The Conservative Christian Apologist

Living Life On God's Terms

It may seem arrogant at first, but God has not hidden Himself from His children.  He revealed Himself as fully as possible in human form through Yeshua Messiah.  His words endure through the generations and His lovingkindness and mercy is new every morning.  If you are a Believer you can know the heart of God.  He has given you His indwelling Holy Spirit as an interpreter.  Listen with your Spiritual ears and see how God would love, serve, speak, or stand in every circumstance.  This is His heart to wayward Israel (and us), “My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land.  I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them.  I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord.  They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jeremiah 24: 6-7).

Do you know Father God this way?  Say, Yes, I want to know you more.  Draw near Him and He will draw near to you. Though He is not like us and His ways are not our ways, the Holy Spirit teaches us the way of Love.  As we deny ourselves, take up the instrument of death to the old fallen nature and follow Yeshua he will reveal Himself to us. This is the path of salvation, losing our self-absorbed life and securing the life abundant found through God in us the hope of glory.  This may sound like a lot of action on our part, but we only return in surrender and submission.  He does all the rest, including giving us a heart to know Him.

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron and his sons, This is how you are to bless the Israelites.  Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.’  So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6: 22-27).

You might think this is just an Old Testament thing that God provided to Aaron through Moses as a symbolic blessing for the Israelites, which is ancient history and not relevant today, nor applicable to Believers.  On the contrary, you may believe everything in the Bible has some purpose and applicability to you today as a Believer and child of God.  This sets the poles of a range of perspectives on scripture applicability among Believers – not at all relevant to fully applicable.

I think we must consider the whole counsel of scripture as we seek to understand and apply any Scripture.  One example is the Sabbath laws, which were interpreted more clearly by Yeshua, who said, I am Lord of the Sabbath.  Whether Hebrew law was applicable to Gentiles was the central question of the apostles in the first Jerusalem counsel that considered whether and to what extent old covenant law applied to Gentile believers.  They concluded: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.  You will do well to avoid these things.  Farewell.” ( Acts 15: 28-29).  The teachings of Yeshua clarified the scriptures that are applicable to all believers and provided that He, as Messiah, is the sole way and mediator between Father God and man.  For example, Yeshua affirmed the righteousness of God’s law, but opened the only way to forgiveness through His substitutionary death on the cross.  Moreover, He imparted the indwelling Holy Spirit, representing the exchange of a heart of stone for a heart of flesh.  Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah, but rejection of Him brought salvation to the Nations.  Salvation comes through belief in Yeshua rather than following the law whether you are Hebrew or Gentile.  Following Hebrew law, which no one but Yeshua is able to do, will not yield righteousness.

With this understanding we return to the question of old covenant scriptural applicability.  It is largely a matter of faith, just as faith dictates our stride along the path of salvation.  Some believers did not believe in eating certain foods, observing certain holidays, getting married, being circumcised, etc., while others did.  Scripture is clear that each Believer should follow the faith they have regarding such things that are not critical to faith in Yeshua. (1 Cor. 7, 8, 9).  In Yeshua, Jew and Gentile are united in one new man. (Eph. 2:11-18).  “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2: 19-22).

As fellow citizens with God’s people Israel, members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles, prophets, and covenants of the promise we certainly partake in the blessings of Israel.  Therefore, I believe the old covenant blessings are ours today, through Yeshua, including Aaron’s blessing.  Yeshua is our High priest and we are a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Him.  We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2: 5, 9).  We are told, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,…” (Timothy 3: 16).  Of course, you may not have a similar position of faith regarding such blessings and that is between you and the Lord.  However, do not become ensnared to a false notion that obeying customs, practices, and laws will make you more righteous.  Paul gives a stern warning against this deception, “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5: 4), “…know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.  So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2: 16).

Let the name of God be put on you through this ancient God given blessing, and as a Believer speak it over your family and fellow children of God.

Think of all the years of your life, the months and weeks that measure your growth physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Then scan the range of your memories from childhood till now, the events that have made you who you are, your education, relationships, vacations, holidays, achievements, your greatest triumps and the agony of your defeats, failures, struggles and tradegy.  In the midst of these are your desires, wants, needs and dreams, meshed together with the mundane, routine, tasks, chores and daily necessitates of life.  All this is quite a mass of information and the content of living and it’s not over yet, there is more to come tomorrow.

The physical part of you is hard and clear.  The emotional side of you is less tangible, but marked like footprints in the sand and tears of joy and sadness.  However, the spiritual you may be a little vague, much more difficult to describe. Perhaps you have kept it deep within and hardly recognize the spirit that is you.  When you look in the mirror your face is plain, your emotions glint in your eyes, expression, and smile, but your spirit is invisible until God shows up. Everything is open and laid bare before Him. (Heb. 4: 13).  This is where you encounter God, deep within your heart where your spirit resides. (Ps. 139: 13; 1 Cor. 2: 10-13).

Imagine that for a moment all the clutter and distraction of your physical and emotional self were cleared away and in your innermost being the spiritual-you was confronted by God.  Assume that God wanted your complete undivided attention and He structured a moment where all you are is removed, so that you stand before Him alone and bare down to your spirit.  This is the preeminent encounter with God Almighty.  You will not be running this meeting and your polite well-mannered congeniality will be unavailable and unnecessary.  Your spirit came from God when you were born a living person and the spirit-you will return to your creator after you die and leave this physical earth. (James 4: 5).  Yet, it is a simple matter for God to meet you in your innermost being, in the depths of your heart.

I see this story of God’s meeting place as a turning point that radically changes the most important part of you – the spirit-you.  God works all things together for our good.  If you talk with people who have lived long and walked with God, they will tell you that God arranges or sets us up for what He wants.  That is how this meeting with God comes about.  You think it’s just another day with your agenda of plans, hopes, and duties, but just as though you were taken by the hand and led, your plans and duties bring you to this place in His presence.  When God is in the room there is no room for anything else, so you come in completely bare.  It’s not that you are naked, embarrassed or ashamed, it’s that nothing of the temporal world can enter into a spiritual dwelling.

This entire vision took less than three seconds to see and understand completely as I have best described it.  So, there you are straddling a line in the presence of God.  The line is the turning point that will drastically alter your life and spiritual destiny.  You didn’t plan it, you didn’t find the place, though it’s in your own heart, and you certainly didn’t have anything to do with God showing up there.  I don’t know how it turns out, what God says, if anything, or whether you did the right thing in the end.  But, I know God is loving, merciful, and compassionate to those who believe in Him.  Moreover, I know Yeshua through His Spirit that dwells within me.  All humans are born with a spirit, but all believers are born again through the Spirit of God.  It is through the Holy Spirit that Believers enter into relationship with God.  That relationship is spiritual, but it impacts the physical and emotional self and every aspect also.  To meet God in the Spirit, without any prior relationship, is a very scary scenario.  It is very serious, even knowing that Yeshua is in the wings.  Lord Almighty change me drastically according to your good will and through your lovingkindness and mercy.

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’ “. Luke 2:8-14 (ESV).

The above verse is one of the most quoted around the Christmas season and for good reason.  It is the wonderful, encouraging announcement of the Prince of Peace, our Savior, Christ the Lord.  Interestingly, many translations render the angels as saying some version of “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”  The translation above is better as the Greek word rendered “goodwill” in other versions has the connotation of “God’s sovereign good pleasure” or better translated “peace toward men on whom God’s sovereign pleasure rests.”  God’s peace is only extended to those who are the objects of His goodwill, the persons who repent of their sins and accept Him by faith as Savior.  It is not an universal declaration of goodwill to all.

