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“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness (adultery and lust), not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:12-14)
 
sdMany people believe in parachutes. That is to say they know what they do and believe (for the most part) that they’ll perform as advertised, but they would NEVER put one on. Myself included.
 
And for many people, it’s the same way with Jesus. They believe Jesus is who God says He is, but they’re not going to ‘put Him on’ because to do so would mean to alter their lifestyle.
 
Some believe that they can put Jesus on just before they die. That’s like saying they’ll jump out of the plane just before it crashes, but having no idea when that will occur or that it’s happening now.
 
When the Bible talks about belief (or faith), it’s with the understanding that the ‘believer’ trusts to the point of obedience. In other words, if you truly believe (if your faith is real), you will do as Jesus (God) has commanded.

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Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee. Joshua 2:18

threadThe world is enormous and it is wicked, and her ruler is the evil one, but through it all there runs a scarlet thread. And while it is true that Christians are not of this world, it is upon, yes upon this fine and delicate thread we trek.

All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 27:10

For certain this thread is fine, but only in the sense that it is elegant, beautiful, and splendid. It is not paltry, gaunt, or slender. It is only a person’s posture and position that could create such an illusion, imaging ourselves larger than actuality, and being of a distance whereby large things appear small. If this thread seems slight, it’s our vantage point that is askew — we stand afar off thinking we are bigger than we are.

The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him. Psalm 27:14a

Nor is it delicate; it is of the strongest something men will ever know. It cannot be stretched, twisted, or broken. It is immoveable. Neither is it a tightrope whereby we must acquire great agility and balance. It is, as we move closer (acknowledging our smaller stature), an able path, not so broad we lose sight of its borders. It is the thread we tread, narrow yes, but a safe and trustworthy thoroughfare where if we stumble there is no risk of falling off, and where we’ll always find a helping hand to get us back upon our feet. Of course if we desire to exit, it is our choice.

Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net. Psalm 27:15

This passage, this scarlet thread, runs through everything we encounter. In the good times it might seem wide and in bad times it may appear slim, but before these occasions we know nothing about it has changed. This route, this path, this Way is of the Lord and all who travel it will make it safely home.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:30

It is also upon this thread we are changed. As we begin to move forward upon it we have a strong sense of its difficulty. Others along the way are perceiving the same thing, and they endorse the sensation. It’s not unusual to hear someone say, “Well you know God said in this life there will be trials and tribulations!” This is so true, but it does not (and will never) contradict what Jesus said.

If the word’s of our Lord and Savior our true (His yoke is easy and His burden is light) and we’re not in agreement, then something is wrong with us: we’re walking in our flesh and not by His Spirit. Understand, this errant sensation is supposed to happen. It’s within this occurrence (and upon this path) that Jesus is allowing us to see the weakness of our flesh and simultaneously the strength of the Holy Spirit. So if we sense this walk of faith is difficult and burdensome, that’s great news! Jesus is letting us know that our flesh is still in control. Let us stop saying how hard the walk is and start thanking God for the changes He is making in us. The Christian life is not difficult, but walking in the flesh as a Christian is.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good,and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2

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“My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.” Daniel 6:22-23

Everyday approximately 250-300 Christians (on average) are caaamurdered simply because they believe and follow Jesus Christ. I have often wondered why Jesus doesn’t *spare His faithful as He spared Daniel or as He protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. Despite occasional bewilderment, to this truth I cling: Jesus saves — He always has and He always will. Daniel could have been eaten alive that day, but he would have still been saved. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could have burned, but yet saved.

The reality is that Daniel did eventually die and Jesus spared him again (and permanently this time) from the lion; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all died, and again they were spared from the fiery furnace, but this time for eternity. You see, the lion’s den and the fiery furnace, although quite real to Daniel and the boys, is a picture of hell for us; a visual depiction of God’s promise to protect His children. However, for those unrepentant souls who falsely believe they can destroy a Christian, there is no such sparing. For them the lion waits and the furnace burns.

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. John 3:36

Rejoice Not

Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth , and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth; Proverbs 24:17

As you pray for the persecuted church, pray also for those who persecute. Remember, the Apostle Paul was once a vile persecutor of the brethren, but he turned away from evil, turned to Jesus, and his life was spared. Everyday there are stories of evil men rejecting the gods and tenets of their false religions and being saved when they turn to Jesus Christ. I’m not certain how our prayers fit into the equation, but nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is coming along side these men and convicting them by their own wicked deeds, and they are repenting!

