Triumphant Entry

At the time of JESUS’ birth, and again at His entry to Jerusalem, there were people (and angels) praising Him. At His birth, Herod, the king over Israel, tried to have the baby known as Jesus murdered in His bed. When JESUS entered Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover, the Pharisees were busy plotting His death. As we anticipate His return to earth, there are millions who are Praising and Glorifying His Name – and millions plotting His death. Again. Will the enemy ever learn that the LORD is the Triumphant One, and that His return will be met with tremendous rejoicing both in Heaven and on earth? (Spoiler alert: the answer is ‘YES’!)

As we approach the Christmas season, where is our focus? Is it on praising the LORD and His Triumphal Entry, or is it seeing how much “stuff” we can get? How has JESUS’ birth brought about the absolute insanity that comes over people, driving them to save a few dollars on “Black Friday” and the shopping days leading up to Christmas, the day we have set aside to celebrate His birth? I’m not a shopper like many in my family and friends. Put me in a department store crammed with clothes and merchandise and people, and I am looking for a way out. I’d rather do without than to have to deal with the craziness. (Make it power tools or guns, and that’s a whole different story!)

“Now may the GOD Who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to CHRIST JESUS, so that with one accord you may with one voice Glorify the GOD and FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST.” – Romans 15:5‭-‬6 NASB

My perseverance and encouragement fly right out the window in the crowded, rowdy shopping encounters on these big shopping days! I love receiving gifts, and I especially love to give them, but for people’s birthdays – or just because I want to – not because it is expected by society. Couldn’t we focus on the reason we even celebrate this day? Could we give our LORD the Triumphant Entry, the Birthday celebration He deserves? Before you take offense, I know that it is highly unlikely that JESUS was actually born on December 25, and that early Christians preempted and adapted the day from the pagan celebration of the winter soltice. Why should it matter what day we use? No one has been (or will be) able to pinpoint the actual day or date of His birth, so that day was chosen as a substitute for the ‘real’ day. What matters is that we celebrate His Triumphal Entry as a baby, and give thanks that the Creator deigned to live with us and suffer for us, so that we could be washed clean of our sins against Him!

” …. Blessed is the King who comes in the Name of the LORD; Peace in heaven and Glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” – Luke 19:38‭-‬40 NASB

The day we stop Praising and Glorifying our LORD, Savior and Deliverer; that is the day that His entire Creation will cry out to the LORD.

“Shout Joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth and sing for Joy and sing Praises. With trumpets and the sound of the horn Shout Joyfully before the KING, the LORD. Let the sea roar and all it contains, The world and those who dwell in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, Let the mountains sing together for Joy ….” – Psalms 98:4‭, ‬6‭-‬8 NASB

“Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light! Praise Him, highest heavens, And the waters that are above the heavens! Let them Praise the Name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created. He has also established them forever and ever; He has made a decree which will not pass away. Praise the LORD from the earth, Sea monsters and all deeps; Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; Mountains and all hills; Fruit trees and all cedars; Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and winged fowl; Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; Both young men and virgins; Old men and children. Let them Praise the Name of the LORD, For His Name alone is exalted; His GLORY is above earth and heaven.” – Psalms 148:1‭-‬13 NASB

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you Good News of Great JOY which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a SAVIOR, Who is CHRIST the LORD. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “GLORY to GOD in the highest, And on earth Peace among men with whom He is pleased.” – Luke 2:10‭-‬14 NASB

His first Triumphal Entry was Glorified throughout the heavens and the earth, and His Return will be accompanied by the greatest Praise session of all time!

” ….. I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and Glory and Power belong to our GOD; And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give Praise to our GOD, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.” – Revelation 19:1‭, ‬5‭-‬6 NASB

Every thing, every person, every part of GOD’s Creation, even the Enemy and all of his followers will Praise and Glorify JESUS and His Triumphant Entry!

Truths, Halftruths, or Lies?

