Do Not Be Deceived by Pre-Trib Rapture

rapture

Pre-tribulation rapture theology was popularized extensively in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren, and further popularized in the United States in the early 20th century by the wide circulation of the Scoffield Reference Bible. In more recent times Don Thompson’s films, such as A Thief in the Night, promoted pre-tribulation rapture doctrine. Tim LaHaye’s series added to it in fictionalized pre-tribulation rapture Left Behind series, of which I have read every book.

I believe the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is probably the most dangerous and far-reaching deceptions of Satan threatening the Church today. Because of it, there are a multitude of Christians awaiting the soon return of Jesus to snatch them away before the tribulation to come. As a result, many will be totally unprepared when it does come and they are still here. Instead of focusing their time and attention on God and His Word, “putting on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” and “having done all to stand”, while “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” – much of the Church instead is in and of the world, with no oil in their lamps.

The pre-tribulation rapture has never made sense to me, as I could never find any scriptures that clearly supported it, so I have recently been thoroughly study God’s Word to see what He actually says about it. I now see it as nothing more than a grand deception, as the scriptures below prove. Do not be deceived; also do not listen to me – read God’s Word for yourself so that He might show you the truth, praying the Holy Spirit to guide and teach you. 2 Corinthians 11:3 “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

There is no comfort expressed about our not going through tribulation, persecution, etc., but only concerning them which are asleep. Paul goes on to say in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him.” He does not say we were not destined for tribulation, but that God has not destined us for wrath.

Characteristics of Rapture

Tribulation

Lord Appears in the Clouds

Trump of God

Son of Man in the Clouds – Elect of God are Gathered (the Harvest)

Matthew 24:29-31 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Revelation 4:12-19 “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. [the wheat – the saints]

And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.” [the tares – the unsaved and condemned]

The harvest is used throughout the Scriptures to symbolize the final gathering and separation of that which is desirable and productive (wheat) from that which is useless and for the fire (tares, chaff). Matthew 13:30 “Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” Compare Mark 13:24-27 with Revelation 4:12-19.

Mark 13:24-27 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.”

Mark 13:32-37 “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping [lacking watchfulness]. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”

Matthew 24:29-31 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Revelation 6:12 “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;” (compare with Matthew 24:29). God’s wrath starts after the sun and moon are darkened, after the Elect are removed. (We are not appointed to wrath, but we must never confuse God’s wrath with tribulation.) 

Every promise in the Bible is ours – they are for all believers in Christ Jesus – the elect of God, whether Greek or Jew, circumcision or uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free.

Mark 13:20 “And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.”

1 Thessalonians 1:4 “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.”

Luke 18:7 “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?”

Romans 8:33 “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.”

Romans 11:7 “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.”

Colossians 3:12 “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;”

Matthew 24:40-42 “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (After the tribulation when the wheat and tares are separated, and the angels gather the elect.)

Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” 

Acts 14:22 “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

Deuteronomy 4:30 When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and obey his voice.” 

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” 

Mark 4:17 “And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.” 

Luke 21:36 “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

Matthew 13:21 “for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended [taken by surprise, falls away, stumbles].”

John 16:33 “In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” He never says that we will avoid, escape or be taken out of tribulation.”

John 16:1-2 “I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them.”

2 Corinthias 7:4 “I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.” (Not exceeding joyful that we will not go through it.)

Jesus told us in Matthew 24:21 “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

We have been warned over and over again that we shall go through great tribulation. If we believe the light affliction we have gone through in our lives is all we will have to endure, we may be offended, taken by surprise, fall away and accept the mark of the beast. That is exactly what Satan wants. Be prepared. Do not sit back on the haunches of your brief time at Church on Sunday, hour a week reading God’s Word and praying, and believe that is enough to prepare you. It is time to put on the full armor of God and not remove it.

Ephesians 6:10-20 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

The sad thing about this painting, the vision of which was given to me to paint, is that the harvest will occur from the Church, as well as from the field. Many in the Church today are of the world, not the Word. If you are not sure if you died today where you would spend eternity, make it your priority today to know. Get right with God through Jesus now. That is the only name by which we might be saved.

 

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Gog and Magog

 

Who are these players in Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20 that everyone focuses so much attention on these days? In truth, I do not know; but it is really not important for us to know at this point in time.

