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Artscript Canada Publications


TIMELY MESSAGES IN THE SEASON OF CHRIST'S RETURN

By writer and researcher, Margaret M. Greenfield
B.A. ICS

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Our Western Privilege



The children of Israel had lived peacefully in Egypt for many years with their Hebrew relative Joseph as Prime Minister, second only in authority to the Pharoah (presumably Thutmose III) during the Hyksos kings dynasty.

Several years after the death of Joseph, a new dynasty began somewhere around 1570 B.C. God’s holy Scriptures tell us in Exodus 1:8,
“Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” And this Pharoah, despite his power and authority, was incredibly insecure within himself, fearing the growing numbers of Hebrews could result in an eventual takeover of his kingdom. Paranoia does strange things to an insecure person’s mind. And in this king’s mind, the solution to this perceived threat was to cruelly oppress the Hebrews so they would dwindle in number. But, as historical examples teach us, the more a group of people is oppressed, the more they multiply, and this is exactly what occurred here. Exodus 1:7 states, “But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty so that the land was filled with them.”

Through Moses and his brother Aaron, God told the Hebrew people He would rescue them from their enslavement and lead them into the land He had promised to Abraham approximately 645 years earlier so He could abundantly bless them. The account of how God secured His chosen peoples’ miraculous escape to safety (1446 B.C.) can be read in the first fourteen chapters of the book of Exodus. Many times, God displayed His great power and protection over them prior to their escape as well as during His deliverance of them from Pharoah and his great army at the Red Sea (Exodus chapters 7 to 14).

Many times during their flight to freedom and future promise, Almighty God displayed His glory to them as they journeyed in the wilderness. He used a cloud by day and a fire by night to guide them. They literally heard His voice and witnessed His great glory and awesome signs. (Exodus 16:10; 19:16-20; 20:18-19; 24:9-10; 16-17; 33:7-10; 34:28-35; 40:36-38). They received His provision of food and water. God even saw to it that their clothing and sandals did not wear out (Deuteronomy 29:5). That would have been one dandy, mobile thrift shop. And yet, they continually grumbled, tested God and would not listen to Him.

They wanted the benefit of God’s blessings and promises without having to develop disciplined characters, make personal sacrifices or turn away from their worship of other gods they had been exposed to in Egypt. At one point, their rebellion led them to build a golden calf to worship instead of directly worshipping God himself. They then grew tired of the whole scene, deciding that the appointment of a new leader for a return to slavery in Egypt was a better option (Numbers 14:4), and then they threatened the stoning to death of Joshua and Caleb for wanting to forge ahead to Canaan (verse 10).

Despite God’s harsh punishments inflicted upon them for their rebellious disobedience, they refused to change their poor attitudes. (Please refer to 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 ). Finally, fed up with their ongoing, poor behaviour, He told them that due to their sin and rebellion, their first generation from ages twenty and upward would die in the wilderness without receiving the land He had promised to them. Their response to this news? They acknowledged their sin but then decided, “That land has been promised to us—it is rightfully ours—we deserve to have it—and therefore, we are going to take it by force!” Oh, they tried, but failed miserably when the Amalekites and Canaanites soundly defeated them (Numbers 14:40).

Today, we Christians in the Western World tend to be rather quick in our judgment of God’s chosen people recently freed from their enslavement. And yet I wonder, are we not much the same in our attitudes? Despite the cruel punishment Christ suffered as our replacement on the cross to secure our escape from Satan’s enslavement, we too have somehow developed an attitude of entitlement and easy-believism.

I believe we have lost sight of the terrible price Christ paid for our salvation. So long as we feel spiritually secure in our own little world, all is well. We (and I include myself here), have often taken our spiritual freedom for granted, becoming lazy, stagnant, spoiled and privileged. We have enjoyed the best that life and God can give—salvation in a peaceful land where we can worship freely with little persecution—along with meaningful work and leisure activities. And yet, when life becomes difficult and we feel ourselves crumbling under the pressure, we feel the temptation to grumble and complain.

Our lives are incredibly simple compared to the heavy price now being paid by our Christian brethren in other lands for the privilege of serving Jesus Christ. The list of the atrocities they face on a daily basis is very long and troubling. Despite the many dangers to themselves, Christians in dangerous places boldly witness to the spiritually lost, hoping to lead them to Christ.

Here in the comfortable West? Often, we are shy to witness to people for fear of losing friendships or jobs, forgetting that we are called to be Christ’s ambassadors, given the responsibility of rescuing souls from the grip of Satan (Proverbs 24:11; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20), and forgetting that we too were once spiritually lost and in need of a Saviour. I fear that we have lost the sense of urgency that exists for those who are faced with an eternity separate from the presence of Christ if no one (that’s you and me) tells them why they need Jesus in their life—and why there is a heaven to gain and a hell to fear.

In high risk countries, pastors bravely lead and teach their congregations the Word of God, knowing that any day they could be murdered or arrested, jailed and tortured for many years. Many churches (those not yet burned down or bombed) are led by widows. In the West, many pastors are reluctant to speak on delicate or uncomfortable subjects for fear of losing their positions or popularity with their people. They seldom teach from the prophetic Scriptures or warn their people of sinful lifestyles or God’s judgment. They shy away from preparing their congregations for the future by speaking of the rapture of the Church, the signs of Christ’s return, and warning us of false teachers and the appearance of false Messiahs.

Whether we take our place in a pew or a pulpit, our responsibility to God is the same. As with the children of Israel enroute to the Promised Land, we too have a Promised Land we are looking forward to. But, are we faithful to God who has promised it to us? Do we put Him first in everything, serving Him with our whole heart, determined to honour Him and bring Him glory in every aspect of our life?

Or, have we taken His love and salvation for granted, becoming unfruitful, ungrateful, spoiled and entitled, thinking that we somehow deserve it without a willingness to make any sacrifices, submit to spiritual disciplining or be bold witnesses for Him? Have we too become careless in our relationship with the LORD by not taking His words seriously? And, as with the Israelite tribal leaders, have our spiritual shepherds failed in their responsibility to courageously and adequately lead, train, teach and equip those God has placed in their care, regardless of the cost?

I realize these are tough questions and don’t mean for them to sound condescending to anyone. Many people are very sincere in their walk with the LORD and do their very best to honour and live for Him, but in these present days, there are far too many saying the name of Jesus who have fallen victim to the lure of the world and its vices. And Satan has rendered them weak in their faith, lacking the strong convictions they once had. But with God, it is not too late for a new start—to turn around and head in the right direction.

It is healthy for each of us to regularly take stock of our lives by asking ourselves the above mentioned questions. This need not be a depressing or negative exercise, for I believe God is pleased when we set aside time to take our spiritual temperature by asking,
“How am I really doing? Show me the areas in which I need Your enabling and improvement.” He will lovingly respond to requests of this sort. And let’s be honest, we all have weak areas in which we struggle, and dare not pass judgment on someone else. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

We sometimes embarrass ourselves when we fail Him, but bringing these things to God should not be a frightful thing. He is our loving heavenly Father who cares for His children far more than we can comprehend, and He wants us to come to Him just as we are. He knows us far better than we know ourselves and is always ready to welcome us with open arms. All He requires is our honesty, humility, confession and a desire to do what is right—and He will give us what we need to overcome these things and guide us safely through to a successful end.

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).


“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)








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Living Courageously



Unless one has been living in a box of sorts, and completely unaware of what has been occurring all around them, they will have become aware of a whole new set of words that keep popping up in news reports.

Some of these words are “social justice—progressive—diverse—cancel culture—woke—.” It is a challenge for most people to learn the meanings behind this new vocabulary we hear chanted, while common words that have had a well recognized meaning are now being changed to mean the opposite. Confusing? Very much so.

There is incredible power being wielded behind these new words and they come with a plan to change society as we have known it. The people behind these new words have one goal—to re-define and re-create the Western world from that of a free, capitalist, democratic society into that of a Marxist-Lenin-Communist society through the use of violence—verbal, physical and political. This new society is not new at all, for it is led by Marxist social-justice warriors.

This Marxist-Socialist society views all traditional Judeo-Christian values that North America was established on, as hateful and oppressive, despite their teaching that it is based on God’s love and that all persons are considered equal and must be treated as such.

Many of our federal, provincial and state government leaders in the free world are now removing their masks to reveal who and what they are truly all about. By not paying close enough attention, the general population has voted these power hungry people into office, only to discover too late, these leaders are propelled by a completely different agenda than they claimed during their pre-election campaigns. Now solidly in power, wielding a big stick and making punitive laws themselves, with no regard for the rule of law, they know it will be difficult to have them removed from their positions anytime soon.

All of this is not news to our Christian brethren living in foreign countries that are openly hostile to them. They too once enjoyed freedom to openly worship God without restrictions, but today, they are severely persecuted by tyrannical regimes.

Those of us living in the West can learn much from the mistakes of the European church of World War II. They were acting like the “Three Monkeys”—you know, the ones who “hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing.” They timidly and thoroughly capitulated to the Nazi authorities, using the excuse, “We must obey our government because God says so.” They displayed complete cowardice in the face of absolute tyranny, resulting in a reprehensible Holocaust being carried out against millions of innocent Jews. The European church has a lot of blood on their hands.

Thankfully, they have learned from their huge failures, today speaking out against their oppressors, pushing back and standing up for themselves, using lawyers and the courts in their defence. Our brethren are courageously and boldly declaring, “We obey God
first before Caesar, while we still respect civil authorities over us.”

In today’s world, there are two types of persecution against Christians. In regions where persecution is vicious (Asia, Africa, Middle East, Mexico, Colombia) this is referred to as “The Smash,” while persecution in more free societies is referred to as “The Squeeze.”

Those of us living in
“The Squeeze” have for much too long thought extreme persecution could never come here, all the while complacently and comfortably sailing through life with relative ease. However, very slowly and methodically, without our realizing it, large pockets of resistance against God’s principles and followers have been springing up without much opposition from us.

