HALLOWEEN “Just Harmless Fun, Right?”

I originally POSTED this blog back in 2011 and I repost every year. I was going to forget to reblog this year, and then…I read some others take on HALLOWEEN. Read it, if you get a chance, or you can delete it/ignore it. Your choice.

The WORD Detective

“Aren’t they CUTE?”

Many Christians believe participation in Halloween is a form of involvement in worthless deeds; “evil and darkness” as one source proclaimed.  However, many people today consider modern-day Halloween activities just harmless fun.  Something that they looked forward to as a kid and their children and grandchildren look forward to every October 31st.

I walked into a local large grocery chain store this past week and was overwhelmed by the sight and sounds of displays of Halloween decorations.  Masks, ghost sounds, Jack-o-lanterns, smoke blowing devices and on and on.  I have friends in the church who have said that they don’t participate in the actually trick or treating anymore but they love seeing their grandkids all dressed up as ‘bees and bee-keepers’ during Halloween.  Afterall, “they don’t dress up in ghost and goblin or evil costumes!”  All of these viewpoints, the worlds and some Christians traditional ideas, I thought would be worthy…

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Wearing the “I’m Into JESUS, But I’m Not Legalistic” Badge

image_computer_virus

COMPUTER Specialist (Didier Stevens) placed a humorous Ad campaign on Google+.  

The Ad read,  “Is your PC (Personal Computer) virus-free? Get it infected here!”

A VIRUS is NOT your friend for they hurt your computers, and you don’t want to be “infected” by them.

Steven’s Ad wasn’t serious, it was something of a joke.  Clicking the Ad didn’t result in a VIRUS infecting your computer.  But some people actually clicked on to this Ad!

Actually, 400 people signed up to have a VIRUS infect/damage their computer.

(Patrick D. Dolum, Heartright.org 07/26/07).

Why would people do that???  It makes no sense.  A VIRUS would hurt their Computer.

The Bible Mentions A Different Kind Of VIRUS–SIN

EPHESIANS 5:3-5 (The MESSAGE bible):

[3] Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed.

[4] Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, Christians have better uses for language that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. Thanksgiving is our dialect.

[5] You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them–the usual variations of idolatry–will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.

DO CHRISTIANS HAVE A UNIQUE CALL TO AVOID STRONG LANGUAGE?

Other than WORDS associated with deity, most PROFANITY involves…the God-related curses are right off the table, if one takes the third commandment seriously at all.

But what is a Christian to do with the remaining “strong language” written and shared on social media today?

Don’t misunderstand my reasons of concern with “strong language”–I personally use FACEBOOK for social contact and…publishing my weekly Blog with other groups and I witness others comments and the effect they might and will have on people.

Ephesians 5, talks about several VIRUSES (“sins”)…

My FOCUS for this post is on three of them:

  • OBSCENITY
  • FOOLISH TALK
  • AND COARSE JESTING

Colossians 3:8 says,

“But now rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and FILTHY LANGUAGE from your lips”  (NIV Bible).   [I capitalized “filthy language” for emphasis only]

AND, JESUS condemned the Pharisees with these words:

“You offspring of vipers!  How can you speak good things when you are evil–wicked? For out of the fullness–the overflow, the superabundance–of the HEART the mouth speaks.  

The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things”  (Matthew  12:34-35 Amp. bible).

The “OVERFLOW OF THE HEART” going on daily in Social Media…

There may not be “speaking”…but they ARE writing in their thought process of what’s in their hearts.

And a lot of that “writing” deals with…anger, rage, bad feelings toward others, curses and slander, and FILTHY LANGUAGE–“unwholesome” communication stuff going on there.

 SOCIAL MEDIA Can Be A Great Place To Talk With Your Friends…

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At the same time, social media can also be a terrible place filled with evil and bitterness and darkness.  A place where JESUS and His Church can be attacked and cursed.

Although FACEBOOK can be a fun place to chat, Christians need to be as careful there…as the world is watching.

So, how do we deal with this problem?

And perhaps, you don’t think there is a “problem” to deal with.

BUT besides myself, if you find there is a problem, how should we stop ourselves from being involved?

FIRST off–we need to realize that this isn’t an “internet” problem.

This problem existed long before Mark Zuckerberg’s idea became a reality, or even computers were ever thought of.

JAMES writes in his letter to Jewish Christians–

James 3:6-8 (AMP):

[6] And the tongue [is] a fire. [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depriving the whole body and setting on fire the wheel of truth–the cycle of man’s nature–being itself ignited by hell (Gehenna).

[7] For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea animal, can be tamed and has been tamed by human genius (nature).

[8] But the human tongue can be tamed by no man. It is (an undisciplined, irreconcilable) restless evil, full of death-bringing poison.

Our Church’s Responsibility…

tongue-on-fireFIRST, I believe the church needs to realize its part in dealing with the “human tongue”.

Not dealing with the content on social media only spreads the “fire” and because refusing to step up…a bad situation can only get worse.

ILLUS:  Recently, I heard one youth minister who found a novel way to confront immoral Facebook postings…he said “I’ve read some of my youth group members posts in front of my Youth Group. That put a stop to it!”

When the church does its part of confronting SIN…sin backs off.

Ephesians 5:11-14 (NIV):

[11]  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 

[12]  For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.

[13]  But everything exposed by the light becomes visible,  [14] for it is light that makes everything visible.  

That is why it is said:

“Wake up, O sleeper,

rise from the dead,

and Christ will shine on you.”

A good Godly leadership and good Godly friends will lovingly confront their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus who DON’T do what they should be doing.

POLICING OURSELVES FIRST!!!

