Could God Be Against Us?

With a spirit of fearless irreverence, The Daily News has actually stated the truth. God is not fixing this.  He is not our servant, nor does He intervene with any position less than sovereign God, worthy of worship and praise. The question is not ‘will God fix this’ but rather, is God against us?

God front page

“Why do you bring charges against me? You have all rebelled against me,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 2:29)

God did not defend His people who chose to live in rebellion,

“He sold them to their enemies all around…Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them….They were in great distress.” (Judges 2:15)
“The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (II Chronicles 15:2)

Scriptures abound which declare God’s faithfulness to those who follow Him, even in their struggles and battles. The Lord upholds those who choose to align themselves with His Word and sovereign authority, however there are always consequences to sin and rebellion.
Our national security totally hinges on the answer to this question: Where do we stand with God? Do we have the right to call upon Him, standing under His protective hedge and sovereign power or…

removing 10 commandments

The Ten Commandments ordered removed from Oklahoma Courtyard

… have we blasted out His Word from our communities?

Have we spearheaded to the world celebrations for the things that offend God? We, as a people, have strayed so far from the Lord that we cannot see His hand removing His protective hedge.
We err grievously, believing we could be free to revel in sin when in fact sin always creates bondage and despair. The chastisement of God, even if He raises up our enemies, is a painful call to bring us into repentance and right relationship. Abandonment by God is not freedom from God but the fearful state of pending wrath.   The time is short,

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the Lord and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.” Isaiah 55:6-7

“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”  Romans 6:2

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”  Acts 3:19

God’s Word warns of “terrible times in the last days”. He is not on-call to ‘fix’ this world, Jesus is returning to judge it. The only question is, on whose side are we standing, is God for us or against us?

“He who is not with me is against me” declared Jesus.

CAN ISIS WIN?

Egyptian Christians martyred by ISIS

Egyptian Christians martyred by ISIS

While the world apparently slumbered, the terrorist group ISIS rose up with increasing power, resources and resolve.  Depraved and inhuman, defying even the base instincts given to man, gruesome beheadings, torture, and brutal human enslavement have become their trademark.   Their movement is ghastly and historically unique in its ability to broadcast treachery through the media.  Other gross inhumanities, such as Hitler’s death camps, the Turkish genocide of Armenians, or the forced starvation and death of millions under the oppression of Mao Zedong and Stalin, might parallel in terror.   Most certainly man is capable of loathsome sin however, merciless brutality may be inspired and fueled by spiritual power.      

“We must understand that ISIS is a demonic movement.  This is not mere terrorism.  These barbarians are making blood sacrifices to their god.”  Joel C. Rosenberg

While embedded within ISIS territory, journalist and author Jurgen Todenhoefer observed the operation itself and interviewed ISIS fighters.  Reporting to CNN on 1/4/15,

“When we stayed at their recruitment house, there were 50 new fighters who came every day,” Todenhoefer said. “And I just could not believe the glow in their eyes. They felt like they were coming to a promised land, like they were fighting for the right thing….These are not stupid people. One of the people we met had just finished his law degree, he had great job offers, but he turned them down to go and fight … “

Toward the progression of world conquest, ISIS freely admitted to Todenhoefer,

“…slavery is a great help to us and we will continue to have slavery and beheadings, it is part of our religion…“ 

The journalist concluded,

“ISIS is preparing the largest religious cleansing campaign the world has ever seen.”

Yes, they are richly armed, yes, they have increasing recruits and resources.  But all that is nothing if not fueled by living fervor to conquer – they have answered a powerful call into a dark mission.  They are spiritually and mentally prepared to take on  barbarianism with steely satisfaction and pride.   

Against this onslaught, the western world scrambles to manufacture resolve and strategies.  Amidst the complaining, opining, and posturing, the deep void of conviction, mission, and sacrifice remains our greatest weakness.   Defending ‘our way of life’ is not a strong platform since our ‘way of life’ has cultured a lifestyle of complacency, comfort, and tolerance for the very things that compromise our strength as a people.  We have lost our moral compass and any sense of righteousness – how can we muster up the will to sacrifice and defend, to push back the enemy at great cost? 

