Love His Appearing

Am I loving the appearing of Jesus Christ? Does my spirit rejoice in God my Savior at the thought He will return to enforce Torah (Ze 14:16-17), as He rules the nations with a rod of iron? (Re 2:26-27)

Or is there unholy hesitation, ungodly fear simmering beneath the informed intellect? My renewed mind (Ro 7:25) knows better than to slink away, to run and hide from God, much less resist Him. (2Ti 3:8) But the Old Man ever lurks in shadows, peering out of darkness, offended by the light. (Ge 3:8)

Is there anything at all in me that recoils at the thought of Messiah’s return? (Re 1:7) That’s wrongfully afraid of Him and wishes to hide? (Re 6:15-17)

Many, mindful of earthly things, neglecting and despising Torah (Ro 8:6), seem unafraid of Jesus (Re 19:15-16), as if He’s only tolerance and love, unconcerned with their carnality. (Php 3:18-19) I know better (Ro 1:18-19); yet what troubles me? (1Jn 3:20) What is my complaint? (Ro 3:4)

Does an instinctive aversion yet abide within by my permission? Does my willingness to let it live amount to consent? Can I indeed rid myself of it entirely? or am I stuck?

A crown of righteousness awaits all who love His appearing with their entire being. (2Ti 4:8) Freedom awaits those who seek (Mt 7:7-11): this is mine for the taking. (Mt 11:12)

Cross-examine this body of lies, whatever remains inside; square off with it; interrogate it; root out all its doubletalk and irrationality. Boldly expose all deception without hesitation or fear: He has not given you a spirit fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2Ti 1:7) Hold each lie up to the lamp, one by one before the light of the Word. (Ps 119:105)

The carnal mind is enmity against God (Ro 8:7); he refuses believe in the goodness of God. There’s nothing sane about him: all lies, top to bottom, corrupt throughout. (Ep 4:22) Put him off; cleanse yourself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2Co 7:1); leave no trace. (1Jn 3:3)

This is war, spiritual battle: take no prisoners. Co-labor with God to pull down your strongholds (2Co 10:4), entrenched patterns of corrupt emotions and desires, and see them vaporize before the light. (2Th 2:8) Take them down intentionally, strategically, and hold your ground once you take it back. (Ep 4:27)

Believe Yeshua gave Himself to redeem you from all iniquity and purify you unto Himself a peculiar soul, zealous of good works. (Ti 2:13-14) He can do this. (1Jn 4:4)

Believe and thank Him that He is delivering you from the body of this death. (Ro 7:24-25) Know that your old man is already crucified with Him, nailed to the cross that the body of sin might be destroyed; you don’t need to serve sin any longer, for we who are dead are freed from sin. (Ro 6:6-7) Reckon you yourself to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ your Lord. (Ro 6:11)

Remember, and stir up the gift of God which is in you. (2Ti 1:6) He is able to keep you from falling and into present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (Jud 24)

Walk in the light, as He is in the light, and fellowship with Him. (1Jn 1:7) Let us have grace to serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. (He 12:28-29) We may have boldness in the day of Judgment (1Jn 4:17), knowing God is just and faithful. He Who walks with you is the One Who comes for you to receive you unto Himself to be with Him. (Jn 14:1-3)

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That Perfect Will

As God’s children, we desire to know the will of God for our lives; we want our lives to count for God; we long to be living in His perfect will. How do we find this? how do we know what His unique will is for us as individuals and in spiritual community?

Is knowing God’s will a matter of being still and listening for His voice? the “leading of the Spirit” to guide us and show us what to do? Are we to look inside ourselves for good feelings triggered by potential activity? or thoughts appearing in our heads or hearts telling us to do or not do this or that? This sounds spiritual enough on the surface, but Scripture disagrees: God’s way is quite different.

