I Peter 6:7-8 (NLT)
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
I Peter 6:7-8 (NLT)
Luke 2:13 ‘And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’
Peace? Goodwill? How can there be ‘peace’ in a world torn with debate, conflict,
destruction and global unrest? Where is the ‘good will towards men’ in a world populated by many whose hearts foster ill-will towards others? If ‘Peace on Earth – Good Will Towards Men’ exists – where does it live? I contend such pure intention exists in the Father, Son (Prince of Peace), and Holy Spirit who indwells the hearts of believers. And I see His hand continually through a global multitude whose hearts selflessly and compassionately serve their fellow-man.
Too many to mention are the faith-based/corporate/government/non-government/private/non-profit agencies who are incredibly active in offering humanitarian services and provision to those who are in need. As a volunteer with a national non-profit who via a Congressional Charter and with a broad base of partners/donors – provides emergency disaster relief, I am in awe at having realized through first hand experience that God’s ‘Peace on Earth – Good Will Towards Men’ is alive and well!!!! In the past my focus was on the problems of my county, state and world. But now I am seeing a thing I once believed was lost – pure unadulterated humanitarianism – of the God kind !
In my county in southern America, there are two hundred and fifty churches, twenty-six Fire Departments (twenty-four Volunteer/two paid City
departments), seventeen incorporated municipalities and a host of
non-profit/government/non-government agencies all who take part in humanitarianism straight from the loving heart of God. Before following my heart to early retirement from the teaching profession in search of a God-compelled place, I had a general awareness of the goodness of the churches and agencies active in my narrow perspective window. And for the most part I just complained about the state of the world and the evil there. But since I’ve found the ‘secret-garden’ of humanitarianism so to speak, I observe the love of God saturating and flowing through agencies and touching hearts and lives who need uplifted and encouraged.
America practices humanitarianism via the National Response Framework and National Incident Command Management System (NIMS). The National Response Framework (NRF) is a guide to how the Nation conducts all-hazard response for managing incidents that range from the serious but purely local to large-scale terrorist attacks or catastrophic natural disasters. The companion NIMS ‘provides a consistent, nationwide template to enable Federal, State, Tribal, and local governments, the private sector, and non-government organizations (NGOs) to work together to prepare for, prevent, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity.’ And the beautiful idea of loving, helping, restoring, sheltering and feeding people in need comes from a heart higher and purer than the human heart. Such high Humanitarianism comes straight from the kind, gentle and merciful heart of God!!!! And we are so steeped in habits of complaining and bemoaning that we do not see the loving Hand constantly stretched forth to touch those who are hurting. And we do not see that churches, businesses, non-profits, non-government, private and yes – governments are gifts from the Father to his creation !!
Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
And, yes, there are tares who plant themselves next to the wheat of God’s earthly government with intent to hinder and destroy. The Kingdom of God in the world is described in the following verse: John 17:23 I in them, and thou in
me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.’ But alongside the Kingdom of God sits Mystery Babylon – the fulness of fleshly lust and greed. But the bad intent does not void God’s gift of rulers and the related benevolent functions and protections provided to the people.
Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Yet the gentle heart of God remains the victor as proven by Hebrews chapters eleven and twelve which names the horrors the enemy perpetuates against God’s people – by God’s permission. But the kicker is that as satan steals the earthly breath from a child of God, the soul returns to the Father in a place of peace, safety, light, and glory – Eden restored!!! Hebrews 11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.’ ‘Of whom the world was not worthy’ – I totally love that while it appears evil is the victor that actually God the Father is gathering them back to Himself because the ‘world was not worthy’ of their presence any longer. Wow!!!! Awesome!!!
And we cannot lose sight of the fact that God’s strong hand remains on our world even though He is loosening the restraints on evil in this generation – for His perfect purposes! I thank God that He has directed me to a place of wisdom – to a place of recognizing that it is His hand and heart in all the humanitarian efforts and acts around the world though they are performed by human hearts, feet, hands, and voices under His direction.
