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Tell me – will you still worship God when you can’t get into restaurants and cinemas?
Will you still worship God when you can’t fly or take a train or even get on a bus?
How about when you can’t get into grocery stores? Will you still worship God then?
Because those days are coming, when access will be denied. For some, those days are already here.
Will you still worship God when you lose your job or get court martialed or a dishonorable discharge?
How about when you lose your home and your bank account is frozen and you have no money? How about when you can’t get on the Internet anymore and your driver’s license is suspended?
What will happen to your worship when you’re being rounded up for incarceration in a containment camp? Will you still worship God then?
Because those days are coming, too, for some sooner than others.
We need to worship God no matter what’s going on in our lives and no matter what the world throws at us. Worshiping God doesn’t mean going into a certain building and saying certain things. We can worship God wherever we are and under whatever circumstances we find ourselves. In fact, the worse the circumstances, the more we need to worship and the more we need to thank God.
LOVE FOR OUR ENEMIES AND PRAISE AND THANKFULNESS TO GOD IS OUR WORSHIP, as born-again believers, and it shouldn’t stop just because we can no longer get into restaurants or are being hunted down like animals. The worse the times, the more fervent the faith must be; the worse we’re treated, the more we must love in return.
So tell me – will you be worshiping God just in the good times or also in the bad?
What I am about to state here is considered heresy in most Christian sects, even though the truth of it is backed up by scripture.
Throughout his ministry years, Jesus withdrew from and rejected his blood relatives, including his mother and his siblings. Why? Because they didn’t believe he was the Messiah. They knew he was a prophet sent from God, but they didn’t believe he was the Messiah.
So Jesus had to choose between his family and God.
He chose God.
I mention this now because we are also faced with a similar choice. Society is becoming increasingly divided along a line that even two years would have been unimaginable. Families and friends are finding themselves on opposite sides of that line, with no neutral zone in between. One side is staunchly pro-government and its mandates, and the other is not; one side does whatever is demanded by the government, and the other does not. Even though the obedient and compliant far outnumber the disobedient and non-compliant, families are being torn apart, life-long friends are becoming estranged, and neither side is willing to compromise.
Which side of the divide you stand on is your business. It’s your choice. You have God-given free will. I’m not interested in discussing the virtues of one side over the other or to persuade you to cross over from one side to the other. As far as I’m concerned, the right choice – the godly choice – is more than obvious and doesn’t need to be stated or discussed. Even so, I hope you’re aware that the side you choose will determine your eternity.
Scripture tells us about people who cowed before the religious powers-that-be in Jerusalem because they were afraid to be kicked out of the synagogue. To be kicked out of the synagogue essentially meant that your life as you knew it was over. You would not be permitted to attend religious or cultural events; you’d likely lose your livelihood, as you’d be shunned by the general public; you would even have difficulty carrying out everyday tasks like grocery shopping, as again, you would be shunned and shamed. You would live as an outcast for the rest of your life or until such time as you “came to your senses” and accepted the dictates of the religious ptb.
To avoid what for many would have been a fate worse than death, people tolerated the tyranny and corruption of the rich and powerful so that they could live their daily lives unmolested by the authorities and participate in society.
Recall that Jesus had these “privileges” revoked in many areas where he was under constant threat of arrest. Recall also that even under threat of arrest, Jesus did not alter his position or in any way make concessions, other than to avoid certain areas until God told him it was his time.
As born-again believers, we’re called to live our lives like Jesus lived his life during his ministry years. Jesus is our example. Jesus’ mother isn’t our example; Jesus’ siblings aren’t our example; even Jesus’ early disciples aren’t our example: JESUS IS OUR EXAMPLE. If Jesus chose God over his family and God over his society, then so must we. If our choice means we live as outcasts, then we live as outcasts. Jesus lived his life as an outcast during his ministry years, so why should we be any different?
Jesus is the Messiah. His mother and siblings refused to accept that truth during his ministry years, so he rejected them. He walked away from them, and when they came to get him to take him home (presumably to correct his way of thinking and to keep him from being arrested), he publicly shunned them. He didn’t compromise his position and he didn’t give in just to keep the peace. On the contrary, he doubled down on his affirmation of who he was by replacing his blood family with his spiritual family. From that point onward, only those who did the will of God were considered by Jesus to be his family.