To find God’s will for our lives, God says we need to be transformed by the renewing of our mind: we are to prove what is His good, and acceptable and perfect will by changing how we think about Him, ourselves and the world. (Ro 12:2) We need to stop listening to what others are saying about how to find and follow God, about how to live life; we need to stop following their lead, stop thinking like the world and aligning with its philosophy. (Co 2:8)

We all start out thinking the wrong way about God, about ourselves and others, even life itself, so our way of thinking needs to be cleaned up, fixed, corrected. The carnal mind, the natural way of thinking, is largely opposed to God and His ways, at enmity with Him (Ro 8:7), broken. What seems right at first glance (Pr 14:12) is ultimately the way of Death. (Ro 8:6) To be free, we align our thinking with God’s, with Truth itself. (2Ti 2:25-26) God calls it repentance. (Lk 13:3-5)

This should be expected, really: God should be more interested in who we are becoming than what we happen to be doing along the way. We can’t very well do God’s work if we aren’t becoming more and more like Him. It’s all about the heart: the core of who we are, seated in our mind, how we think, which drives how we feel and what we do. (Pr 4:23)

To renew our mind, to have a sound mind, we must discover where it’s misaligned with God’s Way and ask God to help us correct it. This is how we cleanse our way, by paying attention to where we’re deviating from God’s Word. (Ps 119:9) It’s why we’re hiding God’s Word in our heart, memorizing and meditating on Scripture, constantly recalibrating ourselves with His Word.

As we get our mind right, our thoughts, beliefs and inclinations, as well as our emotions will follow and align with God’s; then our behavior will tend more toward godliness (1Ti 4:7), honoring God and bringing Him glory rather than grieving Him. (Ep 4:30)

As God transforms us more into His image, we begin to realize God’s will for us is to become holy (1Pe 1:13-16), partakers of His holiness (He 12:10), that we may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. (Co 4:12)

A desire to do great things for God may in fact be a desire to be recognized and rewarded by God, ultimately rooted in a spirit of self-exaltation rather than a desire to serve God and please Him. It turns out God measures greatness, not by our exploits and achievements before Him, but by our obedience to Him – to Torah. (Mt 5:19)

As we’re seeking to be transformed more and more into His image (2Co 3:18), into the likeness of Christ, seeking to obey and honor Him in all we do, God will be working in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure (Php 2:13), and we will find ourselves in the will of God, right where we belong.

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I Was Thirsty

God is omniscient; He knows everything about everything; His understanding is infinite. (Ps 147:5) He knows about all of reality, what has been, what is and what will be (Is 46:10), and He also fully understands every possible variation of reality, even things that will never actually happen. (Mt 11:21) Yet does this mean God actually experiences everything? Can God know something perfectly without personally experiencing it?

Since God cannot be tempted with evil (Ja 1:13), it must be that we experience reality differently than God experiences it; God knows with perfectly infinite understanding and awareness exactly how we feel and experience these sinful tendencies without Himself experiencing them. In other words, God knows what it’s like to sin without ever having sinned. (He 4:15)

So, yes, God doesn’t need to personally experience anything in order to fully comprehend all of its detail. Yet this doesn’t mean God is aloof from human experience, that He doesn’t engage intimately with His creation. Evidently, this is especially true of innocent suffering; He so identifies with His elect that He suffers in and with us. (Mt 25:35-36) While He allows pain and suffering in His children, it is not without personal sacrifice: God is willing to enter into our suffering Himself, and actually does so, being one with us. (Co 1:24)

While nothing exists apart from God (Co 1:17), and while all being and activity is of God and by God (1Co 8:6), it is incorrect to say God is any created thing, or that any created thing is God, or even part of God’s divine essence or being. (Panentheism) It is also evidently incorrect to say God is in (in the sense of inhabiting or indwelling) anything physical other than His earthly temple (Ha 2:20) and the bodies of the saints. (1Co 6:19)

While God is ultimately sovereign, controlling all things (Da :35), He is entirely distinct from the entire physical universe and independent of it. He forbids identifying Himself with any particular aspect of His material creation (Ex 20:4) other than His bride: the church. (Ep 5:30)

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The Acknowledging

Sharing our spiritual insights with other believers is central to our calling in the church of God; it’s the primary way we edify one another. This is the communication of our faith (Phm 6), how we impart our experience in God to others who are pursuing Him. (2Ti 2:2)

As we explore our own hearts and souls for faith gems to impart to others, we’re searching out and acknowledging every good thing which is within us in Christ, identifying and cultivating the Christ-life within. (Phm 6) But notice how God puts it: “that the communication of thy (s.) faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you (pl.) in Christ Jesus.” We each share our individual faith walk in Christ with others effectively by becoming aware of and appreciating the Person of Christ, not only within ourselves, but also within those with whom we’re sharing.