Talking Heads. That’s one way of referring to reporters. I remember when we believed that the reporters told the truth, and we didn’t need to second guess them, or research to determine the real truth. We trusted that whatever Walter Cronkite said was right; true. Unfortunately, it is no longer true that we can believe whatever is said. The news now is full of blatant partisanship, outright disdain, lies, and halftruths. Nighttime talk show hosts are among the worst offenders, and are so prejudiced that I refuse to watch them. Making a couple of offensive jokes is one thing, but making the entire monolog about disrespecting our elected officials is not acceptable. Even when I cannot stand a person or their politics (and there have been many!), I still should respect the office they hold.

There are reporters whom I hold in great respect, and they are the recorders and reporters of the scriptures; the writers of the Bible. When GOD spoke, they listened and accurately recorded His messages alongside first-hand accounts of their history. In the New Testament, the Gospels are eye-witness accounts, and well researched accounts, of the Life and Testimony of the One known as JESUS CHRIST, MESSIAH. Luke, a physician, began his account:

“Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.” – Luke 1:1‭-‬4 NRSV

“Then He [JESUS] said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the SON of MAN, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the SON of MAN be in His day. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it.” – Luke 17:22‭-‬24‭, ‬33 NRSV

We should give serious thought to who we listen to, whether on the nightly news or in the pulpit on Sunday, or on social media, 24/7. What is the real TRUTH? Are we listening to GOD’s Truth or the half-truths and lies of the world? I try to follow Luke’s example and investigate, but we all fall victim to the propaganda and outright lies being promoted, at least part of the time. A couple of days ago, we had the opportunity to vote for a number of political offices. For months beforehand, there was a huge amount of rhetoric (i.e. lies and halftruths) that went on from the candidates, their PAC’s, and the groups who supported – or opposed – them. Lines were drawn between parties, and I think people failed to look at the candidate’s records, choosing from emotion rather than fact. As a result, I believe our country lost people who were much better suited for the job at hand than some who were elected. We desperately need to look to GOD for guidance through His Word, rather than looking to the news pundits; the Talking Heads.

JESUS is coming back, I believe sooner rather than later. The earth and all of her people, all of humankind, are in the throes of great trials and tribulations. Just look around! Research it! Matthew 24:4-29 describes how bad things will get here on earth, and it is all happening now. John was a great reporter, and in his book of Revelations, chapters 6-18, he tells in detail everything that will occur before JESUS returns, and in Revelations 19 reveals how JESUS returns:

“Then I [the Apostle John] saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its Rider is called Faithful and True, and in Righteousness He Judges and makes war. On His robe and on His thigh He has a name inscribed, “KING of kings and LORD of Lords.” ” – Revelation 19:11‭, ‬16 NRSV

What does this all mean to me? It means that I need to take everything I hear and carefully weigh it against GOD’s Holy Word, the Bible. I need to be quiet and listen, try to discern the truth behind the rhetoric, and look to the recorders of Truth. Remember this:

It’s That Time, Again

“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance ….. ” – James 1:2‭-‬3 NRSV

Tomorrow, we vote. At least, I hope and pray we all do! Do we vote our conscience, do we vote party-line, do we vote the politically correct way – or do we skip it altogether because we don’t like the choices? I think that for the followers of CHRIST it has become a battle to know the ‘right’ way to vote. Negative political ads flourish on television and social media, every candidate trying to destroy their opponent’s credibility. Often, it comes down to picking the lesser of the two evils as presented. These are indeed times of trial for us. We cannot, unfortunately, take anyone at their word. It’s a definite challenge to “consider it [ALL] joy,” when it appears to be more of a time to weep.