In both Canada and the United States, restrictive laws have been passed, removing prayer and the Ten Commandments from all levels of societal use. In some parts of the United States, by-laws have been passed to eliminate Bible study groups in private homes. For the past fifty years, the province of Quebec has steadily encroached upon Christian freedoms and are now, without apology, openly showing their hostilities. Christian universities in Canada have been savagely attacked in the courts in attempts to prevent them from issuing degrees to fully trained lawyers and teachers, simply because they are Christian. In Ontario, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Christians to be approved as foster parents.

The Western Church is asleep at the switch. We don’t seem to realize we are in “The Squeeze” and at a very dangerous place. Remember the story of the frog happily swimming around in the pot of water while it is slowly heating up on the stove burner? The frog is lazily swimming in comfort, unaware that the slowly increasing heat is intent on boiling him alive. And, by the time he realizes the temperature has become too hot, urging him to jump out of harm’s way, the perpetrator of the frog’s demise has slammed the lid tightly on the pot, leaving no way of escape.

During the year 2020 and now into 2021 and beyond, the Wuhan virus is being used as an excuse to slam the lid on civil and religious liberties on a worldwide scale. Our Christian brethren in various
“Smash” regions, already suffering from severe persecution, have had the heat turned up even more. Already dealing with brutal, physical attacks and government restrictions against freely meeting together for worship, virus-related restrictions are being used as an excuse to deny Christians food and medicine deliveries that their neighbours freely enjoy.

And, here in our Western
“Squeeze” region, we are being told, “You will soon have your Christian liberties restored. Just be patient a little while longer.”
The Church’s response? “Okay.”
Weeks and months go by and we again ask—timidly,
“Now? You promised.”
The authorities respond…”No, just a little while longer. Soon.”
Again, we say,
“Okay.”
And, we continue to lazily swim in the heating water, believing that soon we will be released from the pot before things become too hot. There is no need for us to boldly speak up, for
“They promised—didn’t they?”

Jesus was not the least bit timid. He was bold and courageous in declaring God’s truth and claiming the freedom to share it, refusing to compromise under opposition, while at the same time displaying humility, love and grace.

When thrown in jail and ordered by civil authorities
not to draw people together to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached, the apostles Paul, Peter and many others ignored the repressive orders and continued to obey God, despite the cost to themselves. They returned to the synagogue to preach.

JESUS said:

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”
Matthew 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Matthew 16:24-25

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
Mark 16:15

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26


What can I really do?


Perhaps, at this point you are thinking,
"I would like to make a difference but I don't know how to go about it. How do I find out what the current issues are? Where do I look?"

For Christians, there are three very good and credible websites that will keep you informed. From the list below you can even have them send the most recent concerns to your email.

Also, go online and find contact information for your provincial / state and federal representatives, then write them a letter explaining the pressing concerns that you would like to see addressed.

Contrary to what you may have heard, it has been proven that a respectful letter will indeed make a difference and they will respond.

Bookmark the following sites for reference:

Lifesite News
(Check out the petition page and become involved)

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms
(See their Take Action page to make a difference)

The American Centre for Law and Justice
(They also have a petitions page)




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Slow Slide

There are times that we think we fully understand the stories we have repeatedly read or heard someone else read, when in fact we have overlooked wonderful little nuggets within those familiar stories.

Such is the case with the story of King David and his son Absalom. We remember how Absalom drove his father out of Jerusalem and away from his throne, and how Absalom’s life was eventually taken from him, not in a brave and daring sword fight, but from running away from the fight, being caught and then killed. All due to his wild hairdo getting caught in the branches of a tree. It was not what you would call a courageous and noble end. But there is much more to this story.

We need to examine the earlier account of Absalom after he had been brought back from his three year exile, fleeing prosecution for murdering his brother. Following his safe return to Jerusalem, he was banned from seeing his father the king for a further two years. This is where we pick up the story. King David had greatly missed his son and was now prepared to forgive and accept him back into the royal household.

As a casual observer, we might think that after a five-year absence from home and the king’s presence, Absalom would be grateful to be back, forgiven, and enjoying all the benefits of being a restored prince and raising his own family. But apparently, he was bearing huge bitterness over the failure of his father the king to avenge the rape of Absalom’s sister years before. And so, his
slow slide began to take shape. While appearing to be happily assimilated back into the king’s family, Absalom hid what was truly residing in his heart. Unchecked bitterness eventually developed into revenge. He now wanted his father’s kingdom for himself and would do whatever was necessary to get it.

In
2 Samuel 15:3-6, we read where Absalom deceived King David’s subjects through conniving words and actions. In those days, the king was the judge in legal matters. So, Absalom would wait near the gate of entrance to greet Israelites arriving to seek an audience with the king, to obtain his judgment of their legal suits. In greeting them first, Absalom worked his charm and charisma, telling them “Your claims are good and right, but no man listens to you on the part of the king.” And furthermore, he would say, “Oh, that one would appoint me judge in the land, then every man who has any suit or cause could come to me and I would give him justice.” Hear that? He was telling Israelite citizens it was really too bad the king did not care about his people or their concerns. Tsk. Tsk. While on the other hand, “I, Absalom, genuinely care about you and your concerns and if only someone/anyone would recognize that and put ME in charge, then your lives would be considerably better!”

And for added effect, whenever a visitor showed sign of prostrating himself before Prince Absalom, he would quickly take hold of the visitor and give him a cheek kiss, a cultural sign of great respect. This would communicate, “Oh no, you don’t have to do that, my friend. I respect you far too much to have you bow to me.” Naturally, this would make the visitor feel rather special and favoured in the eyes of the prince. Verse six tells us, “So Absalom stole away the hearts of the men of Israel.”

It was all about him


In
verses 7-10 we read that Absalom quietly worked away at his devious plan for about four years, watching for the opportune time to strike, all the while pretending loyalty to the king’s subjects—to his father the king—and to God. He also lied to the king concerning his desire to serve the LORD. By this time, Absalom’s conspiracy had gained a very large following, deceiving men into innocently following him, being totally unaware of the evil behind it. They were taken in by cunning and pretentious acts of genuine care for them, when in fact they were being used as mere pawns in order to further Absalom’s deep thirst for power and control. It was all about him.

Now into the story enters Ahithophel, chief counsellor to King David. We learn in chapter 16:23 that Ahithophel’s advice was so trusted by the king’s palace, it was believed to be nearly as dependable as the word of God. Somehow, Absalom convinced him to leave the king’s side to join him. But someone discovered this defection and told King David, who then prayed, “O LORD, I pray, make the counsel of Ahithophel foolishness” (chapter 15:31). And the LORD answered his prayer. Ahithophel lost his ability to give good counsel to Absalom and was replaced by someone who was secretly sympathetic to King David.

Defeated, humiliated and in despair, Ahithophel returned home, set all his affairs in order, then killed himself—a terribly tragic ending to a once prominent and successful life. This occurred because of falling victim to smooth deception, lies and trickery. He had once enjoyed keen, spiritual sensitivity and discernment from the LORD, granting him a prominent position as chief counsellor to the king of Israel. But, under the cunning, deceitful and conniving influence of the king’s own son, he was lured away and deceived into betraying the king, the one who confidently trusted his counsel.

By allowing himself to be charmed and deceived, Ahithophel lost the blessing of God, lost his prized position as counsellor to David, the rightful king, then lost his new position as counsellor to a traitor. He had been cast aside. His life had changed from prominence to that of defeat and despair. And now he was dead.

We ask ourselves what could have been the cause of Ahithophel’s downfall? Was he prideful—naive—too trusting? Scripture does not specifically say, though perhaps during that four-year period Absalom may have slowly convinced him as he did with others, that King David did not truly care about him as he should have, and that for him, life would be so much better under the umbrella of Absalom as the new king. He possibly was victimized by the
slow slide.

One need only regard the opposing spirits at work in the lives of David and Absalom. David the king was entirely devoted to and guided by the Spirit of the LORD while Absalom, merely pretending to have a desire to serve the LORD, was selfishly devoted to himself and propelled by the spirit of Satan—the evil one and destroyer of all that is good. God had placed David on the throne of Israel with the full intention of eventually orchestrating the birth of Jesus Messiah through Mary, direct descendant of David through his son Nathan, along with the support of Joseph (her husband), also a direct descendant of David through his son Solomon. By working through Absalom’s sinful bitterness, Satan’s goal was to overturn God’s wonderful plan of salvation by keeping David off Israel’s throne. But no one can outsmart God.

If not very careful, we too can fall victim to the lies and deceit of Satan, our spiritual enemy. Similar to Absalom’s example, the devil loves to make use of people to inflict harm on one another. Over time, he patiently whispers his lies in an attempt to convince us to dwell on hurts inflicted upon us. People and life itself will disappoint us—let us down—and the enemy tempts us to look inward to see how miserably discouraged we should feel instead of taking it to the LORD. If we fall for it, this will slowly dismantle our confidence, take us lower, and without being aware, can lead to feelings of resentment and bitterness.

The end result? It takes us out of action, rendering us spiritually weak and ineffective. The enemy’s trick is to use a slow erosion, similar to the crumbling of a retaining wall. If not caught in time and repaired, a small crack grows larger and larger, weakening the structure until the entire wall collapses from the mounting pressure.

Our lives are full of pressures, challenges and disappointments. Added to that is our own weaknesses we deal with on a daily basis. And of course, the enemy of our soul is familiar with every one of them and capitalizes on them every chance he gets. He is an opportunist who takes great pleasure in reminding us of our failures—and of course the failures of others who let us down and occasionally scorn us.

King David had a whole collection of things to drag him down. He mourned over his sins and failures, and his many enemies constantly sought to destroy him through lies and violence. He said that he could bear the reproach of an enemy and avoid the wicked who hated him, but the worst for him to deal with was the betrayal and reproaches of a close friend. His words recorded in
Psalm 41:9-10 state, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” In Psalm 55:13-14, “But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend; we who had sweet fellowship together.” And again in verse 21, “His speech was smoother than butter, but his heart was war; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.”

Be on our guard


The LORD has warned us to increasingly be on our guard against those who would inflict harm. And the closer His return, the more wicked and deceitful people will become. My friends, we are now witnessing and experiencing the rapid dismantling of our Judeo-Christian societies. What once was known as truth is now considered false and what has always been seen as good and decent is now being judged as bad and ugly. Absolute truths are out the window, replaced by lies. Satan is the father of lies and he works overtime at finding every available human vessel to carry out his deceptions—to use the willing ones to deceive others—and to render discouraged and ineffective, those who wish to live for the LORD.

