The BEMA Judgment Seat of Christ – Our Rewards

There are parallel tracks running at any given time – one in the supernatural / spiritual realm (the “third heaven”), and one in the natural / physical realm (the “first and second heavens”). In end times prophecy, we see views from both perspectives.
The Day of Christ is the heavenly track while the Day of the Lord runs its course on earth. The Day of Christ is the day of redemption, when the age of grace is complete and the church is called to join Jesus in glory.
Let’s examine the passages of scripture anticipating the Day of Christ:
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:4-8)
For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand— just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you. (2 Corinthians 1:13-14)
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. (Philippians 1:9-10)
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16)
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
While the judgments of the Day of the Lord are being carried out on earth, what is happening in the heavenly track on the “Day of Christ”?
First, we will rejoice at our salvation:
We will stand before the Lamb and before God on His throne, waving palm branches, and shouting “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:10)
Second, we will likely watch the war between Michael and his angels and Satan and his demons and rejoice in his defeat (this quite likely is occurring even as we are going up in the rapture):
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! (Revelation 12:7-12)
Third, the judgment (BEMA) seat of Christ will commence:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12)
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12) (Also Rev 2:10 Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.)
And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:4)
Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)
The judgment seat of Christ is for Christians to give an account of our lives before Christ. It does not determine salvation – that matter is settled and we are already in heaven. Our sins are erased (Romans 8:1). What we will see is if the things we did while on earth had any eternal value. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 likely applies to us! We are stewards of what God has given us, and we will give an accounting of how we performed in that regard. Did we put our treasures in the eternal bank of heaven, or did we invest them in the temporal?
And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. (1 John 2:28)
Jesus tells us in Luke to pray that we are worthy and have the strength to stand before the Son of Man and escape all the things that are going to come upon the earth (Luke 21:36). We do this by being AWAKE spiritually (being born again, sealed by the Holy Spirit). You will be a part of one “Great Day”, and they both begin with the rapture of the church. Which “Day” you are a part of is up to you!
The Bible is infallible. I am not. Be a Berean – examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!
For more study on Bible Prophecy:  http://www.redmoonrapture.wordpress.com
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Full Surrender – It’s The Little Things

Surrendering our hearts to Christ is the first step in our Christian walk.  However, much more than being a one-time event, we are to surrender to Christ daily.  This is what it means to “take up our cross and follow Him”, to “die to self”, and to “abide in Christ”.  We will never be successful in surrendering the Big Things to Christ (addictions, idols, etc), if we don’t regularly practice surrendering the little things.

Is there something little you could surrender to Christ today?  What about spending time reading the Bible instead of watching TV?  What about choosing to play praise and worship music in the car instead of the local station?  What about biting your tongue instead of reacting with a sarcastic comment to your spouse?  What about deliberately spending 5-10 minutes in prayer?

It all starts with the little things.

From GotQuestions:
Question: “What does it mean to surrender to God?”
Answer: This world is a battleground. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:17-19), the world God created has been in conflict with Him (Romans 8:20-22). Satan is called the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and due to Adam’s sin, we are born on his team (Romans 5:12). John Bunyan pictured this conflict in his allegory The Holy War. Prince Emmanuel besieges the city of Mansoul to wrest it from the power of Diabolus. Unfortunately, the citizens of Mansoul are blindly committed to Diabolus and fight against Emmanuel, to their own detriment.
When we reach the age when we can make moral choices, we must choose whether to follow our own sinful inclinations or to seek God (see Joshua 24:15). God promises that when we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). When we find Him, we have a choice to make: do we continue following our own inclinations, or do we surrender to His will?
Surrender is a battle term. It implies giving up all rights to the conqueror. When an opposing army surrenders, they lay down their arms, and the winners take control from then on. Surrendering to God works the same way. God has a plan for our lives, and surrendering to Him means we set aside our own plans and eagerly seek His. The good news is that God’s plan for us is always in our best interest (Jeremiah 29:11), unlike our own plans that often lead to destruction (Proverbs 14:12). Our Lord is a wise and beneficent victor; He conquers us to bless us.
There are different levels of surrender, all of which affect our relationship with God. Initial surrender to the drawing of the Holy Spirit leads to salvation (John 6:44; Acts 2:21). When we let go of our own attempts to earn God’s favor and rely upon the finished work of Jesus Christ on our behalf, we become a child of God (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:21). But there are times of greater surrender during a Christian’s life that bring deeper intimacy with God and greater power in service. The more areas of our lives we surrender to Him, the more room there is for the filling of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we exhibit traits of His character (Galatians 5:22). The more we surrender to God, the more our old self-worshiping nature is replaced with one that resembles Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Romans 6:13 says that God demands that we surrender the totality of our selves; He wants the whole, not a part: “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” Jesus said that His followers must deny themselves (Mark 8:34)—another call to surrender.
The goal of the Christian life can be summed up by Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Such a life of surrender is pleasing to God, results in the greatest human fulfillment, and will reap ultimate rewards in heaven (Luke 6:22-23).
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Throw Off Everything That Hinders

To each and every one of you! ❤️❤️

May we lay off the sins which so easily entangle!  May we cast off everything that distracts us from Jesus!

He wants to be first and foremost in our lives, not because of control, but because of LOVE. He loves you so very much that he wants you to bask in His love. He wants to to be enveloped in it, comforted by it, reassured by it, and empowered by it. This is why His greatest commandment is to love Him best, first, and most of all. This is how you will experience His love.

It’s the last leg of the race. Push ahead so as to win the prize! It’s in our grasp. The finish line is near. Draw near to God like never before! Get on your knees and pray, you children of Zion! Pray for the lost! Pray for wisdom and understanding! Repent and pray for forgiveness!

Everything in your heart that is a barrier between you and God, today is the day to get rid of it. Release it all to Jesus!

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Occupy Until He Comes

He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

Luke 19:12-13

While we await Jesus to return (oh blessed day!), we are encouraged in Scripture to occupy ourselves with Kingdom work. Basically, this includes growing in holiness, spreading the gospel, and encouraging others to grow in the faith. There are many resources available, but these are the ones I highly recommend:

Bible – Reading plans can be found online

The Pursuit of Holiness – Jerry Bridges
The Practice of Godliness – Jerry Bridges
A Life That Matters – Ron Hutchcraft

Studying the Bible:

The Bible is to our spiritual health as food and drink are to our physical health. Without an adequate intake of “spiritual food”, we wither spiritually. “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Personal Bible study is extremely important so we can identify false teachings. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (2 Timothy 4:3). Personal Bible study is also essential to be able to teach others.

Praying Without Ceasing:

Prayer should be a part of our daily lives. Talk to God as you go about your day: rejoicing in thanksgiving, casting your cares upon Him, asking for help in temptations. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Partaking in Communion:

We are to regularly remember Christ’s sacrifice for us, and how it points to our ultimate redemption. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)

Preaching the Gospel:

Being reconciled to God is the main purpose of this earthly life. We are to spread the good news to those around us! Each one of us is a unique witness exactly where and when God has placed us. We are ALL called to be Seed Planters! “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2)

Making Disciples:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Making disciples isn’t just about an initial commitment to Jesus. The Christian walk is a day by day turning from sin and towards God. We need to constantly be picking out the rocks and pulling out the weeds in our own soil, so that we can bear fruit for His Kingdom. Likewise, we come alongside others to help them with their rocks and weeds. We are ALL called to be Sprout Waterers!

Getting Together with Other Believers:

The early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). We are to follow that example and do the same things. “Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25) This can include church attendance, but the early church had no specific building. “Every day [the early church] continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46). Regularly meet with other believers specifically for the sake of growing in Christ. This meeting can be anywhere – home groups, coffee dates, online chats, Facebook. It’s better in person, but for some that’s difficult. The main point is to keep our focus on God and good works, and to encourage others to do the same. “Walk with the wise and become wise” (Proverbs 13:20). Choose your companions on this earthly journey wisely!

Confessing Sins to One Another:

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16) We are to confess our sins to one another so that we can be healed. Harboring secret sin allows it to bloom in our hearts – confessing it releases its’ power over us.

Forgiving One Another:

“And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” (Ephesians 4:32) Jesus taught a lot about forgiveness. In His model of prayer, we are to ask God to forgive us as we forgive others who sin against us. The debt we owe God is higher than what anyone else can owe us, and He has wiped our debt clean (Matthew 18:21-25). Harboring unforgiveness in our hearts not only hurts us emotionally, but hurts our relationship with God. Sometimes absolutely terrible things happen in this world. I know it’s easier said than done, but release it to God. He has stated “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

Showing Love to Others:

“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13) Love can be a feeling, but showing love to others is a choice. 1 Corinthians 13 explains how to do this well: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (v 4-7) In all our interactions with others, let’s strive to show love.

Encouraging One Another:

“But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.” (Hebrews 3:13) We need each other. As a part of a collective body, what WE say and do influences the other parts of the body! God has given each of us unique talents and personalities. Let’s be builders of the body of Christ, with whatever abilities God has gifted us. “So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26) “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).

Resisting the Devil:

Our enemy, the devil, prowls around looking for any opening he can take to pull us away from God. He tells us there are “little sins” that are “no big deal”. He tells us the Bible is “boring” and that it “doesn’t matter if we miss one day”. Whatever your personal weaknesses are, guard your heart against the clutches of the fallen ones They are actively trying to get you to stumble and stray from the narrow path that leads to life. “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Storing Treasures in Heaven:

Instead of accumulating worldly goods, we are to use our resources – talents, time, abilities, money, energy – to store our “treasures” in heaven. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21) There is no greater treasure than a human soul! So this goes along with making disciples and preaching the Word. As well, anything we do for other believers we do as for Jesus Himself. “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

Seeking His Kingdom:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) God knows we need food, water, shelter, and clothing. We also need health and safety. Most other things are “wants”. If we spend our time, attention, and resources on God’s kingdom, He will ensure our needs are met. Money won’t literally fall into our laps, but He will provide a way for us to earn or be given what we need. “So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)

Abiding in Christ:

“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” (1 John 2:28) To be a Christ-follower is to walk with God. We try to please Him in all we say and do. We even try to please Him in our thoughts and the attitudes of our heart. In this way, we can be a fragrant aroma, pleasing to God. “For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:11-13)

Above all, WATCH, and BE READY for the appearance of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

The Bible is infallible. I am not. Be a Berean – examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!
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The Fragrance of Christ

We are the FRAGRANCE of CHRIST to those who are perishing….

Think of how much we pay attention to how we smell.  We bathe, use perfume or cologne, and choose personal care products that we prefer to smell. We scent our homes, our laundry, our bathrooms. We want our bodies and our homes to smell pleasing!

How too should we desire to spread the fragrance of Christ to those around us! This isn’t something we “make” people notice, but it will exude out from us passively if we abide in Christ!  People won’t be able to help but notice!!!

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?

2 Corinthians 2:14-16

 

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The Bible is infallible. I am not. Be a Berean – examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

So often we focus on what we are DOING (is it a sin?) or what we AREN’T DOING (am I reading my Bible or praying enough?) or our FEELINGS (anger, depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, etc).

Our focus is on ME. Our eyes constantly get drawn down, back onto ourselves.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full on His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Jesus offers you grace today. Turn your eyes upon Him. Take all thoughts captive to Him. Let it all go.

Whenever I forget to keep my eyes on Him I get drawn back into my own troubles and sorrows and the cares of this world. Oh, it’s hard. It’s something I fight every minute of every day. But fight with me. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!!!!!

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus – Helen H. Lemmel

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Refrain:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

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Cleansing and Blessing Your Home

I have had several occasions on which we were experiencing what I can only describe as supernatural attacks or manifestations in our home.  In talking with others, it seems that this may not be that isolated of an occurrence!  Therefore, I have put together these guidelines for cleansing and blessing your home.  This will dedicate your home and household to the Lord.  It should be performed by the spiritual head of the home.  If you are new in the faith, you may wish to have a more mature believer assist you.

The Name of Jesus

First of all, let me emphasize that there is only one Name that causes demons to flee, and that is the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:9-11

And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”  Mark 1:27

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”  Matthew 28:18

The true Jesus Christ of the Christian Bible is the One who has all authority in heaven and on earth.  (Which Jesus Do You Follow?)

Unequally Yoked Homes

In homes where only one spouse or roommate is a believer, the believer should encourage the other members of the household to participate.  However, the believer must respect the other housemates’ boundaries.  If spiritual battles continue, the believer may have to move out in a non-marital situation.  In a marriage, the believer is called to stay (1 Corinthians 7:14).  If you are in a conjugal relationship, you should get married 😉

Cleansing the Home

Before blessing the home, the house must be cleansed of all that is offensive to God.  This should be done by all believing members of the family.  None of the items should be given away or sold; they should be burned or destroyed and discarded.

The carved images of their gods you shall burn with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them or take it for yourselves, lest you be ensnared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God.  And you shall not bring an abominable thing into your house and become devoted to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest and abhor it, for it is devoted to destruction.  Deuteronomy 7:25-26

Before going around the home, I pray something like this, “Father, please reveal to me anything that is a stumbling block in this home.  Please reveal to me all idols and all things which glorify the enemy.  Please convict me of anything in this home that doesn’t please You.”

If you feel a struggle in your heart about something it means it should go.  This is an indication of your conscience bearing witness against you!

OCCULT:  Destroy every item that has any association with the occult.  This includes images, games, books, clothing, CDs, DVDs, art pieces, masks, charms, literature, and any objects that elicit fear.  Pay particular attention to games dealing with the occult and forces of darkness – this is a common theme in video games.  Examples include Dungeons and Dragons and Ouija Boards.  Common occult symbols include Ankh, Black Sun, Circled Dot, All-Seeing Eye, Hexagram, Magic Circle, Pentacle (upside down star in circle).

PAGAN RELIGION:  Destroy and discard all items that arise from pagan religion.  This includes new age crystals, images, games, books, clothing, art pieces, masks, charms, and yoga programs.  Yes, yoga.  Links –  What is the Christian View of Yoga?The Truth About Yoga, The Spiritual Deception of Yoga.  For gentle exercise, try Pilates instead.

PORNOGRAPHY:  This includes all pornographic books, novels, magazines, videos, computer files, and television.  If a person cannot overcome his or her desire for pornographic TV or internet sites, then the internet or TV service must be cut off until the addiction is overcome.  Materials that advocate an immoral lifestyle or anti-Christian principles should also be destroyed.  God’s standards are very high for sexual purity.  Keep this in mind when cleansing your home of materials that are offensive to Him.

MUSIC:  Music that glorifies promiscuity, sex, drugs, or immorality must be destroyed.  Music that opposes God must also be destroyed.  Lyrics should be examined.

DVDs:  Movies and entertainment programming that advocates an immoral lifestyle or anti-Christian principles should be eliminated.

DRUGS:  Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we must not be under the control of any substance.  Prescription drugs are obviously fine when used as directed, but all illicit drugs and abused drugs should be destroyed and discarded safely.

ADDICTIVE MATERIALS:  People are addicted to all kinds of things.  If there is an obvious addiction in your life, you need to destroy and discard anything associated with that addiction.  This might include drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, masturbation materials, sex-related materials, etc.

FALSE TEACHINGS:  All books and materials that advocate other religions and/or humanism should be discarded.  Most Christians have no need to study cults and other false teachings.

IDOLS:  There should not be images of Mary, Jesus, or the saints in the home.  The tendency is to focus on the image rather than the person if the image is present.  This takes away glory that is due God alone.  Unfortunately there are many false teachings within Catholicism and I encourage you to read through this with an open heart if you have been following the Catholic religion.

Dedicating the Home

In dedicating the cleansed home to God, you declare it to be used for His glory and His kingdom.

ANOINT:  I bring a small container of pure virgin olive oil with me around the house.  Over EACH window and EACH door frame (interior and exterior), I draw an oil cross while I pray.

PRAY:  I pray over EACH window and EACH door frame (interior and exterior).  For the exterior entrances, I pray something similar to this: “Father, I declare this home to be Yours.  I pray that all forces of darkness would flee from this place in the mighty Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  I dedicate this home to You for Your glory and for Your kingdom.  I ask for You to place a hedge of protection around THIS window (door), that the forces of darkness would not be able to enter.  I ask for the protection of your angels day and night over this home, that you and you alone might be glorified and lifted high in this place.  Amen”

For the interior doors, I pray specifically for the purpose of the room and/or the person who sleeps there.  For example, “Father I pray that your Name would be lifted high in this bedroom.  I pray that all forces of darkness that linger here would flee, in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  May your blessing and protection be upon ___ as she sleeps and works in this room.  I claim this room for Jesus Christ.  Amen”

Blessing the Home

The home blessing can be as formal or informal as you like.

FAMILY BLESSING:  In a family situation, Psalm 127 and 128 may be read out loud.

THANKSGIVING:  Thanks is offered to God for each member of the household.

PRAYER:  A final prayer may be offered to bless the home.  An example might be “Father, we praise and thank you for each member of this household: _________________.  We dedicate each member to you.  Grant them hearts to fear you.  Help them to walk in your ways.  Teach them to live in contentment and peace.  Let your glory shine forth from this home, and may it be a beacon of your light in the neighborhood.  May this home be a place of comfort and rest, where people are drawn to relationship with Jesus Christ.  Amen”

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Eclipses, Stellar Alignments, and the Apocalypse… Final Boarding Call!

The earth is wobbling like a top ready to spin out of control.

We are rapidly approaching a point of no return where humanity will tip the scales of God’s wrath and life as we know it will come crashing to a cataclysmic halt.  Christians know it, other religions know it, secular observers know it.  “The Apocalypse” is almost upon us.  It will be a time of chaos, destruction, and confusion.

Fortunately, God has not left us in the dark about what is to come.  God’s prophetic tapestry is woven through like threads in both the Old and New Testaments.  Close up, the intricate designs can seem confusing and even contradictory.  God has intentionally designed a pattern that is complex.  He leaves for us a trail of puzzle pieces, not unlike the parables Jesus told, and exactly like at His first coming.  It is only through rigorously searching and praying through the Scriptures that keys emerge, pieces fit together, and the big picture is revealed.  Keep in mind that these things were written 1900-3000 years ago!!!

God has dealt with humanity in a few different ways.  In the garden of Eden, God met with Adam and Eve in human form.  Here, the very first prophetic word was uttered by God – “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  After the fall of humanity, God continued to speak directly to the early patriarchs.  This continued through Noah and the global flood until the time of Abraham.  The nations had been dispersed at the tower of Babel, and God selected one man, Abraham, to seed the nation of Israel – His nation, His people.

Israel’s purpose was to be set apart, to be a beacon of God’s light in the world and draw the nations back to Him.  Israel, for the most part, failed miserably.  God could rely only on Himself.  Thus, in the fullness of time, God became as one of us in the form of Jesus.  Jesus succeeded where Israel had failed, and set in motion the reclaiming of the nations unto God.  Israel expected this to happen all at once, but the mystery was that this would now be done through the “church” – a body of Jews and Gentiles indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 11:25).  The church was now set apart as God’s salt and light in the world.  The time is very quickly approaching when the Church Age will suddenly close.

God’s timeline for humanity proceeds right on schedule.  The end of this age will come abruptly to a halt with the noisy, not-so-secret rapture of the church.  The dead in Christ will arise, and the invisible body of Christ will be transformed in the blink of an eye.  Together they will be snatched away from what is coming on the earth, safely hidden in heaven.  A parable of this can be seen in the ritual of the Jewish Wedding.  We may not know the day or the hour, but there are definite clues to the season.  We can watch for the signs to occur that point to this event:

  • The establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948 is the sign of the “fig tree”, which started the prophetic clock ticking to the time of the end.  This was predicted in scripture over 2500 years ago.  Israel became a nation again, after not having been a nation since 70AD.
  • There is a specific “generation that will not pass away” before Jesus will return.  The start point of this generation is the “fig tree sign” in 1948, and the ending (Second Coming of Jesus Christ) would seem to be between 70-80 years from then as per Psalm 90.
  • Signs in the sun, moon, and stars will appear.  Luke describes this as “terrors and great signs from heaven”.  The only other place in the Bible where a “great sign appears in heaven” is in Revelation 12:1-2, which will literally occur only once during the course of humanity – September 23, 2017.
  • The Great Pyramid stands as a sign.  It is specifically designed to point to the First and Second comings of Jesus Christ.  The Great Pyramid seems to point to the date of September 20, 2017.
  • God has appointments on His calendar.  He calls these His “moedim”, or appointed times.  They are described as the “Feasts of God“.  The next appointments on His calendar are the Fall Feasts.  In 2017, the Feast of Trumpets falls on September 21-22.
  • The church is predicted in large part to fall into false doctrine and sexual immorality.  It will preach to “itching ears” – a social gospel.
  • Society is predicted to fall further into immorality and corruption.
  • Secular society can’t help itself but advertise that the “end is near”
  • The Jews will be motivated to build a Third Temple.  Everything is ready to go for this at a moment’s notice.  The first priests of the tribe of Levi graduated in 2014.
  • The Gospel will be preached to all nations.  In the last 100 years, all the nations have been reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  There are still unreached people groups within these nations, but these will be reached after the church is gone via God’s 2 Witnesses, specially sealed Hebrews, and an Announcing Angel.
  • It will be As in the Days of Lot, which was marked by homosexuality, sexual immorality, and violence.  Interestingly, homosexuality has adopted the symbol of God’s promise “in the days of Noah” as the symbol of their pride.
  • It will be As in the Days of Noah, which was marked by DNA tinkering and violence.
  • People will run to and fro, and Knowledge will increase.  Knowledge isn’t in itself bad, but the elevation of knowledge above God is.  Human pride is reaching the levels seen at the Tower of Babel.  CERN, with it’s occult symbolism and portal openings, comes to mind.
  • God may issue warnings via nonspecific signs (i.e. August 21,2017 solar eclipse, Planet X)

Those who have held back on God, who have not given their hearts over to Him, will be left behind on the earth to face God’s wrath and judgments.  If Jesus is not your Lord, He is also not your Savior – even if you go by the name “Christian”.  The world is about to find out exactly HOW narrow the road is that leads to life (heaven).

 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,  in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.  2 Thessalonians 2:11-12

A great divide exists; there are two tracks that humanity will take.  Those who took the narrow road will be a part of the heavenly track:  the body of Christ will be in heaven for the time of “tribulation” on the earth.  They will participate in the Day of Christ.  Meanwhile, the Day of the Lord is the track on earth for those who were on the broad road leading to destruction.  God’s judgment will be poured out in full force on a wicked and Christ-rejecting world.  However, God will not leave the world without witness.  With the sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church complete, the Holy Spirit will immediately move to supernaturally seal 144,000 specially chosen Israelites to be His witnesses.  God will use these witnesses to call forth His elect – a third of Israel along with many “gentile” followers.

Before we get any further, there are several prophesied wars involving Israel that will occur in the future.  The timing of these is broadly in “the latter years”.  Several of these may occur before the rapture of the church (Nation Rising Against Nation – WW3; The Destruction of Damascus; Arab-Israeli Promised Land War).  One of these may occur during or shortly after the removal of the true church from the earth (Gog and Magog War – many nations rising against Israel).  These wars may blur together and occur in a short span of time. God Himself will intervene to save Israel in these wars, with the result that Israel will want to re-institute their Temple worship of God with Old Testament-style sacrifices.  The person (or ‘being’) who arises and takes credit for winning these wars won’t be God, but he will end up claiming to be.  It is certain that one war will occur approximately seven (or possibly 10) years after the rapture, in which this god-imposter will be destroyed (The Battle of Armageddon).  See here for an overview of all these wars.

With the believers in Jesus safely tucked away in heaven, let’s go over what’s going to happen on earth.  When Jesus rose from the dead, great power was released in some type of nuclear transformation event.  This triggered an earthquake.  When the dead in Christ rise (everyone who has believed in Jesus Christ to forgive their sins, from the dawn of time), it is possible that this event will trigger worldwide earthquakes.  The earthquakes will then trigger volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.  The sun will be darkened and the moon appear blood red from smoke and ash in the air.  In a short span of time, 25% of humanity will die from famine, war/murder (likely including the wars as mentioned above), disease outbreaks, and wild animals (emboldened by severe food shortages).  These are the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse.Image result for 4 horsemen apocalypse

Since the time of Jesus Christ (~2000 years), people who turned from their selfish ways and followed God have been indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit (God is three in one: Father, Son – Jesus, and Holy Spirit).  When these true believers are removed from the earth, the Holy Spirit’s restraining influence over evil and the powers of darkness will be removed.  At this time, a cosmic war erupts between the holy angels and the fallen angels.  Satan (the name given to the fallen spirit-being opposing God), represented as a dragon and a serpent, and his demon horde (fallen angels) will be defeated and lose their access to heaven.  They will be granted authority by God to deceive humanity, for the sake of accomplishing His divine purposes.  We are not told exactly what this involves but we do know that satan has been hard at work preparing for it (likely, “aliens”, which are fallen angelic beings).  He knows the time is close.

The combination of the removal of living believers to heaven and the disasters of the 7 Seals will leave the world reeling.  A great power vacuum will exist in the world as social and economic structures collapse under the burden of disaster. A man or being will rise to power quickly, to bring “peace” and “unity”.  This man is known in the Bible as “the lawless one”, “the antichrist”, “false christ”, “false messiah”, and “the beast”.  The “antichrist” will participate in ushering in a new world order.  Wars will be involved as nations and leaders try to sort out a semblance of order and power.  The world will first be divided into four parts, or “kingdoms”.  Two kingdoms may be ruled by singular rulers.  One kingdom will be ruled by 4 “kings”.  The fourth kingdom will be ruled by 10 “kings”.  Three of these 10 kings will be quickly displaced by the man who will become the “antichrist”, and it is possibly at this time that he makes a covenant with “many” (likely Israel).  This fourth kingdom, led by the antichrist, will take over the other 3 kingdoms over the next 3.5 (or possibly 6.5) years.  The fourth antichrist kingdom will then rule the world.  God will be overseeing and allowing this all as part of Israel’s purification.

The “antichrist” will be supported by a false prophet.  The false prophet may call himself “Elijah”.  These two, and their entourage, will be extremely convincing and will be accompanied by all kinds of miraculous signs and wonders.  They will be empowered by none other than Satan – forming an “unholy trinity”.  Either the “antichrist” or the “false prophet” will enter into a covenant with Israel.  The covenant may be made for 7 years (peace agreement), or it may be presented as eternal (a “new messianic covenant”).  The making of this covenant will start an event known as the 70th Week of Daniel, which pertains directly to the nation of Israel and ethnic Israelites.  The Third Temple will be built in Jerusalem (or Shiloh? or the city of David?) at this time.

At some point, the “antichrist” will likely identify as the Jewish messiah.  He may also identify as the messiah for other religions as well, explaining that everyone had different understandings of the same thing.  He may encourage Old Testament-style worship of God… at first.  Some of Israel (up to 2/3) will embrace this man as their anticipated messiah, here to usher in the messianic kingdom.  They will believe the events that have already transpired (wars in which they survived, the Third Temple, sacrifices restarting) have fulfilled the 70th week of Daniel and the Battle of Armageddon.  In reality, the 7-year time of testing is just beginning.

Meanwhile, God will have sent witnesses to declare the gospel.  There will be two special prophets for God who will proclaim truth.  They will speak out against the “antichrist” and his deception.  There will also be 144,000 Israelites who come to belief in Jesus Christ right after the church is taken up to heaven.  These 144,000 will be sealed by God and protected from some of the cataclysmic events that take place.  The truth will not be popular, and the two prophets will be killed after 3.5 years of ministry (42 months / 1260 days) by the “antichrist”.  Most on the earth will celebrate their deaths.  The 144,000 may also be killed around this time.

Natural, yet cataclysmic, disasters will continue and supernatural beings will appear.  There are 7 specific “Trumpets of Wrath” that will occur.  The first 4 involve death of trees and green grass, contamination of the oceans, contamination of fresh water, and dimming of the sun, moon, and stars (possibly from atmospheric contamination).   These 4 likely occur very shortly after the rapture of the church.  Trumpet 5 involves a 5 month long torment of humanity by a demonic army, where people will seek death (suicide) but it will not be found.  Trumpet 6 involves another demonic army that begins at some point after the 5 month torture ends.  This army kills 1/3 of humanity over a period of time ending when the two witnesses for God are resurrected from the dead 3.5 days after their deaths.  In total, over 50% of humanity has now been killed (over 3 billion people).  It is likely that less than 3 billion people remain alive on earth (remember that true believers were also taken before all this started and those numbers are unknown).  The 7th trumpet blows at some point after the “antichrist” declares himself to be god.

While the first half of Daniel’s 70th week (7 years) will be relatively peaceful, there will be power struggles and wars.  At some point in the first half of Daniel’s 70th week, the “antichrist” will be killed and rise from the dead.  It is likely that the “antichrist” will be killed via a head wound, rise from the dead, and immediately kill the two prophets from God.  At some point (likely upon their death), the “antichrist” will set himself up in the Jewish temple, proclaiming to be “god”.  He will stop all sacrifices to God and desecrate the altar.  This is the trigger for Jews who know their Tanach (Old Testament) to flee.  The warning is given both in the books of Daniel (OT – Daniel 9:27) and Matthew (NT – Matthew 24:15-21).  When Jesus came and revealed Himself to be God after 3.5 years of ministry, Israel killed Him.  When the “antichrist” reveals himself to be “god” after 3.5 years of a covenant, it appears that Israel embraces him.  This is foretold by Jesus in John 5:43 – “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.”

While the “antichrist” is celebrating his victory, the 2 bodies of God’s witnesses will lay in the streets of Jerusalem.  3.5 days later, they will rise from the dead and God will call them up to heaven.  A great earthquake will result and 7000 people will die.  This ends the 6th Trumpet judgment as described above.  Despite this, the world will embrace the “antichrist” at the leading of Israel – Mystery Babylon.

The “antichrist” will establish world rule at this time, merging religion, economy, and power.  He will set up an economic system which requires taking his mark or pledging allegiance to him to be able to buy or sell.  Will this mark alter DNA in some manner?  An angel will warn mankind not to take this mark – this is the final warning before God outpours the final 7 Bowls of His wrath.  True salvation is still possible up until taking the mark of the beast.  Choose wisely, your eternal soul is at stake!

Once the mark system is set up, at some point the 7 Bowls of wrath will be unleashed.  These involve painful sores appearing on people who have taken the mark of the beast; the entire sea turning to blood and all sea creatures dying; all rivers and springs becoming blood; scorching of the sun; kingdom of the beast plunged into darkness; the Euphrates river drying up to allow humanity to assemble for a final battle against God; and finally, the greatest global earthquake ever resurfaces the planet, along with a severe thunderstorm and 100 pound hailstones.

As the 6th Bowl of wrath is poured out, the “antichrist” will send deceiving spirits to gather the world for a war against Jesus Christ.  My guess is that he will state that this is the final battle before humankind’s evolutionary transformation/jump can be completed… but that is speculation… Once everyone is gathered, they will prepare for the true Battle of Armageddon.  It appears that God will provide a final escape route for those dwelling in Jerusalem via the Mount of Olives splitting, before the Battle of Armageddon ensues. The battle will occur 1260 (or possibly 1290) days after the “antichrist” declares himself to be god and sets up the “abomination of desolation” on the Temple altar.

The ending is decreed and it will come to pass – Jesus Christ will appear with His heavenly armies (angels and human followers who were taken at the beginning of this tribulation).  It won’t be a battle though, Jesus will simply open His mouth and defeat all who are gathered by a Word.  All the armies gathered against Him will be defeated in one big wallop by the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God.  Image result for jesus on white horse

The beast (“antichrist”) and the false prophet will be thrown alive into the lake of fire.  All humans opposing Jesus Christ are killed.  It’s not going to be a good death – And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. And on that day a great panic from the Lord shall fall on them, so that each will seize the hand of another, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other.  (Zechariah 14:12-13).  Satan is then thrown into the abyss and chained for 1000 years – the duration of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom.

This completes the Day of the Lord and the 70th week of Daniel.  Humanity will be judged on whether they can enter the Millennial Kingdom.  The true Messianic Kingdom will then be ushered in by Jesus, and will last 1000 years.  Remarkably, humanity will still be filled with rebellion, and will rise up at the end of this time period when Satan is released for a “little season”.  They will gather against Jesus, yes, again, and the Last Battle will ensue.  Humanity still hasn’t learned that you can’t beat God, and they will all be destroyed with no actual fighting.

The Great White Throne judgment sees the resurrection of all humanity from the dead to face the living God.  This does not include those who participated in the “first resurrection” – all those in Christ prior to the Millennial Kingdom.  Followers of Christ will enter heaven; those who rejected Jesus will be cast into the eternal Lake of Fire.

Once judgment is complete, Eternity ensues.  Humans are eternal – our souls never die.  Where your soul will spend eternity is completely up to you, but it can only be decided while in your physical body.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

Matthew 16:26

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We urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.  For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:1-2

For Further Reading:

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

A Disclaimer:    The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  Be a Berean – examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

 

Honoring God With Our Finances

Money is neutral – there is nothing good nor bad about money or wealth itself.  Money is generally just a means to acquiring resources, and has no real value on its own.  What then does the Bible teach us about what our attitude should be towards our finances?

First, we are not to allow money to become an idol to us.  Loving money (and that which it can buy) can cost us our very lives.  God is to come first.  Our priority in life shouldn’t be focused on money, either earning it or spending it.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.  1 Timothy 6:10

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?  Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?  Matthew 16:26

Second, our priority should be God’s Kingdom.  What is treasure in heaven, exactly?  Treasure in heaven is souls – anything we do to help get souls in heaven is treasure.  Our good works, our mature fruit, is treasure in heaven.  Anything we do or give to God to further His kingdom is treasure in heaven.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:20-21

Third, everything is God’s.  We are accountable to God for all that He gives us . This includes finances – how He blesses us with the capability to work, as well as what we do with the money we earn.  The reason we are accountable is that it isn’t really ours to begin with.  Did we choose who our parents were?  Did we choose our country of birth?  Or the year we were born?  God sovereignly placed us in a specific time, place, and family.  He gives us time, talents, and resources – all of us individually, according to our abilities – and expects us to use them wisely.   We put our money to work for God’s kingdom when we invest it in the eternal.  We are God’s stewards – He entrusts us with His resources and will demand an accounting of them in the future.

The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.  Psalm 24:1

“For it is just like a man going on a journey. He called his own slaves and turned over his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; and to another, one—to each according to his own ability. Then he went on a journey. Immediately the man who had received five talents went, put them to work, and earned five more…. “After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.  The man who had received five talents approached, presented five more talents, and said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. Look, I’ve earned five more talents.’ “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’  Matthew 25:14-16, 19-21

Fourth, God blesses us when we give to His kingdom.  It is a biblical principle that we reap what we sow.  God doesn’t necessarily bless us with earthly wealth, but with something much more valuable – a harvest of righteousness.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”   He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.  For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.   2 Corinthians 9:6-12

Fifth, God is more concerned about the heart behind our giving than the dollar value.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.  But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”  Mark 12:41-44

Finally, we are to provide for our needs, our family’s needs, and other believers’ needs.

“and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Now all the believers were together and held all things in common.  They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.  Acts 2:44-45

 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’  “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’  Matthew 25:37-40

So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’  For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.  Matthew 6:31-33

So, what can we take home?  God wants us to love Him most of all, with all our heart, soul, and strength – more than anything or anyone else in this world.  That includes trusting Him.  He knows our needs and promises to provide them if we seek His kingdom first (what does that mean?   It means focusing on eternity instead of on earth.).  That said, He expects us to work and to use our resources wisely.   We will reap what we sow.

It’s important that we concentrate on the difference between Needs and Wants.  God allows us to have some of our wants, but these can sometimes be a snare to us – dragging us towards coveting, pride, vanity and other sins.  TV, movies, sports, entertainment, eating out, getting your nails or hair done – these are all wants.  Not necessarily bad, but we should keep our eyes open for temptations to sin through them.  For example, is someone else raising our children because we have so many Wants that we “need” to have both parents work?  This is something to prayerfully consider.  God gives your children to you as one of His resources.  He expects you to raise them wisely, in the fear and knowledge of the Lord.  You will give an account to Him on how you raised His children.  This is not meant to threaten or guilt anyone – it’s solely between you and God.  We all fall short, and need to pray for God to forgive and guide us.

It’s not “bad” to be rich – God uses people in all positions of social class and standing.  However, the more we have, the more that will be expected of us.  We must always be on guard that we are trusting in God and not in our wealth.  Wealth is temporary, and can be lost in a moment.  Wealth can also lead us to lust after the things of this world.

God desires that we give to furthering His kingdom and to helping meet other believers’ needs.  This is open-ended, and should prayerfully be discussed with God.  Let Him guide your heart.  This can include giving to specific believers, charities, churches.  It can include giving of your money, but also of your time, talents, or other resources.  You are only responsible for your own resources, not your spouse’s (if you have one) – but ideally, you would discuss this together.  Each one of us will stand before God independently.

A question that frequently comes up is what about Tithing?  Is it Biblical to tithe 10% of income to the church?  Some churches really focus on this to  meet the needs of their buildings and staff.  However, the church was never meant to replace the Old Testament Temple.  WE are the temple of the living God, in our hearts.  It makes my heart ache when I think of all the money that goes into church buildings that sit idle most of the time, while so many believers in this world struggle to meet basic needs.  Paul and the other disciples worked to earn their own living while they preached the gospel.  Believers got together in homes and for meals to study the teachings and to worship God.  Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to find Acts 2-like groups of believers  in our day.  But as with the widow who gave her two pennies to a corrupt Temple system that conspired to kill their Messiah, God sees our hearts.  So allow Him to lead yours in your giving.

Tithing in the Age of Grace:

Tithing is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the Law in which the Israelites were to give 10 percent of the crops they grew and the livestock they raised to the tabernacle/temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithes—one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple and the feasts, and one for the poor of the land—which would have pushed the total to around 23.3 percent. Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system.

After the death of Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law, the New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says gifts should be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving.

The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the body of Christ. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give (James 1:5). Above all, all tithes and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

From gotquestions.org

The Greatest Love – Laying Down Our Lives For Others

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”   John 15:12-13

It’s Mother’s Day today, and as I reflect on what motherhood means, one word that immediately comes to mind is sacrifice.  As mothers, many times we sacrifice hobbies, free time, privacy, sleep, time, money, resources, even access to our own bodies, for our children.  It’s a giving relationship, not a taking one.  We often do reap kindness, friendship, and love from our children if that is what we sow into their lives – but not necessarily.  We love our children even if they do not love us back.  I think most of us would desire that our love for our children be unconditional.  We are human and fallen and we fail our children, but I think we can get a glimpse of how God loves US as His children.  Unconditionally.  With a fierce, protective, sheltering love.

Several thoughts have been in my mind this week around this topic.  One is that I think I might understand what it means to lay down my life for someone.  Yes, there is my physical life, and I believe I would die trying to protect or save my children.   But our lives don’t JUST consist of our physical bodies.  What about our emotional life?  We lay down our emotional life for our friends (including our children), when we sacrifice what we want for what they want/need.  “As mothers, many times we sacrifice hobbies, free time, privacy, sleep, time, money, resources, even access to our own bodies, for our children.”  Isn’t this laying down our lives for our children, in a very active  way?  It’s not just a one time laying down of physical life, but a repeated and deliberate dynamic choice we make many times daily, to lay aside ME for SOMEONE ELSE.  Doesn’t that sound like the very definition of the greatest love?

Laying down our lives for others is how we obey the second commandment – to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Our spouse and child(ren) are our closest neighbors.

The next thought is about this – “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”  Matthew 10:37.  We obey the first and greatest commandment by loving God EVEN MORE than our children.  Does that mean we neglect our children, or love them less?  Of course not.  But our love for God must be so all-consuming that we feel it deep in the heart of our very being.  The fierce, protective, consuming, sacrificial love you feel for your child?  Yeah, that.  THAT’S the love you should have EVEN MORE for God.  If you don’t have that love, that passion for God – He calls it “losing your first love”, or even worse, “being lukewarm”.  Pursue God relentlessly.  With all your heart.  This is what He expects – demands – from His followers.  Repent, and cry out to God for Him to give you that love for Him.  Never stop asking, never stop pursuing.  God is worth it.  Even more than your child.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.   Romans 8:38-39