10/03/2020 – The Beast Mark!

Hi brothers and sisters in faith. Today’s events (October 2, 2020) have stopped many of us in our tracks. From front page news, to speculations, to theories, to fear, and perplexities the day has unfolded. What does the future hold for us – all of us – where will all of this lead? If you have been checking out the events leading up to today’s news, I believe you know what I am talking about. If you have been keeping up with my blogs, as I have shared the immense love of Jesus and the last day prophecies, then you will know where I am going with this. We are so close to being out of time. Jesus tells us in His Word that the last days will be rapid ones. (Matthew 24:21-22) Now is not a time for fear, now is a time for repentance and coming together in prayer. The ways of the world are pulling on us and trying to turn our attention away from God, but listen: “Test everything, hold fast to what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Let’s pray and invite the Holy Spirit to lead us in understanding the events of today and to take place in the future. 🙏 Father in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Your kingdom come and Your will be done. We come before You to sing Your praises and ask forgiveness for our sins. Father, we ask that Your Holy Spirit attend to our study today. Lead us into truth concerning current events, our walk with You, and the mark of the beast spoken of in the Book of Revelation. Confirm within our hearts matters concerning You and Your word. Keep us forever faithful, in Jesus name, Amen!

I am convinced, after today’s events and prayer, we are closer than I originally thought. We are counselled: “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day (2nd Coming of Jesus) drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25) This is at the core of the Elijah message and wise counsel for the days ahead. There are so many doomsday predictions flying across cyberspace, social media, and mouth to mouth. Our world in crisis has the attention of us all. But, if we stay focused on the crisis will we miss the outcome? “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26) The worst is yet to come but fear not, please have faith and assurance. “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7) Through His Word, God is revealing to us the last day events, what to look for, what to expect – He is sharing with us His protection, His assurance, His deep love for His children.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 we are told not to become easily unsettled or alarmed, Jesus will not come until all last day events take place: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come (2nd Coming of Jesus) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” (Verse 2:3) The Word of God, tells us that the 2nd Coming will not take place before the mark of the beast, before God’s children are sealed, before the great tribulation, before the 7 last plagues, and the first battle of Armageddon. The list of events, that will happen, is foreboding but I want to focus on the mark for the rest of this blog.

In the news, on social media, and in conversations, many of us are hearing talk about a mark, a tracking device, a way to know where we are and what we are doing at all times. At this point, all that is being talk about is speculative in nature. But when we look at Scripture, we discover that God has a lot to say about a “the mark of the beast” in the last days. His message to His last day people is not speculative in nature, but rooted in the truth of His Word.

“And he (Satan) causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:16-17) Powerful imagery, but it needs to be so that we will take it seriously – literally leaving no one out, no one exempt. How will we know, how will we recognize this beast, so that we are aware of what is happening – remember, God promises us we will know if we seek Him, study His word, pray, then pray some more. As revealed to John the Beloved: “Here is wisdom, Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore, six.” (Revelation 13:18) We are all familiar with 666. Most of us are aware that the number 666 is used to mark anyone, any movement, any philosophy having to do with Satan, with evil.

Please note, we serve a God of love and forgiveness. This is crucial in understanding who God is! With the exception of Satan and his angels, God willingly accepts repentance and surrender from anyone confessing their true regret in following the evil ways of Satan and the flesh. (John 3:16-17) Jesus is coming to take His people home and to destroy sin. It is only when one of God’s children knowingly decides to cling to their sinful ways that they are destroyed along with the sin Jesus comes to destroy. Pray for the lost, God loves them and is heartbroken. Let them know you are praying for them, pray for Jesus to intervene in their behalf. Remember, Satan forces his will on us not God. Many do not know they are lost because Satan has blinded them to the truth. Pray for all God’s children.

So, what will happen in the event that we refuse? Can we refuse, should we? “And the third angel (of the Lord) followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any one worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” (Revelation 14:9-10) I, through God’s saving power, will not take the mark, will not be able to buy or sell, will not be swayed by the ridicule and pressure of others – By the grace of God, I will preside on the side of Jesus, in His care and keeping, in His abiding love and compassion. God assures me that I will not take a mark of evil and cling to my sinful nature – only to be destroyed with my sin. I will claim the blood of Jesus – by His power and not that of my own, for my heart is willing but my flesh is weak. Jesus has claimed me and you as His own and He will redeem us.

Father God, I come to you again and ask that Your will be done for each and everyone of us sharing this blog. These are serious and perilous times in which we are living. Keep us in a prayerful state, a truth seeking state of mind, always through the power of Your Spirit. Thank You Father, for hearing and answering us as You have faithfully down throughout the ages. In Jesus name Amen!

Until next time, May God in His infinite mercy keep our eyes and hands to the plow. (Luke 9:62)

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9/29/2020 – Jesus Taught Using Parables, Should We?

Hi blog family and friends! I pray that all is going well for you and yours. We have had a little drama this past week. My sister had to be admitted to the hospital with complications associated with her lupus. She is doing great now and home recovering nicely. God is good!

Today, I want to share why Jesus taught using parables and what He was conveying to the crowds with each one. Jesus is a Master of communications and knows how to take the unknown and make it come alive and applicable to our lives. In teaching this way, He gave us a perfect example to follow.

Let’s pray. Father God, we come to You in preparation to learn at the feet of Jesus. We ask that our study of the Gospel Parables lead to a greater understanding of our Gospel Commission. We thank You for Jesus’ example and the indwelling of Your Spirit as we explore some of the Parables Jesus used to impart Heavenly knowledge to the crowds in and around Jerusalem. Thank You for hearing our prayer and fulfilling Your promise in us. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

I have chosen a few from the chart below. They are Parables about God’s Kingdom and I would like to discuss The Sower and the Seed first. I have chosen to use a list format because I believe the important details are easier to see and remember. I will start out with a brief overview and then list the facts and their application to our lives.

In The Sower and the Seed Parable, Jesus is talking to the crowds about a farmer that went out to sow seed. While he was sowing, the seeds fell on 4 different surfaces. The difference in seed placement impacted the outcome dramatically. (Matthew 13:3-23)

  1. Key Message – 4 types of surfaces received the seed – represents people receiving the Gospel.
  2. The farmer sowed the seeds – the farmer represents God’s people sharing the Gospel.
  3. 4 surfaces – wayside, stony ground, among thorns, and on good soil. – represents a person’s spiritual heart condition when hearing the Gospel of Jesus.
  4. Wayside seed was quickly consumed by birds – represents a busy, worldly lifestyle, no time for Jesus.
  5. Stony Ground had little soil, seed sprang up quickly but sun burned the plants up – represents an initial interest in the Gospel but self wants and routine quickly snuffs out the light.
  6. Among thorns the seeds grow but are choked out by the weeds – represents the world with all its temptations and attractions pulling us back in.
  7. Good soil the seeds sprout and mature to be harvested – representing a person who walks away from the world to be with Jesus, forsaking all else.
  8. Moral – keep sowing seeds knowing not all will come to fruition. But that every person saved is cause for a huge celebration in Heaven!

Jesus gives them a view of the Gospel by telling them a story about a very familiar topic – farming. When we relate the blessed news about Jesus, using day to day life applications, people more readily get what we are saying and will remember it longer by the association we have placed on their minds.

The next Parable I would like to discuss is The Wheat and the Tares. In this Parable, Jesus using the familiar topic of farming once again. He tells them of a servant who sows seeds in his master’s fields and retires for the night. While he is sleeping an enemy comes and plants tares (weeds that closely resemble wheat in early development) in his fields. When he tells his master about the tares, his master tells him to leave them until the harvest. (Matthew 13:24-43)

  1. Key Message – tearing out the tares before harvest will uproot and kill a portion of the good wheat. Good wheat pulled by accident because they look very similar.
  2. Good Wheat – God people that will be taken to Heaven at Jesus 2nd Coming.
  3. Tares – Satan and his followers, wolves in sheep’s clothing.
  4. Look Alikes – in early stages of development the tares look almost like the wheat but they are counterfeit Christians. Can be very hard to tell the difference.
  5. At Harvest – The tare’s differences are more apparent, until this happens, true Christians could be lost as a result of broken relationships, etc.
  6. Moral – only God knows the true heart of a person, where there are witnesses for Jesus, there will be agents of Satan. Let Jesus do the sorting.

