Category Archives: Prayer

If My People

solomons-temple

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Fear hangs like a dark, menacing storm cloud over our nation. Insecurity saps the courage of our people to venture into the unknown. Anger and hostility ignite flames of anarchy in our streets and everyone yearns for a savior. Our nation is deeply troubled. Anyone with any sense of awareness can see it. Many feel helpless to stem the tide, while many others tenaciously cling to the hope that the downward spiral can be arrested and reversed through a spiritual awakening and revival. The latter frequently quote, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, emphasis mine).

The passage quoted intends for “God’s people” to collectively storm the gates of heaven petitioning God on behalf of our wicked and sinful nation. The petition is conditional and incumbent upon “God’s people,” not the general populous, but who are God’s people and where are they?

Before I respond to that question, I need to restate what have emphasized in the past concerning this particular verse in Second Chronicles that is so often quoted. Regarding the United States of America, the verse is taken out of context and misapplied. The Second Chronicles begins with Solomon’s ascension to the throne of Israel and the building of the first temple in Jerusalem. At the completion of Temple, the priests placed the Ark of the Covenant in its place in the Holy of Holies (2 Chronicles 5:1-12) and “the glory of God” in the form of a cloud that filled the temple in such a way that the priests could not minister in the place (vv. 13-14). As the dedication service continued, Solomon prayed and asked God to “Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive” (2 Chronicles 6:21, emphasis mine). Solomon’s plea for God’s forgiveness goes beyond individual sins and extends to the sins of nation collectively.

And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house; Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers. When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance … If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. (2 Chronicles 6:24-27, 38-39, emphasis mine)

Notice that Solomon’s request specifies God’s people (Israel), the Temple (this house), Jerusalem (the city), and the nation (their land). “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3, emphasis mine).

Obviously, God approved of the Temple and the offerings presented there. The dedication of the Temple took place in the midst of the Fall Feasts. Scripture tells us that it was “in the seventh month” (2 Chronicles 5:3). The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Ha Shanna) was celebrated on the first day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:24). Then on the tenth day of the month, they observed the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur – Leviticus 23:27). That was followed by the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth) fifteen days later (Leviticus 23:34), which was celebrated for seven days. Solomon dedicated the Temple on the eighth day (2 Chronicles 7:9), and the celebration lasted through the Day of Atonement for seven days. The dedication ended in time to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, which lasted an additional seven days (1 Kings 8:65-66). “And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the LORD had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.” (2 Chronicles 7:10).

It is in this context that God responds.

And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.  (2 Chronicles 7:12-16, emphasis mine)

As specific as Solomon’s prayer was, so was God’s response. Note that God is responding to Solomon’s prayer: “I have heard thy prayer.” Solomon’s prayer request focused on the Temple, Jerusalem, and the “nation” of Israel as noted above. In response, God says that He has “chosen this place to myself.” His people which are called by His name is the nation of Israel collectively. If they sin, which they did and which resulted in expatriation for the northern  kingdom and Babylonian captivity for Judah, and they humble themselves, repent and seek God, then He will heal their land. Note also that the prayer must either originate in that place or be directed toward that place. We see this exact scenario when Daniel recognizes that the 70-year captivity had been met (Daniel 9:1-19).

Christians these days have adopted 2 Chronicles 7:14 as their own and applied it to what is currently going on in the United States of America. They rightly claim we are “God’s people.” You will not arouse an argument from me on that point. The New Testament repeatedly teaches that we are the children of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). However, the claim ends right there. Where is God’s Temple right now? “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, emphasis mine). What borders mark the land of God’s people? Americans claim the United States. Are there no Christians in Australia, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, etc.? What of all the Christians being martyred in the Middle East and Africa, are thy not God’s people, and do they not have the right to intercede on behalf of their land?  God’s “grafted in” people have no land here on earth. “For our conversation [i.e. citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

It seems somewhat hypocritical that many Christians today want to reject the Old Testament Law claiming that we are “under grace” – those things no longer apply – and yet will take this verse, completely out of context and force it apply to 21st Century America. Sorry, folks, it will not work. There is still a nation of Israel with whom God is dealing. To date, the majority of Israelis are secular. Many are agnostics or atheists. There exists a small minority of “completed Jews” in the land, but with laws against proselytizing, their numbers remain small. Israel exists to show God’s faithfulness to His promises, and in the end, those who survive the Great Tribulation that is coming, “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10), and they will be saved.

So, what can the Christian get out of 2 Chronicles 7:14? Taken in context, we can rest in the assurance that God does hear the prayers of His people, and He does answer according to His will.

