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?

The End …. or A Fresh New Beginning

What happens when we die? Is there a heaven – is there a hell? Where is heaven? Absolutely. Both the Old and New Testaments record their existence. A classic example is the story JESUS related to His followers in Luke 16:19-31, telling of the rich man and the poor man. The story is impressive in the Truth that is shared, and a very poignant warning to those who reject our LORD JESUS CHRIST. As the rich man can see into Heaven, or Paradise, I see that as a part of the eternal torment of hell. He gets to see throughout eternity how beautiful is. The poor man doesn’t reply, and I think that goes to what John has written in Revelations 21:4.

“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” – Luke 16:31 NLT

“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 NLT

Read that second part of Luke 16:31 again, and consider the person telling the story – JESUS. He knows that He will be crucified and buried for three days, and that He will rise from that grave, and people will still reject Him. Because of this story, it is clear that as soon as a body dies, the soul is instantly transported to the heavenly banquet – aka Paradise, Heaven – or as quickly, the ones who reject CHRIST go directly to the place of the dead – aka Hell, Sheol, Hades. If we die before JESUS returns to destroy Satan, our corrupted bodies are buried and our indestructible souls go to one of these two places. We aren’t going to be in limbo, we aren’t going to purgatory, and we won’t be reborn into another physical body. After the Second Coming of our LORD, when He defeats the enemy forces led by Satan, then Heaven, the dwelling place of GOD ALMIGHTY, will come to our new earth. Those who have acknowledged JESUS as their LORD and SAVIOUR will come to abide in the House of the LORD, with the Creator FATHER GOD, JESUS the SON, and the HOLY SPIRIT. IMAGINE! Look at how John describes it:

“Then I saw a NEW Heaven and a NEW Earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down from GOD out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I saw no temple in the City, for the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY and the LAMB are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the Glory of GOD illuminates the city, and the LAMB is its Light. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty – but only those whose names are written in the LAMB’s Book of LIFE.” – Revelation 21:1‭-‬2‭, ‬22‭-‬23‭, ‬25‭, ‬27 NLT

Will I finally get to meet you there?I pray it is so!

Are Satan and Demons Real?

“As He [JESUS]stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw JESUS, he fell down before Him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have You to do with me, JESUS, SON of the MOST HIGH GOD? I beg You, do not torment me”— for JESUS had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) JESUS then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him.” – Luke 8:27‭-‬30 NRSV

According to the records of the disciples of JESUS, demons were very much alive and among them – and they acknowledged that JESUS was (is!) in truth the Son of GOD, MESSIAH. For centuries before JESUS lived, there are stories of demons and evil beings in opposition to mankind, beginning with the serpent in the Garden of Eden who subverted the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. http://www.Britannica.com has this to say about demons: Malevolent beings—demons, fallen angels, ghosts, goblins, evil spirits in nature, hybrid creatures, the daevas of Zoroastrianism, the nārakas (creatures of hell) of Jainism, the oni (attendants of the gods of the underworld) in Japanese religions, and other such beings—hinder man in achieving a proper relation with God…”

The story above of the man who was possessed by ‘Legion’ (“many demons”), is just one of many such stories recorded in the New Testament. On numerous documented occassions, witnessed firsthand by many people, JESUS and His disciples commanded demons to leave a person. There were demons who mimicked insanity, and others who caused illnesses and deformities and even death in their victims. You can Google the words demon or evil beings and get lots of hits. Many of the references of these beings are from hundreds of years before CHRIST. He didn’t make them up to make Himself look good! Listen to Isaiah and what he said to Satan:

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn*! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of GOD; I will sit on the mount of assembly on the heights of Zaphon; I will ascend to the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the MOST HIGH.” But you are brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the Pit.” – Isaiah 14:12‭-‬15 NRSV *Lucifer, known as the Day Star, son of Dawn, Morning Star – his name is changed to Satan, which means Adversary. Reference also Ezekiel 28:18, Job 1:6-12, Zechariah 3:1-2, Luke 10:18

