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Alan's blog 2014

Laborers Needed

December 2014

I wanted to bring new light to something many of us have heard many times. If we read Matthew and Luke’s account of Jesus telling His Disciples to pray for more laborers to be sent, we see the context to be very similar.

Matthew 9:35-38 - Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

Luke 10:1-2 - After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

In Matthew’s account, Jesus saw the multitudes as He was teaching and preaching from village to village and lamented the fact that they were like sheep without a Shepherd and said that the “harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” In Luke’s account, Jesus commissions another 70 disciples to go ahead of Him into the places He was going to go and heal the sick and preach that the kingdom was near and again He laments about how few laborers there are. Now, if we take a look at John 4 where Jesus says something similar about the harvest I believe we can catch a nugget that we often gloss over.

John 4:35-38 - Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”

Notice Jesus breaks the harvest up into “fields” here. He says that the fields are WHITE for harvest and in Matthew and Luke He tells the disciples to ask laborers be sent into the harvest. The normal application of these verses is that we are to ask God to raise up and send more “full-time” ministers of the gospel to do His work and I certainly don’t disagree with that interpretation as the context warrants it. However, I also believe that application is incomplete, short sighted and far from what the Lord actually intended. What do I mean by that? When we read about the job description of the “gifts” that the Lord gave to the church, the “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers” from Ephesians chapter 4, we automatically assume these are the laborers that God is asking us to pray are sent into the fields. And again, I believe there is application there as there are many cities and villages around the world with no “full-time” gifts operating among those flocks. I believe the full application that the Lord is referring to when He asks for laborers to be sent is more precisely disciples being raised up and equipped to work in those fields, whether they have a “five-fold” ministry call or not.

Think about it this way. How often when people talk to each other do they talk about what they “do” for a living? Many times people ask the question like this, “So, what’s your “field” of expertise? Or in what “field” do you work?” Then the common response is something like, “Well, I’m a teacher, or an engineer, or retail, or law, or criminal justice,” etc…etc…ad infinitum. The fields that people in the human race work are numerous and vast and yet in how many of those fields do you find people “laboring” as representatives of the Lord? Many are sorely lacking equipped and bold believers and therefore Satan (via his followers in the world) dominates those fields. You see, the church has so pushed laboring in God’s fields as a “five-fold” called full-time ministry (i.e. a pastor) that we’ve totally neglected the bigger picture. God doesn’t need more “five-fold” ministers (He is the one that gives those anyway, we don’t call ourselves into that), what He needs is more “laborers” working in the fields.

Think about it this way. According to the Bible, the job of the “five-fold” ministry gifts is “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13) So many churches and ministries have failed to emphasize the WORK that all believers are supposed to be engaged in through their daily lives. So many have relegated this “work” I speak of to the professional clergy and therefore many fields remain untouched and white for harvest but no one working in them. The call of the pastor, evangelist and other gifts is NOT to be laboring in the fields (although they certainly are laboring in the Word and such and can be found doing the works of Jesus in many different settings) but their primary call is to empower and equip the “rank and file” to be effective in their “field” of ministry. Think about it! One may not think of a garbage collector as a “calling” yet how nasty would our cities and country be if we didn’t have these faithful men and women working day in and day out to keep us from living on top of our trash? Go to any third world nation and you will appreciate the garbage collectors and the sewage facility operators and the other public works laborers! Be thankful that people fulfill these vital “ministries.” One may think, if someone is a follower of Christ then it’s an automatic calling out of “secular” work into real “ministry” work and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I AM SO TIRED OF THE CHURCH PUSHING PASTORAL MINISTRY AS THE CALLING OF ALL TIME AND ANYTHING ELSE ISN’T REAL MINISTRY. These same churches and pastors would sorely miss the cooks and waiters at the various restaurants they frequent after services if every one of them got saved and immediately left their vocations for “real” ministry. Many Pastors would agree with what I’m saying about the ministry taking place outside in the world, but behind closed doors so many of them have an air about them that suggests they are the “true” ministers of the gospel and every other calling doesn’t quite measure up. It’s so annoying and arrogant. No doubt it is a privilege to be called as a gift to the Body of Christ, but it’s no greater of a privilege than doing anything else God calls and anoints another part of the body to do.

God needs LABORERS in the field of garbage collecting so He has a witness and anointed ones reaching and laboring among the garbage collectors. God doesn’t need all the contractors to give up contracting to go preach the gospel in xyz city in xyz country of the world, what He needs is “godly” people in the contracting world laboring in the field of construction as a witness for His kingdom!

Notice the context of Jesus saying the “fields” are white unto harvest in John 4. He had just gotten done ministering a half-breed Jew, a Samaritan woman. Notice the woman also had heard some things about the Messiah who would come, even though she was technically outside of covenant as a Samaritan. Jesus went on to say that one plants and other reaps, but both will receive their reward. Jesus was there that day entering into the labor of some other follower of God who had preached to this Samaritan town about the Messiah coming and of course, Jesus was there at the right time to reap a harvest in a field that others had labored. These “fields” that Jesus is referring to are vast and include cities, regions, vocations, families, villages. Think about the woman who met Jesus at the well. She was an outcast as one who had been married multiple times yet it was her JOB to go get water for herself, her family, her community. She was operating within a vocation for women of her day and yet her field was ripe for the reaping but there was no one there reaping (except for Jesus). She was about her normal daily life, yet someone, somewhere along the line preached a coming Messiah to her and Jesus was in the right place at the right time to do the Father’s will and enter into that labor.

The question is, what about you? Are you laboring in the field you’ve been placed, or are you looking to get out of the field to really “work for God”? There is no area of life where people are living their lives that God doesn’t need laborers. The laborers are few and one of the reasons they are few is because preachers by default leave the impression that true ministry takes place behind a pulpit in an “organized” setting when in reality the reaping of harvests takes place in the fields. One may come in from the field and get built up and equipped to go back to work, but the real work takes place in the field. What field do you work? Is it the medical field? Is it the criminal justice field? Is it the city or state government field? These are the fields the Lord wants to inundate with workers. This is where He is seeking to put His laborers! I’m not saying He isn’t seeking to send more “gifts” to varying fields around the world, but I think that is secondary to the primary calling of believers to labor where they live and work.

One reason I can make such a bold assertion is because of the example of the early church. You’ll notice in the early days there were NOT hundreds of different churches inundating a city. In fact, when John writes the Book of Revelation Jesus speaks to the “messenger” or Pastor of the churches in different CITIES! There weren’t Pastors in these cities; there was A Pastor in these cities. God had called different Pastors to different cities and they were in charge of the flock in the whole city. There weren’t multiple Pastors in the same city and this is where the Modern day Church has gotten WAY off. If someone feels called to “full-time” pulpit ministry, then why not go to a city where there is no “work” being done? Instead, we have several hundred churches in towns of 100,000 and many of which preaching the exact same dead thing, doing the exact same dead thing. I’m not saying God would never call another “pastor” to start a church in a city where there are already a ton of churches, He certainly would. Many Churches aren’t even preaching the full gospel, so they are needed, but what I am saying is that the Scriptural model is ONE Pastor for ONE city. Now, I don’t know how big those cities in the early church were and how many people were under those early pastor’s leadership, but if today is any indication, One Pastor can pastor hundreds of thousands of people – not without help of course – but look at the single largest church in the world in South Korea where it numbers close to a million or like Joel Osteen’s church which numbers close to 50,000. Obviously churches that size require tons of staff to help, hence, other “full-time” ministers have an outlet, but I think God’s design is ONE unified church, not all the sects and division we have in the Body of Christ today. Of course, there is no getting away from it now. Until Jesus comes again, we are never going to see a “unified” Church because you are dealing with people but the point is, what we see today, wasn’t God’s design. It was carnal man that facilitated a divided and sectarian body. God has always had His man leading the whole, Moses, Joshua, Aaron, David, etc… etc… but carnal, selfish men work to subvert God’s choosing and everyone wants to be the “head” cheese.

I’m not writing here to judge whether this person or that person is called to pastor in such and such a place, but if you are reading this then it applies to you. Do you think you should be a “full-time” minister of the gospel? Well, you are and you can be, but that doesn’t mean you are going to be on staff at a church nor does it mean you are going to pastor a local church. What it does mean is that God wants to raise you up as a “full-time” on the job minister of the Gospel within your field of expertise. God needs garbage collectors, lawyers, social workers, police officers, governmental leaders, farmers, ranchers and the list goes on and on! My guess is the greater part of His Body is called to these functions while the lesser part is called to the job of equipping the greater part. Which are you called to? If it’s to be a laborer, then labor. If it’s to be an equipper, then get after it, but get where you need to get and get to work! The days are short.

Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

November 2014

Sometimes we wonder about the world we live in if things had been different and sometimes it’s fun to imagine, but for the most part there is no real way for us to know how it would have been or could have been or should have been. It is the way it is and that’s where we have to live. I was recently sent some questions along these lines. Apparently some people were studying events that took place in the Garden of Eden and of course it fostered the question, “What would have happened if Adam and Eve had not succumbed to the devil? Would we have lived in a perfect world? And what about Jesus? He wouldn’t have had to come and would we have then taken the world for granted, being so perfect? If Adam and Eve hadn’t sinned, wouldn’t someone else down the line have sinned?

These are interesting questions but in one real sense, it doesn’t matter, because Adam and Eve did follow Satan and the rest is history, but just for the sake of having some fun, let’s see if we can answer some of these questions.

The Bible informs us that Jesus Christ was “foreordained before the foundation of the world” to be the spotless lamb who would shed His blood. (1 Peter 1:20) That’s an interesting thought isn’t it? Before the foundation of the world, He had a plan for Jesus, indicating to us that the Lord knew even before man sinned (but after the fall of Satan – this is key to understanding) that Jesus sacrifice would be needed. The only two other times the Bible mentions BEFORE the foundation of the world is when Jesus is talking in John 17 about how the Father loved Him “before the foundation of the world,” and how God chose us in Him in Ephesians 1:4 to be holy and without blame “before the foundation of the world.” These are the only three Scriptures that mention this sacrifice and love BEFORE the world’s foundation, every other Scripture speaks of “from” the foundation of the world. Jesus said that a kingdom had been prepared for His followers “from” the foundation of the world in Matthew 25:34. Jesus said that the blood of all the prophets “from the foundation of the world” would be required of the generation He was speaking to. (Luke 11:50) That gives us a hint of what the Bible refers to as the “foundation of the world.” This is the time of the creation of man onward, not necessarily the first day of creation. I will come back to that!

The Word speaks in Hebrews 9:26 about how Jesus would have had to be sacrificed many times “since the foundation of the world” if His blood in some way didn’t work ONCE and FOR ALL. The good news is His blood did work once for all so He only had to come once! And the final two Scriptures in Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 speak of those whose names were written in the Lambs book or not “from the foundation of the world.”

So a key to understanding this is to understand Luke 11:50 when Jesus said the blood of all the prophets would be required of this generation “from the foundation of the world,” and He goes on to say in verse 51, “from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah,” which shows us what “foundation” Jesus is referring to. People hear the term from the “foundation of the world” and automatically assume that’s from day one where God said let there be light. Well, if we use proper Bible interpretation, we always use the Bible to interpret itself, not read into it our own interpretations. Jesus called the foundation of the world the time of the creation of man, not the creation of the earth. The world many times in Scripture refers to man, not the physical earth. Remember John 3:16, how God so loved “the world,” and everyone knows that means that God so loved people that He gave Jesus, not because He so loved the earth and waters of the earth and so forth. When the Bible speaks of “from the foundation of the world,” it is speaking of the time of man’s creation onward, and more specifically, the time of the creation of man and Satan’s fall and the subsequent fall of man. So the Bible speaks of a time “before” man’s fall and “from” the time of man’s fall. It was the fall of man in the Garden that unleashed the whole plan of salvation and I believe that more accurately it was the rebellion of Satan that unleashed the whole plan as God saw his iniquity was going to lead the rebellion of man. We have to understand that iniquity did not originate with God. So when iniquity showed up on the scene, through Satan, this was the catalyst of the plan of salvation.

You would need to read my blog on the creation of Satan to understand timing here, but where there is no sin; there is no need for a sacrifice. Before Satan’s fall, there was no need to have Jesus lay down His life. The “foreordained before the foundation of the world” of Jesus sacrifice seems to have been in response to Satan’s rebellion. I think the timing of Satan’s rebellion is important to understanding the woulda, coulda, shouldas.

God’s plan was and always will be for man to live in the perfect world He created. However, from the foundation of the world man sinned and so the Lord enacted a plan to get man back to the place He originally planned. And we are going there. A new world is coming that is free of Satan and the sin that has corrupted it and so the question of what would it have been like if Adam and Eve had not sinned will be answered in living color. One, that’s what heaven is like, but heaven was never God’s plan for man. Earth was created for man; Heaven long preexisted earth and it was created for the Spirit world, not physical man. Now, obviously Jesus said that a kingdom was prepared for us “from the foundation of the world,” and so a place in Heaven has been prepared for His followers because of Satan’s rebellion and man’s sin, but this was never God’s plan, it was a response to Satan’s rebellion.