Again, Jesus spoke to them in terms that were familiar and second nature to the people. In this method of storytelling, we are reminded of how Jesus always took care of the peoples’ physical and emotional needs before giving them the Gospel. In this situation, Jesus used a topic common to the people so that they didn’t get bogged down with the story setting and could focus on the purpose and outcome.

Next I want to discuss the Parable of The Pearl of Great Price. This Parable is about a merchant that collected pearls. One day, he found a pearl of great worth and quickly went to sell all that he owned so that he could purchase the valuable pearl. (Matthew 13:45-46)

  1. Key Message – Jesus gave all for our redemption, came to earth to save us.
  2. Merchant – represents Jesus coming down to earth in the form of a man to find His people and save them. To pay the penalty for all the sins.
  3. Pearl of great price – Jesus’ Church, those of us that keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 12:17.
  4. Moral – Jesus sent His people out into the whole world that no one need be lost. We are of great value to Jesus. Soon He will come and take us home.

This Parable touches my heart in a special way because we are the pearl of great value. This is how Jesus sees us. What an honor, one that we did not earn, but is bestowed on us by our Lord and Savior because of His great love and passion for His Church.

Now I would like to discuss the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Sometimes this Parable is referred to as The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. The theme of this Parable is centered around the 2nd Coming, when Jesus will come back for His bride, the Church. The ten virgins had been invited to the wedding feast, but the Bridegroom was delayed. While they waited for the wedding to start, they fall asleep. Suddenly, they were awakened to hear that the Bridegroom had come. At this late hour, 5 of the virgins (foolish virgins) were low on oil for their lamps and ask for oil from their sister virgins (wise virgins.) The wise virgins told them no because then they would be in danger of running out as well. By the time the foolish virgins found oil and got to the entrance of the wedding feast, they could not enter because the door was shut. When they cried out for entrance, the Lord told them He did not know them.

  1. Key Message – Be ready for Jesus, always watchful for we do not know the day or hour.
  2. Wise Virgins – those that were full of the Holy Spirit and were prepared for His coming.
  3. Foolish Virgins – those that loved Jesus but still had a foot in both Heaven and the earth. They did not receive the full measure of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Bridegroom – Jesus is the Bridegroom coming to take His church home.
  5. Bride – God’s church, both the living and the dead in Christ.
  6. Moral – Keep your lamps trimmed with oil, pray daily and throughout the day for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your life. Things of Heaven are only discernible through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.

NOTE: Psalm 89:19-21 says; “I have exalted one chosen from the people. I have found David, my servant with my holy oil I have anointed him, so that my hand shall be established with him; my arm also shall strengthen him.” The holy oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the converted soul.

This last Parable sends a powerful message to the last day church of God. The Laodicean Church is known for its lukewarmness. This was the condition of the foolish virgins. They were half-hearted Christians and lost out on eternal life. Jesus calls for a full surrender to the power that is His to give. Jesus is willing to do all things to prosper us and to save us. All He asks from us is surrender – surrender to His will which He gladly manifests in us, surrender to His path upon which He carries us when we are weak, surrender to his unsurpassed love which He puts in our hearts. He has given and continues to give ALL, Amen!

Jesus set a great example before us, by using Parable to share the Gospel. If we share the Gospel as was His custom, then we will find that comparing familiar content with Bible truths and morals, we will draw people to Jesus and it becomes much easier for us. In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about becoming like the people he was trying to reach. In other words, if he was reaching out to a group of fishermen, he didn’t use farming practices to get his point across. When he was witnessing to the rich, he didn’t talk and act like a poor slave. He reached out to people where they were and strove to be relatable. This is what Jesus did quite successfully. And so can we. By His grace, we shall follow in His footsteps.

Until the next blog, may the Holy Spirit teach you the ways of the Spirit. (John 14:26)

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9/24/2020 – Will We Be Persecuted?

Hi everyone, it’s good to be blogging again. Today is a tough subject, but I hope to dispel any fear you might have concerning this topic. If you have Christian friends or family members that are afraid, please share this blog with them. Especially the Bible texts. I once read “all press (media) whether good or bad, furthers the cause of God.” (Early Writing, EG White) Persecution is a very good example of what EG White was talking about.

Let’s bow our heads in prayer. Father God, what a privilege it is to come before Your throne to give You glory and honor. Be with each of us as we look at the topic of Christian persecution. It can be a very fearful prospect, but You have shown us, down through the ages, that we need not fear. Make that clear to us through the power of Your Holy Spirit and Your Scriptures. Help us understand the purpose of persecution and how You use it toward the saving of souls. Thank You, Father! As You have led us in the past You will continue to lead us in the future, come what may. In Jesus saving name, Amen!

Many Christians follow history back to the 1st century AD when talking about the persecution of Christians. This is understandable because we were not called Christians prior to the ascension of Jesus. But, I would like to go back to the beginning of time…all the way back to the great deceiver because God’s children were persecuted. Eve was successfully tempted to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Satan persecuted Eve in the sense that he took her freedom and eternal life from her. He know he was telling her a lie – that she would be like a god. (Genesis 3:1-13)

The next persecution talked about in Bible is when Cain was jealous because God favored Adams sacrifice above Cain’s. Adam sacrificed according to God’s directions but Cain did not. His jealousy led to him murdering Adam. (Genesis 4:8)

Next, I will list other examples of God’s children being persecuted, leading up to Jesus’ 1st coming. (https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/p/persecution-in-the-bible.html)

  1. Old Testament Israel was the agent of persecution of nations (Judges 2:11-23 ; Leviticus 26:7-8 ).
  2. Israel’s fate in Egypt (Exodus 1-3 ) and in the Exile (Psalm 137:1 ).
  3. Saul persecuted David (1 Samuel 19:9-12 )
  4. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were persecuted because they refused to worship the image of the king (Daniel 3:1 ).
  5. Daniel in the lions den. (Daniel 6:1-28)
  6. Jezebel persecuted the prophets of the Lord, and the prophet Elijah persecuted and killed the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:1 ). 
  7. The prophets—Amos (1 Kings 7:10-12 ), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:19 ; Jeremiah 15:15), and Urijah (Jeremiah 26:20-23 )—suffered persecution preaching the will of God in adverse circumstances.

This list just names a few examples of persecution recorded in the Old Testament. I didn’t go into much detail, but I wanted to point out that persecution has been around throughout earth’s history. I do want to give more detail concerning the martyrdom of persecuted Christians. The most important Martyr is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Let’s take a closer look at how He acted during the atrocities delivered to Him. I am going to list the events of Jesus’ trial and death because I feel He set the pattern for future persecutions and martyrs  (Matthew 27: 15-54)

  1. During His time before the Jewish leaders, Jesus remained calm and quite. 27:13,14
  2. The priest’s stirred the crowd to cry out “crucify Him,”Jesus remained silent 27:22-25
  3. Pilate had Jesus flogged, no response from Jesus 27:26
  4. Pilate’s guards stripped Jesus, put a scarlet robe on Him, spit on Him, mocked Him. and hit Jesus in the head several times. Jesus remained quiet. 27:28:30
  5. They hung Jesus on a cross on the hill of Golgotha. 27:33
  6. Jesus asked God to forgive them for they didn’t know what they were doing. Luke 23:34
  7. The soldiers gambled over Jesus’ clothing and placed a placard over His head which read “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” Still Jesus is calm and silent. 27:35-37
  8. Mocked Jesus, saying save yourself. Jesus’ focus was on the thief next to Him and saving his soul, still ministering through all the pain. Luke 23:43
  9. Jesus cries out to God – not man. My God, My God, why have You forsaken me? 27:46
  10. Jesus cries out again with a loud voice and dies. 27:50

“He was despised and rejected by men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as One from whom men hide their faces, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” (Isaiah 53:3) “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.” (Philippians 3:10) Jesus set the example for how we can follow in His persecution footsteps. Persecution is not something that any of us ask for as we serve the Lord. Yet Jesus tells us we will share in His suffering. You, like myself, might be thinking, there is no way I can go through anything like that. However, I do know that God will be with us each step of the way if He allows persecution and martyrdom to come our way. Let me share, with you, the deaths of the 12 disciples. (from Christianity.com)

  1. Peter was in Rome about 66 AD when he was crucified. He requested to be hung upside down because he did not feel worthy to die in the same manner as Jesus.
  2. Andrew went to what is now the Soviet Union. He started the Christian movement there and it is said he was crucified.
  3. Thomas preached in east for Syria and as far as India. It is said he died when pierced through with the spears of 4 soldiers.
  4. Matthew ministered in Persia and Ethiopia. Some say he was not martyred and others say he was stabbed to death.
  5. Bartholomew’s ministry took him several places – India, Armenia, Ethiopia, Arabia. He was martyred but the accounts do not tell the method.
  6. James son of Alpheus ministered in Syria. He was stoned and clubbed to death.
  7. Simon the Zealot ministered in Persia. He was killed after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.
  8. Matthais – chosen to replace Judas – ministered in Syria with Andrew. He was burned to death.
  9. John the beloved was the leader of the church in Ephesus. Later to was exiled to the island of Patmos where he received visions and wrote the book of Revelation. It is believed that he died of old age.
  10. Philip ministered in Carthage in North Africa and in Asia Minor. He converted the wife of a Roman proconsul. The proconsul had Philip arrested and cruelly put to death.
  11. James the son of Zebedee was executed by Herod in 44 AD
  12. Thaddaeus, also known as Judas son of James, was killed by an ax and clubbing.