In other words, as we testify of the faithfulness and character of God as we experience Him in our lives, we’re identifying the works of Christ within us as He works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. (Php 2:13) At the same time, the Christ within us is reaching out to the Christ within others, calling forth the divine nature within each one to edify, exhort, encourage, refresh, strengthen and nourish the souls of the saints. (Phm 7)

This perspective gives us both a sobering realization that in our testimony we are expressing the eternal Christ Himself to others (1Pe 4:11), and also a confident expectation and hope that our brothers and sisters will be quickened and blessed in our sharing.

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Even As He Is Pure

There’s an instinct within believers to purify ourselves, even as Christ Himself is pure (1Jn 3:3), to rid ourselves of all lies and misconceptions (Ps 119:29), to heal our wounds and insecurities, to root out all our evil tendencies (Ps 139:23-24), and live worthy of our calling and salvation. (Ep 4:1) This is our sanctification, and though we have the instinct to pursue it, we may not understand the process, how God sanctifies us; this can delay our progress and frustrate us.

The key principle at work in our sanctification is this: all sin springs from believing a lie, and we’re set free (sanctified) by knowing the truth. (Jn 8:32)

It sounds simple enough, but our lies are generally interconnected, layered into us over many years and strategically woven together within our souls through wounds and a myriad of social modeling, training and coercion. These lies build upon and reinforce one another, blinding us to the truth we so desperately need. It is so complex and multi-faceted that getting free really does take an act of God. (2Ti 2:24-26)

Thankfully, God is indeed in the business of sanctifying us (Jn 17:17); He doesn’t leave us alone in this process, yet He doesn’t do it all by Himself either – He expects us to understand how He sanctifies us, submit ourselves to His process and cooperate with Him in working out our own salvation/sanctification. (Php 2:12)

Since we get free by believing the truth (2Th 2:13), the next step in any sanctification journey is always to uncover another lie and renew our minds to believe the truth in the context of that lie. But how do we most efficiently go about this?

We must first find the next lie, identify and isolate it. This isn’t as easy as it might seem. Like diagnosing any ailment or disease, the process can be highly individual and nuanced: many similar symptoms have very different root causes and cures, and every individual is unique.

Further, like solving a Rubik’s Cube, there is often a required sequence in which we must approach a wholistic cure; when certain basic things aren’t working properly it doesn’t help to merely address the symptoms: when we do we just go round in circles, ending up back where we started. We must find the correct root causes, those within in our vast web and network of lies which are relatively unprotected and exposed, less grounded in the underlying substructure of our minds, and address them in a viable sequence. This takes the leading of the Spirit (Ps 23:3), searching all our inward parts (Pr 20:27), knowing how to set us free. (1Co 1:30)

To do this efficiently, in constant communion with the Spirit, we prayerfully take heed (or pay attention) to what’s going on inside of us in light of God’s perfect standard of holiness. (Ps 119:9) We’re to be constantly aware of how our thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions are aligned with God’s Law: Torah, His definition of righteousness. (72)

In parallel, we’re also to be constantly thinking about and meditating on God’s Law (97), so we’re continually exposing ourselves to and contemplating His righteousness in all its glory and wonder (18), constantly evaluating how we ourselves align with it. (59)

Whenever we sense a recurring disconnect between our behavior and God’s Way, we ask God to expose the underlying root-cause lie (105), help us understand and believe the truth (27), and then enable us to walk in it. (35)

To overcome, we should meditate upon and pray through scriptures which specifically address this lie (2Ti 3:16-17), asking God for grace to help us believe the truth with our whole heart, way down in our subconscious mind. We may need to enlist the prayers of spiritual community (Ja 5:16), and invite them to point out more relevant Scripture to cut to the chase and expose our issues. (He 4:12)

We know we are free when our behavior changes and stabilizes in holiness, as we consistently follow the way of truth in this particular area under a variety of trials and circumstances.