Good Christian friends should be able to remind us now and then, when we step over the line with our words; spoken or written.

If necessary, the church leadership should do this, as the Bible commands.

Ideally, it should never get that far.  As Bible believing Christians, we really should police ourselves.

We should be so in LOVE with JESUS, we realize how badly we can hurt our Savior, when we say and write things that are obscene or hurtful.

How do we do that?

JESUS SAID  “The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things” ~ Matt. 12:35 AMP).

So, it’s very simple.  The EVIL THINGS that come out of us are from the EVIL THINGS stored up inside of us.  They didn’t just “slip out’–they were already “stored” in the heart.

Computer geeks have a very scientific phrase to describe this process:  “Garbage in…garbage out.”

If you don’t want bad words coming out of your mouth, then don’t surround yourself with that kind of language.

Don’t spend your time with influences that will fill your hearts and minds with mean-spirited and nasty language and attitudes.

The WORKPLACE…

My last place of employment before I retired, PONOGRAPHY, ‘Filty Mouths’, was a daily filled routine by male and female employees alike.

My boss knew that I was a Christian, and trying to irritate me, would call me into his office …and there on his computer screen…PONOGRAHY.  He never turned around when I entered, but intuitively, he knew I was standing in the doorway.

“Mel, come over here.  I need to show you something.”

I would stand outside the door in the hallway, and say, “John, if it’s that important…call me on the inner office speaker phone.”  He never would.

Areas of Influence…

There are certain TV programs, movies in the local theaters, I won’t watch.  And adding, magazines on display at the check-out stands in stores I intentionally turn my head from–although tempted to read the headlines anyway.

It takes steadfastness and discipline on my part to stay away from certain outside influences; I just don’t want anything planted in my thoughts that will affect my testimony as a Christian witness.

You can’t totally isolate yourself from all outside influences–

We are surrounded by lots of people who curse and speak nasty things.

The apostle Paul told the church in Corinth–they had to realize that they lived in a pagan world:

1 Corinthians 5:9-10 (NET Bible):

[9] “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people.  [10] In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of this world.”

FINDING & USING THE “EMPTY BUCKET” THEOLOGY:

It is important to be careful what you allow to be stored up in your heart.  JESUS said, “the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things (Matt. 12:35b.).  

So we don’t want to go there.

The Old EMPTY Bucket Story

But too often–that’s all people think a HOLY LIFE is like.  They live by the “empty bucket” theology. They think that if they can empty out all the nasty influences of life and become pure and holy, and that all the words they say and write will be nice and kind.

But if that’s all they do…(if all they do is “EMPTY THE BUCKET”), they really miss the real purpose.  All they wind up with is an OLD EMPTY BUCKET.

And, as I have learned by experience, an empty bucket, eventually gets refilled with something.  Sometimes it gets filled with things that are even worse than what we emptied of before.

Look again at what JESUS said in Matt. 12:35a.:

“The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things”

It is not enough to just EMPTY the bucket of BAD STUFF.  You’ve got to FILL the bucket with good stuff.

JESUS said a GOOD MAN “flings forth” (AMP) good things in his heart.

THE “GOOD THINGS” TO STORE UP IN THE BUCKET –

“Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; BUT INSTEAD voice your THANKFULNESS [to God]”  (Ephesians 5:4).

“And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him”  (Colossians 3:17).

We NEED to FILL OUR BUCKET with such an attitude of Gratitude to God…no room for anything else.  We might not be able to leave this world & all its influences upon us, but we can become so FILLED with our RELATIONSHIP with God that the world just can’t force its way in.

The Present Age of the Computer–

It is hard to go on the internet without encountering VIRUSES.

And all because of mean spiritual, hateful people who try to hurt others by damaging someone else’s computer.

Because of these ‘virus makers,’ you can’t get on the INTERNET without exposing your computer to these sources.

AVG, NORTON, MCAFEE, BARRACUDA NET-WORKS TO THE RESCUE!

Depending on how much protection you’ve stored up & purchased from these companies, their PROTECTION supposedly, prevents the VIRUSES on the internet.

WHAT GOD’S WORD IS TELLING US…

A Heart Filled With Thanks Is The VIRUS PROTECTOR We Need…

How to SHIELD ourselves from storing up evil thoughts and words in our hearts.  

The more filled our hearts are with the thoughts of God and His kindness to us, the lest prone we are to spout off with foul language and nasty things you share on whatever SOCIAL MEDIA you are currently participating in.

David Steindl-Rast once said,

“…in our English language there is no such thing as being half full of thanks or gratitude; we are either thankFUL or grateFUL.”

 VIRUSES INFECT…

Viruses infect our PCs (Personal Computers), while SIN infects our PLs (Personal Lives).

FACEBOOK and the like, have become one place where we can see certain VIRUSES/SINS that INFECT the language used and the attitudes we try to conceal.

You might not think you’re “cursing” — but in retrospect, you probably not aware of malware/viruses on your computer until… the screen goes black.  But then, it’s too late to do anything about it.

The “Mean-spiritedness” and “Cursing” Virus Exposed –

The way to cut down on cursing and mean-spiritedness starts with AWARENESS–focusing on Christ and His Kindness–where there isn’t room left for the thoughts of this world.

And, when we do that–people see something different in our life–a consistency–something that is so satisfying that this is what they want too.

So lets WATCH our words and what we SHARE with others on social media.

Our attitude and our language can be infectious–good or bad.


CREDITS:

PHOTOS USED:

Google Image & Photo Pin

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:

Amplified Bible, except where noted in the text.

INTEGRITY in a World of Change!