Remember to also pray for how the Lord wants to use you in your religious freedoms, I should add, ‘while you still have them.’ Christian persecution has arrived on the shores of America and has taken root. I say that, to say this: it will never be more easy to share your Christian faith as it is right now, as tomorrow brings more detractors and new deterrents. Do not fear the mouth of the lion or the heat of the furnace, for from these things we have been spared.

I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish , neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. John 10:28-30

*Note: Jesus does still occasionally  ‘spare’ his children from earthly atrocities. I remember hearing first hand from a Christian pastor (in India) who himself was tied to a tree to be burned. They piled wood about his feet and doused it with kerosene. When the match was struck and tossed upon the wood, it did not ignite. Match after match, nothing happened. In frustration, they left him tied to the tree with the promise to return in the morning to finish the job. In the middle of the night one of these men, convicted by his evil deeds, returned and cut him loose.

We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven (Colossians 1:3-5a)


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“Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.” Numbers 14:9

breadRemember Joshua?

To him, the giants of life were more than obstacles to overcome, they were nourishment for spiritual growth. That narrow path we walk is not a place free of trials and hardship, but rather a place of refinement where adversities are but fuel for our sanctification.

Truly our giants are bread for us!

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger ; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst . John 6:35

Of course it was Jesus who said that He is the bread of life — we are sustained eternally when we feed on Him and His word. It could also be rightly said that when our lives are submitted to Christ, we are positioned to be nourished by everything that comes down the pike, be it good or evil. The adage is true: in Jesus everything is either a bless’n or a lesson.

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Genesis 50:20

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“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26:36-38)

There’s been many a sermon regarding the notion that ‘fear and faith‘ cannot coexist. We have been taught if one is present, the other must be absent. It is a premise I understand, but do not wholeheartedly agree. There is a smidgen of truth in the expression, but I sense it’s been improperly condensed. Frankly, it is an umbrella with too broad a canvas. I chose the Matthew 26 passage to illustrate the point.

Was Jesus afraid?

I am not willing to stretch Scripture in order to justify a doctrinal position; the record only tells us Jesus was ‘sorrowful and very heavy’ (KJV). Other Bible translations describe His situation as grieved and distressed (NAS), anguish and deep distress (NLT), and sorrowful and troubled (NIV). Strong’s Lexicon defines the word ‘heavy’ (as used in the King James Version) this way: to be troubled, great distress or anguish, depressed, and adds, “This is the strongest of the three Greek words in the NT for depression.” For this reason, it is not a stretch to say Jesus was very sad and in deep anguish over the events before Him.

But was His anxiety fear based?

We all want to say emphatically, “No,” there’s no way that Jesus was fearful or changeafraid. I submit to you that we want to say no because Bible teachers and expositors have drilled into our heads that ‘fear and faith’ do not jibe. Just so we’re clear, I’m not saying Jesus was afraid, but I am suggesting it is feasible. I am also suggesting that it is possible to be fearful and faithful in the same space of time. I submit that notion because it appears Jesus did just that. Without any doubt Scripture records Jesus had great trepidation and by faith, He brought it all before the Lord and therein lies the Bible lesson.

Having said that, clearly there are Christians who have become so caught-up in fear and worry, that they become faith-less. Their fear has bound them to the point that they have forgotten and/or neglected the basic components of faith. They’ve turned away from reading the Bible, prayer, church, and communion with Jesus. For these folks, faith is not occupying the same space as fear; it cannot because these individuals, for whatever the reason, won’t allow it to. It is here that some make the mistake of using this group for the basis of the broad doctrine that fear and faith cannot coexist.

Here’s the problem. When we do that, we’re dismissing a whole body of believers who, by Christ’s example, know what to do with their stress and anxiety. This group is not derailed by hardships, but see them as the conveyance which brings them to the foot of the cross. They recognize that emotions, high or low, are little more than crossroads on the narrow-path God has constructed for His children to walk. So while some do go to the left, opting for the faith-less, off-road route, there is a significant group that keeps to the right and stays the course they’re on. These have either never strayed from the path or gained some valuable insight for having done so in the past. The reality is that currently, their anxious burdens now propel them forward and they are more blessed for the experience.