Our sanctification is a never-ending journey (Php 3:13-14) guided and attended by the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:13) in the context of spiritual community. We cannot do this all on our own, and we are not alone. (He 13:5)

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My Father’s Business

When Yeshua is 12 years old, He leaves home to begin His life’s work. (Lk 12:42-43) He doesn’t feel the need to even notify Joseph and His mother, having no sense He needs their blessing or that they should be looking after Him any longer. He even challenges their concern and admonishes them: they should know better. (49)

This raises some intriguing questions. Is Yeshua amiss in departing His childhood home so early? Is this premature and unwise? (52) Is He acting impulsively without proper counsel and preparation? (Pr 12:15) If so, is it foolish? even sin? If not, and if this is God’s will, then why does He so willingly return and submit Himself to His earthly parents (51), and forfeit 18 years of ministry? (Lk 3:23a)

We may infer from Yeshua’s life pattern that He’s obeying His Father; it’s what He sees His Father doing (Jn 5:19): starting His earthly ministry at age 12 pleases His Father. (Jn 8:29)

The key is evidently Joseph and His mother; if they’re OK with Yeshua leaving His childhood home and being about His Father’s business, which they should be, this is evidently the ideal path — and it’s anyone’s guess what this looks like.

However, if they aren’t on board and their parental instincts take over, then there are insurmountable difficulties in the ideal path: technically, per cultural norms of His day, Yeshua’s still a minor, not yet considered an adult (Nu  32:11), so persisting in His ministry against His parents’ wishes appears to violate Torah. (De 21:18-21) So, this incredible potential must be scrapped altogether.

Even so, in the context of this fallen world, God’s foreordained perfect plan for Yeshua is still alive and well (Ep 2:10), and this is what plays out over time. (Ro 8:28) He remains subject to His mother, patiently waiting to begin His ministry until, after nearly two long decades, desperate to save a friend in need, she lets go. (Jn 2:3-5) God’s perfect will is still accomplished perfectly, but in the context of human brokenness the ideal isn’t always God’s actual plan, and that’s a beautiful mystery for the ages.

What do we learn from this? Perhaps we may grasp a little bit more the nuance between God working everything according to His own will (Ep 1:11) and the way Free Will shapes the narrative as He does. God could easily have restrained His parents’ carnal mind, working His will in them (Php 2:13) so they rejoiced in Yeshua’s independence. (Pr 16:1) But God lets them make their choice and they blow it; His mother evidently stubbornly resists Yeshua in this for quite a long while. (Mt 12:47-50) Yet God isn’t frustrated when we choose a sub-optimal path; God’s glory is never tarnished by the failures of Man; it cannot be. But we certainly miss out. Should it be otherwise? Could it be?

Perhaps there’s a sense in which Yeshua’s mother, as a pivotal figure in the vast human organism (Mk 3:21), is a type for us all here; we have all tried to control God and have things our own way. (Is 53:1) Consequently, perhaps we’ve all missed out on amazing revelations of God’s glory that were very real possibilities, eliminated by our own and/or others’ poor choices; perhaps every sin impacts everyone negatively in some irrecoverable way. (1Cor 5:6) Evidently, God’s OK with allowing this, so we should be as well, not finding an excuse to sin (Ja 4:17) but recognizing God’s will is still in play and He’ll richly reward our dedication to Him. (Ro 2:6-7)

Known unto God are all His works from the foundation of the world (Ac 15:18), so His will is never threatened (Da 4:35); He knows everything that’s going to happen and how He’s going to manage it all. (He 4:3) Yet our choices still matter; they have very real consequences (Ga 6:7-9), and God knows the potential, what would happen if we made better choices. (Mt 11:23) He’s constantly inviting us to follow Him into the ideal, and we should be right on His heels. (1Pe 2:21)

As it all plays out, God is supremely glorified in everything He allows (Ro 3:5-7), reconciling everything unto Himself (Co 1:20), and working out everything for the good of those who love Him. (Ro 8:28)

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No Man That Warreth

When we hear the term “spiritual warfare” we might think of casting out demons and/or praying for lost loved ones to be converted. That’s certainly part of the story, but in many respects it’s a very small part.

