Our Spiritual Journey

Thursday, June 15, 2017, 5:16 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Amazing Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 15:11-32 (NASB).

Two Sons (vv. 11-16)

And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.

Life is a journey, is it not? Every day, hopefully, we wake up, we get out of bed, if we have a bed to sleep on, that is, and we start a new day. Either we do so with purpose and direction, or else we wander aimlessly, going here and there trying to find satisfaction for life, but always coming up empty. Either we are on a straight (righteous, holy) path, because we are trusting God/Jesus Christ with our lives, or else we are on a winding path or life course with no particular destination in mind other than self-pleasure. Yet, it is possible to be somewhere in the middle between these two paths, I believe, for someone could be on the straight path, but they have gotten off course, at least in some respects, and so they need to get back on course.

I believe there are four types of people in this world (four types of soil). The first type is the one who has not ever made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The second is the one who makes a profession of faith, but it is surface level only (no root), probably because he was taught a false grace gospel which told him that God does not require repentance or obedience, so when things get rough, he yields to pressure, and he abandons the faith altogether. Neither of these have truly believed in Jesus as Savior. And, then there is the one who has believed in Jesus, who was crucified with Christ in death to sin, and risen with Christ to newness of life, but over time the temptations of this world entrapped him again, and so he got off course. And, he needs to return to God and forsake his idols. And, the fourth type is the individual who is walking by faith, is following his Lord in obedience, and who is bearing fruit for God’s kingdom, in keeping with repentance.

God is our creator, which means he gave life to all people, so God is the true father here. So, the two sons could represent the saved and the unsaved. As well, for believers in Jesus Christ, God is our Father and we are his children, so the two sons could also represent the faithful believer in Jesus, though certainly not perfect, and the believer who has gotten off course and has been entrapped by the sinful pleasures of the world once more. The bottom line, though, is that they represent one in fellowship with the Father, who is serving God with his life, who is walking in obedience to the Lord’s commands, and one who has abandoned God, is going his own way, and is living in sensual pleasure and self-indulgence. Yet, even the one in fellowship with the Father has some maturing to do in some areas.

He Came to His Senses (vv. 17-24)

But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Oftentimes, sadly enough, it takes some type of a tragedy or difficult situation in life to get people to come to their senses, and to escape the trap of the devil. When sin gets a grip on people, they can do senseless things, even dangerous things, and stuff which might even get them in trouble with the law, or which might ruin their marriages, etc. And, yet, they go headlong right into what they know is wrong, and what they know is destroying their lives and relationships, even their relationship with God, because their desire is greater for the sin than it is for anything else. They don’t want to let go of the sin, because the sin gives them a false sense of security, or because they are angry with God, and so they feel justified in continuing in the sin, or because they have a sense of entitlement, and so they believe God’s grace gives allowance for their sin, and that God requires nothing of them at all.

When things are going well for us, and we are healthy, and all our physical needs are being met, there may be a temptation to rely on ourselves more than we rely on God. We may become complacent regarding fellowship with our Lord and walking in his Spirit, and the trappings of the world may begin to consume us, our time, thoughts, energies, passion and desires. We may give God a back seat in our lives, and even our devotional lives may begin to ebb away. We don’t necessarily have to even get to the point of gross sin and rebellion to be a prodigal son, but we may just neglect our relationship with Jesus Christ, and what we want and desire may, thus, take first place.

So, God may bring into our lives, or may allow in our lives, some difficult trial, tragedy, sorrow, pain or sickness in order to get our attention, and for the purpose to bring us to our senses. This is not to say that those who are living righteously will not also face such troubled times. They will, and it will be for the purpose to mature them, and so they share in God’s holiness, and so they bear the fruit of God’s righteousness. But, he also disciplines his wandering saints in order to bring them back to himself in humility, repentance and obedience. Sometimes we can be so stupid, so strong-headed, and so bent on our own ways, even though we know better, and so it will take being hit over the head by a two-by-four (not literally) to bring us to our senses. And, even this is God’s grace to us, in order to free us, because he has compassion for us. And, when we do return, he revives and restores us to fellowship with him, and he welcomes us back home.

The Curse of Jealousy (vv. 25-32)

“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

Like I said, even those who are walking righteously are not yet perfect (without fault). We are maturing in our walks of faith day-by-day. Daily we are putting to death sinful deeds, by the Spirit, and we are responding to the Spirit’s still small voice in convicting us when we falter, or we should be. And, sometimes our Lord will put a finger on an area of our lives where we need to yield control to our Lord and not do it ourselves. And, we need to respond to his voice by submitting to his will, and by walking in his way.

The one who stayed in communion with the Father ended up being jealous of the one who repented of his evil ways, and who returned, because the Father received him with open arms and he celebrated the son’s return. He felt that the father treated the wandering son, who then later repented, greater than he treated him who had remained with the father. And, that can happen to us, too, if we allow self-righteousness to settle in, and if we forget that our righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight, and it is only his righteousness granted to us, to be lived out through us in his power, that amounts to anything. We were once lost, too, and God found us and saved us by his grace, so we have nothing to boast about or to feel self-righteous about, because it is only by God’s grace that we are not still in the gutter.