Paul was in Rome at the same time when Peter was martyred – Paul was beheaded in 66 AD. Stephen was stoned to death shortly after giving a history lesson on the 1st coming of Jesus and saying, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7) Other than the two statements I quoted, Stephen accepted his path and fell asleep in the Lord. He died still witnessing and forgiving – in the likeness of Jesus.

All of the disciples went to their deaths praising God and peacefully accepting their death as a tribute to Jesus’ sacrifice in their behalf. Just like Jesus and Stephen, they prayed for their executioners and the body of believers. I believe they were able to bravely face what lie ahead because of the indwelling Spirit of God and the covering blood of Jesus. Our heavenly Father is the only Being capable of such a miracle as to remove all fear and pain from them. Also, we must keep in mind that they all died the first death – the one Jesus referred to as sleep. (story of Lazarus,  John 11:1-12:9) Whereas, Jesus died the 2nd death – the eternal death, because that is the death payment for the wages of sin. (Romans 6:23) Revelation tells us that the price was paid through the 2nd death. (Revelation 21:8) Jesus’ disciples are asleep in the grave waiting Jesus’ return.

Down through history we have accounts of Christian martyrs singing songs of praise, witnessing to the crowd, praising God, quoting Scripture. During the Dark ages, the Waldenses, also known as the Waldensians, were grievously persecuted by the state church of their time. “Known as ‘people of the Book,’ scripture is what embodied the faith of the Waldensians – they lived by it and died for it.” (waldensiantrailoffaith.org) They were described as a peaceful group that eagerly shared the Gospel message brought to them by the disciples of Jesus. (58-59 AD) In 1165, the Waldensians fled to the Alps and hid in a cave system for many years (some references saying as much as a thousand years, The Great Controversy, EG White, p 66) – in order to avoid persecution halting their missionary endeavors.

During the Dark Ages, Bible were outlawed and burned. The Waldensians would hide pages of Scripture by sewing them into the lining of their coats. Young adults would be sent out into the world to be missionaries to the lost masses. They would share the pages as they were led by the Holy Spirit to share – often leaving the Scriptures in the paths of truth seekers. Many of them painstakingly copied the whole Bible or portions of it so as to preserve it. By their example of faith, they show that: “All fear of death was banished. They could now covet the prison and the fagot (bundles of wood used to burn them alive) if they might thereby honor the name of their Redeemer.” (The Great Controversy, EG White, p. 76) They were hunted down and slaughtered in the most vial of ways. Their blood watered the seeds they had planted for many generations. It is thought they planted the seeds for the Reformation. Even during the most horrendous times of persecution, they continued sending missionaries out into the world. The Waldensians started a movement that has carried forward into our time. For a people willing to suffer all things for “the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 1:9)

“The martyrs are a heroic minority. They don’t represent a huge popular swelling. We don’t have tens of thousands of people being martyred. What we do have, is tens of thousands of people admiring the few who are martyred.” (The Martyrs, pbs.org) Where as martyrdom consists of a “heroic minority,” persecution has been a prevalent problem from the beginning of time. “In just the last year (2020) there have been:

  1. Over 260 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution.
  2. 2,983 Christians killed for their faith.
  3. 9,488 churches and other Christian building attacked.
  4. 3,711 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned.” (opendoorsusa.org)

All this violence going on right now, yet James says: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-4) This is the message many of us hear and witness when Christians talk about persecution because they follow Jesus. We must always remember that God promises a way to worship, to proclaim His soon return, to persevere through the ridicule and suffering because of our faith. The purpose of persecution is to tempt you to forsake Jesus. “But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Martyrdom is a tool of Satan’s, a result of Satan’s anger toward Jesus winning the war on Mt Calvary, it is a result of his leadership over evil. Yet, as I quoted earlier, ALL news – events, good and bad, promotes the cause of God. Many souls have been won to Jesus because of the heroic calmness and steadfastness of His persecuted and martyred followers. In the face of persecution, we do not forsake Jesus, in the face of ridicule we do not forsake our beliefs, in the face of martyrdom we praise God for the light our sacrifice show others.

Right now, in the USA, we are being persecuted for our belief in Jesus, our desire to worship with like believers, and to share the Gospel. Our constitutional right to freedom of religion is being threatened. I firmly believe, if any of us are called to be martyred, that Jesus will be right there with us, taking away our pain and speaking through us words of hope and promise, praising His Father on high. We are not alone, stand firm, stand confident in the redeeming grace of Jesus.

Here are a few scripture to read and pray over:

  1. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12)
  2. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10)
  3. “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10)
  4.  The fifth seal, shown to John in vision, depicts the souls of those who had been martyred because of their witness for Christ. “They cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer” (Rev. 6:10-11)
  5. “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants…Hallelujah, the smoke from her goes up forever” (Rev. 19:1-3)

I pray I have shared information that will calm your heart and help you understand that persecution is inevitable but endurable because of the saving grace of Jesus. We will get through every test Jesus calls us to experience because of His power, not that of our own. Keep the Faith, in Jesus name, Amen!

Until next time, May God bestow upon you His power to overcome. Psalms 27:1 & Isaiah 41:13

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9/20/2020 – The Great Controversy! Quotes From a Great Book

Welcome back family in Christ Jesus. I know I am glad and feel blessed to share another blog with you. If you enjoy what I have to say and see truth in my blogs, please share my link with others. Unity-4-God.com Thanks!

Today’s blog will be a little different. I would like to give you some examples of another author’s interpretation of Scriptures and prophesies. I believe Ellen G White is a prophet of God and through the leading of the Holy Spirit, has shared poignant insights with us. She “is the most translated American author (nonfiction) of all time as well as the most translated woman in history.” (http://youtu.be/lbkAGvPFllQ Ted Wilson) (middlemaybooks.com) (Pinterest.ca) (Reddit) (The Compass Magazine)

My sister and I are reading The Great Controversy by EG White. We have both read it before and find it a very informative, gripping, And compelling account of the history of God’s remnant people, from Jesus’ first advent to the end time. EG White describes, in detail, the events and correlating Prophecies that take place during this time in history. I plan to share parts of her book from time to time in future blogs. Today, I want to share some sections of the introduction and chapter 1.

“The Spirit was not given—nor can it ever be bestowed—to su- persede the Bible; for the Scriptures explicitly state that the word of God is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. Says the apostle John, “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1. And Isaiah declares, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20.“ (E.G.W., viii)

“To unfold the scenes of the great controversy between truth and error; to reveal the wiles of Satan, and the means by which he may be successfully resisted; to present a satisfactory solution of the great problem of evil, shedding such a light upon the origin and the final disposition of sin as to make fully manifest the justice and benevolence of God in all His dealings with His creatures; and to show the holy, unchanging nature of His law, is the object of this book. That through its influence souls may be delivered from the power of darkness, and become “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light,” to the praise of Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us, is the earnest prayer of the writer.“ (E.G.W, p. XII)

EG White describes the spiritual condition of Jerusalem and compared it to the condition of earth leading up to the 2nd Coming.


