13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:)
"That's for me to know and you to find out!"
I suppose kids still use that line. It was popular when I was a kid. Usually when we said it, it meant we didn't know what we were talking about.
I often wonder, as I am again, if maybe I am on the wrong track. I've been exploring the web to see if someone else has come up with anything near what I have been shown. I find some that I get excited about, then read a little farther and find they have veered far off the track, or are coming from head knowledge like all those they criticize.
It causes me to wonder if what I am learning from the Holy Spirit is "for me to know, and you to find out." I wonder if what others know, they are supposed to know until they also have been shown the Truth.
I do know that if anyone took what I am saying as Gospel Truth, they will have nothing but another man-made doctrine just like everyone else. If it isn't revealed by the Holy Spirit to that individual, though it is understood to the letter, it will be nothing but dead facts.
The Pharisees and the Scribes of Jesus' day had the facts down pat. Jesus even told His disciples so. He said to hear what the Pharisees and Scribes had to say about the Word, but not to do what they did.
Until the Word is placed into the heart, where the Bible tells us it is to go, the Word will remain in the head, which is nothing but a rock.
And so is the heart a rock until it is broken up, stripped of thorns and thistles, and turned into fertile ground where the seed of the Word (the Holy Spirit) can be planted and grow.
We all see things from our own eyes. I can't see from yours, and you can't see through mine. The only way we can get a hint of what another sees is by their words, and their actions.
With God this is not so. He can see our hearts and our thoughts and our intentions.
I assume everyone sees what I see. And I assume everyone in Christ is supposed to experience what I experience. And that just is not so. The Bible speaks of many different gifts, and many different responsibilities.
I can't sing, but many can. I can't particularly play a musical instrument, but many do. I am not designed in such a way that allows me to presume a position as a financial accountant, nor as an accountant over people, such as an Elder of the church. And though I can teach, I cannot preach. Nor do I have the desire to do so.
There are others who are called, and are skillful in these areas. And they present their services and skills to the Lord and to the Lord's Body, the Church. Everyone along with their individual skills and callings round out the Church of God. No one is excluded; we all have a part, if we chose to participate.
I assume everyone knows that which I have been given. It seems that, because it has been done so with me, everyone should be able to just ask the Lord a question about His Word, and it will be revealed. That is how I read the Bible to say.
But that might not necessarily be so. What the Bible says is the Truth will be revealed to those who have the Holy Spirit, that they will be guided. It could be the person who asks for Truth will be guided to Truth, not that he or she will be given Truth in the same way I have. Perhaps a person will be given the ability to recognize Truth when they see it, not that it will be given to them first hand.
As I read what others say, I can now, through the Holy Spirit, pretty well tell if that person is speaking from doctrine, from their head, or from their heart. It could be that you, or others might be given that same gift of "Dividing the Word of Truth."
It could be that as you read what I, or others have written (or preachers preach) you can tell if it is coming from the Holy Spirit, or if I am just talking from my own opinion or personal dogmas.
I have to allow for this, and I believe it to be so.
LOSS FOR WORDS
In one article on the web I came across a statement regarding the requirements for salvation. One of the requirements has to do with words. It referred to Acts 11:14 where it says:
Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; 14Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
The one who wrote the article did not know what the words were that Peter was to speak, but he knew for sure they were essential for salvation. This is so common for us to do, that is read a few words and make assumptions about them with our head. This is where doctrine comes from. What were the words? I assume, though I don't think it's that important, that the words where the same as those spoken by Jesus, and by Paul, and what we hear today. But just for the fun of it, let's take a look at the next couple verses and see if we might get a clue.
15And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
These are the Words of Jesus that Peter remembered. I would also assume they were at least part of the words that were to bring salvation to the Gentiles. But just to be on the safe side, let's look a little farther.
18When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Jesus said they (the Disciples of Jesus) would be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
When the disciples (thousands of them) were baptized with the Holy Ghost what happened?
3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Flames of fire. Jesus said those who are His disciples would be baptized with "the Holy Ghost." And the sign of being baptized with the Holy Ghost was....Flames of Fire.
Did Jesus say anything else about fire? I believe He did.
wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (Acts 1:5)
"Wait for the baptism of the Holy Ghost."
10And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 11I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Mat 3:)
John said Jesus will baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Sound familiar?
