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“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 15: AUGUST 6
1 CHRONICLES 11 – 2 CHRONICLES 12:16
As we dig deeper into the Old Testament, we can see that the material starts to repeat, though it’s presented from a different perspective and with different aspects highlighted. The same process occurs in the New Testament with the four Gospels. The purpose in repeating the material isn’t to bore the reader or to give a sense of déjà vu, but to affirm and expand on what has already been relayed by other writers. As I’ve mentioned previously, the repetition with slight (or sometimes major) changes is also a very effective teaching tool.
- Today’s reading brings us again the story of David and his son Solomon, though with entirely different details than the earlier telling. The stress here is on the building and furnishing of the temple rather than the military victories of David or the private lives of the two kings. I personally found it kind of dry, and if it were presented alone without the accompaniment of the earlier story, David would lose a good deal of his appeal on a human level and would also lose the moral lessons that his life teaches us. I’m guessing that historians and maybe also theologians appreciate the details provided here about the temple, but for me it’s flyover country. Same with the lineages and who did what in whose service. God knows my heart and he knows I mean no disrespect in saying this, but who begat who, and how many and what kind of animals were sacrificed is not information that I can do anything with. Even so, whoever’s involved in the building of the third temple and setting up the beast system is, I’m sure, poring over every word.
- What jumped out at me in particular today is how many times the eternal kingdom of David’s lineage is mentioned. I love reading in the OT about Jesus and his Kingdom! Whenever I come across a passage that references the Kingdom, I get a little jolt of recognition, like you get when you’re driving somewhere you’ve never been before and all the place names are unfamiliar and then suddenly you see one that’s familiar. It waves to you. The first time Bethlehem is mentioned in the OT, it waved to me, as did Jerusalem, Damascus, Gaza, Hebron, etc. I know these places because they’re still functioning cities today. But when Jesus is referenced through the prophesy of the kingdom that will have no end, I’m pretty much doing a stadium wave and kicking like John the Baptist in the womb.
- I get excited because I know that place, that eternal kingdom that’s prophesied in the OT. I know it because I live in it. It’s my spiritual hometown. If you’re born-again, it’s your spiritual hometown, too. And I know that eternal King that keeps getting mentioned, because he’s not only my Messiah and Lord and savior, he’s also my big brother and best friend. This is how the OT talks to me, not as a dry chronicle of names and building materials, but of promises made and kept by a living God who is as ever-present with us today as he was thousands of years ago. That living God is my father, and he’s right here right now as I write these words and you read them. Jesus is here, too, because wherever two are gathered in his name, there he is among them.
What jumped out at you in today’s reading? Do you, like me, fly over the lineage and building details, or do you actually read them? The beauty of scripture is that different things will appeal to different people at different times and for different reasons.
A few years back, I took a short bus trip out to the countryside just before Christmas. The bus was nearly empty, so I sat behind the driver and starting chatting with him. As it turned out, he was a big fan of the Bible, and we had a fascinating discussion that lasted nearly the entire two hours of the trip. When I was gathering my things together to disembark, the driver said to me quite matter-of-factly “I’m not a Christian, you know. I just like reading the Bible.” Like I said, God’s Word appeals to all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons. I’m praying that the driver, if he someday humbles himself and converts, will be a great teacher of God’s Word, as he knows it so intimately, like Paul knew it before his conversion.
The PDF of the BIBLE READ-THROUGH schedule is directly below.
“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 14: AUGUST 5
2 KINGS 14 – 1 CHRONICLES 10:14
This is a sobering reading. The parade of kings who “did evil in the sight of the Lord” continues, interspersed with only a few who “did right in the sight of the Lord”. But those who did right, did it mightily, as we see in King Josiah.
- Remember that God had not yet put his law in people’s hearts in those days, so they still had to be taught right from wrong. When Josiah was presented with Moses’ book of the law, which “by chance” had been found in the temple by the high priest, he was quite rightly horrified by how far his people had strayed from what God had commanded them through Moses. But Josiah’s response was absolutely on target – he gathered everyone together, from the great to the small, the holy to the profane, and read them the book. And then, standing before the people as his witness, Josiah made a covenant with God to follow the laws written in the book with all his heart and all his soul.
