Saturday, December 31, 2016

OUR DYSFUNCTIONAL SPIRITUAL HERITAGE

 
   Dysfunctional family is a pretty common term.  Unfortunately, dysfunction is almost the new normal.  I had the blessing of growing up in a well functioning family where everyone knew they were loved and cared for.  Many cannot say this.  When I look back on my spiritual heritage, I realize just how dysfunctional our forefathers (and mothers) were.  Dysfunction is born of selfishness. From the very beginning, the first couple blew it in the biggest way possible.  Adam stood by and watched his wife as she was deceived by the serpent.  Adam had one job as a husband, to protect his wife and keep her holy.  Adam, having no sin nature, chose self over others, in his case, Eve and God.  Jesus is the ultimate example of selfless giving leading to blessing, not only for self, but others as well.  Our ultimate choice is to live in Adam and serve self or live in Christ and serve others.  Living in Adam will promote more dysfunction, negatively impacting the lives of those we love. Living in Christ will break the cycle, leading to a fulfilled life, while protecting others from the collateral damage of our selfish choices. 

SELFISHNESS BEGETS DYSFUNCTION

    As noted earlier, Adam was created sans a sin nature, yet he selfishly chose to see what would happen if his wife ate the forbidden fruit, eventually joining her in her great folly.  Genesis 3:6  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.  We get a pretty clear picture from this passage, Adam was there with her.  Adam stood and watched as the serpent seduced his wife with forbidden fruit and then, when he saw that she did not immediately drop dead after eating, ate himself.  A very interesting commentary in realizing the first dysfunctional family was the first family ever.  Eve was selfish and chose to obey the serpent rather than God and her husband, in order to gain knowledge and power.  Adam was selfish as he was willing to stand by and watch his wife die as she ate the forbidden fruit, and Adam was selfish when he chose to partake for knowledge and power, as well.  Selfishness begets dysfunction.

DYSFUNCTION BEGETS DYSFUNCTION

     Adam and Eve had many children, but the first we are introduced to are Cain and Abel.  We all know the story, Cain killed Abel in a fit of rage. Cain was unable to measure up to the standard of obedience exhibited by Abel, so he killed him.  (I dissected this story in a post you can read HERE)  Rather than conform to God's standard, he attempted to destroy the evidence of his disobedience. Genesis 3 reveals the selfishness of Adam and Eve which led to the fall of man.  Adam and Eve passed their newly acquired sin nature on to their children (and us!) and apparently their selfish impulsiveness to Cain.  The same selfish dysfunction found in Adam and Eve was found in their offspring.  

  DYSFUNCTION CAN LEAD TO GENERATIONAL CURSES

     When we examine the account of Noah, we find he is called righteous in all his generations:  Genesis 6:9  These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. I am convinced that this passage is referring to more than Noah's obedience to God, but the purity of his bloodline. (for a discussion on this topic click HERE)  Yet, with all of Noah's righteousness and purity, he quickly sinned after disembarking the Ark, to disastrous results for one of his sons.  Genesis 9:19-25  These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.  And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:   And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.  And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.  And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.  Ham acted shamefully, but Noah got drunk and inadvertently placed his son in a precarious position.  Any child who has grown up with a drunken parent can certainly relate to this story. While each person is responsible for poor behavior, parents bear some responsibility for situations their sin creates for their children.

DYSFUNCTION LEADS TO BROKEN FAMILIES

David, the most beloved king in Israel's history failed miserably as a parent.  When his son Ammon raped half sister Tamar, David failed to respond.  In David's failure, Tamar's full blooded brother, Absalom, killed Ammon.  David's handling of this vengeance killing was lacking, to say the least, and led to a violent attempted coup by his disgruntled son Absalom.  The coup ended in Absalom's death.  David's dysfunctional parenting led directly to the death of two of his sons.  Selfish and lazy behavior is not without ripples that go out and effect the people closest to us.  

DYSFUNCTION CAN END AT THE CROSS

Though many lives are negatively impacted by the dysfunction of  parents, spouses and those who are entrusted with the best interests of others, the chain reaction of dysfunction begetting dysfunction can be broken by the power of God's Spirit, through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 6:9-11  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,   Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.   And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.  This is a pretty good list of dysfunctional and destructive behavior.  The good news is in the last part of the passage: And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.  The cycle of sin and selfishness is broken by the power of Christ.  Not only is the destructive behavior of believers changed by the power of the Spirit, but the negative impact of behaviors, exhibited by others, can also be reversed by the power of Jesus' blood.  

We are not the sum total of our experiences or behavior.  Some reading this are victims of the dysfunction of others, there is hope, love and acceptance for you in Christ.  Some reading this are perpetrators of dysfunction that has impacted others, there is forgiveness and hope for you in Christ.  Some reading this are victims of dysfunction who have found themselves perpetrating the same dysfunctional behavior on others, there is hope, love, acceptance, forgiveness and the power to break the cycle of destructive behavior for you.  

For those, like myself, who have had the blessing of a loving and nurturing home, our responsibility is to love others through things we have not endured.  We are to model love and nurture as part of discipleship.  This also becomes the role of those who have overcome dysfunction and abuse through the power of Christ.  

God is good, His design is for us to be cared for by those He has entrusted us to.  Sin, selfishness and God's gift of free often opposes God's design, causing people to suffer, sometimes unimaginable abuse.  This suffering does not negate God's love, it demonstrates the very need for it.  




Thursday, December 22, 2016

JOSEPH'S UNMET EXPECTATIONS OF A MANGER IN BETHLEHEM

    This is Christmas.  A time of hope, a time of joy and a time of peace on earth and good will toward men.  We cannot help but think about Jesus this time of year and for many, this is the only time He comes to mind.  Everyone loves a baby for a baby is not intimidating nor judgmental. A baby is meek and mild and bears no resemblance to the God of hell fire and brimstone preached in many churches throughout the year.  How do we reconcile the babe in a manger with the picture of Christ we see in Revelation, returning with a vengeance to destroy the enemies of God?  When we see baby Jesus meek and mild, what do we expect from Him?

    As we look upon the baby, we have to remember the cross.  This child of hope brought redemption as promised, however, He brought redemption by nails  driven through His hands and feet, He brought it under a crown of thorns, not a crown of gold.  The people He came to save expected a revolution, not an execution.  

     I ponder Joseph, the man chosen by God to raise Jesus as his own son.  Joseph was told, by an angel, to marry his betrothed, Mary and to name her child Yashua, meaning God saves.  Joseph knew he would be parenting the Son of God, the savior of the world.  I am sure Joseph had certain expectations about what that birth would be like and under what conditions that birth would take place.  I imagine Joseph's expectations to be quite different than actual events.  Joseph, apparently well known in Nazareth, as the townspeople referenced him in the local synagogue when Jesus returned home to announce His mission.  Being a home town boy, Joseph undoubtedly expected to celebrate the birth of his son among family and friends in the comfort and safety of his own home.  Joseph undoubtedly expected to welcome the birth of his son with great fanfare and excitement, since God Himself was being brought forth into the world as a man child.