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When God Won’t Hear

man-alone-with-god

Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings. (Micah 3:4)

I get weary by the overwhelming onslaught of depressing news that assails me from all directions. It assaults me from the radio, TV, social media, internet, emails and even from normal conversations with friends. Let us face it, the world is a mess and nothing seems to make it better; it just seems to keep getting worse. Perhaps that is why we see so many people with their faces buried in their personal communications devices (PCDs) playing Candy Crush Saga, Angry Birds, or the latest craze, Pokémon GO, or whatever – anything to escape the “real” world – but the news refuses to go away.

Without detailing every account, anyone not fixated on their smart phones knows that the whole world is in serious trouble – economies are failing, ISIS grows like a cancer, rogue nations threaten the peace with nuclear arms, etc. The United States once served as a stabilizing force in the world, but America has her own problems now. Since Barack Obama became President, America’s economy has faltered, her military strength has declined, her influence for good in the world has diminished, and the heart of her people has weakened. President Obama mocks Christians for clinging to their guns and Bibles while he praises the virtues of Islam. He criticizes police use of lethal force against blacks without knowing all of the facts, and excuses the perpetrators as victims of racism. Obama lashes out at Christians who denounce the sin of homosexuality and celebrates the “bravery” of those that “come out of the closet.” When the Supreme Court legalized same-sex “marriage,” Obama gave assent and showed approval by bathing the White House in the rainbow colors of “gay pride.”

Recently a man, claiming allegiance to ISIS, entered a gay bar in Florida and slaughtered several people in the name of Allah and Obama refused to acknowledge him as an Islamic terrorist. Just two weeks ago, another man, Micah Johnson, targeted white police officers assigned to protect peaceful protestors of the Black Lives Matter movement. Five police officers were murdered in cold blood and several others were wounded. In honoring the fallen officers, President Obama began his speech in praise of the heroic officers who ran toward the danger and did all they could to protect the marchers, but his speech quickly degenerated into his typical race-baiting rhetoric. When our leader has no concept of unity, it is no wonder that our country is so fractured. However, the problem is greater than just one man’s inability to lead. The problem began some sixty years ago when the nation slowly chipped away at our Christian foundation and ousted God from the public square. “In God We Trust” are just words on our currency. Our beloved country is very, very sick.

Christians are encouraged to pray for our nation and to pray for our leaders. Albeit out of context, 2 Chronicles 7:14 frequently serves as a call for Christians pray for the nation. God promises, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (emphasis mine). God’s promise was made to the united nation of Israel, but Christians have (erroneously, I think) claimed it as their own forgetting that “our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, emphasis mine). The Greek word translated “conversation” in the King James Bible (KJV) is politeuma, from which we get our word “politic,” means “a community” or “citizenship.” Not that we should be “so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good,” but the United States of America is not where our primary allegiance should be. As the Apostle Paul asserts, “our citizenship is in heaven,” not the United States of America. Ours is the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of Barack.

Like the United States of America, Israel, first the northern kingdom and then Judah, rejected God and turned to false gods – not every individual, but the nation as a whole. Even so, there are many faithful Christians in America who “have not bowed unto Baal” (1 Kings 19:18), but there exists only a remnant. I am certain that the faithful in Israel prayed for their nation, but that was not enough to dissuade God from punishing the entire nation – including the faithful ones.

Micah prophesied in Judah. By this time, Israel, the northern kingdom, no longer existed as a nation, having succumbed to the Assyrian Empire. From the time the ten northern tribes broke with Judah, the nation fell into idolatry. Now Judah followed suit. Micah voices the words of God who charges Judah’s leaders, for lack of judgment (Micah 3:1).  God points out that they “hate good and love evil” and they abuse the people with unjust taxes. The graphic words paint the picture: “who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron” (Micah 3:2-3). There comes a point when, “Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings” (Micah 3:4, emphasis mine).

Isaiah brought a similar charge to the nation as a whole, not only the leaders, but also those who willingly followed.  “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:3). Sad! Dumb animals recognize their source of provision better than “intelligent” people do. “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward” (Isaiah 1:4). Can we not say the same of America? As the passage continues, God laments that the more He punishes the nation, the more rebellious they become. God assesses their condition as sick of head and weak of heart. Out of rote, they bring insincere offerings to God, but their hearts belong to other gods. So, God says, “when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:15, emphasis mine). God is infinitely patient, but He does set limits. When those limits are breached, His response is predictably sure. I say “predictably” because He gives an abundance of warning for those who are willing to listen.