- But promises are cheap. People can say anything and seem to mean it at the time. The proof of the sincerity of their word is whether or not they follow it up with action, and Josiah did just that. Starting at the temple, he ordered a purge of everything that didn’t belong there, and then fanned out and purged everything and everyone in his kingdom that was in opposition to God’s law. The details of what he ordered are quite telling. Frankly, we could use just such a purge now in “formerly Christian” lands.
- When God heals, he leaves no rot behind. The potential for rot to grow again is still there, but the initial healing is perfect. Whenever I buy a container of fruit, I always go through it and remove any pieces that have mold or rot on them. If I don’t, the mold will move from the moldy pieces to the pieces around them until eventually the whole container of fruit is rotten and covered in mold. As long as I have that container of fruit, I have to go through it every other day to purge the newly moldy fruit.
- The same holds true for people. The reality is that some people are spiritually moldy and rotten inside. If you permit those people to live and spread their mold to those around them, soon everyone will be covered in mold. This reality of how spiritual mold spreads was deeply understood by believers such as Moses and Josiah. They also understood that the only way to deal with it was to cut it out and remove it entirely, and to do periodic purges in case the mold takes hold again.
- As followers of Jesus, we can’t go around destroying demon-worshiping altars and killing those who oppose God, but we can remove ourselves from them. If we live among them, they are going to spiritually infect us eventually, just like moldy fruit rots the fruit around it. Jesus moved through the world and taught in the world, but he lived separate from it; when he wasn’t teaching or preaching or healing, he spent nearly all his time with people who loved and obeyed God.
- You can’t live in the same house as unbelievers and think you’re somehow immune to their spiritual mold. You’re not. You also can’t live in a city or town that’s covered in spiritual mold, because the mold will start growing on you eventually. Even worse, God will see your continued presence among the rot as an indicator that you’re in agreement with it.
- We need to live separately from those who hate God and refuse to follow Jesus. We do no-one any favours, least of all ourselves, if we live with unbelievers. Our witness is continually compromised and we come nowhere near our spiritual potential, nowhere near what God wants for us and what we can do for others. Our lost potential has repercussions not just for our time on Earth, but for all eternity.
- Despite Josiah’s words and actions (including presiding over the greatest Passover since the days of Moses), Judah eventually fell into the hands of the heathens. After Josiah’s death, his son undid much of what his father had accomplished, as did the few kings that succeeded him, up until the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Just how bad the destruction was is captured in the description of the deposed king Hezekiah being forced to witness the slaughter of his sons and then having his eyes put out. When God permits this level of evil to happen to the city that houses his temple and the king that leads his people, you know the situation is beyond redemption. Maybe not quite yet Sodom, but pretty close.
As I mentioned at the outset of this reflection, today’s is a sobering reading. There are a few bright spots, but most of this section of scripture is about all the evil done by the children of Israel and how they essentially became indistinguishable from the heathen around them. We are very much reliving those times today in “formerly Christian” nations. Why, then, should we expect our outcome to be any different than Judah’s?
For a full schedule of the BIBLE READ-THROUGH on PDF, click on the links below.
Just a few thoughts on “Bible Read-Through Eve” (lol) before we start our 40-day trek through God’s Word tomorrow.
I posted the read-through info yesterday on Godlike Productions, which no, is not a Christian forum, but some of God’s people are there. They took the ball and ran with it, and now we’ve got a whole host of believers joining us on our journey.
Here’s the thread: https://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message4852497/pg1
The GLPers also brought up some good points that I’d like to share with you.
- A few of them mentioned keeping a notebook and pen handy while you’re doing the read-through, in case you want to write down some words that you’re unfamiliar with or make a note of passages that you want to go back and reread later. This is an excellent idea. However, if you’d rather just read and leave the note-taking for another time, that’s good, too. Do whatever works best for you.
- Some were under the impression that we’re going to stream a live read-through, which frankly would be amazing, but that’s not what this is. This read-through is each of us reading on our own but reading the same sections of scripture on the same day. If you prefer to have someone read you the Bible, you can listen to the audio version. You can probably find one online. I prefer holding the Bible in my hands and seeing the words in front of me, but some people prefer having the words read to them. As my grandmother used to say: “To each his own!” Whatever works best for you, do it.