I know who I will vote for. I have done the research, I have spoken with candidates when possible, I have talked with friends who might know the candidate, and I have prayed. Read the rest of these verses from James:

“…. because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask GOD, Who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the LORD.” – James 1:2‭-‬8 NRSV

I admit to being frightened by so much of the current rhetoric and hate being spewed out across all of the media. The reality is that these United States are being dragged into an exceedingly liberal, socialist time. Regard for Christians is falling rapidly as we embrace diversity in everything, including religion (except Christianity!), and especially the religion of “ME.” Selfishness abounds and is rampant in our so-called heroes of the day. The honor and respect for patriots, our armed forces, and our leaders is rapidly waning as Hollywood and pro-athletes and liberal politicians take over.

What can I as an individual do? Pray. Vote. Most of all, I must bow to GOD’s superior Will, realizing that it may not be what I see as the best for my country….. but that doesn’t mean I will just lie down and let my country go to hell in a handbasket! No matter what happens tomorrow, or in the next election, or the next, I know this without a doubt: GOD WILL PREVAIL IN THE END. There will be much tribulation, and many trials, for CHRIST-followers before our LORD returns, including the rise to power by the Liberal Socialism being touted as the answer to those trials. [Side note: L.S. is NOT the answer! Only JESUS.]

Don’t lay down, and don’t be complacent. Listen to Carrollton sing “Made For This” from their album “Made For This.” Ask GOD, and ask in Faith, never doubting. In the end, Satan loses. How do I know? Because my LORD promises the defeat and destruction of all of the Enemy’s handiwork. (Read the “back” of the Book, Revelations.) Amen!

Do As I Say….

So JESUS said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but GOD knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the Sight of GOD.” – Luke 16:15 NRSV

When we don’t fear GOD, we leave a vacuum to be filled by self and the enemy. Luke 16:19–31 is the parable of Lazarus and the rich man – did you know that the name ‘Lazarus’ literally means ‘GOD helps/has helped’? And that this parable is the only one JESUS told where He named the characters? The parable is a way to compare lifestyles and determine if we are living as the LORD would have us live, and if we are hearing – and spreading – the Gospel. The rich man, being tormented and in agony after his death, begs Father Abraham to send Lazarus back to his family to tell them to repent. This is how Abraham answered:

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” – Luke 16:31 NRSV

I believe that JESUS is speaking of His own approaching death and Resurrection. How many thousands; how many millions of people have done/still do just as the rich man, ignoring JESUS in our everyday lives? Are we more concerned about the feasting and partying and our appearances, than we are about those surrounding us who are struggling and in need? We are our own worst enemies in life. We allow selfishness (GUILTY!) to rule our lives, sowing disharmony, discord, dishonesty, and dissension all around us. We live by he “Do as I say, not as I do” rule. Read Exodus 22, especially verse 25. It’s about selfishness.

“Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.” – Ephesians 4:26‭-‬27 NRSV

“We can be angry and not sin when we are angry at sin.” – Pastor Mark Hitchcock. Even justified anger can be sin when we use it to attempt to judge others. (Again, GUILTY.)

So [Nehemiah] said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our GOD, to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies?” – Nehemiah 5:9 NRSV

It can be a hard lesson to realize how much of the world’s ways we have accepted into our lives. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of “keeping up with the Jones’s” and allowing the desires of our hearts to turn from GOD to the selfishness modeled by so many people who claim the name “Christian” but don’t live it. If they can do/have/say it, it must be okay for me to follow their example, right? No, it’s a recipe for disaster with our LORD. He doesn’t tolerate being second in our lives; He is all or nothing, never-ending, ALL-Powerful, and ALMIGHTY.

On my face before Him, Loved by Him despite my constant fails, I say, so be it in my life, LORD, Your Will be done. Amen.

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Illumination from the Codex Aureus of Echternach, 1035-1040, German National Museum, Nürnberg. Top panel: Lazarus at the rich man’s door Middle panel: Lazarus’ soul is carried to Paradise by two angels; Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom Bottom panel: Dives’ soul is carried off by two devils to Hell; Dives is tortured in Hades.