King David found the answers to staying alert and prepared—to protect himself.
First, he was diligent in his relationship with the LORD, giving Him first place and spending time before Him in praise, worship and fellowship. Secondly, he brought his concerns to the LORD in prayer, believing He would answer. Third, he asked forgiveness for his sins. Fourth, he placed his complete trust in the LORD to guide him and give him the discernment he needed in all areas of his life. These disciplines kept him keenly aware of the Holy Spirit’s voice and leading. One could say that King David kept his spiritual pencil sharpened by maintaining regular, close communion with God. In so doing, he was given great wisdom in detecting the devil’s attempts to sidetrack and deceive him—often by using other people as his instruments.

David left us encouraging words in how we may receive comfort during trying times of opposition:

“Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. But You, O God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction; Men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days. But I will trust in You.”

(Psalm 55:22-23).


“Make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day."
(Psalm 25:4-5)





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Fear Not

David had sleepless nights. He was on the run from King Saul who was trying to kill him. This is the same David who had been a shepherd as a young teenager and had come up against the giant Goliath, and defeated him. Now, David was a young adult, appointed by God to be the next king of Israel.

He was working under the authority of King Saul, who became jealous of David’s rising popularity. The king’s jealousy turned to hatred, forcing David to run for his life, hiding in caves and the hills for thirteen long years. While on the run, David attracted a large band of followers and their families who travelled with him.

Many of the Psalms were written by David during this time of upheaval in his life. He sometimes became discouraged, exhausted and worn out from being hated and constantly hunted, and fearful of being murdered. He experienced dark, lonely nights when everything seemed out of control, with no escape from his problems. He tossed and turned, unable to sleep, just as we sometimes do.

What keeps us awake at night? Inadequate finances—poor health—a troubled teenager—a broken relationship—the Wuhan virus—loss of a job or business—fear of what the future holds? All of these things can be summed up with one word—FEAR.

Fear is a very powerful force that can paralyze us into inactivity, should we allow it to control us. But for the Christian, we have a much more formidable force to call on when life overwhelms us. His name is Almighty God, who spoke the universe into existence. The Earth and all that lives within it was created by His power—and His power only. He is our protector, our provider, our hope, our Saviour and coming King! Our present and our future are solid and secure in Him regardless of what transpires around us. He desires for us to bring our concerns and fears to Him and lay them at His feet.

During times of fearfulness, the very
first thing we must do is approach our LORD in reverent and serious prayer, asking Him to replace our fear with His loving and calming presence, then trust Him to provide whatever it is we need. The LORD owns everything and therefore has the authority and ability to provide the needs of His children (Psalm 50:10-12). He desires to bless us. It is imperative for us to remember that fear is not of God—it is forced upon us by Satan, the evil enemy who wants to render us weak and helpless.

“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
James 4:7-8

“Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”
Psalm 55:22 (a song of David)


The
second thing we must do to combat fear is to TURN OFF the sources that create that fear. I am speaking of the hyped-up news media that currently speak mostly of the increasing danger and spread of the Wuhan virus. They speak of very little else, instilling as much fear as possible into our hearts and minds. That is not to say we should not keep abreast of the issue and do all we can to keep ourselves safe, but to stay glued to the mainstream television, radio and internet news results only in increased and unnecessary anxiety.

Third, we should include practical things into our daily routine to keep ourselves physically healthy, which will in turn help us psychologically, mentally and emotionally. We need to stay active as much as possible through exercise and fresh air. And for those concerned with the possibility of contracting the Wuhan virus, the following credible website provides helpful information concerning which vitamins and supplements help prevent getting the virus as well as treat mild symptoms experienced while at home. https://covid19criticalcare.com/

The
fourth practice in keeping our minds off fearful thoughts is to purposefully introduce enjoyable hobbies and pastimes into our routine. It is important to think “outside the box” by exploring new and interesting things, individually, as well as with people that live together. When one stops to really think about it, there are numerous subjects to explore that we have not previously had the time for or allowed ourselves the freedom to discover. Today, we are surrounded with technology that enables us to delve into the world of inexplicably wondrous creations that exist on land, in the sea and in the air, as well as the latest inventions, travel, music, art and many, many more subjects of interest.

Regardless of what humans inflict upon us to paralyze us with fear—whether it is military aggression, political and ideological oppression, a nasty virus, moral collapse, the removal of human rights—we receive great
HOPE through the knowledge that our GOD is much bigger than all that. These things are all human activity. They do not hinder our LORD’s ability or will to lovingly give His children victory, courage and peace when they call out to Him. His timeline is not the same as ours, but that does not mean He is not keenly attentive to all world events as they unfold. He is not taken by surprise by a single occurrence, nor will He be late at stepping in to take over when the time is right.

“He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:4)


“Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, for He sees his day is coming” (Psalm 37:10-13).

Despite the diabolical plans of man, God can interrupt and thwart them at any time He so chooses. And at just the right moment, Jesus Christ
WILL return as Judge and King to rule the nations, stomp out evil and introduce His millennial kingdom on Earth. And following this, He will exact His final, complete judgment upon all wickedness and welcome His faithful children into His presence to enjoy eternal bliss.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men and He will dwell among them and they shall be His people and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be death; there will no longer be mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’ And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” (Revelation 21:1-7)



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Truth Deniers



What is Truth? This is the question Pontius Pilate asked of Jesus in response to His statement, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice" (John 18:37).

Today, there are many voices declaring to be the truth. When we stand before a judge to give testimony in a court of law, we must swear an oath to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” And, if, during said court procedure or afterward, it is discovered we lied during our testimony, we are then declared guilty of perjury and subject to a fine and possibly jail time.

It is too bad we citizens don’t have that advantage available to us when we are trying to sift and wade through the myriads of conflicting statements we hear from news media and people in places of authority over us. We live within a “quagmire” that is increasingly being referred to as “The Swamp.”

“The Swamp” is an interesting place, a collection of people wielding various levels of power and control, all vying and jockeying for an important place at the trough. And in order for them to secure that most prestigious spot, they often use charisma, persuasion, collusion, deceit, bribery, but mostly, money and their own
version of the truth. That is commonly referred to as “Spin.” They spin the truth to get what they want, and as we have all discovered as children, if we told a lie to our parents, we then had to tell a second one in order to cover up the first. And so it is with adults, only now we have more devious ways of getting away with it.

People use lies to sometimes hold onto power while others lie in order to rip power out of the hands of someone else. They also use lies to “withhold” the truth from being published or revealed, as in the case today of many social media platforms banning anyone who disagrees with the official political narrative. This is called Censorship and the elimination of free speech. On-line sources that were once trusted go-to places for accurate descriptions of persons and organizations, have now turned to demonizing them with hateful, biased and inaccurate vitriol. Have you noticed that news agencies often give us only “part” of the story so we are left in the dark as to the true story?

The very wise King Solomon stated,
“It is better to be a poor man than a liar” (Proverbs 19:22).

God pulls no punches when it comes to stating how seriously He takes this issue…
“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

“Where are you going with this?” you rightfully ask. I am drawing attention to the seriousness of lying and deception in the eyes of God, for I am concerned with our present day’s cavalier approach to the importance of truth, how it affects us all, and where it will lead us as Christians if we don’t guard ourselves by staying informed.

Our LORD instructs us as follows:
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith [apostacize], paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2). To be “seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” is another way of saying that people’s hearts have become so hardened toward God, they have become dull and callous in their thinking and morally corrupt, as described in Ephesians 4:17-19.

God is warning us that by listening to deceitful spirits and demonic teachings, we will fall away from our faith in Him—from the Truth. But, we argue, that would NEVER happen to me—I would never allow myself to be deceived. Really? We should not be too quick to pat ourselves on our back and brag. Remember the original sin in the Garden of Eden? It was PRIDE.

We must not underestimate the craftiness of the father of lies—Satan. He uses his instruments—people, mostly—in order to deceive their fellow humans. He is the
“prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). Jesus’ owns words to us are, “See to it that no one misleads you, for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’ and will mislead many” (Matthew 24:4-5; Luke 21:8).

For a long time throughout history, there have been many people claiming to be “the Christ” and have gained a following, but one of the greatest deceptions of all is the Islamic prophecy of the appearance of their last and final Imam/Madi accompanied by Jesus! This Islamic “Jesus” will declare to the world that he is the REAL thing and that Christians have been misled all along by following the counterfeit. When people
visually see this imposter, masses will believe him to be the authentic Messiah and follow him, and if Christians do not know their Bible very well they will be lead astray. See how easily people can be duped into believing a lie?

The title of this message is “Truth Deniers.” Who or what is a truth denier?

Here is the dictionary meaning:
True/truth — accurate; consistent with reality.
Deny — repudiate; disclaim; refuse to believe.

And this is God’s definition of a truth denier:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honour Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:18-22).

Therefore, by these two descriptions, we can easily deduce that a liar is in fact someone who already knows the truth, but intentionally and purposefully denies and rejects it, wishing it were not true. This, in turn, hardens their heart and they then fall victim to Satan’s control by “blinding their minds to the truth” (2 Corinthians 4:4) because they “like their sin and encourage others to do the same” (Romans 1:32). This explains why the Lord’s Prayer has been removed from schools and the opening of civic meetings, and the Ten Commandments have been banished from the walls of courts and government buildings.

I began this message by stating there are many voices today declaring to be the truth on a variety of topics. How do we as believers in Christ Jesus know how to determine if someone is in fact telling us the truth or if they are trying to deceive us?

Well, truth comes from God and untruth comes from Satan the Liar, so the very
first thing we must do is cultivate a close relationship with Father/Son/Holy Spirit. We need to speak with Him every day by:
1. praising Him for His goodness to us;
2. confessing known sin and ask for forgiveness;
3. ask Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in His truth and to guide us in all our decisions.