- If you find the daily readings are too short and you want to keep going, you can do as you please. However, it would be best if we all read the same passages on the same day, reliving the spectrum of events together in the same order and more or less at the same time. That’s one of the reasons for doing the read-through together. Maybe instead of going ahead, you could go back and reread some sections that particularly piqued your interest, or you could do an online search on those sections that interested you, to flesh out your understanding with some background material. Or you could do some research on the Bible in general and on how it evolved to the Book we have in our hands today. Again – do whatever works for you, but it would still be best if you could stick with the schedule so that we all finish together on August 31st.
- If you find the daily readings are too long and you’re having trouble keeping up, just skim over the words and let the ones that speak to you sink in. I can’t stress enough how important it is that the whole Bible be read, not just bits and pieces of it – the whole Bible from cover to cover. If skimming is how you can get through the daily readings, then by all means, skim. But if you find you have time after you’ve finished the skimming, then go back and try to read a little deeper. We are to do this read-through “with loins girded, shoes our feet, and staff in hand” – that means, we’re to do it in haste but with our senses fully tuned-in to our task at hand. Remember: you’ll get out of this Bible read-through as much as you put into it, so give it all you’ve got!
- A few people on GLP were curious about which version of the King James Bible we were going to be reading. Whatever version you have at hand is the version we’re going to use. If you choose instead to use a Catholic Bible, the schedule will be slightly off and you might get side-tracked by all the footnotes. But I’m not going to tell you not to use a Catholic Bible, if that’s what you want to read. Me, I prefer my trusty olde English KJV. 😀
Finally, I’d like to remind everyone that this is not a competition or a knowledge exam. It’s an invitation and a blessing that will continue to bless you for years to come. Immersing yourself in God’s Word for 40 days and 40 nights will open new doors to you that you never knew existed. God will make a path for you where you thought there was none. I know, because I’ve done Bible read-throughs, and every time I finish, I want to start all over again. God’s Word is addictive, and the blessings that come from reading his Word from cover to cover are enormous.
But don’t just take my word for it – find out for yourself!
We start tomorrow, July 23, at Genesis 1. Here again is the full schedule:
Thank you so much for accepting the invitation to join the read-through and for handing on the invitation to others.
May God bless you for your efforts!
Please see my previous blog about the Bible Read-Through.
You can get the schedule on PDF by clicking on the dark gray oblong bible-read-through “Download” button below, or you can squint at the two images of the schedule below the Download button.
I’ll be posting the readings early on each of the 40 days from July 23 to August 31, so if you don’t want either to download or squint, you can just check back here to follow along.
This read-through is really important. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not a Bible study, it’s a “loins girded, shoes on feet, staff in hand” kind of reading. It’s urgent and it’s required. I don’t know why it needs to be done now, but God’s leading me to do it now, so I’m doing it.
If your spiritual life were a meal, this Bible Read-Through would be your spiritual veggies. You’re not expected to savor each mouthful, just get the veggies into you and swallow them down. Your body will take care of the rest.
Here’s the Download button for the schedule on PDF:
… and here’s the squinty version:
For anyone who’s interested, I’m doing a Bible read-through starting with Genesis on Friday, July 23rd, and ending at Revelation on Tuesday, August 31st, 2021.
That’s 40 days and 40 nights of God’s Word.
To read the Bible in 40 days and 40 nights, I’ve divided it into 40 readings of roughly 20 pages each. That should take around 2 hours a day. This is not a Bible study, so a deep reading is not the aim here. I’ll be reading with my lamp topped up and my loins girded, so to speak. Again, this is a read-through, not a study.
I usually read the Bible from cover to cover a few times a year, but not at that pace. (I normally take twice as long.) But God said to do it in 40 days and 40 nights and to finish it by the end of August, so that’s what I’m doing. He also said to mention it to you guys in case you might want to do it, too.
It would be great if we could all read the Bible together at more or less the same time, like a cloud of witnesses.
If you think God’s calling you to do this, I suggest you do it. We’ve got some dark days ahead. Born-agains prep by reading God’s Word and remaining in prayer with God and Jesus at all times. Doing a read-through now will help you strengthen your spiritual muscles. We need to be strong for what’s coming. We need to be strong for ourselves and for each other.
I’ll be posting the 40 daily readings later this week on my blog.
The Bible will be the King James Version.
You have to write what people want to know.
What is it that people want to know?