Yet, I find another jealousy existing among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, which is equally as bad. Sometimes, when a wandering saint does return to the Lord, and is restored to fellowship with God, and is now walking in the Spirit, and is not gratifying the sinful flesh any longer, those who are still giving way to the flesh, who have not yet repented of their sins, will be jealous and resentful of the relationship the faithful believer has with the Lord. And, that may drive the unrepentant even further into sin and rebellion because of their anger with God and with the repentant. Yet, all of us need to have the perspective that it is only by God’s grace that any of us can be restored to God and have communion with him, and that all of us have the opportunity to walk in faithfulness, if we so choose to do so.

Amazing Grace / John Newton

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

For Us He Died

Friday, May 5, 2017, 8:41 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 19 (quoting select vv. NASB).

The Son of God (vv. 5-7)

Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate *said to them, “Behold, the Man!” So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate *said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”

Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. During his earthly ministry he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful, encouraged the timid, delivered people from demons, and fed the hungry, etc. He also preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God, confronted sin in sinful humans, warned of divine judgment, called for obedience to himself, and to the Father, and promised the hope of eternal life with God to all who would put their faith and trust in Him.

Many of the Jews, but especially the Jewish leaders within the temple, such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, the chief priests, and the teachers of the law, opposed Jesus from very early on in his ministry. Partly this was because they were jealous of him and of his popularity among the people, and they feared that their own positions of power were being threatened. They also resented him because he didn’t do things their way. He healed people on the Sabbath, and they didn’t like that, and so they made it their business to attack him verbally at every turn, and to try to discredit him. He didn’t follow all the ceremonial laws or the traditions of the elders, and they objected to that, too. And, they despised him over how he confronted them with their sins, and how he regularly exposed their hypocrisy. But, mostly they hated him because he claimed to be God, which is who he is (John 10:33).

Their hatred and jealousy of him, thus, led them to trump up charges against him, to plot his murder, to lead the crowds to join with them in calls for him to be crucified, and to have him arrested, tried, beaten beyond recognition, mocked, spat upon, slapped in the face, and then hung on a cross to die, as though he was a common criminal.

No Authority Unless (vv. 8-12)

Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid; and he entered into the Praetorium again and *said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate *said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.”

Pilate was a politician, but he had a conscience, and he could see that Jesus did nothing worthy of death. Yet, he also wanted to stay on the good side of the people, so he tried appealing both to Jesus and to the people to try to reconcile this situation in a peaceful manner, I believe. He did not want to sentence Jesus to death, but he also did not want to anger the people.

When Jesus did not answer Pilate’s question, Pilate made the presumption that he (Pilate) had the true authority over Jesus, to either release him or to crucify him. But, Jesus set him straight. Pilate had no authority over Jesus but what was given him by God the Father. Amen! And, Satan and ungodly humans also have no authority over us, Jesus’ followers, except for what is given them from above. Nothing can happen to us but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose. So, we don’t ever need to fear what humans may do to us, nor should we fear Satan’s evil schemes against us, because God is absolutely sovereign over all things, and his purposes will always prevail. He will go with us every step of the way, and he will work his will in and through our lives for his glory, honor and praise. Glory be to God!

You see, it was God’s will that Jesus should die on the cross for our sins so that we could be set free from slavery to sin, and so we could become bond-slaves of his righteousness, as well as that he might free us from the punishment of sin and give us the hope of eternal life with God. And, it is God’s will, too, that we should suffer, that he might conform us to the image of Christ, and purify us, make us holy, mature us, strengthen us in our faith, and teach us perseverance, faithfulness, and steadfastness in Him. He will allow us, too, to be hated, persecuted, rejected, falsely accused, arrested on false charges, attacked verbally and/or physically, and to even be put to death for our testimonies for Christ and for his gospel of salvation.

They Crucified Him (vv. 13-18)

Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he *said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate *said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.

They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between.

Pilate did make efforts to try to save Jesus from death, but his fear of public opinion won over his conscience and good judgment, and he caved to popular opinion, instead of doing what he knew was right. Some people will only hold on to their principles as long as it doesn’t cost them anything, but they will bow to pressure to compromise if it means their own necks will be on the line if they don’t. And, that is a sad reality, but it should serve as an example to us that we need to hold to our beliefs, values, morals and principles, even if it costs us everything, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because belief in Jesus Christ is not just words, but it is putting feet to our faith, and because to do otherwise would be to betray our Lord.

So, Jesus was put to death on a cross, but this had to take place, not just to fulfill scripture, but so you and I could be delivered from bondage (addiction) to sin, and so we might now be able to walk (in lifestyle) in holiness and righteousness, in the love of the Lord, and in his ways and in his truth. Jesus had to die that we might have life in him, and he had to be resurrected from the dead, as well, that we might have life with him eternally. So, when we believe in him as Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life (new birth), created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Because Jesus died, and was resurrected from the dead, we can now walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. We can now live for him, instead of just living for ourselves. We now have a friend who is closer than a brother who will walk with us through everything we go through in this life, and who will lead us and guide us in the right way; who will love us, care for us, watch over us, and bring us safely home to be with him forever one day.

Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures

Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.

For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.

Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.

We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.

Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.

Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!

Jealousy’s Jargon

Friday, April 21, 2017, 9:10 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Why are You Afraid?” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 5:12-32 (NIV).

Believers in Jesus (vv. 12-16)

The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.

Jesus Christ, when he walked this earth, was fully God yet fully man. He lived a sinless life, although he was tempted in like manner as we are tempted. He suffered much like we suffer, too. He was despised and rejected of man, a man of sorrows and familiar with grief. Although he did no wrong to anyone, and only did what was good, merciful, kind, loving, gracious, forgiving, righteous and just, many rejected him, and others hated him and were jealous of him, in particular the religious leaders in the temple. And, so they plotted how they might take his life. They arranged for him to be crucified on a cross, and yet this was his purpose for coming to earth, to die for us, and to take upon himself our sins and our punishment.

Yet, he did not remain dead. God the Father resurrected him from the dead, and about 40 days later, after appearing to many of his followers, he ascended back to heaven. And, then he sent his Holy Spirit to the earth to indwell the hearts and lives of those who had put their faith and trust in him. When we put our faith in him as Lord and as Savior of our lives, we die with him to sin and we live with him to righteousness. We leave our old lives of sin behind us, and we now walk in his Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh, not that we are now perfect, but that sin is no longer our master. By the Spirit, we are now putting to death the deeds of our flesh and we are growing in the grace of the Lord Jesus, and we are learning what it means to follow him in faith, in service, in love and in ministry.

Collectively, believers in Jesus are his body, the temple of God, the church. As the church, we meet together for mutual edification and encouragement, that we might help one another in our walks of faith. We are each gifted of the Holy Spirit with spiritual gifts and we are each given assignments of God within the body which we are to fulfill for the furtherance of the gospel and for the building up of the body of Christ in faith and in service. Every one of us has a part in the body. Idealistically, this is how it is supposed to work.

Yet, not all church gatherings are accepting of all these parts, or the gifts of the Spirit (biblically exercised), and not all church gatherings are actually meeting together as God intended, but they have turned the church into big business and are making the world their target audience. Thus, they often pattern their meetings in a way which will attract the world and that will keep the world coming back, and so it isn’t Christ’s body, but a gathering of all people, and thus many of the body parts are not being given a place to do their assignments within the church gatherings, or to use their gifts to mutually edify one another. And, this is intentional, and was plotted by our enemy, Satan, in order to destroy the church.

They Were Jealous (vv. 17-24)

Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.

In America, it has not yet come to this, but it won’t be long, I believe. Not many are arrested here for their faith or for their testimonies for Christ, but that is not to say that some of us are not being persecuted. We are. And, we are being rejected, hated, judged unfairly, slandered, ignored, and cast aside because we take God and his Word seriously, and because we go against the flow, and we don’t do what the majority are doing, because they are following after humans, and they are diluting the gospel to make it more acceptable to the world.

Many of us have left the institutional church, because our Lord showed us that this is not his church. His church is not a corporation under the headship of the US government. His church is a living organism under the headship of Christ. But, this is not to say that we are forsaking the assembling of ourselves. We may just be doing it in non-conventional ways, such as via the internet and Christian discussion sites where we can meet together with other believers for mutual edification. So much of what is called “church” isn’t the church anymore, and it has become more about entertaining the world and soft-pedaling the gospel, so we don’t really belong there, and some of us have been told to “go someplace else.”

So, our enemy Satan may think he has defeated us now, but God is still in control. Amen? He can make a way where there seems to be no way. He will see to it that his body parts have a place to use the gifts he has given to them, just maybe not in traditional ways. Where men may close doors in our faces, God can open doors which no man can shut. God is not bound by man’s limitations they put on him. He is still a miracle working God. If he wants us to share the gospel with others, he can make a way despite what men might do to try to stop us. His purposes will not be thwarted!

We Must Obey God! (vv. 25-32)

Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Satan’s goal is to stop the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ – the gospel Jesus and his apostles taught, that is. So, he has infiltrated the gatherings of the church, and he has convinced church leaders to dilute the gospel in order to grow their “churches.” So, they have persuaded many people that just being nice to people is good enough, i.e. that doing good deeds for others is spreading the gospel of Jesus. Now, good deeds are important, as faith without works is useless. But anyone of any religion can do good deeds, and that is the point, for this is all leading to the one-world religion where we join with the world in harmony and we accept all religions and all walks of life, and we don’t say anything that will offend anyone. But, the cross is an offense to those who are perishing.

So, there is a lot of pressure now within the institutional church to conform to the world and to not make waves, and for everyone to go the same direction, only the direction is the broad road leading to destruction, not the narrow way leading to eternal life. Many preachers have made the path to eternal life so broad that all anyone has to do is just say they receive God’s grace, so why wouldn’t anyone want to do that? But, that isn’t what the Word teaches. God exalted Jesus to his right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring people to repentance (turning from sin) and forgive their sins. That is why he died, after all, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. And, who is given the Holy Spirit? Those who obey him.