15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:)
So John baptized with water to repentance, and Jesus baptizes with fire and the Holy Spirit to Salvation. Is there anything else about baptism we should know?
17And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, 18Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, 19And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
22But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. 23And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: (Mat 20:)
The baptism of suffering and the cross. Jesus did indeed suffer that baptism, as did the Apostles and all the disciples (thousands of them) who followed and were baptized with the Holy Spirit and with Fire.
In the wilderness we get a picture of the Christian experience. The coming out of Egypt. The entering into the Promised land. The Tabernacle. The leading of Moses and the rebellion of the preachers - I mean the Priests. The being sustained with Water from the Rock and Manna from Heaven.
But there is one thing more, one essential aspect of the wilderness journey that is often missed. While in the wilderness the Hebrew children were lead by the Shekinah Glory (the Holy Spirit) or "Cloud." That is no surprise, you already knew that. And following the Hebrews was a pillar of fire, and you knew that as well. But had you considered that, like Jesus, being led by the Spirit ends with a baptism of fire when that fire catches up with you? Jesus experienced this, as did His Apostles. And so are we very likely to experience the same, if we are truly Born Again. And if by the Grace of God we are spared such an experience, we must be ready and willing to accept such if we are "called." A soldier may be trained for war, yet never see war. But he has to always be ready for his "call."
49I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? 50But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! (Luke 12:)
7He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Mat 13:)
1I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:)
13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:)
8Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. (Rev 18:)
9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2Pet 3:)
John baptized with water to repentance; a very important first step. But first steps do not get a person to where they wish to go. John said himself that there would be One to follow who would show them the next step.
That Person of course was Jesus. And Jesus informed us that the next step was, not the baptism of water, but of fire and the Holy Spirit.
Yet the churches are still holding people in the water - in fact they are drowning their congregations in the water.
And Jesus told His disciples, that is us if we have taken His baptism (see Acts 19:3-5), we should be prepared for the final baptism of Fire that He endured.
All, every person who ever lived, will be baptized with fire in one way or another. In Noah's time everyone experienced the baptism of water, though the eight under the protection of God's Grace were not drowned in that baptism. In just such a way this earth and all its inhabitants will experience the baptism of fire. Most will be consumed by the fire. But those who have "Built their boat" of Salvation and taken on the Flames of the Holy Spirit will survive into Eternity and a new, clean world with the Lord. (Gen 1:2; Joel 2:28; Ezek 11:18-21)
In many places I have spoken against keeping the sheep at the door of the sheepfold, or on the first step of the stairs of Heaven. Here is an excellent example of just such a problem. And here is what Paul the Apostle has to say about it.
1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3And this will we do, if God permit. 4For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Heb 6:)
It appears to me that while the churches are standing on the pier arguing about which baptismal boat to take to Salvation, the Holy Spirit is sailing away to Glory with those who have watched for, and received Him.
DEFENSE OF THE DEFENSELESS
I hear preachers say of Judas: "I don't think his souls went to hell."
Why? I ask.
Judas spent 3½ years with Jesus side-by-side with the other disciples. He was the most trusted of the twelve; yet he was a thief who even stole from the Lord and the poor. Jesus Himself said that Judas was a devil. Now to me any of those by themselves would qualify Judas for hell. If they don't, then it sure gives the rest of the unsaved world a hot shot at salvation. On top of all the above, Judas betrayed Jesus to His death. Of course I am in no position to say what Judas' fate was, but I can guess.
One of the books I planned on writing was about Judas. The book was not to be so much about Judas himself, but about what it was like to be a Jew at the time he lived and to walk with Jesus.
I read several thick books about Judas. Now, I know there was just a handful of sentences in the Bible about Judas, but the imaginations of man can run wild on any subject.
What I read was weird and bazaar. But there were some books well thought out and well presented in the defense of Judas. And there are many that are likewise well done in defense of the Jewish leaders who made such an effort to kill Jesus.
All these "defenders" had to do a lot of talking in order to cover up what the Bible says in effort to either prove the Bible wrong or even a lie.
What I found particularly interesting was how people will go to so much trouble to try and prove the unprovable. There is no way to believe what the Bible says and at the same time defend Judas or the Jewish leaders. The only way to even come close is to discount the Bible altogether. And if you discount the Bible, then you have nothing left to investigate on the subjects except some obviously spurious writings.