That this is all worth something, that it’s leading somewhere good. (more…)
The “Christian family” is a lie. Unlike criminal organizations such as the mafia, televangelists, and the Rothschild banking monopoly, Jesus didn’t choose relatives as his fellow labourers. He chose strangers whose sole qualifications were that they willingly chose to do God’s will, and were willing to follow him as the Messiah.
As born-agains, our real family is no longer the people we grew up with; our real family is those who do God’s will. That doesn’t mean that we should shun our relatives if they’re not born again; it just means we shouldn’t spend any more or any less time with them than we would with anyone else who doesn’t do God’s will. As born-agains, we are no longer bound by blood or culture. These are not the ties that bind us. We are bound to God spiritually as his adoptive children and to Jesus as sibling, follower, and friend. These are the primary relationships that define us, not our blood or culture.
Jesus was not a fan of family gatherings. In fact, other than for a few quick stopovers in Nazareth, he generally avoided his relatives after he started his ministry work. We need to stare that fact straight in the face. Jesus didn’t get along with his family after he “came out” as the Messiah. His mother thought he was crazy, and his brother James thought he was just playing at being a prophet. Jesus said our worst enemies will be those under our own roof, and his disbelieving family proved him right. Only after his crucifixion did his mother and brother come round and acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah.
The truth about Jesus’ rocky relationship with his relatives is rarely spoken about in polite Christian circles. Ministers like to wax poetic over the ‘holy family’ and urge their parishioners to mold their families after the supposed Christian model of a strong father, a supportive mother, and polite obedient children. But this model is not based on the New Testament. Jesus said that he came to drive a sword between blood relatives and their in-laws, and to turn family members against each other. He didn’t come to draw people closer to each other; he came to draw people closer to God. He also said that if you want to please your relatives more than you want to do God’s will, then you’re not worthy of being his follower and ultimately not worthy of Heaven.
At the same time, Jesus warned us not to marry. Paul reiterated the warning, saying that spouses are usually more interested in pleasing each other than in pleasing God. They also tend to lean on each other rather than to lean on God. That’s why Jesus urged his followers not to marry, and if they were married, to leave their spouse to follow him. All his married disciples left their wives. They didn’t divorce them; they simply lived separately from them and no longer had intimate relations with them.
This is another major fact that is rarely mentioned in polite Christian circles, especially by joined-at-the-hip televangelist husband and wife duos. Jesus and his followers lived celibate, making “eunuchs” of themselves for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake.
We are expected to do the same.
That’s right, folks – no nooky. We’re to live celibate not like Catholic priests but celibate like Jesus.
Genuine celibacy comes not from our own efforts, but from God. It’s a spiritual gift that God readily gives anyone who asks for it.
The notion of a strong patriarch and a supportive matriarch surrounded by a gaggle of offspring is Old Testament. As born-agains, we follow the example that Jesus set in the New Testament by living celibate and seeing our real family as those who choose to do God’s will.
Therefore have I poured out my indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God.
Nothing gets most Christians and non-Christians more riled up than being told they’ve earned their pain. People prefer to see themselves and others as innocent victims.
But there has only ever been one innocent victim who suffered for something he didn’t do, only one who came into this world without the stain of rebellion on his soul, and that was Jesus
All the rest of us are just paying our dues.
I was born-again from atheism over 16 years ago. I was 36 at the time. I’d lived the typical life of a Western non-believing woman, which could pretty much be summed up with the word “sin”. For my deeds, I’d accumulated an immense amount of pain. Of course, as an atheist, I didn’t believe in sin and so I didn’t see my emotional and mental pain as being connected to the choices I made in my life. I saw my pain as being inflicted on me by others, and I intended that each and every one of them should pay for what they’d done to me, and pay big.
I didn’t believe God existed. I thought only idiots believed in God. I was born again after reaching the tipping point of what I now recognize as a spiritual crisis (every aspect of my existence, from finances to employment to personal relationships, had collapsed). I was in deep deep doo-doo and subsequently in the deepest despair of my life. Though I didn’t know at the time that it was God who had done it, I was given the very great privilege of seeing the horrendous state of my soul (which, like God, I didn’t believe existed, but you can’t argue with something staring you straight in the face). The knowledge so terrified me that I immediately ran out of the cottage I was house-sitting and down to what I thought was the only “safe place” in my little world — the seashore. In my tormented mind, I reckoned if I could just get to the water, the pain that was so all-encompassing that I could no longer breathe would stop.