We must give our Father credit due for His organizations made up of servants, both paid and volunteer, who are touching the hurting and hopeless. Thank You, God, for organizations such as CAN (Coordinated Assistance Network) made up of AIRS (Alliance of Information & Referral Systems, American Red Cross, Catholic Charities U.S.A, Lutheran Disaster Response, (VOAD) National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, The Salvation Army, Southern Baptist
Conventions Disaster Relief, United Way and (UMCOR) United Methodist Committee on Relief. And along with these CAN agencies, other agencies operate under the National Mass Care Strategy such as FEMA, NEMA (National Emergency Management Association), Crisis Common, Save the Children, Medical Reserve Corp, (NACo) National Organization of Counties (represents county governments in the U.S.), National Disability Rights Network, Adventist Community Service, Business Civic, Leadership Center (U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation), (iAEM) International Association of Emergency Managers (non-profit educational organization dedicated to promoting the goals of saving lives and protecting property during emergencies and disasters), and Feeding America . Wow!!! Wow!!! I believe that if it were possible to document the humanitarian deeds of all the faith-based, government/non-government/private/corporate/non-profit agencies and groups who serve humanity around the world – that I would come to the end of my life before I could name them all. How dare I complain about worldly things in light of such heavenly abundance of grace, love, mercy, kindness, joy, restoration, caring and giving. How dare I complain when trillions upon trillions of benevolent
donor dollars and trillions upon trillions of both paid/volunteer service hours are given in humanitarianism service globally. How dare I not confess that such Humanitarianism is the result of the Heavenly Father’s loving touch on the earth!! Instead of bemoaning and complaining I will be found eternally praising the Father for the ‘Peace on Earth – Good Will Towards Men’ which resounds today as surely as when first spoken by the heavenly host. And many insist that God as Righteous judge destroys His enemies in vengeful rebuke. But I insist the loving Father’s enemies self-destruct as they come against/reject His Power which is Truth/Life (the Word of God) and, thus, choose their eternal damnation-Death.
The warrior God who rides the white horse of Revelations 19 is misleading for those who do not know the gentle heart of the Creator. 11. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.’ But the
fearless and thunderous strength of the white horse assures deliverance in battle. His many crowns are His infinite authority over all enemies. His blood-soaked vesture is dripping with His own blood poured out for atonement of sin. And his name, The Word of God, is Truth. Truth is the final Judge. Man’s decisions against Truth is what damns the soul. Yet Truth remains pure, gentle, kind, merciful and His Love is eternal!
And the following seems to contradict ‘Peace on Earth’- Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. Matt 10:34′. But the Sword is God (John 1.1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God‘). But God is the final Word on righteousness, goodness, love, and compassion. Those who hate God and reject His redemption bought by His own soul – knowingly damn themselves. They and their evil father are the opponents of Life. The gentle Heavenly Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are present in the world today granting/perpetuating Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards Men.
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Matthew 5:38-42 (Message)
“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it.
Too many to count are the number of personal and doctrinal explanations to the question, ‘Who or what is the Church?” Yet answers to such a high question can only be found in Holy scripture which is the supernatural Word of God. The following verses confirms for me that true Church members are people who through divine revelation from the Father know - as Peter knew , ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And in this place of knowing – Christ responds to each personally saying, 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art (believer’s name), and upon this rock I will build my church…..’
Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others,
Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The whole of both the Old and New Testaments show the existence and purpose of The Kingdom of God or – ‘The Church.’ The genuine early Church behaved according to the following: ‘Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid Matt 5:14′. Yet generations since have managed to turn ‘the light of the world’ into a darkened lighthouse because we reject that a personal relationship with the Son of the Living God is the source of Light and Life.
Matt 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
No stronger foundation is found than rock!! So Christ uses the ‘Rock’ to describe Himself as the ‘chief cornerstone’ of the Church.
