My greatest desire is to have a heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus. A relationship that brings confidence, courage, and steadfast faith in times of sorrow and darkness and peaceful times. But I have followed my feelings and let the pride of self-reliance dictate my decisions. In anguish, I feel that I am separated from my Father.
I admit that my actions are responsible for the anguish and weakened faith that I possess. Yet, in the height of despair, the Holy Spirit directs me to a video short on Ezekial chapter 36. The God who loves promises to perform a spiritual surgical procedure on those who love Him but have messed up.
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekial 36:25-27 NKJV)
Our Father reminds us that although we have profaned His name through disobedient thoughts, words, and actions, our Restoration brings honor and glory to His Name. “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: ‘I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.'” (Ezekial 36:22 NKJV)
When we have veered off the narrow Path of Righteousness, demonic forces of evil attempt to deceive and convince us that God is punitive in His justice, leaving us feeling dejected. The truth is our Heavenly Father, whose very nature is Love, never crushes us or removes our hope. If we humble ourselves and repent, we will receive a new heart that desires to love and serve Him. We would be the recipients of the removal of sin, transformation, and complete spiritual restoration.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your loving-kindness. We have sinned against You. Our humble prayer is that you accept our confession and restore to us the joy and peace in our hearts that we have lost. We ask you to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And we will give You the glory and the honor that You deserve. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Do you have a family member, friend, or fiance who enlisted in the military, completed Boot Camp, came home on furlough, and was barely recognizable? Their facial expression and body posture reflected confidence. And the joker who formerly made everyone laugh now had a controlled smile and spoke a different conversation.
It is often difficult for civilians to adjust to the significant transformation of the one they love and have acted silly with. The person is now a soldier. No, they have not lost their ability to love or have fun. They were trained, given, and accepted the mission to serve and protect their country. A soldier has experienced a total mental and emotional makeover. Their priorities and values no longer align with a civilian’s everyday lifestyle.
I recall a vid testimony of a young man who purchased a Bible, accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, and asked the Christian community, “Now what?” He received mass congratulations for the choice to serve Jesus. But he expressed disappointment after reading the posts that described the Christian lifestyle. He posted that he did not desire to attend church to engage with other believers or give up the worldly things that he enjoyed. Since none of his friends or family were believers, following Jesus would cause a separation. His final post stated, “Serving Jesus seems to be too hard.”
His true feelings may shock most Christians, yet, it is the truth. The journey of Sanctification [spiritual transformation into the character of Jesus] is lifelong. Christians have a life of suffering, trials, and sorrows. We are called to be disciples who follow Jesus. We embrace God’s moral code and values. Faith, trust, and obedience are requisites for being part of God’s Army.
We are required to “Take Up the Cross and Follow Him.”
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?'” (Matthew 16:24-26)
2. “If you love me, obey my commandments.” (John 14:15)
The soldier surrenders their former mindset and is 100% obedient to the rules and policies of the military. God also requires His soldiers to obey. But we have convinced ourselves that we can have the mindset of Cain–to give God our perception of obedience. We consider a weekly church service, giving tithe and offerings, and an occasional witness to others as good enough. Sadly, our disobedience will cost us the loss of our reward of eternal life.
3. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law.”(Galatians 5:22-23).
Soldiers in the Army of God must also experience a spiritual, mental, and emotional transformation. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our characters begin to align with Christ’s character.
4. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
When loving God, it’s all or nothing. Jesus mandates 100% surrender, loyalty, and commitment to God, His Father. We give up worldly desires, habits, and people. “God, not my will, but Your will be done. Amen.”
Our Great Commission
5. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.'” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Military soldiers are not required to love their superiors or fellow soldiers. Nor do they have to recruit and make soldiers. Witnessing the Good News is not an option. We make disciples because it is Jesus’ command.
Saving the best for last: “It’s All About Love”
“Jesus declared, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39 BSB)
Without 100% love for God, we will view discipleship as burdensome. Many individuals believe in and love God, but they have boundaries. Our lifestyle reflects our endless love and expresses our desire and dedication to obey and please God, our Father. Obedience is our highest form of worship.
The Apostle Paul describes the life of a Soldier in God’s Army.
Put On The Whole Armor of God Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—(Ephesians 6:10-18).