“He, the Son of God, the Promised One of Israel, whose power had conquered death and called its captives from the grave, was in tears, not of ordinary grief, but of intense, irrepressible agony. His tears were not for Himself, though He well knew whither His feet were tending. Before Him lay Gethsemane, the scene of His approaching agony. The sheepgate also was in sight, through which for centuries the victims for sacrifice had been led, and which was to open for Him when He should be “brought as a lamb to the slaughter.” Isaiah 53:7. Not far distant was Calvary, the place of crucifixion. Upon the path which Christ was soon to tread must fall the horror of great darkness as He should make His soul an offering for sin. Yet it was not the contemplation of these scenes that cast the shadow upon Him in this hour of gladness. No foreboding of His own superhuman anguish clouded that unselfish spirit. He wept for the doomed thousands of Jerusalem—because of the blindness and impenitence of those whom He came to bless and to save.“ (E.G.W., p18)

“Christ saw in Jerusalem a symbol of the world hardened in unbelief and rebellion, and hastening on to meet the retributive judgments of God. The woes of a fallen race, pressing upon His soul, forced from His lips that exceeding bitter cry. He saw the record of sin traced in human misery, tears, and blood; His heart was moved with infinite pity for the afflicted and suffering ones of earth; He yearned to relieve them all. But even His hand might not turn back the tide of human woe; few would seek their only Source of help. He was willing to pour out His soul unto death, to bring salvation within their reach; but few would come to Him that they might have life. The Majesty of heaven in tears! the Son of the infinite God troubled in spirit, bowed down with anguish! The scene filled all heaven with wonder. That scene reveals to us the exceeding sinfulness of sin; it shows how hard a task it is, even for Infinite Power, to save the guilty from the consequences of transgressing the law of God. Jesus, looking down to the last generation, saw the world involved in a deception similar to that which caused the destruction of Jerusalem. The great sin of the Jews was their rejection of Christ; the great sin of the Christian world would be their rejection of the law of God, the foundation of His government in Heaven and earth. The precepts of Jehovah would be despised and set at nought. Millions in bondage to sin, slaves of Satan, doomed to suffer the second death, would refuse to listen to the words of truth in their day of visitation. Terrible blindness! strange infatuation!“. (E.G.W, p. 23)


EG White writes about the warning Jesus gives the disciples in Luke 21:20,21. God gave His people a sign to look for when it was time for them to run from the eminent destruction.

“Not one Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem. Christ had given His disciples warning, and all who believed His words watched for the promised sign. “When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies,” said Jesus, “then know that the desola-
tion thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out.” (Luke 21:20, 21) After the Romans under Cestius had surrounded the city, they unexpectedly abandoned the siege when everything seemed favorable for an immediate attack. The besieged, despair-
ing of successful resistance, were on the point of surrender, when the Roman general withdrew his forces without the least apparent reason. But God’s merciful providence was directing events for the good of His own people. The promised sign had been given to the waiting Christians, and now an opportunity was offered for all who would, to obey the Saviour’s warning. Events were so overruled that neither Jews nor Romans should hinder the flight of the Christians.“ (E.G.W., p. 31)


“Let men beware lest they neglect the lesson conveyed to them in the words of Christ. As He warned His disciples of Jerusalem’s destruction, giving them a sign of the approaching ruin, that they might make their escape; so He has warned the world of the day of final destruction and has given them tokens of its approach, that all
who will may flee from the wrath to come. Jesus declares: “There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations.” Luke 21:25; Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24-26; Revelation 6:12-17. Those who behold these harbingers of His coming are to “know that it is near, even at the doors.” Matthew 24:33. “Watch ye therefore,” are His words of admonition. Mark 13:35. They that heed the warning shall not be left in darkness, that that day should overtake them unawares. But to them that will not watch, “the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-5.“. (E.G.W., p. 38)


I hope you were inspired by quotes from this awesome book. If you would like to read the book, go to whiteestate.org. You can get a free pdf. Another phenomenal book by EG White is The Desire of Ages – on the life of Jesus. I highly recommend both books, remembering that no earthly author can take the place of studying the Bible. eG White wrote : “Little heed is given to the Bible, and the Lord has given a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light.” (Review and Herald, Jan 20, 1903)

Until next time, may our Savior use you as a lesser light to bring souls to His greater light. (Mark 16:15)

Hope For Our Times

9/16/20 – Elijah Message, Latter Rain- What Will Life Look Like?

We are back again and I am blessed to share another message with you. I will be combining two messages I have presented before – Elijah Message and the Latter Rain. These two prophetic messages go hand in hand. Our life changing response to the end time Elijah Message will prepare us to receive the full measure of the Latter Rain. Just typing this gives me goose bumps because the prophesied events are almost too monumental to imagine. Praise our Holy God!

Let’s pray together for the quickening of these events. 🙏 Father God, You have such magnificent plans for us and we praise Your Holy name. Father, please forgive our sins and prepare us for the days ahead. We thank You for caring and providing for us as You have in the past and we know You will continue. Your love has no bounds and Your prophecy, the Elijah Message, and the Latter Rain, are evidence of this. We are blessed to have an understanding of these gifts through the power of Your Spirit and ask for Your Spirit’s guidance as we delve into Your Word. Show us the way we ought to understand and empower us to follow the path You have chosen for us. Come Lord Jesus come! In Jesus name, Amen!

Those of us who love Jesus and have asked Him to dwell in and work through us, to spread the Gospel message, have received the early rain of the Holy Spirit. Many of us have been praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a much greater measure – the Latter Rain. I am convinced we are increasingly hearing murmurs, messages, sermons about Elijah and the Latter Rain, because God is preparing His people so we are ready to embrace these prophecies. God is calling us to be ready to avail ourselves, to the full measure, of His message, His work, and finish what we have been called to do – surrender worshipful vessels for God’s purpose. It is “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6)

I used to look at Christianity very differently – I have to do this, I can’t do that… For me, Christianity was a responsibility – not a blessing. I loved Jesus and I enjoyed Christian fellowship but I had a negative view of my part in the big picture. I praise God that He has brought me into the light, He has guided me to realize that being called according to His purpose is a privilege – a privilege Jesus earned, not me. Because of His great love, I can be a partaker in His merciful plan to save wretched souls like myself. I can stand with the Heavenly Host and proclaim victory over sin, I can be counted as a child of the King, I get to share in the greatest coming together the Universe has ever seen. The most amazing fact about this wonderful privilege is – I didn’t do a thing to deserve it, yet it is mine for the taking. We all have this privilege given to us by a generous, giving God.

In earlier blogs I covered a good portion of Matthew 24, so we could be aware of what will precede the Elijah Message and the Latter Rain. We talked about wars and rumors of wars, the 20th century being the bloodiest century in human history, massive increase in hurricanes, famines, and lawlessness – adding to the list the significant increase in intolerance of Christianity. A better understanding of times and events from the past and how they parallel current times, will help us understand that these two events are the next prophecies in line to be fulfilled.

So, how will the Elijah Message and the Latter Rain impact our lives and the lives of those around us. The best picture, given by Scripture, is the example of the Early Rain given to the disciples and followers of Jesus (henceforth referred to as followers.) Prior to receiving the Early Rain of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ followers spent most of 3 1/2 years following Him, watching Him fulfill the needs of the people, healing their infirmities, and calling them to follow Him – a true example of ministry. This was their “formal education” if you will. They were being taught the ways of God by the Master Teacher Himself. Jesus even sent the disciples out in pairs of two, to do their student ministering. They saw His compassion, felt His love, witnessed His suffering – and their hearts were forever His. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)

After Jesus’ resurrection, having victory over Satan and the second death, Jesus spent just over a month with His followers. After viewing His death and resurrection, they had a different mindset, a greater understanding of God’s plan. His followers still hope He might set up His kingdom on earth during their lifetime, but accepted His council. Their love for Jesus and each other grew exponentially, even though they still had so much to learn. They were ready, in mind and spirit, to submit themselves to Jesus in fulfilling the Gospel Mission. What I have shared can be found in the 4 Gospels, but now I want to focus on the Book of Act, which describes Jesus final days with His followers.