I can’t go all the way back into it, but I believe Satan fell AFTER the creation of Adam and Eve and not before and so if you approach this from that perspective, it makes WAY more sense on the whole “foundation of the world” thing. In other words, Jesus said that God loved him before man sinned and that God chose us in Him before man sinned and that God’s plan to send Jesus was enacted before man sinned, however man isn’t the only one in the equation. We have Satan in the equation who was once Lucifer. I believe that God enacted the plan of sending Jesus for man and began preparing a place for us AFTER Satan concocted his plan to rebel against God but before man actually succumbed to Satan. In other words, this gives context to the terms “before” and “from” the foundation of the world. I am in no way saying that God didn’t know that Lucifer would fall, I’m just saying that God operates by His own principles and there is no evil thought in Him, so although He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, it does not mean He chooses to look at the unlovely things. In other words, in the name of relationship, I believe that God chooses to let us exercise our free-will even though in the end He knows that our choice will not always be in His or another person’s best interests. I believe the Lord did the same with Lucifer. God was not the author of iniquity and evil as some like to claim, Lucifer was. So although God is the END He chose not to prejudge Lucifer based on something He had not yet done. Get it? In other words, if God knows the end from the Beginning, then why even bother creating Lucifer, knowing that in the end this particular Archangel would rebel. He could have foregone all the headache by simply not creating Lucifer, but this is where I believe God limits Himself. He chooses not to focus on the choices of others in favor of letting the relationships manifest organically. This is not a slam on God’s power or anything; if anything it magnifies His glory and power. God has the power to limit Himself and choose not to let his omniscience to control what His creation does. Talk about the AUTHOR of SELF-CONTORL! If you knew someone was going to do something bad, could you choose not to think on it and let them exercise their free-will and not intervene so your perfect world wouldn’t be interrupted? Can you imagine the amount of control it would take over yourself to not control someone like that, especially when you have the absolute power to control? Yet this is what God does with each of us EVERY DAY! He lets us do good and He lets us do bad because it’s only in free-will that true relationship can flourish. Otherwise we all just become robotic pawns. Where does God end? Does He stop your decision to do good because He knows your decision will influence someone down the line to do bad? Nope! He just does what He does and lets us choose.

It’s not such a stretch is it? Think about it. God knows every person’s sin, yet because of the blood of Jesus, He chooses not to look at it or bring it to mind. God saves us and makes us holy and without blame even knowing in the end we still mess it up big time! Why does He do that? Because He can and He’s more interested in us loving Him out of a free-will, than making all decisions about us based on His foreknowledge of us.

So, to specifically answer the questions, “What would have happened if Adam and Eve had not succumbed to the devil? Would we have lived in a perfect world?” Yes, if Lucifer chose not to rebel and Adam and Eve had chose not to rebel, then we would have lived in a perfect world. Sin is what has corrupted it, so if you remove the author of sin and you remove man succumbing to it, you have the garden of Eden for all mankind for all eternity.

And what about Jesus? He wouldn’t have had to come and would we have then taken the world for granted, being so perfect? Jesus would not have had to give His life if man chose not to succumb. Where there is no sin, there is no need for a sacrifice. So again, if you remove Lucifer’s decision and man’s choice to follow Him, then you also remove God having to come up with the plan to redeem man. And No, we would not have taken the perfect world for granted! There would have been no sin in us to take anything for granted. Only selfish people take things for granted and so if you remove sin, you remove selfishness.

If Adam and Eve hadn’t sinned, wouldn’t someone else down the line have sinned? This question is a bit trickier. The fact that Adam and Eve sinned is because they had a tempter, if you remove the tempter, then they wouldn’t have sinned and no one else down the line would have sinned. I believe this is how the new heavens and earth survive another sin fall out because the tempter is ultimately dealt with. Let’s say Adam and Eve chose God’s way instead of succumbing to the enemy, I believe they would have learned a valuable lesson of overcoming the Devil that they could have passed on to their children so that when the tempter came to their door, they too could have overcome. However, I believe had Adam and Eve not sinned that Lucifer wouldn’t have had another chance to tempt someone because they had authority over Satan and it was only giving in to him that gave the Devil the authority he currently possesses. I believe Adam and Eve could have dealt with Satan like Jesus is going to deal with Satan in the near future and they could have cast him into the lake of fire, thus removing all chance for him to tempt any other humans down the line. After all, Jesus is called the last Adam and what the first Adam did wrong, Jesus did right and overcame the temptation of Satan and took back all authority in Heaven and on Earth and the day is soon to come where the tempter is NO MORE! This is what should have happened. Adam and Eve should have believed God and overcome the tempter. Once they overcame, then they could have used their God-given dominion in the earth to cast out the tempter and his followers FOREVER. As it stands, because man gave Satan “god of this world” status, (2 Corinthians 4:4) they couldn’t do it and so it took God’s plan of sending the God-man Jesus to do what Adam and Eve should have done.

Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

The Enemy's Gateway

October 2014

A relative recently asked me to tell them more about spirits attaching themselves to people and what the Bible says about it. I wasn’t sure what this person meant so I asked for clarification. Basically, they wanted to know how it is that people “invite” them into their lives.

Without knowing it, this person hit the nail right on the head. The main crux of the enemy’s entrances into individual’s lives is through invitation. Most believers and unbelievers don’t necessarily hold a séance where they “literally”invite the devil to “attach” himself to them, but make no mistake about it, if the enemy is wrecking havoc anywhere in our life, there was an open door in that area of our life. There are many Scriptures that talk about our response to the enemy and his tactics and when people remain ignorant of them, they are essentially inviting those attacks. Again, most Christians aren’t personally asking for the enemy to come at them, but they don’t have to, because just by what we believe and say, we are either allowing the enemy access or we are actively fighting against and there are really only two positions in the matter.

Jesus said it like this, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” (Matthew 12:30)Without going too far into it, there are two kingdoms in the realm of the spirit and we are either in one or the other based on what we’ve done with Jesus sacrifice on the Cross. Unfortunately for many, there is no fence riding in the spirit world. Your allegiance in every area of your life either rooted in truth or lies. Now here’s the kicker; one could have been translated into God’s Kingdom (Colossians 1:13) but still be at enmity with God in their own thinking. (Romans 8:7) In other words, just because someone gets “born-again”and now their spirit is made brand new and they are a new creation (2 Corinthians5:17) it doesn’t mean their thinking and life habits have altogether changed.And the devices that the enemy uses against us are the same whether we are a child of God or still a slave in his kingdom. If a believer remains ignorant of Satan’s devices, Satan is going to continue to take advantage of them (2Corinthians 2:11) just the same as if that person never got born-again. The difference for the believer is that they have access to the power of God to quench every fiery dart of the enemy (Ephesians 6:16), EVERY single time and the believer is empowered with the authority of Christ to actively fight against and defeat the enemy’s tactics and WIN every single time. (Matthew28:18-20, 2 Corinthians 2:14)

So where am I getting all this? Is it just made up mumbo-jumbo? Well, I’m glad you asked. Let’s mention a few examples in Jesus ministry that you can read later where He dealt with demonic oppression that caused sickness, disease and/or spiritual possession. What was His response?Most of the examples in Jesus ministry don’t really address “how” the enemy gained access to a particular person’s life but rather it just shows Jesus exercising authority over those demonic works. After I mention a few examples,I’ll explain what the Word reveals as Satan’s primary gateway to gain access into people’s lives, believer in Christ or not.

In a generic sense, all sickness, disease and physical/mental malady is oppression of the enemy as revealed in this Scripture in Acts 10:38, which reads, “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Notice the Bible called every healing or deliverance we read in Jesus ministry as a person who was “oppressed” by the devil. All physical/mental/spiritual oppression is directly from the devil. The oppression takes on different forms, such as the man born blind in John 9, or the woman who was bent over with a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years in Luke 13, or the woman with the flow of blood in Luke 8, or the boy who was delivered from a mute spirit that often tried to destroy him in Mark 9. In every case of healing and deliverance we read, the oppressor is of Satanic origin. This is reiterated in 1 John 3:8 which partially reads, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” One of Jesus purpose for coming was to “destroy” the enemy’s works. That word destroy doesn’t mean so that they no longer exist, but rather it means to “loose as in bonds.” This is what happens when a person opens their life up to the power of God, they can be “loosed” from whatever is oppressing them. The problem is, the freedom from that oppression isn’t guaranteed so long as the person continues to “invite” the oppression back into their life. The Lord is a perfect gentleman, He will not FORCE His freedom on anyone and although the enemy is a perfect creep, he cannot just do whatever he wants to a person at any time he wants. He must gain access.

Jesus taught much about the realm of the spirit and He revealed in Luke11:24-26 in the context of teaching about casting out demons, “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest;and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there;and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” Note what Jesus said, a spirit can go out of a person and whatever was oppressing that person would at the same time be gone,however, it doesn’t mean the person will remain free. It requires that a person fill their life with something else other than what they were previously filled with. In other words, it was the beliefs, words and actions that opened the door to the enemy in the first place and if that person doesn’t replace old thought patterns and beliefs with new ones based on Christ’s freedom, then they are susceptible to even greater oppression.

The Word teaches in Hosea 4:6 that God’s people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. Peter also taught us in 2 Peter 1:2 that “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Isn’t it interesting that multiplied grace and peace only comes through the knowledge of God. We get the knowledge of God through the Word of God, so this is what Jesus is telling His disciples when teaching about the operation of evil spirits. If a person is not proactive in replacing old beliefs with new ones based on the knowledge of God then no true transformation can take place. People will continue to be destroyed because they lack knowledge and not just any old knowledge, but the knowledge of God that brings grace and peace. Notice Romans 12:2 which says we are not to be conformed to the world but be transformed by renewing our minds. What happens if believers fail to renew their thinking to the Lord’s thinking? Well, we end up being conformed to the world’s way of living, believing and acting and therefore get the same results they get.

People may not be aware of this, but believers can act just as much enemies of God as a non-believer because of what they allow to dictate their thinking and believing. Look at Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” How many Christians operate with a carnal mind even though their spirit has been made a child of God? The answer is most Christians in some area of their life at enmity (or as an enemy) with God because of our fleshly thinking. The question may be, what is a carnal mind? We always have to let the Word interpret itself. That same portion of Scripture says in Romans 8:6 that “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Again, someone may be confused but I don’t think we have to go further than Jesus’ words in John 6:63 to explain. It says,“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”So Jesus taught us that HIS WORDS are spirit and HIS WORDS are LIFE. So the carnal/fleshly mind which amounts to death is the opposite of a spiritual mind which amounts to life and peace.

The single greatest entrance that the enemy has to our lives is through our minds. If he can get us to think according to the flesh (or the world), then we’ve set ourselves as an enemy (enmity) of God, but if we can replace those old demonic ways of thinking with God’s mind (spiritual mindedness) then it will be“life and peace” to us.

The enemy technically has no power or authority over a believer’s life,however, through his lies and deceit, people let him gain a foothold. This is why we are admonished in the word to “set our mind on things above” (Colossians3:2) and why we are told to not “give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27). These are “commands” to the believer. If we don’t consciously “set” our minds on God’s word then we are either unconsciously or consciously setting our minds on the lies of the enemy. If we don’t consciously resist giving place to the devil then we will unconsciously give him all sorts of place. If we don’t actively fight against the devil’s tactics as we are admonished in James 4:7, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you,” then we are prime prey. This is a two part command. Submit to God and Resist the devil. A big part of submitting to God is submitting to His Words about your life rather than the worlds words about your life.(Example: You saying you are a sinner when God’s Word says you’ve become His righteousness – 2 Corinthians 5:21. You see when we don’t submit to God’s Word about our nature, then can’t resist condemnation which is a tactic of the enemy to nullify your faith.) The words “resist the devil” here James 4:7 means to actively fight against. This doesn’t mean we take up arms against the devil in a natural sense of course. The devil is a spirit being. We can’t literally punch him in the face; however, the Bible does tell us what our weapons are and what they are to be used for.

First, the Word teaches that our wrestle is not against flesh and blood(people) but against spiritual wickedness and demonic hosts and in the same portion of Scripture we are told put on the whole armor of God so that we can withstand the enemy’s strategies/tactics. We are told what that armor is and what our weapons are. (Ephesians 6:10-20) Then we are informed in 2 Corinthians10:3-5 that, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Look at how revealing that is concerning the enemy’s entrance into our lives. His wiles(strategies) involve thought patterns which in turn influence our believing which in turn influence our words and actions.

Notice it said that our weapons were MIGHTY. Ephesians 6:17tells us what our weapon is, “the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,”and it also informs us that our defense includes armor of truth, righteousness,salvation, the gospel and the “shield of faith.” So the weapons God has given us to “resist” the devil with is His Word and our faith in His Word. If a believer refuses to “cast(ing) down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” then that believer opens a WIDE DOOR to the enemy to “attach”or gain entrance into their life.

Jesus did warn a man who had an infirmity for 38 years in John 5 after He healed him to “go and sin no more lest a worst thing come upon you,”but sin isn’t even the main door we open to the enemy. In this particular man’s life, some sin gave Satan entrance and that’s why the Lord warned him about sin and a worse thing coming upon him, but in another example Jesus said it wasn’t any person’s particular sin that caused a man to be born blind. If you read in John 9, you will see that Jesus told his disciples that it wasn’t the man’s sin or his parent’s sin that caused this man to be born blind, yet the enemy was able to gain access to the baby boy in the womb and cause him to be born blind.Living a life of sin is certainly an invitation to destruction as Ephesians4:26 indicates, however, I don’t believe it is the primary way the enemy gains entrance.

Our thinking which influences our believing and therefore our speaking is the main way the enemy gains entrance to accomplish his will(stealing, killing, and destroying – John 10:10) in our lives. How do I know this? Because of the Scriptures we just read that told us what we are fighting against and what our weapons are to be used for. Our weapons are not to be used to pull down sin (although the net effect will be resisting sin) but rather our weapons are to be used to pull down ungodly thought patterns. This is the whole reason the Lord wants us to begin the process of renewing our minds, so that we can be transformed into His image and live in victory over the lies of the enemy. The kicker is, this type of freedom from demonic oppression requires effort on our part to keep our mind on the Lord and what He said about our lives. Philippians 4:6-8 is an awesome Scripture but very few Christians practice not worrying and setting their mind on God’s things! Instead they give their mind over to worry and wonder why the devil has a heyday in their life.