Prayer: God, we admit our fault for withholding our love for you. Our lifestyle reflects our selfish desires and disobedience. We ask forgiveness. Not our will, but Your will be done. Please reveal our spiritual gifts and Your purpose for our lives. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
In reading the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we are given a glimpse of Jesus through the eyes of four men. Jesus, our role model provided spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical healing along with feeding multitudes throughout His short life of 33 years. His disciple John wrote: “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if every one of them were written down, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25 CSB
Certainly, with the overabundance of financial resources that many present-day disciples possess, we should reflect Jesus’ compassionate care for others. Our responsibility to help those in need far exceeds random acts of kindness or giving to the Benevolent fund at church. Remember, only what we do for Christ will count in the end. Pray and ask God how you can help others. Love and Serve God, Love and Serve Others, and Love Yourself.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me. Matthew 25:35-36 CSB
The willingness to accept Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and Savior is from a responsive heart, which embraces Jesus’ sacrifice to give humanity salvation. As a result, we receive a spiritual transformation with a transformed heart that leads to a life of loving and caring. And yes, Jesus gives us a life complete with joy and peace, but also one of trials and sorrows as we travel down the Path of Righteousness.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid.” John 14:27
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
If accepting Jesus and serving God provides us with peace and joy, then why are we in the predicament that even caused David to question himself: Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! Psalm 43:5
The ongoing hardships of the 21st century have produced believers plagued with discouragement, depression, and a mindset surrounded by darkness. Something isn’t right! I asked a couple of individuals to give me their opinion of why we have so little faith and trust in God. They were not sure of how or why the mental and emotional conditions have increased throughout the years. Still, I do not wish to present only my viewpoint of this terrible dilemma.
I deferred the question to my mother, who is 88 years young. “Mom, why do you think that modern believers do not possess the faith, trust, joy, and peace that serving God offers?
Her response, “They do not know God. Prayer and Bible study are not their priorities. How can you have faith and trust in someone that you don’t know? Life is tough, but God has promised to never leave us or forsake us.”
History reveals that most individuals decided to walk into a church to turn their lives around by accepting Jesus. They were aware that their habits and behaviors had to change. Attending church, praying, and studying the Bible were the building blocks to forming a solid relationship with Jesus Christ. New believers were told that suffering through trials was necessary to change their character and to be a disciple. They understood that hardships would show up as changes in their lives, job loss, sickness, etc. We sang songs with lyrics that told us to faithfully hold on because Jesus will work it out.
Our conversations consisted of trusting in God because faith believes that God does the impossible. We kept hope alive by telling each other to expect deliverance and never give up while waiting for God’s answer. Oh, and the songs we learned and sang, “Trouble in my way, Jesus will fix it, after awhile,” “Victory is Mine,” “We are Marching to Zion,” and “Trust and Obey,” provided the additional strength to make it through those tough times. We prayed all day and night for stronger faith and trust in God. And we demonstrated our love for each other by calling, praying with them, and home visitation, always asking, “What do you need?”
Fast forward to 2021, and we now have a body of believers who have accepted Christ and do not attend church. They may find out through social media that believers must study the Bible and pray without ceasing. The “babes in Christ” require nurturing to help them through their spiritual journey. Sadly, many fall prey to the loneliness of being a Christian and succumb to discouragement and temptation.
Then we have the seasoned Christians who are mature, but are more concerned about self. They are the believers with spiritual strength, Yet, they have no desire to help the new believers or anyone overcome by the tribulations of life. In fact, the trending behaviors of performing random acts of kindness, pass it forward, giving tax-deductible charitable donations, and paying for the person’s groceries standing behind you while filming it for TikTok, they have consoled themselves with the thought that good deeds are acceptable to God.
Still, these actions are not the same as having the “Character of Christ” and the “Fruit of the Spirit. “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you? And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'” Matthew 25:44-45
In the Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, God has given us a record of the many events that reveal Jesus’ character. The life of Christ is given by four different men who followed Jesus. The Gospels agree that the Son of Man ministered to others without discrimination. Yes, Jesus was stern when He pointed out the pride and hypocrisy of the rulers who were teaching the law but oppressing the people with man-made rules that they did not keep. The central theme of the Bible is based on the Love of God. Jesus was loving, fair, tender, and full of compassion.
Remember the woman caught in adultery? Have you ever wondered why Jesus bent down? And what was He writing on the ground? What caused the people to turn and walk away?