I can see why Jews would want to defend their leaders, because in doing so they are also defending themselves. I can appreciate that. If they can get the pressure off their leaders and place all the blame on the Romans, then it is no longer the Jews who are the "Jesus killers," but the gentiles.
That's ok, and even understandable.
But what about Judas? What possible reason would a person have for spending all that time and effort on Judas? Defending him would take the pressure off no one, except maybe Judas, and he is dead and gone. His fate is already sealed.
The reason I was going to use Judas as the eyes through which to view the world is because I could best relate to him. He was apparently a weak and dishonest man in comparison to the others, and I can appreciate and identify with those traits.
I wonder if that is the reason the others write about Judas?
I was going to write about Judas, but not defend him in any way. Nor would I expect anyone to defend me and my sins when my days are done.
People will do anything to defend themselves rather than face their problems and deal with them. It is a common practice for people to point at someone else and say; "Well, at least I'm not as bad as him!"
Somehow we think that will work. For instance your child, in order to avoid being punished says: "Well, at least I didn't steal as many candy bars as Bobby did!"
And the husband who comes home drunk at 2am says: "Well, at least I didn't drink as much as Jack did!"
Do any of these excuses work? Does anyone really expect that God will accept such excuses for not doing what He says?
I suspect a lot of people think God grades on a curve. I don't think so myself. I think it's straight "A"s or flunk.
JEWS & FREE WILL
Jews are people. Nothing more, nothing less.
Many consider Jews less than other people because they were responsible for Jesus' death.
The Romans, after acquitting Jesus, brutally beat Him and crucified Him. The gentiles are just as guilty as the Jews, and even more so. The Bible for a thousand years or so said Jesus would be crucified. It was in the plan of God. One way or another Jesus had to be die in order for us to live. The Romans had no choice, they had to crucify Jesus. The Jewish leaders had no choice, they had to turn Jesus over to the Romans.
Pharaoh had no choice, he had to refuse to let the Israelites go.
Judas had no choice, he had to turn Jesus over to the Sanhedrin.
Whether God put Pharaoh in power because He knew that Pharaoh was rebellious....?
Whether Jesus picked Judas because He knew Judas was the type to betray Him, these things can be debated to no end. But in order for prophesy to be fulfilled, and God's purposes to come to fruition, these things had to be done.
"Free will" may have its place, but it also has its limits. And if you wish to argue that, argue Jacob and Esau, Moses, John the Baptist, Samuel, David, and many others. If any of them had not done exactly what they did, at precisely the time they did it, we wouldn't have the Bible to even discuss.
Consider Moses. What if Moses hadn't been put in his little boat. What if Pharaoh's daughter had not been there for her bath, or didn't like kids. What if Moses had not killed the Egyptian and run into the desert. Moses tried hard to talk God out of being the one to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. What if Moses had not had an older brother who would be High Priest. What if his sidekick Joshua, who he was training to take over, had come back with the spies and said the Canaanites couldn't be beaten. What if Moses had been 29 years old instead of 40 when he killed the Egyptian?
Or what if Noah hadn't been righteous and found Grace in God's eyes? What if Noah had worked for 109 years on his ark and decided to quit?
I wonder how many "what if's" there are that if any one of them hadn't happened, the perfect plan and schedule of God couldn't have been fulfilled as it has.
And it's obvious that God knew the end from the beginning because he has laid it out for us like a road map with every signpost being in exactly the right spot.
Consider these verses:
19And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. 20And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. 21And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. (Ex 4:)
[ Commentaries will tell you that God hardened pharaoh's heart after pharaoh had already done so. Not so. The above was said before Moses had even entered Egypt.]
20For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses. (Josh 11:)
11(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. (Rom 9:)
28Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest. (2Kings 19:)
2The Lord GOD hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks. (Amos 4:)
1And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
13Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. (Acts 9:)
16So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. (Mat 20:)
15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17These things I command you, that ye love one another. (Luke 15:)
11And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. (John 17:)
17And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Rev 22:)
[ Here is your "Free Will." and it is all anyone needs to get in the gate.]