Secondly, we must read and study God’s holy Word on a regular basis so He can teach us authentic, solid and absolute Truth, for there is none other except from Him. Jesus says, “If you continue in My Word, you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32). How does a bank teller recognize counterfeit bills? By studying and handling the genuine bills so well, that counterfeit ones are easily recognized.

In both of these spiritual disciplines—daily communing with God and reading His holy Word—Holy Spirit (His personal name) will speak to us and teach us as we read His written Word and as we communicate with Him in intimate conversation. These disciplines will enable us to recognize God’s voice, so when the Liar whispers to us, we will immediately recognize him as a different voice, so we can reject his deceitful attempt to lead us astray. He often tries to disguise himself as the real thing when in fact he is a counterfeit. He will use false teachers to twist the Word of God just a little, so it sounds a bit like the real thing when in fact it is deceptive. If we know and recognize truth from God’s Word, then counterfeit messages will stand out as false and misleading.

When it comes to deciphering conflicting reports between news outlets and from social media platforms, we must not be quick to swallow things “hook, line and sinker.” That’s for suckers. We must ask Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and discernment in how to interpret what we see and hear. And in so doing, He will guide us in how to see patterns in their reporting. We should not stick to only the same news outlet(s), as some try to convince us that “they alone” dispense the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Sure they do. And I have a pet pony named
Scalawag that is a direct descendant of Northern Dancer, Canada’s famous racing thoroughbred that won many prestigious awards and trophies. Honest.

In this day of widespread technology, there are many avenues available to us, enabling us to see what other news agencies have to say. We should compare mainstream media reports with that of independent ones and not be afraid to check out both national and international news sources. It is truly amazing what we discover when we do this. With all the mobile devices and laptops we use today, there is NO EXCUSE for not properly educating ourselves. Instead of spending countless hours on social media sites reading what someone had for dinner or if they had to treat their pet for fleas, we could be using that time more effectively by dragging ourselves out of our tight little circle and broaden our horizons and awareness by looking over the fence. Not only will it help cure us of narrow-mindedness and division, we will be better equipped to keep ourselves safe from the Liar and from the risk of ourselves becoming a Truth Denier.

“If you continue in My word, you are truly disciples of Mine;
and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
~ John 8:31-32 ~




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No Compromise


We are all familiar with the Biblical story of how God destroyed the earth with a massive flood and spared the life of the one righteous man by the name of Noah, along with his wife, their three sons and their wives.

Through Noah’s son Shem, God developed a new line of godliness. Nine generations later, Abram was born. In Abram, God saw the qualities needed to fully develop a line of missionaries to a new world that had too soon returned to the paganism and wickedness of their forefathers before the flood.

In Genesis 12, we read the account of how God called Abram out of Haran. This is also mentioned in Acts 7:2-4:
“The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.”

Genesis 12:1-3 -- God told Abram that He would make of him a great nation, He would bless him and make him a blessing to others.

In order for this to happen, Abram had to give up everything he knew, all that was familiar and comfortable. He was obedient, fully trusting himself and his family he was responsible for, into the hands of God. Ever since then, God has continued to raise up people to stand for Him and be a strong witness in the world to lost souls.

When you accepted Christ as Saviour, that is what you declared you would do. In giving yourself to Christ, you would have promised God two things:
First, that you were giving yourself to Him totally and unreservedly in complete communion with Him. When you said, “I repent of my sins and accept Christ,” you were in fact saying, “I die to myself, I die to my plans, I die to my agenda for my life, and I give Christ full control for as long as I live. I no longer live for myself, I live for Almighty God.”
The second thing you promised was that your life would now be a reflection of Jesus Christ living in and through you. In accepting Christ you were saying that you would allow your thoughts, your words and your actions to now be controlled by God’s Holy Spirit living inside of you. You were promising to be a missionary to the world around you.

As the apostle Paul stated in Galatians 2:20,
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Through Noah, God gave the world a fresh new start, a new beginning. When you accepted Christ as your Saviour, you too were given a new start, a new beginning. That’s exciting! We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

READ: Genesis 13:2-4 -- Twice already, Abram had built an altar to the LORD and worshipped Him. He kept his eyes on the LORD.

READ: verses 10-12 -- Lot lifted his eyes and saw the fertility and beauty of the plain, which was compared to the garden of the LORD and was like the land of Egypt. Lot chose all the plain of Jordan [all the best land] for himself.

Life lesson #1: “Not all that glitters is gold.”
As with Eve, Lot was attracted to that which was pleasing to the eye, but harmful to the soul.
Verse 12 -- Lot pitched his tent close to Sodom.
Verse 13 -- the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.

They were descendants of Ham, son of Noah, who had once scorned and mocked his father for his nakedness. In Genesis 9 we are told that Ham’s wickedness resulted in a curse being placed on him and his descendants forever.

Verse 18 -- Abram moved to Hebron, built his third altar to the LORD and dwelt by the terebinth/oak trees of Mamre, considered a sacred place.

Chapter 14: Four kings decided to attack five other kings who had rebelled against their authority. These five kings were over cities housing the Rephaim, the Zuzim, the Emim [all giants], the Horites, Amalekites and Amorites. Four kings against five. During the ensuing attacks, the five kings either died or fled for their lives, leaving their citizens unprotected and vulnerable. These citizens and all their possessions were taken captive.

Verses 10-12: Included in the captives of the city of Sodom were Lot and his goods. Lot had moved inside Sodom!

Life lesson #2: When righteous people hang around sin long enough, it becomes appealing, and then they move right into the midst of it. Sin draws them into its trap, just as a mouse is attracted to the cheese, and it leads to certain death.

Lot’s uncle Abram was made aware of Lot’s capture and through a miracle of God, was successful in rescuing not only Lot but all the citizens and possessions of Sodom. Years later, Lot can be found not only still living in Sodom, but now married with two daughters he has allowed to be engaged to two young men of Sodom!

2 Peter 2:7-8 -- we are told that righteous Lot was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked and his soul was tormented by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds. However, it did not bother him enough to remove himself and his family from its influence. So, he remained there, year after year.

Genesis chapter 18 -- Finally, judgment day came.

Life lesson #3: Judgment day always comes.
Two angels of death were dispatched by God to Sodom, and it was only through the pleading of Abram that Lot’s life was spared from destruction.
Chapter 19:15 -- When urged by the two angels to hurry out of the city, Lot lingered, and along with his wife and daughters, had to be physically taken by the hand and led out to safety. This was God’s mercy in action.

Life lesson #4: Once sin gets its ugly claws dug deep into a person, it can be difficult to remove oneself from its grip.
God sent a rescue, but Lot hesitated to receive it. By this time he was so connected and attached to Sodom and its people, that leaving was nearly unthinkable. Too many Christians today do the same thing. They find it difficult to let go of their sin.

Verse 17 -- The two angels told Lot and his family,
“Escape for your lives! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.” Lot’s response? He pleaded with his rescuers, reasoning within himself that it would be too dangerous to try to reach as far as the mountains, asking instead to be allowed to take refuge in a small city in the plain. After all, he said, it’s only a “little” one. What harm is there in that?

Lot obviously felt that God was not powerful enough to help him escape completely away from the plain to the mountains. Are we ever guilty of that? Do we dupe ourselves into thinking that it is impossible to fully escape some sin that lures us? “It is too strong!” we say. Another thing we fall victim to, is in believing, “It’s only a small sin. Surely it can’t hurt me too much. I’m sure I will be safe, and God will be alright with it.”

Life lesson #5: No sin is small enough to be acceptable to God. He demands obedience in every single area of our life.

Verses 23-25 -- the sun had already risen when Lot entered this small city named Zoar. Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire from heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah, all the plain, all inhabitants of the cities and all that grew on the ground.

Verse 26 -- And, against the angels’ command, Lot’s wife stopped, looked back at Sodom and then she became a pillar of salt. Her heart belonged to Sodom and its wickedness, so she became engulfed with the liquid lava, perishing along with the city.

Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian born in Jerusalem four years after the crucifixion of Christ, wrote: “I have seen this pillar, which remains to this day.” This pillar of salt became a dire warning to all, the consequence of holding on to sin.

Verse 29 -- God spared Lot’s life because of Abram, and not for the sake of Lot.
Verse 30 -- Realizing he had made a mistake and afraid to live in Zoar, Lot moved with his daughters to the mountains.

I like what
John Wesley said about the account of Sodom, Lot and Lot’s wife. He said there are three lessons we must learn from it:

1)
"Return not to sin and Satan," for that is looking back to Sodom.
2) "
Rest not in the world," for that is staying in the plain.
3)
"Reach toward Christ and heaven," for that is escaping to the mountain.

God led Lot and his daughters to the safety of the mountain. Had that been Abram, he would have built an altar there to the LORD and worshipped Him, thanking Him for His protection, and secondly, he would have made a fresh commitment of himself to God.

But Lot? He got drunk. The two young men of Sodom that Lot’s daughters were engaged to perished in the destruction of Sodom, and instead of relying on their father to find new husbands for them, Lot's daughters plotted an evil and disgusting scheme by which to have children. They got their father drunk two nights in a row and had sexual relations with him. Both young women became pregnant and bore sons, naming them Moab and Ben-Ammi. These two sons became fathers to the Moabites and Ammonites, mortal enemies of Lot’s own people, the Hebrew Semites. The Moabites and Ammonites made war with God’s chosen people, Abram’s descendants through Isaac.

Lot’s decision to first move
close to, and then into Sodom was a compromise of his faith, and it led to destruction, shame and heartache. Nothing more is recorded in Scripture of Lot’s life following his fathering of a pagan line of descendants. What once began with great promise as a young man, ended in a terrible mess. He had everything going for him. He was righteous and wealthy with a life of promise in his future, but he became careless with his spirituality. He allowed sin to drag him into its net, and it not only destroyed his own life, but the lives of his children and future generations.

Lot had been greatly blessed by God, but he threw it all away. God rescued him twice, but Lot went right back into sin and it cost him dearly.

Those of us not having used a hand plow will probably have seen photographs or drawings of one. The hand plow was pulled by a horse or oxen, held steady and straight by the farmer. The plow was used for digging a straight line in the soil, preparing it for planting new crop seeds. Jesus used the example of the hand plow as an analogy for planting the seeds of the good news of the gospel in the ears and hearts of other people.