4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. 7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. John 8:4-8
Adultery for the woman was punishable by stoning to death. A theologian gives this answer, “Two scriptures point out that Jesus was writing on the ground. Many ask, “Why was Jesus writing on the ground?” He was writing the secret sins of her accusers. Once exposed, all they could do is turn and walk away in shame.”
One would think that Jesus’ disciples would possess His character. No, they had the same mindset that many possess right now:
That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. Matthew 14:15-17
When we accepted Jesus’ invitation, He accepted us just as we were, no questions asked. However, by studying the scriptures, we learn that our surrender to God involves a complete spiritual makeover. 1 Corinthians 13, The Love Chapter, gives us God’s definition of love, Galatians 5:22-23 tells the importance of being anointed with the Holy Spirit and the characteristics we are expected to possess. The Apostle Paul commands us, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32.
The believer’s financial responsibility: But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 1 John 3:17
There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12.
We have the free will of choice to serve God. Even so, with our commitment [to surrender], we agree to the transformation of our hearts and mind. Submission to the will of God is no longer an option. Giving ourselves wholeheartedly–without reservation allows us to conform obediently to our Heavenly Father. We become transformed into the likeness of Christ. The person that we used to be, no longer exists. God uses trials to purge undesirable behaviors and negative traits from our character.
We must die daily to the fleshly desires of self [Romans 8:13]. Sanctification is a life-long journey on the Path of Righteousness. Preparation to receive the reward of eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth requires Divine intervention. We cannot save ourselves. Allowing God to do a great work within gives us the perseverance to move forward in Jesus’ name.
The struggle is real. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, suffering is part of our servitude. Still, we have a loving, compassionate, and powerful Heavenly Intercessor, Jesus Christ that promises to see us through. Always remember that Jesus is the light that will shine through the darkness in our lives.
“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Philippians 1:6
I have two very good friends both named Barbara. They are unaware of the other’s existence because they live 1600 miles apart from one another. But today, God used both of my BFFs as rams in the bush to provide encouragement. Throughout the Apostle Paul’s writings, he emphasizes the importance of the body of believers staying connected to each other. If you have not heard from friends or family, please reach out to them. Sometimes the load is too heavy for them to lift a finger to text or call.
Love God, Love others, and Love yourself. 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Do you remember when you first accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? At that moment, you realized that anyone who would suffer and die on the cross to save you from sin that you wanted a relationship with Jesus. The promise of a new life through Jesus Christ and the opportunity for eternal life placed peace and joy in your heart. You were excited to share with others that God is love and Jesus sacrificed his life for us.
You were running well. Who hindered you, not to obey the truth? Galatians 5:7. The vicissitudes [a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant], trials, temptations, and sorrows are more than we can deal with alone. Yes, many have support from friends and family, but they cannot fill the emptiness in our souls. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.“ John 15:5.
Jesus tells us we can do nothing without Him. But we certainly try until we are worn and weary, leaving us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually depleted. Please know the distractions that we focus on will always lead us to the wrong path, causing us to walk further away from Jesus. Eventually, we forget to pray and ask God for help. Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.Psalm 55:22.
Jesus the Good Shepherd
“The reason the Father loves Me is that I lay down My life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.” John 10:17-18
Search the scriptures, the central theme of the Bible is love. God is unconditional love. Jesus Christ told His Father, “I will die for them that they may have redemption from sin. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved. – Ephesians 2:4-5
Our love for Jesus enables us to serve God with humility, faith, trust, and obedience. We rarely think about the concept that every individual before their death and before the Second Coming of Jesus is given the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have drawn you with loving devotion.” Jeremiah 31:3.
Today, recommit your life to God. Jesus’ gift to humanity is priceless. For those who never made the commitment to follow Jesus, consider this an opportunity to accept and embrace Jesus Christ. We are never alone in our journey. Yes, the road is rugged. Still, we have a powerful and loving spiritual team who loves us, intervenes for us using their divine, supernatural power, and is committed to caring for us until we take our last breath.
“Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:20.
“Home is where the heart is” PROVERB: Your home will always be the place for which you feel the deepest affection, no matter where you are.