Pastor spoke of the importance of INTEGRITY within his message this morning. I thought I would add my thoughts in reposting this Blog from the past.

The WORD Detective

EVIDENCE FOUND IN THE “DIGGING”:  [Daniel 5:1-30]

INTEGRITY with CONSISTENCY–

One of the hardest aspects in living your life is INTEGRITY being consistent.  But first, let me give a secular definition of the word, then we will getter a better meaning set in our minds:

INTEGRITY:  A concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes.  In ethics, INTEGRITY is regarded as the honest and truthfulness or accuracy on one’s actions.  INTEGRITY can be regarded as the OPPOSITE of hypocrisy”  Quoted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

With all the problems we face throughout our lives, no wonder many fail to act and react consistently in each situation.

In this blog, I will continue my detective work; digging in the Biblical evidence contained in The Book of Daniel Chapter 5. 

DANIEL is now approximately eighty years old.  He would be considered by all standards in any society…

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Living In The Age of Biblical APOSTASY

THE TEXT:  Introduction to LAMENTATIONS

“Lamentation” Dictionary Definition:  “the passionate expression of grief or sorrow, weeping…”

Lamentations in the Bible: “a book of the Bible telling of desolation of the nation of Judah after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.”

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It is possible to read the writings of the prophets only as valuable contributions to Old Testament history.  And, the reader may even be enriched by familiarity with their prophecy of events which have been startlingly fulfilled.  But to stop there is by no means to grasp their full and outstanding purpose for today’s living.  Right now, God is speaking definitely and definitively to every nation and every individual.  He wants that we see ourselves as He saw us–a world of nations and individuals rolling down the hill towards disaster [*See Footnote [i] ].   

“GOD BLESS AMERICA”

Psalm 33:12, 18-19 (Amplified Bible):

[12] Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the nation whose God is the Lord; the people He has chosen as His heritage.

[18] Behold, the Lord’s eye is upon those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe], who wait for Him and hope in His mercy and loving-kindness,  [19] To deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

LAMENTATIONS 3:40-42 (NIV Bible):

“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.  Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say:  We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven.”

Although the above Scripture verses are the keys to this Blog study, I believe that God’s dealings with Israel throughout the entire Book of Lamentations is A PICTURE–a perfect example of His dealings with AMERICA, and perhaps your nation, right where you are today.

Israel Was Under Judgment From God Because…

HER APOSTASY!

Israel had played the harlot in her spiritual adultery of IDOLS & prostituting themselves to the SURROUNDING NATIONS.

Biblical Apostasy Explained:

The word itself–APOSTASY– is from the Greek word “apostasia” a meaning very much like renouncing or dissociating oneself from a particular religion or certain religious beliefs.

It is similar to a REJECTION of beliefs that were once held and accepting different beliefs and might even be a rejection of the beliefs that were previously held.

Apostasy can also be considered an ABANDONMENT or defiance of what was previously held to be true and practiced while rebelling against those same beliefs and practices.

Someone or some group (nation) who does this are considered an APOSTATE.

BIBLICAL WARNINGS HAVE ALREADY BEEN POSTED FOR ALL OF US –

The Apostle Paul’s WARNING – 1 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV:

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some shall abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.  Such teachings came through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”

Jude’s WARNING – Jude 1:3 AMP:

“Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contend for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints…”

The word “contend” in this verse comes from the Greek word “agonizomai”:  “To contend about a thing as a combatant.”  [NOTE: “contend” also used in verse 9, but the translation is “to separate oneself from”].

Peter’s WARNING –

But-false-prophets-also

God’s Ultimate Purpose For Bringing Judgment Upon the NATIONS and Mankind…

God wants to turn man from sinning in true acts of REPENTANCE –

The JUDGMENTS that God allows to fall on a rebellious nation or individual is never pleasant and often misunderstood in their purpose.

While our Just, Righteous, and Holy Heavenly Father must JUDGE SIN and cannot allow it to continue, His JUDGMENTS are always tempered with MERCY & A PROMISE of ultimate deliverance ‘IF’…those under judgment would only turn back to Him.

The Prophet Jeremiah, the Writer of Lamentations –

As he weeps in sorrow for the condition of his own people, he is a type of our Lord Jesus Christ as He stood and wept over the sinners of our world.

As JESUS stood on the hill and looked over Jerusalem, crying…

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, murdering the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a mother fowl gathers her brood under her wings, and you refused!  Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate (abandoned and left destitute of God’s help)”  (Matthew 23:37-38 Amplified Bible).

JESUS still stands today looking down from Glory, looking at each person on earth one at a time and at each nation in turn, and America that was so blessed–cries those same words.

How Great is His love for America? For your nation?

With all of His Loving Kindness for every man and woman–so much so that He died on the Cross for each one of us, and YET…He must and has begun to send JUDGMENT because of our rebelliousness–the APOSTASY as a people and nation.

Prior to and after World War II, America was looked upon as the friend of the world, the PROTECTOR of all that was GOOD.

Every nation, even our enemies, held a healthy respect for the BLESSINGS OF GOD and the things that were good about our nation.

Since the 60’s with the Vietnam Conflict, and continuing today, our power, prestige, and will as a nation, has been on the fast track into oblivion.

The secular world has paralleled our slide to destruction similar to the Roman Empire as it began to crumble, not from attacks of outside enemies, but from corruption and sin within.

The Book of Lamentations As An Example What A Nation Experiences As It Faces God’s Judgments –

The stated examples show what I believe America is already experiencing under JUDGMENT from God by its corruption and sin.