     Amidst anticipation of welcoming his baby, Joseph is blindsided by a decree from the detested ruler of the Roman Empire, Caesar Augustus.  Joseph and his new family are forced from their home and directed to travel to Bethlehem in order to be counted in a census.  Sent 69 miles from home with a very pregnant wife was no mean task.  Chances are good the journey took longer as Joseph, an Israelite, would have chosen to travel around Samaria rather than through it.  A difficult journey under the best of circumstances, made all the more arduous by the fact of Mary's advanced pregnancy.  Imagine the concern and anxiety Joseph must have felt as he traveled with Mary over many miles and the resentment he must have felt toward Caesar.  Imagine, also the confusion he must have been experiencing toward God.  

     To make matters worse, Joseph was unable to secure shelter for his first night in Bethlehem.  Joseph and Mary would have arrived later than most, due to the challenges cause by Mary's condition.  Mary is having contractions, the small town is filled beyond capacity and Joseph fails to find a suitable place to lodge and now the baby is coming.  Being directed to a stable, Joseph makes due with the situation as best he can.  I know my mindset would not have been good at that moment.  I would be seriously wondering where God is and how He could let His son be born under such terrible conditions.  I would be feeling like a complete failure as a husband and new father as my wife gave birth in the most unsanitary and unsuitable conditions.  I may have felt abandoned by God.  We romanticize the stable after 2000 years of nativity scenes but think about what this was like for a man who desired to care for his wife and soon to be born son.  As Joseph laid his newly born son in an animal trough filled with straw, the mixed feelings of joy and bewilderment must have been overwhelming.  

     We know the story works out, Jesus grew up to be a healthy, bright child, Joseph and Mary go on to have more children together and Jesus fulfills His mission to save mankind at the cross.  Joseph did not have the benefit of reading the Gospel according to Luke, he did not know what would happen, he was forced to trust and exercise faith.  Joseph's faith is rewarded as shepherds arrive and worship the new born King.  Joseph's faith is rewarded further in the Temple 8 days later when both Simeon and Anna attest to the Lordship of Jesus.  Joseph did not expect shepherds to worship his son, and he did not expect the reception he received at the Temple, and later, he did not expect the Magi from the east to show up at his home to worship and present gifts to Jesus.  

     Life often goes differently than we expect.  Sometimes, what we believe is the worst case scenario becomes reality.  God gives us His promise to never leave nor forsake us, if we are in Christ.  We cannot anticipate the future or always understand why life takes certain turns, what we do have is a savior who understands us and understands what it means to live a life filled with joy, wonder, victories and unmet expectations.  We have a savior who knows us intricately and cares for us with an abounding love.  We can and must remain faithful to our Father in heaven under any and all circumstances, trusting He has everything planned and worked out.  It is during these times we have the opportunity to see God's power in us and around us.  

     God loves you, this love is attested to everywhere we look this week as Nativity scenes are common this time of year.  The baby laying on the straw is the man who rose from the tomb with you on His mind.  The baby born in a stable is the God who will return for you, His beloved one day.  The baby who had no suitable place to be born will one day rule the world and you will rule and reign along side Him. The baby who slept in a manger on His first night will one day light up the world with the radiance of His glory and you will share in that glory, being glorified with Him, according to 1 John.

Be blessed this Christmas season, look ahead to a new year to serve and adore the risen King.  Watch God work in and through your life.  Stay faithful and expect faithfulness.

     Please take the time to listen to the words of the following  video, I am sure it will be a blessing to you and a reminder that you are loved by God and He has all the circumstances you face.  


Sunday, December 18, 2016

THE MIRACULOUS POWER OF GOD IN US


   
Believers in Christ have the same capacity to perform miracles as Jesus Christ, in His earthly incarnation.  The biggest lie ever told to man was in the Garden of Eden - "you can be as God..."  The serpent told Eve, eating the forbidden fruit would give her the same knowledge as God, and of course, we know that with knowledge, comes power.  6000 years later, mankind still believes the same lie - we can be as or become like God, or at least a god.  While we do not have the power or ability to become God or even like God, we do have the power of God dwelling within us, if we are believers in Christ. Christians have access to the same power Jesus had as He ministered.

     1 John 4:17  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.   Notice the last part of this passage - as he is so also are we in the world - this is a brief little passage that does not attract much attention but should be life changing. Much attention is given to the deity of Christ, and rightfully so, however, we must remember, when Jesus walked the earth, He was 100% man and limited to all the limitations of a man. Philippians 2:5-8  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,   who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

What we find in the above passage is Jesus, though God in the flesh, came as a man and limited Himself to all the limitations of a regular man.  All of His miracles, all of His supernatural manifestations, all that He did beyond the ability of a regular man was done through Him by the Father by the power of the Spirit.  Remember, Christ's first miracle, performed at the wedding feast, was done after the Spirit came upon Him at His baptism.  The believer today has that same Spirit dwelling within.  

    Jesus told us that we would do greater things than He: John 14:12  "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.  Jesus left us with a Great Commission to make disciples and He did not leave us powerless to accomplish this task, He gave us His Holy Spirit to teach us and empower us.  

The caveat we must keep in mind is, we do not dictate to God.  We do not take it upon ourselves to go out and perform miracles.  This power is available to us at the prompting and leading of God alone.  Unless we are actively serving God and doing His will, we will never see this kind of power in our lives.  

Jesus spent great amounts of time dedicated to prayer, seeking the will of the Father, this is where we need to start.  If we do not know His purpose for us, we cannot begin to fulfill it.  Before we can know God's purpose and plan, it is imperative we spend time in prayer and study of the Word.  I will be committing to prayer regarding this matter and I encourage you to do the same.  See if God does not manifest Himself in a mighty way as we seek His will for our lives - I believe He will because I believe He desires this for us.  

Please feel free to comment below and share what happens as well 

 Blessings

Thursday, December 1, 2016

GOD'S WORD IN US, A PRESCRIPTION FOR LIFE

   
As believers, we make much of "being in the Word."  Being in the Word is important, but unless the Word is in us, being in the word is an exercise in futility. As Christians, we go to church, and are around the Word. We hear scripture read, we see it on social media posts, we may even read a bit for ourselves, so we are in the Word.  The most important question every believer must ask: "Is the Word in me?"  

A man went to the doctor with a life threatening illness. The doctor explained the illness to the man and prescribed the medicine needed to cure the illness.  The man was very excited about the cure and listened intently as the doctor described how the medicine would eradicate illness.  The man, then went to the pharmacy and filled the prescription given him by the doctor and listened as the pharmacist explained the proper way to use the medicine. The man went home, read all the material on the medicine he could find.  The man carried the medicine around with him everywhere he went and excitedly told people he came in contact with about the medicine.  One day, the man died from the illness, in his pocket, an unopened bottle of medicine...  The man was around the medicine, he was well versed in the medicine, but, sadly, the medicine was not in him.  The medicine had no effect because it was not put into practice.