Our homes are the safest place, non-threatening, lovingly embracing, and sheltering us from the chaos, confusion, and busyness of our external environment. We enjoy the moments of solitude and silence from the never-ending maximum speed of the world surrounding us.
The dynamics of human life have escalated to the point that many individuals are leaving their corporate positions, selling their homes, and seeking that perfect place that provides peace and tranquility. Yes, getting away from it all has its advantages. Still, it will not stop the vicissitudes [a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant] of life.
In fact, I recently listened to a young wife express her devastation over the years they planned an extraordinary lifestyle–RVing, purchasing a few acres of forested land, and visiting every state within the U.S., only to have their dreams shattered. Within six months of living their dream, the husband developed stage 4 cancer and passed away.
Sin and death were not God’s plans or His fault. Yes, He is Omniscient and was aware that Lucifer would incite an insurrection, and that human beings, His masterpiece would disobey and fall deep into the abyss of darkness. With unconditional love, God created us, gave us the greatest gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who still serves us. As our Heavenly Intercessor, Jesus hears our prayers of confession, and repentance, readily forgiving us. All of our prayers are sent through by the Holy Spirit, including prayers for comfort, and physical necessities. Jesus Christ forgives us daily and presents us as faultless to God, our Father. We should have a committed relationship with God, our Creator who gives us a never-ending supply of love, grace and mercies every day.
Sadly, humans have been deceived by Satan, our Arch-enemy since the fall of Adam and Eve. Where did the deception take place? In the Garden of Eden–the first couple’s home, their safe-haven. And why was the Prince of Darkness so effective in his diabolical plot? Because he presented God as withholding the best–superior knowledge like gods possessed from Adam and Eve. But deep in the recesses of his mind, Satan also thought that God would destroy the first human beings, Adam and Eve for their disobedience. But little did the Prince of Darkness realize that humanity would not be destroyed. The Plan of Salvation and Redemption–Jesus’ death and resurrection was set into place before Adam and Eve were created.
Isaiah 14:12 tells us, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!” Isaiah 14:12. To be called the “Son of the Morning” [morning star, son of the dawn], Lucifer’s beauty was beyond our most active imagination. Are we mesmerized by beauty? Yes, exterior appearances, the excellence of natural talents and abilities of people is who we worship–the entertainment industry, the sports arena, art, fashion, and glamour, is fueled by billions of dollars while our social problems escalate globally.
Lucifer had the desire for much more than he was given by God. He convinced some of the angels that God was unfair and he led an insurrection against the Creator of angels and humanity. If we were created lower than the angels, [For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. Psalm 8:5], then know that he easily twisted God’s commands. His deceitful words caused Eve to doubt God. Satan’s lies also led her to act on her desire to eat from the forbidden tree. Adam had the choice not to sin, but like many of us today we make the decision to commit the grievous sin of disobedience. And that was the beginning of the Fall of Man–humanity.
We cannot be compelled or forced to sin. It is our desire to sin fueled by desire, doubt, and disbelief in God.
And we are still falling deep into the abyss of darkness, pulled by our desire to possess more than God has given to us. We are drawn into Satan’s darkness through his deception–he presents the fun activities of the occult, mysticism, spells, witchcraft, voodoo, Goth, the exciting thoughts of entering realms from beyond, going backward or forward into time, and our all-time favorite–magic: the power of illusion.
In fact, Disney’s movies Black Widow, Cruella, Magic Camp, Soul, etc., have been used to introduce Satan’s “darkness” into our families–the children whose minds are like sponges eagerly ask to watch the deceptive wickedness. Once act on our desires, the seed of darkness is planted, and it grows out-of-control. Eventually, our homes become a dwelling-place for the satanic behaviors of abject disobedience, bullying, mental and emotional neglect. We become tangled in the web of deception and our character changes. Love dissipates through the open door and windows, producing unhealthy family relationships, and dissolves our desire to worship God.
Yes, our frustration with life has led us to seek an alternate route for resolution of our problems. We are inundated with fortune-tellers, tarot card readers, witches, and warlocks, potions, etc. Loneliness has driven us to accept the biggest deception; active communication with the dead. This area is Satan’s playground. Many “Christian believers” also engage in speaking to the deceased or knowing their future. This is what God says:
“For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; there is no longer any reward for them because all memory of them is lost.” Ecclesiastes 9:5
Do you think that delving into darkness has no consequences? I recently saw on TikTok a lifelike doll created in the exact image of the baby that had died. It is known as the “Reborn Doll.” It gives the parents the ability to touch, hold, and speak with their deceased baby forever. If this phenomenon does not make you awaken you to the prevailing darkness in this world. Pray immediately! You have become desensitized to the power of evil.