Luke 9:62 -- Jesus said,
“No one having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Those who claim to live for Christ but still live part of their lives in the world of sin, are in the eyes of Jesus, not fit for His kingdom.

Abram’s godly lineage, however, continued through his son Isaac, and his son Jacob, on down through the years to Joseph, Moses, king David and eventually to the birth of Jesus Christ through the virgin Mary.

Luke 17:32-33 -- the words of Jesus to his disciples are recorded in which He stated,
“Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” What Jesus meant, was that everyone who determines to live for himself and his selfish sin will perish in his/her sin, but that everyone who gives up their life for Christ will reap eternal rewards in His presence.

Those who approach their Christian life with an attitude of apathy or carelessness, do not have a clear understanding of what it really means to be God’s child. Nor do they fully recognize and understand the price that was paid for their salvation.

In referring to His sheep, Jesus said in John 10:10,
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

John 15:11 --
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

We must never look
back to the sin that we have been delivered from through the priceless, shed blood of Christ Jesus, but rather, constantly look forward in hope and faith, casting off our old way of living. "Old things have passed away. Behold, all things are become new!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)

We are new creatures in Christ, with a new hope, a new life, a new outlook on life.
“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Let us eagerly move forward with the joy of Christ in our hearts and a new enthusiasm to draw closer to Him, to serve Him with our whole heart, and share His message of salvation with the world around us.


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Sheep or Goat?


For a very long while, there has been a keen interest in earth’s Last Days as spoken of in God’s holy Scriptures.

From the writings of the apostle Paul, he sounded convinced that Christ (Messiah) would be returning rather soon, perhaps in his lifetime or soon thereafter. However, here we are nearly 2,000 years following Paul’s death, still here and awaiting Messiah’s return.

According to Jesus Messiah’s words recorded in Matthew chapter 24, many predictions would have to be fulfilled before that day arrives. Jesus said that when we see His predictions coming true, we must
“Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour” when the Bridegroom will come for His church (Matthew 25:13).

One prediction Jesus made was the betrayal [handing over] of one another and the hating of one another (Matthew 24:10). Today, this is occurring all around the world. During this time of upheaval caused by the viral health crisis, governments have set up “snitch lines” so people can report on their neighbours for contravening new and ever-changing health regulations deemed necessary by their governments. And the cost of police levied fines are huge! One certainly finds out in a hurry who their friends are and who they can and cannot trust. It breeds suspicion between otherwise friendly and helpful neighbours, with some reporting on others for
perceived infractions.

There is another familiar prediction in Scripture that I am most intrigued with—that of Christ’s separation of the sheep and the goats—the righteous from the unrighteous (Matthew 25:31-46). An accurate reading of this Scripture deals with the final separation/dividing of the sheep and goats according to how we have lived our lives—for Christ or for Satan. Should we not specifically
choose Christ, our choice defaults to that of Satan. There is no fence sitting involved in this choice—it is either one or the other. In the book of Revelation 3:15-16, Christ our Judge says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Those are serious words!

Each one of us must closely examine how one ensures which group they will ultimately end up in. We must ask ourselves the question, “Which do I want to be, a sheep or a goat?” The answer to this may appear far too simple, such as “I accepted Christ as my Saviour by the admission of my sins. Therefore, I am a sheep. What else is there?”

Let’s peer into this a bit deeper, shall we? Remember the Parable of the Sower that Jesus described in Matthew 13:22-23?

“The one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the word [age] and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.The one on whom seed was sown on good soil, hears the word and understands and bears much fruit that multiplies.”

Then Jesus introduced the Parable of the Tares of the field in verses 24-30 in which He described the kingdom of heaven being compared to a man sowing good wheat seed in his field. At night, under cover of darkness when no one was looking, the enemy sneaked in and sowed tares (a weed resembling wheat) among the good seed, then left.

These two “similar” appearing crops grew up together and it was not until they were nearly fully developed, a difference between them had now become evident. The one had developed into a healthy wheat plant, while the other was now displaying characteristics of a noxious, harmful weed.

In verses 36-43 Jesus explained the parable to His disciples as Christ (Himself) sowing good seed (His children) in the world, followed up closely by the enemy (Satan) sowing bad seed (his followers) among the good seed. At the end (consummation) of the Age, the tares and
“all stumbling blocks” [literal: all that is offensive] "and those who commit lawlessness will be thrown into the furnace of fire.”

You might ask, “Why are you taking us through these familiar teachings? We know what they mean.”

Actually, I have come to see these passages more clearly during the past few years. I now believe that the separation/dividing of the sheep and goats has already been “in transition” for some time, with the final culmination occurring after Christ’s final return.

As we come closer to the end of the Age, there are signs of division in families, marriages, friendships and business. As our societies become more polarized at dealing with matters of conscience, ethics and morals, people are now more boldly revealing their true selves in what they believe and what drives them. They may be unaware that they are now revealing and declaring which side they truly belong to—Christ—or Satan.

There are those today, claiming to be ardent followers of Messiah Jesus who have all along had a head knowledge of Christ, highly respecting Him and His teachings, yet their heart has not been changed. They still serve themselves—their own desires and plans—not fully submitting themselves to the “lordship” of Christ. Some of these serve in church pulpits. It is one thing to say “Yes, I acknowledge that Christ died for my sins, I regularly attend church, give my tithe and live a pretty good life.” And yet, that is entirely different from “knowing” Christ personally and intimately, fully surrendered and submitted to Him, inviting Him to be Master over their life.

The first method I have just described is merely an outward, surface experience, while the other is an internal, heart-and-life-changing commitment. I was once in the position of believing I was a Christian, unaware that I was not. I was twelve years old. An adult explained to me that to be a Christian I had to believe that Jesus was the Son of God born in a manger, He died on the cross in my place for all my sins, came back to life and went back to heaven to prepare a home for me.

“Do you believe Jesus did this for you? was the question. “Yes I do,” I responded.
“Do you believe He is the Son of God?” Again I answered, “Yes I do.”
“Then repeat these words after me,” I was instructed. I repeated the words and was then told, “Good, now you are a Christian.” I couldn’t even remember the words I had said.


From that point I believed, “Great, I’m covered! Now I can go to heaven when I die.” I knew nothing of surrender, commitment or a change of heart toward God. For the next seven years I stumbled along thinking all was well with my soul, yet did not have inner peace, spiritual growth or a knowledge of God. All I knew was I had said some magic words that were supposed to have given me a “pass” into heaven. Period.

Finally, at age nineteen and knowing there had to be more than that to this life, I was led to the Truth, having it explained to me that it was necessary to fully
acknowledge and repent of my sins, invite Christ in as my Saviour, Lord and Master, and live for Him, fully submitted and consecrated for the remainder of my life! This was serious stuff. It was no longer a head knowledge but a life-changing, heart commitment. It was no longer a belief in a system of do’s and don’ts, but a warm and deep “relationship” with my Creator God! It was at that point I knew for certain that I was a genuine Christian.

I have often heard someone preaching via radio, say,
“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” and they leave it at that. This causes me great anguish, because that is only “part” of the Gospel message. They are not preaching the “whole” Word of God, and it deceives people into having a false sense of spiritual security, such as I had at age twelve. And these preachers will have to answer to God for this.

At the final judgment, Christ our Judge, separates the sheep from the goats, placing His sheep on His right to enjoy eternal life with Him, and placing the goats on the left to live eternally separated from Him in a fiery furnace.

So, my friend, on which side will you be standing—with the
sheep—or with the goats?


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Implosion


Millions of our Christian brethren in Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America are being persecuted, brutalized and killed for refusing to deny Christ as their Saviour and Lord, and for refusing to worship idols. Their enemies are those from other belief systems. Christians here in Canada and the United States believe that we will probably be spared from much persecution because we have the ability to defend ourselves.

My research has shown me that Satan is much more clever than that in his dealings with us. Instead of using outright violence, he is using the tactic of lies and deception to take us captive without our realizing it.

As illustration, there are two ways of demolishing a large building: an “explosion” or an “implosion.”
An “explosion” is quick, loud, violent, and it’s suddenly over, bursting outwardly and noticed by everyone, with pieces flying all over.
An “implosion” is secretly and slowly calculated, measured and planned. The building bursts inwardly with a quiet rumble, and the building falls in a large heap in one place.

Satan is using the second method of destruction against us; that of “implosion.” He is using the Church as a weapon against itself so it can be destroyed from the inside rather than the outside. Jesus instructed us to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing! (Matthew 7:15). The wolves in our midst are false teachers who change the clear message of Jesus Christ into a lie. Satan began this tactic at the very beginning with Eve in the Garden of Eden. God had clearly commanded Adam and Eve not to eat or touch the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve had a beautifully perfect relationship with God. Remember what Satan said to Eve?

Genesis 3:1-7 -
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field" (cunning; sly).
"Has God said, 'You shall not eat of EVERY tree of the garden?' ” "You will not die! You will be like God, knowing good and evil."
"The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and a tree was desirable to make one wise. She took from its fruit and ate and gave it to her husband with her; and he ate."

The result? SIN—damaged relationship with God—and banishment from the garden.

Today, Satan is still using the same tactic on us. He is whispering, “Are you SURE that’s what God said? Are you SURE that’s what God means in the Bible?”
Are you aware that the Bible God gave us has been rewritten to accommodate those who do not appreciate what it says? There are now so-called "bibles" written especially for radical feminists, those with alternate lifestyles, and those who reject bible prophecy? A group in California calling themselves “The Jesus Seminar” has rewritten God’s Holy Word so that most of of the words of Jesus have been removed. They reject Jesus’ claim to be God, they reject the historical fact of Jesus’ crucifixion and they reject His resurrection back to life. They teach that Jesus and Mary Magdalene got married, escaped to the Far East and had a child together. And yet, they call themselves Christian!