Today’s modern church says God does not require repentance or obedience, but they are dead wrong! So, don’t let them convince you otherwise. Don’t be intimidated by those who are trying to tell you that you are just weird or crazy if you follow Jesus in obedience, and if you take his Word to heart. Just keep on following him, and keep on teaching the full gospel message, and don’t give way to pressure to dilute the gospel to make it more acceptable to the world. Yes, it will mean you will be hated and persecuted, but people’s lives depend on us telling them the truth.

Why Are You Afraid? / An Original Work / December 5, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures

Do not be afraid.
Your Lord is always by your side.
Serve the Lord in righteousness
Before Him all your days.

Those who hate the light
Will not come to the Lord.
They fear their deeds
Might be noticed.
So, they hate the light,
And they embrace the night.

Do not be afraid,
Although your enemy attacks.
Dare to share your testimony
Of God’s saving grace.

Do not fear their threats,
But honor Christ, your Lord.
Be prepared to give an answer
For the hope you have,
With gentleness; respect.

Why are you afraid?
For all that’s hidden will be shown.
What I tell you, speak in daylight.
Let the truth be known.

Do not be afraid
Of those who’ll take your life.
Fear the Lord with understanding.
Trust Him with your life,
And give not up to strife.

Do not be afraid.
Take courage, it is I, your Lord.
Bow before Me; now adore Me.
Oh, why do you doubt?

Listen to the Lord.
Get up, and bear His name!
Run and tell the world He loves them.
Jesus came to save.
Give Him your all today.

Jealous for Zion

Monday, April 10, 2017, 3:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Redeemed.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Zechariah 8 (Select vv. NASB).

The City of Truth (vv. 1-3, 6-8)

Then the word of the Lord of hosts came, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I am exceedingly jealous for Zion, yes, with great wrath I am jealous for her.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.’

Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘If it is too difficult in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?’ declares the Lord of hosts. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; and I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.’

Zion is another name for the church, the temple of God, the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem. So, Jesus Christ is jealous for his saints, his church. So, why is he jealous? It is because he is our husband and we are his bride, and thus our vow of fidelity to him (our faith) should be to him alone. We should not have any other lovers, i.e. idols (gods of men) or teachers or teaching other than what comes from His Word. He is concerned that some of his people’s minds are being led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. He sees that they are entertaining false teaching, in particular a false grace (fleshly) gospel in their minds, which appeals to human flesh and produces self-gratification, i.e. it gives its adherents free license to keep on sinning against God (See: 2 Co. 11:2-4; Jas. 4:1-10).

Many preachers today are diluting the gospel of Christ by teaching a half-truth gospel. They will teach that Jesus died on the cross, that he who knew no sin became sin for us, and that he took our penalty for sin so that we could go free from condemnation, and be free to live with Christ eternally. Yet, the faith that they teach is not God-given but is fleshly, for it requires no repentance, no obedience to Christ and his Word, and no submission to Christ and surrender to his will for our lives. Yet, God-given faith convinces (persuades) us of God’s perfect will for our lives. And, faith in Jesus means death to sin and living to righteousness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23).

God hates lies! I do, too! He is truth, and he wants us to be people of truth, as well. This does not mean we go around being bold and brash and heartless in just speaking our minds without concern for who gets hurt in the process, but it means that we will speak the truth in love, because that is loving, and it is kind, and it cares more about others than it does ourselves. And, it means we won’t lie to and deceive one another, or hide the truth from those who need to hear it, or to whom it is owed. Because so many people have this idea that God’s grace gives them liberty to keep on sinning without guilt or remorse, they also have no guilt about covering up their sin, either, and hiding it from those to whom they need to confess.

Yet, there is hope! God will discipline his wayward children who have adopted this false grace gospel, and who have clung to their previous chains, and who have taken liberty to continue in sin without true repentance. Although the adulterous church right now looks pretty bleak, i.e. with all its liberalities, self-indulgences, immoralities, sensuality, and the like, it is not too hard for God to revive his church, and to return her to her pure devotion to him. And, one day soon he is going to return for us, and we will be with him forever, and we, as his bride, will truly be holy and truthful in the purest sense, for sin will be no more.

Stand Strong! (vv. 9, 14-17)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Let your hands be strong, you who are listening in these days to these words from the mouth of the prophets, those who spoke in the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, to the end that the temple might be built.

“For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Just as I purposed to do harm to you when your fathers provoked Me to wrath,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and I have not relented, so I have again purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear! These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates. Also let none of you devise evil in your heart against another, and do not love perjury; for all these are what I hate,’ declares the Lord.”

With all the false teachings and lies of Satan which are being spread throughout the earth, including inside our churches, we, as Christ’s followers, need to stand strong on the Word of Truth, even if it gets us rejected, hated and persecuted. We need to say “NO!” to false teaching and especially to this false grace gospel which allures people by appealing to their human flesh. And, we need to speak out against and expose what is false and proclaim what is truth so that all can hear and know not to put their hope and trust in lies, which will not save, but that they should follow what is truth, but not just half the truth, but the full counsel of God.