God has given us His guidelines. Read the warnings in Leviticus 19. The only evil practice that has changed from biblical times to the present is the sacrifice of human beings [as far as we know]. The Israelites loved to engage in pagan worship.
“Do not defile yourselves by turning to mediums or to those who consult the spirits of the dead. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:31
The Bible provides the most accurate history of paganism. The Israelites freed from Egyptian slavery never received their reward of entering the Promised Land. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted.” Numbers 11:5. If their complaints were not accurately documented in the Bible, one may think and laugh out loud, “Who would desire to return to slavery over food?”
Our carnal cravings have propelled us into a world of darkness far more advanced than the biblical Israelites. We have embraced ungodly beliefs, rituals, art, movies, music, morals, values, and norms that feed our desires for the unknown–a dimension beyond our boring existence. The pursuit of happiness is causing us to achieve our desires by any means necessary.
Satan’s most significant achievements in the 21st Century:
Acceptance of false teachings and false prophets who speak false prophecies.
Churches who water down the scriptures. Pastors preaching motivational speeches as the money flows in from members hearing “feel-good sermons.”
Sexual immorality. Marital infidelity, etc.
The state of the dead–the belief they are among us, reincarnation, rebirth, ghosts, the dead presently in heaven or hell, etc.
Chasing success and material wealth.
Fascination with the occult.
Abusive and neglectful relationships.
Challenging God’s truth–the Bible.
Presenting himself as a victim–Lucifer, the fallen angel who God refused to forgive.
Leading us to turn ourselves into idols. “I worship myself by pursuing my right to happiness.”
Just believe that God exists, and you will receive eternal life.
But the greatest modern-day deception is that “Jesus Christ is not the Son of God and He is not the way to God or salvation.” Read: John 14:6.
Many have given up the hope that Jesus Christ is coming again. Even so, it is of no consequence how we believe. He said it and God cannot lie.
“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:12-13
The Reality: The darkness in our world can only be overshadowed by the Light of the World–Jesus Christ.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 5:1-7
We cannot blend righteousness with ungodly people, places, and rituals of this life. God has planned a perfect home for the faithful. Read Revelation chapters 21-22 every day until you can form a visual picture of your forever home.
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
Whether we learn from experience or from researching every possible detail before purchasing, or acceptance of “proven theories or methods,” we still rely on the expertise of other individuals. No person is “self-made.” Seeking knowledge coupled with wisdom is the foundation for living a fulfilling life. It is a personal decision to evolve in a world that consists of dynamic processes, norms, and values determined by the people for the people. Even if, we agree or disagree with the global culture, we are compelled to make the decision to fit in or exclude ourselves. Our convictions always involve some level of risk. Yes, we have the freedom to stand against the status quo, but that decision takes courage and self-confidence. Most often, exclusion from one’s peers can lead to a lonely existence.
Humanity has several common threads. We thrive off knowing the most credible, the elite, the record-breakers, the billionaires, etc., on a global level. When you need to source accurate information on the past history, achievements, and current activities of leading world figures, from heads of state to sporting greats, The International Who’s Who 2020 published by Routledge is available for the discounted price of $960.
But an issue has arisen that plagues modern civilization. The Who’s Who are being challenged by the up-and-coming who desire that their opinions are heard. And that is the dilemma that many of us face in changing times, “Who do I listen to?” Why are people who possess similar credentials and considered experts in their profession or discipline on the opposite ends of the spectrum? There are many factors, but one that readily projects itself, we have the freedom to express our opinions–whether factual or not. Our focus is on people. Many have lost or never possessed the motivation to research credible sources to know the truth of the matter.
At the age of 17, I entered the healthcare profession as a licensed vocational nurse [LVN, LPN]. Years later, when I became a registered nurse, my knowledge, along with my clinical responsibilities, increased substantially. However, there was one subject that remained the same, Human Anatomy and Physiology, throughout the pursuit of my advanced nursing degree. The structure and function of the human body are valid and unequivocally non-refutable. The disagreement among physicians is limited to the varied treatment modalities for their patients. Still, there is not much leeway in the delivery of patient care. All healthcare professionals are governed by regulatory agencies.