20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, (Rom 9:)
15Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. 16I will scatter them also among the heathen, whom neither they nor their fathers have known: and I will send a sword after them, till I have consumed them. (Jer 9:)
I am the LORD, and there is none else. 7I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: [Trouble, sorrow, wickedness]: I the LORD do all these things. 8Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. 9Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? 10Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth? (Isa 45:)
Be careful now. If you disagree with what I am saying, that's fine. No problem there. But be sure you don't bend the Scriptures to fit your doctrine as so many do. Doctrine should be made to fit Scripture and not the other way around. When God said not to change "one jot or tittle" I have no doubt he also meant slanting doctrine as well. What do you think?
WALLS OF GOD
Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. 18If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? (Luke 11:)
51Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Luke 12:)
Satan must have been listening to Jesus, because the churches surely haven't.
In time past all the worldly religions were diverse and into them selves. They concentrated on peace and personal tranquility. These are the Eastern religions I am specifically referring to.
And in the past, since the 300's AD the church, though becoming corrupt, was essentially of one mind. As a single unit it was a powerful force.
Now the world religions are becoming more and more united and melded into a loose web of agreement against the ever dividing Body of Christ.
While the World seeks to discover their similarities; the church, with hands at one another's throats, tries to nitpick each other's differences.
And to make sure each slightly different fragment of the church does not mistakenly mix with another fragment, walls are built to protect that fragment with handwriting on the walls called Doctrine so that each element (member) of that fragment can know precisely what they are to believe.
If perchance a member should disagree on one point he or she will find they must either disengage from that fragment, keep their opinion to themself, or start their own fragment which to build a wall around and write upon.
And the best way to get a following for your new fragment is to be less and less Christlike, and to be more and more World like.
Satan's domain is the world. He was given power over the world when he convinced the first humans to turn toward him and to turn away from God. Satan has his army called demons and angels. And these angels are not spirits, but messengers of his doctrine of Antichrist which those of his own are spreading rapidly. And the doctrine, like a worm in the apple of knowledge, is fully worming its way through the church.
Satan's followers are listening closely to his instructions. And so are his spies, the tares in the church. And while Satan has enlisted the cream of his kingdom (that is the world), the rich, the powerful, the influential, the famous, the educated, the talented - the church who is made up of the wretched and miserable and poor listens to them carefully. (Rev 3:17)
Satan's messengers are visible and attractive, bearing a message that appeals to our selfish nature. And our selfish nature is what drove Adam and Eve to partake of the apple in the beginning.
The Church, with its rules and commands and its promise for the future if the present is denied, does not appeal to our selfish nature as does the World's of "have it all now." So the fragmented churches write new, more appealing rules to tack on the walls which supercede the Book of Rules.
A strong force must identify and obey its Commander. If any segment of that force is out of step, out of tune, or out and out rebellious as were the Israelites in the wilderness, it can in no wise win the war.
The churches are not only out of step and rebelling, but warring against one another, thrusting and jabbing in effort to build themselves up and appear righteous. And instead of listening to the Commander, each fragment only recognizes the self-proclaimed leader of their particular fragment. (Joel 2:8)
The Commander of the Army of God utilizes a system whereby He can give his orders to each individual soldier. In order to do this He "Hot wires" the hearts of each soldier to Himself by means of the Holy Spirit. But in order for this method to function correctly each soldier must stay in tune to his or her hotwire, and be ready and willing to obey. A soldier can not decide to disobey a command because it does not fit their particular interest or lifestyle.
God created the world. God created man, God created Satan. God created the Church which He is allowing to become like Himself. Why would God allow His Church to become fragmented and weak? Does it make sense to you? It does if you are aware of the manner in which God works.
God uses the weak and the beggarly with which to perform His will. He does not use the rich and powerful, who are but dust in His eyes, who feel like they are worthy.
In conquering Jericho God used a method that seemed absurd and totally unworkable to anyone observing (Joshua Chapter 6). But it worked in spite of its apparent foolishness.
At the next city, Ai, the soldiers, feeling confident and swelled-headed, tried to win on their own using conventional, logical means. And they failed miserably (Joshua Chapter 8).
Gideon wanted to fight the Medianites the conventional way, using all his force. God had him dwindle his army down to an absurdly small number using an absurd method. This little Army could not possibly win. But they did (Judges Chapter 7).
Why does God do such things? Why doesn't He work in such a way as to attract people to his Army against His "enemy", the devil?
Firstly, God wants us to know that the battle is His, not ours. He wants us to know that He is the One doing the fighting, not us. He wants us to know He is cleansing our hearts, not us (works). As soon as we get a bit of ego about what we do, He will slap us down until that ego is gone from us.