1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,’
God revealed Himself to us in Christ who lived and breathed among flesh to request fellowship with man. Christ returned to the Father and sent in His place the Holy Comforter who is the Third person of the Trinity. Yet all are One. The following verses when interpreted through the lens of the Holy Comforter describes both the foundation of the Church and the process for becoming a member of the true Church.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.’ 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’
As told in Holy Scripture, the world is continuing to degenerate towards the End. Darkness continues to fill hearts who choose it over Light and Life. Most will walk the broad road and ‘few’ will take the narrow path through the gate of Eternal Life (Matt 7:13-14). The Gate equates with the ‘Door’ and both are Christ. Only through Him is the Church empowered to exhibit the Fruits of the Spirit which are Christ-like! James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.’ Christ compels the Church to do His work, to extend His love, to show His mercy to the homeless, the hurting – to restore broken hearts and lives!! Such is the ‘work’ of the true Church which is not a building nor a denomination. The true Church is nothing less than the Kingdom of God. Its members are the Father and His spiritual offspring who have regained the fellowship of Eden. The true and real Church is powerful, alive, and eternal by way of having access to the Creator.
2 Cor 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord.’ Almighty.
Revelations 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’
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And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil….’ Gen. 3:22. God is perfect. His creation plan is and was perfect. Eden was a crucial phase of ‘in the beginning’ of man and his existence/fellowship with his Heavenly Father. Consider that God said, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:……(Gen. 1:26)’. Consider, too, that it was immediately after Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of Knowledge that God proclaimed the fulfillment of ‘Let us make man in our image’ when He proclaimed, ‘…… Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil….’ Gen. 3:22. God clearly demonstrated that He intended man to have ‘free will’ and to choose good or evil, heaven or hell, God or Satan – Life or Death. For in-depth scriptural discussion of the event, see Pages ‘Adam and Eve: Innocent’ and ‘Birth of Free Will’ (Page tabs are above site name/pic).
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalms 139:14
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Easter celebrates the death and resurrection of the Lamb ‘Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the
forbearance of God. Romans 3:25.” Oh my…where do I start to search the depths of sacrifice, of setting forth, of propitiation, of faith, of blood, of righteousness, of sins past, of forbearance of God? I begin by searching His incredible gift of going to Death in my place.
Amidst varied Christian doctrines and traditons…we agree that Christ suffered to redeem us from death to Life. But I contend that Christian tradition has focused narrowly on how He died with little mention of the agony He experienced during Death. I contend that Christian tradition has made the three-fold cord into a two-fold cord representing crucifixion and resurrection only. The three days of death are seldom considered. What happened to Christ while He was ‘in the heart of the earth’ for three days?(Matt 12:49).
As a child, I knew His sacrificial suffering was intensely more…deeper…than the insufficient words used to describe the events of crucifixion, entombment, and resurrection. But not until recent years did I understand through divine revelation …and that in small measure…the horrors suffered by both God and Christ as they accomplished redemption for those who will receive it. Crucifixion was the least of it!!
When the time came for the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Christ knew what He would experience during Death. God would assign the vile sin of man to the pure and righteous soul of the Son. Christ would die, not as the Son of God, but as wicked man. He would make His grave with the rich and wicked ( Isa 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.’).
In Gethsemane (Luke 22: 42-44), Christ’s spirit agonized extensively knowing the desolation, the vileness, the deadness, the evil His sacrificial fallen soul was going to experience for three days and nights in Death. Be clear! When I say ‘death’, I am speaking only what scripture has revealed. I am speaking of Jonah’s revelation, of Isaiah’s, and of Christ’s own Word about His sacrificial death in our stead. Death of the soul is unspeakable in its vileness. Death is the place of no Light – a place void of even the flicker of a candle – a place of blindness where there is not even the hope of life ever again since life requires Light. Death is a place void of Life …Eden’s opposite. Death separates the soul from Light and Life in God. Within its confines, death reeks of suicidal desolation and hopelessness. Even Legion preferred dwelling within swine over being sent back to the dry place of Death.
Knowing the depths of Death, Christ’s heart agonized before the Father. ’ And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.’ Matt 26:39. The horror of it was such that Christ sweated so extensively that what little water was left in His body became mingled with blood. Weakness from dehydration was extensive but angels came and ministered to Him…sustained Him….loved Him. Christ points us to Jonah for a better understanding of Death, Burial, and Resurrection. .