Think very carefully about the choice you make regarding the dividing line. As a born-again believer, your mission is to follow Jesus, not your family and not the world. Don’t be like the people who did whatever they had to do to remain in good standing with the ptb. Jesus was not in good standing with the ptb; he wouldn’t have been doing God’s will if he were.
We are at war, just as Jesus was.
Jesus chose to fight on God’s side.
We need to do the same.
As some of you know, this blog hosted a Bible read-through in July and August. I’m not sure how many of those who initially said they’d do the read-through actually made it all the way to the end, but I do know for sure that Bibles got into hands that hadn’t been in hands for a while, and that’s a good start. God can take it from there.
After I finished the read-through on August 31st, I asked God the next day what I should read. This is my usual habit, to ask God what I should read, and he always tells me. On September 1st, the day after the Bible Read-Through ended, I asked God what I should read and he told me to read the Bible all the way through again.
So back I went to Genesis.
A few weeks later, when I was just shy of a third of the way through the second Bible read-through, God told me it would be a good idea if I’d finish reading it by the end of the month (September), so that I could read it again during the first three weeks of October.
The Bible Read-Through in July and August was 40 days. The September read-through is 30 days, and the October read-through will be around 20 days. I’m not sure what’s going on, but God’s never advised me to read like this before. Usually he suggests a book or a chapter, or sometimes even just a single psalm or verse. But advising three read-throughs, one after the other, is unprecedented. It’s like marathon training, especially since the second and third read-throughs are much deeper than the first and in progressively shorter time-spans.
So I asked God what’s going on with all the Bible read-throughs (we can ask him these things; that’s what he’s there for), but all he’d tell me was “Preparation”. Just like that: “Preparation”. And when I tried to get more details out of him, he clammed up.
We all prepare in different ways, depending on our relationship with God and Jesus and what’s coming up around the bend. To a certain extent, we can know the depth of our relationship with God and Jesus, but we can’t always know what’s coming up around the bend. Sometimes we can know, but other times God keeps the details hidden for reasons that are best known to him. God isn’t guiding me to prep food or supplies; he’s not guiding me to learn survival skills or join a network of like-minded people: He’s getting me to cram his Word.
If I could, I would stick a straw through the middle of the Bible cover and just drink it all up. One of my older Bibles has started to disintegrate, with pieces of the cover and corners of some pages falling off. I kept the pieces for a while; some of them I taped back on, but some of the pieces were so small, I didn’t know where they belonged, so I put them on an end table under a lamp, and left them there.
And then one day I ate them.
Don’t ask me why. I just felt prompted to eat them. They were only little pieces of paper, some thicker than others, but none any bigger than a fingernail clipping. I felt it was the best thing to do with them. They are now part of me. I like that the Bible is now part of me not just as an impression through words, but as a physical symbiosis. The Bible is feeding me figuratively and literally.
I lived in Australia back in the late 1990s. A big black spider took up residence in my bathroom one day, and when I showed it to my then-boyfriend, he said to kill it. The way he said “Kill it”, just like that, made me realize it must be very poisonous, as normally he just let things be. The spider was too big for me to squish underfoot, so I thought instead I would try to drown it in dishwashing liquid and then scoop it into the toilet. Well, the Aussie dollar store dishwashing liquid must have been made of pure rainwater, because the more I poured onto the spider, the livelier it got. Finally after about half a bottle, the little legs stopped jerking and I thought that was that… but a few seconds later, the spider sprang to life again.
By that point I was completely freaked out, and had also started to feel bad for the spider. So I got a glass jar with a lid and scooped the spider into the jar instead of into the toilet and screwed the lid on tight. My plan was to suffocate the spider (I figured it would just fall asleep) instead of trying to drown it. I know how nasty that sounds, but those were my atheist days, and I didn’t have the same sensibilities about God’s creatures that I have now.
For three months I watched that spider in the jar. It somehow survived having half a bottle of dishwashing liquid poured onto it, and then it survived months of living in an air-tight container. It would spin a web and then eat it, and then spin another web, and eat that. It got everything it needed by eating its own web.
After three months of watching this, I’d had enough and declared the spider the winner. I’d never seen survival on that level before. As an atheist, I couldn’t explain what was going on with the spider, and it weirded me out. As a believer, I understand. The tiny creature’s God-given instinct to survive was perfectly supported by its God-given built-in survival tools. The spider was a self-sustaining ecosystem, courtesy of God.