     How many followers of Christ go through life learning about and proclaiming the greatness of scripture but never implement or put into practice the teachings of scripture?  Is there a difference between knowing and believing?  Is the 12 inches between the brain and the heart really the distance between heaven and hell?  I believe it is.   James, the half brother of Jesus tells us as much: James 1:22  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. I encourage you to let the Word in and transform you by the power of the Holy Spirit.  How sad it is for the man who possessed life saving medicine, yet never used it.  How much sadder for those who possess the very words of God the Creator and never put them into practice.  


Saturday, November 19, 2016

WHAT SHOULD BE THE CHURCH'S RESPONSE TO THE ELECTION?

   
      In the wake of the U S election, we see a country divided.  We see one group gloating and celebrating victory, we see another group calling for civil unrest to protest election results.  Some are frightened, some are angry, some are excited and some are hopeful. There are also some, like myself, who are skeptical.  Ideologically, I should be exuberant and relishing the country's impending ride on the Trump Train, but...I am apprehensive because I fear the church will fail to seize this opportunity to rise above the political fray and continue to stoke the fires of discontent and apprehension.  I fear many believers, in their revelry and celebration will forget the souls of the lost that need to be loved, I fear that many who claim to follow Christ will be unloving and vicious to those who mourn the loss of the election.  I fear the church will be more political than Christ-like.  

     The day before the election, a local radio talk show host asked callers to, among other things, describe Donald Trump in one word.  I heard words like savior and hero used.  This concerned me greatly.  My fear is the church is so excited for this "victory" we are forgetting we are called to serve the King of kings regardless of who our president is.  

    In the midst of all the turmoil and chaos fomented by the election, we must remember, the role of the church is that of peacemaker: Matthew 5:9  "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.


HOW DID WE END UP WITH TRUMP?

     Barack Obama came into office with a very well defined agenda.  President Obama promised to fundamentally change the United States, and socially, he did.  The election of Donald Trump was a response to the liberal policy shift that has taken place in America over the past eight years.  The election of Donald Trump was an answer to a rogue Supreme Court which has blatantly overstepped it's role by decreeing law from the bench.  The election of Donald Trump was in response a president who, not satisfied with a new definition of marriage, mandated an unsafe restroom and locker room policy for children in order to placate less than one percent of the population.  The election of Donald Trump was in response to a press which no longer merely reports but creates and spins news in favor of a political agenda. The election of Donald Trump was in response to  arrogant corruption displayed at the highest levels of government. This arrogance was the final undoing of the Democratic Party.  The same corruption, on the Republican side led to a routing of the Republican party after Nixon. Donald Trump is a Republican version of Jimmy Carter, also a Washington outsider who fulfilled a desire to cleanse government from political insiders.  

     The arrogant, blatant corruption displayed by those involved in this election is unprecedented.  Debbie Wasserman-Shultz all but ruined her career, Donna Brazile lost her job with CNN, and John Podesta has been exposed by Wiki-leaks.  The audacity displayed by the DNC in allowing someone as flawed as Hillary Clinton  to run for president, in the first place, is astounding.  No other public figure in American politics has been so enshrouded in scandal.  Never before has a candidate for the presidency of the United States been under investigation by the FBI.  The Clinton Foundation was during the election and is currently under FBI investigation.  Had Joe Biden run for president, I am convinced we would have seen a much different outcome.   Had the Democrats not put up a scandal riddled candidate, under investigation by the FBI, the election would have been more about policy than personality.  Regardless of ideology, common sense chose the candidate who is not under investigation or under a constant cloud of suspicion.  

     Last November, I posted my prediction for this election and why I believed Trump would win.  (read that post by CLICKING HERE)

WHO IS DONALD TRUMP?

      Donald Trump has lived his life in the public eye for decades, but do we really know what he believes ideologically?  By his own admission, Trump supported both republicans and democrats running for office.  We know Trump had a friendly relationship with the Clintons before this election, they were guests at his last wedding, in fact.  Trump has condemned abortion while praising Planned Parenthood.  Trump touted the Bible as the number one book but revealed his ignorance of scripture when he clumsily quoted from "Two Corinthians" while speaking at Liberty University.  

     Ronald Reagan ran on a conservative ideology and governed according to that ideology.  Trump also ran on a conservative ideology, but is that who he is, fundamentally?  It is very possible Trump ran hard right as a counterbalance to the hard left tilt the country has taken in the past few years. At country tilted to far in either direction will not stand firmly.  If we go too far left, we will end up with a socialistic anarchy.  If we go too far right, we end up with fascism.  Neither is a good outcome and neither honors God.  In fact, both extremes remove God from the equation.  It is very possible Trump is more left leaning than most people realize or care to admit.  Time will tell.

THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH

     The role of the church in any society is to be salt and light.  We are commanded by scripture to make disciples.  We are also commanded by scripture to support the government authority placed over us, as, ultimately, it is placed there by God.  Romans 13:1  Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.  

 1Peter 2:13-15  Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,   or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. This passage was written by Peter during the rule of Nero.  It is only in the case of a direct violation of God's law that we are free to disobey authority.  "I was following orders" is not an acceptable defense for killing the innocent or bearing false witness, for instance.  

     The church, at this moment, has a once in a lifetime opportunity to reach out to a very confused and hurting society.  Many of the college aged protesters who are feeling hopeless are among the number of Millenials who have fled the church.  What an opportunity to reach out and lead them back to truth.  Many are hopeless because they have placed their hope in the institutions of man and were hoping to bring about the world imagined by the Beatles. Instead, they feel as if they have been denied Utopia. We have an opportunity to, lovingly, share our hope in the sovereignty of God.  

    The church cannot allow a perceived victory at the polls to cause us to forget our mission to reach out to the lost and help the needy. Nor can we abrogate our role as peacemakers.  Government's role is to enforce the law and protect the citizenry.  The church has left the role of poverty relief to the government causing a fiscal disaster for at the federal level and allowing "ministers" to become wealthy at the expense of the sheep.  When a pastor earns more than the mean income of his congregation, there is a fundamental problem within the church.  Mega church pastors earning hundred's of thousands of dollars while members of his church are on government assistance is unconscionable.  

     Now is the time for the church to be the church, to reach out and love. An unprecedented number of people are publicly distraught and without peace.  We are in the business of peace and joy, so instead of gloating or enjoying the pain of those with whom we disagree, we need to show them the love of Christ, love which has set us free from sin and fear.  We need to share the good news of the Gospel of Christ and put love into action by being peacemakers. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

CITIZENS CAIN - ATHEISTS ATTEMPT TO EXTINGUISH LIGHT

John 3:19-20  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

   So often, I have wondered, "why do Atheists try so hard to disprove God?"  If you have posted faith based comments on Facebook or Twitter, or if you have left a comment on an online article, referencing God, chances are you have been attacked by Atheists.  In my experience, the attack does not come from only one person, but a swarm.  Recently, I posted in a Christian community on Google + and received a negative comment from an Atheist.  I was curious why an Atheist would waste his time on a Christian site, leaving vulgar comments.  The Atheist answered my question with a question of his own, "why do you discredit sites about fairies and werewolves?"  This question was a complete misnomer, I have never mentioned fairies or werewolves in any of my writing, nor would I waste my time attempting to discredit those who do.  I explained as much to my online antagonist and continued to query him as to why he felt compelled to discredit something he considered a myth.  I received no answer.