If we don’t acknowledge that ISIS is spiritually endowed, we can proceed to trust in our own defenses and wisdom,  and strategies which have availed little in this battle.  However, ceding that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood….but against powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6), what should our response be? 

Many will exclaim, ‘Just bomb them and utterly destroy them!’ A spiritually endowed movement cannot be exterminated like a bug when it has most likely pervaded our land.   God may employ man into the physical battle, but our readiness and call must start with an undergirding, a separation unto Him….

Head for the hills…. “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth” (Ps 121) If we are serious about a battle, we will get alone with our Commander, hear from Him and wait upon Him, with a willingness to obey His Word.  Now is the time to prepare with repentance and renewal, to “Prepare our minds for action” (I Peter 1:13) as surrendered vessels given to Most High God, with resolve to align with Him and behind Him in every struggle.  The smallest army, backed by heaven, will never fail. 

Of the Bible, godly leaders admonish, “get into this Book and get this Book into you!” pleading with believers to study, meditate upon and accept the WHOLE counsel of God, resisting the will to conform His changeless word into our comfortable lifestyle.  Surrendering to the whole counsel of God is the only assurance of His whole promises to us.  There is no power nor promise – and every reason to fear – when we know the Way and the Truth but have a willing heart to adulterate His Word.

Encroaching enemies and dire threats expose our complacency and the sin that weakens and disqualifies us for spiritual battle.   The Lord always raises up godly messengers to warn us, draw us, and prepare us.  Yet admonishments, warnings, and calls to repent are as unpopular today as in the days of Jeremiah.  In Jeremiah 20, he is beaten and humiliated in stocks by Pasher the Priest.  

After beating and humiliating Jeremiah, the Priest's name was changed from Pasher to Magor-Missabib, "Terror on Every Side".

Following this, the Priest’s name was changed from Pasher to Magor-Missabib, “Terror on Every Side”.

 

Jeremiah’s message warned of God’s judgment, the rise of a powerful invading kingdom, to chastise those called by God’s name as they refused to repent of faithlessness and idolatry.  Complacency and comfort led to a false security in self as Jeremiah warns, “This is what the Lord says, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.”  (Jeremiah 17:5)

ISIS calls us the ‘People of the Cross’ and the ‘People of the Book’ but are we?  Do we represent the Cross of Christ and the Word of God?  If so, are we endowed with the power of the cross and the living word of God?

Much of the western church is either weakened by willful sin or busy ministering to the wounds of sin’s victims.   Perhaps only dire threat will quicken us to our knees before God, a position of readiness long forgotten by many.   Godly churches who resist prevailing world culture to surrender and wait upon a living word from the Lord are dwindling in numbers.  Obedience to God has become so unpopular, those who subscribe to the whole counsel of God are viewed as the ‘enemy’….mocked, derided, and marginalized….until a true enemy, armed with cruel hate, arises upon us.

  

congress singing God Bless America

Members of Congress, on the Capital steps, singing together, in itself is a surreal image.  Yet this group,  not known for honoring God, is singing God Bless America!   A spiritual stirring, albeit hollow and temporary, ensued following the terrorist attacks on 9/11.  Perhaps an inner compulsion, a quickening for the ungodly to acknowledge God, evoked such cry after these horrific attacks. 

How much more should the Body of Christ be prepared before a coming storm? 

We are called to separate unto the Lord, come together in His presence, and break forth from spiritual huddles.  The Lord calls us in to send us out; can we see ourselves, the Body of Christ, as ‘first responders’ on any front in this dark world?  If we avail ourselves to the living God, surrendered with a willingness to obey, He will call upon us in times of darkness to be a light.  The will of God has not changed, He desires to indwell believers as vessels for His Holy Spirit, to represent Him and bring glory and honor to His name. 

A raging battle quickly exposes the nominal, the lukewarm, from the readied, red hot, vessel of God.

ISIS fighters are not lukewarm nor are they attracting nominal believers.  They have availed themselves to spiritually dark forces and are displaying their conquests to the world.  