So yes, it’s true for some that ‘fear and faith’ are not existing side-by-side, but theirs is not the model. Jesus is the model, as are the many saints, who by example demonstrate for the church what to do with the extreme highs and extreme lows of life. Let us stop pronouncing a doctrine that is at best only half-true; it only serves to undermine the faith of those Christians who know what to do when trials come. Pigeon-holing these believers into a one-size-fits-all tenet only causes confusion and frustration. Folks who are walking properly in their faith should not be simultaneously instructed they are not because the instructor believes it is not possible to do so. It’s errant to teach that you must first stop being fearful in order that faith might reign.

The more appropriate perspective is to see fear as emotional fuel. That is to say, potential energy, that when properly directed moves us forward in faith. If we wallow in the fear, then yes, we are rejecting Jesus and our God-given faith — to wallow is to worry. To that issue Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). But fear (or any other stress-based emotion) if used correctly, is Spiritual food for us.

A Final Thought

Would a Christian ever say that ‘gratitude and faith’ cannot exist in the same place because some of us occasionally reject the opportunity to give thanks to God? That would be nonsense. In that light let us stop declaring that emotional lows and faith cannot either exist, especially when Jesus demonstrated very effectively that they can.

For we have not (a) high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

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“Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:6-11)

Let No Man Deceive You

“Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic… No religion condones the killing of innocents.” President Obama, September 10, 2014

The argument that ISIL is not Islamic is ludicrous: every single member of ISIS/ISIL 91014claims to be a true Muslim.  What the president is trying to falsely establish is that ISIS (or ISIL, as he prefers) may say they are Islamic, but they are not. His agenda is to propagate the fictitious tenet that Muslims are a peace-loving people. In the light of massive amounts of horrific evidence to the contrary, that is a boldface lie. The POTUS can repeat the ridiculous comment, “No religion condones the killing of innocents,” until he is blue in the face, but the Islamic Quran contradicts him over one hundred times.  As an alleged student of the Quran, President Obama would know this — according to Islamic doctrine, it condones, supports, and encourages the killing of innocent people.

Reprove Them

You may not be a student of the Qur’an (I’m not, nor do I recommend it), but finding directs quotes from their manual is straightforward. Read these snippets for yourself and you decide if Islam is evil; you determine if the Islamic religion condones the killing of innocents.

  • Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them (2:191)
  • Terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Qur’an (8:12)
  • Make war on the infidels living in your neighborhood (9:123)
  • When opportunity arises, kill the infidels wherever you catch them (9:5)
  • Kill the Jews and the Christians if they do not convert to Islam or refuse to pay Jizya tax  (9:29)
  • Any religion other than Islam is not acceptable (3:85)
  • The Jews and the Christians are perverts; fight them (9:30)
  • Maim and crucify the infidels if they criticize Islam. (5:33)
  • Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire, hooked iron rods, boiling water; melt their skin (22:19)
  • Do not hanker for peace with the infidels; behead them when you catch them (47:4)
  • The unbelievers are stupid; urge the Muslims to fight them (8:65)
  • Muslims must not take the infidels as friends (3:28)
  • Muslims must muster all weapons to terrorize the infidels (8:60)

Here’s the reality. There ARE peace-loving Muslims, but the REAL Muslims hate them and want to kill them [because] they aren’t true Muslim believers. I would agree — a peace-loving Muslim is a Muslim in name only. In other words, if you are a Muslim and you love Christians, Jews, and the notion of residing in peace with them, you are not following the directives of the Quran, you are a false Muslim – true Muslims kill (or desire to kill) Jews, Christians, and whoever they perceive to be false Muslims. In this particular case these true Muslims have gathered as a militia and collectively call themselves ISIS. They also go by other names, such as: Hamas, al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Iranian Revolution, Islam Hadhari, Salafism, Taliban, and Islamic State (IS/ISIL/ISIS)

Who Cares?

So the president lied (again) — what difference does it make? After all, doesn’t the Bible say…

“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” (Psalm 37:1-2)

It most certainly does! I’m not calling you to fret, but to be informed. God has reminded us that we are in the last days and there will be those (like our president) preaching peace and security (where there is none), and luring us with their lies towards false gods. We must not slumber, but watch and be sober, and maintain our vigilance for we don’t know the hour of the Lord’s return. We have been called to recognize the signs of our times and to warn others.