Each part of the armor of God spoken of in Ephesians 6 is a lesson in itself, but a summary explanation would be that if we don’t put on a knowledge of our righteousness in Christ we are susceptible to condemnation(which wrecks our confidence before God); if we don’t put on a knowledge of truth, then we are susceptible to lies (lies build strongholds from which the enemy can rule a person’s life); if we don’t put on a knowledge of salvation(which is healing, deliverance, forgiveness, etc) then we are susceptible to sickness, bondage and believing God is mad at us; if we don’t put on the knowledge of peace then we are susceptible to worry (this is a huge tactic of the enemy – worry is faith in bad news, whereas peace is faith in good news,the gospel); if we don’t put on the knowledge of faith then we are susceptible to doubt (doubt will sap your faith of power to work); finally, if we don’t put on the knowledge of the Spirit then we have nothing to fight back the lies of the enemy with.

Every lie of the enemy is spoken, whether through another person, directly into your heart by the devil, or through your own belief systems and if we are not sober and vigilant to arm ourselves with God’s mighty weapons of truth, then we are susceptible to being devoured. Chew on this for a second. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” You see, the devil can’t just devour anyone and everyone, but he can attach himself and begin to devour areas of our lives where we are not vigilant to keep his lies at bay by combating those lies with the truth.

A quick practical example and this should suffice. Many people have contemplated suicide in their life. Why do we contemplate it? We are thinking of taking that exit from life because we are focused on a lie about ourselves or our lives in some way and have chosen to believe it. There has never been a person who has committed suicide that did it inspired by the Holy Spirit. What happened was the person was so overcome with lies that they gave into them. In those situations, the truth of God’s Word needs entrance to counteract the lies.Jesus said that if we know the truth, the truth will make us free. (John 8:32) Bondage comes when we believe lies. Just like God gains access to our lives through the preaching of the gospel, us believing and acting on that truth, so also the enemy gains access to our lives through the preaching of lies and deceit, us believing and acting on those lies.

The examples are endless of mankind believing and acting on lies and therefore the means by which the enemy gains access are endless. What we must do in every area where we are not experiencing victory is to figure what we are believing that is contrary to the “knowledge of God” and bring those lies into “captivity into the obedience of Christ.” In other words, we must counteract lies with truth and make our minds obey the truth of Christ. It’s a choice we make and no one can make it for us.

There’s so much more that could be said, but I hope for the sake of my relative and those reading this blog, this sheds some light on how the enemy comes against us and how he gains access. Simply put, we allow it.

Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

The Focus Factor-Answering Disease Awareness

September 2014

Recently, a friend posted a comment in response to the“ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” about NOT being disease focused but choosing life instead and being Jesus focused. Who would have thought that such an innocent comment would stir up such a firestorm of vitriol? Comments ran the gamut, from those loving it to those accusing this person of insensitivity. Apparently an encouragement to focus more on Jesus and less on the problem of disease is somehow insensitive to those suffering with disease. I attempted to come to his defense and say there is nothing insensitive about encouraging disease ridden people to stop focusing on disease and instead focus on Jesus. This comment of course made me the new target of the vitriol and I was accused of some how condemning those with said disease to death because I’m against certain methods of finding a cure – namely “Embryonic” stem cell research. Everyone who reads at all knows that there is nothing wrong with stem cell research, as long as you are getting those cells from willing adult participants, but we have crossed a line in the scientific world by “creating life” in the lab room and then harvesting those “potential” human beings (embryos) for their cells.

I’m personally an organ donor, so, God forbid the “worst”were to happen to me, science can use my organs to bless someone else… I’ll be dead; I won’t need them but that is conscious choice I made to BRING life in my death, however, humans ought not to be slaughtered in the name of finding ANY CURE… EVER! Of course, one person thought this line of thinking was narrow and judgmental, because who am I to give my OPINION on “how ‘research’ is done.” My opinion has nothing to do with anything.If we as believers don’t allow the Word of God to dictate our beliefs and therefore govern what we allow as appropriate, then, Yes, my opinion is as good as the next guys… however, taking life to supposedly bring life is contrary to the wisdom that is from above. It would be one thing if someone laid down their life to bring life to another person (like Jesus did) but it’s a whole different thing to take life from one to bring it to another. Either the person that said this isn’t a believer and so of course their views on life are skewed or the person is GREATLY ignorant of God’s Word.

Then another person asked what I’m sure they thought was such a “baffling, unanswerable, poignant” question that I sat and thought,really? Do you really need to ask? I didn’t take the time to answer the question on Facebook for a couple reasons… one, some answers require a more lengthy explanation and the Facebook forum is just not conducive to it, but two, and more importantly, you could tell the person’s question was not born out of sincere interest in having an answer but to “prove a point.” And of course, I was right in my assessment of the question, because the person’s “true colors”came out just a day later as they blasted me for arrogance and insensitivity.Of course the person did what so many do when they have a position they can’t defend, they put words in your mouth and build “straw men” so that they can attack your argument and sound like they defeated your argument. The problem is they are ‘defeating’ something that isn’t even real. (A straw man is a common type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on the misrepresentation of an opponent's arguments. - Wikipedia)

Here is the person’s statement that I will now take the time to answer according to the Word, this person stated, “I don't understand how being educated on ALS detracts from my focus on Jesus. Please explain.” Of course this person made this statement in response to my friend’s original post which was, “ALS awareness? I'm sorry, but I choose life. How about Jesus Awareness? Don't be disease focused. Be Jesus focused!”

So, how does being disease or “other” thing focused detract from your focus on Jesus? Well, I’m glad you asked! The Bible is replete with admonitions to be “heavenly” minded and focused on Jesus and the answers He provides to life, rather than be focused on the evil in our world.You see, some may even take issue with me calling disease “evil “ and they will automatically accuse me of calling the person with a disease evil. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The works of darkness include sin and the ugly offspring of sin - sickness, disease, pain, deformity, et. all.

The Bible said it like this, “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38) You see the contrast here? The Bible calls the oppression that Satan was responsible for as bad, but the healing that Jesus was responsible for as good.Healing is GOOD and disease is bad. Doesn’t make the person with the sickness or oppression either good or bad, it just makes the work (oppression/healing)good or bad. Jesus went about DOING good! What was the good He was doing? He was healing those whom Satan had racked with disease and sickness. Another verse says, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8) You see, Jesus is in the business of DESTORYING Satan’s works. What are Satan’s works? Acts 10 revealed that oppression which manifested in demon possession and sickness were works of the devil and we saw that Jesus healing of those sicknesses was the “destroying” of those works. Sin and sickness are inextricably linked. It doesn’t mean that because someone is sick or maimed or diseased that it is a direct result of their sin, it just means that the enemy’s works are in this world because we(mankind) opened the door to them through sin. Example, it’s not the baby born maimed who sinned that caused that maiming but rather the parent or grandparent or somewhere down the line we opened the door to that (really we could go all the way back to Adam, but generally we don’t have to because if people are honest they can often point to decisions they have made that opened the door to the enemy). People don’t like to hear that because they somehow get offended when we have to acknowledge it’s our choices and belief systems that open the door to the enemy and that it has nothing to do with God or His will. Why is it so offensive to acknowledge that?

Don’t get offended! Just change! God is on your side and Jesus WANTS to save, heal,deliver, et. all…because that is the business He is in – manifesting to DESTROY the works of the Devil! Look at another example of this truth in Jesus ministry. There was a man born blind and Jesus’ disciples questioned Jesus and it’s recorded in John 9, “And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” and Jesus’ answer I’m sure shocked them! He said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned” and then Jesus goes on to explain that it doesn’t matter how or why this man was born blind “but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” Jesus told His disciples that it was neither the direct result of this man’s or his parents’ sin that this blindness happened to this guy. Jesus didn’t focus on the blindness nor the cause nor did He educate Himself on all matters pertaining to blindness, He just provided the CURE – Himself walking empowered by the Holy Spirit, acting out Isaiah’s prophetic word of Jesus carrying away all sickness and disease.

Your focus on matters pertaining to disease or the cure to disease is either going to strengthen the hold that disease has on you or weaken it. I want you to look at an Old Testament prophetic picture of Jesus. In Moses day,the children of Israel were rebelling against God and so snakes were sent in among them and they started biting and killing them. God then gave Moses the “cure”for venomous snake bites. Numbers 21:9 is very REVEALING as to God’s thoughts on where we put our focus when faced with life threatening illness. “And Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it on a pole, and if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked to the serpent of bronze (attentively, expectantly, with a steady and absorbing gaze], he lived.” (Numbers 21:9 - Amplified Bible) Notice God’s direction to Moses, it wasn’t to educate the children of Israel on snake bites or hold an awareness campaign so everyone can work together to find a cure or to get the best minds and doctors studying snake bites, it was to get their gaze off the problem and onto the solution! How in THE WORLD is a serpent on a pole a solution to a problem? Well, it was a prophetic picture of Jesus on the Cross. The Bible says that God made Jesus who knew no sin to BECOME sin for us,that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21)The serpent is a picture of sin and the pole is a picture of the cross… Jesus became “sin” so we could be made righteous. God wanted the Israelites to be looking for the one to come who would “heal all their diseases,” but what is the prerequisite to receiving that healing? Focus! The Israelites who chose to focus on the problem believing that looking a dumb pole meant nothing would in turn die but those who chose to “focus” on the solution were healed and lived!The same is true today! Those who choose to focus on the problem and refuse to “attentively, expectantly, with a steady and absorbing gaze” look to Jesus will also die. This is true when it comes to the forgiveness of sins and the healing of our bodies. If people look anywhere but Jesus for eternal life, they will die in their sin. Period. Doesn’t matter if we like that or agree! God’s solution to the SIN problem is Jesus. The same is true in healing. If people look anywhere but Jesus for healing, they are bound to die of that sickness. Jesus is the solution to the disease problem.

Of course people take issue with that because they say if Jesus is the solution and He already healed everyone on the cross 2000 years ago, then why aren’t people healed? Well, the same could be said of receiving eternal life. If Jesus provided forgiveness 2000 years ago, why are not all people forgiven? Well, they are forgiven! Just not everyone has received it.Why haven’t they received it? There a million reasons why (actually probably as many reasons as there are people), but a BIG one is… they just don’t know! The same is true of healing! Jesus healed everyone at the same time but not everyone receives it. Why? There are a million reasons why (actually probably as many reasons as there are people not receiving), but a BIG one is… they just don’t know! And many who do know don’t receive because they are double minded.James said in James 1:6-8, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” So many people are double-minded about the things of God that it’s impossible for them to receive!So what does your focus have to do with it? Everything! If you’re going to focus on a “natural” doctor “discovered” cure to xyz disease but then at the same time you are going to say, but Jesus is the healer, then you probably have doubt mixed in there and that’s why you are not receiving. Don’t get offended by that! We’ve ALL been double-minded in areas of our lives! The Bible is written so we can learn, grow and have victory. If we are not seeing victory in an area, don’t get mad at God and His Word and accuse Him of not coming through, instead, learn… grow… change! Get so focused on the “solution,” Jesus,that there is no room for doubt!

(Continue to Part 2...)

Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

The Focus Factor Pt. 2

September 2014

(Continued from Part 1...)

Now consider communion that we as believers partake of! What a picture of focus and what your focus will do for your life! The Word says that the cup represents Jesus shed blood for washing away our sins and the bread represents His broken Body! (1 Corinthians 11) There you go. Sin and sickness taken care of on the cross. Many people believe and agree with the remission of sins by His blood part, but they forget that His body was broken for the healing of our bodies! In fact, this is the very reason Christians are sick and die early because they REFUSE to “discern the Lord’s body.” (1 Corinthians11:29) 1 Peter 2:24 says, “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” The Lord wants us to remember something when we take communion! Number one, that our sins are GONE by that shed blood so there is no condemnation and now it should be easy to receive ALL the promises of God because God is not against us but for us. Number two, that our healing has been paid for in Jesus stripes! The bread represents His BROKEN body! Why was His body broken? Just for fun so as to make the crucifixion more gruesome? No, the stripes meant something. They meant that you and I could receive healing in our bodies just like we received the forgiveness of our sins. Communion is to remind us of this, but instead how many people get offended when you suggest that people forget the problem and instead educate yourself in the Word and what Jesus did for us on the cross.

What happens when we focus on problems instead of the solution? Well, like anything we give our attention to, it becomes BIGGER in us. It’s the principle of magnification! Whatever you magnify becomes bigger!If you magnify a sickness by becoming an expert in all things sickness then that sickness becomes bigger (in your mind) whereas if you magnify Jesus, the solution becomes bigger (in your mind.) Obviously the sickness and/or God don’t actually change size… God is infinitely bigger than ALS or any other disease,but what you focus on will become bigger in YOUR mind. Either the CURE to sickness will reign in your heart and it will be easy for you to see God destroying that work in your life or the sickness will get bigger in your mind as you educate yourself and become an “expert” in that particular “evil.” Can you see how your focus is going to either help or hinder your ability to receive?

Notice with me the last half of Romans 16:19, “but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” We are directly contradicting this verse when we become wise in what is evil and remain simple concerning good. Remember the Word contrasted the good Jesus did by going about and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, with the evil of Satan’s oppression. What good does becoming “educated” concerning some evil work of the enemy like ALS,Cancer, etc do for you? Nothing! All it does is magnify that disease in your mind,on the flip side, if we will focus our attention and look intently at the “serpent on the cross,” we are making a choice for LIFE! The word “simple” in this verse means “stupid or simpleton” in the Greek. God doesn’t want us simpletons concerning the “good” of Jesus healing but HE does want us “simpletons” concerning the “evil”of Satan’s works.