In Revelation 9:1, Satan is described as “…. a star that had fallen from heaven to earth,” and in Revelation 12:4a,7-9 “His tail swept down a third of the stars* of heaven and threw them to the earth {*angels; also Hebrews 12:22} ….. And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

Dragons, demons, devils, fiends, evil beings, imps, incubus…. there are so many words, euphemisms, for the followers of Satan. They are real, Satan is real, and HELL is real. Are you prepared? Do you believe? Do you have the Assurance of Salvation from this very real threat that you can only find in JESUS CHRIST? Evil frightens me, but Satan doesn’t scare me.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but GOD is the Strength of my heart and my Portion FOREVER.” – Psalms 73:26 NRSV

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of GOD in CHRIST JESUS our LORD.” – Romans 8:38‭-‬39 NRSV

Lindwurm (means dragon) fountain, c.16th century, Klagenfurt, Austria – is it the sculptors imagination, or is it based on reality?

LOVE Thy Neighbor

Bono, of U2, said ” ‘Love thy neighbor’ is not a piece of advice. It’s a command.”

He’s right on. It isn’t a suggestion, and it isn’t advice on how to live. GOD, speaking as JESUS CHRIST, said it as a command on how we, as His followers, are really required to live. What better way can we display the Love of the FATHER? When we don’t reach out to the hurting and the lost, it is sin, simply put. Am I guilty? Absolutely. No rock throwing from me. My life is full of insubordination and stubbornness – sin.

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an Advocate with the FATHER – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the Atoning Sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands. Whoever says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the Truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His Word, Love for GOD is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as JESUS did.” – 1 John 2:1‭-‬6 NIV

Oh, but I WANT the revenge….. and GOD wants me to LOVE that person??? What? Really???

“Don’t say, “I’ll get even with you for the wrong you did to me!” Wait for the Lord, and he will save you.” Proverbs 20:22

(BIG sigh….) I have to wait. Revenge from me is not the answer. I actually want to let God take care of the people who have winged me (and who I have wronged), because:

“It is written, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has known what God has prepared for those who love him.” (Isaiah 64:4) 1Cor 2:9

God will judge us. He will judge everyone, and those who chose not to accept Him and follow JESUS will be consigned to an unimaginably horrible eternity. I really don’t wish that on my enemies (well, most of the time I don’t; just being honest!) Then, after the Great White Throne judgement, He will be with us in the new world. EVERYTHING, EVERYONE will be new… NO sorrow. No aches & pains, no disease, no disfigurement. No mosquitoes, no ticks, nothing poisonous. Nothing scratchy or itchy, no ‘fashion police. No discrimination or judgment! Hallelujah!

Come back, Lord Jesus. Maranatha!

Scary

“Anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:15 NIV

Does this scare you, or do you look at it and scoff? It scares me! If I have the choice to walk into a burning lake for eternity – think oil or gas burning on top of the water – or to spend eternity with my LORD, well, it’s an easy choice for me. I’ve seen water burn, where natural gas escaping naturally from the earth had been lit to watch it ‘burn’. (Weird!) I’ve seen water burning in photographs and movies of Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attached our ships. It’s horrific to watch. I really have no desire to experience it first-hand! I’m going for the escape clause that JESUS provided us through His incredible Mercy:

“If we confess our sins, He is Faithful and Just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9 NIV

Thank you, JESUS, for coming to our aid; for being our Advocate to the LORD! I don’t claim to be a prophet or have a perfect life and relationship with GOD; far from it! The only thing perfect about me is that I am perfectly imperfect, perfectly flawed and broken. All that I can do is proclaim the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST, and how He has Redeemed me.

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the FATHER and with His Son, JESUS CHRIST. This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: GOD is LIGHT; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of JESUS, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:3‭, ‬5‭-‬7 NIV

HALLELUJAH. What a powerful statement that last sentence gives. “…. and the Blood of JESUS, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” Does it get any better than that?