God appointed Jonah to carry the gospel to Nineveh (wicked world). But first…God would teach Jonah about death, burial, and resurrection. He would teach Jonah of desolation, of being cast out of God’s sight, and of redemption. Aboard the ship of idol worshippers bound for Tarshish (Jonah chapter one), Jonah willing gave himself to death so the power of God would be manifested to the lost souls on board the ship. His sacrifice calmed the storm and the heathen acknowledged the God of Jonah. Drowned in the raging water a great fish..sent from God..swallowed Jonah. Physically dead, Jonah’s soul cries out to God about the horror of death…of being cast out of God’s sight…and of faith in the giver of Life.
Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, 2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. 3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me 4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. 5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. 6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. 7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. ’
For Jonah, death was from drowning as he gave himself to save those on board; burial was entombment in the great fish prepared by God which carried him deepest parts of the physical earth; resurrected to the land of the living…to dry land. Now He understood desolation, bondage, and the power of God to redeem from death. . Jonah carried the God empowered message to Nineveh. They heard and repented!! Jonah’s journey to ‘the bottom of the mountains’ was only a type of the ‘center of the earth’ journey ordained for the soul of Christ….as His body lay uncorrupted in the tomb.
Christ spoke of Jonah, , ‘ Matt 12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” WOW! WOW!! Be clear! By Christ’s own mouth, Jonah’s death, burial, and resurrection is a type which points to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Jonah’s sacrificial death is a type of Christ’s death. Jonah died willingly by drowning. Christ died willingly by crucifixion. Jonah was entombed in a great fish. Christ was entombed in a large rock. Jonah’s soul was cast out of God’s sight and suffered saying ‘ I am cast out of thy sight.’ Christ affirmed a deeper horror by saying ‘My God…why hast thou forsaken me?’ God brought Jonah from the belly of hell’ to Life. Isaiah 53:9 affirms, And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.’ ‘Crucifixion (physical death) is the least of it! Death ( grave with the wicked and rich) is the horror of it. Resurrection (seated again at the right hand of the Father) is the finishing of it.
I insist that Christ would not have sweated ‘as it were drops of blood’ and required sustenance from ministering angels…if He anticipated merely a physical death. What agony could there be in knowing the earthly visit was nearing completion after which He would again be glorified….returned to the Father? And if nothing happened during the three days…if Christ lay dead within the tomb…why did Isaiah 53:9 say he ’made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death?’ If He did make his grave with the wicked and the rich….Luke 16: 22-24 clearly describes the grave of the rich as hell. If Christ did not suffer a horror worthy of His agony in the Garden, why did Paul refer to David’s prophecy in Acts 2:27 …’Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption?’ …corruption meaning Christ’s physical body would not decay and return to dust. David’s words prophesied about Christ. Read Acts 2:25-37 which refers to David’s prophecy in Psalms 16:10. And Christ clearly told us to see the death, entombment, and resurrection of Jonah as a type of His own(Jonah 2:1). Subsequently, how can we know of the desolate, outcast, and hellish plight of Jonah and insist that Christ, the true Lamb of God, did not suffer horrors during the three days and nights in Death?
By the sustaining power of God, Christ endured as large iron spikes were driven between bones in his hands and feet since flesh would rip and not hold the body weight. The spikes would plug the wounds and prevent blood loss and death would come slowly….usually by dehydration since the large spikes plugged the wound to prevent blood loss and to extend suffering. To affirm the foreknowledge of God ..Christ died before the executioners came back to complete their task by breaking the bones of the condemned to carry out death. (Joh 19:36 ‘For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken). Too, Christ’s blood was not shed until after He ‘made his grave with the wicked and the rich’ and after He poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors..Isa 53:12. Christ was already physically dead and experiencing the agony of spiritual death when the executioners returned …pierced His side..and watched blood and water flow from the empty earthen vessel that had housed the Son of God. John 19:34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water..
The two large crossed beams and the method of execution (crucifixion) has been made the focus of Christ’s suffering. And we have not acknowledged the depths and agony of His sacrifice…giving His pure and perfect soul to the vileness of death… in our stead. We have not heard His loud and agonizing cry ‘ Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?”
Knowing I am bought with the price of Christ’s soul…woe is promised me if I ‘neglect so great a salvation.
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2 Corinthians 12:10 (AMP)
So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak (in human strength], then am I strong (able, powerful in divine strength).
I am well pleased. Am I? I take pleasure in my infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and/or distress. Not really.