This verse is often used to support the increasingly popular but false idea that everyone will make it to Heaven in the end.  The good news of the angel’s message, a coming Savior that would die on the cross for our sins, was for all people but it is important to remember that God only extends His peace and goodwill and eternal life to those that accept Him, those with whom he is pleased.

This is a topic of keen interest to church leaders.  Church growth is seen by some as an indication of God’s favor, doing church right, and/or that the preacher is effective.  Various leaders offer advice and books at conferences promoting church growth.  I’ve seen Christian businessmen propose various organizational strategies intended to facilitate church growth.

The Seeker church movement was a product of this type of analysis and thinking.  The idea was to conform the church service to accommodate people with worldly habits, expectations, and desires, but whom it was thought had an interest in church or religion.  It was an utter failure and denial of the good news of Yeshua, His saving power, and Spirit-filled supernatural life.  The intention of the Seeker service was considered kind, by eliminating things that might make unbelievers uncomfortable.  It increased attendance for a while and gave people something to talk about, but it was contrary to the basic tenets of scripture and the working of the Holy Spirit. (2 Cor. 14: 4).  It’s biggest problem was that it was a work of man trying to accomplish what only God can do. (John 6: 28-29, 44; Gal. 3: 3, 5; Philippians 3: 3).

Thirsty people are drawn to fountains of water and springs where drinking water may be found.  They do not respond to being drenched by people with hoses spraying water in their face.  Of course, this is just an illustration, but the point is the presence of the Lord and His goodness is what draws people.  Moreover, the presence of the Lord is revealed in the Holy Spirits indwelling presence of His people. (1 Cor. 14: 24).  These same people who populate the church are also hungry and thirsty for the Lord, although, from a deeper reference point.

Gifted pastors, evangelists and prophets are unconcerned with this idea of Church growth.  Pastors shepherd the flock to whom the Lord has assigned them.  Evangelists express their gift of evangelism in the workplace, streets, and as the Spirit directs them.  I have know gifted evangelists who were not even recognized by church leadership because they were not clergymen by profession.  Prophets speak and share God’s message of encouragement with those to whom they are sent and who will hear, but very few churches even accept that there exists a prophetic gift.  It is the prophetic gift that causes unbelievers to say, “God is really among you.” (1 Cor. 14: 24-25).

Today, in the church we need to have more of the Holy Spirit and less of the ideas and plans of men.  It is the Lord’s church and He has some stern judgments for the churches in Revelation, but makes no mention of church growth. (Rev. 2, 3).  Luke described the booming growth of the first century church very accurately saying, “… And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2: 47).  The old hymns expressed faith in God’s ability to prosper His Church.

There is Power in the Blood

Would you be free from the burden of sin?

There’s power in the blood, power in the blood;

Would you o’er evil a victory win?

There’s wonderful power in the blood.

Chorus:

There is power, power, wonder-working power

In the blood of the Lamb.

There is power, power, wonder-working power

In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Such words are foolishness to the worldly, but to those called by the Lord they speak of a miraculous saving power through the blood of Yeshua, Messiah.  All glory and praise be to Him alone.

After pushback from the LGBTQ community the Hallmark Channel has apologized and vowed to reinstate a handful of previously removed LGBTQ-friendly wedding ads on its platform, including a lesbian couple kissing.  Hallmark’s leaders initially decided to remove the ads after the conservative activist group One Million Moms, which represents a sizable chunk of the network’s target demographic, launched a petition denouncing the commercials as inappropriate for a family-friendly channel because of its promotion of homosexuality.  Ironically, the Hallmark Channel styles itself as “The Heart of Christmas” while promoting a lifestyle that is offensive to Christianity.

It is a shame to see our country continue to devolve into increasing immorality.  The LGBTQ community desires to force their unnatural lifestyle into the forefront of our daily lives at every turn.  Even many churches have become afraid to speak out against these immoral lifestyles due to the fear of being seen as having a lack of love.  The lack of pointing out the immorality of these lifestyles actually shows a lack of love as the LGBTQ community needs to hear the clear teaching of the Word of God to save them from eternal torment in Hell.  We should always approach them in love but not be hesitant to present the Word to them fully.

In case there is any doubt about the clear teaching of Scripture against homosexuality some verses are:

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Leviticus 18:22.

“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.  For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Romans 1:26.

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” I Corinthians 6:9-10.

“Knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” I Timothy 1:9-10.

“And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day; just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” Jude 6-7.

Those that commit the unnatural and unholy act of sodomy (homosexuality) will not inherit the kingdom of God (Heaven) but rather be judged with eternal fire in Hell, if they do not repent.  The Bible is clear on that and this is very sobering.  We, as Christians, have a duty to show love to the LGBTQ community by presenting the wonderful Gospel message that God can forgive their sins and give them eternal life if they would only repent and turn from their sin.  In the meantime, Christians should refrain from watching programs that support the LGBTQ lifestyle to promote removal of all of the advocacy and acceptance we can of this wicked lifestyle.

In certain of life’s situations we may ask this question?  It is likely a good question to ask, even before we become desparate or disappointed?  During Gideon’s days Israel was under extreme oppression from rival nations.  An angel appeared to Gideon saying, ” ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand.   Am I not sending you?’ ‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but how can I save Israel?  My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’  The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.’ ” (Judges 6: 12-16).  Then Gideon made an offering and it was miraculously recieved by fire and the angel disappeared.  God continued to tell Gideon what to do and he obeyed.  “Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him…Gideon said to God, ‘If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor.  If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.’  Then Gideon said to God, ‘Do not be angry with me.  Let me make just one more request.  Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.’  That night God did so.  Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.” (Judges 6: 34, 36-40).  God was very gracious to give Gideon assurances of His help, but Gideon had a measure of faith demonstrated by his obedience to do what God had instructed him to do.  When the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon he blew the trumpet calling Israelites to battle.  The Spirit was moving Gideon, still he asked for a final assurance which God granted. When the Israelis showed up with an army of thirty-two thousand men, “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘You have too many men.  I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, My own strength has saved me.’ ” (Judges 7: 2).  God showed Gideon how to pare down the army to three hundred men and told him to attack at night fall.  As another encouragement he told Gideon to sneak into the enemy camp before the attack and listen to what the enemy is saying.  “Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream.  ‘I had a dream,’ he was saying.  ‘A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp.  It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.’  His friend responded, ‘This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite.  God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.’ ” (Judges 7: 13-14).  How could God be more encouraging? Is this a distant God who cares nothing about His people?

This incident may be more significant in history than our situations, but God cares about every detail of His children’s life. (Luke 12: 7).  If we move out in faith and obedience to His calling God will give us encouragement and He will accomplish his purposes through us.  Is your God gracious and loving?  Have you any hope or reliance in your own strength, ability, and ways?  Are you hearing what the Lord is saying and obeying as for your part?  Have you assumed that God’s call was both the beginning and end of His involvement, such that you’re on your own from here?  Have things stalled because you are trying to do what God alone can do?  Have you surrendered your will and destiny to God?  Are you confident in God’s limitless goodness, mercy, lovingkindness and Sovereignty?  Have you limited God in any way, as to whether He is willing or able to do what He has said, or whether the scripture actually applies to you today?

God is full of mercy and though He responds to faith, His compassion and mercy triumph over judgment. (James 2:13).  “A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!  My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.’  Jesus did not answer a word.  So his disciples came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.’  He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’  The woman came and knelt before him.  ‘Lord, help me!’ she said.  He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’  ‘Yes it is, Lord,’ she said.  ‘Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’  Then Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.’  And her daughter was healed at that moment.” (Matthew 15: 22-28).  The Holy Spirit dwells in every believer and He communicates, encourages, and guides us as we submit to Him. In the same way the Lord greeted Gideon, He says to you and me, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6: 12).      