Can ISIS win?  They can achieve the domination measured by God as it serves Biblical prophecy, further spinning the world’s course into the coming judgment and return of Christ.  The question for us is, can their rampage serve to quicken the Body of Christ out of slumber and frivolity, into His presence?  Can we find power in prayer, in the Lord’s presence, and gain His burden for the persecuted, the desperate and suffering?

 It is God’s will that He be glorified in this world.  Jesus came as the Light of the World and passes this defining call onto His followers, “You are the light of the world.”   (Matt 5:14)  Through Him we can be that readied beacon, a point of refuge and hope, a conduit for God’s power, pointing to Him as the saving light through the coming dark storm.

lighthouse in the storm

“A lighthouse is only a tourist attraction until the storm comes…then, no longer a tourist attraction, its light is essential for survival for people trying to find their way home in the storm.”   (Pastor Carter Conlon, Times Square Church)

 

 

 

DOES SATAN REALLY TORMENT BELIEVERS?

Does he.

Like a hail storm upon your head

Like a hail storm upon your head

That is his secondary mission – and he only has two!
There are times in our spiritual walk where the mixture of elements – mental, emotional and spiritual – intertwine with traumatic events and tribulations, tap into our own weaknesses and fears to create a spiritual stronghold. Like a perfect storm, none of the elements alone are capable of utter destruction however, infused with supernatural influence, our mind becomes a battle field for every exaggerated lie and distortion, for every magnified and imagined fear and failure. Unexplainable depths of confusion, fear, anxiety, and guilt spearhead the torment in spiritual battle.

When you’re there, you will know it.

In Matthew 8:23-26, the disciples were following Jesus into a boat. They had done nothing wrong. Yet, “Without warning, a furious storm came up” evoking great fear, convincing these seasoned fishermen of sure death. Jesus was sleeping as the storm raged around them.

A spiritual storm may last days, weeks – rising up without warning, to rob us of peace, crush us underweight, and draw us toward ungodly relief. A spiritual battle is a furious storm, whose instigator is full of hatred, fury and supernatural power – power second only to Almighty God.

Rational thinking and fleshly logic are powerless, like fighting a fire breathing dragon with a toothpick. Clichés and platitudes – even self-application of scripture – are merely oars futilely striking raging waves and wind. Others can advise but none can enter the battle, save the Holy Spirit, the ‘Wonderful Counselor’, through prayer. Our course of action remains unchanged: to actively and expectantly wait upon the Lord. He may seem to be sleeping during your utter distress and attack but He has, in fact, gauged and measured the spiritual battle for His purpose.

The principles and purposes of battles remain constant over the ages. In Judges chapter 3, following miraculous deliverance, God led the Israelites victoriously into the Promised Land – a foreshadow of us in Christ. However, God Himself left enemy kings in this promised land to test His people and train them for war. The Lord called His people to completely depend and rely upon Him, their battles are His. It is a call to stand, to remain obedient when under fire with the expectation of God’s deliverance. How much more, in these last days, are we to “…be strong in the Lord, and in His mighty power…take your stand against the devil’s schemes…not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world…” (Ephesians 6:10-18 recommended).

The devil can torment the minds of believers, launching a battle on emotional, mental and spiritual fronts churning together the elements into a raging perfect storm. Our ‘sleeping’ Lord is a waiting Lord, ever-present to take the helm as we, in mustering faith, cry out to Him. Our weakest prayer, offered in faith, can open a door of light to expose the powers of darkness and bring understanding.  In the midst of turmoil, the willfulness to praise and worship God releases His presence. As the Lord speaks through His Word our heart gains strength – His strength – and “divine power to demolish strongholds” (II Corinthians 10:3-5)

Deliverance may not be forthwith, neither are we immune to suffering and wounds in the battle as the Lord trains us to fight but in that fight, He will reveal spiritual truths not otherwise learned.