If we study our Bible, specifically Revelation 20:7-10 we see: “And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth, that is, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city; but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

Gog and Magog clearly enter the scene with Satan after the millennial period, so why would we even care? Christ is in control, He has already won the battle, and their destiny is already known.

When studying Old Testament prophesies, we must always let the New Testament teachings reveal the Old. A perfect example is Isaiah 53. We all know that chapter foretells, in great detail, the coming and death of our Lord; however, it is only in light of the accounts of the death and resurrection of Jesus in the New Testament Gospels that we know that was what Isaiah was prophesying. Further, God sealed the book of Daniel (Daniel 12:4) until the end times, but specifically said not to seal the Book of Revelation (Revelation 22:10). The Book of Revelation is just that, revelation – it is not the “Book of Confusion”. If Old Testament prophesies concerning the end times are unclear, we must look to Revelation to make it clear.

If you study Ezekiel 37-38-39 in light of Revelation 20, it is obvious that it is a dual prophesy referring to both the release from Babylonian captivity and post resurrection entering into the Millennium Period, and the already won battle after. But please, do not take my word for it – open your Bibles and study it out for yourselves. Too many Christians today are being lazy and taking other people’s word about things rather than studying it themselves, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and coming to the truth of God’s Word. We have to be diligent about being in the Word in these latter days. Jesus plainly told us that there would be many false prophets – he warned us – listen to Him, not the words of man.

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The Sabbath and The Beast

I have been led once again (the 3rd time this year) to consider the 4th Commandment God gave to Moses in Exodus 20:8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God;…”

This leads me to consider the beast. We are told in Daniel 7:7-8 “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn [the Vatican], before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things (“speaking great things and blasphemies” in Revelation 13:5).”

7:24-26 “As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings [the Heruli, the Vandals and the Ostrogoths who would not bow down to the authority of the Catholic Church.] He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times and half a time [the 1260 prophetic years of the Papacy]. But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. [judgment to come]”

History confirms that the papacy held supremacy for exactly 1260 years. In A.D. 533, Emperor Justinian issued a decree recognizing the bishop of Rome as the “head of all the holy churches”; however full sovereignty could not be realized as long as the Ostrogoths held power in Rome (Heruli and Vandals had already been vanquished). The Ostrogoths were the last of the three kingdoms which would not recognize the Roman bishop’s authority. Then in 538 the Ostrogoths were overwhelmingly defeated and Justinian’s decree established the Papacy as the supreme Christian power. The bishop of Rome, with unchallenged political and ecclesiastical authority, was now the most powerful man in the West. That year, 538, marks the beginning of the 1260 years of papal supremacy.

On February 10, 1798, during the French Revolution, Napoleon’s general, Berthier, entered Rome, proclaimed a republic, and took the pope prisoner. The pope died shortly thereafter in exile in Valence, France. That year, 1798, marks the end of the 1260 years of papal supremacy (the mortal wound). It was truly believed that the era of papal power had come to an end forever. Since the Papacy had apparently lost its political status after the Pope’s capture in 1798, it was, for all intents and purposes, dead. It could only be resurrected if it regained its political status. Revelation 13:3 “One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed the Beast with wonder.”

In 1870 the Italian government took over the city of Rome. But in 1929 Cardinal Gasparri met Premier Mussolini in the Lateran Palace to sign the Lateran Treaty, returning political power to the papacy, and recognizing the Vatican as an independent state. The Catholic Advocate in Australia (April 18, 1929, p.16) said that its effect was to “heal a wound of 59 years.” The front page of the San Francisco Chronicle of February 12, 1929 carried the headline, “Heal Wound of Many Years.” The Associated Press dispatch of the event said, “In affixing the autographs to the memorable document, healing the wound which has festered since 1870, extreme cordiality was displayed on both sides.” The NY Times declares:

“Pope Becomes Ruler Of A State Again”

VATICAN AND ITALY SIGN PACT RECREATING A PAPAL STATE;
60 YEARS OF ENMITY ENDED; THRONGS CHEER IN STREETS
Acclaim Gasparri and Mussolini, Signers of Three Agreements.

By ARNALDO CORTESI
Wireless to THE NEW YORK TIMES

The Pope is again an independent sovereign ruler, as he was throughout the Middle Ages, though his temporal realm, established today, is the most microscopic independent State in the world, and probably the smallest in all history. — THE NEW YORK TIMES, Tuesday, February 12, 1929.

At that time, people understood the significance of what had happened, but not from the perspective of the prophecies of Daniel and John in Revelation. From 1929 onward, the political status of the Vatican was thus reinstated and the prophesied wound could heal fully. Thus in 1929 Vatican City was recognized as an independent state, the pope its king. Religious and civil powers were once again united in the papal office. The mortal wound to one of the heads of the Beast had been healed, as Revelation 13:3 foretold.

The Beast, or Papacy, claims to be the representative of Christ. It demands the world’s obedience and also experienced a counterfeit death and resurrection. At the end of time, the power of the resurrected Papacy will be so great that no one would venture to make war against it. These are the times we are in today.

The Roman emperor Constantine named himself Bishop of the Catholic Church and enacted the first civil law regarding Sunday observance in A.D. 321. In A.D. 325, Pope Sylvester officially named Sunday “the Lord’s Day,” and in A.D. 338, Eusebius, the court bishop of Constantine, wrote, “All things whatsoever that it was the duty to do on the Sabbath (the seventh day of the week) we (Constantine, Eusebius, and other bishops) have transferred to the Lord’s Day (the first day of the week) as more appropriately belonging to it.” The church leaders now exalted themselves to the place of God. “This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world” (1 John 4:3).

“The Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5). Here Jesus staked His claim and forbade anyone to meddle with the Sabbath because He knew there would be those who would claim the power to change God’s Law. Paul told us: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God, or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:347).

Paul warned that this blasphemy was already at work, and that it would come not from an outside influence, but from within the church (2 Thessalonians 2:7Acts 20:28-30). It was not long after Paul’s day that apostasy appeared in the church.

God warned that a blasphemous power would “seek to change times and laws,” and the Catholic Church openly admits doing it, even boasts about it. In a sermon at the Council of Trent in 1562, the Archbishop of Reggia, Caspar del Fossa, claimed that the Catholic Church’s whole authority is based upon the fact that they changed the Sabbath to Sunday.

When God says, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God”, that ends all controversy. We cannot change God’s Word for our own convenience. By following the false teaching of the one who exalts himself over God, we are choosing not to follow God and His law, but the man of lawlessness, the son of perdition, Satan over God.

Joshua 24:14-15 “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. As Christians, we are surrounded by the gods of the Amorites in these times, so we must make the conscious choice, as Joshua did, that “…as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

And please don’t even try to use what Paul said in Colossians 2:16-17 as your excuse for following the world and not keeping the Sabbath as God commanded, and as Jesus and the apostles did – Paul’s soul must weep bitterly every time he hears a “believer” attempt to do so.

The Colossian Christians were being judged by a worldly philosophy for how they observed festivals, new moons and Sabbaths—which they apparently did in a joyous and festive manner. The Colossians celebrated these days in a manner that was entirely contrary to the ascetic approach of self-denial. They understood that the Sabbaths and annual festivals are clearly commanded in the Old Testament. (New moons, it should be noted, were used as the biblical markers of time but never declared to be sacred Sabbaths, nor are they listed among the annual sacred festivals.)

By cautioning the Colossian members not to let others judge them for how they observed these times, Paul didn’t question whether they should be kept. The obvious implication of these verses is that these gentile Christians were in fact observing these days, and in no way did Paul tell them to desist. Instead, the issue he addressed is that Christians should not let others judge them by misguided ascetic standards concerning what they ate or drank or how they observed the Sabbaths or festivals (verse 16).

Colossians 2 is actually a condemnation of ascetic human philosophy, not a discussion of which laws are binding for Christians!

Instead, look to what he said in Ephesians 4:14 “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.”

Most importantly, Jesus told us in Matthew 5:17-20 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, til heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, til all be fulfilled.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so [this, of course, is referring to believers, not workers of iniquity], he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

As Paul told us in Ephesians 5:11 “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” The Church needs to come out of the world and take their stand for God in Christ, exposing the darkness and shining forth the light.