Lamentation 1:1-2 (NIV Bible):

[1] How deserted lies the city, once so full of people!  How like  widow is she, who once was great among the nations!  She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.  [2] Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are upon her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is none to comfort her; they have become her enemies.

America has always been known as the “great melting pot” of Humanity.  People from all nations still come to our country with high hopes and dreams of prosperity and freedom.

It is a testimony that the BLESSING of Almighty God, even when America is in trouble, is still GREAT, economically and militarily.

BUT, the GREATNESS is quickly fading.

“America is great because America is GOOD.  If America ever ceases to be good it will cease to be great” – ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE, a French Historian, upon visiting America in the early 19th Century.

ISRAEL FINDS ITSELF IN CAPTIVITY TO ITS ENEMIES –

I believe that America has fallen CAPTIVE to her enemies as well.

Our GREATEST ENEMY is NOT Russia, China, or any other nation or terrorist group. We are our own greatest enemy!

American Naivety…

In the early ’60’s during the days of the “former” Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, the then Russian Premier, pounded his shoe on the podium of the UN and shouted to the West, “We will bury you!”  The words certainly got all of our attention.  Fearing an invasion from Mother Russia, America proceeded to build the most awesome Military Machine in history.

Unfortunately, we forgot something to guard our political homefront being taken over by socialist-communist-liberal activists; who would gain office and destroy American law by the process of gradually installing Communist agenda within our legal system in separate branches of government.

Americans, being the most NAIVE people among the nations, now believe that COMMUNISM is dead.

The real truth is, COMMUNISM has just switched names to become more “politically correct.”  Today it is called “International Democracy.”  America has now become part of the New World Order atheist government.

The TEN PLANKS of the Communist Manifesto – [See Footnote [ii] }

In my Detective investigation over the past week, I found this interesting document by Karl Marx.  You tell me whether we–you, as a nation, have been led down a long road to CAPTIVITY and, we willingly went along and let it happen.

THE TEN PLANKS:

1.  Abolition of private property and the application of all rent to public purpose.

2.  A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

3.  Abolition of all rights of inheritance.

4.  Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

5.  Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.

6.  Centralization of the means  of communication and transportation in the hands of the State.

7.  Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan. 

8.  Equal liability of all to labor and establishment of industrial, armies, especially for agriculture.

9.  Continuation of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.

10.  Free education for all children in governmental schools. A combination of education with industrial production.

The “LAMENTATIONS” Presented –

None is more hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are FREE…

AMERICA & The NATIONS Have Become “Tributary”; A Slave to its Own Laws –

Becoming a SLAVE to our own laws, that restrains its FREEDOM and “chained” by its own weighty laws restricts every move we make.  There is too much infighting and division to accomplish anything.  Are you listening ‘Mr. Government’?

Lamentations 1:3:

“Judah has gone into exile [to escape] from the affliction and laborious servitude [of the homeland]. She dwells among the [heathen] nations, but she finds no rest; all her persecutors overtook her amid the [dire] straits [of her distress].”

Just as an individual in becoming a SLAVE to SIN in their life, my country has become a SLAVE to its own SIN.

All of our attempts to right every wrong, through Presidential Press Releases, through legislation…instead of REPENTANCE OF THE HEART, created a massive compilation of LAWS which chokes us into servitude.

While most LAWS are meant for our good and for our protection, we’ve overstepped the boundaries between LEGALISM & COMMON SENSE care for ourselves.

Lamentations 1:9 (NIV):

“Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future. Her fall was astounding; there was none to comfort her. Look, O LORD, on my affliction for the enemy has triumphed.”

ISRAEL’S IDOLATRY –

ISRAEL had become so adulterous from worship of idols, they couldn’t remember the days of walking in RIGHTEOUSNESS & HOLINESS before the True God.

Falling so far, so quickly that their younger generation didn’t know the God of their fathers; no recognition of Israel’s BLESSINGS of the past.  They lived with an attitude that was now the NORM for the people.

SIN had magnified itself so greatly, as to hide the fact, a PATH of righteousness was to follow.

A PICTURE of Our Society Today –

e4dc5d58e68f6e6cb4e2f6281d3a3b9cMy Nation, your Nation, is so caught up in gaining wealth…creating a great lifestyle…self-indulgence at all costs, we have forgotten the PATHS of goodness and righteousness presented in GOD’S WORD–your bible.

AND…if you are thinking that the Church is absent from this picture, think again!  I see it repeated in Social Media daily, without thinking about what they’re sharing, or displaying to the world.  Am I being too legalistic?  You will have to decide.

And the Recompense? 

OUR YOUTH in the land don’t understand, and haven’t heard of the SACRIFICES in the Biblical foundations of our country.  They don’t know the price of FREEDOM because they haven’t been taught.

AMERICA is a great nation ONLY…because of the BLESSINGS of the LORD upon it.

We now have a SOCIETY where the MAJORITY of the people believe… they have a RIGHT–

  • A RIGHT to be rich…
  • A RIGHT to live in a good home…
  • A RIGHT to drive a new car…
  • A RIGHT to health care.

All without any of the responsibility and accountability that accompany these RIGHTS.

“WORK” HAS BECOME A DIRTY WORD –

As a nation, we are becoming lazier each and every day.  We give no thought as a nation about God or Holiness at all!

Lamentations 1:16 (AMP):

“For these things I weep; my eyes overflow with tears, because a comforter, one who could refresh and restore my soul, is far from me. My children are desolate and perishing, for the enemy has prevailed.”

MY PRAYER–

Lord, how long will Your LOVE continue to BLESS AMERICA, even in JUDGMENT?  

Let your MERCIES be extended to us as a nation.  Holy Spirit, move in your people.  