Tormenting the saints is secondary; Satan’s primary mission is to maintain man’s separation from God through pride, rebellion, disbelief and the deceitfulness of sin. If the “wages of sin is death”, those who live in unrepentant sin, separated from God, will reap fruits of guilt, confusion, and anxiety with a real expectation of judgment. Spiritual battle for the believer is not wasted, needless turmoil and suffering but rather an appointed interface with powers of darkness. We are promised victory before the battle and great reward therein – a deeper revelation of our Deliverer. With strengthened faith and resolve, and humbled dependence on the Lord, may we better refresh and minister to brethren, and beckon the lost to His salvation and deliverance.

“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free.” (Psalm 118:5)

Does God Laugh?

brush over several cans

What we can find through any Bible concordance is this –  God laughs at His enemies. This, of course, is not funny but rather enlarges the truth that any nation or people that rise up against an almighty God are so foolhardy in doing so that it is truly laughable.

“The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against His Anointed One…The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.”  (Psalm 2:2-4)

The Word of God declares here, and elsewhere, that man’s efforts to thwart God’s plans, escape His laws and judgments, are futile and vain.  Meditating on this truth will draw us further into a reverent fear and awe of God.

Not explicit in the Bible however is this: Does God have a sense of humor?  Is there ever a chuckle in a holy and awesome God?  I myself have sensed the laughter of the Lord on few occasions, most recently last week in my kitchen, as I stirred a gallon paint with chopsticks….

After 30 years, our tiny old kitchen, 12’x 8’, finally got the rehab it cried for.  I had no idea that beautiful granite, custom cabinets, and new fixtures could give me such pleasure!  Backsplash, ceramic tiles and accents all enhanced a wonderful color scheme.  However at the last touch the creative flow truly ran amuck…

“…the kitchen came out great!”  I shared, “the only task left is choosing a color for the walls.”

My co-worker shared her design secret, “Look at the granite and choose a color from it that will ‘pop out’ on the walls!”

‘Pop out’ sounded good.  Looking closely at the granite counter I could see sparse dots of blue.  “That’s it! Blue it is!”  With that contrast of color, I imagined my kitchen could impress as a sky with a rising or setting sun…

“Are you sure that’s the color you want?” asked the contractor when ordering the paint.

“Yes, it is” I confirmed.  Obviously, I thought,  contractors know little about ‘popping colors’.

When I arrived home to view my ‘sun rising kitchen’ I saw, in less than a second, that it was the worst color combination known to mankind.  All the pleasure of the kitchen was lost – I could hardly cook.  Immediate change was needed – pale yellow and fast.

Pale yellow worked well until a leak caused some damage to the ceiling and wall.  After repair, repainting was required.  Well, I figured, if pale yellow worked so well, let’s go bolder!

Paint job #3, ‘bolder yellow’, proved a mistake.  It overpowered the whole room.  I will repaint the kitchen myself, I concluded, to make this right.  ‘Tangerine Mist’ was recommended by a reliable source and I believed it –   until I painted it. At the first strokes my heart sank but I went into denial, “…this will look good once the whole kitchen is painted”.  Ha-ha.   No more sun-setting color popping bold kitchen – back to palest yellow as soon as possible.

I opened the can, color #5 and stirred with chopsticks…. “Hmm.  Actually,” I thought, “this doesn’t look like pale yellow.  Why does this look florescent?  No, it can’t be,” I decided, back in denial, “it will look good once it gets on the walls….”  While brushing and rolling I convinced myself it would look better once it dries.   After one wall I stood and stared at a yellow color that seemed to shout, “Stop! Go no further!”   Now bewildered, “How can this be?  How could one room be painted five times?”   It was not at all funny until later that night – it was hilarious.

Was God amused?  What does He – who created humor –  laugh at?  While stirring and gazing into that paint can, claiming ‘no, this is not possible’, I sensed the chuckle of God.  It might have been a hearty laugh when I stood back, with brush in hand, lamenting, “Oh no.  This even makes Tangerine Mist look good.”

Indeed the Lord holds a serious singular focus – declared from Genesis to Revelation – to reconcile and restore man unto Himself for eternity.  He opens His heart to the one surrendered, sharing from the depths of His passions – His grief, His anger, His love and mercy.  He speaks to our heart and speaks through His Word, renewing our mind and refreshing our soul.   Could laughter be one of His healing balms?  In those unexpected moments when we are surprised by humor, it may well be God laughing and inviting us in – to lift our heart, to change our view and move us forward.