Well, that seems just and deserved for those who rebel and reject God; but what about the faithful remnant who cry out for their nation? Just before the conquest and expatriation of Judah to Babylon, Jeremiah pleaded for his nation, but three times God charged him to stop. “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee” (Jeremiah 7:16, emphasis mine). Then again, “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble” (Jeremiah 11:14, emphasis mine). Finally, “Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good” (Jeremiah 14:11, emphasis mine). Jeremiah certainly qualifies as one of God’s people. There comes a time when God will not hear the pleas even when they come from His people.

For Judah, God kept His 2 Chronicles 7:14 promise and returned them to the land, but only after they had served their full time in Babylonian captivity. Even today, we see God’s promise fulfilled as Jews from all over the world continue to migrate back to their land. However, America is not Israel, and this promise does not have universal application.  I realize that many disagree with that statement, but I suggest that such sentiment stems from deep-seated patriotism and love of country. I understand that. I too am a patriot. I willingly and gladly gave 12 years of my life in the service to this nation. These words I write tear at my heart as I see the inevitable demise of the country I love. Yet, our directive calls for us to hold the things of this earth loosely and cling to that yet unrealized country.  Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21, emphasis mine). Is your treasure in America or in heaven above?

Praying for our nation is a noble thought, but I believe our country is too far-gone for that now. I believe God is saying, at least to me, “Pray thou not for this people.” What about Paul’s exhortation to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2)? Consider where Paul had been – imprisoned in Rome – and where Timothy was – pastoring the church at Ephesus. Rome hardly qualified as a bastion of republican democracy. In Paul’s exhortation, he does not call for prayer for the preservation of the empire. He says to pray for “the leaders” – individuals. Why? In order “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2).  In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul says that God appoints leaders. “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1, emphasis mine). The Roman rulers under which Paul and Timothy lived were despicable despots to whom they were to submit in order “to lead a quiet and peaceable life” regardless of who was in charge.

Christianity flourishes in China under an oppressive communist regime. Should Christians in China pray that their form of government continue? My point is that no matter what form of earthly government we live under, we owe a higher allegiance to the Kingdom of God. We should pray for our leaders that they might come to a saving knowledge of Christ through whom they will gain godly wisdom to rule. Even so, salvation is a personal matter between God and each individual. On that same note, rather than praying for the survival of our nation, we should not only pray, but labor for the salvation of individuals. For our nation to return to its foundation, the hearts of individuals must change. A wholesale repentance of a majority of individuals must take place before God will hear the pleas of His people for their nation.

Remember Abraham’s intercessory prayer for Sodom and Gomorrah? (Genesis 18:23-33) If there are 50 righteous, if there are 40 righteous, if there are 30, 20, 10, will you destroy the city? In the end, there were not even 10 righteous, and God destroyed the cities. Depending on what poll one reads, the number of “genuine” born-again, Evangelical Christians in the US hovers around 20% and declining. Should God spare the nation for 20 righteous? Did God spare Israel for the 7000 that did not bowed unto Baal? (1 Kings 19:18).

When a nation exceeds the limits of God’s patience, God stops His ears to the intercessory petitions of His people for the nation. Indeed, He says, “Pray thou not for this people.” Has America reached that limit? I think it has. We see a rise in depravity, perversion, and unrestrained violence, not to mention natural disasters. This is why the best response we can offer to a Hillary Clinton presidency is Donald Trump. It is sad to watch, but take heart Christians. We have a heavenly citizenship, and we pledge our allegiance to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our duty is to work for and expand His Kingdom until He returns. I pray that is soon!

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Dad

Left to right: Dad, Me, Ednoi, Eli and Esther

Left to right: Dad, Me, Ednoi, Eli and Esther

Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me…  (Deuteronomy 4:5)

He came to the United States from Mexico in 1943 with false papers under an assumed name and started working for the railroad. Not long after, his work brought him to the West Texas town of Monahans where his eye fell upon the lovely Elena, and his life changed forever. Elena was one of five children of store owner and Baptist lay preacher, Porfírio Enriquez. Elena was hard to get, especially since her father wanted her to have nothing to do with the “mojado” (“wetback”), especially since he was not a Christian. But, eventually Elena fell prey to his boyish charm and the couple soon married – he was 20, she was 18.