So I ran down to the ocean (about a mile away) and collapsed on the sandy beach. There, without making a sound, I gave up. I simply gave up trying to figure everything out and trying to fix my own mistakes and trying to do everything by myself. I gave up. My will broke. And in the next instant, again without making a sound, I cried out for help from the bottom of my heart. I did not know I was crying out to God. I did not believe in God, even at that point. The cry for help came from some part of me that I didn’t even know existed, it had been covered up by sin for so long.
But God heard my cry, and God answered.
In the blackness of what I know now was my death, God gave me a choice between two options: I could choose to forgive someone who had caused me more pain than anyone else in my life, or I could choose not to forgive that person. I was shown that if I chose the first option (to forgive), all the pain would stop, but if I chose the second option (not to forgive), the pain would not only continue but worsen.
I was shown, by the warmth and brightness of a light shining on the choice to forgive, that it was the better of the two.
All of this was done in a series of tableau against a black background. Communication was not by words but by understanding. I still didn’t know it was God communicating with me. And solely because I wanted the pain to stop (not because I was some great humanitarian), I chose to forgive.
At that instant, God showed me that the pain I felt was the pain I’d earned. Nothing had been done to me that I hadn’t in some way done to someone else. God hadn’t punished me. He was simply letting me feel the full force of the pain that I’d caused other people.
And then God healed me.
The next thing I heard was the sound of a great rushing wind that seemed to go on and on. I opened my eyes to find myself lying on the sand, facing the water. I could see only the sand, the water, the sky. I stood up and looked up. I had never in all my life felt so amazingly amazing. There are no words to describe this feeling; only those who have been healed from sin know what I am talking about.
I didn’t know what had happened to me. As a former student of classical literature, all I could think was tabula rasa — clean slate. I had no idea I was actually born again.
I didn’t want to leave the beach because I associated this feeling of extreme peace and euphoria with being in my “safe place” by the water. But God (even though I still didn’t realize it was God) assured me that I could leave and the feeling would come with me. So I made my way, slowly, slowly, back to the little cottage. There had been no-one on the beach at the time of my rebirth, but I passed a few people on my homeward journey. I felt intense love for them, strangers though they were.
When I got back to the cottage, I bee-lined for the Bible that the owner, Mildred, kept on a little table in the centre of the living room. I sat down at her kitchen table and opened to the page where it said “The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”, and I started reading it for the first time in my life. I read all four gospels in one sitting, and it was during the reading of the gospels that God showed me I was born again.
The pain you feel is the pain you’ve earned.
In the intense pain of my atheist years, God hadn’t done anything to me that I hadn’t first done to someone else, in kind. He was only exercising his perfect justice. He didn’t want me to feel pain, but he also couldn’t let me off the hook.
People who blame God or “circumstances” for their pain in life do not acknowledge that the pain they feel is the pain they’ve earned. Granted, that’s a huge pill to swallow for most people. As an atheist, I could never have swallowed it; I had lists a mile long of all the people who’d “done me wrong” over the years. Some of those people I’d sued, and some I was even in the process of suing when, thank God, I was born again, at which point I dropped all law suits.
In choosing to forgive that one person who had done me more harm than anyone else in the world, I’d in effect forgiven everyone for everything, so God forgave me everything.
Sure, what they’d done to me was wrong, but I had it coming. I’d treated so many people so appallingly, how could the pain I’d inflicted not come back to me, in kind? I say “in kind”, because God’s justice isn’t simplistic. If we cheat on our spouse, justice is not our spouse cheating on us in return, because our spouse cheating on us may not impact us at all. Justice would be when we feel the same degree of pain that we inflicted on our spouse (by cheating). This may manifest as getting fired from a job or having our child alienate his or her affections from us.
God’s justice is perfect. That’s why he tells us to leave the “vengeance” to him. He knows precisely how much is earned and precisely where to hit to make the right impact, keeping in mind that God, even amidst his justice delivery, is still trying to get us to turn back to him.
But at some point, time is up – for individuals, for nations, and for the entire planet.