Sadly, humanity has a more significant problem than the anarchy against world leaders, disagreements between medical experts, and the chaos between federal agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and politicians. We are involved in a spiritual war between Christian religious leaders and their followers of the various Protestant denominations. Within the body of believers, there is disagreement over the Holy scriptures, disbelief of the Trinity, and whether or not, God really cares about human beings. Satan has gained additional followers–former believers because his deceptions include the promise of wealth. One of his tactics is that human beings have the power of manifestation to produce money and other material objects. The catch: They must proclaim their allegiance to him. The war of believers has escalated to the point that many have forgotten why they committed to serve God.
When did God become a religion or denomination?
Is there one and only true God? Why didn’t God forgive Satan? The study of the Bible, is it important? Why is the life of believer so hard? I know what I did was wrong, but doesn’t God promise forgiveness? These are just a few of the questions that many believers are asking. Many of the religious leaders are avoiding the answers to these questions by preaching motivational messages.
Does anyone remember that the most critical aspect of our lives is to have a relationship with Jesus Christ?
Historically, dissension among religious experts has existed since biblical times. “One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.” Matthew 16:1
After 6AD, Jewish religious leaders were appointed by the Romans.
The High Priests were both secular and religious leaders of the Jewish community.
Rabbis were Jewish religious teachers who taught and discussed interpretations of the Jewish law…Jesus was regarded as a Jewish rabbi (‘teacher’) by most of his followers (see Mark 10:1, 17, 35 & 51). The teaching of most rabbis reflected one of the three main religious schools of thought – Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes.
There is a growing phenomenon in 2021 when people hear or read conflicting opinions. They readily accept the false and the inaccurate information but disregard the truth. “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24. Either they lack knowledge from not studying the Bible or possess the will to serve God according to their mindset.
The book of John is an account of Jesus’ disciple who was an eye witness to the events that He documented. Whenever Jesus taught, He was always challenged by the religious leaders [Matthew 16:1-4]. But their attempts were futile. They were very knowledgeable in the scriptures and doctrines, still they did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah or the Son of God. Regardless of the supernatural miracles Jesus performed, the religious leaders refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah–prophesied in Isaiah 7:14. Jesus’ parables [a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels.] exposed their diabolical mindsets, making them appear as leaders uneducated in the Scriptures.
Jesus did not have an easy life. He dealt with rejection, anger, and was always avoiding the people’s desire to stone Him to death. Even Jesus’ disciples had their own agenda. The disciples argued amongst themselves quite frequently over “Who was the greatest?” Severe rivalry existed between the twelve men. They were so competitive, when Jesus attempted to warn them of the deception of the religious leaders, they misunderstood His words. “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” At this, they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread.” Matthew 16:6-7
It would be interesting to know how they would have answered the religious leader’s confrontational questions. Sadly, even though the disciples were in the physical presence of Jesus as God Incarnate—the Son of God who is God in human form, manifesting divinity, holiness, and righteousness, their minds were filled with foolishness.
After making the Pharisee’s and Sadducees stand down [Matthew 16:1-4] Jesus and the disciples traveled to Caesarea Philippi; Jesus asked His disciples two questions:
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Matthew 16:13
“But who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15
We can easily search the Internet to answer the first question. Countless religious articles describing various doctrinal beliefs of who Jesus really was [yes, other religions view Jesus in past tense] are available. They say that Jesus was a prophet, a great man, etc., but never the Son of God. Nor do religions apart from Christianity believe in the Second Coming of Jesus [Revelation 22].
Question #2 is up-close and personal. “Who do you say I am?” confronts your intimate, personal beliefs of who Jesus is to you. Salvation is a 1:1 relationship with God who is only available through His Son, Jesus Christ. The saying, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time,” is only applicable to humanity. We can never fool God at any time!
The Holy Spirit motivates us to self-evaluate, which is only possible when using the scriptures as our standard. We must come clean and face the most crucial relationship in the life of a believer. During worship this morning, I questioned the strength of my relationship with Jesus while reading Matthew 16. I could easily use many adjectives to describe the Alpha and Omega, but that would not answer the question, “Sonya, who do you say I am?”