I hope I get to meet that spider someday, if and when I get to Heaven. Of course, we both won’t remember what I did to it, but we’ll know we’d met somewhere before, and we’ll be friends.
In hindsight, I learned a lot not only from the spider’s willingness to survive, but from its mind-boggling ability to survive. I don’t believe that God gives this willingness and ability only to spiders in Australia: I believe he’s given it to all his creatures, including us.
When I read, and then reread, and then reread again God’s Word, it gets impressed on me deeper and darker each time, like lines being traced and retraced. They become more vivid and also more physical with each tracing, moving from the page into my mind and then physically into my body. The impression they leave is not just an idea, but an imprint that stays on me and in me for life.
What’s coming down the road or just up around the bend, we don’t always know. We might prepare for a flood, and then get a fire. But I do know that whatever tools we need to survive, God has given us already. They’re within us, waiting for the right time to be used. God has also given us the willingness to survive, even captivity in an airtight container with nothing to eat but his Word.
Bible prophecy-related predictions have exploded over the past year. Christians are panicking, believing we’ve entered the age of the mark of the beast. They point to places in the world where people are being prevented from participating in society – that is, from buying, selling, working, traveling, etc. – unless they consent to taking certain injections and showing proof they’ve taken them. Surely this indicates that the mark has arrived?
Whether the mark of the beast is here or not shouldn’t matter to us, because it doesn’t change our relationship with God and it doesn’t change how we follow Jesus. I know it’s fashionable to live in a constant state of panic these days if you’re a Christian, but when Jesus says always to be prepared, nowhere in that directive does he say to panic. Being prepared prevents us from panicking because, well, we’re prepared. We don’t have to worry. We’re ready for whatever the world throws at us because we’ve prepped in the only way that Christians should be prepping.
Here’s our preps list:
- Get as close as you can get to God.
- Get as close as you can get to Jesus.
- Stay immersed in God’s Word. Open your Bible EVERY DAY and read it.
- Keep the Commandments.
- Do God’s will.
- Treat others as you want to be treated.
- Love your enemies.
Note that it only involves “seeking… first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness”, because scripture tells us that if we put God first, everything else will be added to us. That means God will provide everything we need (food, water, shelter, transport, protection, good health, etc.).
So whether you’re on the run as an outlaw (as Jesus warned we’d be) or still living where you’ve been for the past while, your preps list doesn’t change. You get close and stay close to God and Jesus, you read your Bible every day, you keep the Commandments and do God’s will, you treat others well, and you love and pray for your enemies. None of that changes, whether you’re in the bosom of society or cast out of it.
Jesus says we should always be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. He means ready to leave wherever we’re living, but he also means ready to leave this Earth by dying. Even so, whether we’re leaving town or leaving our body, the preps list doesn’t change. We’ll always be ready to leave at a moment’s notice if we’re close to God and Jesus, reading the Bible every day, keeping the Commandments, doing God’s will, and being kind to people (including and especially the ones who aren’t kind to us). If we do all those things, we’ll be equally well-prepared to leave town or to leave this plane of existence. No panicking required.
So the next time someone tries to get you riled up about the end times or to sell you more guns and toilet paper, tell them you’re fine. You’re ready for whatever the world might throw at you, because you’re prepping the way Jesus says to prep, and that’s all you need.
The book of Job tells the story of a man who had it all, lost it all, and then got it back in spades.
The thing about Job is that he didn’t lose everything through any fault of his own. He lost it because God made a bet with Satan.
Now, I would not be one to bet against God expecting to win. No-one beats God. Not at anything. You would think Satan would have known that, but maybe when he lost his holiness and free will, he also lost the capacity to know you can’t beat God. Or maybe he just wanted to see Job suffer. In any case, Satan was permitted by God first to take away Job’s wealth and kill most of his family, and then to take away Job’s health. Poor Job was left penniless, childless, and sitting in a pile of ashes scraping pus and scabs off his sores with a piece of broken pottery. And God permitted this to happen.
When God allows evil to attack us, it’s not always because we’ve had it coming. Most of the time, yes, we have it coming, but sometimes it’s more like Job. Certainly Jesus never earned any evil attacks, and yet he had plenty of them when he was in his earthly body. God permitted these attacks as a way ultimately to bring Jesus up higher.
God is always in control. If he permits evil to come into your life, it’s either a punishment or it’s a test that, if you pass, will bring you up higher in the Kingdom. Sometimes God permits Satan to bet against you because God’s going to use the situation to your benefit.