I’ve watched many people in the music industry and it is interesting to see how some went on to great commercial success, while others remain largely unknown, even though they had more natural talent and ability.  I’ve heard it said about actors as well, that commercial success depends more on a chance meeting or fortunate event than anything else. Life is not a fair competition among all the qualified competitors where each one gets their chance in the spotlight of future fame and popularity.  Moreover, consider the vast number of “One Hit Wonders”, those who got their chance, produced a hit record, and then fizzled into obscurity – how is this explained.  Fame and popularity must be the most fickle of all desires and accomplishments, if, in fact, they are accomplishments.  At a much lower level of achievement, there are people who are considered “Big Fish” in their small ponds of lesser cities, markets, professions, vocations, or skills that are still known by name.  The area car dealer, local TV host, wealthy business man, politician or even prominent clergyman may be well known in their particular sphere of influence.  I once heard a sermon about how important it was to know your senior pastor by name.  It was a polished, interesting, even humorous talk about nothing important.  The world tells us who it selects as our champions, leaders, and important people in every sphere of life, but does it really count our votes.

Now consider what Yeshua said, demonstrated, and lived out in this world.  “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’  He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.  And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’ ” (Matthew 18: 1-4).  This answer turned the world’s ways upside down.  Compare the names of the famous people who have achieved so much notoriety in this world with unknown children who have no abilities much less any achievement.  How is this possible?   “For God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2: 11).  Paul touches on this concept saying, “For who makes you different from anyone else?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4: 7).  James lays out clearly, “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.” (James 2: 1).  However, the world system is all about favoritism, favoring the rich, the beautiful, then favoring the homeless and victim; when in the Kingdom of God there is no favoritism in either case.

Every achievement in this world is nothingness before God and worthless rags before His perfect requirements.  In order to get a perspective of heavenly society every aspect of pride must be eliminated.  “For everything in the worldthe lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of lifecomes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2: 16-17).  I believe many singers and musicians who are Believers did not gain commercial success because of the favor and grace of God; that in heaven they will be rewarded a heavenly enduring reward instead of the fleeting praise of men.  In our society the desire for fame, even a small measure of it is rampant.  It’s why this last generation was willing to give all their private information to Facebook in exchange for the false pride of feeling adored and important among a phantom audience.

Another distinction between this world and Heaven is in justice.  There is much injustice in worldly systems, but the Kingdom of God is perfectly just.  Yeshua used a story of an evil rich man in Hell and poor but righteous Lazarus to explain it, “…Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here [in heaven] and you are in agony [in Hell].” (Luke 16: 25).  It may be that the lowly undistinguished believer will be more esteemed in Heaven, than the famous minister who had the esteem of men on earth.  It maybe that the achievements thought great on earth are detestable in heaven.

Lord Yeshua, deliver us from running after the pride of this world, it’s favoritism, and worthless pursuits.  We have no good thing apart from you and you are the one that we thirst for.  In this world you were lowly though you were the Supreme Son of God and King of Glory in eternal reality.  Let us embrace your example and be content to serve and pursue humility, rather than popularity.  Brother Lawrence said, “I am so submitted to the will of God ‘that I would not pick up a straw from the ground’ out of any other motive than pure love of him.”  Sometimes people make painful attempts and various means to attain the presence of God.  Is it not easier to do everything for the love of God and use every opportunity to show our love to him?  Lord, show us how to love and live as you did.

This is the title of a book by R. T. Kendall, including, “Learning to Stay in the Flow of God’s Direction.”  The Holy Spirit is my fascination, He captivates and seldom leaves my consideration, perspective, and longing.  I believe the Holy Spirit is active in the congregation of Believers on earth ever since Yeshua ascended to the Father.  It’s not that Yeshua and the Father are not present, but Yeshua said, “…very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment…”. (John 16: 7-9).  The indwelling Spirit, is the fulfillment of prophecy regarding the product of Messiah’s work on the cross.  He brings about a heart of flesh instead of stone, where God’s Word is written.  So, the Believer’s life is through the Spirit because the Spirit and is the testimony of Yeshua.  “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3: 17-18).

In his book Dr. Kendall uses the episode where Yeshua, as a boy, stayed in the Temple while his parents returned home, thinking he was among their group of relatives, as an illustration of our association with the Spirit’s presence.  He returns to this episode all through the book as he describes and measures the sensitivity we must use regarding the Holy Spirit. For example, he describes Mary and Joseph’s departure ahead of Yeshua, as when we get ahead of the Spirit’s leading. The crux of that event in Yeshua’s life was to reveal His devotion and longing to be in God’s presence, (which was in the temple), yet also in submission to His parents authority.  Although it is a valid point that we are to be in step with the Spirit, I found that continual references to this episode strain it too far and left me with the impression that the Holy Spirit is a flitting bird fearful of human contact and tentative in His relationship to us.  Most of the book is an explanation of why we fail to maintain the proper conditions, attitude, thoughts and holiness to warrant the Spirit’s intimate presence.

I don’t argue that my weakness, failings, shortcomings, selfishness, in a word sin, is repulsive to the Holy Spirit, but scripture calls the Spirit our comforter and counselor, a gift and guarantee of our salvation.  I do not believe the supposition of this book; our infrequent recognition of the Spirit’s presence is explained by our consistent shortcomings, ignorance, and unworthiness.  Even if this was not the intended inference, it is the message I hear.  I did read of various accounts of the Spirit’s consolation, overflowing joy and worship, but it rings hollow without conviction or recognition of Spiritual power.  I was expecting a story about the Spirit in relationship, but what I found was twenty ways to avoid offending the Spirit.

Toward the end, he introduces a comparison of doves and pigeons, to contrast the Spirit with a fake imitation contrived by men.  The most irritating device of any writer is mollification.  For example, he states that it is not good to criticize other people’s faith, but then he sets out to do just that.  He uses a common illustration intended to portray spiritual fraud.  He heard of a Charismatic preacher who was coming to town and went to the altar to receive the gifts of tongues, he prayed, “God if this is from you let it come; if not, stop it.”  The preacher prayed for him to receive the gift of tongues, but nothing happened.  The man told him to make a joyful noise to the Lord.  He sat there and replied, “I don’t understand.”  The man told him to speak something… make a sound.  He refused and concluded the preacher and the gift of tongues are a fake manipulation of men.  This is a very small point in this book, but it illustrates a larger issue that seems to pervade, which is, how are we to interact with the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit does not take over people’s mouths, so they become talking robots.  To speak in tongues one must open their mouth and make sounds.  Whether anyone has faith is always a difficult, perhaps impossible, question to discern, but his prayer was not to receive the gift of tongues as described in scripture.  His prayer, “if this thing is from you, let it come, if not, stop it,” expresses a double mind, not a singular request of God’s good gift. (James 1: 6-8).  His response after the prayer was, “I don’t understand.”  In scripture there is very little, if any, about the Holy Spirit that requires rational understanding.  In fact, the expectation of understanding and mental ascent is normally counter and detrimental to the release and work of the Spirit.  Consider Nicodemus who came to Yeshua at night trying to understand being “born again” with his rational thinking.  Yeshua replied, “The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3: 8).  To speak in tongues one must hear and speak, not necessarily understand the heavenly or unknown language.  This of course is offensive to the rational mind that demands to first understand.  After telling this story, he says he knows people with the true gift of tongues and that he probably was not ready, at that time.  I can only assume he is trying to please everyone, nevertheless, the gift of tongues is discussed in considerable detail in scripture.  As Dr. Kendall points out many of the Spirit’s works are imitated by the enemy.