In this way, the temple of God, his church, can be built (or rebuilt). In other words, we don’t win people to Jesus Christ with lies, manipulations and gimmicks. We win people to Jesus Christ by telling them the truth, even if that truth offends some people or makes them feel uncomfortable, because it confronts sin and it calls for repentance and faith (or renewed faith) in Jesus Christ. The truth is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us; and that we might no longer conduct our lives according to our flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:5-10).

Good News! (vv. 20-23)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, “Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will also go.” So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.’ Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”

Jerusalem, in these last days, is not the physical city of Jerusalem, which is now of Hagar, because she is still in slavery (to sin) with her children (See: Gal. 4). We, the people of God who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, are his holy city. We are Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. And, a Jew is not one who is one outwardly, but is one who is one inwardly, who has been circumcised of the heart, i.e. he or she is one who believes in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of his or her life.

In these last days before Jesus returns, via this time of divine judgment on the people of the earth, God is pouring out his Spirit, and people are coming to faith in Jesus Christ, for persecution has a way of building or rebuilding the church. I believe scripture teaches that God will revive his wayward church in these last days, and that when the church is revived, she will take the gospel to the people, and she will invite people to faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, the picture we have here, too, is that people will hear of God’s working in other people’s hearts, and by reputation only they will seek God out, and will call on Jesus to be Lord and Savior of their lives, and that is awesome!

Redeemed / Frances J. Crosby

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long:
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.

I know I shall see in His beauty
The King in whose law I delight;
Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps,
And giveth me songs in the night.

I know there’s a crown that is waiting
In yonder bright mansion for me,
And soon, with the spirits made perfect,
At home with the Lord I shall be.

Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child and forever I am.

Unrepentant Sin

Saturday, January 14, 2017, 11:00 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Very Best Friend.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 13 (NASB).

The Power of God (vv. 1-4)

This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I will not spare anyone, since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, and who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.

In a previous chapter we read that Paul was jealous for the Corinthian believers with a godly jealousy, because he had promised them to one husband, Jesus Christ, yet he feared that they might be led astray from their sincere and pure devotion to Jesus Christ. What was the basis of his concern, then? It appears that, at least some of the Corinthian believers were being tolerant of false christs, false spirits, and false gospels. They put up with these far too easily, he said. Thus, it may be that they knew what was being presented was false, and they just did nothing about it. Or, it could be that they just didn’t bother testing what they heard against the Word of Truth, and/or in prayer, and in the power and knowledge of the Spirit within them, in order to know whether or not what they were allowing and/or receiving was truth or deception cleverly disguised as truth.

All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved. For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced (2 Co. 12: 19-21).

Paul was concerned that there was unrepentant sin being allowed to continue within the church, and that there was false teaching being tolerated, too, and perhaps that the two of them went hand-in-hand. And, he was also concerned that some of them did not respect his God-given (appointed) authority to do anything about it, which is one of the reasons it was allowed to continue and nothing was being done to stop it. So, his intention was that, upon this next visit, he would come in the power of God and he would exercise divine discipline in correcting the wrong, yet not because he wanted to punish them. He did not. But, because he loved them with a godly love, and he wanted to see them walking in truth and in freedom from the control of sin over their lives.

And, so it is today, at least here in America. Sin is barely even mentioned in the vast majority of church congregations today, at least not in the modern church gatherings where they are marketing the “church” to the world, and thus they are more focused on entertaining the world rather than on bringing the world to genuine faith in Jesus Christ. All kinds of false teaching are permeating today’s modern church, as well as a Jesus is being presented which is not consistent with the Jesus of the Bible, i.e. the Son of God. Feel-good messages which tickle itching ears are replacing Spirit-led messages which convict hearts of sin, and which call for repentance. And, Bible studies are often not more than studies of books written by modern authors, some of which are not only inconsistent with scripture, but are even that which teach what is clearly false, and which promote middle eastern religion.

Test Yourselves (vv. 5-10)

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete. For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.

A false grace gospel is being taught widely, as well, which teaches that a prayer repeated after someone else inviting Jesus to be your Savior is sufficient for salvation, and a guarantee of heaven when you die. As well, they say that God is pleased with you no matter what you do, and that he requires nothing of you – no submission to the cross, no repentance and no obedience to Christ and to his commands. This false grace gospel, thus, is free license to continue in willful sin against God absent of remorse and without guilt. It gives the impression that once you pray the prayer, and you have heaven guaranteed, that God is no longer concerned about your sin, for his grace covers it all. Thus, the freedom they teach is no freedom at all, for it leaves its adherents still dead in their sins without hope.

So, what is the truth? Well, it is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who knew no sin, became sin for us when he died on a cross. Thus, when he died our sins died with him, and were buried with him. And, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, Satan, hell and death. Yet, not all are saved from sin. We must put our trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives in order for us to have the hope of salvation from sin. So, what does this look like? Well, it means that the Spirit of God opens our blinded eyes and we are turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God that we might receive forgiveness of sins, and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ.