So the point of the book of Job isn’t why God permits evil, but why our focus isn’t more on God. When Job finally acknowledges God’s vast superiority in every regard – that is, when Job humbles himself before God – he not only gets back everything he’d lost, but God adds to it. Job comes up higher.
Our time here on Earth is a series of tests. It can also be a time of punishment, if we have it coming. But regardless of whether we’re dealing with tests or punishment, our focus shouldn’t be on Satan or on praying away the evil. Our focus should always be on God, knowing he and he alone is in control.
No matter the situation, whether good or evil, your focus should be on God. No-one but God can get you through whatever it is you’re facing. When evil attacks you, don’t focus on the evil; focus on God. When Stephen was confronted by the enraged mob just before he was stoned to death, he looked past them and saw God and Jesus. He focused on God and so was able to die with blessings rather than curses on his lips. He didn’t focus on the evil that was surrounding him, he focused on God.
If you spend all your energy trying to pray the evil away, you won’t make it. It’s way stronger than you. You need to focus on God. Even if all you see around you is evil a mile deep, focus on God. That’s how you’ll get through what’s coming.
“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 26: AUGUST 17
JEREMIAH 50 – EZEKIEL 19:14
Today we say goodbye to Jeremiah and hello to Ezekiel. Theirs are thunderous voices. Both prophets lived during a time when God’s mercy came to an end and his judgement began. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, God is patient, but when time is up, it’s up. There’s no wiggle-room after that. God’s judgement is without mercy. We will not be standing before him on Judgement Day expecting mercy, because there will be none. The time for mercy will be over, just as it was for the children of Israel during the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
- The final chapters of Jeremiah talk about the prophecy against Babylon. Remember that Jeremiah had earlier prophesied that the Israelites should surrender to the Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and live in Babylon as captives. Now we see the prophet foretelling the punishment that God will mete out to Babylon for destroying his people. God used the resources of Babylon to punish his people but also to care for them during their 70 years of exile; but that doesn’t mean that Babylon gets off the hook and is free to loot, sack and slaughter with impunity. Nor does it mean that Babylon can sin with impunity. All are punished according to the measure of their sins, even the people God uses to punish others.
- So when God tells you to flee to Babylon, however morally repugnant it is to you, flee there. But when he tells you to get out of Babylon or get caught up in the punishment due it, get out. We’ll read more about Babylon in the books of Daniel and Revelation. For us born-agains living in the Kingdom, Babylon is the earthly realm of sin and plenty that sadly also includes churches. God will support us and sustain us with Babylon’s plenty for a time, but he expects us to keep ourselves separate from its sin and to flee before he finally destroys it.
- The book of Lamentations was written during Jeremiah’s exile from the Promised Land. Remember that Jeremiah, too, was in exile. The whole remnant was in exile. Even so, God fed them and provided for them physically and spiritually, giving them hope of returning to their home if they turned back to him with their whole heart.
- Ezekiel picks up where Jeremiah leaves off. He is also in exile. But unlike Jeremiah, he is not embedded within the powers-that-be in Jerusalem, because the powers-that-be have all been slaughtered and Jerusalem has been all but destroyed. Instead, Ezekiel prophesizes through visions.
- Ezekiel heard first-hand the horrors that were inflicted on the unrepentant Israelites, particularly during the siege of Jerusalem. Out of starvation, fathers ate their sons, sons ate their fathers, and mothers cooked their own babies. How far from God would you have to be to do those things? THESE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE GOD’S PEOPLE, and yet they were indistinguishable from the demon-worshipers around them; in fact, they did worse than them. When those who are genuinely God’s people are hungry, God provides for them, as he did for Jeremiah and Elijah and David. God always finds workarounds and resources for those who are genuinely his people. The rest are left to take matters into their own hands, and what we get are fathers eating their sons, sons eating their fathers, and mothers cooking their own babies.
- How indistinguishable are Christians today from the demon-worshipers around them? All those who worship anything but God and follow anyone but Jesus are demon-worshipers. This is the world. How indistinguishable are most Christians today from the world? It’s hard not to see, in the description of the lead-up to the destruction of those who definitively turned from God, exactly what is happening in former Christian nations today: “Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses: I will also make the pomp of the strong to cease; and their holy places shall be defiled. Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none” (Ezekiel 7:24-25).