The “unequally yoked” couple (2 Corinthians 6:14) soon experienced struggle over religious differences. Chale (Chah-leh), as he was known to his friends, was a non-practicing Catholic, so “church” mattered little to him. In fact, he found the practice of praying to inanimate images silly and pointless, so church to him was a waste of time. Chale also loved to party, and he loved to dance, much to the chagrin of the good Southern Baptist girl he had married. But Elena was not without recourse. On Saturday nights when Chale wanted to go dancing, Elena promised to go with him, if he would come to church with her on Sunday. Chale would dance all night with all the other ladies while Elena sat patiently by and watched. She would later say that he looked like a little demon dancing around through the haze of cigarette smoke. That arrangement worked well. Chale honored his promise to attend church with her on Sunday, and before long Chale surrendered his life to the Lord, gave up his partying ways, and took after his father-in-law as a lay preacher.

Shortly after Chale surrendered his life to the Lord, Elena became pregnant with me. At that time, Chale still resided in the US under an assumed name and false documentation. His new “tenderized” conscience started to bother him not only because of his illegal status, but also because he did not want his son given some stranger’s name. Determined to set the record straight, he returned to Mexico to earn the right to return to the United States legally. Wenceslao Carrasco de Cortez (his legal name) was required to spend two years in the Mexican Army Reserves to fulfill his military obligation to that nation, while at the same time working with a Mexican lawyer to legally come to America. While in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, he served as assistant pastor in a Baptist church in that city.

I was born in Monahans in 1950, and when I was about one year old, Elena, Mom, took me with her to be with Dad in Juarez. We lived there a year until Dad got all his legal matters resolved and fulfilled his military obligation to Mexico. We returned in 1952, and the following year I was blessed with a baby brother, Ednoi.

Dad continued to work on the railroad, and soon his work carried us to Odessa, Texas where, in 1955, another baby brother came along – Eliseo (Eli). Around this time Dad felt called of God to go into full-time ministry, and soon we moved to San Antonio, Texas for Dad to train for the ministry. W.C., as English speakers referred to him, was not well educated. He got as far as the third grade in Mexico where he learned reading, writing, and arithmetic, but the needs of his father’s ranch were of higher priority than education, and school fell by the wayside. Study at the Instituto Biblico Mexicano proved difficult for Dad, not to mention the burden of a family that needed provision. There were times when we had no food and no money for food. Mom told me of a time when she sent me to school with the last bit of beans folded in a flour tortilla (a bean taco), and after that no food was left for the rest of the family. That day, Dad was in the school chapel crying out to God; Mom was at home on her knees in prayer, when a knock came at the door, and some ladies from an Anglo church showed up, completely unaware of our need, with a month’s worth of groceries. In the meantime, the president of the school overheard Dad crying out to God and came to see what was troubling him. When he discovered the need, he reprimanded Dad for failing to make his need known, and promptly wrote him out a check for $100. In 1957, that was a lot of money! Dad couldn’t wait to come home to give Mom the news, and when he arrived, he found her in tears of joy for how God had provided.

I could relate many more stories just like that, but what I experienced in my young life taught me that God is real. His love is real, and He really does care about our every need, and He will provide exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.

W.C. spent five years in school preparing for the ministry. In the end, he left the school without having completed his training. Our family moved to Cotton Center, Texas in 1960 where Dad was ordained as a Baptist minister, and where he pastored his first mission church in that capacity. Many mission churches followed. In 1963 we moved to Raton, New Mexico where Dad served as pastor of his first non-mission church. In 1965, God blessed us with our baby sister, Esther. I only got to know her the first five years of her life, and then I was off to the Navy and a life of my own.

Dad taught me many things. He taught me to read and write in Spanish. He taught me how to play baseball and throw a curve ball. He taught me how to drive; in fact, at 10 years old, when we were living in Cotton Center, he would send me, by my 10-year-old self, in our 1956 Ford Victoria to pick up kids for Sunday school. By the time I was old enough for my driver’s permit, I was already the most experienced driver in my Driver’s Ed class! Dad taught me the value of hard work. And even though he was not yet a naturalized citizen of the United States, he taught me patriotism, love of my country, love of my flag, and respect for authority. Dad taught me to take responsibility for myself and to never shy away from a challenge. He would always say, “Si está hecho por hombres, yo también lo puedo hacer.” (If it’s done by man, I can do it too!). But the greatest thing Dad ever taught me was the love of God and the love of God’s Word. The lessons learned from that have kept me from drifting to the left or to the right knowing that God does not change, and God’s Word never changes. Some have thought me insensitive, or unmoving, but although Dad taught me to love, and God’s Word teaches me to love, I also know that some things, from God’s perspective, are non-negotiable, so I do not easily yield to compromise even when “love” comes into play. The love of God must always supersede all others.