Let there be a great REVIVAL UNLEASHED OF RIGHTEOUSNESS & HOLINESS UPON OUR LAND.

The EVIDENCE is here!

America is ceasing, perhaps has already ceased to be GOOD.  How long can God BLESS a nation who has turned its back on God?

BUT…”JESUS Is Calling America” –

John W. Peterson wrote the lyrics to a song in the early 70’s, “Jesus Is Calling America” from the Cantata, America:

Jesus is calling America,

Calling her back to the fold.

Jesus is calling America,

Calling the young and the old.

The title of the Peterson’s lyrics brought me, and hopefully you, to a bible verse in 2 Chronicles:

IF My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require necessity My face, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14 AMP).

This is a great promise from God’s Word!

flag2chron7-14_www-mchenrycountyblog-com

HELP US LORD, as a people, as individuals, and as a nation to fall our face in REPENTANCE of our sins.

HELP US to humble ourselves before You, to seek Your face and pray for deliverance.

AMEN!!!

God loves you and I.

God loves America too.

But God’s LOVE must, one day, give way to justice & righteousness.

Let the body of Christ–the Church, across this nation, cross your nation, CRY OUT to God in REPENTANCE and PRAY for Revival in the Lord.

And REVIVAL always begins in the heart of each and every individual.  Unless we do, there is little HOPE that we will survive as nations enjoying PEACE & PROSPERITY.

For God’s JUDGMENTS will increase.  We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in the trouble to come.

If we, as nations in the world, don’t turn to God in REPENTANCE, social unrest will lead to all out rebellion in the streets and anarchy will reign.

OUR MAIN PROBLEM…

America’s main problem is not social unrest, or lack of health care, inequality of opportunity in the inner cities, poverty or any of these things; although all of these are problems that must be dealt with.

America’s main problem is…we’ve left worshipping the God of Heaven and taken JESUS out of our lives PUBLICLY; removed the Word of God from anything that’s PUBLIC.

REWARDS WILL COME, BUT…

If God’s going to BLESS AMERICA…BLESS YOUR NATION…we all must see those trends reversed.

PAR

 


 

FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Opening Statement –  [i] Exerts used from the Amplified Bible (a).

“THE TEN PLANKS” – [ii] The TEN PLANKS of the Communist Manifesto – http://www.criminalgovernment.com/docs/planks Communist Manifesto-All Ten Planks…In America!!! 

RESOURCE SEARCH:  Jack Wellman @ Christian Crier – http://www.patheos.com

Photo Credits:  BEWARE… found at courting of a kingdom.workers.blogspot.com; Google Image Search.

 

 

 

 

 

PARADISE, HEAVEN OR SOMEPLACE ELSE?

LUKE 23:42-43 (Amplified Bible):

[42] Then he [the criminal] said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingly glory!

[43] And He [JESUS] answered him, Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.

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I first began THE WORD DETECTIVE study on Paradise, Heaven, Or Someplace Else, actually, by reading and enjoying reading various EPITAPHS (Inscriptions of Tombstones).

I know you might be thinking, “You actually got inspiration from reading notices of DEATH?”  Well, no, I receive inspiration from reading daily in Scripture, prompted by Holy Spirit to write on a theme, topic, subject from God’s Word.

That said, I thought I would SHARE one Epitaph I enjoyed reading [see Footnote [i] ]:

“Here lies the body of old man Peas,

Buried beneath the flowers & trees.

But Peas ain’t here, just the pod,

Peas shelled out & went to God.”

PARADISE REGAINED –

In reading the two previous verses in Luke one morning, some questions came to my mind:

Are heaven and paradise the same thing?  Did the criminal on the cross next to Jesus go to heaven or paradise?

JESUS told the church at Ephesus,

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God (Revelation 2:7~ NAS).

So apparently, PARADISE is where God is at, because it is called the “Paradise of God.” 

JESUS told the robber, He would be with him in Paradise that very day.  The words in Luke 23:43, is taken as a great source of COMFORT & HOPE by most Christian believers. Many say, this is clear proof that we go to HEAVEN when we die.

Church Doctrine of Heaven Exposed

One of the most misunderstood doctrines within the Bible is the Doctrine of Heaven. There are a lot of false myths about Heaven and it’s easy to get caught up in them if we’re not careful.

The Bible tells us that we are going to spend an eternity there, so it made sense to me to investigate the place where we are going to LIVE FOREVER & FOREVER.

So what is up with HEAVEN & PARADISE…are they the same?

The word “Paradise” is a transliteration of the Greek word, “paradeisos”.  It is a word used only three times in the New Testament.  Also, the context of each of the three uses is different from the others, by three different authors.

As far as the original meaning of the word PARADISE:

  • (Persian) A grand park or hunting preserve, enclosed, protected, well cared for, but sealed off or contained.
  • A pleasure garden.
  • A grove or park.
  • (“Later” [?] Jews) The part of Hades set aside of the souls of the righteous until the resurrection [Also known as the Bosom of Abraham].
  • Heaven (possibly including multiple levels of “heaven” – sky or atmosphere, outer space/universe, God’s abode).

In 2 Corinthians 12:4, it appears to parallel or point to, the term “third heaven” in verse 2.

Since God is apparently immediately present there, this seems to be a reference to what is considered “HEAVEN”.

However, since the passage refers to Paul’s vision, it is difficult to relate directly to JESUS’ statement made in Luke 23:43.

In Revelation 2:7, this is given as the LOCATION of the “tree of life” – again, what we typically believe as an attribute of “HEAVEN”.

In this case, the word is modified with a prepositional phrase– “of God” — to set apart it from any other paradises.