- I met a man the other day who introduced himself as a born-again Christian. He then went on to say that God had asked him to preach but he had said no, and that he hadn’t read the Bible in years – HE’D DEFIED GOD AND HADN’T READ THE BIBLE IN YEARS, AND YET HAD NO PROBLEM INTRODUCING HIMSELF AS A BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN! This is the absolute state of where we are as a people – Christians today are no different than the Israelites just before the destruction of Jerusalem. They are indistinguishable from the heathens around them.
- As Ezekiel repeats several times: “Neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have pity.” God’s judgement is without mercy and perfect. During the time of mercy, God’s judgement is mitigated. That means he doesn’t give us the full measure of what we have coming; he softens it, taking into consideration all the factors that made us do what we did or say what we said. But at some point, time is up. And when time is up, mercy is removed from judgement; all that remains is an eye for an eye. May you never experience God’s judgement without mercy, because if you do, you are condemned. There is no longer any hope for you. There is no Paradise. There is only the hell of your own making, forever.
- God doesn’t want us to end up in Hell. He wants us to go to Heaven. He takes no pleasure in punishing us or in our condemnation. In Ezekiel 18:32, God says: “I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth… wherefore turn, and live ye.” Until time is up, God is constantly extending his invitation to turn back to him and live. A few chapters earlier, God describes through the prophet how he will bring the dead back to life: “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh; that they may walk in my statutes and keep mine ordinances, and do them; and they shall be my people, and I shall be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20).
- I don’t know about you, but every time I read the words “and they shall be my people, and I shall be their God”, I hear such longing in God’s voice as well as a promise and a statement of fact. He wants to give us everything, if we would only do those things that are right in his eyes. He’s longing for us to do those things. He’s saying: Here, I have everything waiting for you. Everything that you’ve ever wanted. It’s all right here. All you have to do is say “yes” to me and then keep your promise, and I will keep my promise to you.
One of the early chapters in Ezekiel describes a mark that is given to those who are horrified by the rampant sin they see around them. The mark identifies them as God’s people. All those who don’t have the mark are later slaughtered without pity.
Do you think you have that mark? Do you think that God identifies you as one of his, or is the identification only coming from you? Do you claim to be a Christian but live indistinguishable from the world? Do you claim the blood of Jesus as your justification, even while you continue to do what you know isn’t right in God’s eyes? There are many such Christians, even self-professed born-again Christians, just as there were many such Israelites who considered themselves God’s people simply because they were Israelites.
A label is just a label. You can call yourself whatever you want. But a mark is a mark. Better pray that you have God’s.
The schedule for the BIBLE READ-THROUGH is directly below.
Jesus is not God. I’ve said this before but I think of necessity it needs to be said again (and again and again, as the need arises).
The term “Emmanuel” means “God with us”, not “This is God” or “I am God”. Jesus is called Emmanuel not because Jesus is God but because God was with Jesus and, in being with Jesus, was also with the people on Earth (as prophesied in the Old Testament). In other words, God was with the people through Jesus – not AS Jesus, but THROUGH Jesus. (more…)
I don’t follow celebrity news, but sometimes celebrity news follows me when I log onto my various email accounts. Because of my Internet searches for “abornagainbeliever” (my website with WordPress), I am bombarded with “recommended for you” suggestions that include “born again”. Recently, as some of you might know, some high-profile celebrities have claimed to have become born-again Christians or to have had a “spiritual experience” that they attribute to God. Whether or not these experiences are genuine spiritual rebirths is for God to know. However, for your edification, and with a nod to celebrity cultural norms, I’ve compiled a “Top 10″ (plus 1) list of the main characteristics of a newly born-again follower of Jesus. You can compare these characteristics against the celebrity reports and draw your own conclusions. (more…)
Full-time positions available for people to work in the Kingdom of God 24/7 until they drop dead. Ideally, applicants should be: (more…)
If you’ve been a born-again believer for any length of time, you’ll have personally experienced what I call the “split personality” or “tale of two churches” characteristic of Christianity. I’m not talking about the Catholic/Protestant divide or the countless denominations that have since arisen because of that divide; I’m talking about God’s Church and the worldly church.
These are the two Christian churches co-existing today. I could call them the “real” church and the “fake” church, but that would be a misrepresentation, as both churches are real. I know, because, even as a born-again believer and card-carrying member of God’s Church, I actively participated in worldly churches.
I don’t anymore.
Here’s why. (more…)