You don’t have to understand a disease to be healed of it. If your body shakes in a seizure like fashion uncontrollably, do you have to be educated concerning it in order to beat it? Nope! You just need to be “educated” in the Word. The Bible says that God sent His Word and healed us and delivered us from destructions. (Psalm 107:20) Well, who is the Word? The Word is Jesus! (John1:1, 14) God sent Jesus to heal us and if we will focus on HIM and stop being so distracted by all the evils in this world, then we’d have better results.Remember the story of Mary and Martha? Jesus said that Martha was worried and troubled about by many things and she distracted herself through serving and she wasn’t happy that she was the only one living distracted. She wanted Mary to be “distracted” with her and so she complained against her sister Mary whom had chosen the good part and sat at the feet of Jesus to learn of Him. (Luke 10:38-41) That’s what focusing on and educating yourself concerning any disease does for you. It increases troublesome thoughts and worries and distracts you from the more important task of learning of Jesus. We definitely need to learn some things! We need to learn to focus on the solution to all our problems in this life. The Bible refers to those who have to be taught the elementary principles of God’s Word again and again as being “unskilled in the word of righteousness.” (Hebrews 5:13) This is where the whole world is and many in the Body of Christ are today. Unskilled in the word of righteousness! Oh, we are skilled at every other worldly or ungodly thing, but when it comes to righteousness, we haven’t got a clue. An understanding of your righteousness is going to amplify your faith to receive God’s promises. When you know who you are and how you became who you are, the enemy can ARRAY every wicked work and fiery dart, against you but you will quench each one of them with your shield of faith in what Jesus did!

This is what all these modern day awareness campaigns are doing to people. They are causing people to get their focus off of Jesus (not that their focus was ever on Jesus) and onto the problem and of course every natural solution man can come up with. All these awareness campaigns magnify those sicknesses and we treat those sicknesses with such awe and some sort of perverted “holy” respect because they are “big” and they are killing or debilitating so many people that we have to band together as mankind and “find” a cure. Well, I think we need to find a cure too… I can introduce you to Him. His name is Jesus. Let’s begin to take our focus OFF the evils of this world and instead educate ourselves in the Word that we may adequately address those evils. It’s not that we are called to“ignore” evils, as if they don’t exist; Jesus looked the evil oppressions of Satan in the face every day of His ministry and answered those oppressions by destroying them and then He gave us power and authority to do the same… in fact, He said, that the works He did, we would do also and greater works. (Luke10:19, John 14:12) What were His works? It was never studying and educating Himself concerning the enemy’s oppressions, but instead His works were undoing and “destroying” those works. This is our call as believers. To DO the WORKS of Jesus.

Look at this other “Focus Factor.” The Word admonished us to “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2)Doesn’t get any clearer than that! We are told where to set our focus. You can’t set your mind somewhere opposite your focus. How does becoming aware of and educating yourself concerning sickness detract from your focus on Jesus?Because your life is going in the direction of your dominate thought! The Bible has tons to say about the thoughts and meditations of our hearts. If we are so focused on the THOUSANDS of diseases in the world (if you aren’t going to be a hypocrite, you need to give all disease equal awareness) you have no time to focus on things above. Paul told the Philippians what to THINK! Many people would get offended if someone told them to stop thinking about all the evil in the world and start thinking on, “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure,whatever things are lovely,whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) There is nothing virtuous or true or lovely about the diseases that maim people’s lives. I don’t want to give those diseases an audience in my mind; instead I want to set my mind on things of God! Where you put your focus is of paramount importance. You are TOLD to think a certain way but so many believers have adopted a world mindset to all problems in the world. The world makes disease awareness a big deal because their answer is in the arm of the flesh and if we can just educate ourselves enough and really understand a disease then we can beat it! This is not the response of the believer. The believer recognizes what is good and what is evil and chooses to focus on the good!

Does that explain it? Educating yourself concerning sickness absolutely detracts you from your focus on Jesus. Becoming an “expert” on any of the evil works of Satan is a direct contradiction to the Word’s admonition to be wise concerning what is GOOD (healing is good! Jesus is good!) and simple concerning evil(disease and all Satan’s oppressions are evil.) It’s a direct affront to setting your mind on things above and thinking on lovely things.

I could go on and on with example after example in the Old Testament and in Jesus life and ministry about how your focus either hinders or helps your faith in what Jesus accomplished but I think for now this satisfactorily answers the supposition that education in sickness doesn’t detract from focusing on Jesus.

No more “disease”awareness! JESUS AWARENESS!

Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Tree of Good and Evil: Whose Doing? Part 2

August 2014

What if we read God’s command to Adam to not eat of GET, not as a command because He wanted to give us a choice, but as a command warning? In other words, God knew that eating it would bring evil knowledge and result in spiritual death and eventually result in physical death so He tells Adam, “but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) First off, God didn’t create a tree that makes one wise concerning evil. We are “commanded” in the word to be “wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” (Romans 16:19) Evil is Lucifer’s invention, not God’s. God would not have had evil to attach to some tree because evil didn’t originate with Him. God could “attach” life to a tree because He is the originator of life, but God wouldn’t want us to be simple concerning evil and then create the tool by which we could become knowledgeable of it! That is CONTRADICTING His own WORD! People act like we wouldn’t know or understand “Good” if we didn’t know “Evil.” That is so not true. That is a lie of the devil to somehow sugar coat evil and somehow make evil good because, Evil makes you appreciate Good more. So therefore in a roundabout way, Evil is good. Paul had this same argument with people who were saying we should sin more so grace abounds. (Romans 6:1) How foolish and what a retarded argument. Evil, an invention of Lucifer, was meant to destroy men’s lives and God doesn’t need the presence of Evil so people can more fully appreciate His goodness. That’s like saying; “I’m going to break your leg so you can more appreciate non-broken bones. I’m going to steal your money so you can more appreciate not being stolen from.” Is it true man takes God’s goodness for granted? Of course! But don’t equate man’s lack of appreciation for the goodness of God as a reason for the necessity of Evil and the presence of it. It is possible for someone to appreciate God’s Goodness without ever having to experience wickedness to FULLY appreciate it! It’s God telling you and I what is good. If God calls it good, it’ GOOD! And you can choose to appreciate what God calls Good without having to experience some form of evil to truly appreciate it. Evil and good are not buddies working together to accomplish God’s purposes.

Satan is the author of iniquity, lies, murder, and all evil. So you see Satan did something to the tree and God warned man about the tree so that he wouldn’t accidently consume Satan’s poison. God warned Adam about the tree. Notice what Satan did, he tainted a tree that was near the tree that would give life and notice how he directed Eve’s attention, NOT to the “tree of life” but, to the tree of knowledge of good and evil, GET. In other words, nothing stood out about the tree that beckoned her to it, but he got Eve to doubt God’s warning about the tree. Think about it, why would God forbid Adam from eating a tree that was also a tree of knowledge of GOOD? Everything God made He called good. The reason God warned Adam about GET is because of the evil part of the tree. Satan did something to the tree of the knowledge of Good and God wasn’t about to let Adam eat from it. You’ve heard the saying, “You are what you eat?” Think about it. God kept Adam and Eve from the “tree of life” after their disobedience. Why? Because He said that if they ate from it, they would live forever. How is it some natural tree could do something so “supernatural,” produce eternal natural life? Good question, but the same principle applied to GET. How could a natural tree do something so “supernatural” in the opposite direction, produce spiritual and natural death? In the case of the tree of life and GET there was something about them that could either bring life or death and God was trying to prevent the latter when He warned Adam about GET.

You could say but how could Satan do this? Simple, Satan has power. Although less power than God’s power, power nonetheless. I want you to read Jesus words about the enemy’s ability to plant “spiritual” seed that is evil as Jesus relays the story of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13: 24-30. In verses 37 through 43, Jesus explains the story of the wheat and the tares to his disciples so there is NO DOUBT what He is talking about. The wheat in the story is the Sons of the Kingdom of God, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. Think about that. Jesus sowed seed and produced a crop! Satan also has the ability to sow a different kind of seed and produce a crop! In this case, Jesus produced people, sons of the kingdom, and Satan produced wicked people. Jesus taught this. Not me. If Satan has the ability to manipulate God’s field (the world) in such a way that tares can find their way into it, certainly he has the ability to plant or at least manipulate a tree that mimics the “tree of life”, only its end result is death. Only 12 times is Satan mentioned in the Old Testament, and nine of those times it is in the book of Job. In the book of Job we see Satan manipulating circumstances in life to destroy Job’s family, animals, goods, and then attempting Job’s very life. Satan can manipulate and distort God’s creation to the point that it brings disaster on men’s lives. If he can manipulate the weather and circumstances, how much more could he manipulate a tree in the Garden of Eden to try to get man to submit to him?

Throughout Jesus ministry we see Jesus releasing those whom “Satan has bound.” (Luke 13:16) Satan bound this woman with a spirit of infirmity and she was bent over for 18 years. Satan was able to manipulate a physical body. How much more to manipulate a “tree” in a garden? Jesus delivered a man of a legion of demons in one story and those demons entered pigs and the pigs killed themselves because they didn’t want to be possessed. This guy was so possessed that shackles couldn’t hold him and the demons would make him cut himself. (Luke 8:30-33) How much more could Satan take a tree God planted and manipulate it into something that produced a “knowledge of evil?” The power of Satan allowed the magicians who challenged Moses to change water into blood, sticks into snakes, and direct frogs onto the land. (Exodus 7 and 8) Certainly Satan could manipulate a tree in order to kill. The examples could go on and on and on. This is what Satan does. He comes to “steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:10) Satan is a master counterfeiter. He can take something that God created for good and totally twist it and use it for evil purposes. This is what he has done with viruses and bacteria whose original creation must have been good and helpful to man but have been twisted and turned and used by Satan to make man sick. This is obviously what happened to cats. God made cats good, but Satan made them evil! JK on that last point… kind of…. Okay, not really, cats are evil and you are evil if you like them. You know I’m messing with you on the cat point. Quit being mad at me. ;)

If you read my exposition on the Creation of Satan then you could easily see how all this happened. Lucifer wants what God freely gave to man and so enacts a plan to get it. He couldn’t just take man’s authority and dominion; he had to get it by getting Adam and Eve to “deliver” it to him. So, what does he do? Well, as the author of evil, he plants a manipulated seed or manipulates an already existing tree into the tree of knowledge of evil and uses the fact that the tree also had some knowledge of good attached to it to deceive man into thinking that it would be okay to eat of it. Adam and Eve didn’t know evil, so this was a novelty to them. Satan played on the novelty of the knowledge of evil, the potential of becoming “wise” and the fact that the tree looked like all the other trees – yummy - to get them to partake of his twisted concoction, contrary to the warning and direction of the Father. If God knew evil before man’s creation, then God would have created man with that knowledge as well, but God created man in His likeness and image and that likeness is one devoid of the knowledge of evil. (Another fact that points to the notion that Lucifer fell after man’s creation and not before. If Lucifer had fallen before man’s creation, then God would have had a knowledge of evil and would have incorporated that knowledge into man’s creation.) God’s knowledge of evil had to have come from the author of evil. I know someone could easily say that God knows the end from the beginning, so how could He not have known evil before Satan invented it?

Well, that’s another discussion, but simply, God chooses not to look at certain things for the sake of relationship and He chooses to think on certain things. In other words, just because God can know all things and does, doesn’t mean He chooses to use that omniscience. He actually has the ability to not think about what someone will do or say so as to have a genuine relationship with them. (Take it or leave it, but it’s a possibility.) I can show you many examples in the Word of the Lord relating to man this way. He knows what they are going to say and do and yet chooses not to look at what He already knows they are going to say or do to give them a chance to talk to Him about things. Maybe I’ll save that for another time.

So Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s “command warning” and they suffered death as a result. Not because God killed them for disobeying but because the author of sin and death go hand in hand. Man left their state under God’s rule and entered into a new family of rule where Satan was now king! They rejected God’s body of life for a body of death. They rejected God’s family for a family of disobedience. And now that Satan was king, death was soon to follow as he was the first to experience death – separation from God. Notice also what happened to them as a result. The penalty for submission to Satan was pain and multiplied sorrow for Eve and for Adam it was a cursed ground that brought forth another perversion of a plant in the form of thorns and thistles and of course under Satan’s rule, work would become LABORIOUS. (Genesis 3:16-19) It’s not even so much as God’s anger and disappointment in man that got them these penalties; this is the simple outworking of being under Satan’s domain. How do I know that? Because God in dealing with man’s disobedience didn’t leave man to forever be subject to Satan’s rule. In fact, He immediately enacted a plan to get man back over into His family by prophesying the Seed that would come and crush the serpents head. (Genesis 3:15) None of what Satan did or man did was a part of God’s plan, but because this is what happened, He came up with another plan to get it all turned around and to ultimately vanquish Satan and his angels and to completely do away with the opportunity for another rebellion like that which Satan perpetrated. The future natural man will have access once again to the “tree of life,” and because people will be able to be “born-again” spiritually in that day, it won’t matter if they were born with a sin nature because that sin nature can be changed by choosing Jesus, crucified from the foundation of the world!

I probably raised some questions for you, but don’t just automatically throw it out, but consider it. Mull it over. Compare it with Scripture. Tell me what is strong? What is hard to swallow and why? What are your questions? I know for probably most people there is going to be a lot of “new” thoughts but are the thoughts you had Biblical or based on tradition or assumption? These are questions we must ask.

(NOTE: I’m presenting an IDEA here; I’m not saying this is the way it is! So, please understand that I can make an argument that God is responsible (although not as strong of one) for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but for the sake of this blog, I wanted to make the argument the other way. I challenge you to make the argument the other way backed by Scripture, not just your assumptions and see what you come up with.)

Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Tree of Good and Evil: Whose Doing? Part 1

July 2014

This is a follow up on my blog about “The Creation of Satan.” I ended that blog by asking, “Well, where did the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” come from then.”