The truth is that Jesus died, not just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die, but he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And, he died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk not after the flesh, but who conduct our lives according to the Spirit. For, if we walk after the flesh, we will die (in our sin), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). The truth is, too, that God’s grace is not free license to continue in sin, for his grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14; Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Lu. 9:23-25).

So, for us to examine ourselves to see if truly we are in the faith, we need to do so against all the scriptures which speak of our salvation and eternal security in Christ, and not just hand-select the scriptures which say what our itching ears want to hear. For instance, we have to read Romans 10:9-10 in the context of the whole of Romans (esp. chaps. 6 & 8), and in the context of the whole of the New Testament, and we have to not build an entire doctrine of salvation around just those two verses, which is what many are doing. Jesus said that if we want to come after him we must deny self and take up our cross daily and follow him, for if we hold on to our lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars (Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:6).

Live in Peace (vv. 11-14)

Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

So, instead of living in unrepentant sin, while claiming heaven as our eternal home, and instead of following a false grace gospel, or a man-made Jesus, or the teachings of mere humans, we need to be like-minded with Christ concerning the truths he taught, and that his NT apostles taught, and we need to repent of our sins and walk in obedience to that truth. Then we can mature in Christ, be comforted by his love, be like-minded with other Spirit-filled believers, and live in peace with God and with others, as much as it depends on us. Then we will truly know the Jesus of the Bible, and we will be able to experience close fellowship with him as daily we talk with him, read his Word, and then as we walk in obedience to him and to his Word. In fact, we will come to know him to be our very best friend.

My Very Best Friend
Ron Hamilton – Patch the Pirate

Jesus is closer than a brother.
Every moment he is near.
I know he never will forsake me.
He has conquered all my fear.
Jesus is closer than a brother.
On his love I can depend.
King of kings, Lord of lords,
Conquering Son, oh, all of these,
He’s my very best friend.

Tolerance of Evil

Friday, January 13, 2017, 8:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Sheep.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 11 (Select vv. NASB).

A Godly Jealousy (vv. 1-6)

I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me. For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things.

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us, we, in essence, become the bride of Christ and he becomes our husband. Our commitment to trust Jesus as our Savior and Lord (owner-master), i.e. to leave our lives of sin behind us and to follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands, is a vow of fidelity to God/Jesus. It is much like a marriage vow, where we promise to love, honor and keep (cling to) each other for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health from this day forward, forsaking all others, and to be faithful only to each other so long as we both would live. And, yet, many do not approach their relationship with Jesus Christ like this, at all, and thus they become easy prey for the enemy to deceive them into following after false christs. Yet, Jesus is a jealous husband who longs for his adulterous bride to return to him.

So, in what ways is the bride of Christ being deceived and led astray to follow after other lovers today? In other words, how is she presently being led astray from the simplicity and purity of her devotion to Christ? Well, for one, much of today’s church here in America, and perhaps in other countries, too, has willingly and unequally yoked herself together with the government of our nation, which is an ungodly and evil entity. Although she is the body of Christ, which is a living organism, with Christ as her head, she willingly submitted herself to come under the headship of the government by incorporating herself as a non-profit business organization. And, the problem isn’t just that our government is ungodly, but that they answer to Satan, who is their true head – who disguises himself as an angel of light in order to deceive people.

It has been about twelve years now since the Lord Jesus began opening my eyes to the truth about the US government and its Satanic ties, and its purpose in being created, which is to lead the world to worship the antichrist, i.e. the beast of Revelation, and to bring the world under a one-world totalitarian government and one-world religion (1). The USA is, in essence, the harlot, spoken of in the book of Revelation, which rides the beast. Our nation, I believe, is physical mystery Babylon. And, our government (and their allies) has led (forced) the nations of the world to follow and worship the beast. They and their allies have been doing exactly what the beast is described as doing in Revelation 13 in conquering peoples, nations, and the saints of God throughout the globe, and now here in America, too. And, the institutional church, which has partnered with this evil government, is culpable for her crimes, too.

As far as our present government is concerned, there is a group of elite who have served as a shadow government in the USA for many years, who are truly the ones ruling America, and now the world. Our physical government, which is the face of this elite “beast,” answers to this group of elite, which some people call the Illuminati, but which includes the Bilderberg group, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, Big Banks, CEOs of corporations, religious leaders and heads of state, etc. They are the de facto government in these United States of America. Yet, now or very soon this shadow government will no longer be in the shadows, but they will be what we see front and center. They are the all-seeing eye (eye of Horus) which hovers over top the unfinished pyramid on the Great Seal of the USA.

Basically, what they have done or are doing is they are turning the USA into a Public-Private-Partnership of sorts (2). I admit that I don’t completely understand what all that means, but what I do know is that this means that the beast shadow government will no longer be ruling from the shadows, but they will soon rule more directly, and that these CEOs of corporations, i.e. the really wealthy ones, et al, will be more out in the open, perhaps via the Trump presidency, along with his chosen cabinet. This will be true, though, whether or not Trump is actually inaugurated as the next president of the USA, for this is where our nation has been headed from nearly the very beginnings of her existence as the USA.