 

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Loss of a Very Dear Friend

van-gogh3

Although these scriptures are not specifically addressing death, sorrow, crying or pain concerning our pets, knowing God, they very well could include them. This is Van Gogh. She has been my dearest little friend for nearly 19 years–with me through thick and thin since she was a barely-weaned, orphaned feral kitten in Key Largo, FL. She passed yesterday. My heart is really heavy with sorrow over her passing, but I can’t help but see her curled up and purring in God’s lap, waiting until we see each other again. (photo of Van Gogh by Charlie Carroll)

He will wipe every tear from their eyes!

(“Every Day!” Author unknown, 1872)

He will wipe every tear from their eyes–and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever!” Revelation 21:4

This is but a glimpse of the glorious state upon which all the people of God will hereafter enter! There will not only be the absence of all evil–there will be the eternal enjoyment of all good. There will be perpetual vigor, perfect purity, happy service, joyous praise, eternal friendship, holy communion, and unmingled and everlasting bliss!

Suffering Christian, a few more pangs–and your last moment of anguish will be past!

Bereaved one, in Heaven you will never wear the garments of sadness–you will never lose a friend!

Sorrowing one, you will soon heave your last sigh, and have all tears wiped from your eyes!

Weary one, your journey is almost ended. Soon you will cross the threshold of your Father’s house, find yourself at home, and enter upon the enjoyment of your everlasting rest!

“A few more storms shall beat
On this wild rocky shore,
Then we shall be where tempests cease,
And surges swell no more.

“A few more struggles here,
A few more partings o’er,
A few more toils, a few more tears,
And we shall weep no more!”

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I want those You have given Me to be with Me!

flock of plovers on rocks

This is beautiful. I am sorry I haven’t been posting the past few weeks. I brought my mother out of assisted care and back up here to live in Gloucester with me. We are in a lovely home that God has provided and she has settled in very nicely. God is so good, Our Lord is so precious, our sanctification is ongoing, and although challenging at times, something we should always be grateful for, as we move closer day by day to beholding Him face to face. 

(“Every Day!” Author unknown, 1872)

Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory!” John 17:24

Precious Savior, how does Your love to Your own redeemed people appear in these words! Nothing will satisfy You short of the eternal possession of those whom the Father has given to You, whom You have redeemed with Your own most precious blood, and sanctified by Your Spirit. It is Your will that they should be with You. You would have them in Your presence and in Your home–that they may behold You face to face, and share Your glory and Your joy!

And the love of Your redeemed people answers to Your love to them–their chief desire is be with You where You are. The visits of Your love to them here on earth, are their seasons of highest enjoyment–but they are transient, and they see You only as in a glass darkly. They desire to be with You far away from this world of pollution and sin–with You in the place which You have prepared for them! They desire . . .
to forever abide with You,
to forever dwell where You dwell,
to forever behold Your glory, and
to enjoy continual manifestations of Your love–and so forever be with their precious Savior.

from www.gracegems.org

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Be of Good Cheer

white beach rose

THESE THINGS I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU, THAT IN ME YOU MAY HAVE PEACE.  IN THE WORLD YOU WILL HAVE TRIBULATION; BUT BE OF GOOD CHEER, I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.  (JOHN 16:33)

In this World today there are times when we may feel overwhelmed by what is going on all around us.  After all with wars and terrorist’s threats, and even children killing other children, it can make one wonder what is happening to this World today.

If all of these events cause you to feel overwhelmed, and the tribulation of this World is weighing heavily on your mind, remember that God is in control and that these events are unfolding as prophesied. Also remember that our Savior Jesus Christ said, “LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED; FOR YOU BELIEVE IN GOD, BELIEVE ALSO IN ME.”  (JOHN 14:1)  For when we put all of our trust in Jesus’ hands, we will find peace for; HE HIMSELF IS OUR PEACE.   EPHESIANS 2:14)

FINALLY, BRETHREN, WHATEVER THINGS ARE TRUE, WHAT EVER THINGS ARE NOBLE, WHATEVER THINGS ARE JUST, WHATEVER THINGS ARE PURE, WHATEVER THINGS ARE LOVELY, WHATEVER THINGS ARE OF GOOD REPORT, IF THERE IS ANY VIRTUE AND IF THERE IS ANYTHING PRAISEWORTHY — MEDITATE ON THESE THINGS. (PHILIPPIANS 4:8) instead of the troubles of this World.