Photo credt usiter.com

God Bless America

“Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt. So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you. Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the HOLY ONE results in good judgment.” – Proverbs 9:7‭-‬8‭, ‬10 NLT

America, and in fact, the world, is sadly lacking in good judgement. Making fun of other people has become a major entertainment choice, especially if those people being mocked have a strong belief in the Almighty GOD. Believe in Mohammed or John Smith or Buddha or Krishna, but never JESUS. It’s de rigueur to support abortions of human babies, but don’t mess with any baby animals or pregnant animals! Teaching kids that any kind of sex is okay (“just use a condom”), but teaching them to be abstinent is cruel and unusual punishment. Be as intolerant of Christians and conservative lifestyles as you want, but every other belief system is off limits to sensor or deride.

I don’t get it. How is it okay to kill a human baby because they are inconvenient, but it’s wrong to eat veal or other meats? I get that there have been some pretty disgusting and cruel methods used for producing some meats, but how is a calf more valuable than a human? Personally, I’ve raised and butchered animals for food, and I liked knowing where they had been and what they had eaten. We named them and petted them, and they tasted better because of it.

Recently I posted a question on a neighborhood app asking how others felt we should deal with people who leave tattered and torn flags flying in all weather and at night. It was a generic question, and since it was my post, I said it was a pet peeve and that I felt it was unpatriotic. Certain people took it very personally and were offended, even though it wasn’t directed to them. The verses from Proverbs were right on target with the responses. I could have said that (in my opinion) they were mocking our flag and our country by not honoring the flag, but even without that, the responses were insulting and hurtful against me personally. The same thing often happens when we stand against abortion and other liberal agendas. No matter how rationally or how justifiably we present our case, we will be met with mockery and derision.

Our GOD, The ALMIGHTY GOD, wants to bless America and the world and all of His creation. Until JESUS returns, however, the ruler of our world will remain to be Satan. He has created an atmosphere of selfishness and self-love that is bright and shiny and enticing and provides immediate gratification, and we get sucked into his whirlpool of lies and entrapment. We – followers of Christ – have just begun to see and experience the persecution and oppression of the last days of earth as we know it. There’s much more coming. I still want to rebuke those who mock my flag and my country. I have a human need to correct the people who make fun of my beliefs…. and I really do need to refer myself back to these verses, especially verse 10: Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the HOLY ONE results in good judgment.”

“Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him.” – Ephesians 4:18 NLT

Love GOD, learn His Word, and put it into practice. Best advice ever.

Practice What You Preach

C.S. Lewis said “What we practice (not, at rare intervals) what we preach, is usually our great contribution to the conversion of others.” (#CSLEWIS, Letters of C.S. Lewis)

Paul said “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” – Colossians 4:5‭-‬6 NLT

He also wrote “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” – Romans 7:15-19 NLT

Sin is present and prevalent in the world. Until JESUS returns, it (sin) will continue to be a dominating presense in the guise of self-gratification and selfishness throughout the earth. Until that day of the Glorious, Triumphant Return, Satan will continue his persecution of Christians through any and every means we can imagine, and more than we can fathom. Whether in the United States or the most backward, most primitive country, he has his agenda, and that agenda’s sole purpose is to wipe out the Truth and the spreading of the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST. For believers, it seems that we are truly in the last days before the Second Coming. JESUS lays it all out for us here:

“Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in My na3me, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are My followers. And many will turn away from Me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the GOOD NEWS about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” – Matthew 24:4‭-‬14 NLT

Straightforward, easy to understand; difficult to comprehend. We / Christians, followers of CHRIST JESUS, should be living the Gospel message on a daily basis. My life should reflect the Love of the LORD so brightly that anyone who looks can see JESUS in me. BUT ……. does it; does it really? Is there anything that people can see that tells the story of my salvation, or does my sinful self shine through more brightly? That’s a question I should be asking myself with every thought and action I take. I pray that at least a little of the Living Light shines through all of my cracks and flaws…

Praise for all of my blessings (I was able to get up today; I have food to eat and a home to live in, a vehicle to get around in). I don’t have everything I want, but my needs are taken care of. How many people in the world are as blessed as we are, here in the U.S.A. We are coming up to the 242nd anniversary of this great country, the country of tremendous personal freedoms and the example to the world of a free society. As an individual, it is up to me to spread the Gospel wherever I am. As a country, we need to be the example of the Christian nation we were founded to be.

Are you preaching, or are you practicing?