Monday, April 30, 2018

spiritual battle, Satan Uses a Serpent (Gen.3)

My next topic as I read through the Bible will be focusing on the spiritual battle:  everything that the Bible says about angels and demons, and the spiritual realm.  Throughout this Bible-topic-read-through, I will also share some of my personal experiences as examples of what is being said. 

Whether you are dealing with something spiritual right now or not, the one thing that I will point out right before we begin is (as we'll see from God's words) always keep our focus on God!!!  He is our only defense.  And our loving, everywhere-present, all-knowing, all-powerful God is amazing!!!

The first evidence of spiritual warfare is when Satan used a serpent in order to speak to Eve...

(Genesis 3:1-5)  Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’? The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

We see from this that:
- Satan is crafty
- Satan can possess, or oppress, or manipulate animals
- Satan has some knowledge (knowing what God has said)
- Satan twists truths around and outright lies in order to deceive mankind and take their focus away from God
- Satan appeals to our pride (for example: how we like to think we are so smart, or how we like to think we are in control, or how we might want to - not only be LIKE God - but be a god...)

Personal experience:  demons can manipulate and move things.

When I was little, my mom had spent months making a clown-doll to hang on the wall in my room, right below a sconce.  When I saw the clown point at me, repeatedly, I finally had the courage to call out for my mom, begging her to please remove the clown.  She was very angry and told me that it was all in my imagination.  She had worked so hard to make it!!!  But days later, in extreme frustration (because I kept pleading with her), she took the clown away.

Decades later, I mentioned this memory, and she quickly said, "I didn't believe you then, but I do now."  In fact, several years after that incident, my parents felt it necessary to go into every corner of every room praying for God to fill the space and remove all evil.  Because of someone else, there had been occult activity, which had "invited" a few demons into our home.

Of course, now I know that it was not the clown that was evil.  It wasn't the clown that needed to be removed, but the evil spirits that were "visiting" our house. 

Today's takeaway:  Eve chose to interact with the talking snake, instead of going straight to God for His insights.  She probably figured that she would handle the situation herself, but we see that Eve was a little confused about what God actually said, which was...

(Genesis 2:16)  The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

Eve had added that they are not to even "touch it" or they will die.  It is important for us to know exactly what GOD says so that we will not be deceived...

(Proverbs 30:5-6)  Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

eschatology, Final Warnings and Final Message of Hope (Rev.22:18-19)

We have been traveling a bit and just experienced two days of absolutely no internet access.  What a helpless feeling!  I could not imagine being without interaction-access with God.  We have God's Word, and we are able to pray without ceasing!!!  And this is a constant blessing.

So, in the last chapter of the entire Bible - right at the end of the book of Revelation - there is a stern warning for anyone who alters God's words in anyway.  The Bible is a compilation of messages from God!!! 

One cannot lose their salvation, so the following verses could be talking about the consequences one would experience while still on earth;  or these could be talking about unbelievers who will go to hell and suffer extra consequences there...

(Revelation 22:18-19)  I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book...

And one more alert!  At any time - the rapture could happen!  At any time - we could pass away!  So we need to make our decision!  Do we personally want to experience God's grace and the hope and assurance of eternal life?...

(Revelation 22:20)  He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Today's takeaway:  the final verse in the book of Revelation is a hope for all people to experience God's grace and eternal life!  The very last verse in the entire Bible sums up God's desire for us...

(Revelation 22:21)  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

eschatology, Final Words (Rev.22:6-17)

In John's vision, the angel gives some final words to him.  We are to remember that at any time, the rapture can happen.  There is an extra blessing for anyone who heeds the prophecies in the Bible...

(Revelation 22:6-7)  And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place.
“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”

Today's takeaway:  blessed is the one who believes, and they will receive glorified bodies (washed robes), and enter the New Jerusalem in heaven, and eat from the tree of life.

Remember the two trees in the garden of Eden?  After Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God banned them from the garden.  This was to protect them so they would not eat from the tree of life while they were still in the state of sin - causing them to live eternally in that state of death and separation from God.  Jesus wants us to eat from the tree of life - as redeemed people without sin - to enjoy eternal life in perfection.

Jesus also offers His living water to everyone as a gift.  The one who does not take His free gift will have no place in heaven...

(Revelation 22:14-17)  Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

16 I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost...

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

eschatology, Heaven (Rev.21:1-22:5)

(Revelation 21:1)  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

God is preparing for us a new heaven and a new earth of perfection, but the best thing about heaven is that we will be in God's presence for all eternity...

(Revelation 21:2-7)  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.

An angel then takes John to see a vision of what the New Jerusalem (the heavenly city) will be like...

(Revelation 21:9-11)  Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 

Although all believers, both Gentile and Jew, are equal in God's eyes, because of His covenants with the Israelites, there will be a continued distinction...

(Revelation 21:12-14)  It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

We are given measurements to help us fathom this vision.  The heavenly city will be shaped like a cube, 1,380 miles on each face.  The wall which will contain our "luxury-palace-condo-suites" will be 72 yards thick, thus it has been calculated that even if only 25 percent of this space were used for dwellings, 20 billion people could be accommodated spaciously.  And obviously - it will be gorgeous beyond our imagination...

(Revelation 21:15-21)  The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.17 And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. 18 The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

In heaven - in perfect conditions - we will still have positions and "jobs" - to serve God and each other - but this "work" will be completely enjoyable and fulfilling...

(Revelation 21:22-27)  I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

In heaven, there will be a river with orchards from which to eat.  There will not be any sickness or any of sin's curses.  And there will not be any more night...

(Revelation 22:1-5)  Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

Today's takeaway:  Jesus is the living water.  When we accept this "living water", not only will we never thirst again, but this "water" is so abundant that it will flow out from us.  Even now, God wants to give us more than enough - so that it overflows! 

This should be applied to all aspects of our lives right now, even to our work and careers.  There are tasks that I LOVE to do!!!  I can so easily get lost in them so that time flies by, and then when I quit for the day, I can't wait to get back to it!!!  That's going to be what happens in heaven, only more so.

But then there are tasks that I HATE to do!!!  And often I'll do what I can to avoid or procrastinate in getting to them. HERE IS WHAT I HAVE DISCOVERED - example - when I ask God to wash the dishes FOR ME - suddenly, I'm at the sink, washing dishes, and singing...!  Seriously! 

Joy in giving and serving begins with God!!!  If and when we don't "feel" like doing something - we can change our attitude by going straight to God!!!

The generosity of God is so immense!...

(John 4:13-14)  Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

(John 7:37b-38)  ...Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

eschatology, White Throne Judgment (Rev.20:5,11-15)

After the Millennium, and after the Last Battle, all unbelievers of all times will be resurrected...

(Revelation 20:5)  The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 

All unbelievers of all times will then stand before Jesus at the White Throne Judgment and be judged according to all their sins they have committed...

(Revelation 20:11-13)  Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 

All unbelievers will be cast into hell - a very permanent place of eternity without the presence of God...

(Revelation 20:14-15)  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

(Revelation 21:8)  ...for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Today's takeaway:  it was all over the news just a while ago that a grieving boy asked pope Francis if his atheist dad was in heaven.  The answer pope Francis gave was that if his dad was as good as the little boy was - then the answer was "yes" - his atheist dad would be in heaven. 

Here was a chance for the pope to impart truth to the world.  Instead, he lied in order to make the boy feel better.  And perhaps he lied in order to win favor with the world.  Without lying, the pope could have easily said, "Who knows, perhaps your dad became a believer right before dying." 

It's pretty simple.  If someone refuses God and wants nothing to do with what He did for us on the cross - they have chosen to go to the place where God is not.  And if someone thinks that they will get into heaven just because they are "good" - basing all their merits on their works - they will be judged according to the Law - and they will come up short.  On our own, none of us could ever be "good enough."

God is holy and cannot be in a relationship with sin.  Therefore to go to heaven, ALL our sins must be forgiven.  And this is only possible through Jesus...

(Luke 5:32)  “...I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

(2 Corinthians 7:10)  For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

(1 Peter 1:13-25)  Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,
All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass.  The grass withers, and the flower falls off,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word which was preached to you.

(1 Peter 2:1-10)  Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture:
Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve,
The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,”
stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”;
for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nationa people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.