Do Animals Go To Heaven?

"If only this were true for me too..."

“If only this were true for me too…”

Do Animals Go to Heaven?

After my beloved cat Remy died, I pondered this question at length.  A few days later,  while approaching a co-worker’s office,  I caught the end of her conversation with another.  They were apparently discussing heaven.

“Do animals go to heaven?   I always hope to see my dog there….”

“No,” was the reply, “They don’t go to heaven, they have no soul!”

What?  No soul?  I did not offer the objection that arose in my heart.  Obviously this sincere woman did not know Remy….nor the likes of Cookie, Scout, or Tina.  What about beautiful Kelly, our seeing eye dog, whose heart was solely bent on pleasing her family?  And Alison, her ‘co-worker’ who, in times of grief, could read my countenance and run to comfort me?  Alison….who, in her senior years of retirement, saved her family during a house fire…. no soul???

I began a Biblical search to grasp a broader understanding and, quite frankly, validate my hopes and own anticipation.  Animals are frequently present in the Bible, most often in a positive and purposeful way.  God is not indifferent to them at all, in fact He displayed His unmatched creative glory when He fashioned the animal kingdom.

The Lord’s overtures to animals are actually vast, from Genesis – where He ushered in every specie into an ark –   to the ‘lion and the lamb’, noted in scripture as present in His coming heavenly kingdom.   In the book of Numbers, chapter 22, God ‘opened the mouth’ of a donkey, letting him speak his mind to his rider Balaam.  It is obvious from this text that the donkey had more wisdom than his master.

God cares about animals, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”  (Matthew 10:29)  “In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”  (Job 12:10)

We are but stewards of this earth and all that is upon it – God is the rightful owner of all, “….every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.”  (Psalm 50: 10-11) .  The Omnipotent and Omnipresent One knows every bird…while, according to National Geographic, man has yet to even identify 86% of earth’s species!

There is more in scripture to affirm that the Lord knows and cares for all his creation.   No Bible scholar would dispute these findings.  The question remains, do animals go to heaven?

Well known Christians such as Randy Alcorn and C.S. Lewis provide theological argument and insight supporting the presence of animals and/or pets in heaven.  Scripture describes the presence of animals, living in harmony, in God’s coming kingdom: “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together….The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, the lion will eat straw like the ox….”  (Isaiah 11: 6-7)

If the soul is where the mind and emotion meet, where intellect and reason dwell, then yes, of course, animals have souls.  Who doubts their capacity to discern friend and foe, express emotions of love, anger and fear?  There is little doubt that animals communicate.  They grieve for lost members – do they not love?  Anyone with a beloved pet knows, they receive and give.  Delving deeper, do animals have a spirit?  Can they hear from God?

There are Biblical examples of animals hearing the call of God and obeying – at His call they came to the ark, at His call fish swam into nets.   They are created for the service and pleasure of man but owned and governed by their Master.  They live out the life designed by their Maker.

Jesus Christ provided forgiveness of sin to all who receive Him.  As “…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23, we need a Savior.  The shed blood of Christ is the atoning sacrifice for all who come to Him in faith.  Through Jesus Christ we have salvation and life eternal,  “…God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”  I John 5:11.

What about animals?

Assuredly, the Son of God did not die for the eternal life of animals.  However, animals did not rebel against God.  Within Biblical teaching we can see that it is man who is born with a sinful nature, man who rebelled against God, man who is capable of every wretched sin conceived in the bowels of hell.  Assuredly, it is man who is in need of a Savior!  Above all, we must ask, are we reconciled with God, are we heaven bound?

We have a Savior, our Good Shepherd, who has prepared our way to eternity.  Much of what awaits for us there is a mystery.  Animals will surely dwell in the coming Kingdom of God – will Remy be there?  What about Cookie, Kelly, Scout?  Why not?

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”   (I Corinthians 2:9)