After all it is then that; THE PEACE OF GOD, WHICH SURPASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING, WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS THROUGH CHRIST JESUS. (PHILIPPIANS 4:7) and you will know true peace as you have never known it before.  Amen,

May; THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THE LOVE OF GOD, AND THE COMMUNION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE WITH YOU.  Amen.


From http://www.godsminute.org

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God’s Testing Room

cypress grove

His testing room of suffering!

(John MacDuff)

I have tested you in the furnace of affliction!” Isaiah 48:10

I stood once in the test room of a great steel mill. All around me were little partitions and compartments. Steel had been tested to the limit, and marked with figures that showed its breaking point. Some pieces had been twisted until they broke, and the strength of torsion was marked on them. Some had been stretched to the breaking point, and their tensile strength indicated. Some had been compressed to the crushing point, and also marked. The master of the steel mill knew just what these pieces of steel would stand under strain. He knew just what they would bear if placed in a great ship, or building, or bridge. He knew this, because his testing room revealed it.

It is often so with God’s children. God does not want us to be like fragile vases of glass or porcelain. He would have us like these toughened pieces of steel–able to bear twisting and stretching and crushing to the uttermost, without collapse.

He wants us to be, not hot-house plants–but storm-beaten oaks. He wants us to be, not sand dunes driven with every gust of wind–but granite rocks withstanding the fiercest storms! To make us such, He needs to bring us into His testing room of suffering.

Many of us need no other argument than our own experiences to prove that suffering is indeed God’s testing room of faith. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds—because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3

“When He has tested me—I will come forth as gold!” Job 23:10

from www.gracegems.org

This is such an important lesson for us to learn and be completely at peace with. The more we find we are being tested, the more we should give thanks, because in the process, we are being transformed into the image of Christ. We are not intended to be fragile hot-house flowers, but like palm trees and the cedars of Lebanon, standing straight, unwavering and tall—reaching up to Him in the midst of any storm. No tree withstands a hurricane like a palm tree, and the cedars of Lebanon, which symbolize strength and magnificence, are extremely durable and were used to built ships, the Temple and King Solomon’s palace. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” Psalm 92:12

The image is of a cypress grove, another very durable tree that can withstand floods—the wood which God directed Noah to use to build the arc. “So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.” Genesis 6:14.

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Pray Earnestly

anhinga at sunrise silhouette5x7

He prayed earnestly!

(Frederick Marsh)

“Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly . . . ” James 5:17

The thing which made Elijah pray as he did, was the man that he was. When our Great High Priest comes with the lighted torch of His grace, and ignites the wood of our being into a holy flame–then the sweet-smelling fragrance of our requests ascend acceptably to God, and bring down the benediction of His love.

The art of prayer, is a sense of desperate need! There must be a sense of need, and an earnest desire to have that need met.
“Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed,
The motion of a hidden fire,
That trembles in the breast.”

Prayer is a sin-killer. No one can sin and pray; for prayer will either make us cease from sin–or sin will make us cease from prayer.

Prayer is a power-bringer. It is the hand which touches the hem of the garment of Divine grace, and causes the life which is in the Divine One to flow into us.

Prayer is a victory-giver. Bunyan’s Christian found that the weapon of “all-prayer” was sufficient to wound and defeat the adversary who would stop him in his progress as a pilgrim.

Prayer is a holiness-promoter. It is like the gentle dew which falls upon the thirsty plants and causes them to be refreshed and to fructify.

Prayer is a dispute-adjuster. Let any two brethren who are at loggerheads get on their knees, and ask the Lord about any disputed matter–and they will find the Lord saying to their troubled spirits, “Peace, be still.”

Prayer is an obstacle-remover, as Peter found when an angel came in answer to the prayers of the saints, and delivered him from the prison of Herod’s hate.

Prayer is a Christ-revealer, for it clarifies our vision, and enables us to see unseen spiritual realities.

Prayer is the secret of a holy life! We cannot do without prayer. The spiritual life is born in prayer–and it flourishes, and is strong, as it lives in that same atmosphere!