So, what this means for the church is that, if she has partnered with this government via the 501c3 that she is, in fact, unequally yoked together with Satan and his deceitful workers (See: 2 Co. 11:13-15). So, God is calling her to come out from her lest she share in her sins and in her punishment (See: Rev. 18:1-8). Please pray about this, for this is serious business!

What You Tolerate (vv. 16-21)

Again I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, so that I also may boast a little. What I am saying, I am not saying as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting. Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also. For you, being so wise, tolerate the foolish gladly. For you tolerate it if anyone enslaves you, anyone devours you, anyone takes advantage of you, anyone exalts himself, anyone hits you in the face. To my shame I must say that we have been weak by comparison.

This is speaking to the institutional church today loud and clear. Again, the church is a living organism with Christ Jesus as her only head. She is the body of Christ, a spiritual entity, not a physical one. She is married to one husband, Jesus Christ. She is to not partner with any other entity or to make anyone else her head. She is definitely not to incorporate the body of Christ with an ungodly and evil entity, i.e. she is not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, i.e. most especially with an evil government. She is not to make herself into a man-made business and to market herself as such, either, but she does and has – not the whole body of Christ has, mind you, but a very large majority in America has. And Jesus is jealous, and he is calling out to his bride to forsake these “other lovers” and to return to her “first love.”

But, it isn’t just this situation alone that is the issue. Via the partnership with the US government she has brought government worship into the church via the pledge (vow) of allegiance (fidelity) to the US flag and its government, with hand over heart, too, and via the singing of patriotic songs and the honoring of our military as our heroes, and as our “saviors” and “protectors.” The church has basically been indoctrinated with government worship to the point where the vast majority of the church here in America trusts whatever they hear coming out of the mouths of their leaders and from the mouths of their government-controlled (elite-controlled) media. And, so they are ripe for deception, manipulation and for being mind-controlled, as well.

In addition to all of this, the church has brought the world into the church rather than the church going out into the world with the gospel. In order to attract the world, thus, to the “church,” they turned to worldly means and methods for attracting the world, and via worldly marketing schemes and techniques. They have basically turned the church into a marketplace, and Jesus is coming with a whip to drive them out, I believe. “Worship” services are, more than not, just big shows to entertain the world and to make them feel good so they will want to come back. Bible studies are often just studies of books written by mere men (Holy Spirit uninspired). And, the gospel has been diluted in order to appeal to human flesh. So, they have completely removed the cross of Christ from our lives – no death to sin and no living to righteousness. And, the Holy Spirit has been given the boot!

So, again, Jesus Christ is calling out to his bride to return to him as her only “love” and to forsake all these “other lovers,” as well as to be discerning concerning these wolves in sheep’s clothing who masquerade themselves as servants of righteousness. Jesus said his sheep listen to his voice and they follow (obey) him. Whose voice are you following today? The voice of Jesus? Or, the voice of the government and media? Or, the voice of the world?

My Sheep / An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV

My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.

So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.

Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…

They know my voice, so they follow me.

Disclaimer: The links to the following sites are for informational purposes only. This is not an endorsement of the sites nor of its owners nor of all the content contained within them. There is much information on the internet concerning these same matters, but much more than I can post in one single writing.

(1) http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Illuminati/dc.htm

(2) http://anothervoicerev184.blogspot.com/2017/01/trump-to-turn-usa-into-public-private.html

Making Idols of Humans

Sunday, November 20, 2016, 6:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Only Want to Be with You.” This is a secular song, so I inquired of the Lord as to its purpose. The Bible lesson here will bear that out, I believe. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 8:9-24 (ESV).

I Only Want to Be with You / Dusty Springfield
Written by Ivor Raymonde, Mike Hawker

I don’t know what it is that makes me love you so
I only know I never want to let you go
‘Cause you started something, can’t you see
That ever since we met you’ve had a hold on me
It happens to be true, I only want to be with you
It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do
I want to spend each moment of the day with you…

Practitioners of Magic (vv. 9-13)

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

What is a practitioner of magic? Well, magic is a fairy-tale, sorcery, witchcraft, and trickery. And, one who practices magic (sorcery) is an entertainer, performer, enchanter, and/or one who uses the power or control of evil spirits to do his (or her) work (magic). A magician is also a con artist, a fake, and a deceiver; one who cheats people, and who gives false impressions of what is real. He (or she) is usually charming, smooth-talking, funny, and likeable, and many people are captivated by people just like this, and will follow them anywhere. Those who worship such people, and who make them their idols, are often blinded to their faults, and will overlook their sins, and may even enable them to keep on charming, deceiving, manipulating, tricking, conning, and cheating, etc., because the “magician” has an emotional hold on their lives, and they don’t want to let go.

These “magicians” may even claim to believe in Jesus Christ, and may even call themselves ministers of the gospel. Although it says here that Simon believed and was baptized, it later says he tried to buy the ability to lay hands on people and to have them receive the Holy Spirit. So Peter said, “May your money perish with you.” He told him that he had no part in this ministry, because his heart was not right with God, and that he was full of bitterness and was captive to sin. Peter, thus, told him he needed to repent of his sin, and pray to the Lord, and perhaps the Lord would forgive him. So, it would appear that Simon’s faith in Jesus Christ was surface only, and that his desire to buy the gift of God revealed what was truly in his heart. So, although he claimed to believe, and was baptized, he was going to perish in his sins if he did not genuinely repent of his sin and turn to God in faith.

