Of Money, Swords, and Stuff

Jesus spoke to His disciples as they celebrated the Passover meal together, instructing them and serving them,

“And [JESUS] said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘and He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” “

Later, as He and the disciples were in the Garden, praying, a crowd of people came out to find Him and arrest Him. This is a perfect example of submission to authority. Even though His disciples were armed, the LORD told them to stand down, because He knew this was part of GOD the FATHER’s plan for Him. Verse 53 is telling:

“Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as you would against a robber? While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.” – LUKE 22:35‭-‬37‭, ‬52‭-‬53 NASB

You have probably figured out from past posts, especially if you follow me on FaceBook or Twitter, that I am a stanch supporter of the right to keep and bear arms, whether they be swords or the lastest innovation in firearms. I don’t believe that the LORD intended us to be at the mercy of the evil and the depraved in the world (i.e. the Enemy, Satan). We are, however, subject to the authority of our government …… however wrong we believe it to be.

We – I – am blessed to live in a Republic, where every individual is bestowed with certain rights. We have the right to freely speak out against what we perceive to be bad judgement calls by the authorities with the 1st Amendment. The right to bear arms against a tyrannical government is the 2nd Amendment – which also protects our 1st Amendment rights. I’m not a militant, but I may be considered a radical conservative. In our quest to follow Christ, isn’t it also our duty to protect the innocent and the downtrodden? Not to rebel against our elected leaders (no matter how wrong we believe them to be), and not to bring war and violence onto those who disagree with us, but to aid and protect those who aren’t capable of helping themselves.

Our church is currently studying I Peter 2 and what the reality of Christ-patterned submission looks like today. Oh ugh, there, that dreaded word, maybe the most disliked word in the English language!! Submission. It becomes vital for us claimimg kinship with Jesus to understand when to use the sword and when to stop. Why? Because the Enemy is waiting to use our actions against us whenever we refuse to submit. When we submit to the authority of our elected officials, even when they are wrong, the cause of our LORD is strengthened.

“When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.” ” – LUKE 22:49‭-‬51 NASB

It can very difficult to determine when to fight and when to submit. All I can tell you is to follow the example of our Lord and spend time in earnest prayer. Follow the leading of GOD. He’s never wrong. (And His Angel Army is armed! Amen!!)

Aliens on Earth

There are people who claim that Jesus was an alien being from another planet. You might be surprised to hear me say that they are at least partially correct. Jesus was – and is – an alien in this world, and on top of that, as Christ-followers, we are – we should be – as well. When we follow Him, our lives are supposed to be a reflection of Him so that non-believers can see how beautiful it can be to have that Love and Mercy and Grace. Many times, we really are the only Bible that person might ever see!

Too much pressure for you? As Americans living in the U.S., we aren’t recipients of the physical persecution (although we seem to be headed there) endured by Christians in many countries. In fact, especially in the middle of the so-called “Bible Belt”, many Christians have a hard time imagining physical persecution ever happening here. Friends, we are much closer to it becoming a reality than we want to accept. I believe that Peter was addressing us, Christian Americans in 2019, as much as he was when writing to Christians living outside of Rome in the first century after Christ.

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles [non-Christians], so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” – 1 PETER 2:11‭-‬12 NASB

In the above letter, Peter refers to the “earthly lusts” we are to avoid, and Paul expounds on them in this letter to the Galations:

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” – GALATIANS 5:19‭-‬21 NASB

These are the things, the attitudes and actions, we need to avoid as followers of Christ Jesus. What kind of testimony is it when a professed Christian business acts in a dishonest manner? When a prominent Christian is caught cheating on their spouse, or lying, or drunk? And all those other things like these? Oh, we are fallible, and we are sinners, and we are held to a higher standard because of our profession of faith. I am chief among the sinners and the hypocrites! All I can do is publicly confess* and ask GOD for forgiveness, which I have done – and will continue to do. (*The exception is when your confession will cause harm to another. Then you should confess privately to another Christian whom you trust.) When we choose Jesus, we choose a higher moral ground. That means we have further to fall when we sin, and we make a bigger mess when we fall. I know. I’ve made some big messes!

Thank You, JESUS, for Your Saving Grace, Your Forgiveness and Mercy! Bless us as we make our poor attempts at following You. Amen.

Fear of the World?