Acts 1:3 tells us that Jesus stayed with His dfollowers for 40 days, speaking about the Kingdom of God. (it is amazing how many times “40 days/weeks” is in the Bible – another blog perhaps) Then the Word says: “On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them the command: Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4, 5) The Word goes on: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Act 1:8) Those were Jesus’ last words to them before He ascended. In Acts 1:14, after the disciples went back to Jerusalem, we are told: “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and with His brothers.” They were waiting as Jesus had commanded them, but they were not idle. They remain spiritually awake and waiting. This is the condition we need to be in while waiting for the full measure of the Elijah Message and the Latter Rain.

If we are to follow the disciples’ example and be found praying, what should we be praying about. As I shared in my last blog, one of the purposes of the Elijah Message is to reunited families divided by sin, to bring them back to a Christ centered unit, to reestablish Christian fellowship with like believers. I think this is a great place to start and that is what my sister and I have been doing for a couple months now. A great starter book is 40 Days of Prayer (Series) by Dennis Smith. Another very critical aspect of the Elijah Message is to pray for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and another one is praying for revival. The Elijah Message includes a great variety of prayer topics.

NOTE: A must prayer topic is the continuous indwelling of the Holy Spirit – we will not be aware of the Latter Rain if we do not have the Holy Spirit as a constant companion. Remember, 5 of the 10 virgins lost out on the delayed wedding feast because their lamps were out of oil (the Holy Spirit.) In 1 Corinthians 2:14 we are told; “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness…” Those do not already have the indwelling of the Spirit of God will not recognize the Elijah Message or the Latter Rain or their purpose.

Okay, so back to the Early Rain experience of the early believers. The Elijah Message purpose is to wake us up, bring believers back together in fellowship, equip us with the end day message of Jesus, salvation and His 2nd Coming; and keep our eyes and hears focused on the Holy Spirit. This is closely parallel with the followers experience in Act.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from Heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:1-4) Crowds from all the surrounding countries were in Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost, so there were groups of people speaking a large variety of languages. When the Holy Spirit came upon them, the followers of Jesus were able to speak the language of each group represented. Act 2:41 stated that about 3000 were baptized in the Spirit and added to their number on that day. Wow, from a lost soul to a child of the King in one day!! Only God can make this happen.

Then in Acts 2:16-20 Peter quotes prophecy given to the prophet Joel of the Old Testament. (Joel chapters 1-3) Paraphrasing Joel’s vision, Peter says: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your son and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams… I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below…. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.” This is what we can expect from the Latter Rain in much greater measure than the Early Rain experience.

Again, I want to caution each of us to take a close look at what we witness, what others and the media show us – Satan will and does have his counterfeits, his false truths. If they speak not according to God’s Word, the Bible, there is NO truth in them. If they are being led by the Holy Spirit, vessels for His words – His voice, they will always speak according , to the Bible truths. (Isaiah 8:20) I do keep up with the news, spending an hour or so, the next day, going over the highlights – too much detail is too upsetting. I believe we need to stay informed, we need to know what our enemy is up to, and we need to know what to take before God in prayer. Further, I believe it needs to be done without bias – if I find myself getting prickly, I have to go on to something else. I like to use twitter because I can write prayers for people requesting prayer for concerns, hardships, and hurts in their life. Writing these specific prayers helps me stay focused on Jesus’ purpose and not get sidetrack with human weakness.

Another caution I adhere to is – I pause before replying or sending, to listen to the counsel of the Holy Spirit. I have deleted many comments by listening to Him. The war between good and evil is being fought in our minds so we must be diligent in our focus on Jesus. Going back to what I shared about my early impressions of witnessing, I used to think being constantly diligent would be stressful and wearisome. But, I have come to discover that it is affirming, reassuring, and refreshing – not a burden at all. Satan tries to forestall my fellowship with Jesus by repeating my earlier perception, but, by the grace of God, I am learning to shut him out right away.

I hope you have found direction for the future and peace from this blog. I know the last days will not be easy carefree one, but with Jesus for us who can be against us. With Jesus, we will prevail. Let’s stand firm in the faith and pray for each other!

Until my next blog, May Jesus give you the eye salve of the Laodicean church so that you may see clearly what the Holy Spirit is revealing to us. (Revelation 3:18)

NOTE – I have prayerfully decided to present a new blog every 4 days instead of every 3. Several friends and family have a hard time keeping up because work and other commitments. Thanks and God bless!

9/12/2020 – What’s Up Elijah?

Hello again! I pray you are all well and I hope you enjoy today’s blog. I decided to talk about Elijah because of a twitter comment I recently read. The person talked about the great event about to happen – the coming of Elijah. My mind started whirling and communing with the Holy Spirit about creating a blog about Elijah. It was a very interesting topic to research because there are many different ways of looking at the details surrounding his “return.” It is so important to cover several text throughout the Bible, and ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, to get a clear picture. Before we get into what the Bible has to say, let’s pray.

Dear Father God, what a blessing it is to call You Father and to send our humble praises Heaven bound. May the Holy Spirit translate our praise into the glorious language of Heaven. We ask for forgiveness of our sins and the robe of Christ’s righteousness to cover our sinful natures. May we surrender to Your will, be guided by the Holy Spirit, and be emptied of self so that Jesus may work more effectively through us. Give us your power to bring the Elijah message to a dying world. Thank you for hearing our prayers and answering our requests, in Jesus precious name we pray, Amen!

First, I agree with the person tweeting about Elijah in all aspects but one. I do not find evidence in the Bible that Elijah will come down from Heaven in person, but instead, the Bible speaks clearly about an Elijah message.

Until my recent research, I considered John the Baptist to be the first on the scene with the Elijah message, but I was wrong. So I would like to start back in Elijah’s time, and look at 2 Kings 2:9,10. (paraphrasing) Elijah told Elisha, his servant, that God told him he would be going to Heaven. So Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah told him he was asking for a hard thing, so he told Elisha, that if he saw Elijah going to Heaven, his request would be answered, but if he didn’t see the event, than his request would be denied. Outcome – Elisha did witness Elijah go to Heaven in a fiery chariot and was “baptized” with a double portion of the Holy Spirit. In Jericho, Elisha was viewed by others as having the spirit of Elijah – thus the first person to receive the Elijah message. (2 Kings 2:15) Elisha did not become Elijah, but shared a united message to the world, given them by the Holy Spirit.

So, what is the Elijah message, given to him by the Holy Spirit? “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and awesome day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” (Malachi 4:5,6) Now we see that the Elijah message is one of healing – healing the family unit and bringing them back together in love for one another. His message of family unity is a spiritual renewal – a coming together with Jesus in the center of daily life. It is a message much needed in our time, when the family unit is under continual attack and a frequent topic of discussions. But is that the extent of his message?

NOTE : With the text in Malachi, it is easy to understand why many believe Elijah will come in the flesh. But let’s delve deeper and see what else the Bible and other sources have to say.

In his article, The Last Elijah Message, Pastor Doug Batchelor, shares 12 characteristics of the Elijah message, as seen in Elijah and John the Baptist:

  1. They were bold & fearless in preaching, even before kings. 1Kings 18:18, Mark 6:18
  2. They had a simple diet and lifestyle. 1 Kings 17:11, Mark 1:6
  3. They dressed in modest, simple clothing. 2 Kings 1:8, Mark 1:6
  4. They believed in discipling others. 1 Kings 19:19, Luke 7:18
  5. They preached a baptism of repentance & death to self. 2 Kings 2:6, Matthew 3:5,6
  6. They both manifested humility. 1 Kings 18:42, Matthew 3:11
  7. They both endured religious persecution. 1 Kings 19:2, Mark 6:24
  8. They both ran before the king. 1 Kings 18:46, Luke 3:4
  9. They were both supremely interested in glorifying God. 1 Kings 18:37, John 3:30
  10. They repaired the altar of God. 1 Kings 18:30, Matthew 3:1, 2
  11. Their message sparked revival and reformation. 1Kings 18, 19, Mark 1: 4, 5
  12. The Elijah message will point people to Christ. 1 Kings 18:36, John 1:29

This is a very impressive list and I think number 12 sums it up beautifully. In fact, I believe the list builds upon itself to come to the true center of the Elijah message – Jesus Christ.

Starting with Luke 1:13 we read the story of Gabriel visiting Zechariah, a high priest, telling him that his wife, of advanced years, would have a son. Gabriel goes on the convey the requirements of John’s upbringing and the purpose of his ministry. “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17) Like Elijah, John called for repentance and revival – he was a forerunner for Jesus’ first coming – a voice in the wilderness making way for the Messiah. Their ministries paralleled each other’s, as noted in Pastor Batchelor’s list. When reading these texts we see that Gabriel is very clear about the Elijah message. John received the spiritual message of Elijah, but was not Elijah in the flesh. The prophecy in Malachi was fulfilled in John. Will it be fulfilled again? Let’s keep studying.

Before we explore the last Elijah message event, I want to discuss the state of apostasy, upheaval, and crisis at the times the message was called forth. The Book of 1 Kings tells us that Elijah was called by God at a time of great apostasy. The Jewish nation had turned from God to the point that their altars lay in ruin. They had forsaken God to worship a false god, Baal. His ministry was to lead the people to revival and repentance, to restore the family unit with God at the center, and rebuke idolatry.

At the time of Jesus’ first coming, again the Jewish nation was in apostasy – the leaders legalistically enforcing the letter of the law, distorting true worship, and leading the people away from God and toward themselves. The Jewish leaders argued over who Jesus was – He couldn’t be the Messiah because Elijah had to come first. (Matthew 17:10-13) They did not have the Holy Spirit so they were blind to the events taking place around them and rejected Jesus. However, as is typical during times of upheaval and crisis, many of the people were looking for a better life, a light of hope in their dark existence, and they were open to the Holy Spirit, recognized the power of Jesus, and rejoiced. In the midst of these event, the Elijah message was evidenced in the life of John the Baptist.

We are all witnesses to the apostasy, upheaval, and crisis happening around the world today. Nothing is “normal,” nothing is secure, nothing seems safe – who is lying, who is telling the truth? Therefore the Elijah message – bringing us back, centered on the saving grace of Jesus – is needed all the more. We are clearly in need of a revival, reformation, and healing. Right now, Jesus is our only safety net, our only shelter in this great spiritual battle between God and Satan. The victory against Satan has already been won through Jesus Christ our Lord, but Satan is still battling to destroy as many souls as he can before he and his minions are cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14, 15)

Keep in mind that John, with the spirit of Elijah, was the forerunner of Jesus’ first coming so it would be reasonable to think that we would have evidence of an Elijah message before Jesus’ 2nd coming. When we look again at Malachi 4, we are told that God will send Elijah again “before that great and awesome day of the Lord comes.” There will be an Elijah message in the last days of earth’s history. As you know, if you have been reading my blogs, I believe that we are in that time, time for the return of Elijah’s message, time for the 2nd Coming of Jesus, time to devote our lives to following Jesus. Especially time to carry forth the spirit of Elijah in our message to a dying world.

This great leaders from God – Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist – for all intent and purposes, seemed to stand alone. But, each of them knew, as you will know, that themselves and God were more than a match to defeat the enemy. Go forth in courage and faith, God is with you always.

Until next time, May God be with you even unto the ends of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

amazingfacts.com

9/09/2020 – Laodiceans, A Self-satisfied, Indecisive People! Who Us?

Welcome back for another conversation. Having a saving relationship, an everlasting relationship with Jesus is crucial at this point in earth’s history. In previous blogs, I have shared with you my conviction that we are witnessing Biblical prophecy being fulfilled before us as we live in the last days. It is my belief that Jesus’ 2nd Coming is just around the corner. Please consider leaving a comment, sharing where you stand on the climate and times in which we live. I would love to hear from you. When we share our love for Jesus and our thoughts, we provide each other with food for thought, and a purpose for more prayer and study. We grow in Jesus together which is the point of my message today.

Currently, my sister and I are reading 40 Days of Prayer by Dennis Smith. The book is broken down into 40 shorts reading, one for each day, and we are in the last 7 days of the book. Dennis is discussing the importance of Christian fellowship (growing together as Christians) – especially as we draw close to the time of the end. Also, fellowship is vitally important to those of us praying for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the latter rain. Just before Jesus ascended to Heaven, after spending a month with His disciples and close followers, “He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;” (Acts 1:4 ) In Acts 1:9, Jesus ascends to Heaven and in verses 12 & 14 we are told the disciples went back to the upper room in which they were staying with the others and they prayed constantly. On the Day of Pentecost, Jesus’ followers received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, called the early rain, and in the last days we will receive the latter rain. The early and latter rains are a critical part of planting seeds in the hearts of people and then – Just before Jesus’ 2nd coming – harvesting souls for His kingdom. Bibleask.org states the definition and purpose quite nicely.

“With farmers, after planting, a seasonal rain provided moisture for germination and initial growth. This was called the early rain. Later, near the time for harvest, another copious watering was referred to as the latter rain. So while the first rain was important for germination, the second rain provided a nourishment that was important for the harvest. Biblical writers used these terms to describe the visitation of the Holy Spirit upon the church in a dispensational sense. The “early rain” came at Pentecost to give power to the witness of the gospel. Another outpouring of rain, the latter rain, is coming at earth’s final soul harvest before the second coming of Christ.” bibleask.org/what-is-the-meaning-of-the-latter-rain

At this time, I feel compelled to move to the Book of Revelation and see what the Word has to say about God’s last day people. Are we ready for the latter rain? For centuries after John the Beloved wrote Revelation, through Divine inspiration, many have believed that Daniel and Revelation were closed books – books for the end times. In my humble opinion, this is another indicator that we are in the end times, because these two books of the Bible have been opened to our understanding by the power of the Holy Spirit. To better understand the nature of God’s people, in the last days, I would like to start with the Letters to the Churches – specifically Laodicea.

Let’s pray. Father God, all glory and honor is Yours. We humbly come before Your throne praising Your power to save, to forgive us of our sinful ways, and leading us in the paths of righteousness. We submit ourselves to hearing from Your Spirit the true Laodicean condition of Your last day people. As we acknowledge Your leading in the past, we ask for Your guidance in finding our way to the foot of the cross and repentance. We want to surrender our Laodicean condition to the saving power of Jesus. In Jesus name, Amen!

The Book of Revelation is about future, prophetic events given to John the Beloved, on the island of Patmos. The seven churches of Revelation 3, located in Asia Minor, were actual churches of John’s time. But as prophecy often does, (especially in Daniel and Revelation) the churches not only represent churches of John’s day, but each of the seven churches represent a period of time from Jesus’ ascension to the end of time. The first church, Sardis, was the first church age (period of time) of the disciples’ time. The seven church ages starts with Sardis and follows in order of how they are given in Revelation 3, down to our time – the Laodicea Age. Here is the letter God wrote to us:

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of My mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with Me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with My Father on His throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:14-22)

Wow! I think that was a wake up call! But, before we get into discussing the letter to the church of Laodicea, I would like to look at some facts about the city. “Laodikeia is literally ‘righteous people,’ from the Greek words laos and dikaios. Dikaios was understood in the Greek mind as being that which is deemed righteous by man, as opposed to another Greek word, hosios, which denotes that which was deemed righteous by the gods, or rather by God.” (www.ageoflaodicea.com/) Laodicea was a wealthy community, was ideally located, and had need of nothing. Here is a list of her attributes, provided by: lifehopeandtruth.com/prophecy/revelation/seven-churches-of-revelation

  1. The great Roman road stretching to the inland of Asia from the coast at Ephesus ran straight through its center, making Laodicea an important center of trade and communication.
  2. Its wealth came from the production of a fine quality of famous glossy black wool—whether dyed or natural in color is not known.
  3. So wealthy was Laodicea that after the great earthquake of A.D. 17, which destroyed it, the people refused imperial help in rebuilding the city, choosing rather to do it entirely by themselves.
  4. Laodicea had a famous school of medicine; and a special ointment known as ‘Phrygian powder,’ famous for its cure of eye defects.

It is easy to see why the Laodicean church members would have the attitude spoken of in the letter. They had wealth, power, and prestige. They were so used to their lifestyle they had no idea there was greater wealth, greater power, and prestige freely given by Jesus. They had no clue what Jesus was offering them and they didn’t know to ask. When they received the letter from God and were faced with the reality of their behavior, they each had to make a choice. You see, at that time, they were enjoying what they thought was the best of both worlds – they were having their cake and eating it too. They didn’t realize that their status quo lukewarmness was a bad thing. To them, it probably felt safe and kept everyone happy. Did they need rampant hate and evil to run their streets before they would wake up?