     As our home church is studying through 1 John, we came to this passage: 1John 3:12  We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous.  We talked through the saga of Cain and Abel, discussing the various theories as to why Abel was accepted by God and Cain was not.  (I will probably address this in a future post)  The murder of Abel necessitates the question, "what was Cain hoping to accomplish by killing his brother?"  Simply reading the account in chapter 4 of Genesis, we do not have an answer to this question, but in the above passage, we can find the answer to both Cain's intent and the intent of Atheists who feel compelled to discredit a God in whom they claim not to believe.  

     John reveals to us, "And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous"  Abel's righteousness cast light onto the darkness of Cain's heart, revealing the sin within.  This is a matter of accountability. Cain mistakenly believed he could extinguish the light of truth by killing Abel.  Atheists know as long as there is a possibility of God actually existing, there is a possibility they will be held accountable.  By Atheists fervently attempting to disprove  God, they are, in essence, killing Him, in order to eliminate any possibility of judgement.  God is light and His light exposes sin.  Once light exposes sin, the only course of action is to remove the sin or remove the light.  Those who choose to remove the sin must come to God through the blood of Christ. Those who choose to remove the light must eliminate the light source.  

      Interestingly, my protagonist's question about fairies and werewolves actually harms his case.  I obviously do not believe in fairies and werewolves and because I know they do not exist, the idea of fairies and werewolves is completely irrelevant to me.  Even the remotest possibility that fairies and werewolves may exist pose no threat to my eternal disposition.  People who believe in fairies and werewolves pose no threat to my eternal disposition.  I spend exactly zero time discussing fairies and werewolves with those who post about them and I spend exactly zero time preparing arguments as to why it is impossible for fairies and werewolves to exist.  

      Cain killed Abel in order to hide his own sinfulness.  Cain believed killing his brother would remove the light exposing his failure.   Atheists are modern day citizens Cain, attempting to extinguish the light rather than remove the sin.  The Church is called to be salt and light.  Salt preserves and creates thirst, while light exposes sin and illuminates the correct path.  Atheists are not satisfied with merely killing God, but are determined to silence the voice of the church.  Why?  Because by silencing the Church, the light is shuttered from public discourse and sinful hearts are safely protected from judgment.  

    When we are confronted by attacks from Atheists, we cannot resort to name calling or angry responses.  The best way to handle attacks by unbelievers is by engaging them in deep questions.  My experience has been, Atheists will ignore most questions, pose questions of their own and then describe answers given as being something found in a cow pasture.  Though these exchanges seem fruitless and futile, I know the Word of God does not return empty and seeds of truth are planted.  Jesus is the light of the world and sin hates light.  In order to declare God cannot exist, one must claim to possess all knowledge, otherwise, there remains a possibility that God may exist.  This is the quandary in which Atheists find themselves, thus the full out assault on God.  Never be discouraged or feel defeated by gains the enemy makes against the influence of the Church. View Atheists the way God sees them, lost sheep in need of a savior.   Continue to shine the light of truth.  Most will continue to remove the light, but even if only one decides to remove the sin, that is a soul rescued from the fiery pit of hell. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

ELECTION 2016 - A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE

    Tomorrow is a day of reckoning of sorts. Tomorrow's results will shape America for decades to come. Friendships have been shattered, families have been divided, vandalism and bloodshed has been committed... From an eternal perspective, God is sovereign. We pray, we seek God's will, we vote according to how we believe we have been led and beyond that, we trust God to handle the rest. Romans 8:28 - All things work together for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. If you believe the Bible, then you have to believe this and you have to believe it applies to the election. Regardless of the results tomorrow, half the country will be jubilant and half will be angry, sad or both. Church, this is our opportunity to stand on God's promises and love those with whom we disagree. God is not fooled or mocked and the results of tomorrow's election have been known to Him and part of His plan since the foundations of the earth were laid.
Please join me in praying for America and praying that the church responds in a way worthy of our savior. Where is God? Still on the throne. Jesus is king of kings and Lord of lords and no man or woman can save America's soul. Jesus told us to go and make disciples, He did not command us to attack our friends and neighbors over politics rather, He told us to love our neighbors and our enemies. If you claim to be a follower of Christ, you have to do what He commands and that means loving those with whom we disagree because their eternal destiny is ultimately more important than who they support and why.

COOL HIP PRIEST - CONCERT AND CD REVIEW



     Rocktoberfest in Indianapolis Indiana 2016 was a once in a lifetime show.  Along with seeing Petra and Whitecross, I was pleasantly surprised by a newer talent, Cool Hip Priest.  The Friday night before the show, I saw a post about a band called Cool Hip Priest and thought, wow, what a name.  My daughter told me she thought she had remembered a band by that name doing bad rap at Winterjam and I was less than excited.  I looked for CHP on YouTube and found nothing but was able to find a Facebook page with very little info and only two acoustic clips of light rock covers. I thought, "ok, at least it's not rap..."  

      When CHP took the stage at Rocktoberfest, they immediately blew me away with a heavy wall of sound that caught my attention and held it through their entire set.  After their set, I went out and bought their EP Witness.  I also had the privilege of meeting Father Chris and DoniRox after the show, though our conversations were short, I was able to get a sense of their commitment to Christ and serving Him through their music.  Both were very down to earth and friendly.  Father Chris immediately asked me to pray for them, which is not the usual request in that situation.  Talent and commitment to Christ is a rare commodity. 

       On stage at Rocktoberfest, CHP consisted of Father Chris on lead vocals, DoniRox on vocals, Daren Short on drums, David Short on lead guitar (Daren and David Short are established musicians in their own right as members of Inianapolis glam band Rok Hollywood) and handling bass, the verstile and talented Stephen Tarak.  Father Chris wore a priest's Cossack while DoniRox had a New Orleans vibe going.   The set was musically flawless and these guys owned the stage.  



     Many bands opened the evening for Petra, Whitecross and Stryper, and all did a fine job but none grabbed my attention like CHP.  I expect this to be one of many glowing reviews this band will receive. Here is a clip of the show from CHP's YouTube channel: 

      According to their Facebook page: click here for CHP Facebook 
CHP began in 2010 as music ministers in an Indianapolis church.  As Father Chris and DoniRox honed their musical sound, they have managed to balance softer, worshipful songs alongside hard rocking metal for an eclectic mix of God honoring audio pleasure.