October 31, aka Halloween

In Psalm 11, David is lamenting on the crumbling of society around him. Despite his despair, or maybe because of his despair, he begins and ends this psalm with the LORD, his – and our – Refuge and our HOPE. As followers of JESUS, we can look at the state of our society and flee; run away from it, isolating ourselves into polar communities. Another option, and apparently the most popular choice, is to assimilate into the culture, becoming less visible as Christians, seemingly camouflaged from the enemy. Tolerance and acceptance of the things GOD hates are mostly easier than standing against the stampede of the Enemy’s forces.

Our final option is to infiltrate, but not to assimilate, into the culture around us. Infiltration means that like JESUS with the most despised of the Jews and Gentiles, the tax collectors, we are in the culture, while standing against sin. As our LORD counted tax collectors as friend, we should count the poor, the sick, the addict as friend, and show them JESUS in us. Spending time with the SAVIOUR showed the tax collectors where their salvation lay. JESUS didn’t sin, He showed sinners how to live in this life by His example, and to anticipate an eternity in Glory with Him. As flawed humans, we sin every day, and it is through our brokenness that we can let the LIGHT of the LORD shine into other’s lives. This is by far the most difficult option, and it requires daily foundation building with GOD. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21 NRSV) Like JESUS, we are to “go into the world.” (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19-20)

Are we surviving the stampede, participating in the stampede, or being trampled in the stampede? To survive, we need to take heed of David’s words: “In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to me, “Flee like a bird to the mountains; for look, the wicked bend the bow, they have fitted their arrow to the string, to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” ” – Psalms 11:1‭-‬3 NRSV

Being assimilated by society is easy. Infiltrating is difficult and dangerous. It is so easy to fall into the Enemy’s traps! Paul writes in Romans 1: “…. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge GOD, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, GOD-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know GOD’S decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.” (Romans 1:28‭-‬32 NRSV)

Sound familiar? We Christians need more agonizing and less anger. The world isn’t going to change until JESUS returns, but we can make changes for good, wherever we are, by shining the LIGHT of JESUS on the darkness. New morality celebrates everthing GOD hates – We have become a nation, a world, addicted to hate; we live in ugly, perilous times where Evil is mushrooming. BUT remember this: GOD is sovereign and His Throne is not empty. (Read Psalm 45:6; 15:3; 103:19)

What do we do in these times? How do we as Christians treat this pagan holiday? Are we decorating our houses and our bodies with ghouls, goblins, ghosts, skeletons and zombies? And how does this allow the Glory of the LORD shine for the lost?

“The LORD is in His Holy Temple; the LORD’s Throne is in Heaven. His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of MAN, His gaze examines humankind. The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, and His Soul hates the lover of violence. On the wicked He will rain coals of fire and sulfur; a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is Righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His Face.” – Psalms 11:4‭-‬7 NRSV

GOD is immovable, the Rock of Ages, the shelter for the righteous. He is the only One Who can make us Righteous through JESUS CHRIST; and GOD credits faith with righteousness.

“The Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.” – Proverbs 18:10 NRSV

Stabilize your soul with the Sovereignty of GOD, and a solid foundation; find a fresh vision of GOD every day. We should be happy warriors, not sad or longfaced. We have Joy the world doesn’t have. GOD sees to us, He sees through us – His gaze examines us. WE are not the judge, GOD is the Judge, and His Judgement is coming. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? (Genesis 19:24)

Ultimately, whether we celebrate tomorrow with Halloween or with Harvest parties is up to each of us to decide. I personally have witnessed too much of the occult and satanic focused on October 31 to celebrate it as anything except another day to be alive and Praise the LORD. Honestly, I’m fearful of the Judgement of the LORD! We are in the midst of the battle, friends; this is WAR.