Now in Luke 23:42-43, the meaning is somewhat more cloudy at first reading.  First of all, we have to understand JESUS’ destination after death on the Cross–did JESUS descend into Hell/Hades, and if so, how long did He remain there?  In other words, does “PARADISE” refer to an understanding of Hades as a “holding area” for the dead?  Or, would was He speaking in a sense outside of space and time, actually referring to HEAVEN?

Now THE STUDY gets really down to the ‘nitty gritty’ !

Teaching the Bible to others for over 30 years, in addition to my own study notes, I have utilized many available sources in helping me understand the application of God’s Word.

This study was no different [See Footnotes & Credits]. 

Here is one example pertaining to the bible verse in Luke 23:43 [The NET Bible Notes]

Note, #4 – sn.  In the NT, paradise is mentioned three times. Here it refers to the abode of the righteous dead.

In Rev. 2:7, the restoration of Edenic paradise predicted in Isaiah 51:3, Ezek. 36:35.

Sheol/Hades/Paradise:  IN THE BEGINNING…

Because of the CURSE of sin, all mankind faces the reality of physical death–100% Guaranteed (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12).

NONE can evade it by their own power, nor can any man or woman escape SHEOL/HADES/DEATH on their own.

While PARADISE is NOT now a part of Sheol/Hades, I wanted to mention here, that it was located in Sheol/Hades at one time.

hades-lk-16-simple

Before the death, burial, AND resurrection of Jesus Christ, everybody who died went to Sheol/Hades, which at the time was divided into TWO compartments.  One was a place of TORMENT (“Tartarus”) and the other place of BLESSING, referred to as Abraham’s Bosom–Paradise (Luke 16:22-25).

We know that since the CROSS, the souls of those who die “in Christ” do not go to Sheol/Hades (See 1 Cor. 15:19, 20, 51-57).

After the RESURRECTION and the ASCENSION of JESUS, PARADISE was moved to HEAVEN.  The area for the RIGHTEOUS (Paradise) was emptied out.

The BELIEVER goes directly to HEAVEN–

From the New Testament teaching, we can find that the new location of PARADISE is in heaven.

Tree of Life Location –

In the first PARADISE, The Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life was located in the “center of the garden (Gen. 2:8, 9).  

After Adam and Eve’s SIN, disobedience to God’s Word, God “drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden the cherubim and flaming sword which turned every way, to keep and guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24).

I can imagine that the Great Flood, no doubt, geographically speaking, the GARDEN PARADISE was destroyed…but NOT lost!

PARADISE REGAINED…

Revelation 22:1-3 Amplified Bible:

1353073853“THEN HE showed me the river whose waters give life, sparkling like crystal, flowing out from the throne of the Lamb.  

Through the middle of the broadway of the city; also, on either side of the river was the TREE OF LIFE…

There shall no longer exist there anything that is accursed…”

In PARADISE REGAINED, the Tree of Life is “on either side of the river” where “the leaves are used for the healing and the restoration of the nations.”

JESUS Words Spoken On The CROSS…

In the gospel of Matthew, we find Jesus responding to the religious leaders of His day. And when asked if He would give them a miracle or sign, that He was the Promised One, Jesus said,  “No sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet JONAH” (Matt. 12:39 b.).

The Given CLUE (verse 40): 

“For even as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

He was saying that He would spend the time between His DEATH & RESURRECTION in Sheol/Hades (“in the heart of the earth”).  

We know that JESUS went into the depths, the heart, the center of the earth (Ephesians 4:9) for three days and nights while His body lay in the grave (Matt. 12:40).

The Lord Jesus told the repentant criminal that He would join him in PARADISE that same day.  This tells us the PARADISE was located in Sheol/Hades at that time.  I believe this evidence given, in God’s Word, was the same place referred to as Abraham’s Bosom in Luke 16.

However, AFTER Jesus rose from the grave, He ascended to the Father, taking the saints who were in Abraham’s Bosom to HEAVEN with Him.

He took “captivity captive”–including the thief on the cross–with Him.

Ephesians 4:8-10:

“Therefore it is said,  When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes]  and He bestowed gifts on men.

[But He ascended?]  Now what can this, He ascended mean but that He had previously descended from [the heights of] heaven into [the depths], the lower parts of the earth?

He Who descended is the [very] same as He Who also has ascended high above all heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things (the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest).”

That PARADISE was moved to HEAVEN (2 Corinthians 12:3-4) –

JESUS’ WORK COMPLETED…

With Jesus’ work now completed…FINISHED, the believers who had previously been confined in Sheol/Hades, are now taken to HEAVEN to wait in God’s presence until the time of their resurrected bodies to enter His Kingdom on Earth.

Sheol/Hades: The Present Location of the Unrighteous Dead –

HADES refers to a place of temporary torment; referred to as the immediate, or present HELL.

What I mean by this is, that at the time of DEATH, the souls of the LOST–the unbelievers–the unrighteous– that don’t confess Jesus is the Son of the living God–God incarnate, go directly to HADES to suffer in torment until the Great White Throne Judgement; where they will be resurrected and cast into the Lake of Fire–“This is the second death” (Revelation 20:13,14; 21:8).  

The souls of ALL the lost who have already died and presently there, and… those who die now in their sins, immediately go there to join them.

The Simplicity of the Three Crosses –

One criminal’s REPENTANCE and acceptance of JESUS as his Savior went to PARADISE that day and then to HEAVEN.

The other criminal’s soul was delivered Sheol/Hades–the place of torment.

Three Crosses: Rejection, Repentance, Redemption:

The REPENTANT CRIMINAL didn’t have a degree in Theology.