I see so many similarities between today’s Christians and the Christians in John’s time. It used to be so easy to relax and let life take its course – enjoy family, friends, church comfort, endless choices, technology, and so much more at our fingertips. For the most part, I have truly lived in a society of no worries or cares, just as they did. I can’t speak for all of your life experiences, but I am pretty sure it had to better back when than it is now. Today’s environment is not relaxing, not peaceful. Change is needed and Jesus has the answers. He says in Revelation 3, we are “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” In a lukewarm state we can find ourselves sleepy and relaxed, not prepared for what lies ahead of us. We are blinded to today’s events and their purpose in fulfilling prophecy. Can we ride the fence between this world and Jesus – can we have both? Do we want both? I know, as I look around today, read about world events, USA news, and all the BAD that is taking place, I don’t want to be in this world anymore.

The letter to the church of our age seems negative and on the surface it is. But, Jesus loves us so much that he wants to help us see the error of our ways, the deadly trap this world has set for us, that a house divided can not stand. We can only serve one master and I choose Jesus. Jesus has called for a reformation, a revival, a renewal. If we don’t heed His warning, wake up, and received His timely gifts of gold, white raiment, and eye salve, we will be lost to a world gone wrong. Remaining on the fence, lukewarm, is a result of not making a choice and that path leads to destruction.

Pray daily, with me, that the latter rain, the Holy Spirit be poured out without measure and the harvest can be completed. Amen! Come Lord Jesus Come!

Until next blog, May Jesus prepare you to sit at His right hand. (Revelation 3:21)

joaniestahl.com

9/6/20 – Follow Me! But How Jesus?

Hi everyone! I pray you are all well and loving your walk with Jesus. I am overjoyed with the hope and promises I find through pray and study. I am especially blessed to read your comments. In our current environment, it is becoming more and more difficult to find others that share our passion for God and His plan. It can be discouraging, but just when I even think of being discouraged, God comes to me with a burst of hope, an answered prayer, or an encouraging word. I thank God for each and every one of you! Amen!

Today, I would like to discuss the Gospel Commission given to us by Jesus. Let us pray together first. Dear Heavenly Father, Your will be done on this earth. We want to give You praise and glory for Your saving grace, Your great love, and Your Son Jesus. There is so much to be thankful for and our hearts sing with joy as You, through Your Holy Spirit, reveal Truth to us. Forgive us our sins and guide us in lovingly forgiving others, in caring with a heart like Jesus’ for the souls lost in confusion and purpose. Show us the ministry of Jesus through His eyes, and His example. For we know there is only one way to You and that is through the blood of Jesus, in His holy name we pray, Amen!

So, just how did Jesus minister to others? Praise God, we are able to read His living example found in the 4 Gospel – the first 4 books of the New Testament. Jesus visually demonstrates a very straight forward method of ministry, one in which we can find a consistent pattern of steps.

Jesus was 30 years old when He officially started His ministry. He launched His ministry through baptism, in the River Jordan, by John the Baptist. The accounting of His baptism, the message from God speaking to Jesus and the Holy Spirit descending on Him, can be read in Matthew 3:13-17 and is found in all 4 Gospels.

Note: preface to my next paragraph. I know the Gospels talk of 12 disciples, but Jesus did not call Judas personally. Jesus allowed Judas to ease his way into the group of men Jesus called personally. Jesus knew, from the start, that Judas would betray Him, but He allowed it as a fulfillment of prophecy. (Matthew 8:19, Psalm 41:9)

Jesus called 11 men to follow Him (later Judas joined the 11), and He had many other followers. Mark 1:16-20 describes how Jesus called His disciples to follow. Jesus chose to make these men “fishers of men.” He chose to teach them, through example, how to bring souls to Jesus – Jesus showed them the Heavenly method of saving souls for His Kingdom. Through the study of the Gospels, I have developed an acronym for which I believe is Jesus ministry pattern. I prayerfully use this acronym so that I stay true to Jesus’ method and not wander off with something of my own creation. My sister has been given the gifts of caring and helps, so she is a great helper in this area of ministry. (Partners in ministry are great!) These are my personal steps to ministry – CARING!

  1. Care about your neighbor’s well being – meet them where they are in life – live Jesus for them.
  2. Ask genuine questions about their life and share your salvation story – get to know them as more than passing acquaintances
  3. Respond to their needs and concerns – help them with physical, emotional, and mental needs – gain their trust by being trustworthy and dependable – live Jesus!
  4. Introduce Jesus – once you develop a friendship, have conversations, sharing the love of Jesus and His sacrifice
  5. Nurture their relationship with Jesus – lead them to the cross again and again
  6. Guide them – as a close friend, help them acknowledge their need for Jesus and the Holy Spirit, pray with them often, and study scripture together. Be a true friend like Jesus!

Your ministry doesn’t stop when a person accepts Jesus as their personal Savior. They are often new to the lifestyle, many of the Biblical truths, and the actual act of being a Christian – just to name a few of the hurdles ahead of them. This is where our journey along side them becomes exceedingly important. This is when Satan starts to attack them in earnest. Continue CARING for them, guiding them, and being their true friend.

When I was a young wife and mother, I had a person in my life that I like being around because I thought she represented Jesus and I could enrich my walk through her witness. We were both stay at home moms and spent time together, letting our babies play. Several months into this routine, I overhead this “friend,” tell another person, “We aren’t really friends, I’m just trying to teach her about Jesus.” That was crushing to my soul and I walked away from what I thought was a real friendship and I walked away from Jesus. So, I caution you to be sincere, be a true friend, and pray your way through any ministry for which you are called. Before we can reach out to other, we must believe, must cherish, and cling to hope in Jesus. We must daily, hourly, and in every situation, ask for Jesus to abide in us and for the Holy Spirit to guide every aspect of our being. True ministry and friendship are gifts from God and when we ask, He is faithful to hear us and give us these gifts.

All 4 Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, portray Jesus’ ministry the same way. According to them, Jesus always started His introduction to new people by meeting the pressing concerns in their lives. This often involved physical acts of healing, casting out demons, manifesting food to feed the crowds, and story telling. I used to think Jesus had an advantage over our ministry in His power to heal and perform miracles because He is God. But, as I shared in my last blog, I no longer believe the same. While on earth, Jesus set His God powers aside and received all His power from God the Father – this was for our benefit. He was demonstrating what all devout followers can do when truly connected and surrendered to the Godhead. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, he told His disciples and devoted followers to wait for the Holy Spirit to come. Upon the Holy Spirit’s arrival (Acts 2:1-47) the followers of Jesus were able to perform many miracles by calling on Jesus’ name. Here is a short list of some of Jesus miracle, given to us as an example of what we will be called to do when following in His footsteps. (https://www.thehopeproject.com)

This list is by no measure complete. “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) Jesus left no doubt in the studious hearts of His followers, as to how we should minister the Gospel Commission to our neighbors – to the world.

The Gospel Commission, often called the Great Commission, is clearly set forth by Jesus – after His resurrection. “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ ” (Matthew 28:16-20) Jesus had set a perfect example for them, for us, as visual instruction on how to carry out the Gospel Commission. Through His victorious sacrifice and resurrection Jesus cemented the ministry pattern for all to follow.

Once Jesus had met the peoples’ physical, emotional, and mental needs, their minds were cleared of cluttering concerns, set free to listen and understand His life saving stories and teachings. Because of Jesus pre-teaching choice to heal them, they trusted themselves with His teachings – realized, by the power of His miracles, that it was a natural next step to accepting the Bible truths He taught them. “As we read about the teaching of Jesus in the Bible, it is characterized by authority (Matthew 7:29Mark 1:22Luke 4:32) and wisdom (Matthew 13:54Mark 6:2). Amazed (Matthew 7:28Mark 1:22Luke 4:32) and astonished (Matthew 13:54Matthew 22:33Mark 6:2Mark 11:18) are the words used most to describe the reactions of those who heard Jesus teach.”  https://www.thehopeproject.com Soon and very soon, we will receive His teachings at the feet of Jesus as we live with Him forever.

Many years ago, I was approached by an Elder in my church. He knew that I was a close friend of a newly baptized church member. He asked me to talk to her about a few church doctrines she didn’t seem to understand or follow. He was not happy when I responded that I could not and would not do as he wished. His response was, “But you are her friend, don’t you want her saved.” I quickly answered, “Of course I do, and I am being led by the Holy Spirit in following my part in the Gospel Commission. My responsibility as a loving friend and a Christian is to continually introduce her and others to Jesus. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict them of truth and salvation.” We do not know how a person’s walk with Jesus will begin and end, therefore we can only lead them to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. We can pray and study with them, but leave the convicting to the Holy Spirit.