There is so much violence. Every time I watch the news or open a social media app, war, violence against persons, terrorism – these grab the headlines. As Christians, followers of JESUS CHRIST, should we be afraid of this ugliness? I am concerned for the spiritual safety of our children as socialism and radicalism take center stage, because we have strayed so far from our moral, our Christ-centered base. I know where I will be when the LORD returns with His army to destroy the Enemy and the world as we know it. Do you? Are you certain, without a shadow of a doubt? What we are seeing now, this destruction of our society, is nothing – NOTHING – compared to what is coming. Are you experiencing fear for the present?

Read the Bible. Compared to the return of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, now is tame. Don’t be afraid of today, and look to JESUS so that you have no fear for the future. He is the only way to avoid what’s coming.

“Before them the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD thunders at the head of His army; His forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys His command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” ” – Joel 2:10‭-‬12 NIV

-Rubens-

Oh, Jerusalem

“Comfort, comfort My people, says your GOD. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s Hand double for all her sins.” – Isaiah 40:1‭-‬2 NIV

Jerusalem, the “city of peace.” This is an ancient (over 3000 years old) – and very modern – city that has been completely destroyed twice, and partially destroyed several times. King David claimed it in the name of LORD for the Israelites, and throughout history it has been called the most favored city of the LORD. There is a battle continuing even now in Jerusalem between the Israeli and the Palestinians. We know there is a major battle over the city still to come, because it was prophesied thousands of years ago, telling of the LORD’s return.

“Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as He fights on a day of battle. On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. It will be a unique day – a day known only to the LORD – with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light. The LORD will be King over the whole earth. On that day there will be One LORD , and His Name the Only Name. The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up high from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses, and will remain in its place. It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.” – Zechariah 14:3‭, ‬6‭-‬7‭, ‬9-11 NIV

What Hope the LORD gives! This passage was written over 2700 years ago, and once again, the prophet nailed what would be happening to Jerusalem and Israel in the 21st century. Are you anxiously awaiting the LORD’s return, or are you a scoffer who doesn’t believe? My friend, my heart hurts for you if you haven’t called on JESUS for your salvation. Our hope, the world’s hope, Jerusalem’s hope – indeed, the only hope – all lie within the MESSIAH, LORD, the CHRIST, JESUS.

“And everyone who calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved.’ ” – Acts 2:21 NIV

Image: http://www.wikiwand.com/en/New_Jerusalem

He IS Coming Back!

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the Word of GOD the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His Word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the LORD one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The LORD is not slow about His Promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:3‭-‬9 NASB

Sometimes, I just want GOD to send me a text saying “This is what you need to do,” and “Just so you know, I’ll be back on this date at this time.” I would love to feel completely confident that each thing I do corresponds with His Plan for me. Am I alone in wondering and asking? I think not, else why would JESUS and His disciples make such a point of telling us to be ready for His return? Peter was speaking directly to the current population on earth when he wrote this letter! GOD is not slow to keep His Promise to return to earth and to defeat our enemy, Satan, nor is He slow when it comes to answering our prayers (our ‘wishlists’ for Him). No, if you read the Bible, His Word, you will find countless examples of the LORD keeping His promises. We are such a hard-headed bunch, we have to keep asking Him to prove Himself to us.

Really?

When GOD promises, you can know without any doubt at all that His promise will happen. With our prayer requests, He always answers, but it is often not the answer we want. We throw temper tantrums and hissy fits, like little children who don’t get their way. Countless scoffers maintain that JESUS MESSIAH hasn’t come the first time, so how could He be coming back? This I know without a shadow of a doubt: JESUS came as the MESSIAH, just as FATHER GOD promised; He died for us on the cross, He was resurrected from the grave, and He will be back! (We just don’t know quite when that will be…..)

The world is, and always has been, full of mockers of JESUS MESSIAH. Mock all you want, just remember this:

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He Who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in Righteousness He judges and wages war. His Eyes are a flame of fire, and on His Head are many diadems; and He has a Name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His Name is called The WORD of GOD.” – Revelation 19:11‭-‬13 NASB

“In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with GOD, and the WORD was GOD. He was in the beginning with GOD.” – John 1:1‭-‬2 NASB

Just making sure everyone knows that JESUS IS LORD, HALLELUJAH and AMEN!

(Image from Pinterest.com)

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: