So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.  (Joshua 21:43-45 NIV)

The life of a Jesus-follower is more like a marathon than a sprint. To be the champion, endurance is required. But is perseverance enough to have a good outcome? Running to win should be our aim. Winners have an unquenchable desire for what’s on the other side of the finish line.

To urge on his fellow Christians, the Apostle Paul used the analogy of a race:

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. (Philippians 3:13b-15a)

By straining toward what is ahead, Paul had more in mind than the finish line. He knew well, for those who wore the victor’s crown, what was beyond the race’s end. Mature Christians should have the same vision. What awaits the overcomer propels them to feats of glory.

In baseball, runners to first base are taught “On a ground ball, run through the bag rather than to the bag.” Running “to” naturally slows us down. What lies beyond is critical to any achievement. Running simply to cross the finish line is insufficient. Our eyes should be on the prize.

Among God’s promises to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 28:1-14 were these: “You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the countryyou will always be the top, never at the bottom.” (28:3, 13). The condition for the blessings was if they carefully followed all the Lord’s commands (28:1).

After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Israel’s finish line was not crossing the Jordan River or entering into Canaan, though these were milestones. The goal was driving the Amorites and all the other “ites” out.

In horse-racing, “the sport of kings”, nothing is won a furlong or a sixteenth-pole from the finish. To presumptuously think victory is secure before we cross the wire is foolish. In the immortal words of Yogi  Berra, “It ain’t over til it’s over.”

Not until we have arrived at the other side of foretold last days’ events, do we rest. Until we have endured Satan’s rage, witnessed this age’s final battle, until the beast and his false prophet are cast into the lake of fire, until Satan is bound for a thousand years and King Jesus sits on the throne, will we receive a reward (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9). It is after, not before, for a reason. Salvation is not from the race, but through it to the other side.

Envision this: On the other side of our finish line is the fulfillment of every promise for the Millennium–or for heaven–that’s in the Bible.

So, the next time the going gets tough, consider Jesus: Like our Lord, look beyond your cross (the “it is finished” line) and see your crown (Hebrews 12:2).

For forty years–one year for each of the forty days you explored the land–you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you. I, the LORD have spoken… (Numbers 14:34-35a NIV)

“Your protection has expired.” Recently, this notice flashed upon my screen, It informed me that, if I failed to renew, my laptop would be subject to all sorts of nasty attacks.

Throughout the economically and technologically advanced world, protection is big business. Everything from body-guards, to sophisticated home alarm systems, to anti-theft devices, to watch dogs, to guns, are purchased with the hope of keeping us safe. We are convinced security can be bought with money. We are lulled into believing our nation’s safety is guaranteed by our strong defense. But is this true?

If God is for us, who can be against us? But what can protect us if the Lord is against us?

In Numbers 14, the Israelites sinned once too often. At Kadesh, the people turned against Moses and sought a leader who would take them back to Egypt (Num. 14:4).God’s anger burned against the rebels. He said to Moses:

“How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them… (14:11-12a)

It was clear that the same men that the Lord delivered from bondage in Egypt, that he saved at the Red Sea from Pharaoh’s army and provided food and water for in the desert, had become objects of the Almighty’s wrath.

The ten spies who gave a bad report were quickly stricken by a plague and died (14:36-37). The rest who banded together against the Lord were doomed to die in the wilderness. God turned his face against them.

We might say, for their unbelief, Israel’s protection expired. They would suffer for their sins. The grumblers would learn what it was like to have the Lord against them (14:34).

America is being over-run with malcontents, rabble-rousers, rebels, cowards, liars, looters and others who hold the Lord in contempt. There won’t be any warnings or flashing signs, but the Lord has turned his face against us.We have no more protection.

Hope of ever living in the Promised Land belongs to the Joshua’s and Calebs, as well as to the children of the saints.  From here to the end of the republic, we will see nothing but evidence that the nations who’ve known God’s blessings, and witnessed his miracles, are no longer protected.

In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior… Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.  (Daniel 8:23-25 NIV)

The world is in the grip of the spirit of rebellion. This will certainly take us to a very dark place. People at all levels of society rail against authority. National leaders vigorously enforce some regulations or make rules of their own while refusing to enforce other laws. Militias prepare to combat their government. Mob-like crowds gather to shout at and physically threaten police. Sports stars boldly sit or kneel while the public address announcer invites everybody to honor their country and its flag by standing. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes; a sure sign of the end.

These are the prophesied days. These are the times when rebellion is popular.

All rebellion is against Heaven’s throne. Witness the trend to rebel against one’s God-given gender. It is now improper to ask someone their sex as in “male or female”. From here until Christ’s return, the correct phraseology will be “What is your sexual orientation?” or perhaps, “What is your preference?” Rebels want liberated from the plan and purpose of their Creator. It is a classic rebellion for the end times (cf. Psalm 2:1-3). When Jesus establishes his government, order and sanity will be restored.

Paul warned Timothy–and us–there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents [my emphasis]… (2 Timothy 3:1-2). Rebels receive their start in the home. The bad news for rebels is that they tend to reproduce after their own kind.

Rebels will become completely wicked. This paves the way for the stern-faced king as described in Daniel 8. (See top.) The rebels’ rebel will emerge to lead the great rebellion, first against the holy people, then against the Holy One himself. We know how that turns out. Can anyone say “Armageddon”?

Among the saints, there will be no rebels. God requires full submission to divine authority and complete surrender to Him who made us and who bought us by His blood.

Currently in full motion, the rebellion or falling away will soon reach its climax. Highlighting the falling away (apostasy) will be the celebrated, those who today call themselves Christians, even “Bible-believing, born-again Christians”. They will boast of how they threw off their repressive chains.

Contrary to some so-called teaching on the last days, all-out rebellion against the Holy must occur before the man of lawlessness (a.k.a. stern-faced king) is revealed, the man doomed to destruction–and prior to the coming in glory of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). First, rebels will be identified–perhaps by a mark–before they are eliminated.

The meek, however, shall inherit the earth. No rebel bearing the beast’s mark will stand in the presence of Our King. It will be as though they never lived.

Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness. But rebels and sinners will both be broken, and those who forsake the LORD will perish. (Isaiah 1:27-28)

storm-clouds

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” (2 Peter 3:3-4a NIV)

In English Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s six-volume memoirs, The Second World War,  he dedicated volume-one The Gathering Storm to the period of the 1930’s. Churchill was flawed and erred on several matters that brought his judgment into question, but warning his country of the storm forming over Germany and Italy would be his redemption. In 1936, he sounded the alarm when British authorities responded with ineptitude to Hitler’s military aggression in the Rhineland.

In a November 1936 debate over what course Britain ought to take, Churchill delivered what came to be known as his Locust Speech:

“The Government simply cannot make up their mind or they cannot get the prime minister to make up his mind. So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful for impotency. And so we go on preparing more months more years precious perhaps vital for the greatness of Britain for the locusts to eat.”

About the times we are in, on the other side of the coming flood and fury of the wind someone will write their memoirs. Volume one will be The Gathering Storm. Whoever the author may be, today’s trumpet warning of disaster is being greeted with scoffing and catcalls of “fear-monger”.  It will be just as it was with Sir Winston before the war .

Through Churchill’s eyes and solid grasp of history, it was easy to anticipate the path for the Third Reich. Churchill’s ears heard the war drums, the noise of the factories making planes, tanks and munitions, along with Hitler’s promise of German glory.

Winston Churchill’s frustrations were with those who, though they had the ability to thwart Hitler and make a show of strength, chose indecision, irresolution and impotence instead. Britain’s weakness emboldened der Fuehrer to plan his next European conquest.

It is human nature to see the clouds and want them to blow over. But, when the shallow optimism of politicians infects church pulpits, Christians are endangered. What should be the army of God preparing for conflict becomes an insipidness of salt without saltiness, worthy only of being trampled under foot. Many will choose preachers who give them what their itching ears want to hear, while today’s “Churchills” declare Christ’s warning to the few eager for truth.

Look outside, not through rose-colored glasses or the lens of a media blind to the dark, menacing clouds, but look. Don’t refuse to open our eyes to what’s there. All we need for our vision is the Word of God, so study to show yourself approved.

The “There’s nothin’ to worry about” crowd will lull us into inaction if we allow them. If no one calls it for what it is, then assume God has chosen you. Anticipate a storm of unequaled intensity. Mockers and nay-sayers should the ones to worry.

“If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened… See, I have told you ahead of time.”  Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24:22,25

 

So because you are luke-warm–neither hot nor cold–I  am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16 NIV)

Expelled has a bad connotation, especially if we are defining it as being driven or forced out, being discharged or ejected. When we are the thing that’s expelled, then we are talking really bad.

Luke-warmness about abortion; same-sex unions; unmarried couples living together; sleeping around or promiscuity; alternate sexual lifestyles; adultery; sexually neutral facilities like bathrooms or locker rooms; exhibitionism and public nudity; bestiality; prostitution; child sex slaves and pervasive pornography will certainly cause expulsion (spit out).  We do not have to participate in the perversion or licentious behavior; be tolerant, blind to it or of no opinion and out we go!

In Leviticus 18, the 1984 or older New International Version uses another word for expel. After citing twenty or so sexual prohibitions that these days fail to make us blush or hardly raise an eyebrow, God gave this warning to Moses:
“Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled… But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as I vomited out the nations that were before you… I am the LORD your God. (bold emphasis mine, Lev. 18:24, 26-28, 29b)
Sandwiched among the Leviticus 18 taboos of sleeping with your neighbor’s wife, offering your children in the fire to the god Molech, and having sex with animals, is a transgression that earns an adjective the others did not, “detestable” . “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” (Lev. 18:22)
What is this that sickens God and turns his stomach? Could it be homosexuality?
“Oh, but that is Old Testament law” you argue. No, this is Bible! The Lord signed off on this. It is his law. He is kind enough to tell us precisely what he hates. “If you defile the land, it will vomit you out! I am the LORD your God.” Be neutral on this one and you won’t get in trouble with the culture. No, be neutral and you will find yourself vomited!
“Gay” is a misnomer. How can anything be “gay” that God detests? Why is it Bible readers want to neglect the Old Testament in general and Leviticus in particular? If we did meditate on God’s law and obey it, we would be blessed and have the prosperity we seek (Psalm 1:1-3). But if we do not, we would miss how the Lord really feels about homosexuality. In case you skipped over Leviticus 18:22 the first time, forward two chapters to Leviticus 20. Read how God really feels about men lying with other men.
“If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” (Lev. 20:13)
“Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.” (Lev. 20:22)
“Now,” some might say, “that’s really mean of God.” No, in plain language He is helping us grasp that He is holy and homosexuality defiles. The practice is evil. It pollutes the land the Lord has given. If the actively homosexual refuse to repent, their blood will be on their own heads for they rebelled against God’s set decree. The tolerant crowd is spit out.
So, what’s it going to be? For speaking up, will we be expelled by the politically, culturally and socially correct or expelled by God? I know whom I’d rather offend. 
Don’t waste your energy being mad at me. I’m only the messenger. (Better read this post and your Bible before both are expelled.)

wildfire

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Look! Disaster is spreading from nation to nation; a mighty storm is rising from the ends of the earth.” (Jeremiah 25:32 NIV)

In the American Pacific Coast state of California, last month’s Santa Clarita Valley fire swept across the countryside north of Los Angeles in unprecedented fashion. Officials estimated, through the fire’s first week, that it was burning 10,000 acres (4046.8 ha.) per day. At one point, fifty-five (55) square miles (142.4 sq. km.) were left in charred ruins as the fire raged.

Wildfires are unpredictable. They can rapidly change course and destroy everything that lives, but it only takes a spark to ignite one. In the case of the recent Santa Clarita fire, it was more than likely an arsonist’s match.

The dry landscape of California is analogous to the current state of our world. It will only take a spark to start an unprecedented blaze, one that cannot be contained. More likely it will be the gasoline and torch of an angry leader such as North Korea’s Kim Jong-un or an agitated Chinese premier. Nero, a deranged emperor, was rumored to set Rome ablaze then blamed Christians.

A firestorm of words launched in the media may create the next civil war. A future disaster will ignore borders ultimately producing the global holocaust many predict. We are near the set time, plus the conditions are almost right for an unstoppable, fast-spreading fires that consume.

Long ago it was spoken to the prophet Jeremiah  that in the last days disaster would spread from nation to nation (see above).  As God’s chosen people, we must heed the words of the prophets by preparing to abandon homes and possessions. With an ark of refuge, we must be ready to join a fellowship of saints who joyfully lose all for the sake of the Kingdom.

“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.” (Jesus’ warning in Luke 21:20-21)

“In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does.” (Daniel 8:23-24a NIV)

The child spots the candy. Immediately their arm reaches out. Mother intervenes. She takes the child’s fingers and gently says “No, Sweetie.”

Then it starts. The adorable turns horrible. The bottom lip sticks out and eyes narrow. Pouting then whimpering signify a volcano about to erupt. A full-blown screaming episode follows with Mother vainly trying to pacify her little cherub.

Finally, the concession. The desired object is placed in the small hand and the sobbing stops. Peace is restored.

Incidents like this happen constantly–and not just with toddlers. Big people also may act badly when told “No.” Without needed discipline, the spoiled son or daughter becomes a skilled manipulator.

God’s judgment on the wicked is manifest when arrogant, “Don’t tell me ‘No’ ” master-manipulators, take over. When petulant children grow up to become monarchs, enablers, not wise counselors, surround the throne.

In 1 Kings 21:1-2, Ahab set his sights on a vineyard. It belonged to his subject Naboth who denied Israel’s king his property. Ahab did not deal well with rejection. He went home to bed without eating and to sulk like a baby (21:4). Queen Jezebel knew how to return a smile to her husband’s face, “Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth…” (21:7b)

Jezebel’s plan succeeded (21:8-16). Ahab’s wife was crafty as a serpent. When Naboth was falsely accused then executed, the king gained his prized vineyard. As a team, Ahab, the pouter, and Jezebel, the poisonous snake, were master manipulators.

The world’s landscape is dotted with leaders similar to Israel’s royal pair. They will use any means to achieve their ends. Powerful rulers have armies of minions, ready, at the slightest provocation, to do someone harm.

Manipulators are masters of “the politics of personal destruction.”  Those exposing their evil deeds may be humiliated or turn up dead. The opposition’s public embarrassment or untimely demise sends a message intended to discourage others (cf. Revelation 13:4).

In the last days, one group will resist manipulation, even by masters of the art. The saints, or the elect, are wise to the schemes of the wicked (Ephesians 6:11). For that reason, they, like the prophet Elijah to Ahab, will be called the enemy (1 Kings 21:20). As with Naboth who refused to sell Ahab his vineyard, God’s people will be considered sheep to be slaughtered (cf.  Romans 8:36).

The emergence of the Maestro of all manipulators is near. How will we resist the craftiest tomorrow if we don’t keep our distance from current inferior models?

So we must be careful where and with whom we stand. No one can be rescued if they fall for the master of all masters of manipulation.

After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals… He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. (Judges 2:10-11, 14b-15 NIV)

Vanishing are the men and women of what has been called “America’s greatest generation”, the children of the great depression who fought and won World Wars on two fronts. Their children, “the baby boomers” (born 1946 to 1964), were beneficiaries of the peace and economic prosperity their fathers’ sacrifices bought.

With baby boomers now reaching retirement age, their sons and daughters are taking up positions of authority. Though notable exceptions exist, this generation (Generation X, born 1965-1982) and the one coming after (Generation Y, born 1977-2001), act as though they do not know the Lord.

A great evil has covered a land that God had once blessed. The greatest generation has grandchildren and great-grandchildren who reject righteousness. They flaunt their abominations in public. They follow other gods. This day, they are being sold out to enemies that surround them.

Muslims, under the guise of refugees, are being transported from the war-torn Middle East to the once proud capitals of Western democracy. It is reported America’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is helping Islam establish itself as the religion of the future. As one example, the present administration has directed DHS to grant temporary amnesty to 8000 Syrian Muslims.

Islam already has Europe in its grip. Next on their Global Caliphate list is North America. There is no doubt that Christians are the inevitable targets. A bloody murder of a French priest by ISIS-related terrorists is a prelude of things to come.  In its most recent edition, the English-language DABIQ, the magazine of the Islamic State, called on Christians to abandon Christianity claiming “Jesus was a slave to Allah”.

Islamization of the West is well underway, and the Lord is in the midst of it. He will punish America for rejecting his ways and following after the Baals. There will be terrible times in the last days. Do not fear, believing saint. “Those who stand firm to the end will be saved.”

ostrich head in hole

“Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 NIV)

Optimism should not be confused with hope. Optimists are purposely unaware of the negative. (This is illustrated by the ostrich’s “head in the sand”.) They opt to view the world through “rose-colored glasses”, so truth is distorted. Warning: Watch out for perpetual optimists.

Hope, on the other hand, does not filter out the painful realities of this life. It may even embrace them. Despite trying circumstances, true saints cast their eyes on heaven. They look beyond the present–whether good or bad–meditating on God’s promises. Jesus willingly carried his cross knowing a crown would follow crucifixion (cf. Hebrews 12:2).

In Ben Sherwood’s The Survivor’s Club, the author argued that “optimistic” POW’s in North Vietnam’s Hanoi Hilton, or optimists adrift in an ice-cold sea, have a poor chance at survival. When false expectations of early rescue shatter, they lose faith, then the will to live. Those who do survive are those who quickly adjust to their new reality. Fueled by hope of overcoming, they cope as best they can with each difficult challenge.

The Apostle Paul warned some Thessalonians (see above) that they were living an illusion. A lie had taken root within the fellowship. While false prophets had exploited the blind optimism of the “Peace and Safety” crowd, the children of light were not fooled. The clever fraud had given the unsuspecting victims what their itching ears had yearned to hear.

A strategy of the evil one is not unlike the farmer who strokes the chicken’s neck and back to calm it just before the hatchet falls.

The Bible of these wicked deceivers has scratched out phrases, verses and chapters. They advocate Isaiah to Malachi should remain unread. Other references to the prophets and their prophecies are scrubbed: “Too negative!” is the verdict. “The images are too disturbing,” their spiritual leaders say. “We worship a God of love, not an angry God,” they boast.

Current U.S. campaign slogans such as “Hope and Change,” “Stronger Together” or “Make America Great Again” are market-tested to comfort anxious voters. In effect, they promise “The future is bright, but only if we elect our candidate.” This is coupled with “If the other wins, the worst will happen!” Optimism and pessimism are manipulations. Devoid of genuine hope, they are two imposters masquerading as reality.

Our Lord prayed for his disciples. He asked that they remain in the world, yet not be of it (John 17:15-16). Jesus’ followers’ awareness of the signs of the times must be sharp. Their buoyed spirits are not due to their leaders’ charisma, their nation’s prosperity or the size of its army. (Such hopes have a shaky foundation.)

God-inspired hope is anchored in an unrelenting trust in Christ and a thorough knowledge of prophecy. Those who have this kind of hope will endure every trial. Those optimistic about “peace and safety” will not escape. In this wicked and adulterous generation, they are shipwrecks waiting to happen.

tweedledum and tweedledee

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25 NIV)

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, two otherwise agreeable Wonderland characters, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, agreed to go to war. Nothing ever came of it.

Commenting on American politics, author and lecturer Helen Keller (1880-1968) once remarked: “Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.”(Source: Wikipedia)

More than a decade ago, current U.S. presidential opponents Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump posed with their distinguished spouses at the Trump wedding reception. By the friendly smiles and the arms around each other in the photo, it is assumed the Clintons and Trumps were in agreement. Times have changed. Today they claim to be at war.

Meanwhile, a large block of the electorate are perplexed. Do they vote or stay home? Do they cast their ballot for the corrupt, opportunistic and truth-challenged Mrs. Clinton or the megalomaniac, bombastic and win-at-all-cost billionaire businessman Mr. Trump?

In a country desperately in need of moral leadership, there isn’t a shade of difference. At a time when a return to Bible authority is the only way to save the nation, political foes, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, are agreed: Continue stirring the wrath of God.

So, can anything worthwhile ever come of this highly-publicized and expensive contest if Tweedledum and Tweedledee have chosen the path that leads to death?

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