It is not the arithmetic of our prayers–how many they are;
nor the rhetoric of our prayers–how eloquent they are;
nor the geometry of our prayers–how long they are;
nor the music of our prayers–how sweet our voice may be;
nor the logic of our prayers–how proper they may be;
nor the method of our prayers–how orderly they may be;
nor even the theology of our prayers–how good the doctrine may be,
which God cares for. It is only fervency in prayer, which will make a man prevalent with God. Fervent prayer hits the mark, and pierces the walls of Heaven! “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much!” James 5:16

from www.gracegems.org

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Wings of Faith

swan bathing

THEN JESUS SAID TO HIS DISCIPLES, “IF ANYONE WOULD COME AFTER ME, HE MUST DENY HIMSELF AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS AND FOLLOW ME.” ( MATTHEW 16:24)

We all have crosses to bear in this life.  Perhaps your cross  may seen like a heavy one, however if you look around you will  find others carrying a much larger one. Therefore when your “Cross” seems to heavy remember  that God is there helping you carry it.  After all God has said:

 “NEVER WILL I LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU.”  ( HEBREWS 13:5 )

So put your faith in God, and remember that Jesus said,
“DO NOT LET YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED.  TRUST IN GOD; TRUST ALSO IN ME.  (JOHN 14:1)

Then let the wings of faith uphold you.

May the wings of faith uphold you
When your cross is hard to bear,
As temptations surround you,
And no one seems to care.
May the wings of faith surround you
And shield you from the pain
When sorrows overcome you
And teardrops fall like rain.
May you know that God is with you
In times of deep despair.
May the spirit, who’s within you,
Confirm that He is there!
May the valley of the shadow
Provide angels unaware…
May the wings of faith uphold you
When your cross is hard to bear.

Poet, Clay Harrison

http://www.godsminute.org

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Stop Believing in God (For my Atheist and Agnostic Friends)

Stop Believing in God

Atheist (A person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods, or one who believes that God does not exist.)

Agnostic (A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.)

This recent book was written, I thought, to primarily speak to people who identify themselves as Christians, but live their lives believing in rather than knowing God. After reading these quotes by a well-known agnostic and atheist, I think it was written for them as well. These are dictionary definitions–I have had a hard time getting atheists I know to give a personal definition of what they believe or do not believe, and why. American Atheists (www.atheists.org) state that “atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.” Using their definition, I guess I could call myself an atheist, since I also lack belief in gods, and goddesses too; however I do personally know the one true and living God.

Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences, and presenter of popular PBS show “Cosmos”. He did not identify himself as an atheist or an agnostic, but based on his stated beliefs, he was more agnostic than atheist. These are some quotes by Sagan.

An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no God.” Sagan obviously never read the American Atheists’ definition of atheism, which says nothing about knowing anything, only about lacking belief in. We know from this quote that Sagan did not consider himself an atheist, and did not even know the correct definition of one. Had he known, maybe he would have become a member. For $35 you can become a member and attend conventions, Atheist Pride marches at state capitals, and other atheist focused events.

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” So true—and that incredible something waiting to be known is God. Unfortunately, Sagan spent his life believing in sciences, but never came to know God—although from these quotes, he knew at his soul level, but refused to acknowledge at his limited scientific mind level.

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.” No scientist could ever create the universe, or even create an apple from scratch. No thing can be created except as a re-creation, reconstruction or re-purposing of something that has already been created. No man ever has or ever will be able to create something from nothing. That ability belongs exclusively to the Creator of all.

“You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep-seated need to believe.” This quote by Sagan is such a wonderful confirmation of the truth contained in this book. From the time we are children, our own parents, teachers, and others we look to for truth about life, intentionally and unintentionally lead us astray by presenting us with all sorts of false and deceptive things to believe in. Beliefs are fickle, changeable things. Throughout our lifetimes, our beliefs are constantly being challenged and often proven to be untrue—that goes for our beliefs in the sciences, religion, politics, history, country, government, friends, spouses, parents, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, tooth fairies and pixie dust, to name just a few. As one belief is disproved, people who do not know God look for the next thing they can believe in, that can give their life meaning and purpose, if only for a little while.