Perhaps the best book I have read on the subject of the Spirit life is, “The Practice of the Presence of God”, by Brother Lawrence, which merely consist of his private letters to a younger friend.  Brother Lawrence was an undistinguished monk who worked in the kitchen at a monastery in the 17th century, but he articulated a first-hand knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s presence along with encouragements, evidence, and wisdom from the Spirit’s presence.  It is the antithesis of this book, but it may be unfair to compare someone so humble with any of todays authors who are so prominently qualified and distinguished.  It reminds me of some teachers who teach it, but can not practice what they teach.  This is not a criticism of all teachers, but there is a noticeable difference between someone with experience and someone who only has knowledge or is simply conveying knowledge rather, than first-hand experience.  I have read several of Dr. Kendall’s books and liked most of them.  I’m certain that he is a fine fellow, honest Christian and well spoken gentleman.  If you like a good sermon, interesting comparisons, teaching on what is not conducive to best spiritual practices, with a minimum of substantive teaching about the Holy Spirit, you may like this book.

If this were possible, has it actually been attempted?  In the Bible there are several examples:

Sarah gave her servant to Abraham has a means of fulfilling God’s promise that he would have descendants. (Gen 16: 1-4).

Moses killed an abusive Egyptian when he joined his Hebrew people’s struggle for freedom considering his call as a deliverer. exodus 2: 11-12.

Korah and 250 other leaders in the counsel concluded that Moses had misinterpreted God’s intent for Israel saying, “You have gone too far!  The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them.  Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” (Numbers 16: 2-3).

The Israelites who refused to go in and take possession of the land God had promised them, then attempted to do so by themselves. (Numbers 14: 40-45).

The Israelites who attempted to take the small city of Ai without consulting God after He overthrew Jericho. (Joshua 8: 3-4).

Saul couldn’t wait on Samuel and offered the incense offering himself. (1 Sam.13: 8-10).

Uzzah reached out and steadied the Arc of the covenant as the ox stumbled. (2 Sam. 6: 6).

When Peter rebuked the Lord about suffering, rejection by Jewish leaders, dying and resurrecting.  “But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter.  ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said.  ‘You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’ ” (Mark 8: 33).

Yeshua’s response to Peter defines the cause and nature of all these illustrations of people trying to assist God.  It is worldly human thinking that is wrong and opposed to God’s plan.  We may be tempted to take matters into our own hands, but the end result is always bad, sometimes extremely so.  Consider the implication of those who did so above:

Ishmael was born and to this day his descendants have made war with Israel.

Moses was exiled to the desert and became a shepherd for the next forty years, abandoning his people Israel.

The ground opened up and swallowed Korah and his followers.

The disobedient Israelites were badly defeated.

The Israelites were defeated until they inquired of God.

The kingship was taken away from Saul.

Uzzah was killed instantly

Peter himself was rebuked and the Lord referred to him as Satan.

When we presume that God is late and/or unable to fulfill all that He promises and says, then we have rejected or violated His instruction, which results in bad repercussions.  It’s not that God is unkind, rash, or unforgiving, these results were brought about by the actions of people, God’s plans and purposes are good.  It is the height of arrogance to think we can improve on God’s promise.  The rule in all cases is clear, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov. 16: 18).  Haman in the book of Esther illustrates this as well as any.

Lord, Yeshua, help us to pursue humility and reject every prideful thought and way.  When we are tempted to raise ourselves, our achievement, cause or will above those of others and especially your ways, remind us to duck down low and get on our knees lest we get struck by a heavy blow of destruction.  Your ways and timing are perfect, forgive our impatience as we wait on your salvation.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  I Chronicles 16:34.

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  I Thessalonians 5:18.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28.

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  Philippians 1:21.

Today is Thanksgiving Day and a special one for me.  As I have written about elsewhere in this Journal, I recently came close to death with a bad case of viral pneumonia complicated by a weak heart.  I have now recovered fully from the pneumonia and a long way to recovery after successful bypass surgery.  Even though the last few months were full of trauma and sickness for me I am so thankful that God in his sovereignty has raised me back up and given me more time to live.  I feel keenly the need to use the rest of my life in serving God in a more dedicated way then I have before, a real blessing that has come out of my sickness.

My near death has more often had me thinking about eternity and my mortality.  I am almost 61 years old and at most only have a relatively short number of years before me.  However, a Christian should have no fear of death.  As Paul reminds us, to live is Christ and to die is actually to our gain.  We have no worries about eternity as Christ’s death on the cross has taken care of our eternal destiny for us.  This leaves us free to follow God’s command and give thanks in all things to the Lord, regardless of our circumstances.  He is good and His love for us endures forever.

No matter what problems we may face, including even sickness and death, we know that all things work to a Christian’s good.  That is all things.  In my case, had I not had the pneumonia they may not have discovered my heart blockage before it was too late.  Further, even if I had died it would have been to my gain.  These truths have been such a comfort to me of late and I have been especially thankful this holiday season for my life and even more for my eternal life to come.

I saw a little of a TV show regarding Hank Aaron, baseball’s career home run record holder until Barry Bonds passed his total in 2007.  It was describing Aaron’s team, the Atlanta Braves, during the period as he was closing in on the record of 714 homeruns long held by Babe Ruth. Images of a nearly empty stadium were said to illustrate the public’s disinterest, perhaps snubbing of Henry Aaron’s eminent breach of the longstanding homerun record.  Then without any uncertainty a woman asserted that white people were opposed to Aaron, a black man, breaking the preeminent homerun record.  They offered at least one letter purportedly sent to Aaron expressing such sentiments.   At this point I could see that this was not a documentary or sports show, but rather a media fiction of the socialist political agenda.

I was still a baseball fan in 1974 and my best friend was a Braves and Hank Aaron fanatic.  This media accusation of baseball, the Atlanta Braves, and all white people of discrimination and injustice, perhaps a measure of abuse against Hank Aaron is absolutely ludicrous.  There were and are a few racists in America, some are white and some are black, but common sense alone indicates that Aaron had been cranking out 30+ home runs with the Braves for a number of years.  Baseball is a team game and the Braves did not have a good team, although they had at least one star in Aaron. The team was not supported by large crowds because they usually lost and were not a good team.  Nevertheless, Hank Aaron eclipsed Ruth’s record and the news media made a big deal about it at the time.  I recall Aaron being interviewed and applauded for his achievement.  Yet, Aaron was not a showman, nor a popular personality, he seemed to expect his new record alone would entitle him to public adoration.  I recall one interview where he appeared arrogant in his expectations.  Aaron did not become a baseball commentator or TV personality or a popular ambassador of baseball.  It was obvious that he had no capability for these activities, irrespective of any interest he may have had therein. Nevertheless he had the record at the time, it was undisputed, so why would he pretend to be a victim.  Even though there was racial bigotry and Aaron had been exposed to it during his career, we all suffer injustice of one sort or another, he prevailed.  Forty-five years later this fictional complaint and false charge of white racism is flaunted to advance a political agenda and utilize the liberal socialists favorite tool of racial victimization.   However, baseball is only a game where players can earn high salaries, but their records and fame do not pay cash dividends, without some collateral effort.

My friend who nearly idolized Hank Aaron, went to a game, entered the Braves locker room and found Hank Aaron, sitting in a chair smoking a cigarette.  My friend shared with me, how Aaron glared at him, cursed vulgarly and ordered, “get out of here”.  My friend was still just a kid and his hero had fallen from his pedestal.  He still honored Aaron’s achievement, but having seen the man in person he realized that there is far more to the worth or measure of a man than his achievements as compared to others, particularly those pertaining to a mere game.

