity.

Image of Lydia courtesy of freebibleimages.org

Some time passed, and a discerning incident occurred in town. The disciples ran into a slave girl on the street who was a psychic. She began following Paul around for several days, sarcastically yelling to everyone, “These men are working for the Most High God. They’re laying out the road of salvation for you!”

Paul became irate one day and turned to her, “Out! In the name of Jesus Christ, get out of her!” And the spirit departed from her.

When the slave girl’s owners realized their fortune-telling business was bankrupt, they gathered many people together. They searched and found Paul and Silas and viciously attacked them. The mob dragged the disciples by their feet into the market square where the police arrested them for disturbing the peace. They put Paul and Silas in a maximum-security cell with their legs clamped in round ironclads.

Paul and Silas in jail; image courtesy of freebibleimages.org

About midnight, other prisoners in the jail heard praying and singing of hymns. Paul and Silas were clearly amused at their arrest. Then, without warning, the ground beneath their feet started moving and shaking – it was an earthquake! The walls of the jailhouse shook, and every door flew open.

Badly shaken by the disruption, the warden fell on his knees before Paul and Silas. “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” The apostles stood shocked and examined his pitiful face.

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” The warden took Paul and Silas home. He bandaged their wounds and fed them a meal. In the morning hours, Paul and Silas baptized the jailer and his entire family.

The next morning, the court judges sent word the apostles were free. Paul objected based on the principle it humiliated them in public and good standing Roman citizens. Surprised the apostles were Romans, the judges hurried to them and apologized for the mishap. It was time for the ninety-seven mile trip to Thessalonica.


THESSALONICA (Acts 17:2-9)

Thessalonica was an ancient and prosperous city of Macedon in northern Greece. It was a major trade route with many cultures. Paul and Silas took refuge in a man’s home named Jason, who was a Jewish Christian.

A community of Jews inhabited the area, so Paul immediately preached in the synagogues, “this Jesus I’m introducing you to is the Messiah.” The apostle won many of the God-fearing Greeks. Mad with jealousy, the Jews gathered a group of brawlers off the streets, and they hunted every street in search of Paul and Silas. They broke into Jason’s house but couldn’t find the apostles, so they collared Jason and his friends instead and dragged them before the mayor.

The Jews yelled hysterically, “These people are out to destroy the world, and now they’ve shown up on our doorstep, attacking everything we hold dear! Jason is hiding them, these traitors and turncoats who say Jesus is king and Caesar is nothing!”

The crowd of people and the mayor were alarmed by their charges. Jason had to post a heavy bail while the case was investigated. In the dead of night, Paul and Silas slipped out of town, but not before contacting Antioch (in Syria) to send Timothy to Berea.


BEREA (Acts 17:10-15)

A more matured Timothy joined the apostles in Berea, a city in northern Greece. They, again, met with the Jewish community and were treated so much better than in Thessalonica. The Jews were enthusiastic to hear Paul’s message, and many converted to Christians.

After only three months in Berea, reports filtered back to the Jews in Thessalonica that the three apostles were in town. Another Jewish mob scene began, and with the help of Timothy and Silas, Paul was put on a boat and taken out to sea. When Paul reached Athens, he sent word back to Timothy and Silas to come as quick as possible.


ATHENS (Acts 17:16-34)

Paul toured the city of Athens while he waited for Timothy and Silas to arrive by his side. The city was full of junkyard idols. Paganism gripped the town and works of art such as statues were pillaged. It was clear the Romans deserted the city. He spoke with many of the locals and developed good friendships. His preaching of Jesus and the resurrection was often met with sarcasm, but many were intrigued too. “That’s a new slant on the gods. Tell us more!”

They soon approached Paul to make a public presentation of “his God” at the Areopagus, a hill west of the Athenian Acropolis, where the government council often met.  He took his stand and faced the audience.

Image of Areopagus courtesy of freebibleimages.org

“People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.”

Paul’s notorious speech on that day won the conversion of a few people and some Greek poets who attended the program in Athens. A successful trip it was but fifty-five miles to the southwest, Corinth was calling him.


CORINTH (Acts 18:1-11)

Corinth was a thriving cosmopolitan city. Shortly after his arrival, Paul met Aquila and Priscilla, who shared the trade of tent making with him. They were new arrivals to Corinth too; since they were Jews, they were banished from Rome by the emperor, Claudius. A friendship quickly formed between the three, and Paul was invited to live and work with them.  But every Sabbath he was at the meeting place doing his best to convince both Jews and Greeks about Jesus.