WITNESS

     Witness, CHP's EP mixes worshipful ballads and metal fury.  Track 1 Sing Hallelujah starts off on an almost retro worship sound that evokes 80's CCM when CCM was still fresh and innocent.  It put me in the mind of early Maranatha.  Sing Hallelujah brings a feeling of nostalgia and earnest worship.  The whole song evokes the  genuineness of CHP's devotion to the Savior.  Though I enjoyed all the tracks on Witness, the other song I want to mention is track 3 Betrayed With a Kiss.  BWAK is by far the hardest track on the 5 track EP.  All 5 songs are great in their own right, but BWAK alone, would have made the purchase worthwhile, even if the rest of the EP was terrible, which it is not. 

     Also of note is Father Chris's versatility and talent showcased throughout the recording as he handled all the instrumental work in the studio.  Father Chris's rock vocals, paired with DoniRox's softer sound offers a blend of opposites that somehow works very well. I encourage the purchase of Witness and hope it will be the first of many studio offerings from CHP.  

     If you get a chance to check these guys out live, do not miss it.  If you are looking to book a show, they are ready and willing to travel.  You can grab their EP on their Facebook page link above.  Cool Hip Priest  - rocking hard for Jesus Christ!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

CAN WE EXPECT A MUSLIM ANTI-CHRIST - PART 3

   
  Are we living in the last days?  This question has been asked by Christ's followers since the earliest days of the church.  Reading the writings of Paul the Apostle, we get the sense that he expected the immanent return of Christ.  Jesus told the Apostle Peter he would die a prisoner, but we were given no other clues as to the timing of Christ's return.... or were we?  Interestingly, the Apostle John's vision of the Apocalypse was not written until after the death of Peter and the destruction of the second Temple.  Not since 70 AD have so many pre-requisites  been in place. We know that Israel must be a nation before Christ returns, as rescuing Israel from it's enemies is a major part of Christ's return.  The Jewish Temple also has a definite role in Christ's return and currently does not exist, although, for the first time in 2000 years, a High Priest has been elected and all the implements of Temple worship are ready and waiting.  As Vladimir Putin is attempting to start peace talks in the Middle East, is the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple something that is on the table?  With the Pope's ecumenical visit to Jerusalem, holding an interfaith service, with Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders, will negotiations be made concerning the Temple mount, sharing the space with all three major faiths and paving the way for a third Temple to be erected, across from the Dome of the Rock? Could this sharing of the Temple Mount be what John the Revelator was referring to when he wrote: Revelation 11:1-2 - Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, "Rise and measure the Temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the outer court outside the Temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.?  We know for sure the Temple will be in place before Christ returns to rule, what we do not know is when it will be built or if it is only built after the Anti-Christ comes to power, as this passage seems to indicate.   

     As we discern the times in light of Bible prophecy, it is impossible to watch the daily news and not wonder if we are racing toward Armageddon.  Christianity is not the only major faith that has an end time scenario featuring a coming world leader.  Even as the church awaits the return of Christ, Islam awaits it's messiah, the Mahdi.  What is most fascinating are the parallels found between the Bible's man of perdition and Islam's Twelfth Imam, Imam Mahdi.  When compared side by side, a very compelling argument can be made to suggest that the Mahdi of Islam is indeed the Anti-Christ of scripture.  This is the third of a three part series on this topic. Part one can be read by clicking HERE and part two by clicking HERE .

THE 12TH IMAM - IMAM MAHDE

    The Mahdi, also known as the 12th Imam is believed to be the one who will come to establish Islam worldwide and to slaughter all who refuse to bow to Allah.  According to the Islamic Hadith, we know this about the Mahdi:

1.The Mahdi will control an army that will conquer the earth in his    name
2. The Mahdi will make a 7 year peace treaty
3. The reign of the Mahdi will last 7 years in which time, he will         establish Islam over all the earth
4. The Mahdi will come on a white horse 
5. The Mahdi will mark his followers on the forehead
6. The Mahdi will establish his headquarters in Jerusalem
7. The Mahdi will have a prophet who will support his message 


THE MAHDI - ACCORDING TO HIS FOLLOWERS

      The fact many adherents of Islam, including former president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, believe the coming of the Mahdi is immanent, adds to the intrigue.  Here is an excerpt from Ahmadinejad's address to the UN:    God Almighty has promised us a man of kindness, a man who loves people and  loves absolute justice, a man who is a perfect human being and is named Imam  A1-Mahdi, a man who will come in the company of Jesus Christ  (PBUH) and  the righteous. By using the inherent potential of all the worthy men and women  of all nations and I repeat, the inherent potential of “all the worthy men and  women of all nations” he will lead humanity into achieving its glorious and  eternal ideals.
a direct contradiction of Allah, God cannot
have a begotten Son and not have
a begotten Son, Allah is not God
From an Islamic website showing
Allah has no son
This sounds so nice until you realize that the God Almighty Ahmadinejad is speaking of is not YHWH of the Bible, but Allah of the Koran.  We know that the God of the Bible cannot be the God of Islam because Islam states that Allah has no son, while clearly, Jesus Christ is declared by God, on multiple occasions, to be His son and Jesus, numerous times, refers to Himself as the Son of God.  Also, notice that the Mahdi will be returning with and preeminent to Jesus Christ.  According to the Koran, Jesus was not crucified and will return to support the Mahdi, convincing Christians and Jews that Islam is the correct religion and convert the rest of the world to Islam.  This sounds suspiciously like the false prophet of Revelation: Revelation 13:11-14  Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.  It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.   It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people,  and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.

    The false prophet of Revelation will come after the Anti-Christ, performing signs and wonders to convince people to worship and accept the Anti-Christ, leading to the taking of the Mark of the Beast. The Jesus of Islam, Isa, is not the Jesus of the Bible.  The Islamic Jesus was born of a virgin and born sinless, but was not God, nor the son of God. The Islamic Jesus was not crucified and therefore not resurrected, but ascended, bodily, into heaven, awaiting his return to help defeat the enemies of the Mahdi.  Islam mixes truth with lies, much like Satan in the Garden of Eden, stripping Jesus of His redemptive power and removing the necessary sacrifice for sin.  The Jesus of Islam is nothing more than a herald of the Mahdi and not King of Kings and Lord of Lords, as clearly taught by scripture. The Jesus of Islam is the false prophet of Revelation and is destined for hell, along with the so-called Mahdi: Revelation 19:20  And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 

      The last thing we notice in Ahmadinejad's pronouncement is his reference to "all the worthy men and women" who will be part of the Mahdi's kingdom. Revelation gives us insight into who will be considered "worthy" to the Anti-Christ: Revelation 13:15-18  And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,   so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.   This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.  Those who worship the Mahdi and take his mark will be considered worthy and all others will be slain.  