Great men achieve noteworthy things in spite of the obstacles and adversaries alined against them.  Winners don’t whine and complain about the circumstances; they won after all.  I think this is the most pathetic whining I have ever heard about a sports figure.  Hopefully, Hank Aaron had nothing to do with this show.  Todays fake media hype reminds us to question everything we see on TV, in the biased media, and to remember that the qualities of honesty, humility, lovingkindness and unselfishness are character qualities that mark the greatness of people, rather than fame or athletic ability.  I think Dr. Martin Luther King expressed it as well as anyone, saying we should be judged by “the content of our character”.

“Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon.  Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her.  So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her.  She got up at once and began to wait on them.” (Luke 4: 38-39).  Who has ever prescribed a rebuke to relieve a fever?  When you hear “faith and healing” do you think of charlatans and fakes who deceive people in order to get money?  Have you dismissed all healing except by modern medical science?  If so, are you taking a position contrary to scripture and the clear teaching of Lord Yeshua?

Is it possible that certain infirmities or afflictions are the result of demonic oppression?  Is faith in God through Yeshua effective for physical and mental health, or has God substituted doctors and medicine instead of faith?   A boy was brought to Yeshua, they said “He has seizures and is suffering greatly.  He often falls into the fire or into the water.”  The disciples could not cure the boy and asked why.  Yeshua replied, “Because you have so little faith.  Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17: 20).  Some may think this was two thousand years ago, even before the middle ages where blood letting and dung poultices where offered as cures, and is not relevant today.  Very recently it was discovered that the hormone replacement treatment given to post menopausal women for over twenty years actually harmed their heart, contrary to claims that it was heart healthy.  How often is the diagnosis an autoimmune state, meaning your body is attacking itself?

“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” (Matthew 10: 1).  Yeshua didn’t instruct them in this procedure, although they surely watched as He delivered and cured the sick.  If it is by faith, then where is the need for analysis, diagnosis, examination, indications and all the rationalization of physicians?  Of course, modern medicine has its place, but is it the only way and does it replace our faith?  The disciples failed to cure the boy mentioned above, where was the deficiency?  When Yeshua was not able to do many miracles in a town, what was the inhibiting factor? (Matt. 13: 58).  The problem is with a lack of faith, no confidence in things hoped for, nor any evidence of things currently unseen.

So, where does the faith come from and why is it sometimes insufficient?  “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” (Romans 10: 17). ” In Lystra there sat a man who was lame.  He had been that way from birth and had never walked.  He listened to Paul as he was speaking.  Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, ‘Stand up on your feet!’  At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.” ( Acts 14: 8-10).  Who’s faith is required, the healed or the healer?  “Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’  When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’  ‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied.  Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you…’ ” (Matthew 9: 27-29).  You may recall the woman who had a bleeding disorder, “Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me…’  Then he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace.’ ” (Luke 8: 46, 48).  In the disciples failure, their faith was insufficient, in these latter illustrations healing faith was in the infirmed.  So, it seems there is a need for faith and the more widespread the better, dismissive unbelief in either party is a problem.

Have you ever prayed with uncertainty, just wishing for healing, rather than asking and expecting a response?  Were you so filled with dread and doubt that you lost hope?  When we do not pray or do not go to the sick person, as we are able, we have no or little faith.  When we recall the Word of God as to His promises; as to His command to ask; as to His great mercy and compassion that is new every morning, then faith is rising.  When we believe in what seems currently impossible, we are evidencing faith that the future can be different by God’s Almighty unlimited power and love.  “Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.’ ” (Luke 18: 27).  When you hear bad news or circumstances that seem dire, do not give in to despair.  Stir up your faith in God, if necessary, open the Bible and read, research and affirm the mercy and unceasing compassion of God toward His people.  Remind yourself that Yeshua said to ask and you will receive, anything in His name.  Diminish the problem and exalt the Lord.  “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” (Psalm 147: 3-5).  God has graciously given much healing through doctors, but it is too easy and inappropriate to give more credit to medical science than our merciful Father God.  We should put our confidence and faith in God and see the doctor as His instrument.  Help us Lord to look to you our healer.

Many are named in the Bible.  The greatest among men was John, the Baptist, perhaps because he best prepared the people for Yeshua’s appearance and was closest to Him.  Anything which is more closely related to Yeshua is greater than other things, because Yeshua is supreme over all creation. (Col. 1: 18).  You could invent the cure for cancer, a perpetual motion engine or wings that enabled men to fly like a bird, but these would be insignificant to the person of Yeshua Messiah.  The prophets and patriarchs were given vision, faith, and insight to see the Messiah thousands of years in advance of His appearing, initially and in the end times.  How amazing are God’s designs!  In order to give hope and encouragement to His children He laid out His eternal purpose ages before it all happened.  He may have withheld degrees of understanding, but as it is revealed in reality it proves and affirms His lovingkindness.

Those who carry God’s message exist today as much as ever.  Those who suggest that God changes through dispensations have only dreamed this to explain a fiction they prefer.  God never changes. (Mal. 3:8; Heb. 13: 8; James 1:17).  Scripture describes the gift of prophecy.  Yeshua said, a prophet has no honor in his own country.  God’s Prophets were often treated horribly by those to whom they were sent.  It is nevertheless a great responsibility to convey God’s message.  Prophets are just men and subject to the same fears and failings as other men, but God enables them to see and speak or act on His behalf.  Any believer could operate in any spiritual gift as determined by God, but there are also giftings that are consistent with a person’s particular calling or assignment.  For example, King David prophesied of the Messiah, but was not primarily called as a prophet.

I have written many articles relating to prophecy because it is a gift of God, although misunderstood, denied, faked, imitated and mocked by the secular world.  The Hebrew prophet’s message is still being revealed today as it pertains to events leading to the end times.  God also distributes His gifts and calling within the congregation of believers among which is the gift of prophecy.  The prophet of today may be like Amos of the Old Testament, who tended fig trees, but was called by God. (Amos 7: 14-15).  Amos’ message is relevant today because God’s words are eternal.  Listen to this message of God to Israel and the congregation of Believers [Eph. 2: 11-12], “Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, Israel, prepare to meet your God.  He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth the Lord God Almighty is his name.” (Amos 4: 12-13).  Note that God describes Himself as one who, “reveals his thoughts to mankind.”  Love never ends, but prophecies will cease when the human story is completed on earth and we all bow in the presence of God Almighty. (1 Cor. 13: 8-10).  Until that day, we can hear God’s thoughts through the prophetic voice.

Beware those who promote themselves, as the servant of God is humble and seeks only to represent God, rather than himself.  Moreover, the prophet is aware of his own frailty and fallibility, such that he/she exercises great effort, caution, and care interpreting the message received.  As such, where the prophetic message is not directly scripture, it must be tested against scripture and by the Spirit.  The prophetic gift is misunderstood, but is given for encouragement, thus it is for individuals and specific situations, just as it was in scripture.  God sent Nathan to convict David of His sin (2 Sam. 12: 7-10), but He also sent Elijah to a poor widow in a foreign country (1 Kings 17: 8-9).  The one true God cares about each person specifically and chooses to send encouragement through people.  Listen to the message, rather than the messenger.  Is it so hard to believe an infinitely loving God cares enough for you to send a person to tell you so, at just the right time, with words no one but you can fully understand and appreciate.  This is God’s means of encouragement and it has His attesting power as well. (1 Cor. 14: 24-25).

We have a great privilege to be intercessors for others.  To Intercede means to make petition in behalf of another.  We see the prophet Daniel making intercession in prayer, “While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice.” (Daniel 9: 17-21).  Daniel was confessing his sin and the sins of his people Israel.  You might ask why and what effect could this have, but God sent Gabriel an important angel in response to his prayer – that is effective prayer.  “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).  God is full of mercy and forgives us through the work of Yeshua His Son, not through anything we have done.