Each of us is in an ongoing spiritual battle every moment of our lives; if we’re unaware of this fact, perhaps we’re asleep in captivity, or worse — on the wrong side.

We’re in this battle 24X7 because Satan never rests or gives up; he never backs off and gives us a break. (1Pe 5:8) Whenever we let our guard down, he’s right there to take advantage (2Co 2:11): to steal, kill and destroy. (Jn 10:10) Whenever we make a little more room for him, he takes more ground and fights to hold on to it. (Ep 4:27)

If we’re ignorant of the struggle, then we simply aren’t in the fight. This can only mean one of two things: either we’ve been taken prisoner and Satan has us right where he wants us (2Ti 2:25-26), or we’re in league with the enemy and serving him. (Ep 2:2)

This battle can be described very simply: Satan lies to us to get us to sin, to violate God’s Law. (1Jn 3:4) Every time we believe him, we give him more power in our lives. (Jn 10:34) To engage him in battle we [1] identify the lies [2] believe the truth (repent) and [3] live in truth with our whole mind, heart and soul. (Jn 8:31-32) Every dimension of spiritual conflict of any concern to us can be related in these terms.

This war is not one of our choosing; Satan chooses when and how to fight us; we can either defend ourselves or give in to him and let him defeat us. There aren’t any other choices here.

Jocko Willink

Seeing we’re in such a battle, we should learn to think and act like soldiers who aim to win. A warrior disciplines himself to endure hardness and difficulty (2Ti 2:2); he doesn’t entangle and distract himself with worldly affairs; he’s focused on the mission, ready at a moment’s notice to engage the enemy. (3)

A good soldier keeps his weapon close and becomes proficient with it, always training and improving. He studies to understand his enemy (2Co 2:11) and learns proper military strategy from those who’ve succeeded in combat. He also learns from his own mistakes and failures, integrating his own practical experience. When he fails in battle, he doesn’t resign himself to failure: he doesn’t quit. He picks himself back up, studies and trains to correct his mistakes, knowing he is destined to overcome. (1Jn 5:4)

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Bring Them Up

The goal of parenting should be to equip children with the knowledge and skills necessary to become successful and productive adults. (Ep 6:4) It’s an educational mandate we ought not delegate; we may entrust others with formal academic training, but we’re required to teach our children how to live (De 6:6-7), and enable them in every way possible. (Pr 22:6) In order to do this effectively, parents are given authority in the home and children are required to obey their parents. (Ep 6:1-3)

But this state doesn’t last forever; children grow up. When and how are they supposed to transition into adulthood? When, if ever, are children free from the duty to obey their parents?

God does not instruct adults to obey their parents (1Co 11:3); He instructs children to do so. (Co 2:20) So, the duty of children to obey their parents ends as they mature into adulthood, yet this process of becoming an adult is not formally defined in scripture. How should we navigate this?

Well, we might take a cue from Nature (1Co 11:14a); God has designed the human body to mature in the second decade of life; we reach a given height and stop growing. It’s a reasonable, tangible measure of adulthood.

Another consideration is mental maturity, reasoning ability, discipline and self-control; when one is capable of taking care of themselves with minimal assistance from others, able to navigate the basic complexities and challenges of life, equipped to live independently and provide for themselves, they’re an adult.

If parents are wise, caring and respectful toward their children (Ro 12:10), this transition into adulthood should be natural, healthy and gradual; there’s not a specific day in which a child turns into an adult, yet if they’re being prepared for adulthood by their parents, they’re becoming more and more adultlike as they mature physically.

Parents should be preparing and equipping their children for this transition from early childhood, teaching them responsibility and letting them learn from their mistakes (within reason), guiding them with wise counsel, and explaining life to them. Parents who are neglectful here, as well as those who are overly protective, domineering and/or controlling, do immense harm to their children, violating their dignity and stunting their personal growth and development, which may provoke children to anger, frustrating and discouraging them. (Co 2:21)

As children mature, parents must respect the basic dignity and humanity of their children as God’s image bearers, not lording authority over them or demanding they agree with all their personal beliefs or perspectives. Children are free moral agents, responsible before God for what they believe as they are capable of understanding. A wise parent will respect each child’s unique gifts and orientation, leading by example, reasoning with them as unique individuals and honoring their choices within reason, even if they disagree.