Satan on the other hand wants us to build up our ego, since our ego is just the opposite of God. This is the method he used on Adam and Eve, and has been doing so ever since. God, in order to place Himself in us (the Holy Spirit) must first purify our hearts, and that means first and foremost cleanse our heart of selfishness and ego.
This is a hard concept for us to comprehend because it goes against everything we consider as beneficial to ourselves. Keep this in mind, it is important in order to understand what is coming up.
Ego and our selfish human nature calls for us to do that which is best for us. God did not create us in order for us to do what is best for ourselves, but what is best for, and for the purpose of God. When we serve ourself we are of no use whatever to God. If our fruit is from self, it is bitter and must be burned. If our fruit is of God, that is, of His nature, then it is taken into His "Barn."
God is only looking for the best of the Harvest, and the only way to be a part of that Harvest is to allow the Vine, which is Jesus, to feed your works and your purposes, not yourself. And the way Jesus feeds His branches so they can produce fruit, and therefore become like Him is through the Holy Spirit, that is, the "Hotwire."
If you have not received the Holy Spirit, and are not following His directions, then you are none of His, that is, Jesus is not your Commander; but rather you and Satan are. All that is not of the Lord will be burned with this world. If you are not a part of God's Army, then you are on the losing side and must pay the price. Jesus said "You are either with Me, or against Me," there is no sitting out the battle or waiting to see which side will win.
Secondly, God is not at war with Satan in any way. Nor is Satan at war with Jesus, which is the same thing as being at war with God the Father. This is a man-made concoction in order to confuse people. See the study on Satan the Deceiver when it is finished.
Satan is but a tool of God's. He was created for a purpose, and he performs his job well. Satan is not at war with God, but with you!
Satan is not trying to see how many people he can win for his side as is the popular concept. Just think; If he had everybody who had ever lived, and God had no one, it wouldn't mean a hill of beans because all of us together have no influence with God whatever since we are just a pile of dust to begin with. The only value we have is that which God puts in us, that is His Spirit, which completes us. We are not immortal, we are not important. We were not created in God's image. There is one in God's Image, and that is Jesus. If you think you are in the image of Jesus, then you are a lot farther away from God than you realize.
God gave us a body which separates us from being just elements of this planet. And in a very short time we, and all other forms of life return to the elements. God breathed into man and gave us a soul. This soul separates us from the animal world and gives us power to make use of this world (or abuse it, which we do), and the ability to make choices, which animals do not have.
This power of choice is very important. It is what will separate each and every one of us from being just one of the animals that will perish, or one that will take hold of the "Hotwire" and be a fulfilled person, perfect and complete in the Image of God.
God said; "Let us make man in our image." Man was there among the beasts, the Image of God was yet to come.
So, why doesn't God make it easier to understand His purposes and to know what He expects of us? Why does He allow His Church to be fragmented and distorted? Because he does not want the World to be a part of His purposes. He is not looking for numbers as are the churches, nor is he looking for quality as is the world. God is looking for the humble few who will give up all they have in order to take on all God has to give. He's looking for the few who lap water like a dog rather that the ones who drink out of a silver goblet.
God is looking for a small remnant of True Believers filled with Himself.
Not a Heaven full of people filled with themselves.
IMAGE OF GOD
26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Gen 1:)
You stand before the mirror, turning your head this way and that to see which perspective is the most appealing. You sweep your hair back and put on a smug smile, then you dip your head lower and look from under your eyebrows with a know-it-all expression. You test one shade of lipstick to your lip if you are a girl, or imagine yourself with one type then another mustache and a beard if you are a male of any age.
You go to a clothing store where you rest one suit of clothes after another against yourself trying to find just the right "look." Then for a hat you try one with a large brim, then a small brim, then no brim whatever. You settle for the western look, and strut outside to impress the world with the "New You."
At the curb you see a crew of Bikers with their leather jackets and their hogs. You pause a moment and study the jackets, and the bandanas, and the boots; then you walk back into the clothing store from which you have just left to look at leather jackets.
We all want an image. And in this Western Culture we are bombarded with images presented from all fronts; the school, our job, the media in particular.
We are all trying to "Find Ourselves."
"Who am I?" we ask. And it is a legitimate question because we really don't know.