Why is the Word of God being rewritten? Simply, people don’t want to be told they are sinful.
Romans 3:20 -
“…through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”
Romans 7:7 -
“I would not have come to know sin except through the Law: for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, You shall not covet.”
Romans 7:8 -
“…for apart from the law, sin is dead.”
Romans 7:9 -
“…when the commandment [Law] came, sin became alive and I died.”
Romans 7:12 -
“The Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”

Satan wants to convince humankind that God is a liar; that His written Word is not truth; that it is acceptable to change it to suit their desires and sinful practices. He wants people to believe they can be gods and goddesses in charge of their own destiny—they are their own saviour. He is telling the same lie to people today that he told Eve. His attempt to hijack the Christian faith is working with some people.

Revelation 22:18-19 - adding to the Word results in plagues from the Word, and taking away from the Word removes one from the book of life, the holy city, and the things written in God's Word.

CHANGE: we hear this word a lot these days. We are being told by politicians, activists, educators and religious leaders that we must not only accept change, we must embrace it. Some change is necessary in order to make our lives better, healthier and more productive, but I am speaking here of destructive change.

Religious false teachers are telling us, “Unless we all accept radical change in our spiritual thinking, we will die a slow death and will be doomed. We must be willing to
change from our traditional ways of thinking and believing, to that of transformational thinking, a new way of looking at the world around us.

This is not something new. I remember this occurring in the educational system thirty years ago. Students were being taught to think and make decisions as a group only, and not as an individual. They were instructed to make personal decisions based on what was best for the group as a whole. They were told,
“Do not judge anyone in the way they choose to conduct their life. What is right for them is good. Do not impose your personal belief system on any of your fellow students, or else you will bring shame upon the group. No one belief system should take preference.”

What was once hidden in the classroom is now in the open and in the forefront of world societies--politics/religion/social system. In the interest of world peace, people of all religious persuasions are being encouraged to come together to form one system of belief and mutual understanding. No one belief system is allowed to be predominant, especially traditional Christianity. Traditional Christianity is being singled out and targeted as being arrogant, hateful, divisive and harmful. There is a plan afoot to create a
One World Religion. The author of this system is none other than Satan himself, the father of all lies.

For your spiritual protection, there are some words and phrases that I would like you to remember in the months and years ahead.

Ecumenical/ecumenism (one faith system for all)
Evangelicalism (this is not Evangelism)
Emergent/Vintage Christianity
Second Reformation
Transformation/transformational
Spiritual Formation
Manifestation (a display of power attributed to God)
Apparitions (miraculous appearances of Jesus; Mary; statues cry and bleed)
Are you a Change Agent?
Progressive


Some very proud, powerful and persuasive people calling themselves ministers and teachers of God will use these words. They also teach that Jesus has a “dream” or a “wish” or “a want” for His people, rather than having a
Divine will for His creation. These people are false teachers the prophets and Jesus warned us about. Do not trust what they teach you!

God tells us,
“How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to [regard for] the proud, nor to those who lapse into [turn aside to] lies.” Psalm 40:4

True, traditional, Bible-believing Christians need to stand strong together, resisting all attempts by Satan to turn them away from the TRUE gospel of Christ. Far too many have already fallen victim to false teaching, and they have imploded into heresy.

When Jesus began His earthly ministry, the world was in a mess. Greek and Roman mythology, idolatry, the occult and Far Eastern religions were running wild and holding people captive in Satan’s iron grip. Jesus came to rescue people, choosing disciples to be trained to carry on the work after He was gone back to heaven. With great patience, He trained them for three years. Not only was He God in the flesh, He was their Rabbi, their teacher.

They were a diverse group. At one time, there were over seventy of them, but the majority abandoned Jesus when things became uncomfortable. Only twelve remained, one of whom was a treacherous and greedy traitor. Of the remaining eleven, five were fishermen, one was a despised tax collector, with the occupation of the other five unknown.

Every one of these eleven, along with the new one chosen to replace Judas the traitor, surrendered themselves completely to the work that Jesus commissioned them to do. When He appeared to them after His resurrection from the dead, He instructed them:

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you...” Matthew 28:18-20.

These disciples went out and evangelized in the power of God who gave them wisdom, courage, discernment, strength, and the abilities they needed to carry out the work. Just like us, these people were average, everyday citizens, but they had been with Jesus every day for three years. They walked with Him, talked with Him, shared meals with Him, and learned ministry skills from Him. He proved himself to them and they learned to trust Him implicitly.

Do you spend time with Jesus every day? Do you walk with Him, talk with Him, learn from Him? Have you allowed Him to prove Himself to you? Have you learned to trust Him implicitly? That is what a true disciple of Jesus does.

It is tempting for Christians today to believe that it is impossible to have the kind of relationship with Jesus that the disciples did or to be able to do the things they did. We must not make the mistake of thinking that way. Even when they were with Jesus in person every day, the disciples failed him miserably. They doubted, they questioned, they argued, were short-tempered and judgmental. Often, there were times when Jesus left them alone while He went off somewhere to converse with the Father. We have it better than the disciples did. We have the Holy Spirit of God with us every moment of every day.
"For He Himself has said, 'I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.” Hebrews 13:5

What can we learn from the disciples of old? How did they successfully carry out the Great Commission that Jesus gave them as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20?

THEY…
Were crystal clear in their convictions—they knew the Truth.
Left old, ungodly ways behind.
Wanted to be like their Master.
Were humble-minded.
Had genuine love for their fellow men.
Spoke the Truth in love, without fear.
Were calm and self-controlled.
Were concerned for the spiritual welfare of others.
Were completely faithful and obedient to the Master.
Trusted God when they didn’t always understand.
Relied on the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to lead and guide them.
Did not allow any relationship or desire to take priority before God.
Knew that God was faithful to His promises.
Knew that God would take care of them and their families.
Knew that in spite of their human weaknesses, God’s strength would enable them.
Knew that there was a better home awaiting them in the presence of God for eternity.

Once again, or should I say “still” our world is in a spiritual mess just as it was in the days of Jesus’ first disciples. But, if we surrender ourselves completely to God as they did, we too will be vibrant and effective disciples for Him.

Jesus said,
“The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” Matthew 20:28.

His will is for us to—be like Him.
His will is for us to—be His ambassadors.
His will is for us to—minister to the needs of others.
His will is for us to—bring spiritually lost people to Him.
His will is for us to—bring glory to Him in every area of our life.

Don’t be tough on yourselves, thinking that you cannot be an effective disciple for God.

Matthew 20:20-23:
Jesus asked his disciples if they felt they were able to
“drink the cup that I am about to drink?" Their response was, “We are able,” to which Jesus replied, “My cup you shall drink.” This is what our response must be to Jesus as well—”We are able.” We must believe that with the strength and abilities that God gives us, we too are able to live and work for Him just as effectively as did Jesus’ first disciples after His resurrection.

My desire for each of us, is that every day, our prayer will be,
“Father, may Your will become the desire of my heart.”



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The Great Divide


Something very concerning is occurring that is threatening the overall health and well-being of communities, provinces, states and countries. I refer to this as The Great Divide, not to be confused with the Great Divide in the Rocky Mountains.

Never before in my memory has there been so much agitation, anger and finger-pointing between people who once worked and played together in a relatively unified fashion. Where we once smiled, shrugged our shoulders and said,
“Oh well, that person just marches to a different drum, but we still like them,” we now resort to disparaging and judgmental, harsh words, declaring them to have lost their way. Unless they think about issues and see the world in the same light as we do, they don’t measure up to our standard.

How on earth did we get to this place!? It is shocking to see what has happened in such a short span of time. What began a few short years ago as a slow erosion is quickly turning into a full-out dam burst. And, sad to say, it has spilled over into families and yes, the Christian community itself.

During the past ten years, we have seen many critical upheavals brought about by terrorism, politics and the recent worldwide virus crisis, with the last two especially, serving to divide people at all levels of society. At one time, no one knew for certain how their close acquaintances voted in an election, as they did not want politics to affect their good relationships. But now? It is indeed very different.

Too often the careful delivery of a mild mannered concern or question with no harmful intention behind it results in a quick, hot response, such as,
“Well, if that’s your thought on that, then it’s pretty obvious who you vote for! I don’t like that person because in my opinion they are blank, blank, blank, blank, and blank!”

Whoa! This leaves the other person confused, flustered and deeply hurt, not understanding the reason behind the harsh, verbal assault. Even when they calmly attempt to explain that their statement or question has been misinterpreted, their assaulter refuses to accept the correction, still spewing venom. All I can say to that behaviour is,
“Grow up, put your big girl/boy undies on and take a pill!” Perhaps the British theologian Ronald Knox (1888-1957) expressed it best when he said, “A baby is a loud noise at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”

People should be able to have a calm and quiet dialogue with another person about something they are wondering about or concerned with, without being subjected to harsh and unfair treatment. As well, each of us needs to be considerate of others while expressing our opinions unless we already know what their views are about a subject or person. Much too often I have heard someone carelessly blurt out a condescending statement, unconcerned with how it makes their listeners feel.

They appear to assume that everyone else should think and feel the way they do. But they don’t always, and are afraid to say so.

Seriously, what has happened that makes people so over-sensitive, critical, intolerant, judgmental, impatient and accusing? We weren’t always like this. Were we? Actually—yes—we were (our history proves it) but until now, we as a polite Canadian society have been relatively successful at keeping our impolite opinions under wraps and in control—at least until recently. It just takes a crisis or two for us to reveal our true selves, warts and all.

During the development of the early Church, the Apostle Paul had to deal with this issue head on. In the province of Galatia in Asia Minor, Paul was facing opposition to his authority from new Believers in the church he had recently established. They were being influenced by false teachings of the Judaizers, ordering them to mix old, legalistic and ceremonial practices with that of their new faith in Christ as Saviour. They were told that without the two together, salvation was not available. This was in stark opposition to what God ordered and it created intense division between the church members.

Paul described them as
“biting and devouring one another” (Galatians 5:15). In the following passages from the book of Galatians, we will see how he tried to educate them in how they were to treat one another.

Chapter 3:26-28 -
“We are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. We are to clothe ourselves with Christ. We are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Chapter 5:13 - “We are not to be motivated by things of the flesh (animosity, dissension, jealousy, etc.), but rather, through love we are to serve one another.”
Chapter 5:14 - We are commanded, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
Chapter 5:16 -
“But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.”
Question: What are the deeds of the flesh? Some of those listed in verse 20 are: enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions.
Chapter 5:22-23 - We are exhorted to take on the fruit of the Spirit, which is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Chapter 5:24-25 - If we truly belong to Christ we will have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires, and when we live by the Spirit, we will walk by the Spirit (follow Him).