Further, young adults should never have to struggle to free themselves of their parental home, nor should they be forced to leave ill-equipped and unprepared, if they’ve been willing to learn and bear responsibility within their capability. (De 15:13-14) When either tragedy occurs there’s been a terrible breakdown in the family unit, and there’s no pleasant way to resolve it.

When parents perceive their son (Ge 2:24) or daughter (1Co 7:34a) is prepared to live on their own, they should encourage and enable them to do so and mark the occasion with a special ceremony, celebrating their childhood and commemorating their transition into adulthood. This is a wonderful opportunity for both parents, especially fathers, to bless their children, formally acknowledge their adulthood and give them the confidence they need to begin directly facing the challenges of life, receiving them as equals before God, just as God Himself has designed and honored them to be. (Ga 6:4-5)

In this complex journey of shaping lives, parents ought to be constantly asking God to help them and work through them to equip each of their children to fulfill His perfect design and calling in their lives. Parents should be looking to God to bestow a sense of completeness and adulthood in their children through them.

One might even say our Heavenly Father sovereignly works through the strivings of our earthly parents, even in the man-made rituals and ceremonies, to convey the ultimate sense of adulthood in each of us, helping us understand, accept and celebrate our own maturity and adulthood in Him.

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His Elect

Scripture refers to God’s elect (Mt 24:31), those whom He has chosen: some angels (1Ti 5:21), as well as a few people. (Co 3:12) Why would God refer to certain angels and people as elect? What does this imply?

The saints are elect unto obedience (1Pe 1:2), chosen before the foundation of the world (Ep 1:4) to submit to God and walk with Him, so it seems reasonable the angels are chosen similarly.

Evidently, those whom God doesn’t choose rebel against Him. along with Satan, and are now at war with God, both humans (Ps 2:1-3) and angels. (Re 12:7)

This non-elect group of rebels evidently comprises nearly all people (1Jn 5:19), a full third of the angels, who chose to remain in Heaven after they rebelled (Re 12:4), along with a number of angels who’ve been chained up for leaving their Heavenly habitation (Ju 6), evidently to intermarry with humans (Ge 6:1-2), corrupt the human race (12), and prevent the Messianic prophecy from being fulfilled. (Ge 3:15)

As a particular showcase example, this ante-diluvian human-angelic mutiny, as it played out prior to the Great Flood, was so effective and pervasive God evidently had to step in and intervene to keep even a single strand of humanity intact (Ge 6:9), preserving a purely human ancestry through which to bring Messiah, destroying all the rest of humanity, most all animal life (Ge 6:13), and starting over, constraining such destructive angelic behavior going onward.

What is impressive (at least to me) about this overwhelming level of depravity, as it persists in both the angelic realm since the Creation week, as well as in humanity since the Fall, particularly as showcased in the ante-diluvian period, is that it apparently occurs even with full knowledge of the Godhead. Satan is so effective in his ability to deceive, he is able to win over anyone and everyone whom God has not graciously enabled to resist (Mt 24:24), even if we’re fully aware of the existence, holiness and omnipotence of God.

That Satan’s ability to deceive is not merely a testament to inherent human or angelic depravity, but evidence of the profound appeal, intelligence and subtlety of Satan (Ez 28:14-15), consider that Eve was enticed by Satan in Paradise when she had no need, trouble or discomfort, no reason to betray God, and did not have a depraved nature. And the angels who sided with Satan evidently did so in plain sight of God, without an inherently evil nature. (For, if God created fallen angels as inherently evil, or with an involuntary predisposition to evil, it is difficult to imagine how they would be culpable for acting out their God-given design.)