You’ve probably heard similar things as me when it comes to “the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” (Through this exposition so I don’t have to keep typing “the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” I’m just going to refer to it as the good-evil tree or GET for short.) You’ve probably heard something like, “God planted the tree of life AND the tree of knowledge of good and evil, GET,” and the reason God did that was to give us a choice. But is it true that God planted GET? I’m going to make a case that it is NOT true. In fact, the more I read the Word and listen to what Jesus actually said, I’m convinced God had nothing to do with that tree making its way into the Garden of Eden. Someone may say, “How can you say that, the Bible says, God planted a garden eastward in Eden and that He made every tree grow out of the ground and it didn’t say anyone else did.” (Genesis 2:8-9) Yes, but if you will read the creation account carefully, the story isn’t necessarily reported in perfect chronological order or in perfect detail. In chapter one the Lord paints more of an overview of creation, and then in chapter two He gives quite a bit more detail about how things went down on certain days but there is not tons of explanation. In two chapters, the Bible lays down a foundation that God is creator of man and earth and then in chapter 3 we see the fall of man and for the rest of the Bible we are into the story and history of man. Aside from a few other Scriptures that highlight the creation, there isn’t much detail about how everything went down. It only takes six chapters to get to the flood and that covers about 1600 years and so you can see there is not much detail about the early days of creation and life of man on earth, aside from the genealogy of man.

You really need to read chapter 1 and 2 of Genesis again to be able to follow along with what I’m about to share. In fact, that the timeline you may have previously prescribed to may not be so accurate. In other words, we gloss over what the Bible says and say things like, “Oh, I know that.” But do you? Read the first two chapters and listen to what the Word actually says and see if you see anything that you hadn’t seen before.

Example, in reading Genesis one’s account of creation you will read that God was creating the beasts of the earth and such and then it says that God made man and woman and blessed them. (Genesis 1:24-27) From this it’s easy to assume that God made the animals first and then man, but that is not true. And then you can read that on day five that God created birds and we assume birds filled the sky that day and again you would be wrong. Read Genesis 2:18-19. You see,God created Adam first on day six and then He caused a mist to water the earth and then He planted a garden in Eden and then He put Adam there and then He said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” Then the Scripture informs us that God FORMED the animals and birds out of the ground just like He did man but this was AFTER he made Adam. I know the animal creation was AFTER man because man was “alone.” If the animals and birds were already there, Adam wouldn’t have been alone, but instead God said, “I will make a helper comparable to Him”and one by one God made the animals and birds and brought them to Adam to see what he would name them, but there wasn’t a helper suitable to Adam. It was at this point that God created woman. Remember, all this is happening on day six,even though God gave the tree and herb command on day three and the bird command on day five. God has the ability to create something but delay its natural manifestation until later. Look at light which He created on day one.That light had no natural source to emanate from until day four when he created the sun and stars. You can read on day three that God created all the trees and herbs of the field and assume that they all manifested on that day, when in reality chapter two shows us that nothing actually started manifesting until God made the mist come out of the ground to water the face of the earth and it doesn’t say when that happened, but it does say that “before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground: but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.” (Genesis 2:5-7)So you can see that although God created seed yielding plants on day three, He didn’t manifest them until man was on the scene to take care of them and man didn’t come till day six. Come on, stay with me, I know your head is spinning!

I want you to read verse 4 of Genesis 2. It reads, “This is the history of the heaven sand the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” Notice it says, “IN THE DAY” that the Lord created.Well, the Lord did not create the heavens and the earth in a single day, the term refers to the creation time period of 6 days plus one day of rest. So when you and I read the creation story in Chapter one, that is “in the day” that He is referring to, but you have to go to Chapter two in order to understand the specifics of the generic. Like in Genesis 1:1 the Scripture reads that, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” “In the beginning” refers to the sum total of the 7 day creation process. If you read Genesis 5:1-2 you will see the same terminology. It says in part, “In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created.” Notice the phrase, “In the day.” Well, man was created on day six so “In the day” would certainly be accurate, but notice the heavens and earth were created in a 6 day period with rest on the 7th and the Lord refers to that as, “In the day” as well. Point being, our assumptions about creation are misguided because we read days but don’t read explanations. Here is an assumption, that God spoke everything into existence. Well, He certainly did give command with His Words first as in with animals and man, but He actually “formed” man and “beast” out of the ground, He didn’t just say, “Let there be man” and there was. He actually got his hands “dirty” so to speak. Read Genesis 2:7 and 19. You see,if you ONLY read Genesis chapter one you can come to wrong conclusions about the creation, so we must keep reading to understand correctly. Is it wrong to say God spoke everything into existence? No, because He did use His words, but it’s not a full picture. He got quite a bit more “hands on” with man and beast and birds!

Here’s another example. If someone wants to argue with what I’m saying then you have throw away chapter two of Genesis that makes the order of events on day six abundantly clear. In other words, when God said, “Let us make man in our image,according to our likeness… in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them,” one could easily assume that Adam and Eve were created at the same time! (Genesis 1:26-27) In order to understand the true process you have to allow Genesis two to inform you that God actually made Eve after Adam, and you see God did NOT bless them until AFTER He created Eve yet Genesis one would have you believe that all this happened at exactly the same time. Nope, it all happened, “in the day,” “in the beginning,” and specifically in this case on day six in a particular order that is outlined in Genesis chapter two.

So, I give all that explanation and example to say this, our assumptions about GET(the tree of knowledge of good and evil) are all based on ONE verse in Genesis2:9 where the Lord informs us that He planted a garden somewhere eastward in Eden and then He informs us that these two trees were there in the midst of it.The point is, just because the Lord informed us that these two trees were there DOES not mean the Lord is responsible for their planting. Now, God IS responsible for the “tree of life” getting planted and I know that is His doing because that same tree will be available to the masses in the New Jerusalem in the new earth. (Revelation 22) The only time GET is even mentioned is two times in Genesis chapter 2 and that’s it; one time when the Bible mentions that it was in the midst of the Garden near the tree of life and one time when God warns Adam not to eat from it, or he would die. (Genesis 2:9, 17) That’s it folks.Never again is GET mentioned in the whole Bible. If the Lord was responsible for GET, don’t you think it would get a little more “air time” throughout the Scripture like the “tree of life” does, which is mentioned several more times including Proverbs and Revelation. We don’t read that the Lord is going to have GET in the New Earth and in the New Jerusalem alongside the tree of life, yet everyone would have us believe that the LORD is the one responsible for its existence. Do you see how we do this? We read into stuff and make assumptions based on cursory readings. I just gave you several assumptions about the creation story that I’m sure many of you had because you thought it said something and we do the same with GET. We read that God mentions it and assume He is responsible for it “growing” up.

Our beliefs are riddled with assumptions, some correct and some incorrect and just because the Bible says that God created the earth does not mean that He’s responsible for the way everything is in it. And just because God mentions GET in the Garden and warns Adam about it, does not mean He is responsible for it. That would be one of our assumptions. Of course God created TREES but did He plant GET? Not necessarily. That’s like saying, “God created the seed that produces a tree and therefore He is directly responsible for every tree in the forests of today.” Well, really those trees came because of the planting efforts of squirrels, humans, seeds falling from another tree, bears and other animals eating seeds and pooping them out, etc, etc… it wasn’t God Himself that came out of heaven and planted every single tree in the Amazon rain forest! God may have been responsible for planting the physical tree that was known as GET, but I’m saying GOD WAS NOT responsible for it becoming GET – the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

From here I’d like to make the case that it was the fallen angel, Lucifer, now in full rebellion after He saw Man created, whom was responsible for GET coming into existence. Before you shout me down, listen to the argument and the Scriptures I’ll bring to light. Again, is God responsible for the seed that became GET? Yes, He made tree seeds and the like. Is God responsible for planting a Garden Eastward in Eden? Of course. Is God responsible for planting a tree that was somehow God designated as the “tree of life?” Yes. Life is His nature. Is God responsible for the natural tree that somehow got the GET designation? Yes and no, He may be responsible for the natural tree but He is NOT responsible for the “Good-Evil” designation. I submit to you that Satan somehow perverted that tree and used his knowledge of good and his new found knowledge of evil to corrupt God’s creation. I’m saying, Satan is the one who hijacked what God made good and was attempting to use it for the purpose of deceiving man and usurping man’s authority.

I can hear someone saying, “Well, Satan can’t create.” I never said Satan created the tree, but what I am saying is that Satan manipulated the perfect creation.Think about the tree in the first place. The tree is a natural tree that produces natural fruit that people can eat, yet there was some sort of spiritual dynamic to it, similar in fashion to the “tree of life” that was both natural and had a spiritual dynamic that could have made Adam and Eve live forever in their fallen state had they eaten from it. (Genesis 3:22) Apparently Lucifer (Satan) by this point did something to the tree that could or would poison man with knowledge of evil and that knowledge would eventually kill him if he ate from it.

Continue to part 2...

One life will soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last!

Where Did Satan Come From? Part 2

June 2014

God made man in HIS likeness and image and no other creation that we know of is God like, (Genesis 1:26) and so it’s possible that after Satan saw this “god like” creature called man that this was when iniquity began to take root. In one real sense, Satan did exalt his throne above the “stars of God.” The Stars of God referencing other angels like himself, because Hebrews 1:14 tells us that angels are all “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation.” In other words, when God made man, God made man a little lower than Himself, (ELOHIM) (Psalm 8:5) and therefore this subjected all the angels to this new, natural man.

Notice the order here. Lucifer was created as the anointed cherub that covers and we know that angels are ministering spirits and that they do God’s word and heed His voice. (Psalm 103:20, Hebrews 1:14). Initially there was God (no beginning to Him) and then it appears the heavenly host came into being in differing rank and authority and Lucifer was somewhere in that authority and rank continuum but his assignment seemed to be as the covering cherub for God’s prime creation, man. Lucifer saw how beautiful that God had created him and that even in all that beauty and strength, God still chose to subject him to this new creation called man. Maybe this turn of events ticked Lucifer off, who knows, or maybe now Lucifer saw his opportunity to fulfill his dream to exalt himself. Maybe it was at this point that iniquity was found in him as he concocted a plan to fulfill his heart’s desire. The only way to accomplish this was to get the “god man” whom God had just created to be subject to himself (Lucifer) and in being subject to himself, now the rest of the stars of God would rank under him.

It’s obvious that it wasn’t in simple beauty (although man is a pretty beautiful being) that God made us in His likeness and image. God also made us “like Him” in rank, authority, and in creative ability. This apparently rubbed Lucifer the wrong way who desired to be “like the Most High” and wasn’t, but then the “man” was freely given the gift of being “like the Most High.” Not only that, this man, who from an outward appearance was nowhere near as glorious as Lucifer, suddenly outranked him. Lucifer had everything, but didn’t have the rank and authority that God freely gave to this new “natural,” not so impressive looking man, Adam. Simply put, MAN, although weaker in natural form, far outranked the angels who “excel” in strength and in Lucifer’s case had AMAZING beauty. Sounds like a recipe for jealousy and anger for someone who wanted to be “like the Most High.”

So many have taught and believed that God put man in the Garden with an already fallen Lucifer but I can’t reconcile God’s character with who Jesus revealed Him to be and say that God put His new man in a Garden with a “wrathful” fallen angel called Satan, and besides that, Scripture doesn’t support it. Isaiah clearly says that Lucifer was “perfect” in Eden, the Garden of God. Yet, people say that God did this and planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to give man a choice. Here is reality. Lucifer was perfect when God put man there. Period. Lucifer had some heart’s desires that in it of themselves may not have been evil as the desire to go “higher” isn’t necessarily evil, but Lucifer’s means of doing so, was the beginning of iniquity. He said that, “I WILL EXALT.” That was his first mistake. God is in the business of exalting, not in the business of self-exaltation.

God did NOT put Satan there in the midst of the garden with a tree that was supposedly to make one “wise,” but rather Lucifer was already there, poised to get to work as the “anointed cherub” and he was actually there on assignment. You see, God created everything in preparation of and for man’s arrival, including Lucifer and hosts of other angels. I don’t think the angels fully understood the purpose of their creation but it all came into clear focus as God was creating his “prime” creation, the man who was made in His likeness and image. Point being, angels were created for God and man, not the other way around.

If God put Satan there in the Garden, as many suppose, that would be like you or I taking our kid and putting him out in our back yard with a mean old Junk yard dog and saying, okay, now just defend yourself, after all, you have authority over that junkyard dog, so just OVERCOME it. I’ve always heard it said, God did that so that we would have a choice, but that doesn’t work for at least three reasons that I can think of.

One, Scripture teaches that God is taking His creation full circle, where God fellowships with mankind on a natural earth, but this time, instead of God coming to “visit” in the cool of the day as He did with Adam and Eve, God is going to set up His actual abode HERE, ON EARTH. (Revelation 21) In this new heaven and earth creation, there will be no Satan as he will have already been cast into the lake of Fire, then what does God have so that people can continue to make “choices” between “obeying God or not.” I think it’s more like, we were made in God’s likeness and image and we had a free will because He created us with one. The presence of Satan and the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil did not all of the sudden give us an ability to choose to “love and walk with God.”

Also, think about Lucifer, he obviously had a choice, and he didn’t have his own “serpent” and “tree of knowledge” that we know of to give him a “true” choice. It appears Lucifer made a choice to rebel without the presence of any tempter. So this flies in the face of the notion that God put the tree and Satan there so we would have a “choice.” In a free will relationship, people will be able to make a choice with or without an enemy present or a “tree” to “tempt” us and give us a choice. As a free will agent, you have a choice, whether there is a tempter there or not.