Time was up for the geopolitical state of Israel when the Jews rejected Jesus at his first coming. Those who call themselves “Jews” are no longer the chosen people, and Israel is now the world-wide collective of born-again souls who follow Jesus. We born-agains are the spiritual Israelites who have inherited God’s promise. We live in his safe spiritual kingdom on Earth, constantly under the protection of his spirit, being fed, taught, guided, comforted and even punished (when necessary), as was promised to us through our spiritual brethren, the Old Testament prophets.
Someday, time will be up for each one of us, and what we’ve done with the time and talents God has so generously given us will determine where and how we spend eternity.
Time will be up for the planet, too, just after Jesus returns to rescue the last few remaining believers.
God’s justice is perfect. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.
The pain you feel is the pain you’ve earned.
My advice? Don’t do anything to earn pain.
But if you do feel pain, always choose to forgive.
No matter how horrendous the deed done against you, always choose to forgive.
The world is in a fallen state not only because of sin, but because people have chosen not to forgive.
When you choose to forgive, God chooses to forgive you. God’s forgiveness is the only true healing and the only true peace.
You born-again person reading this – you are not of this world, so you should not live by the rules of this world (“an eye for an eye”).
You are of God’s kingdom, where the rule is to love your enemies.
The pain you feel is the pain you’ve earned.
Always choose to forgive.
When tempting Eve, Satan seduced her by telling her exactly what she wanted to hear.
He flattered her; he claimed to be on her side, fighting for her rights.
He promised that everything would get better and better if she would only believe what he was telling her and do everything he told her to do.
He spoke her pain aloud in words that resonated with her, and then offered her a quick fix.
Deceit is mental rape. Deceit pins you down and tries to force you to accept lies. Just like rape is a show of power rather than desire, deceit aims to fool you first, and then to rule over you.
Don’t be spiritually raped.
Jesus warned us that many would come in his name and that there would be many false prophets. Some of these would even claim to be the Messiah. He said he was warning us in advance so that when these spiritual rapists appeared, we would not only know not to fall for their cunning lies, but we would remember that we’d been warned.
Note that Jesus didn’t say: “It’ll be super-awesome, guys! Towards the end, more and more and more people will believe in God. All around the world, people of all faiths will join hands. We’ll all become one. It will be a golden age of peace!”
No, he didn’t say that. He warned us that false prophets would usher in a false peace and that their deceptive signs and wonders (performed through the supernatural power of demons) might fool even genuine born-agains. He also told us that when he does come back, he’s staying just long enough to gather the few remaining true believers and then get the heck back to Heaven.
He’s not staying here to set up a “millennial kingdom” because the millennial kingdom is already here.
Everything I know about God and Jesus I learned directly from God, Jesus, and the Bible. So imagine my confusion when I started to hear about the “pre-tribulation rapture” and the “post-tribulation millennial kingdom”, mostly from online forums. I knew these doctrines – now widespread and accepted by mainstream Christianity – were not in the Bible. If they were not in the Bible, they weren’t from God.
Jesus’ kingdom is here and now. “Jesus is Lord” here and now. Jesus’ thousand-year rule (in God-time) is happening here and now. When Jesus comes back at the very end of time, he’s not even touching down on Earth. He’ll be “in the clouds”, and he’ll send his angels to gather the few remaining believers just before the final cataclysm destroys Earth.
Jesus has done his run here. He has no intention of coming back as a human, not even as “king” of a global government. People who believe otherwise do not know God, Jesus, or scripture. People who believe that Jesus is coming back to set up an earthly kingdom are demonically inspired to believe so. Pray for them, but don’t be deceived.
If it’s not in the Bible and if it’s not supported by biblical reference and cross-reference, then it’s likely not true. If in doubt, ask God and Jesus yourself. As born-agains, you have that option.
Don’t be deceived. The deceived are on the broad path that leads to a false global peace and ultimate destruction. The deceived are being spiritually raped.
Don’t walk with the deceived, even if it means you walk alone.
As a born-again, the purpose of your time here on Earth is to do whatever it takes to make it home to Heaven. The way to get there is The Way that Jesus showed us. Here’s a summary of the four most important points that you need to take to heart AND DO if you want to make it home.
First and foremost, you must put God first and foremost. Jesus said that this was the most important commandment. If your earthly family and friends and their needs and wants are more important to you than God, then you won’t make it home. Remember Jesus saying to the guy who wanted to attend his father’s funeral “Let the dead bury the dead; come follow me”? Remember Jesus clearly defining “family” as those who do the will of God? He said: “Who is my mother? Who is my brother? Those who do the will of my Father in Heaven are my mother, my sister, and my brother.” It might come across as harsh, but Jesus meant it to sound so. He meant to shake people up and remind them what their priority should be.