 THE BIBLICAL ANTI-CHRIST

The parallels between the Mahdi of Islam and the Anti-Christ of the Bible are undeniable. Here is what we know about the Anti-Christ:

1. The Anti-Christ will control an army that will conquer the Earth        in his name - Revelation 19:19  And I saw the beast and the          kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war          against him who was sitting on the horse and against his              army. 
2. The Anti-Christ will make a 7 year peace treaty - Daniel 9:26-27     And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut        off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who      is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end         shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war.           Desolations are decreed.   And he shall make a strong                   covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he     shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of     abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the         decreed end is poured out on the desolator." 
3. The reign of the Anti-Christ will last 7 years in which time, he         will establish Islam over all the earth - See the above passage,         this indicates there is only one 7 year period left after the Anti-         Christ rises to power
4. The Anti-Christ will come on a white horse - Revelation 6:2           And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a       bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out                   conquering, and to conquer. 
5. The Anti-Christ will mark his followers on the forehead -                 Revelation 13:16-18  Also it causes all, both small and great,       both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the       right hand or the forehead,   so that no one can buy or sell           unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the         number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who         has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is     the number of a man, and his number is 666. 
6. The Anti-Christ will establish his headquarters in Jerusalem -           2Thessalonians 2:3-4  Let no one deceive you in any way. For     that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and         the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of                                destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-    called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the    temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
7. The Anti-Christ will have a prophet who will support his                 message -Revelation 13:11-14  Then I saw another beast              rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it          spoke like a dragon.  It exercises all the authority of the first      beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants      worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.   It      performs great signs, even making fire come down from              heaven to earth in front of people,  and by the signs that it is      allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those      who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the          beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 

Islam is Satanic at it's core and Allah is Satan himself - (for a detailed explanation CLICK HERE ). 1John 2:22  Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. Islam denies God is a Father and Jesus is the Son, Islam therefore is Anti-Christ. Notice John calls the one who denies the Son as "the liar".   Jesus said it best: John 8:44  You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

CONCLUSION:

This brings us back to the premise of this series - the Bible indicates the Anti-Christ will come from what we now know as the Muslim world: Micah 5:5-6  And he shall be their peace. When the Assyrian comes into our land and treads in our palaces, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princes of men; they shall shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod at its entrances; and he shall deliver us from the Assyrian when he comes into our land and treads within our border. 

Though Islam did not exist at the time Malachi was written, the reference to the Assyrian gives us a big clue as to the regional identity of the Anti-Christ.  The Assyrian empire was long defeated by the time of Malachi making any connection to the fall of the Northern kingdom impossible. Part 1 of this series connects the Assyrian reference to Turkey and can be read by clicking on the link provided earlier.  

Admittedly, deciphering prophecy can be a speculative endeavor, but God shows us future events that we might prepare for what is to come and recognize His plan when it happens.  Regardless of who the Anti-Christ is and where he comes from, we cannot deny that there will be a future world leader who will serve Satan and attempt to overthrow God's people.  For this, we must be prepared, for this we must be busy making disciples of all nations, helping as many to escape these future events as possible.  God has revealed His plan and we know the outcome, we are given this information for a reason and I believe it is for the purpose of warning others, giving us one more tool with which to witness the truth of the Gospel.  Our focus must be on the true Christ, not the Anti-Christ.  As John the Revelator before me, I beseech the Lord to return, "Come Lord Jesus, come!"  

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2 THESSALONIANS BEREAN BIBLE CHURCH WEDNESDAY NIGHT STUDY

This is Bible study being conducted on Wednesday nights at Berean Bible Church in Knoxville TN.  If you are in town, please join us.  I will be adding to the study each week until it is complete. The completed notes for 1 Thessalonians is HERE Feel free to comment on, share or use these notes. I hope this study is a blessing!

                                    2 THESSALONIANS



The letter we call the book of 2 Thessalonians was written only a few months after 1 Thessalonians. It would appear that this letter was written in response to some false teaching that had infiltrated the young church and caused them to believe they had missed the coming of the Lord. Once again, Paul commends them for holding up under persecution and this time, he gives some very specific admonitions. Obviously, Paul had heard from them after the first letter and this was a response.

  1. V.1-4 – Paul has obviously has heard reports of the conditions for the church and the believer's response to those conditions. The key passage here is in V.3 “your faith is growing abundantly and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.”
This is a way we can gauge our spiritual maturity by how we love others. The more we grow in our faith, the more others-centric we will be.

This week, imagine a scale where on one end you care only about yourself and on the other end, you never consider your own needs in regard to others. As you go about your daily business, note where your interactions with others land the spectrum. This can be your selfishness quotient. Often, we are unaware of how selfish we really are and usually we do not have someone in our lives willing to tell us.


  1. V. 5-10 –first we see that our worthiness comes from Christ.
    And no matter how bad things get in persecution, no matter how corrupt our government gets, no matter how marginalized we get as believers, God will avenge us against those who made life difficult and who perpetuated sin into the world. We may not see this in our lives but we know by faith that God sees the affliction of His children.
When we see the victims of Isis, we can know that God will avenge those deaths at the second coming. Look at what their end will be:
  1. 9 – they will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord.
  1. 10 – Paul also reiterates that the Thessalonians are secure in their faith because they believed. This is a great eternal security passage. By virtue of their having believed, they will be participants in Christ's glory(as we will also be) - no baptism, no works, or stipulations. We must be careful not to have the Gospel And – or faith plus something.
Popular theologian Francis Chan writes, “Failing to help the poor could damn you to hell.” So, if in light of Matthew 25, Chan is right, Paul is wrong in this passage. This is why exegesis and understanding end time events is so important. Clearly Paul is stating that we are saved because we believed.


III. V. 11-12 – the more we study scripture, the more we realize we can do nothing of eternal value, under our own power. Clearly, we can do good.
Luke 6:32-33 "If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same This is why we believe that man is basically evil with an ability to do good, while the world believes that man is basically good with a propensity to evil.

But, the real message here is, in Christ, we have unlimited resource to accomplish God's will. Though often misused, Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me., this passage shows that we do have unlimited power from God to accomplish what He calls us to do and to endure all He leads us through.
God calls us and equips us to do His will. Our part is to believe, submit, and abide. As we seek first His kingdom, meaning we are not making decisions based on what suits us or our own agenda.

It is a matter of retraining our thinking and our natural desire to be liked and to come out ahead.

Here is a scenario - you go to a car lot and buy a car, as you are making the deal, you feel naturally converse with the salesman and he inadvertently shares some things with you about which you are able to encourage him in a Biblical way. You walk away feeling happy about your new car purchase and that you were able to share your faith and plant some seeds with the salesman. After you get home, you do a little research and realize that you were burned on the trade and the price of the new car. How you react to this can be a test of your seeking first the kingdom.

You A) curse the salesman in your heart for making a fool of you
      B) are mildly miffed about being ripped off and recognize that the guy is a lost sinner and pray for him
      C) rejoice that you had the opportunity to share your faith and continue to pray and even follow up with the salesman

These are the most likely responses and is a good indicator as to your spiritual mindset.