“I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth. calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the Face of the One seated on the Throne and from the Wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of Their Wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” – Revelation 6:8‭, ‬16‭-‬17 NRSV

I Stand At The Door And Knock

The LORD said to John: “I reprove and discipline those whom I Love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear My Voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with Me. …. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the SPIRIT is saying to the churches.” – Revelation 3:19‭-‬20, 22 NRSV

JESUS is a gentleman, unlike His/our enemy who will slither into our lives through the slightest opening – just like the cockroach he is! Here in these verses from Revelations, JESUS is inviting us to the greatest banquet of all time! There’s no entrance fee, no tickets to buy, no bribes to be paid; just walk in through the door He is knocking on, the door to our souls that He is anxiously waiting to hold open for you – for me. No tricks, no lies, no fooling. Those things belong strictly to the enemy, who constantly bombards us with them. Why should we enter with the LORD now, rather than waiting? We need to be prepared, because we have no way of predicting exactly when JESUS will return and shut the door forever. He tells us what will happen if we aren’t ready when He returns in Luke 13:25 (NRSV).

“When once the Owner of the House [JESUS] has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘LORD, open to us,’ then in reply He will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ ”

Are you willing to take the chance of being locked out; left behind? Satan is busy busy busy these days, filling our ears with the lies that there’s no hurry to give up our sins or to go to JESUS now; after all, He’s been promising to return “soon” for over 2000 years! If you listen to the father of lies, he will convince you that it’s fine to stick with whatever we are doing, however sinful GOD says it is, because we are here, and JESUS isn’t. Lies; Liar! I tell you the truth; I lived that way for years until I finally recognized the deceitfulness and ugliness of the enemy of GOD. When we open our hearts to the LIGHT, all of the lies are illuminated in all of their darkness, to be seen for what they are. Being human, we want to slam the door shut so we can hide the blackness within – but it doesn’t work that way. Once seen, we cannot “un-see” the ugliness, but we can ignore it and pretend it isn’t there. (I tried that way, too. Tried and failed.)

Part of our journey with our LORD is to be transparent with others and to let the LIGHT of JESUS, our Salvation, show through all of our cracks and brokenness. He puts us back together, but I believe He leaves those imperfections on purpose. How else could we serve Him effectively when we are reaching out to sinners like us? We have the opportunity to let His LIGHT shine – or we can throw a blanket over it to hide it. It is a beautiful sight when that covering we put over the Light catches on fire. Talk about the LIGHT of the LORD! Where are you in your life journey? It’s said that there are two types of people: those who are in recovery, and those who need recovery. Let that LIGHT Shine! Open the Door quickly, before it is too late.

Fool Me Once, Shame On You

“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!”

JESUS said it before it was made generic: “Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear Me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:43‭-44 NLT

Shamed because we listen to the enemy; we are fooled by his lies. Ah, but they are beautiful lies! He says to us: follow my way, and I will make you rich, famous, sexy…. whatever we desire, no matter our dreams, the enemy promises it all to us, with a single caveat: turn away from GOD. He doesn’t require us to deny that JESUS is the SON of GOD, because even Satan and his demons know that our JESUS is alive and fighting the Good Fight for us. The liar simply does anything and everything he can to turn us away from our Creator. The same GOD Who created us and the universe created Lucifer, aka Beelzebub, aka Satan; that rebellious fallen angel, who has this mis-guided idea that he is also a god and that he will be victorious over our LORD and that he will be the ruler of heaven instead of GOD.

Note this! Satan will not win, no matter what tactics he uses. He knows this, but refuses to believe it, and he has made it his goal to take as many humans as he possibly can to share his eternal torment in hell. And so he lies, and twists the Truth into a more palatable truth; a truth that cannot save us from GOD’s Wrath.

“But we belong to GOD, and those who know GOD listen to us. If they do not belong to GOD, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the SPIRIT of TRUTH or the spirit of deception.” – 1 John 4:6 NLT

“And you will know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH will set you free.” So if the SON sets you Free, you are Truly FREE.” – John 8:32‭, ‬36 NLT

What is your truth? Is it the ‘truth’ of the father of lies, or the TRUTH of our CREATOR GOD and His SON, JESUS CHRIST?