You are either aligned with the world or you’re aligned with God. You can’t be both.
The world is very good at tempting us to forget about our purpose. It sidetracks us, demonizes us, perverts scripture, and even tries to redefine what it means to be a born-again Christian. God permits all this because it is part of our test: He wants to know if we truly want what we say we want. It’s all well and good to claim that you want to follow Jesus and live a “Christian life” (whatever that means), but when things get tough, do you get tougher or do you just wimp out? Scripture says that most will ‘fall away’ from God. You don’t get a third chance if you fall away this time around. Being born-again is already your second and last chance. God didn’t have to give us a second chance, but he did so out of love for us. We all screwed up the first time and fell for the lies of Satan. We rebelled against God. Don’t do it again. Always put God first, even if it means you must suffer and die for it.
Secondly, you must go out in the world and preach the Good News. You must. That’s not just a suggestion; that’s an order from Jesus, who was handing it on from God. How you choose to do the preaching is between you and God, but my advice is DON’T DO IT FOR MONEY. Freely you have received from God, freely you give. The so-called churches that have appropriated the gospel for their own purposes ALL preach for money. They water down and twist God’s Word so as not to alienate any potential customers, but they do this to their own detriment. Don’t be like them. Jesus never preached or taught for money. Be like Jesus.
Thirdly, you must endure to the end. Being born-again is not a first-class ticket to Heaven. It’s a means to getting that ticket, but it’s not a ticket in itself. The Jews thought that being children of Abraham meant they had a guaranteed ticket to Heaven, and Jesus told them they were wrong. Christians or born-agains who think their state of grace is all it takes to get to Heaven are just as wrong at the Jews who thought their Jewishness was enough. Jesus very, very clear in this regard: THOSE WHO ENDURE TO THE END WILL BE SAVED. Just because you’re in a state of grace now doesn’t mean that you’ll die in a state of grace, and those who do not die in a state of grace will not make it to Heaven.
Jesus is very, very clear about that, too, when he says that we MUST be born-again to get to Heaven. Being born-again means being in a state of grace. Grace can be lost, not by a decision of God but as an outcome of our own choices. If you consciously and persistently choose against God’s will, you will lose your grace. If you do something that might appear to be “good” in your own eyes but God says not to do it and you go ahead and do it anyway – that’s sin. God’s spirit cannot dwell in the same soul as sin. Paul spoke about it, as did Jesus. If you lose grace, there is no way to get it back. Jesus said that losing grace is even worse than not having it in the first place – the house that was swept clean is later inhabited by more and worse demons than it was the first time around. Jesus said it would have been better for that person never to have been born.
Fourth and final – you must shake people up. Jesus did it, and so must we. He said he wasn’t come to bring peace to the world but a sword that will divide families and make enemies of unbelievers. The chief characteristic of those who are unbelievers is that they are asleep. We need to wake them up. It’s better for them to hate us and maybe someday turn and embrace God, than for them to keep sleeping and never turn. If they hate us, there’s hope for them. I used to hate born-agains, and look at me now!
God put his laws into everyone’s hearts. That means every soul here on Earth today has God’s laws engraved on their souls. They all crave what we crave – to do God’s will and to go home to Heaven – but their craving is stifled by their self-inflicted pain of sin. We’re not going to shake them out of their sleepy stupor or shock them out of their self-absorbed pity by tip-toeing around and trying not to offend anyone. Remember Jesus’ conversation with the Samarian woman at the well? He didn’t hide his Jewishness or the fact that he was the Messiah, even though Samarians and Jews were not supposed to socialize in those days. If everyone who knows us doesn’t know that we’re born-again followers of Jesus, we’re doing something terribly wrong. We’re God’s representatives here on Earth, just as Jesus was. Jesus didn’t tip-toe around, not for anyone’s sake, and neither should we.
So go ahead – get spat on, be called a bigot and crazy and narrow-minded, be an outcast from your family and friends, lose your job, get driven from your hometown, and get arrested for preaching God’s Word. If you suffer all this solely for being a born-again follower of Jesus, then congratulations, my friend! You are well and truly on The Way home.