Three, James taught us that God can’t be tempted by evil nor does He tempt anyone (with evil.) (James 1:13) So, if that’s the case, then why would He put THE tempter in our backyard. Wouldn’t that be the same as tempting us with evil? If God put evil personified (Satan) in the garden with us along with a tool (the tree of knowledge) so that we would “have a choice,” then wouldn’t God be violating what James said God is like? Neither tempted by evil nor tempting anyone with it?” Romans 14:13 says “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” I don’t see God being guilty of the very thing Paul by the Spirit tells us not to do to one another. Satan is a large stumbling block, a tree that looks good to eat from that causes death seems to be a good stumbling block or cause to fall. Why would God put us in a world where the ultimate stumbling block was there just so we would “have a choice?” This is contrary to God’s nature and His OWN instructions in the Word. Jesus taught us in Matthew 18:6-7 that it’s better for someone to be drowned than to cause someone to sin and that woe is upon the person who entices others to sin. I can’t see God, creating all that He created good, but right in the middle of it, He puts the Devil to entice man to sin. It makes much better sense, that Lucifer was there, all was well and good, until he saw the new god-like man, Adam, created. It was then that iniquity was formulating in his heart and he concocted a plan to fulfill his heart desire, to exalt his throne.

In truth, man was responsible for creating Satan, before that, you had Lucifer whom God created perfect. Lucifer has some desire in himself to exalt himself and who’s to say that God wouldn’t have exalted him in time as he did a good job as the anointed cherub. After all, the Word teaches, “For exaltation comes neither from the east, nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, And exalts another.” (Psalm 75:6-7) Someone might say, well the Scripture doesn’t apply to the angels. Well, says who? After all, we are going to be judging the angels and what are we going to be judging them with? With the Scriptures! (1 Corinthians 6:3) What other standard of judgment is there in heaven or earth by which to judge? The point I’m making is, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that God would have eventually exalted Lucifer to a higher position of authority based on his faithfulness where he was at. Instead, Lucifer chose to exalt himself and went to ungodly means to make it happen. He fathered lies by lying to Adam and Eve about what God had said. He got Adam and Eve to question God and basically question whether God was telling the truth or not. Man gave Lucifer what he wanted by submitting to his temptation, thus making Lucifer the “god of this world.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Romans 6:16 says, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” How was Satan going to make man his slaves? He had to convince man to submit themselves to him. It was this act of treachery that transformed Lucifer from one of our servants, to him being our master because man submitted themselves to him. Satan came into being because man gave their God-given authority to him by submitting themselves to him. Had man decided to follow God’s command to NOT eat of the tree, then Satan never would have wielded the power he wields today. Satan is called the “god” of this world in 2 Corinthians 4:4 and in 1 John 5:19 says that the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. Where did his “sway” come from? It came from man who delivered it to him. Did man create Lucifer? Of course not. God created all things, whether seen or unseen. But did God create Satan, the devil? Of course not. Man gave Satan what belonged to man and subjected the whole of creation to Satan’s new “godlike” status.

Satan did ultimately accomplish what was in his heart; however, it’s not always going to be that way. Satan in one sense did exalt his throne about the other angels, because now he ranked above man in power and authority because it was “delivered” to him by man. (Luke 4:6) Man positionally ranked above all the angels and so by Satan now ranking above man, he “exalted” his throne above the stars of God. Satan became “like” the Most High in that now he ruled over the “god like” people whom God created to be like Him. No one ranked above man except God, and now, because of Satan’s trickery, Satan now ruled over man which made him “like the Most High.” So although it appears that Lucifer got his heart’s desire, it is only temporary because soon his final “casting” down will take place and he will be no more.

So where did Satan come from? He came from us. Man made Satan who he is today. Someone might then ask, well, where did the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” come from then?

Good question! I’ll save that for next time and I’ll prove through Scripture that God wasn’t behind that event either.

Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Where Did Satan Come From?

May 2014

The Scriptures plainly teach that all things were created by God and for God and nothing was created without God, so that whatever is seen and all things that exist in the unseen spiritual world were created by God, (John 1:1, Genesis 1:1, Ephesians 3:9, Colossians 1:16, Revelation 10:6) including Lucifer, the creature that is now known as Satan, the Devil, the Dragon, the deceiver of nations, the one who was the “murderer from the beginning.”

The fall of Lucifer and when that happened is subject to debate and there are a couple theories, but I want to present my thoughts based on my understanding of God’s character and the revelation of Scripture. There is no exact answer as to when and why Lucifer chose to fall and how he came to be about in the Garden with Adam and Eve but there is consensus that Satan was once the angel Lucifer. The debate begins on why he chose to rebel and when that happened. The Bible is not ABSOLUTELY clear on time frames and the reasons for Satan’s rebellion but it does shed much light and I believe we can use what is absolutely clear in Scripture to draw some correct conclusions on what happened and when.

Jesus called Satan a “murderer from the beginning,” so we’d have to determine when the beginning was that Jesus was talking about to know when Lucifer became Satan “the murderer.” (John 8:44) In this same passage, Jesus calls Satan a liar and the father of lies. As the father of something, it means that Satan was the “originator” of lies. There were/are no lies in God to “give” Satan, because God is TRUTH. When lies came into existence, they originated with Satan, not with God. People assumed that because God created all things seen and unseen that God was therefore responsible for creating evil because evil manifested in one of His creations, however, that’s not how Jesus described it. Jesus said that Satan was the “father” or originator of lies and murder. So, “from the beginning” Satan has been lying. What beginning? Well, the only beginning we are made aware of is the beginning of the creation of the seen “world.” We are not illuminated as to the beginning of the creation of the “unseen” world so we can’t speculate on time frames there, but when Jesus called Satan a “murderer from the beginning,” they would have had to understand the beginning as described in the book of beginnings, Genesis. We are not privy to any other “beginning,” yet many people have heard or been taught that some sort of rebellion of Satan took place before the creation of the earth as we know it. I submit to you that this is not the case, but in reality, Satan’s fall took place at the beginning, after the creation of the earth and mankind.

This is not to say that the unseen powers and principalities spoken of in Colossians 1:16 didn’t happen before the creation of the seen world, in fact, it’s possible that the spirit creations were created AFTER the natural creations based on 1 Corinthians 15:46 which says, “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.” That’s kind of a new way to look at things isn’t it? I mean we know God is Spirit and so we assume all things unseen existed from eternity past the same as God has, but God is the only being revealed in the Bible as having no beginning, everything else has a beginning. The question is, when was the beginning of the races of angelic hosts that are revealed in the Bible? Based on 1 Corinthians 15, the spiritual man came after the natural man. God created man out of the dust of the ground and THEN He breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7) Is it possible that the angelic host was created at the same time, either just before or just after the spirit of man was breathed into man? We do know that the angelic host are “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation.” (Hebrews 1:14) So could it have been that God created man in the beginning and at the same time created the heavenly host to serve man? I guess it’s possible, but even if the heavenly host were created eons before the natural creation, it doesn’t matter in relation to where Satan came from because the only beginning understandable to man, is the beginning of the natural creation and so this MUST be the beginning that Jesus is referring to in John 8:44 and this MUST be the beginning from which Lucifer became the devil as liar and murderer. God didn’t create Lucifer as a liar and murderer so it’s obvious Jesus wasn’t talking about Lucifer’s “beginning” when He said that the devil was a “murderer from the beginning,” so that only leaves us with one other “beginning.” This beginning was revealed to us in Genesis, when God created the heavens and the earth and so this would be the understanding of Jesus’ audience as He tells the Pharisees that they are of their “father the devil,” and that the devil was a “murderer from the beginning.” (John 8:44)

Jesus also said, “I saw Satan fall like lighting from heaven.” in Luke 10:18. Where did Satan “fall” to? He had to have somewhere to fall. Satan couldn’t have fallen to “nothing.” So if He fell before the earth was created, then where did he fall to? The Scripture seems to indicate that Satan has experienced and will experience more “casting downs.” Jesus saw Satan Fall “somewhere.” Jesus said in John 12:31, “Now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” This seems to be highlighted in Rev. 12:7-10, where it’s revealed that the devil and his angels were cast to the earth. Either this is a subsequent casting out after Satan already fell like lighting, (which seems to be the case) or God is revealing the first “casting out” and the earth was already here for Satan to be cast to, which would mean that the earth was here BEFORE Satan “fell.” Is it possible Lucifer became Satan before man was created and he was “cast out” into some unknown place in the spirit world before the earth was created? It’s possible, I guess, but highly unlikely and you will see why and besides, we have no Scriptures to support such a claim, yet this is what most people believe. That Satan fell BEFORE the earth ever was. People use the space between verse 1 and 2 of Genesis chapter 1 to come up with this huge doctrine. God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was “formless and void.” So people take the fact that the earth didn’t have form and was void to say, see, God doesn’t create formless and void things, so that must have been the work of Satan. That’s quite a bit of “reading between the lines” don’t you think? This seems to be much more of a stretch than Satan falling like “lightning” to an already created earth. We do know the devil will experience even more “casting outs” as Revelation reveals to us as he will be cast in the bottomless pit for a time (Revelation 20:3), and eventually he will be cast into the “lake of fire” which was “prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41) The point is, the Devil has been “cast down” and the Bible seems to indicate several “casting downs/outs.” The question is, was the first casting down before or after the earth/man was created and where did he fall to when he was cast down? I submit that Lucifer fell after he saw man created in God’s likeness and image. It was only after he saw these god-men that iniquity was found in him. Let’s take a look at how this could be.

Is. 14:12-15 says, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”

Notice in this Scripture again it reveals that Lucifer was “cut down to the ground.” That makes no sense unless it’s talking about earth because how would the reader of Isaiah understand “ground” to be anything other than the earth ground that was so familiar to him. This isn’t some “ground” in some unknown place that Isaiah references, he speaks of Lucifer falling from “heaven” which we understand there are three heavens (atmospheric, stellar, and God’s abode), and falling to some sort of “ground” which we can only understand as being earth ground. But I want you to notice what Lucifer said in his heart. He said I will exalt my throne above the “stars of God.” Any student of the Bible knows that the “stars of God” are His angels and so Lucifer said he would exalt his throne above all the other angels. Satan also seems to have been relegated to a dominion on earth in and around the “heavens” that surround the earth because he says that he will ascend above the “heights of the clouds.” So either this is all imagery where stars refer to angels and such or it refers to all natural things like real stars, clouds, mounts, farthest sides of the north, etc. But whether these are word pictures of spiritual things or natural places, it doesn’t matter; Satan had it in his heart to “be like the Most High.” He obviously wasn’t exalted amongst and over all the angelic races so that’s why he says that he would “exalt his throne above the stars of God.” What does this tell us about Lucifer, he WAS NOT like the Most High and he wasn’t even a top ranking angel. He apparently did have some rank as he had his own class of “angels” as the Lord referred to in Matthew 25:41. The Lord called those angels that hell was prepared for as “his” (Satan’s) angels. If he was already like the Most High, then he’d have no desire to be like Him. If he was already the top angel, then he’d not have said that he wanted to get there. This is where the iniquity of Satan starts gaining root.

Look at Ez. 28:12-15. Ezekiel describes Lucifer as the seal of perfection and full of wisdom and perfect in beauty and that he was IN EDEN, the Garden of God. It goes on to say that He was perfect in his ways from the day he was created, “TILL” iniquity was found in him. Well, the verses before say that he was in EDEN in the Garden of God perfect, and then (at some point) iniquity was found in him. So here he was, present in Eden, the Garden of God and he was PERFECT in his ways from the day he was created. We don’t know when he was created but we do know that he was created perfect and that he was created as the anointed cherub who covers. This seems pretty convincing to me that Lucifer did not fall BEFORE the creation of man and earth, but rather he fell in the beginning after the creation of man and the garden because he was still perfect in Eden. So Eden WAS already there! I believe that possibly that iniquity was found in him when Isaiah revealed by the Spirit in verse 14 that Lucifer would exalt his throne above the stars of God. Something happened in the creation of man that inspired Lucifer to say in his heart that he would exalt himself. How on earth could Lucifer even conceive of such a plan to exalt himself above the other angels and “be like the Most High?” Was he delusional? There’s no way he could do this, unless…

Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

The Extra Mile

April 2014

Jesus said in Matthew 5:41, “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.” This says a lot about what the Lord thinks concerning doing the bare minimum to get by. Most people when working for another person only do the bare minimum that their “job description” requires. It’s not about doing the bare minimum. Jesus said if you are compelled to go one mile, go one more. Employers “compel” their employees to do certain tasks and pay them for those tasks and that’s great! However, the people of God ought to take it a step further and “go the extra mile.” In other words, what has your employer asked you to do? Do it better than they have asked. Are they paying you for 8 hours? Give them an extra 15-20 minutes tidying up the shop or keeping the company cars clean. Treat their stuff like it’s your own (I know for some that might be scary because you don’t even take care of your own crap. Excuse my term.)

Jesus also taught that unless you are faithful in that which is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? (Luke 16:12) You see people want and they complain because they don’t have and so they fight with their employer as if their employer is their God and provider but won’t employ godly principles like taking their job a step further and doing an excellent job to exalt their employer’s business and then wonder why they never have their “own.” We need to stop whining about what we don’t have and start being thankful for what we do have and treating our employer’s things/business like it was our own and take good care of their affairs! Wouldn’t you want employees to do the same for you? Oh, you never thought of yourself owning a business and having people work for you? Maybe you should begin to adopt that mindset instead of always having a mindset that you are going to be the servant your whole life. The reality is, most people will be the “servant” most of their life simply because they never do right with another man’s and therefore the Lord won’t promote them.

A wise man once said in Proverbs 75:6-7, “For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” There are reasons why some are “exalted” or more commonly said, promoted, and why others are not. You see, the Lord is watching what we do with what we have been given. There are reasons why some are “put down.” One reason is pride. Pride gets in the way of many people’s “exaltation.” God wants to take people higher, exalt them, “pay” them more and greater reward, but He can’t because people won’t humble themselves enough to become another man’s servant. (Matthew 23:11) Jesus also said that he who would be greatest among you, let him become your servant. You see the kingdom of God works opposite man’s ways. Man promotes self (pride), whereas God’s method is to promote and exalt others and let Him do the heavy lifting of getting you where you’d like to be. It’s counter intuitive I know, but this is the way it works!