He didn’t have the opportunity at this place in time to clean up his life (he couldn’t if he tried!).

He didn’t have time to “work his way to Heaven/Paradise (and he couldn’t if he did have the opportunity).

He didn’t have to offer a long and detailed “prayer of Salvation”.  There wasn’t a counselor at the foot of his cross telling him to “repeat after me.”

He simply TRUSTED in JESUS and CRIED out loud for Him to SAVE HIM!!  His life was changed because of what JESUS was doing on the Cross right next to him!

Both criminals made choices that day on Mt. Calvary:

  • REJECTION/HADES/JUDGEMENT.
  • REPENTANCE/REDEMPTION/PARADISE (Heaven). 

Which CHOICE have you made?  You don’t have to be nailed to a cross when making a decision for Christ Jesus. You can make it right where you are.  Remember, your choice is for an ETERNITY.

stock-photo-cross-with-a-man-kneel-in-prayer-on-a-beach-at-sunset-138903485

 


 

Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i] :  EPITAPH from Vernon Caruthers Sermons About Heaven.

Commentary Credits:

Bible Hermeneutics Stack Exchange (PARADISE); Hell, Sheol, Hades, Paradise and the Grave – Berean Bible Society; What did Jesus mean by Paradise?  www.bible-uk.com

Photo Credits:

Google Image Search; Photo Pin.

 

“Me And My Arrow”

ISAIAH 49:2
ISAIAH 49:2

Bible Scripture – Isaiah 49:1-7 NIV Bible:

Coming up with this week’s title, “Me And My Arrow”, was an epiphany I received from a song by the same name by Harry Nilsson and… from the TV Movie, The Point. [Footnote [i] ]. 

It was an animated movie about a boy and his dog, living in a land where every one thing was “pointed”, including the boys dog “Arrow”–except for the boy.  He didn’t have a point! His name was Oblio:

I can hear catching tune in my spirit of Harry Nilsson’s theme, running constantly through the movie plot:

Me and my arrow

Straighter than narrow

Wherever we go, everyone knows,

It’s me and my arrow.

(I’ll leave out the “Do do do’s”)

I’ll try later to tie this all in,  In the meantime, my study in Isaiah 49 –

A Little Background of ISRAEL’S History –

Troubles, troubles, and more Troubles…

To help in understanding God’s Word in the referenced scripture, I thought first, I would look back in history of Israel:

Beginning with 900 years before JESUS’ birth, king Solomon dies, and his sons can’t decide who will lead in his place.

So, the KINGDOM becomes divided in two…a church split.

Nine tribes form the Southern Kingdom known as JUDAH, and the remaining three tribes for the Northern Kingdom known as ISRAEL.

They enter a time of great stress and fighting amongst themselves–the one great nation of ISRAEL…has now been split…TROUBLE!

Continued TROUBLE!

Fast forward a few years, we see Egypt’s rise to power…starts conquering land.  Assyria rises to power and IT begins conquering land.  You have the Babylonian Empire rising in power and conquering land.

Trouble…trouble…and MORE trouble!

This leads us into 700 BC…(200 years after the death of the great King Solomon); the great Northern Kingdom…the nation of ISRAEL…is fallen!  Leaving just JUDAH…TROUBLE.

600 BC…JUDAH falls.

This begins what is known as the Babylonian Exile.

ISRAEL & JUDAH are destroyed and all its people are scattered like dust in the dry desert wind.

Trouble…trouble…trouble…trouble!!!!

You now have the setting where our Scripture Text lives and breathes.

Scripture Given by the Prophet Isaiah…

ISAIAH is writing in response to all the “TROUBLE”…he writes to his people–exiled…completely defeated and destroyed after all the conflict.  He writes to his people, and he begins addressing the exiles back in Chapter 40…and his first words are this:

“Comfort, O Comfort My people Israel,

says my God”

“Comfort…O Comfort”…

That’s how Isaiah starts…and it keeps going on for 20 more chapters, addressing the people who’ve been destroyed.

In my first reading of the verses, I wondered what the people were hoping for.  And then, there it was, right in front of me.  They were looking for a savior!  A savior to rescue them and deliver them home.  And that’s what Isaiah gives them.  Here, in beautiful language…Isaiah gives them the SAVIOR they hunger for.

Knowing now the CONTEXT behind all this, read along with me in ISAIAH 49:1-7 NIV BIBLE:

“[1] Listen to me, you islands;hear this, you distant nations; Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has mention of my name.  [2] He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me;

Now pay close attention to this next part–

“he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver…[v. 3a] He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel…”

The people have been kicked out of their homeland; they’ve lost the war; their armies decimated; they’re down and out, shouting and shaking their fists at the LORD, and saying…

(Verse 4 a.)

“I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing…”

AND NOW THE LORD SAYS–

“He who formed me in the womb to be His servant to bring Jacob back to Him and gather Israel to Himself ” (verse 5)

(Here he’s talking about bringing them BACK HOME!)

“…for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength–“

(verse 6)

He says:  “It is too small a thing for you to be my SERVANT (“servant” – Here he’s talking about his servant JESUS and ISRAEL together) to RESTORE the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept…”

(If God was going to bring them home, that’s fine…but God wants them to know that He has MUCH LARGER PLANS FOR THEM!)

God continues, “I WILL ALSO… 

make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”

(verse 7)  This is what the LORD says–the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel–to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers;

(Again, He is talKing about JESUS…which is somewhat odd, because they want a savior–a conquering king–to take them home and here Isaiah is talking about the Savior who is despised, abhorred, who is a SERVANT!) 

“Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Things are getting even more interesting all of a sudden…

All the verses are filled with a ton of great stuff…all the words of advice to a fallen people.

The FIRST thing I want to focus on, takes me all the way back again, to Verse 2:  “He made me into a polished arrow.”

“A POLISHED ARROW”

isaiah49-21_web

Imagine, if you will, the finest ARROW made from the finest wood, with absolutely the straightest feathers, and the sharpest steel…and then you polish it…and polish it.

This is a “polished arrow,” and they did this for a valid reason:

  1.  So the ARROW would FLY FASTER…
  2.  FLY FARTHER…
  3.  And, FLY STRAIGHTER than any other arrow.

AN ARROW WITH A SPECIAL PURPOSE

Now hold on to that descriptive narrative and take it back to VERSE TWO…

ISRAEL is talking to the LORD at this point and says,

“[God] made us into a polished arrow, and He CONCEALED us in His quiver.”

You make us into an arrow…not just any arrow…but a POLISHED ARROW, and then you put us in Your quiver.

That’s how Israel feels:

  • A polished arrow…
  • With All That POTENTIAL…
  • All of That PURPOSE…
  • All that God has been preparing them for..

And God just tucks them away.

ISRAEL is feeling frustrated…they want to FLY, isn’t that what an arrow is for?

“We want You to use us for the purpose that you made us for!  You are WASTING us in Your quiver.”

Frustration Expressed (verse 4):

“I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing”

Israel is getting a little whiney here I think.  “WE ARE THE ARROWS…”  “WE GAVE YOU EVERYTHING…” and “NOW WE ARE SITTING ON THE BENCH!”

That’s the people of Israel…that’s their situation.

1771893902_2f6883341dDo you ever feel like a “polished arrow”; put back into a quiver…just waiting?

Boy, I sure have.  We feel like a polished arrow…ready and waiting to FLY…but put back into the quiver.

A little…OK, a lot, of FRUSTRATION emerges.

It’s here that the prophet FLIPS IT! – (verse 4 (b))

“Yet what is due me is in the LORD’S hand, and my reward is with my God”

Remember, we just got done whining in at the beginning of verse 4:

“YET”…there’s the “yet”…”Yet what is due me…”

“And now the LORD says–He who formed me in the womb to be His servant to bring Jacob back to Him and gather Israel to Himself…”

Remember, Isaiah is talking about bringing them BACK HOME!

When are we going…BACK HOME!

We go from whining to a PROMISE.  Your time will come!

But, Some Things Are Gonna Have to Change First… 

THE LORD wasn’t prepared at this point in time, to bring the nations back…Isaiah has all the way until Chapter 60 before he gets to the “CELEBRATION!”

We will get to see it…the celebration DOES happen, but understand where we are…the celebration HASN’T happened…the HOPE of a nation is still WAITING to be fulfilled.  This is still the sad whiney time.

Let’s Kick Up the Narrative A Notch…

“Just going home?”  That is what you are whining about?  You just want to go home?  That’s it?  You want a leader to rescue you and just go home?”

Guess what…that is too small a thing.

You are a polished arrow!

Just going home is too small a thing.  

You have a very SPECIAL purpose.

To just send you hoe is too small a thing!

It would be like taking a polished arrow and shooting a gopher!

“When your time comes…”

Isaiah lets the people know that when their time comes…they won’t just go home…but they will ALSO begin the process of opening the door of SALVATION to EVERYBODY!

(verse 6):  “He says:

“It is too small a thing for you to be My servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept.  I will also make you a LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, that you may bring My salvation to the ends of the earth.” 

The people are whining about going home, and Isaiah lets them know that their day will come, but in the meantime, they need to remember they ARE a polished arrow.  

They need to understand the PURPOSE of a polished arrow.

What Are You Aiming At?

Target

What kind of target do you save a polished arrow for?

You don’t wanna hit a small target…you want to hit a BIG target!

“Me And My Arrow” – (verse 7):

Thus says the lord, the Redeemer of Israel, Israel’s Holy One, to him whom man rejects and despises, to him who nations abhor, to the servant of rulers:  Kings shall see you and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, Who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, Who has chosen you.  (AMP. bible).

Isaiah wraps it all up; identifying Israel’s purpose:  You are going to have to introduce the entire world to Jesus Christ!

They are a POLISHED ARROW, God is aiming them at a BIG TARGET and that is SALVATION for everyone!

Our PURPOSE Today As Christians–

Do you feel like  “POLISHED ARROW”?  Because guess what, every single one of us that make the confession of a disciple (a “follower”) of JESUS…is a POLISHED ARROW!

God has been working on you, polishing you for a special purpose.  He has made you to FLY straight, FLY true, FLY far, and hit your target.

BUT unfortunately, we haven’t seen our OWN potential.  We’ve spent our energy and spent our purpose aiming at small targets…shooting gophers!

We AIM at small targets, keep our HOPES small, keep our VISIONS small, keep our AMBITIONS small…and the WORD for us is…that is too SMALL a thing.

You are a POLISHED ARROW.  Think about what that means.

Maybe, just maybe, NOW is the time…

Time to take aim at a bigger target.  Let the LORD draw you back, and LET YOU FLY!

God is telling the CHURCH…”Me And My Arrow” (s)…you are polished arrows…you were meant to fly…you were meant to hit a BIG TARGET.  One day, I’ll bring you back home.

 


Footnotes & Credits:

FOOTNOTES:  Footnote [i]The Point, the Movie; Wikipedia @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Point

PHOTO CREDITS: Google Images.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS: NIV (New International Version) – [Note: I capitalized words in referenced to God within the text];  AMP (Amplified Bible).