By His stripes we are healed, set free from sin, and saved for eternity. “But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5 ) What a worthy Messiah to follow, what a wonderful example of ministry that has been set before us. As we pray and grow in our relationship with Jesus, we can’t help but proclaim to the world – to all that will hear – Jesus is our salvation. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We have a commission to fulfill, but we are not alone, we have not been abandoned. Jesus abides in us each step of our journey, He carries us when we are weary, He lives out His ministry pattern through us, He pleads before His Father for our salvation. What is more valuable, more precious than that?

Until we meet again, may God, Who began a good work in you, carry it to completion. (Philippians 1:6)

9/2/20 – The King of Salvation

Welcome back. I am so glad to be able to share what the Holy Spirit has revealed to me through the study of God’s Word, the Bible. My blog topic for today has brought me to tears many times and I am not one to cry easily. But the message is profoundly overwhelming in its scope and perfection. I want to share just what Jesus’ sacrifice upon the Cross of Calvary means to me and what it cost Him. Please share this blog with others if it impacts you in the same way.

Let us come together in prayer before we begin. Heavenly Father, we praise You for Your perfect plan to set us free from the wages of sin, for Your Son’s sacrifice, and Your saving grace. We come before You, seeking forgiveness for our sins and asking for the guidance of Your Spirit as we ponder just what salvation cost You and what it brings to our lives. We claim Your promise in John 3:16-17. Thank you for Your life giving gift and hearing our prayer today, in Jesus name we pray, Amen!

The plan of salvation came before creation ( 2 Timothy 1:9) – it was not a last minute fix or an after thought. When the plan of salvation was set forth before creation week, Jesus accepted the call to die in our stead even knowing that He could possible fail and He could be gone forever. But He is a perfect being so He was willing to take the risk in order to save us. Being sinners, there is no way we could save ourselves from the penalty of sin – “for the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) Praise God, Jesus did not fail, but He suffered greatly. Scripture tells us the just how Jesus suffered and why it was necessary. Scripture tells us the purpose of His sacrifice, the significance of His resurrection, and His victory over Satan and sin. The scripture is where we find our truth, our salvation, and eternal life.

In the last paragraph, I made the statement that Jesus agreed to be the Sacrificial Lamb in order to save us from sin, even though He could have failed. You might be thinking, as I once did, how could this happen? Jesus is a perfect Being – sinless. How could he possibly fail? I turned to the scripture because I began to comprehend that His sacrifice was not a walk in the park – but rather a journey fraught with danger and unbearable pain. As I delved into the Gospel scriptures, I figured out how He could possibly fail. Let’s take a look at what Jesus said about His time on Earth.

Jesus said, “I have not come here on My own; God sent Me.” (John 8:42) In John 13:3 scriptures said, “God put all things under His (Jesus) power and that He (Jesus) had come from God.” Many scripture in the Gospels testify that Jesus spent much time in prayer, at times praying through the night, for the will of His Father to be manifested in Him. The greatest testimony I found is in John 8:28. Jesus said. ” When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing on My own but speak just what the Father has taught Me.” You see, in order for the salvation plan to work, Jesus had to come to earth and live as a human. He had to rely on God our Father for everything – every victory over sin, every calm reaction to mean/hateful word or deed, every humble acceptance of pain and heartache. He had to live this way as an example of what is possible for each of us, and go to the cross sinless in order to pay the sin debt – to die in our place so that we can have eternal life with Him. While on this Earth, Jesus suffered every temptation that is know to man and He overcame by the power of God. (Hebrews 4:15) He left the perfection of Heaven and His divinity behind for you, for me, and walked this Valley of the Shadow of Death for 32 years. All for the purpose of giving us an example of a God filled life and to set us free. If He had fallen prey to the smallest of temptations, all would have been lost. Praise God that Jesus was victorious.

In Luke 22:42 Jesus is praying and asking God to take the cup (Cross of Calvary) from Him if God willed it, but He still prayed that God’s will be done. In verse 44 Jesus prays more fervently, and the Bible tells us “His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Jesus was in tremendous anguish over what He had to suffer – on top of what He had already suffered. Jesus did not live a privileged life of ease. He was rejected, misunderstood, reviled, falsely accused, spat upon, and so many other undeserved acts of violence. The Creator and Savior of our world was hated and mistreated by so many of His children, but had to selflessly bear the overwhelming pain it brought Him.

Jesus has had many followers that have suffered hard lives with a willing and obedient spirit, often met violence, and some even faced martyrdom for God. And this will continue to the end of time. But no one has suffered like Jesus. He was falsely accused, tortured, blasphemed, and sentence to a death He did not earn. Jesus went to that awful death with a spirit of acceptance, when He could have called on the angels of Heaven to take Him out of this world. He loves us so much that, in spite of the anguish to His soul, to went willingly for our sake.

It was Love not the nails that kept Jesus on the Cross

While on the cross, the sins of the world bore down heavily on Jesus – sins of lust, greed, self-worship, self-indulgence, hate… the list goes on and on. The weight of sin, from Eve to the end of time, overwhelmingly bore down on our Lord and Savior – crushing His tender, sinless heart with its relentless atrocities. Jesus persevered through this tremendous, crushing burden for our sake, for His great unconditional love for us. Had He not, all would be lost for us and there would be no hope. There has not been and never will be a greater sacrifice, a greater challenge, or a more painful death than what our Savior bore on our behalf – for the wages of sin is death. (the 2nd eternal death) (Romans 6:23)

I say Jesus died the 2nd death or eternal death because that is the death that pays the debt of sin. “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, … they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) God’s followers may suffer the 1st death which is not eternal, but those that suffer the 2nd death will be gone forever. While on this Earth, Jesus referred to the 1st death as a sleep – not permanent, as told in the story of Lazarus. (John 11:11-14) Those that hear the Holy Spirit but refuse to listen, to repent, and turn their hearts to God will suffer the 2nd death. What is totally amazing is that our Lord and Savior’s sacrifice was so pure and perfect that He was resurrected after suffering the 2nd death. Because of Him, we do not need to face this termination, but can rejoice in Jesus!

I did a little math and…. If a single person sinned once per day, everyday (an extremely conservative amount) and lived to the age of 50, (a moderately average age over time) they would have sinned 1,900,000,000 times in their lifetime. If you count the number of generations since Adam and Eve, there have been approximately 86 generations. If we total up the sins of one person per generation, we end up with 163,400,000,000 sins. Now we know this is literally a drop in the bucket for the number of sins committed. I think the angels in Heaven would throw a party if we could restrict our sinning to once per day. My calculations are for the purpose of providing a visual and not in any way representative of the actual number of sins committed since Eve.

The point I am trying to make is this: if each sin were a pound, the sins from just one person per generation would literally crush to strongest person, a truck, a house. If we look at our world population right now, it is 7,800,000,000. Just this moment in time would put a minimum of 148.200,000,000 sins on Jesus’ sinless soul. He was crushed with such a tremendous amount of sins that He was engulfed in the darkest darkness ever known to humankind. It was so dark that He could no longer feel God and cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) Losing the close connection with God His Father was His greater anguish on top of the crushing weight of sin.

Just writing this blog mixes deep sadness with my greatfulness over the plan of salvation. Jesus paid a price beyond our comprehension, a price that momentarily separated Him from God, and I believe He would do it all again just to give us an opportunity to choose forever with Him.

For this gift, Jesus will be forever altered. He will maintain his human form and carry the scars of Calvary forever more. All we will have to do is look at the scars and our hearts will swell with thanksgiving and a fervent decision to never sin again. Let that desire kindle in our hearts and minds now and forever. Amen!

I wish I had the worshipful words to help you completely understand how this topic fills my heart with yearning and keeps me committed to a complete surrender to the saving power of Jesus. Please share your thoughts, bless us with your God given expressions of the gift of salvation. Inspiration comes in many forms and we are so blessed to hear the life saving words of others that experience Jesus’ gifts.

Until next blog, May God fill your heart and mind with true understanding. John 16:13

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