We know that forgiveness is from God and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Heb. 9: 22).  Before Yeshua came the priests offered animal sacrifices regularly on behalf of God’s people. Yeshua offered himself, once and for all for the redemption of all who believe on Him.  As such forgiveness is available through His name.

Yeshua interceded for us who believe, even while we were lost in our sins and transgressions.  “Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.  For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53: 12).

Do we have power to forgive sins?  Anyone who has forgiven someone else’s offense is acting as Yeshua taught His followers. While Stephen was being stoned he said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”  When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7: 60).  Yeshua said, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6: 14-15).  We can’t control others or cause them to have remorse or come to us and ask for our pardon, and this is not necessary. Forgiveness is not earned nor deserved, but granted by grace.  Consider the parable of the wicked servant who was given forgiveness out of pity, but refused to forgive his fellow servant. (Matt. 18: 23-35)

Yeshua said to a paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven.  Those watching said to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that?  He’s blaspheming!  Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2: 7-12). Yeshua healed the man to show that He has power to forgive sins.  We accept this as Yeshua is God, but we are His followers, so what did he say to us. Yeshua told the disciples, “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’  And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’ ” (John 20: 21-23).  “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” (Acts 13: 38).  “Is anyone among you sick?  Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.  If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.  Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5: 14-16).  Prayer is effective to bring about forgiveness of sins through Yeshua.

Intercessory prayer is specifically encouraged for believers.  “If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life.  I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death.  There is a sin that leads to death.  I am not saying that you should pray about that.” (1 John 5: 16).  When we become aware that our fellow believers have sinned we can intercede on their behalf and God will give them life rather than the consequences of sin which is death.  Finally, just as Daniel confessed the sins of his people, we should do the same.  “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2: 1-2).  In our role as intercessors we are not elevated over people like those who seem to grant forgiveness in exchange for some expression of contrition.  The Bible teaches a priesthood of all believers and as disciples of Yeshua we do the things He did, through the power of His mighty name. (John 14: 12-14).  We are to have faith in God’s abundant mercy and intercede just as Yeshua does, that forgiveness and life will be given to all those whom the Spirit puts upon our hearts.

“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.  Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.” I John 3:20-21.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1.

Faith in God assures a person’s salvation and not our own heart which can deceive us.  As we move through life after becoming a Believer we have moments of failure and sin as we permit our fallen nature to overcome us temporarily.  When this happens we are to confess our sins and God is faithful to forgive us (I John 1:9).  Over time we realize how unworthy of being saved we are and can feel deserved condemnation in our hearts.  However, salvation is a sovereign act of God, thru grace, we could never deserve it.  God is greater than our hearts in the matter of judgement and He accepts Christ’s blood to redeem all our sins – past, present, and future.  Our role is to die to self and let Christ live through us (Galatians 2:20).  The more we live in that light the less our heart will condemn us and the more joyous christian life we will lead.  In the meantime, God pronounces a more authoritative verdict on our salvation than our heart (our conscience), which is fallible and often errs.

A friend of mine recently tweeted – “The Bible is about what God has done for you (His pardon) and not about your performance [for those who believe in God].”  How true.  While our sins will certainly send us to Hell if we die without believing in God and the Bible makes us aware of our sins, the Bible’s primary message is one of hope and grace if we will only submit our lives to God.

There is no future condemnation for Believers who walk according to the Spirit.  These Spirit-filled Believers, who through belief in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross cannot walk consistently in the flesh due to the Spirit’s prodding, will be brought through to the end, their salvation sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is the guarantee of our inheritance. (Ephesians 1:13-14).

We know love from our beginning as infants, without it we die.  The Soviets discovered this when they withheld critically significant physical contact from babies in State orphanages.  The babies were fed, kept clean and warm, but they were not held and cuddled in a mothers arms, so they died in mass.  We grow in love as we age and experience the wide range of loves meaning.  The Greeks defined love with three main words: Phileo – love of friends; Eros – physical love, and Agape – God’s unconditional love but there are more dimensions of love than three.  How many, is impossible to say, given our physical, mental, and spiritual constraints.  God is love, therefore, love is infinite and eternal.  Both of these concepts are beyond full human comprehension, although we understand unlimited and everlasting, grasping infinity is out of reach.

When those who have had near death experiences attempt to describe the love they encounter in that moment after death words fail.  I have heard and read many of these accounts and they have many similarities, such as, a vision of leaving their body, being enveloped in light and encountering love, but they all struggle to describe the love they sensed. This makes perfect sense and testifies to the nature and reality of God’s love.  Paul describes one such experience of which he was aware.  “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven.  Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not knowGod knows.  And I know that this manwhether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.” (2 Corinthians 12: 2-4).  I often thought this account was “inexpressible” and “not permitted”, because it must be kept secret, but now I think it was the limitation of words or any other means of communication that did not permit expression.

Where words fail, we still have an internal sensor that spans across the limitations of reason and communication.  In a Spiritual dimension this perfect infinite love touches our being.  It is like the act of salvation by faith, where the believer receives faith and is born again, receiving the indwelling Holy Spirit and a knowledge of Almighty Father God through Yeshua Messiah.  The love of God touches us in human form through Yeshua, Messiah and we see it lived out through His words, deeds, and person.  Nothing compares with this love, yet we understand only a touch which is the maximum the human receptacle, our heart, can contain.  In heaven our temporal restraints will be removed and we will be able to embrace perfection, immortality, infinity, and perfect love completely.  That love is glorious and beyond worldly expression, yet we have enough now to lead us to the Lord and follow in His way of love.  “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails….” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8).  Love is also a person, our Creator.

As much as we know of and about Yeshua’s life and message, Believers yearn to know more of Him.  This is the power and mission of the Holy Spirit to reveal Yeshua in Spiritual dimensions.  That’s what we have with our family and close friends, a spiritual connection across generations, forged from shared life experiences, challenges, emotional highs and lows, unity and commitment that transcends the senses and rational intelect, yet encompasses these also as a minor facet of relationship, yet unnecessary to the eternal enduring whole.

Whether we accept it, He is the person who knows us best, completely, and has been there with us in every crisis, victory, and failure.  When we open our innermost being to Him, we find freedom, truth, and a love that transforms, heals or delivers life abundant in every circumstance.  We all get sick and receive healing, but not everyone accepts that the Lord is our healer.  Everyone has experienced some form of persecution, injustice, or mistreatment, but not everyone has acknowledged that the present Lord was there in that moment fully aware of our pain, disappointment, hurt and grief. Those who know Him as Mary, Martha, and Lazarus did will have found in Him a friend who would draw near, weep in compassion, and release them from sorrow – even death.

It’s not a miracle, needs, or desires that we really seek most, but the relationship that is vital and critical to our true inner peace, joy, and love.  The necessities and whims of the moment take center stage in our self-nature which lives for today only.  However, the abundant life in Yeshua is the opposite, as it is life eternal, a relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We can glimpse this life in the Spirit; perhaps as a spectacular vision of heaven or the peaceful serenity of God’s reassuring presence or joy of His lovingkindness.  When God brought the plagues upon Pharaoh’s Egypt his false prophets explained them as acts of nature, but God created nature, why wouldn’t He use it to convey His warning. Similarly, the abundant life in Yeshua is natural to our understanding of daily life and the elements of relationship, peace, fullness, self-control, righteousness, faith, hope, and love, are elements that fill heaven as well.

Spend time setting your affections on Yeshua, finding a place at His feet, seeking His face, listening to His word that He has written on your heart which the Spirit brings to your mind.  He accepts your earnest and sincere attention and will respond as He has promised and demonstrated.  Taste and see that the Lord is good and find rest for your soul.  The Father is seeking those who will worship in Spirit and Truth, let’s meet His searching gaze.  He has initiated this faith in our heart and He will not turn away from His children as we enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.  We can never know a more perfect love.