Do you want to go higher today? Then get lower in your own sight and do the things no one else wants to do. Promote your boss/employer. Treat his business like your own and go the extra mile, working to make your company as much money as possible while being ethical in all your dealings. God notices this stuff. The Lord notices when we are working as “as to the Lord” and when we are working just to get by. Ephesians 6:5-7 says, “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.” So many people will do a “good” job when the boss is watching but slack off when no one is watching. (Unless you are Union and then you are just lazy whether the supervisors are watching or not because you have the Union helping to keep your lazy butt from being fired. If you are Union and are offended by that, then change the stereo-type because you know it’s true. Maybe you are a great worker, but there are some of your Union buddies you’d even like to fire!) This ought not be the case. We are to do “service” as to the Lord. People think they are just waiting tables for man when in reality they are serving Jesus. People think they are just trying to help the bottom line of a company, when in reality they are stewarding the Lord’s resources and they are going to have to give account for their stewardship.

Let’s take this seriously God’s people! You work for the Lord even if you think you work for Walmart or XYZ Company. Make the Lord some money today by helping your employer prosper!

You employers aren’t off because this is for the workers. Don’t take advantage of your employees by sucking the life out of them. Pay a fair wage. Make money but help them help you! The Lord is watching the way you treat them as well. Were you a hard task master? Taking advantage of the good will of your employees? You are not off the hook. Whether you lead or follow, you are always to consider others as better than yourself. Maybe I’ll save another blog for “picking” on the employers for another time. ;)

Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Gates of Hell!

March 2014

I want to share some truly revolutionary thoughts with you today. I just love when the Lord opens something up so clearly and all of the sudden something you’ve heard for a long time actually makes sense. Let’s take a look at a very familiar portion of Scripture in Matthew 16:14-19, which reads, “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

I want to focus for a moment on what Jesus said in verse eighteen. He said that the gates of Hades would not prevail against His Church! Now, the way most of you have heard this taught is that Satan will turn up the heat against God’s people, but that his efforts will be for naught because Satan won’t prevail against God’s Church! (And in one real ULTIMATE sense, that is true, but that is not what Jesus is saying here.) I think history has shown that Satan has overcome many of God’s people in various ways and they didn’t prevail, instead they were stolen from, killed, and destroyed by every fiery dart launched at them. So what did Jesus actually say here and what does it actually mean that the Gates of Hades (hell) would not prevail against the Church?

The first thing I’d like you to note is the fact that Satan is not the only one with gates. God’s kingdom has gates as well, but what we read in Revelation is His gates are always WIDE open, and the Psalmist informed us that we are to “enter His gates” with thanksgiving in our hearts! (Revelation 21:21-25, Psalm 100:4) The thing that I want you to remember about gates though is that gates are defensive structures. Gates are in no way inherently offensive structures. So when the Lord said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church, He wasn’t saying that the enemy was going to be on the attack and wouldn’t prevail, but He was saying the Church would be on the attack and that the gates of Hell wouldn’t be able to keep His Church out! Someone might say, “Well, why on earth would we want to be storming Satan’s kingdom?”

I’m glad you asked. Let’s take a look at a few other things that the Scripture reveals to us about how the enemy works and what Jesus did for us in His death. You see, in all reality, THE CHURCH, whom Jesus Himself is the head ALREADY stormed the gates of Hell and prevailed. When He died, He whooped Satan on his own turf and took the keys of death, hell, and the grave! (Colossians 2:15, Matthew 28:18, Revelation 1:18) So in one sense, the gates of Hell have already been stormed by the King of Kings and they couldn’t keep Him out! And now, Jesus has given us the “keys of the kingdom” so that whatever we bind on earth and whatever we loose on earth, will be bound accordingly in heaven and earth.

You see, Satan is the king of bondage, entrapment, and control. He’d like nothing better than to control the heart and mind of God’s people and of course, he currently is the master of the “sons of disobedience” and lost people are under his sway, grip, and the power of his kingdom. They may not acknowledge this or may be oblivious to the fact, but this is the revelation of Scripture, that once you become a child of God you are transferred out of one kingdom (Satan’s) and transferred into another kingdom (Jesus). (Colossians 1:13, 1 John 5:19, Romans 6:16, Ephesians 2:2) So when Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church, He was saying that the Church would be forcefully advancing God’s kingdom and that we’d take Satan’s kingdom by force! You see Jesus said, that the “kingdom of heaven” suffers violence, and that the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12) If you are like me you’ve been told that has something to do with God’s kingdom, but in all reality it has nothing to do with God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom can’t suffer violence and no matter how much “force” you exert, you are not “taking it.” It’s God’s good pleasure to give us His kingdom, so what need would there be to “take it by force?” You see how that doesn’t make sense?

So what is Jesus referring to? Well, the “kingdom of heaven” in Matthew 11:12 is an inferior heaven that is referenced in Ephesians 2:2 where Jesus calls Satan the “Prince of the power of the air.” There are three types of heavens, God’s throne, the stellar heavens, and the heavens that the birds fly in. (Each of those heavens are clearly seen in Genesis and Revelation) Satan’s authority limited him to earthly rule and dominion because this was the dominion delivered to him by Adam. You remember that Satan said to Jesus that all this authority and dominion was “delivered” to him. (Luke 4:6) Who gave it to him? Well, it wasn’t God. It was Adam when he submitted to Satan’s temptation in the Garden and became Satan’s slave and turned over his God-given authority. (Romans 6:16) Then Satan tried to tempt Jesus with all this authority in Luke 4:6, but Jesus overcame Satan in that instance using God’s Word. What Satan didn’t realize was that shortly Jesus would be storming Satan’s gates and taking the authority back by FORCE! So the “kingdom of heaven” that Satan is the “prince of” is the atmospheric heavens and these are the heavens that suffer violence! It’s God’s people overcoming Him by Jesus Blood and their testimony! (Revelation 12:11)

Jesus delivered to the Church (those who would call Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God; those who are “born again!), the keys of the kingdom, and now we have a right to BIND and LOOSE on this earth, thus BINDING and LOOSING in the heaven. Now obviously this is not God’s throne where we are binding and loosing stuff. God is not our problem, nor is He withholding any good thing, in fact just the opposite; He has blessed us with every blessing and He is willing to give us all things because He gave us Jesus! (Ephesians 1:3, Romans 8:32) Our problem is with an enemy who likes to control people. It’s his power and minions that we bind and it’s those whom he has in his grip that we loose!

We, the Church, have been authorized to act on Jesus behalf in the earth. Therefore, when we see Satan has bound someone, we have the power to loose them with the keys of the kingdom. Now the question, “Where is Satan’s throne from which he operates?” Well, thank God we know from His Word where Satan rules from and what we are to use to overcome him!

Look at 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; I love this portion of Scripture! Everything you need to get free and help someone else get free is RIGHT here! It reads, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”

LOOK at THAT! We are not warring with Satan with natural/carnal weapons; we are warring with him using mighty spiritual weapons. The Bible calls God’s Word the “SWORD of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17) , and concerning that sword it says that, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) So the mighty weapon at our disposal that is used to pull down strongholds; that is used to cast down arguments and every other lofty thing exalting itself against God’s knowledge is the WORD OF GOD!

I hope you are seeing here now exactly what Jesus meant when He said the Gates of hell wouldn’t prevail against the church. The Church is supposed to inflict the violence on Satan’s “kingdom of heaven.” It’s Satan’s dominion that is supposed to be feeling the heat from the Church and Jesus promised us, that Satan’s gates, which are a part of the stronghold that he erects in people’s minds, would not be able to keep God’s Church out! They (Satan’s gates) would not prevail! Instead, we forcefully advance God’s reign by boldly declaring God’s Word into peoples (including our own) lives.

Remember Jesus said that, “If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed, and then you will KNOW the truth and the TRUTH (God’s Word) would set you free.” (John 8:31-32, John 17:17) The weapon God has given us to overcome and prevail against Satan’s Gates, which are built to keep God’s freedom producing Word out, is His very own WORD! This WORD, every promise of God, every truth that has been revealed has been given that we might be free and that we might declare that freedom to others whom Satan has bound!

The throne from which Satan rules his subjects is located in the “strongholds” built in people’s minds. A stronghold is like a castle or citadel built to keep invading parties out! What castle or stronghold or kingdom do you know of that doesn’t have gates? I don’t know of any. The gates are there to keep enemies out and let friendlies in. You see, Revelation shows us God’s gates are always open, because there is not threat of an enemy overcoming Him, but Satan’s gates are closed and he is trying to keep God’s Word out of people’s hearts and minds. By doing this, he can keep them bound and in darkness; but as you and I boldly declare the truth, the person who has ears to hear, will hear and therefore know the truth and therefore be set free!

This is what Jesus was saying when He said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church! He was saying, “CHURCH, you are to be on the offensive, just like John the Baptist was forcefully declaring God’s Word, you are to be forcefully declaring God’s word, and as you do this, Satan won’t be able to keep you out!” God’s Word is so powerful, no citadel that Satan has erected in the mind of a person to keep God out can prevail! Church, you are victorious! Church you have the necessary means to storm the gates in someone’s mind, and church you can bind and loose at will! Start declaring the truth today, and watch Satan’s gates come crashing down!

I love the story of Jericho. It’s a perfect picture of what the Church is called to do. We are to stand, declare and watch the walls and gates of hell come crashing down in the lives of people. Then we are to storm the city of people’s lives and slay God’s enemies (casting out demons and casting down every other false argument) and we are to declare freedom to the captives!

Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

How to treat the offending party?

February 2014

It’s such fun to explain things that people are confused about. Many things in Scripture are not that confusing if we will think about what is being said and interpret that Scripture in light of all the others. It’s really not that hard. I want to do that again today, explain a Scripture that we have so messed up in the modern church that people use it to act rude and unbecoming (the opposite of love) because they’ve misused Jesus words, once again.

Take a look with at Matthew 18:17 with me. It reads, “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” This verse has a context of course and below is the context. The title tries to shed light on what Jesus is talking about but I think even the title is misleading. The New King James version of the Bible has this heading - Dealing with a Sinning Brother and covers Matthew 18:15-20. The reason I think the title is misleading because the title insinuates that this is how we are to deal with all people who are sinning, when in reality, the Lord is giving instruction on what YOU are to do when some sins against YOU. Not if you catch someone doing something or they admit something, but if you have been wronged by someone, this is to be your course of action. This is not the approach we are to take in regards to all sin, because all sin is not against me or you. Anyway, let’s read the context and then explain the difficult part. Matthew 18:15-20 reads, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Most believers don’t even get past the first part of Jesus instructions here on GOING to the person who sinned against them, but instead want to jump to mediation, gossip, getting others involved, etc. The other thing believers like to do is call things sin that isn’t sin. Every time our little feelers get hurt, we want to pull out Scriptures like this and want to “GO get it right” with that person. Maybe there is nothing to get right, and your interpretation of the situation is wrong, and the other person never actually sinned against you. I think we need to take more time making sure our situation qualifies before we go to every person with all the things they said or did that hurt our “feelings.” God’s Word reads in proverbs that, “A FOOL vents all his feelings, but the wise man holds them back.” (Proverbs 29:11) It’s a sad commentary in our day how easily everyone is offended and how quick we are to talk about how we “feel” about a situation. I don’t believe God has asked, nor is He asking to be stoic robots, void of feeling, but we are also displaying much immaturity by wearing our feelings on our sleeves for all to behold. If someone has truly sinned against YOU (not your brother, not your sister, not your child, not your grandma, not your grandpa, not your nephew, but YOU) then take Jesus words to heart and go to them. Determine, first of all, if it was a sin (or you just didn’t like what they did so you are calling it sin) and if it qualifies, do it God’s way. If they are a true believer, they will more than likely see their sin and seek repentance, however, if it was a true sin, and they did not repent, then you can “escalate” it so to speak in the order that Jesus outlines.

Next Jesus says to take two or three people so that they can be there as witnesses and hopefully bring resolve to the situation, and then of course, if that doesn’t work, then and only then, do you bring it before the Church. I seriously doubt that most situations require this last step, but this seems to be what most Christians today want to do. They don’t want to judge things rightly on their own, they want the Pastor or those in leadership to mediate and they like to cause big messes and draw much attention to themselves in the process. People in their carnality like to get the whole church involved at the get-go so that they can hurt the person that hurt them, or at least put them in a bad light and try to embarrass them. It’s shameful, and we are doing it all wrong. But… let’s say that it has “escalated” to the final level and the person who truly sinned against you will not hear even the church, then what is our response supposed to be them?

Well, Jesus said, “let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” Now this is where the Church has really messed up Jesus words. The way many believers have taken His words is to treat that brother who sinned against YOU like a criminal and treat him like dirt. Give him the boot! Yet, is that what Jesus said, or is that just our natural flesh looking for an excuse to treat someone like dirt who hurt us?

I guarantee Jesus wasn’t telling you to treat that brother who sinned against you like dirt when He said to “let him be to you like a heathen.” How do I know that? Well, a few reasons. One, how did Jesus treat the heathen and tax collector? Did He shun them? Did He treat them like crap? Did He accuse them and kick them out of His presence because they were heathens and tax collectors? No, in fact, quite the opposite is true. He hung out with those SCUM regularly. So which is it Jesus, do we treat them like scum or like you treated them? Jesus is not contradicting Himself. He’s not going to treat the heathen and tax collector with love and respect, calling them to repentance, and then tell you and I to treat them like crap because someone sinned against us. Jesus had a reputation for hanging with the scum of the earth and the religious people didn’t like it. This is what happens today, we take what Jesus said here out of context and make Him say something that isn’t even close to what He said.