Don’t Be Fooled

The president’s words serve to deceive.  Oh not that these (or any) singular remarks unto themselves can change the course of history; no the danger lies in their rapid accumulation. If we allow ourselves to be fooled, or lulled into a false sense of security, or worse, buying into the heresy that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, we will find ourselves in the midst of a one-world government and a one-world religion. Again, don’t fret — these things are inevitable; they are going to occur and we cannot prevent it, but we mustn’t be caught unaware; we must be wise to their development. In these last days we must ramp up our resolve to reckon our flesh dead and to function in and by the Holy Spirit.

People die every day believing the lie – what efforts have we made in seeking the Lord to identify these lost souls and to share with them the truth of the Gospel? Our days are numbered and the lies are heaping up so fast, we quickly forget what the last one was! Be alert, be vigilant, be loving, be bold in your faith, and exercise your religious liberty while it is still a liberty.

“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables…be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:2-5)

*DISCLAIMER: It sure sounds like I HATE Muslims. I don’t. I love them. I desire that they repent and turn to Jesus for salvation. I have no desire to kill or behead them if they refuse to believe the truth of the Gospel. I share the message in love, and if they receive and embrace it, good for them! If they don’t, they have been lovingly warned.

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Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep , we should live together with him. 1 Thessalonians 5:5-10

The Evil Ploy

Terrorism is a psychological tactic of the enemy, the purpose of which is to instill crippling fear in those who have a [real or imagined] personal attachment to its victims. Therefore, the terrorist, given a choice of killing ten men with a gun or savagely beheading just one with a dull knife, will opt for the latter because of its horrifying, emotional impact. Of course modern terrorism has gained greater momentum because there exists a media that will transmit these images around the globe within minutes of their occurrence; audio and video snippets awash with fear-filled analysis from an equally fearful commentator. We watch, we pause a moment to consider the future, and typically, we succumb to this evil ploy of the enemy – we are afraid.

Is there a remedy?

The terrorist knows we will pause to speculate upon the future, trusting our imaginative gaze will likely freeze at a point where his heinous acts could affect us most directly. Oh, he wants us looking forward, but only so far; he wants to keep our projections inside the box; a house of horror designed by satan himself. The enemy also knows if a Christian looks too far into the future, the fear he has will subside and eventually disappear. Therein lies our solution.

We’ve heard it said, “The next time satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.”

To that I say, don’t waste your time; satan knows Bible scripture better than you and I rom 8– he knows perfectly well what his future holds. This time could be better used to remind ourselves what our future holds, skipping over the ‘box’ entirely and gazing full-throttle into eternity, considering the reality of a blessed infinity. Thankfully, the Bible has much to say on the matter (click on the hyperlinks as needed).

First off, we have a future and a hope, our strength will be renewed, our Lord and Savior has overcome and so shall we, and we have a promised rest and a promised inheritance prepared by God Himself! This is no secret, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed…The dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with (us).”

Need more of a glimpse?

Right now we are God’s children and when Jesus appears we shall be like Him. Our citizenship is most assuredly in heaven. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit…the guarantee of our inheritance. We are fellow heirs with Christ Jesus, adopted by God, grafted into the vine, and made the very bride of Christ.

We need not fear!

Remember in Luke 8 how Jesus instructed his disciples to set out in their boat to go over to the other side of the lake? They obeyed, but a great storm came about and they immediately panicked. Jesus said to them, Where is your faith?” Where was their faith indeed! Didn’t Jesus say they were going to cross the lake? Jesus cannot lie. When Jesus tells us that He is going to prepare a place for us, He was telling the truth – like the disciples, we will cross over — where Jesus is, we will be too!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

What do we do in the meantime?

Keep doing what you’re doing (unless of course you’re doing nothing). Go to work, go to school, be a parent, be a friend, be a loving and outspoken Christian, and do it all for the glory of God, praying constantly for opportunities divine, and most importantly ‘teaching all nations (and) baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ Remember, in the darkness of terrorism, you may be the only light in the room.’

Our future is so bright the light of eternity can be seen on our faces, so let’s not cover it with a veil of fear.

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