“Love God, Love People More” is a new phrase popping up on T-shirts and bumper stickers everywhere.   Emphasis is added on the word MORE as folks proudly boast this meaningful life lesson.  Actually, their words are belittling to God and His Word.  This phrase wreaks of humanism and self-righteousness.  Once again, people think they can out-god God. Scripture is clear on this issue.  The first four commandments instruct us how to honor our Holy Creator by loving and glorifying Him above anyone or anything.

Exodus 20:2-7 states, “And God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me.   You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

Jesus further emphasized the importance of loving God above everything or anyone.  Matthew 22: 36-40 reads, “ ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’ ”

If Daniel loved people more than God he wouldn’t have had a problem eating the king’s meat even though it had been sacrificed to idols.  Daniel would have gladly eaten the meat so as to not offend the king.  Shadrack, Meshach and Abedengo would have gladly bowed down to a graven image of Nebuchadnezzar.  Why not?  They would have wanted to show that they loved Nebuchadnezzar “more” than God.  Of course, they would have bowed down to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image of himself.

Perhaps these T-shirt, bumper sticker activists think they are helping us all understand the importance of loving each other.  God’s Word is too harsh and judgmental.  They know best.  They know how to genuinely love people more than God ever could.  What they fail to realize is that they are doing just the opposite.  We can never learn to love each other until we first learn to love God.  When people love each other or themselves more than God they are headed towards disappointment, emptiness, and separation from God.

To instruct others to love people more than God is heresy.  Of the 31,102 verses in the Bible not one supports their view. This message is dangerous as it attempts to undermine God’s authority and His relationship with His children.  We must put away these childish ideas and stand firm on the unfailing Word of God.

Prayer: “Help us Father God to learn to love You and put You first in our lives.  Forgive us for our arrogance and self-righteousness.  Teach us to love each other while still being true to You.  Help our unbelief and guide us as we live each day to glorify Your name.  Amen.”

Steel is formulated from iron and carbon in a process with extreme heat to produce properties of hardness and strength. When it is tempered it will bend without breaking.  It is tested to ensure that the process has achieved it’s purpose.  We are God’s handiwork according to His design and Sovereign will.  The processes used by God vary according to his purpose and our place in the Kingdom journey.

“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.  He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,  even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’  Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.  By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.” (Hebrews 11: 17-20).  Abraham had faith that whatever God led Him to do would work out for good.  In the end God provided a ram instead of Issac, Abraham passed the test, he would not withhold even his own Son.

Yeshua was tested frequently by the Pharisees regarding his statements, miracles, and deeds.  However, the Bible says, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” (Deut. 6: 16; Matt. 4: 7; 1 Cor. 10: 9).  Have you ever tested God?  The best illustration of this is the Israelites in the wilderness who frequently asked for things they wanted rather than trusting that God would supply all their needs.  They consistently tested God regarding His provision, purposes, and promises. Questioning whether we have authentically and accurately heard God is not a test of God.  We should question our own motives, desires, and understanding.  Waiting on the Lord is not test of God; we should not jump out ahead of God’s leading.  Testing God is founded in a demand for proof or some action we specify as confirmation of God’s reliability. When manufacturers test their products they seek to identify flaws or defects that may impair the item.  God is completely perfect, good, and trustworthy, so we need not question his love, mercy or faithfulness.

We may not dare question or test God directly, but when we encounter circumstances that are uncomfortable or difficult we may be deceived and conclude that God has forgotten us or that it is up to us to make our own arrangements.  This can be testing God.  The Bible is clear that we are God’s children and that He cares for us in great detail.  “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12: 6-7).  Give and trust all your circumstances, difficulty, restlessness, and dissatisfaction to God.  He is fully able to bring us through and break off the weight of the world that burdens us so.  Lord Yeshua, forgive us the times we have tested you.

I had a conversation with my friend who was telling me about his neighbor that was caught up in the liberal socialism of today’s radical politicians and media.  He expressed wonder at how this man could promote such radical impossible ideas. I listened, then suggested he ask his neighbor whether he considered himself to be a good person.  My friend responded immediately, “I know already, he considers himself exceedingly good.”  I believe such a belief is the gist of all deception and source of wrong rationalization.

This is the state of mankind from our ancestors exit from Eden and it is no less true today.  Observation bears witness and history evidences an irrefutable conclusion of human depravity.  Who are those who deny it and upon what facts do they rely, but their own blindness and dismissal of the reality of human nature.  Yet, their arrogance leads them on to fictional fantasies of world-wide utopia in harmony, peace, without crime, tyranny, murder, sickness, abuse, and the myriad evils which transpire daily.  These are those who espouse human rationalism and the deification of man, their own values and a contempt for God.  They will tolerate a powerless fake religion of socializing, philosophy and psychology, but hate those with Judeo-Christian values.  Their theme song is Lennon’s “Imagine”, but their idol is money, power, and control. However, this is nothing new and they are no more or less wicked or godless than their ancestors.  Their delusion of utopia is proof of a mental defect and/or deceit by others.

Yes, there is goodness and love in the world, as well.  Occasionally, a heroism or act of benevolence will be reported.  Love in its purest form is very common, demonstrated by parents for children, spouses for each other, and too many events to catalog.  Does this contradict the ruin and depravity of mankind – no.  These acts of kindness and love are the evidence of God’s mercy and compassion towards man.  It is from above, rather than from within man.  Yeshua explained,  “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?  But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.  For out of the heart come evil thoughtsmurder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”  (Matthew 15: 17-19).   Moreover, God has chosen a people for himself out of the world beginning with Abraham, the patriarchs, Israel and the congregation of believers.  These claim no inherent virtue in their own self, but acknowledge God as the only “good”.  They were in the world and subject to its brokenness until by Gods grace and sovereign will granted faith to lead them to salvation, redemption, and the way of love.

It is God’s saving providence, through the congregation of Believers, the salt of the earth, that preserves things until the end of days.  We are all broken and in need of forgiveness, mercy, compassion and direction from God Almighty.  My friend is a good example of such grace as he befriends his neighbor without condemnation.  Hypocrisy is rarely mentioned these days, even in politicians, it appears to be quite acceptable.  Paul warns us, “if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truthyou, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself?  You who preach against stealing, do you steal? (Romans 2: 18-21).  I don’t consider myself good, nor does my hope rest in following the scriptural law, but my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.  What say you?

Stress is pressure, heavy concern, the weight of responsibility, duty or circumstances.  As it builds there can be a corresponding breakdown reflected in a weak area of ourselves, body, soul, and spirit.  When it hits our body we take specific notice.

Scripture gives many illustrations, this one was appropriately met.  “David’s two wives had been capturedAhinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel.  David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters.  But David found strength in the Lord his God. (1 Samuel 30: 5-6).  Can you imagine the pressure of having your wife taken captive and your own company turning against you as the responsible party for this disaster?  David lost no time fretting, worrying, or trying to cope in his own strength, but went to the Lord for help, direction, and deliverance.

I had such an experience when both my elderly parents were each in the hospital and could no longer live alone at their home.  I was solely taking care of them and was under considerable stress.  Suddenly, my gallbladder spasmed on the verge of rupture and I wound up in the hospital myself.  At that point I could only call upon the Lord and He answered and supplied for all our needs.  We can become distress with so many things and become accustomed to the pressure which can build up over time that we don’t realize it’s full weight until something breaks and sends us to God.