The following quotes are by Stephen Hawking: the first from a 2007 interview with BBC News; the second and third are from his book The Theory of Everything.

I believe the universe is governed by the laws of science. The laws may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene to break the laws.” I find this quote by Hawking, an avowed atheist, to be wonderful on two levels. First, he speaks from the level of what he believes (that “deep-seated need to believe” that Sagan spoke of), not what he knows. Second, he acknowledges God, who he says he lacks belief in (assuming he abides by American Atheist’s definition). How can someone who lacks belief in the existence of God say that the laws of science may have been decreed by Him, but that God does not intervene to break His own laws? In his book The Grand Design, Mr. Hawking says: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.” I wonder where Mr. Hawking thinks the law of gravity came from, and is that not one of the laws of science decreed by God that he spoke of in his BBC interview? It is sad that a mere man who is deemed to be smart by the insignificant standards of worldly knowledge of men, can lead others to believe even the most damning theories. Just because they believe him to be smarter, they will follow him to eternal damnation. But then look at what Hitler, a psychopathic narcissist, was able to encourage people to do and believe, as well as Osama bin Laden, Joseph Stalin and many others throughout human history.

A scientific theory is just a mathematical model we make to describe our observations. It exists only in our minds. So it does not have any meaning to ask: Which is real, ‘real’ or ‘imaginary’ time? It is simply a matter of which is a more useful description.” A theory is “a supposition (an uncertain belief) or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained.” There is no absolute knowing with science—it is nothing more than an uncertain belief, which is changeable with the introduction of new observations that contradict and disprove previously held theories. As for time, it is a construct that only applies or has significance to us on this little blip in the physical realm. In eternity, time has no purpose.

If the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would be neither created nor destroyed. It would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?” I particularly love this Hawking quote, as it so beautifully describes God, who has no beginning or end. Psalm 90:2 “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” God, of course, is so much greater than the universe as we know it or could ever know it, and is impossible for man to quantify—which must bug the living daylights out of Mr. Hawking.

I was thinking about the many people I know and love who call themselves atheists. Not all, but most grew up in homes where the religion of Catholicism was practiced—some even went to parochial schools. Knowing this about them makes it easier to understand how they can self-identify as atheists—they never got to know God personally—they were not encouraged to read and study God’s Word, they were never taught to follow the Way God clearly lays out in His manual for us to know Him and be in relationship with Him, through Jesus and Jesus alone. They were being told by mere imperfect men that they could only reach God by going through them and practicing legalism. It is no wonder they ran from religion; but in the process, they ran from God, and from their salvation. Once someone comes to know God, there is no unknowing Him. We can, however stop believing in all sorts of things, especially those things we are taught to believe which are follies, or downright manipulative deceptions intended to control and lead us astray. Many churches, not just the Catholic Church, have led multitudes astray with their non-biblical “religious”, pagan teachings, legalism, traditions and practices. That is why God repeats over and over again throughout His Word, “Know Me”—He is God, His existence is in no way predicated on our believing in Him. His desire is that we know Him, personally and intimately. He calls us to know Him, and the only way we can know Him and walk in relationship with Him, is to know Jesus, who He sent so that we might know and be reconciled with Him. He cannot be known intellectually; He cannot be proved or disproved by science, argument or debate. He can only be known Spirit to spirit, at the level of our true and eternal essence, that part of us that was created in His image. John 4:23-24 “But a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such as these to worship Him. God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

There is one thing we must all agree on, and that is that all of us will die—some sooner, some later, but we will all die (except those followers of Jesus who are alive at the time of His return). Whether you believe in Him or not, everyone will stand before the judgment seat of God and give an account for their lives and the choice they made concerning Him. Those who chose to be in relationship with Him in this life through Jesus Christ will be with Him for eternity, made pure and redeemed by our acceptance of His sacrifice on the cross on our behalf. Those who chose not to be in relationship with Him in life have chosen not to be in relationship with Him for eternity, and will be cast into outer darkness “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. We have been given free will to choose where we want to spend eternity. Hebrews 9:27-28 “And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly awaiting him.” Be eagerly awaiting Him—you could die at any moment, and he could return at any moment. Psalm 103:14-16 “For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer.”

Stop Believing in God

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