So we spend our life searching for ourselves. And when we can't find us, we feel lost and confused.
Everyone else we see seems to have conquered their battle and found themselves. But they too are searching, or have settled for one image or another.
Who are we really? Are we brave enough to accept and acknowledge the answer? I don't think so. I think we will do anything to avoid the truth that gnaws at us deep inside ourselves. We have to be somebody! But who?
I believe the question might better be asked - Why?
Why do we think we have to be someone special? What about us makes us one whit better than the Chinese peon who works in the rice paddies from birth to death? What makes us even a hairbreadth better than the thousands of babies we abort yearly? What makes us any better than the Jews and all the others the Nazis slaughtered; or the Nazis who did the slaughtering?
We are in fact but dust. We are no better than any other creature God has created. We came from dust, and to dust we will return.
There is one difference between us and the animals. And that one difference is Potential.
God said: "let us make Man in our image." Fortunately for us He didn't say: "Let us make rabbits in our image." Though I wonder sometimes if He would have not been better off having done so. I suspect rabbits would have been more obedient and enjoyable to be around.
But it's Man who was given the opportunity to be made in the image of God. So assuming we submit ourselves to this changeover, what is that image we would become?
23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:)
God is Spirit. That creates a bit of a problem for me. How do I wear my hair and what suit do I put on in order to be a Spirit? Of course, I can't. So since there is nothing I can do to be in the image of God; what does God have in mind?
6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? 10Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. (John 14:)
30I and my Father are one. (John 10:)
[And some say Jesus never claimed to be Deity.]
Well, you can't get much plainer than that! Jesus has apparently become, or was, or certainly is in the image of God. But, how does that help me? I mean, what am I supposed to do to become like Jesus so I too can be in the image of God?
1These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
6I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
11And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. 12While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
24Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. 25O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:)
I think that pretty well clears up what we must do to be like Jesus and therefore be in God's image, except for one thing. Jesus spoke of His Glory that we need and that He would provide. What is His Glory, and how do we receive it?
7And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD;
10And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. (Ex 16:)
25And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease. (Num 11:)
32Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished: (Ex 39:)
34Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. (Ex 40:)
25These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:)
13If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:)
8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Rom 8:)
What do you think? Is it clear?
Now all you have to do is decide what image you wish to be made into.
When I was a young soldier in the Army one of the things they had us do is learn to climb walls. Imagine having to make a running jump at a 10 foot wall with your full field pack and rifle, then throw yourself over that wall.
Walls are not easy to climb. We look at a wall and want to turn the other way.
Walls are meant to be insurmountable, their intention is to keep the enemy and others who would do us harm out. The problem is, they also keep people in.
Have you ever seen a wall around a prison or some other such institution or establishment? You see the height of the wall and the razor wire along the top. Have you ever wondered if that wall was to keep you out or whatever, or whoever was in there in?
One ex-con minister said that the walls and the guard were to keep the riffraff out so they don't bother the elite who were inside.
Climbing the wall strengthens us. Just working past the urge to give up before beginning such an attempt is strengthening.
Once you have made the decision to tackle a wall your battle has just begun. You find that you are alone in your decision because others will not follow you, nor see the importance of going over the wall, or they downright think you are foolhardy and wrong to even contemplate such a thing.
And often you wonder if they are not right.
However, you will never know until you have broken past the barrier of fear of the wall. And the only way you will be able to do this is by attacking the wall that confronts you.
Some walls we build ourselves, and then fear to attempt them. Our wall may be that of a relationship we fear losing or offending. Or it may be a fear of heights, or of water, or maybe even going outside. Whatever our fear, we know the only way to conquer it is to attack it.
Yet we are afraid. We are afraid of being conquered by that which we fear, or even fear losing that fear because we might not know who we are without it.
Some walls are built by others. That wall may have been built by education, or your family, or a group of friends or social associates.
Or a church.
God said all who are fearful, that is all those who have walls that they will not overcome will be discarded.
Yet our fear continues. We are even afraid of our fears.
Walls have signs warning those who do not belong that they must not enter, and on the other side of the walls there are signs warning those who are within that they must not leave.
Walls are going to tumble very soon. Those who are afraid to tackle their walls, or are comfortable within the walls, or see no need to scale the wall will fall with their Babylon.
The writing is on the wall.
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