NOVEMBER 9


II Thessalonians 2:1-8

This passage pertains to the return of Christ and is written to encourage the church members who had been deceived into believing they had missed the return of Christ and were somehow out of His grace. This passage sometimes raises more questions than it answers and we will look at a couple of different views on tis subject.

  1. V. 1-2 – apparently, false teachers told the church that they had missed the return of Christ. Paul is writing to reassure them that they had not missed the second coming and that some things would precede that event.

It is important that we remain aware of the fact that there are false teachers out there, some purposely deceiving and some deceiving due to their own ignorance.

  1. V. 3-5 – Paul had apparently discussed this with the church but they seemed to have forgotten. We have to abide in the Word and in Christ or we are in danger of forgetting key things about our faith and relationship with God. It is when we forget truth, we are susceptible to deceit and lies from the enemy and his false teachers.
    Now we can look at the passage and attempt to decipher it. A cryptic warning is given with no further explanation – rebellion or falling away, depending on your translation. The Greek word used here is apostasia which can be translated as defection from truth. We get the idea that it is a falling away of those who claim to be of Christ. It is a rejection of truth by those who claim to possess it.
    We see a great defection of young believers taking place right now and that may be part of it, but I believe it goes beyond just people growing up and leaving the church. I believe it pertains to churches that retain their identity as “Christian” yet embrace sin and evil. We also see that taking place today on a grand scale.
    The Roman Church claims 1.2 billion adherents, about 50% of the Christian world. The Methodist Church, the Presbyterian USA, the Episcopal church, just to name a few, have embraced sin are weak on the exclusivity of the Gospel. J. Vernon McGee said, “the persecution of the church will be led by the denominational churches.” and I believe he was right.
    When someone like Hillary Clinton quotes scripture and gets up in front of a Catholic audience and says, “I'm not Catholic, but I am Methodist and we both know that salvation comes from faith and works.” and then we find out the top level people running her campaign are involved in occultic and satanic rituals, we can see the apostasy happening before our very eyes.

  1. V.6-8 - this is another very difficult passage to interpret as the Thessalonians apparently knew the identity of the restrainer, yet we are not given his specific identity.

Here is what we do know – the spirit of lawlessness that will fuel the Anti-Christ is already at work and there is one whom the Bible tells us is restraining his coming to power.

WHO DO YOU THINK THE RESTRAINER IS?


There are two schools of thought on who this might be one claims the Holy Spirit is the restrainer and concludes that a Pre-tribulaional rapture is necessitated. The other school believes the restrainer is Michael the Archangel and allows for all 3 rapture views. Next week we will look at both views in more depth and see what conclusion, if any, we come to.


NOVEMBER 16


2 Thessalonians 2:6-12


Last week we looked at a very well known passage pertaining to the second coming of Christ and the coming anti-christ. We saw that the anti-christ cannot come until the restrainer is removed. We discussed possibilities as to who the restrainer might be and the two most prevalent theories are that the restrainer is either the Archangel Michael or the Holy Spirit.

As we look at the original language, 2 words are used. To katecho and ho katecho. The first is gender neuter, in other words, an it, while the second is masculine referring to a definite him.


First we will look at the theory that Michael is the restrainer:

Paul writes to the Thessalonians as if they should be well aware of who the restrainer is and Paul references the anti-christ taking his seat in the temple. This event is most likely the abomination of desolation spoken of by Jesus and the prophet Daniel. Matthew 24:15-22 speaks of the abomination of desolation and references Daniel 12:1 - "At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.
Those who see Michael as the restrainer believe the word arise amad in the original language really means he is no longer restraining. Michael is the angel who guards over Israel and who, twice in scripture we see battling Satan. Once in Jude when he is battling over the body of Moses and once in Revelation when he is seen throwing Satan our of heaven once and for all.


Next, we will look at the theory that the Holy Spirit is the restrainer:

Because that which is being restrained is global, we would believe that the restrainer has global influence. The Neuter and masculine form used to describe the Holy Spirit is consistent with scripture. Pneuma, used to describe the Holy Spirit is neuter, and at the same time we know that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead, a definite He. AS Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit in the upper room at the last supper, He switched back and forth between neuter and masculine.

Problem with Michael theory:

Michael is a regional force, he is the angel over Israel. The anti-christ
is not a regional phenomenon and Michael is not omnipresent. Michael is never mentioned in neuter terms, though an angel, Michael is never referred to in neuter or gender neutral terms. In Daniel 12:1 we read - "At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. The word for arise amad is the same word used for “has charge of”. Amad is used in both instances and therefore precludes the first use of amad as being used to infer Michael releasing his protection over Israel.



Problems with Holy Spirit theory:

The passage in 2 Thessalonians seems to indicate that the church will not be gathered until after the man of sin is revealed. If that were the case, the church would be left without the indwelling as clearly the passage states that the restrainer will continue to restrain until he is taken out of the way. The Holy Spirit theory necessitates a pre-tribulational rapture model.


My theory:
This is a thumb nail sketch of a deep theological subject and I encourage you to research it yourself more deeply.

I fully, and even more strongly, believe the restrainer is the Holy Spirit, especially after having researched it more fully. I believe the problems with the Michael theory are insurmountable. I see no scriptural evidence to support a neuter term used for Michael, I agree with the fact that the restrainer is restraining on a global scale and Michael is a regional force. I also believe the word amad cannot, in any context, mean removed or taken away.

As far as the problems with the Holy Spirit, I believe in a pre-tribulational rapture, which fits with the Holy Spirit's ministry of restraining ending along with His ministry of indwelling. As far as the order of things found in this passage, there is no definite chronology given. Prophecy is often not chronological as it is given. When the prophets spoke of end times, they spoke as if they were not only immanent, but also coinciding with the coming of Messiah. Paul taught people to have an immanent expectation the return of Christ. There could not be an immanent return if there were prerequisites. Even when John ends Revelation, he ends with the cry to Christ, “come Lord Jesus.” John could not be calling for Christ to come knowing there were a minimum of 7 years of upheaval to precede His coming.


I am, obviously, not the final authority on this subject. There is room for disagreement. I encourage anyone interested in this subject to research it for themselves and see what God reveals.


The bottom line is that there is a real anti-christ that is being restrained by supernatural forces and one day that which is restraining him will no longer restrain him and he will rule over the earth.

This leads us to verses 9-10


  1. V.9-12 – the anti-christ will come by the power of Satan and he will be successful until Christ comes and destroys him. We wonder how he can be successful, well, we know from this passage that God Himself will send them delusion to believe what is false because they refused to believe what was true. These are not people ignorant of the truth, these are people who have rejected the truth and in so doing, making themselves enemies of God. God is not causing them to make a bad choice as much as He is greasing the tracks for them, helping them go faster in the direction they have already chose.



DECEMBER 7


    2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 – keeping in the theme of the second coming, we see Paul describing how we will be transformed and what we can expect after the resurrection.