When we find ourselves acting poorly toward one another, we don’t seem to be aware of
who and what is manipulating us. There are things occurring, invisible to our human eyesight, that I would like to address in the form of a story.

Castor floated in and touched down at the entrance at the same time as Pollux, coming in from the opposite direction. They were last to arrive and hurried inside to take their place in the back row. The atmosphere was electric with nervous tension. Many in attendance were finding it difficult to hide their nervousness, with eyes darting from side to side and limbs noticeably quivering, unsure of what to expect. A bitterly cold chill began to emerge now from the west entrance, creeping throughout the briefing hall and engulfing its occupants. IT WAS ABOUT TO BEGIN. Though they could not yet see him, they felt the approach of his ugly presence. All eyes were on the entrance as he made his appearance, swiftly moving to the front of the regiment.

In terror and worship, the regiment fell to its knees, declaring in ritual unison, “Great art thou, O Lucifer, king of enlightenment and ruler of all!”
As they remained on their knees before him with heads bowed, he took a few moments to survey the regiment before him, savouring the adulation. Then with a growl of self satisfaction he said, “All rise.” They quickly stood and came smartly to attention in military style with all eyes forward.

Lucifer began pacing back and forth, not taking his eyes off them.

“Earlier this day, Squad 98b reported here, bringing news of their successful campaigns against those lowly beasts called “Chris-tians,” he hissed. "We have many, many thousands of them on the run, seeking refuge from anyone who will help them, but luckily for us, we have caught and annihilated a huge number, destroying entire villages, towns and cities. No ages have been safe from our domination, thanks to their fellow humans in many countries willing to be our soldiers-at-arms. These soldiers believe they are accomplishing much for their own causes, when in fact, it is for ours,” as a vile grin spread across his ugly face. “And what they don’t know ‘will’ hurt them, but that is no concern of mine,” as he waved his clawed limb in the air.

He stopped his pacing long enough to narrow his vicious eyes.

“There is another group of these lowly Christians that have so far escaped our openly military style pogroms. This group requires a much different approach of assault, a much more subtle and quiet method that takes a bit longer to accomplish our goals. We have developed a system of "whispering" thoughts of suspicion, distrust and division among them, aided by a series of crises, political corruption and a breakdown of morals and ethics. We have also planted our subversives right in their midst, teaching them a new interpretation of their Scriptures, along with discouraging them in the pursuit of holiness and replacing it with SELF first, above all others, including the Almighty. Ha! We are teaching them that a ‘form’ of godliness is good enough and that a ‘solitary’ existence away from other Believers is far better than that of a group. The more we can keep them apart and divided, the better!”

He continued, “Ensign Castor, assuming you are here somewhere, I have heard of your fine work in this approach. Well done! The rest of you here should take notes from him and pick up the slack!”

At the back of the hall, standing shoulder to shoulder, Pollux whispers out of the side of his mouth, “Oooh, teacher’s pet, huh?” to which Castor whispers in reply, “Don’t kid yourself, he doesn’t ‘like’ anyone. Everything we do is for his benefit alone.”

“What!” roared Lucifer. “Do I hear whispering somewhere?! Not allowed in my presence, whoever that is!” The regiment before him visibly stiffened even more.

Now he began to snort, quickly strutting back and forth as his voice grew more loud and shrill.

“All of these lowly ones need to be convinced the Almighty has forgotten them—that He is hiding His face from them! We have them right where we want them! They are beginning to fight and be suspicious of one another. If I have my way they will be so concerned with themselves that they will disappear from the sons of men and cease to exist!”

“I will prevail! I will not be moved! I will be exalted in all the earth! And you, my minion slaves are going to work even harder to see this accomplished! Do I make myself perfectly and clearly understood!” he shrieked.

As one, the regiment shouted in drilled unison, “Yes, exalted one!”

“That is all, then!” shouted Lucifer. “Return to your posts!”

He roared angrily out of the side exit as his dutiful and terrified minions raced off to their designated regions.


Beloved, we all have a common enemy whose goal remains the same as it has from the beginning—to assert authority over Almighty God and replace Him as Supreme ruler of the universe. He believes that he can totally defeat and conquer the LORD’s redemptive message by tricking the Almighty’s loyal and committed children into turning on each other and then turn away from Him. And, the evil one will use violence, coercion, lies, deception and whatever means necessary to eliminate Christians as a threat to him.

We must keep reminding ourselves that our lives are not our own, that our spiritual freedom was bought by the Lord Jesus’ great and terrible sacrifice for us at Calvary, and that we must give our
all in service to Him. And, by standing strong together with fellow Believers, we will, with the power of the LORD in our midst, defeat the enemy’s efforts to weaken and destroy us.

By standing strong
IN THE LORD, and by consciously determining within ourselves to not allow the enemy to divide us as Believers, we will prevail and turn back the enemy’s Great Divide, changing it to UNITED WE STAND!


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Hope



JEREMIAH, the prophet of God, was having a difficult time. After all Jehovah God had done for them, the people of Judah and their capital city of Jerusalem were refusing to obey God. Jeremiah was given the extremely tough job of trying to convince the Jewish people to turn back to God.

Somewhere along the way, they had forgotten how faithful and nurturing the LORD had been. They had forgotten how Jehovah God had preserved the lives of Adam and Eve in spite of their sin and rebellion. They had also forgotten the miraculous events in the life of righteous Enoch whom God had taken up to heaven alive; how He had rescued Noah and his family from the flood, giving all mankind a second chance at life; how He led Abraham and Sarah to the promised land of Canaan and in their elderly years, gave them Isaac, a son, long after child-bearing was humanly possible.

They had forgotten how Jehovah God had spared the lives of Jacob and Joseph, how He had used Joseph to rescue the Israelites from starvation, and then, by using Moses, He faithfully led their ancestors out of slavery, back to the Promised Land of Canaan. They no longer remembered how God, working in the life of a young shepherd named David, had protected their people from annihilation by killing Goliath the Philistine giant.

God had kept his promise to develop, build, protect and bless their people. He had specifically chosen Israel to teach the world about the one and only true GOD, and promising that there would never cease to be a king in the line of David.

The LORD God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So what happened? With all this history behind them, knowing how powerful, loving and protective Jehovah God had been, why did they become rebellious and turn away from Him? I believe it can be summed up this way--THEY TOOK HIS GOODNESS FOR GRANTED AND BECAME SELFISH.

After all the good Jehovah God had done for them and their ancestors, they now refused to obey God, to honour the Sabbath day to keep it holy, and they turned to worshipping the foreign gods of the people around them. The worship of these foreign gods required them to lay out offerings to the idols, and they were required to sacrifice their children in the fire.

What would cause them to do such horrible things? They were led by false prophets and evil priests, telling them that God had given them dreams, in which He told them to instruct His people to do all these terrible things. Sadly, they believed them.

READ: Jeremiah 23: 9-11 (the prophet was heartbroken and devastated).
Jeremiah 23: 12-17, 21-22, 39-40 (God’s warning through the prophet).

The LORD had his prophet Jeremiah work diligently at trying to convince His people to turn away from false teachings and evil practices. He spoke to them as they passed through the main gate of Jerusalem. He took the elders out to Tophet/the Valley of the Son of Hinnom just outside the city to warn them against doing child sacrifices there to the god Molech. He stood pleading with them in the temple court. He visited the king. He spoke to the elders of the people and elders of the priests.

For this, the temple leaders attacked him verbally and physically, and placed him in stocks. Both the people and their leaders refused to listen or repent.

These people had lost their way. They traded their hope and trust in the Almighty, the true God of love, for the hope and trust of heathen, lifeless idols that required the blood of their own children. They turned from trusting God to trusting their own intellect and deceitful man. The result? Exactly what the prophet said would happen—they were violently conquered by an enemy that destroyed their cities and hauled them off in exile to Babylon for seventy years.

Proverbs 3:5-7 says:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.”

Paul and Timothy, suffering terrible afflictions for their faithfulness in preaching the gospel of Christ, wrote this in a letter to the Christians at Corinth:

2 Corinthians 1:9-10:
“Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us...” They dared not trust anyone else but the LORD.

Again, in a letter from Paul and many Christian brethren working together, sent to believers in Rome:

Romans 5:5:
"Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Christians today serve the “God of Hope” who fills them with hope by the Holy Spirit. Do you have this hope living in you today? If not, don’t let today pass by without it.

We sometimes sing these words:
“Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from Heaven above, with wisdom, power and love, our God is an awesome God!”

HOPE and FAITH are inseparable. The Book of Hebrews is called the “faith” chapter of the Bible. The HOPE of all those mentioned in chapter 11 was bound tightly together with their FAITH.
Hebrews 11:6 -
“Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."

Proverbs 13:12a -
“Hope deferred [withheld] makes the heart sick.” (without hope our heart becomes sick.)

Hebrews 11:1 -
“FAITH is the substance of things HOPED FOR, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:13 -
“These all died in FAITH, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth."

All of these people mentioned, put their complete faith and trust in the promises that God had given them, refusing for a moment to compromise their faith in a holy God, knowing that He was trustworthy and faithful.

The God of heaven today is the exact same Jehovah God of the Old Testament. He has not changed. He is the same powerful, loving, compassionate, all-knowing, all-seeing, miracle-working God who can do no less in our lives than He did way back then. He still forgives, still heals, still rescues, still guides, still directs, still comforts, and one day will judge us. Too many people have lost sight of this reality.

Q: In what are you placing your faith and hope? Have you become so earthly minded that you have lost sight of who God still is and what God has promised you as His child? Does this world have too powerful a hold upon you? Remember—this world is not our home—we are just passing through.

Hebrews 13:14 -
“For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are SEEKING the city which is to come.”
(with eager anticipation, we are looking forward to our heavenly home)

Q: Has the sin of the world around you left you feeling overwhelmed and caused you to lose hope? Be encouraged.