Rest is essential for the body, mind and soul.  Yeshua knew this and said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30).  Peter advises us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5: 7).  God will meet you in your place of need with a solution, healing, peace and rest.  Cry out to Him in prayer and faith that He is loving and faithful.

God has a purpose and it is too good to fully grasp in our present existence, but he gives us the big picture of Heaven where lies our destiny.  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.  He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ ” ( Revelation 21: 4-5).  We are so weak in ourselves, but He is strong and willing to give us everything we need for life and godliness.  Im asking Yeshua on your behalf, may you find your strength and healing in the Lord today.

Mary, His mother, had a faith that was deep, such that, she said very little.  Consider her at the wedding feast were she said to Yeshua, “They have no more wine.”  To the servants she said, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2: 3, 5).

John, the Baptist, was Yeshua’s relative, and His love is reflected in His affirmation of Messiah, “I baptize you with water for repentance.  But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3: 11).  He said, “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”  Also, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1: 34, 36).  Yeshua said there was no greater man than John the Baptist.

Mary, Martha and Lazarus were friends of Yeshua.  He spent time with them and He raised Lazarus from the dead after four days.  These three friends expressed a close relationship to Yeshua.  “This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.  So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’ “  Scripture says, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” (John 11: 2-3, 5).  Mary’s anointing of Yeshua’s feet with perfume has no equal in scripture.  Yeshua wept with compassion for Mary’s anquish and the onlookers said look how He loves them.

John, the Apostle, refers to himself as, “the disciple whom Yeshua loved” numerous times in his gospel.  John was close to Yeshua and was selected to recieve the Revelation of the end times.  Yeshua gave John charge of Mary, His mother, from the cross.  “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’  From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” (John 19: 26).  It is great love that bridges the family dynamic.

Mary Magdalen was a follower of Yeshua and went early to the tomb.  She witnessed first the resurrected Lord.  She was weeping at not finding him, but angels and the Lord appeared to her.  “Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.  Go instead to my brothers and tell them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ “  “Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord,’ and she told them that he had said these things to her.” (John 20: 17-18).  She desired to embrace the Lord out of her great love and joy.

Peter, the Apostle, was one who made great confession of faith and also denied the Lord, but the Lord called Peter specifically to meet Him after the resurrection.  Their the Lord reaffirmed Peter’s love asking three times and getting three responses from Peter.  “The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’  He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’  Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’ (John 21: 17).  Yeshua said that His church would be built on the rock of Peter and begat a prominent leader.

There are many more that could be mentioned, but in these examples we see Yeshua first loving those who loved Him.  If you know Yeshua, I believe it’s the same with you and I.  He found us and His lovingkindness and mercy flooded over and in our heart; we responded with the love we could muster in submission and surrender.  Until this time that relationship has grown, mostly because of His faithfulness, but also because everything He promised is being realized and we have become his workmanship, His friend, His brother/sister and one among the multitudes of those who love Yeshua.  If you enter into the Spirit, you will know His love as fresh, real and strong as ever – now.

“Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” II Corinthians 10:4-5.

Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Philippians 4:8.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2.

When I was hospitalized recently, written about in a previous article, I encountered dark thoughts of oppression from the enemy.  I lowered my shield of faith and some of the fiery missiles got through (Ephesians 6:16). The antidote was scripture verses given to me by the Holy Spirit which knocked down the strongholds attempted to be erected by the enemy.  Essentially, I failed to take my thoughts captive and gave into the temptation to dwell on the dark thoughts.

We are commanded to change the way we think, not copying the ways of the world, but instead letting God transform us into a new person, changing the way we think.  Note it is letting (yielding, dying to self, etc.) God do it.  It has nothing to do with our changing our thought patterns ourselves.  We have to allow God to demolish any thoughts that set themselves up against God through yielding to Him by faith.  I should have dispelled the dark thoughts in the hospital right at the start and turned immediately to the Word of God, but initially failed to do so.  I temporarily walked by sight and not by faith.

We are also commanded to only think on pure, lovely, praiseworthy things.  We can do so because we are children of the King and we know everything is in his sovereign hands.  Nothing evil can touch us without his will and everything works out for good for a christian (Romans 8:28).  Therefore, all is well for a christian at all times, even in trials, and we can focus on the lovely.

Finally, we are to set our minds on things above.  We are simply passing through earth as sojourners.  The pains and problems of our existence here will pass.  A christian’s destiny is Heaven, a land of true purity and loveliness, where everything is excellent.  There we will spend eternity with Father God in perfect bliss and this is the prize we should set our eyes on.

We humans are made in the image of God, meaning we have an appearance of Him.  The similarity may be in our triune existence of spirit, soul, and body, as God is Father, Son, and Spirit.  I believe this is true and it separates us from the other creatures on the planet in so many aspects that anyone but a Scientist can easily understand.  But are there other similarities and what of our distinctions.  Of course, the distinctions are infinite, but the Bible says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3: 11).  God and a part of man are eternal.  Believers know and understand that there is an afterlife consisting of either eternal glory in Heaven in God’s presence or eternal torment in Hell separated from God, His love, mercy, protection, and all goodness.  Hell is described as the second death, in that life is good and from God, but Hell will be only an eternal existence of torment apart from Him.  Even the mention of Hell is fearful and loathsome.  We feel this fear when we walk near to the cliffs edge because we sense the possibility of pain and life’s end, no more happiness, no more delight, no more love.  Hell is the horrific end of all, eternal torment.  Yeshua warned, “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off.  It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out….where ‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ ” (Mark 9: 43, 48).

For Believers there remains an eternal life infinitely better than our life in these limited physical bodies with our fallen nature, among a corrupted degenerating world. “In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15: 52-57).

Have you ever marveled at the “you” deep inside that seems to never age?  Have you lived long enough to experience that moment of realization when your body can not deliver what your mind expects.  Have you recalled memories of childhood and sensed that you are still that child deep within?  I believe this is the spirit that each person has deep within.  I say, “deep” because we can easily ignore and stuff our spiritual nature down within and live an existential life of physical  senses, mental rationalization and entertainment.  In fact, that denial is the normal worldly way to live concluding spirituality is merely emotionalism, random intuition, imagination, coincidence, dreaming, such that there is no transcendent reality.   It’s a lie, meant to deceive and trick as many as are destined to destruction.  Peter describes these quite accurately while explaining the Sovereignty of God in salvation. “…if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.  This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.  Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord.  But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand.  They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.” (2 Peter 2: 9-12).

What I started to say was that we were constructed with an eternal design and image of God that is identical to Yeshua Messiah, God’s son. (2 Cor. 3:18).  Yet, that image has many facets as a diamond tracing back to our initial ancestors. “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’ ” (Genesis 2: 16-17). n Every human instinctively knows good and evil, though without the power to choose only the good .  If you ask anyone from any religious background, ethnicity, or nationality whether it is right for someone to kill their children or torture their spouse they will tell you no.  They know this in their innermost being to be true.  We each have this knowledge of good and evil.  In this way we bear God’s image.  Moreover, it makes each of us responsible for our wrong doing.  It is not necessary to construct free will as a cause for moral agency but rather our knowledge makes us responsible.

One last similarity I will mention is our ability to reproduce, which is not really like God’s creation that started with nothing and was effected by His will and word such that the entire universe exploded into perfectly designed existence.  Still, the conception and birth of a baby is a miracle that at least points to God’s creative work.  If it wasn’t the essential creative miracle that it is, the enemy would not exert such evil as abortion and euthanasia in an effort to rid the would of innocent unlimited potential and glory toward God and His beloved creation who bear His image.  Yet, physical death is but a shadow of permanent separation from God.  Today, is still the day of salvation.  Let us open the door of our hearts and let Yeshua come in to continue His work of conforming us into His image.

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