Yet, this idea of this magician being captivated by sin has me thinking here that the idol doesn’t have to be human, but it could be a pet sin that has a hold on someone, and that has captivated them like magic, and they don’t want to let go of it. In a sense, they are in love with that sin, and it has become their god, instead of God being their only Lord. The sin has charmed their socks off, and it makes them feel good inside, and no matter how bad things get, or how deep they get into the sin, and no matter the consequences of the sin, they want to spend as much time with this sin idol as possible, because it gives them a euphoric feeling inside, much like what is described in the lyrics to this (opening) song. Sexual sin is especially captivating in this way, especially pornography. And, nothing else matters to the sinner but being able to indulge in this sin, even if it means losing everything else in life that matters, even his or her own soul.

One other thought comes to mind here, as well, and that is of government worship. What I mean by that is that, here in America, we were taught from elementary school on up, and within the institutional church, and from our government leaders and parents, too, to pledge allegiance to the American flag and to its republic (our form of government).

A pledge is a vow, and allegiance is loyalty, faithfulness and fidelity. So, this is a vow of fidelity to the US government. It is worship. And, this pledge is performed with hand over heart. Our hearts are the center of our being (mind, soul, spirit), the seat of our emotions. So, we are being asked to give our hearts and devotion and fidelity in pledge (vow) to the god of government. And, we sing patriotic songs (of devotion to our government), in adoration, love, reverence, loyalty and commitment, too. And, thus, as Americans, we become blinded to the sins of our government leaders, and we pay no attention to what they are doing in our nation or overseas, and we believe all the lies they tell us, and so we end up being deceived and captivated by the government, and we make it our idol, too.

Receive the Holy Spirit (vv. 14-17)

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

So, instead of making idols of humans, preachers, politicians, sin or government (nations), we need to make God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – our ONLY Lord (master-owner). He is the only one who should have such a hold on our lives, and for whom we should feel such strong affection, loyalty and devotion. He will never lie to us, deceive, manipulate or cheat on us. With him there is freedom from sin. Instead of allowing ourselves to be strongly influenced by evil spirits, or by those who are being led by evil spirits, i.e. by magicians, we need to have the Holy Spirit living within us. And, he (God) is the only one who should have such control over our lives.

So, how do we receive the Holy Spirit? In the beginning, when the Spirit was first given, they received the Spirit through the laying on of hands, because their faith in Jesus was separate from the receiving of the Spirit, because the Spirit had not previously been given, because Jesus had not yet returned to heaven. And, so they were just learning about the Spirit. Since that time, though, people have received the Holy Spirit when they are born of the Spirit in new birth, i.e. in salvation. Paul said, “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” (Ro. 8:9). So, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, and we are indwelt and empowered with the Spirit of God, who is God in us.

Jealousy and Greed (vv. 18-24)

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

Simon was jealous of the gift of God given to the apostles, and he wanted the same power, for he was still a magician at heart, wanting to mesmerize and impress people, so he thought he could purchase such a power. But, he was dead wrong! God can’t be bought with money. We can’t fake Christianity, though many do try, and seem to be successful, at least in this world, and for a time. So, this calls for discernment on our part. There are many liars, deceivers and manipulators (magicians) passing themselves off as followers of Christ and even as ministers of the gospel, so we need to not be charmed by them, but it is necessary that we test everything we hear them say, and pay attention to the hidden (subtle) messages, too. Just because someone says he is a Christian doesn’t make it true.

This same thought goes, as well, for government worship. Before you pledge allegiance to the flag and republic of the USA again, with hand over heart, think about what you are actually doing, and pray, and ask God if he is pleased with such a display of worship of government, for that is what it is. And, before you sing the next patriotic song, pay attention to the words, and look up the lyrics, and see what the songs are saying, and ask God if this is what he wants you to be singing – praises to a human government, as though singing praises to God. And, before you blindly follow your government (and media), and believe everything they tell you, ask God if what they are telling you is true. Do the homework on the US government and its founders and our presidents and their secretive organizations, and idolatry in Washington, D.C., too. Don’t let magicians mesmerize you.

And, before you make that next decision to follow your flesh, and to indulge in your pet sin (the love of your life), without regard for anyone else, or for the consequences, because of how that sin makes you “feel,” ask God to show you the way out from under the temptation to that sin, and be willing to let go of it, and of anything that leads you down that path of sin. Repent of (turn from) your sin, and turn to follow Jesus Christ with your life, in obedience to his commands, and don’t look back. And, trust your Lord Jesus and his Spirit within you to give you all you need to resist Satan and to flee temptation, and to draw near to God. Daily put on your spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-20) with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against you, and set your face like a flint (with full determination) in ridding your life of all that hinders your walk with the Lord. Don’t be charmed into sinning again.