READ: Psalm 37:1-7, 34.
v.3 - TRUST in the LORD (a confident expectation; a HOPE)...He will be faithful to you and cause you to dwell in the land.
v.4 - DELIGHT yourself in the LORD (be soft and pliable)...He shall give you the desires of your heart.
v.5-6 - COMMIT your way to the LORD (roll yourself upon Him); TRUST in Him...He will bring these things to pass and will display your righteousness and good judgment before others;
v.7-8 - REST in the LORD (be still) and WAIT PATIENTLY for Him; DO NOT FRET because of the wicked or become angry...it only causes harm.
v.34 - WAIT on the LORD (trust patiently and carefully); KEEP His way (preserve/protect/hedge about)...and He will exalt you to inherit the land, and when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.

Q:
Perhaps, like the people of Judah, you have allowed yourself to be deceived into thinking there is a better way and have fallen back into sinful ways?

False prophets and teachers today are saying there is more than one way to spiritual salvation, but God’s Word teaches us that the ONLY way is through confession of sin, asking God’s forgiveness, and acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour into our life.

Jesus says,
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6)

If you have lost your way, He will forgive you and welcome you back. He did that with the people of Judah. Through Jeremiah, God sent a letter to the captives in Babylon, telling them that He planned to give them a future and a hope. He promised that when they called upon Him and prayed to Him, He would listen to them, and when they searched for Him with all of their heart, they would find Him, and He would restore them back to their land (Jeremiah 29:11-14).

Perhaps you have heard the gospel message of Jesus Christ many times, but never FULLY surrendered yourself to Him? Do it today. Don’t put it off. Don’t play church. Give yourself completely to Christ. Jesus tells us He will return at a time when we LEAST expect it.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall always be with the Lord.”

This is the
HOPE of true Christians. Make sure this HOPE is a sure thing in your life—TODAY.



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You and the News Media


The news reports on television, radio, internet and in newspapers are important to us. We depend on them to “keep us in the loop” so to speak, as to what is occurring locally, nationally and internationally.

Some of us are news freaks, others pay attention occasionally, while others don’t seem to care at all. So long as all seems to be well in their own little world, then what else matters?

For those of us who do care, we want the assurance that the news we receive is accurate and factual, though at the same time we must remember that every reporter and television news anchor have their personal biases—as well as a network boss they must answer to. Therefore, they must be careful to know what is acceptable to report on and how to do it well, lest they wind up unemployed.

More and more, network bosses appear to be leaning further to the political Left in their ideology and their reporters are expected to reflect the personal views of these network heads. This unfortunate set-up makes it difficult for mainline news reporters to do the thorough job they have been trained for. Some have spent many long years improving their network’s ratings through their exemplary reporting, only to be kicked to the curb when their deeply held convictions no longer fit into the network’s changing ideology and political agenda. As a prime example, I am thinking of that iconic and beloved reporter, Rex Murphy.

With reporters having to strictly toe the network line by reporting only as they are told, it denies “we the people” access to critical information on topics we are concerned with. It also denies us the benefit and privilege of being aware of certain situations existing in our country and elsewhere. One could say that being as our tax dollars are directly paying for these mainline news entities to exist and operate, we should therefore have open access to all the facts as they exist.

Conversely, there is a greatly increasing number of independent news sources not beholding to anyone, who have the freedom to investigate and report on items of great importance they believe the citizenry would wish to know of. We must still keep in mind, though, that they too may have their biases.

Now that societies are becoming more polarized, there is a growing resentment between these two types of news sources with both sides hotly accusing the other.
Team Independent, as I will refer to them, accuses Team Mainstream of spewing “fake news”, while Team Mainstream accuses the other of spreading “disinformation.” And where does that put us news consumers? In the middle, of course, having to choose who and what to believe. We could be described as a bunch of owls, twisting our heads this way and that, trying to determine where is and what is the truth.

On the one hand, we have citizens having habitually watched Team Mainstream, sporting their perfectly coiffed hair, fancy clothes and whitened teeth, looking sharp and professional, with every major network reporter speaking the exact same words as though all are reading from the same officially sanctioned script.

Then we have Team Independent, staffed mostly by fiercely patriotic, a-political people operating on a shoestring budget, declaring, “We don’t care who anyone votes for—the people deserve to know the truth—and we are here to deliver it to them.”

As we can see here, there is a huge divide between these two news sources, and sadly, it divides family members and friends. But, here is the good news. We can, as good citizens, refuse to allow this divide to control and manipulate us—to ruin our relationships—and rob us of our peace.

In my article,
“The Great Divide” I will further explain this in a way I hope will empower, equip and encourage us all.


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A New Beginning


There is nothing like a world war or major viral outbreak to shake things up. It appears to us that these things occur “overnight” when in fact they have been brewing for a while, waiting for that perfect moment when they can inflict the most damage and bring the world to its knees.

Such is the world in which we live today. There is indeed a worldwide virus war wreaking havoc in our lives along with the military war of words and sabre-rattling between countries that is growing louder with each day. Added to that is the myriad of other equally serious pandemics called human trafficking, the slaughter of millions of unborn babies, the hunting down, kidnapping and murder of Christians in huge numbers, the opioid crisis, racial unrest, terrorism, increasing criminal activity, corrupt governments, and the list goes on.

“Well, thanks for the reminder,” you say. “As if I could forget it anytime soon. Do you have any other uplifting words to say while your mouth is still moving? I am sick and tired of the whole thing!” Please stay with me a couple minutes more as I explain.

Many people are feeling overwhelmed with it all, wanting to just bury their head under their pillow and not come out until it’s all over, while others fight back, taking to the streets to vent their frustrations. Many families are grieving the loss of loved ones while others have lost jobs. In the midst of it all, people are just trying their best to get by in any way they can. They still need to make a living, feed and clothe their families and try to get a decent education, all the while being told to "Stay home and isolate!"

It’s a tricky dance for most people, and the questions we ask in the midst of a military or virus war, are, “Who is ultimately responsible and answerable for this mess?”—“Why is this happening to me/us?”—“When will this be over?” These are all legitimate questions, but I believe the most critical question we as individuals should be asking ourselves is “What? What am I supposed to learn from all this?” Rather than throw our questions outward, we could be proactive by looking inward. It is human instinct to be protective of ourself and those in our care that we are responsible for, and we want someone/anyone to fix the problem so we can resume our life as we once knew it. We want to regain the familiar in order to feel secure.

With your indulgence, I wish to now ask you, my reader, a question of my own. My question is,
“Have you bought into the mythical statement and lie that says, ‘There is nothing I can do about it?' " Allow yourself to think about that for a moment, along with my previous suggestion that we should ask ourselves what it is we might learn from all we are currently experiencing with this health crisis that is raging worldwide.

You have probably heard the statement that how we respond to a crisis in our life will make us either better or bitter. There is a lot of knowledge packed into that short statement. It is far easier to allow life altering experiences to turn us into bitter, resentful and angry people. This in turn makes for an incredibly unhappy, unfulfilled and unhealthy existence that destroys everything and everyone that touches us.
“Okay, so how,” you ask, “can this terrible thing going on right now possibly result in something good and make my life better? That does not make sense.”

That Thing

Well, it’s like this. Most often in the human life, it takes a major shake-up to jolt us out of our safe and secure, but mundane existence in order for us to recognize that there is something better available to us that we are either too lazy or too frightened to pursue. It’s true. There are numerous accounts of people just trudging along, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, yawning as they go through life, wondering if they could have or should have done that other "thing" they occasionally think about. There is this quiet but active yearning deep in their heart that I believe God has placed there for a reason. His Holy Spirit has been steadily working in the heart of a Believer for some time, encouraging them to step out in faith to do that "thing" they have the God-given talent, gift and the thirst for.

Many years ago, I heard of a police officer who was transporting a prisoner by air from a remote Canadian location to a larger community in order to attend court. During the flight, the plane experienced difficulty in bad weather and crashed. The two survivors were the officer and his prisoner. Injured and unable to move, the officer was suffocating, with his face buried in the snow. The prisoner saved the officer’s life by rolling him over so he could breathe. This tragic experience and the saving of his life by his own prisoner was the catalyst that caused the officer to re-examine the direction of his life. He decided right there and then, that if they were rescued, he would immediately leave his enforcement career and enter university in order to train for and pursue what was really in his heart to do. The men were indeed rescued and the officer did follow through with his decision.

Regardless of your age, are you contentedly engaged in doing what you truly believe is God’s will for your life? Are you utilizing the talents and gifts He has blessed you with? If so, that is terrific! But if not, what are you waiting for? Is the clock on your wall grinding out
“tick…tick…tick” waiting for you to get on with what you should be doing? As you flip over each month of your wall or desk calendar, do you wonder where your life is headed and if…just maybe…perhaps…your life could be more meaningful and fulfilling if only you could find the courage to step out in faith, trusting God to guide and direct you and provide your every need as you follow His plan for you? Perhaps you already know what that plan is and what your heart is yearning to do, but for whatever reason(s), you have put it off?

Hopefully, the upheaval of the year 2020 (and for how much longer, who knows) will be the vehicle that drives you to take a fresh look at your life. Are you truly living, putting God first in your life, and doing what you know you are meant to? Or, are you merely existing, routinely going through the motions of everyday life, all the while knowing in your heart that there is one particular "thing" that God has gifted you for and is wanting you to be engaged in?

When we as believers in Jesus Christ look at our life through a different lens, in this case a worldwide health crisis that shakes us to the core and changes absolutely everything, we should discover what is of most importance—our faith and the Gospel message—family—friends—and that one particular "thing" God has not only gifted us for, but that we must
use for His glory. For some, it will be something outwardly visible and obvious, while for others it will be something less noticeable but nonetheless just as powerful and glorifying to God.

When we willingly step out in faith to discover, pursue and carry out God’s will for us, we will lose our strong attachment to and need for the
familiar, and in turn will find true, authentic security and contentment through Him. Is it not amazing how a major crisis, though shattering and heartbreaking, can, if we allow it, lead to something better for us, when we courageously embrace a new unfamiliar which can be the very conveyor to a new and bright Beginning?


“Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

(Isaiah 41:10)


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Artscript Canada Publications is an online ministry of Doug & Maggie Greenfield