How are we to treat the heathen and “tax collector?” Well, it’s quite simple. The same way we would treat anyone in need of repentance. We would preach the good news to them; we would show them God’s love; we would live in such a way before them that they would see our good works in hopes that they would glorify God with us some day! This is the response to a heathen. You love on them and endeavor to get them to repent and turn to God’s ways of doing things. This is exactly what Jesus is telling us to do here with the person who sinned against us, yet we have so messed it up that we treat these “brothers and sisters” of ours who have sinned against us like dirt. Let’s read Jesus words here from the Message Bible, I think it does the best job of explaining our response to a brother we have not won back over. Let’s read verses 15-17 in Matthew chapter 18 again. It reads, “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.”

Wow, isn’t that so revealing? Isn’t that so much better than the way most of the Church has taken these verses to mean?

Another reason this verse does not mean treat the offending brother like dirt is because that is against everything a person walking in love is called to do. If Jesus told us to pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us and to do good to our enemies, HOW MUCH MORE are we to do good and pray for a brother who has sinned against us. (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27;35) After all, he is in our spiritual family. Did he do wrong? Sure, and we are not dismissing it, but we certainly aren’t supposed to treat him worse than we would our enemies. Doesn’t this make so much more sense? In fact, in the very next verses Jesus talks about prayer and binding and loosing things in heaven and on earth. Why would He talk about prayer and authority in the exact same context as dealing with a brother who won’t listen when confronted with his sin? Well, that’s simple. That’s the answer. Not to treat him like crap, but to pray for him. Bind the spirits that are blinding him to the truth of repentance and loose God’s grace and goodness over their life and seek God to see restoration take place. This is the proper response to the brother who has offended us, not what many believers have done with Jesus words, “let him be to you as a heathen and tax collector.”

Another reason this verse is not saying to treat the offending brother like a pariah is because no where are we told to speak evil of those who have wronged us. In fact, we are told just the opposite. Bless those who curse us and not return reviling for reviling. We are also admonished to say only those things that provide grace to the hearer and only those things that edify and not tear down. If all of that is true, how can we take Jesus words here as a license to treat the “offending” brother like scum? We are sorely missing the point if that is our response to the brother who has sinned against us. (Matthew 5:44, 1 Corinthians 4:12, Ephesians 4:29, Romans 14:19)

Do you understand what the Lord is saying here? I hope so. Let’s stop using our mouths to destroy those for who Christ died, but instead, treat them like we would treat anyone we were trying to get to come to the Lord. It’s time to grow up gang.

Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

You Don’t Even Know What the Trees Are

January 2014

In my last blog I spoke about who the “wolf” is and so if you didn’t get to read it, you may want to in order to follow where I’m going in this blog. I talked about how people misapply Matthew 7 to believer’s lives and wrongly equate the trees that are referred to in that Scripture as the “lives” of people, and that’s just not true. I wanted to take this blog and explain what the trees are and how those trees relate to “bad” fruit. You see people have so mixed up the covenants of God and so nothing makes sense to them. Even in Jesus day as He was ushering in the new covenant, not everything He said can directly be applied to one of His “born-again” believers. These Scriptures I’ll be explaining in this blog are good examples of that. In the Gospel of Luke and later in Matthew we gain a greater understanding and clarification on Matthew’s words in Matthew chapter 7. You see Scripture interprets Scripture and greater light always reveals lesser light (New always explains the Old!) Many times things are said in the Bible and then explained in greater detail later. Just like the account of creation in Genesis chapter one. Genesis one gives us quite a condensed version of the happenings of creation while Genesis two brings greater clarification. Here’s a perfect example of this principle in action.

Remember when Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven!” (Matthew 19:23) Of course right after that Jesus talks about it being easier for a camel to go thru the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24) and if that’s all we had in the Gospel accounts of this experience, one might come away saying, “See, I knew money was evil! Those rich people better watch out because Hell is snatching at their feet!” Even Jesus disciples were astonished at this because they said, “Who then can be saved then Lord?” (Verse 25) Their response is revealing because it shows that they were concerned about themselves and probably many other people they knew. You see, fisherman and tax collectors were of the wealthy crowd in Jesus day and that’s what some of Jesus disciples were. This saying shocked them because they were undoubtedly thinking, “Well, what about us Lord?” But Jesus reassures them and says that which is impossible with man is possible with God! (Verse 26) Now Matthew’s account doesn’t really take it any further and clarify what Jesus meant by “how hard it is for the rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” and so some have taken this to mean all sorts of things that it simply does not mean! This is where we use other Scripture to bring more light. Look at Mark’s gospel of the very same event. He clarifies Jesus statement in Mark 10:24 by saying, “And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, ‘Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!’” Notice Jesus answered AGAIN! Something Matthew didn’t share.

You see there is the key; it’s where your trust lies. It has nothing to do with whether you are rich or poor. It has to do with where you put your trust. For truly a poor person can trust in riches to save them just like a rich person could, but generally it’s harder for a rich person to stop trusting in their riches simply because they have them. And of course, this clarification brought to us in Mark’s gospel is born out in the rest of Scripture so we know that’s exactly what Jesus meant when He talked about it being hard for the rich to enter. It’s simply because of their misplaced trust, not because money is inherently evil. Think about it, who made the Patriarchs rich, and some of them “very” rich? (Genesis 13:2) The Lord did that! God has nothing against money, but He does have something against loving money. (1 Timothy 6:10) God’s grace made Jesus poor that we through His poverty might be made rich! (2 Corinthians8:9) God did that for us! So what, is God trying to make it hard for us to enter the Kingdom of heaven by making Jesus poor and us rich? Of course not! Paul made it really clear in First Timothy 6:17 that the rich were not to “trust in uncertain riches!” He didn’t tell them to become poor. Being poor has absolutely no inherent, godly value - contrary to what religion tries to promote. You can be poor and ungodly or poor and godly; likewise, you can be rich and godly or rich and ungodly. Character determines that, money or the lack thereof only amplifies it. Anyway, I could go on and on with examples and Scriptures bearing out the clarification that Mark brought in chapter 10, but I say all this to reiterate the fact that we have to keep reading and understand the counsel of God’s Word so we can understand Scriptures like these.

The Scriptures you are about to read below shed greater light on Matthew chapter 7 and therefore must be understood in order to fully understand Matthew chapter 7. Now let’s read those Scriptures and explain a little.

Luke 6:43-45 - “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Let’s also look at Matthew12:31-37 as it is closely related. It reads, “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

If someone had only read these two Scriptures and not Matthew 7:15, they would not go around calling their fellow “believers” wolves because Jesus doesn’t even use the wolf word here but He does use some of the same tree/fruit parallels. In fact, Matthew is the only place where Jesus applies a “wolf” to a “false prophet.” In other places wolves can refer to any other type of person. He says in a couple other places that He is sending them out as sheep/lambs in the midst of wolves. (Matthew 10 and Luke 10 – these are the only wolf references Jesus uses). Is Jesus only warning them about “false prophets” when He uses the word “wolves” later? Of course not! A “wolf” can be a “false prophet” but it can also be the artisan whose trade is in danger because so many people are turning to the Lord that he turns the town against the disciples (Ephesus with the “goddess” Diana in Acts 19). A wolf could be leaders and magistrates who were trying disciples and killing them for their witness. Jesus is warning them that there are trials awaiting and so be as harmless as doves but as wise as serpents! He’s saying the wolves are out there and sometimes they are clothed as “prophets,” sometimes they are clothed as businessmen, and sometimes they are clothed as a family member. (Remember Jesus said that one’s enemies would be of their own household - Matthew 10:36).

Yet, see how quickly people in the Church today want to label other Christians as “wolves” in sheep’s clothing because they witness some “bad” fruit in that believer’s life! In other words, they see the words, “tree, fruit and wolves” all used in the same context in Matthew 7 and read Matthew 10 and Luke 6 and twist it all up and try to make any person who displays or has displayed any bad fruit out to be a wolf. LOL! Unbelievable! They take ONE Scripture out of context and apply it to every situation they deem “bad” and judge the other person as one that others’ should be “warned” about. Here’s the logic: Bad fruit = bad tree = wolf. Warning! Warning! Beware of so and so!

Blah! This pathetic interpretation of Scripture and abuse of the words of Jesus literally makes me want to puke. We certainly are good in the Christian world of destroying others with the words of Jesus. I can guarantee there isn’t a word spoken by Jesus that the Father intended for us to use to destroy another person – sinner or saint! If the Father did intend for us to use the words of Jesus to destroy each other, apparently Paul didn’t get the memo because he told us in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” I’m thinking there is a whole lot of grieving of the Spirit of God happening in the church and world because believers have not learned to use the Word of God as intended – to provide grace to the hearer! Or maybe Paul was just a loser and wasn’t quite as skilled at twisting Jesus’ words and beating people up with them, like WE “intellectuals” are today. Anyway, I digress, let’s explain here.

So back to the Scriptures above in Matthew 12 and Luke 6. What are the tree’s Jesus speaks of here and how does it apply to fruit and a person’s life? Well, for one, I can guarantee that these Scriptures were not meant to be applied to a “born again” person who has been grafted into the vine by virtue of their faith in Jesus. How do I know that? Well, because Jesus also said in John 15 that HE is the VINE and WE (you, speaking to those who believed in Him at the time) are the branches! If it is true that the TREE being referenced in Jesus statements in Matthew 12 and Luke 6 is a Christian him/herself, or could be applied to a Christian the way many people like to apply it, then Jesus is THE BAD TREE! And we all know that is not true! If we are the branches and that is where the fruit is growing and a believer displays any bad fruit, then it’s only because the vine that believer is connected to is bad! A branch does not bear fruit on its own. However no one would accuse Jesus of being a bad vine! Yet all day long, Christians want to accuse other Christians of being “bad” trees because the “bad” fruit makes the tree known. People who do this don’t even realize they are calling their own Savior a BAD vine! Do you SEE this? Can it get any clearer?

If the trees being referenced above are not the believer him/herself, then what are they? I’m glad you asked. The trees are the result of what has been planted by the mouth! Remember, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Our words are like seeds. We plant those seeds using our mouths. We get the seeds from the treasure of our hearts. Whatever we have been putting in our hearts, whether good seeds, or bad, is what we are going to be planting with our mouths. In time we will know exactly the type of seeds a person has been planting in their life because of the fruit those words (seeds to trees) ends up producing. Do you get it?

The trees are multiplied areas of our lives. You can have a good tree in one area of your life and you can have a bad tree in another area. You are still a good branch connected to the good vine if Jesus is your Lord (this is your Spirit, you are ONE Spirit with Him – 1 Corinthians 6:17), but God is not controlling the seeds you are planting in all areas of your life. He is not controlling your MOUTH – isn’t that obvious?! Nor is He controlling what you put in your heart! You get to choose each day what you will fill your heart with. If you fill your heart with EVIL things, then out of that abundance you will speak(plant) and reap the corresponding fruit. If you fill your heart good things, then out of the abundance of your heart you will plant good seeds/trees and therefore good fruit. You see, we all can judge exactly what kind of seeds we have been planting in our lives by looking at the fruit on the “trees” of our lives. The trees are the many facets of a person’s life, not the person themselves. If someone has been producing bad fruit in an area of their life, good news is, that person can choke out the bad tree through forgiveness and replacing all the evil with good and beginning to plant good seeds. The good fruit that will be brought forth may not happen overnight, but it will happen because that’s what good seeds produce – good trees and good fruit. Jesus gave us these words to help us! He was showing us exactly how we can judge our own lives by the trees growing in our garden. If we are seeing a lot of “bad” fruit in an area of our lives, we don’t have to condemn ourselves or others, but instead we can get to work in our garden.

Jesus is helping us. He says, you don’t gather figs from thorns or grapes from a bramble bush. Really, Jesus?! Duh! (I say that facetiously.) Yet this is the very thing we need to hear. People look at their lives and often wonder, “Why is this happening in my life?” or “Why do I keep experiencing this same negative thing or good thing?” Well, there is your answer. It’s not rocket science. It’s simple gardening. What have you been planting? If you have bad fruit, well, then you’ve planted a bad tree. We can’t blame anyone else. God’s not responsible for the bad fruit. If He is in any way responsible for the bad fruit, then it would be unjust of Him to judge us for it. It’s HIS doing and we reap the negative result? God is a just judge. By YOUR words you are justified, by YOUR words you are condemned. Not God’s. He’s not planting those bad trees in our lives. We are. If you are going to that bad tree expecting something other than bad fruit, then you are deceived. Jesus words are meant to bring light to OUR lives as He is the light of life. His words should show us that if we want consistent good fruit in all areas of life (relationships, money, health, wisdom, strength, love, forgiveness, etc…) then I need to be planting good trees in those areas. You see, all “bad” fruit in another believers life ought to show me is number one: how I can help that person know what to uproot and number two: what truth I can minister to their heart to replace the “evil” seed with “good” seed. Sounds a little like renewing the mind! (Romans 12:2)

That is exactly what it is! Jesus (the guy full of grace and truth) gave us His word to help each other and provide grace to change not so we can accuse one another of being “bad” trees and “wolves!” I think I might just slap the next person that uses these Scriptures to name call – in love of course!

Be rest assured that if you have some “bad” fruit in your life and Jesus is your savior, He wants to help you in your garden, not condemn you. If Jesus is your Lord, He wants to help you today replace the “evil” stuff stored up in your heart with the “good” of His word so that you can choke out the bad trees and replace them with good! God is out for your good and there is no one more on your side than He is! Maybe it’s a particular “bad” habit that the Holy Spirit keeps talking to you about or a particular lust or sin that keeps kicking your tail. Don’t be condemned because of that bad fruit, look to the Holy Spirit to show you where and how the tree originally got planted and what you and He can do together to kill it and replace it with something good! You see, by YOUR words you will be justified, and by YOUR words you will be condemned! Will you take the words I’ve shared today to heart and start speaking some good into your life, or will you continue to spout off the same old junk – planting the same old seeds.

What kind of fruit do you want? It’s up to you. The Lord will help; there is NO ONE MORE FOR YOU than the Creator of the UNIVERSE!

Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

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