  1. V.13 – Paul references the Feast of Firstfruits – Firstfruits was the 3rd of 4 Fall feasts fulfilled by the Christ in His first coming. We read about this in Leviticus 23:9-14 - And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the LORD. And the grain offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, a food offering to the LORD with a pleasing aroma, and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, a fourth of a hin. And you shall eat neither bread nor grain parched or fresh until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
  2. Jesus fulfilled the Spring feasts at His first coming – Passover, Unleavened bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost.

On the first Sunday after the 1st sabbath after Passover this Feast was to be observed by every Jew every year since the Exodus. Something very significant to our faith happened on the Feast of Firstfruits – the resurrection of Christ.

The idea was to celebrate what comes out of the ground naturally. Jesus, by nature of the fact He was God, came out of the ground and we, who are made a new creation are also destined to come out of the ground. 1 Corinthians 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
So, in verse 13, we are called firstfruits, identifying us with Christ – which is important to remember as we go into the next verse.

    V. 14 – The Gospel called us to this resurrection and the glory spoken of here is referring to our state after we are resurrected.
1 John 3:2 – Beloved, we are God's children now and what we will be has not yet approached, but we know, when He appears, we will be like Him because we shall see Him as He is.
We shall be transformed – and we see what that looks like in the Gospel accounts of the transfiguration: Luke 9:29-32 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.
Peter, James and John saw, not only the glorified Christ, but the glorified Moses and Elijah as well.

Christ glorified was bright and shining so to, according to 1 John, will we be bright and shining after the resurrection.

Right now, we have the righteousness of Christ, but then, we shall share in His glory


III. V. 15-17 – Our future state should motivate us to live lives pleasing to God. We comfort in the hope of what is ours through grace. The Thessalonians were not comfortable, wealthy believers, they were persecuted and struggling, so, if they could take comfort in these things, how much more should we be not only comforted but busy doing the Lord's work. We have a scenario, which for the first time in modern history, and for at least the next 4 years, is unprecedented. We have a government which seems to be predisposed to our cause, at every level. We have an opportunity which will not last but which must be taken advantage of. If our country enters into a period of prosperity we cannot indulge our flesh, but must make the most of the resources which will be available to do the work of the Lord. We will, more than ever, be able to care for the poor and implement good outreach and discipleship programs. We may be entering a very small window of great opportunity and we cannot squander it. 




DECEMBER 14

 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

As paul wraps up his letter to the Thessalonian church, he leaves them with some final instructions. These are good instructions and should be followed by the church today as well.

  1. V. 1-2 – We need to pray for our leaders. The enemy know if you strike the shepherd, the sheep will scatter. When Jesus was arrested, only 2 of the 12 stuck with him and one of those denied even knowing him.

Big leaders fall big – Swaggart, Bakker, Coy, Haggard, Tchividjian, the list goes on and on.

If sin and human nature were not enough, wicked evil men also oppose leadership. Some people come into a church and have a good line of lies. These people attempt to gain positions of influence for less than spiritual reasons. We need to pray that men like this do not get footholds in the church or harm the leaders who are called by God.


  1. V. 3-5 – Notice that in all these things, it is the Lord who accomplishes them in, for or through us. Serving God has a supernatural component. We cannot, on our own, accomplish the things God has for us to do. We do not have the ability to love as God calls us to love, we do not have the power to stand up to the attacks of the enemy, Satan is a supernatural interdimensional creature and we are made of dust. God empowers us to overcome Satan.

In all that we do and all that we are, it is God who establishes us and it is God who sustains us as we submit to Him in faith. That is liberating, as we are free from works unto salvation.

This is the sabbath rest spoken of in Hebrews. Hebrews 4:9-11 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
  1. V. 6-12 – Here we have a warning against those who are idle. This is the second time Paul gives a warning to the Thessalonians about idleness. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all

In this passage, it seems Paul is speaking specifically about those who do not work but busy themselves in other's business. We see this today, even in the church, people who are perfectly capable of working but choose to rely on government assistance or the kindness of others. Clearly, Paul tells us we are not to assist people who can but won't. There are those who cannot and these should be helped, but able bodied but lazy people must learn to care for themselves.

I had a neighbor once, who owned his own business. He sold his business and moved in with his father, out of state. When his father died, he could no longer live off his father's pension. He did not want to work but he had a lifestyle and habit to maintain, so he told me that he was going to get a doctor to declare him unstable and get disability. He doctor shopped until he found one he could convince and got disability. This is the kind of person Paul is warning about.

When we help the lazy, we are perpetuating their laziness, we are enabling them to sin. Paul uses his own behavior as an example, when he was there, a stranger in the city, he was able to find work and provide for himself, not being a burden to other. Paul could, so he did.

  1. V. 13 – We are called to not grow weary in doing good. We can get discouraged when we see others prosper who are living in sin or actively harming others. When we try and try to accomplish good and see little fruit, we can get discouraged. Don't grow weary. God sees the good we do and He will reward our efforts, maybe not here, but certainly in heaven. Store up treasure in heaven where moth and rust cannot destroy, and where our treasure is, there will be our hearts.

  1. V. 14-15 – We know that Jesus gave us a formula to follow when shunning someone. We must first go to them, then go to them with a another, then before the church and then shunning. This is how we treat a brother and show him love. Shunning should be painful for both the shunned and the ones doing the shunning, if it is done properly. Unfortunately, today, we cut off someone for the slightest offense or perceived offense. We have a plethora of churches to choose from, so if we get chased away from one, we just go find another one with lower standards. Often going to a person in love will clear up a good deal of problems.

Not long ago, I felt I needed to say something to a ministry leader here at Berean. I sent a carefully worded email to that person, I did not let anyone outside my immediate family know what I was doing or why and the matter had a wonderful outcome. We were both obedient to scripture and things went very well. Had I reacted like a hothead or just said, “that's it, no more of that!” I would have been in sin and probably would have blown a mole hill into a mountain. Vice versa, the other party responded in a Biblical manner and every thing worked out – I have been on the other side of this scenario many times and my response was not always great.

In college, some concerned upperclassmen came to me and a couple of friends to discuss our recreational activities. They came because they were concerned, and did not want to see us get in trouble or ruin our lives. We responded in typical worldly fashion and as colorfully as possible told them to mind their own business. Our bad behavior caught up to us and we were all expelled and had some legal issues to deal with. God granted us an opportunity to reform and to fall under some discipleship, we chose the path of the flesh and that was a very bad choice.

When we confront or deal with a situation, our motive cannot be justice or putting someone in their place. Our motive has to be restoration. Our motive has to be seeing a brother or sister restored to proper fellowship with God and proper service in the Body of Christ. Our motive will certainly dictate our behavior and response to others.


  1. V. 16-18 – As Paul asks God's peace on his readers, may God's peace be on all who read this study. Jesus is coming for His church and if you are in the church, rejoice, if you are not in the church, or are not sure, please contact me or leave a comment below. I would love to talk with you about God's love and God's justice and how that pertains to you.


God bless and thank you for taking the time to read this study


Paul