The implication is that every sentient, conscious being with the ability to make a moral choice has willingly chosen to depart from God at the first opportunity, even when bathed in the full knowledge of the glory, majesty and power of Almighty Godhead, unless God mercifully intervenes and restrains us. And also, that God has mysteriously chosen to intervene only in extremely few cases. (Mt 7:14)

Both of these mysteries should humble us, and fill us with joy unspeakable for the incredible mercies of God (Ps 103:11), those He has given the grace to believe on Him and follow Him. (Mt 19:25-16) We are precious few in number (Ro 11:5), and no better than the lost when left to our own devices. (Ga 6:3)

It should not surprise us when others do not receive the truth (2Ti 4:3-4), turning against it and against us, even when the truth is stated as clearly, plainly and lovingly as it can possibly be stated. Truly, no flesh shall glory in His presence. (1Co 1:29)

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As a Sparrow Alone

Terminal cancer is no joke. When we hear we have so little time left, what do we do? Re-calibrate? Re-orient? Get out our bucket list and try to live it up? It’s perfectly understandable, whatever we do when we face our fragile little selves for what we really are (Ga 6:3), feeling alone (Ps 102:7), afraid, uncertain. (He 10:31)

Truly, we’re all dying of a terminal condition: Life itself. But as long as death seems far away, not imminently close, we comfort ourselves however we can, asleep at the wheel.

Facing our mortality wakes us up, helping us realize what and who we are (Ja 4:14), what and who we have, or don’t have. (Ga 6:4-5) It’s clear we don’t take our stuff, our friends or family (1Co 6:29-31), or even our man-made religion (Mk 7:7); we leave it all behind. (1Ti 6:7) We will face God alone, and deal with Him one on one, for eternity. (Ro 14:11-12)

It isn’t so much a choice between Heaven and Hell, though that’s implied; it’s more about being a devoted lover of God, or His enemy: there’s no middle ground with Him. (Mt 12:33)

Think of it this way: no matter where we end up, it’s just going to be like each one of us as an individual is alone with God (2Co 5:8), as if no one else will be on our radar, distracting us from Him (Ps 27:4), part of our routine, conscious focus, except Him. (Ps 73:25)

What will that be like … if we love God? (1Co 8:3) or if we don’t? (16:22)

For sure, those in Heaven will be in community together, in a sense (He 12:22-23), as well as those in Hell, but as God unveils us into His immediate omnipresence (Jn 17:24), His infinitude will completely consume, occupy and overwhelm all our senses. (Re 20:11) From that moment on, out into eternity, we will see and experience God as All in All (1Co 15:58), drinking in the infinite majesty of Jehovah God. (Re 22:3-5)

If we love God, in that eternal moment, we’ll have all there is to have (Ro 8:17); and if we don’t love God, we’ll be forever face-to-face with the indignant fury of the Almighty (Re 6:16), Who repays all who hate Him to their face. (De 7:9-10)

We may think we don’t actually hate God, perhaps we’re just indifferent or lukewarm, but that’s all the same to Him; He might even detest indifference more intensely. (Re 3:15-16) God cannot be trifled with (Ga 6:7); He commands us to love Him with all our being; mind, heart, soul and strength. (Mk 12:30) Nothing less is acceptable.

False religion is how we deceive ourselves into thinking God will accept us on our merits, because we belong to a special club and follow certain rituals, and the more truth our religion contains the more deceptive it can be. (2Co 11:13-15) Any religion offering us hope by adhering to it is a counterfeit; religion can’t bring us to God. Shedding all formal religion, leaving only the divine relationship, may help us see whether we’re relying on emptiness here.

If we’re honest with ourselves (1Co 3:18), we can tell what and who we truly love. Is it truth? (2Th 2:10) Is it God? Above everything and everyone else? (Jn 12:25) Is this reflected in our lives, day to day? (Pr 20:11) Are we obeying Him the best we know how, submitting our entire lives to Him? (Jn 14:23)

There’s only one Way to God: the Person of Jesus Christ. (Jn 14:6) He is all we need, but to have Him we must give up everything else (Mt 13:44-46); He tolerates no rivals in our affections or loyalties. (Lk 14:26)

If me and Christ forever sounds like Heaven (Ps 84:4), we’re likely one of the chosen few to find the narrow gate and we’re well on our way (Mt 7:14); otherwise, we’re likely still on the broad road with the mass of Mankind, the walking dead (Ep 2:1), headed to eternal death and destruction. (Mt 7:13) Look for that tiny little gate, find it and strive to enter (Lk 13:24); it’s only One Person wide, and His name is Yeshua: Jesus.

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