At long last Silas and Timothy arrived and now he could devote his time to preaching, but something was wrong. They persistently argued and contradicted Paul, so he walked out and went to the home of Titius Justus. Titius was a God-fearing man who lived next to the Jews’ meeting place. Paul assigned Timothy to be one of his leading troubleshooters for congregational problems within the churches of Corinth.

Many Corinthians converted to Christianity, and with the Lord’s encouragement in the middle of the night, Paul was successful in his mission. He stayed another year and a half preaching while he also wrote two epistles to the church of Thessalonica. These earliest apostolic letters today are known as First and Second Thessalonians of the Bible.

Christian persecution, once again, played in the forefront. The Jews campaigned against Paul, hauled him into court, and filed charges of seducing people into acts of worship that were illegal. Gallio, the governor, could not have cared less so he let the charges drop against Paul.

Paul stayed a little while longer before he left Corinth with his friends, Aquila and Priscilla, at his side. He wanted to go back to Jerusalem to observe the Pentecost. They boarded a ship in the harbor town of Cenchrea and headed for Ephesus in present-day Turkey.


EPHESUS to CAESAREA (Acts 18:20-21)

Priscilla and Aquila got off the ship and stayed in Ephesus. They pleaded with Paul to stay awhile longer, but he promised he would come back soon. He left the ship briefly to preach to the Jews (the first person to preach Christianity in Ephesus) and then returned to take a boat to Caesarea.

Paul disembarked in Caesarea and headed to Jerusalem where he greeted the assembly of Christians. It was a long three years, and it was time to go back to Antioch and rest.

Did you miss Part 1? Click HERE. Did you miss Part 2? Click HERE.


SUMMARY OF PAUL’S SECOND MISSIONARY TRIP

During this second missionary journey, Paul formed many disciples from all backgrounds. He took a young Timothy under his wing and mentored how to preach and exhibit patience, purity, and integrity. It was important to encourage their congregations, or it will be lifeless.

In Philippi, Paul disciples and baptized a businesswoman by the name of Lydia. She was the very first person to convert to Christianity in Europe. Many Christian denominations today recognize her as a saint, especially in the Orthodox church. A modern baptistry is located, today, on the traditional site where Lydia was baptized by Paul. In, we have to wonder if he had Lydia in mind when he wrote: “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)

Paul developed a strong bond with the married couple Aquila and Priscilla. He disciples them, and they eventually became a first-century Christian missionary team. In some religions, we often think her to have been the first female preacher or teacher in early church history.

Image of Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla courtesy of freebibleimages.org

He planted the church in Philippi during his second missionary journey somewhere the year A.D. 49 or 50. His ministry was so successful that even when he left Philippi, the Philippian Christians supported Paul sending him monetary gifts at various times when he was in financial need. He wrote about this in Philippians 4: 15-16:

“When I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.”

He loved them for their commitment to the Lord, and they became his closest friends.

During the time they imprisoned Paul in Philippi, he suffered mentally and physically, but he knew life was never truly hopeless. God can rescue us from any trouble. We can note the earthquake which occurred while he was in jail was not felt or observed anywhere else in Philippi – another of God’s miracles.

Athens was a disturbing experience for Paul as idolatry overpowered the beauty of this lost city. He wrote about it in the Book of Romans claiming Gentiles and Jews are under divine condemnation, hopeless and helpless, and in need of salvation. His Areopagus sermon was infamous, though, because it was his first attempt to explain the nature of Christ to highly cultivated philosophers. He emphasized the need to know God, rather than worshiping the unknown. The part of his speech which covered “the resurrection of the dead” was his kiss of death. The Greeks felt it foolish and impossible, so they threw out Paul’s entire message. We can find his ministry teachings to Athens in 1 Corinthians: Chapters 1, 2, and 3; Romans chapter 1; and Colossians chapters one and two. Paul never founded a church in Athens.

Corinth, though many people were Greeks, they were more worldly and from other parts of Greece and foreign lands. They were more receptive to Paul and his message that the Savior was the highest expression of love. He made it known there is no higher love than that which gives up a son to die for their sins. It was a different psychological approach to those who praised other gods. Paul successfully founded a church in Corinth.

I hope you are enjoying this series about Paul the Apostle. Next Sunday, I will conclude with his third and final missionary trip and the circumstances of his death. As many finds the Bible confusing, I pray I have shed a light and deeper understanding of the complexity of Paul.


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