Dad was always strong – a trait I greatly admired in him, and one that I tried to emulate. He almost always had a cheerful disposition. He loved life, and he loved people – something else I admired in him. And he sang (or hummed) incessantly – to the point of annoyance – oblivious to anyone around him. But even that I admired in him – there was always a song – usually a hymn – in his heart. The world could be falling apart all around us, but one would never know it around Dad.

After Mom went to be with Jesus in December 2001, he, now 75, continued on with life as before, only without his lifelong partner. Shortly after we buried Mom, he took the pastorate of a small dwindling church in Brady, Texas, and served and ministered to them the remaining years of his life. His knees gave him trouble since his late 60’s, but the fear of knee replacement surgery kept him taking care of the problem. It finally got to the point where he could hardly get around, and that interfered with his ministry, which to him was a high priority. So he finally conceded to replace his knees, first the right one followed by the left the next year. Dad got a new lease on life with his new knees, and it was hard to slow him down at age 85. I found out through the grapevine that he helped a family put a new roof on their house. He was climbing ladders with bundles of shingles on his shoulder, and down on his new knees nailing shingles to the roof. He even outworked two much younger men that were helping him. I had to give him a good scolding for that, but that was just Dad. He would make the four and a half hour drive from Brady to Dallas and mix it up in Dallas traffic to make his doctors’ appointments.

He was an incredible man, my dad. As I watched him live his life – full-bore, filled with joy, loving the Lord with all of his heart and soul – I dreaded the thought of his decline into helplessness in later life. That would not have suited Dad at all, and I prayed and asked God not to allow my dad to decline physically or mentally, but rather that when his time came, that God would just take him. God answered my prayer on August 26, 2014. Dad got up that morning with respiratory issues (he had developed asthma late in life) and collapsed in the kitchen of his Brady home. My brother Ednoi, who was living with him, called emergency services, but by the time they arrived, Dad’s brain had been deprived of oxygen too long. The EMTs worked on him, got him to the Brady hospital, and then on a Care Flight to San Angelo. Dad lingered on a ventilator long enough for all of us kids, grandkids and some of his siblings to come and say goodbye. His body was functioning with the help of the ventilator, but he was not there. On August 28, 2014, we had the ventilator removed, and in a short seventeen minutes all life-functions stopped. Dad went to be with Jesus and to celebrate his 64th wedding anniversary with Mom the following day. Dad was exactly one month shy of his 88th birthday when he went to be with our Lord, but because of the greatest thing he taught me, I KNOW I will see him again, and maybe some time very soon.

This year (2015) marks the first year that I celebrate Father’s Day without my dad, but it will not be a time for sorrow. Rather it will be a time to thank God for the father He gave me, and for the instrument that he was in my life to instruct and guide me in the ways of God. It will be a time of joy knowing that soon I will be together with him again forever because God is faithful, and His Word is true. That is not hope. That is assurance! Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Thank you for all you meant to me, to our family, and to everyone whose life you touched. See you soon!

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Eyes That See Not

Miracles 9812570_ml

Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.  (Ezekiel 12:2)

In this day of technological marvels it is increasingly more difficult to believe in miracles. It seems that every extraordinary accomplishment or phenomenon can be explained by some naturalistic means. Today we possess the ability to send men to the moon and return them safely. We send probes deep into space to explore distant planets in our solar system. Our space telescopes look deep into the far reaches of our universe. Medical science, while it has yet to find the cure for cancer, has made remarkable progress in healing patients having the dread disease. Scientists in the study of eugenics continue to make inroads into the modification of human DNA with the hopes of creating super humans with capabilities for greater physical endurance, greater mental agility and intellectual acuity, better vision with the ability to see into the infrared light spectrum, and all of this while consuming less food.[1],[2] This, of course, is for the betterment of mankind, and is seen as our next step in human evolution.

No wonder, then, that scoffers deny the miracles recorded in the Bible. However, this is nothing new. Skepticism in the Word of God has existed since the Garden of Eden: “Yea, hath God said …” (Genesis 3:1). During the Age of Enlightenment (a misnomer in my opinion) “reason” supplanted “faith” so that every effect resulted from a natural cause. Reason, then, eliminated miracles because from this perspective, everything has a natural explanation. Enlightened theologians attempted to explain the miracles of the Bible though natural means. Some who were less capable for the task simply rejected the miracles altogether and relegated them to the category of myth. Thomas Jefferson, for example, redacted the New Testament by excluding every record of Jesus’ miracles from the Gospels.[3]

Rejection of the Bible continues today in greater force due to our technological advancements. So, what is a miracle, anyway? By definition, a miracle is “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause[4] (emphasis mine). By definition, a miracle has no natural explanation and can only be attributed to the supernatural. Arguably, the greatest miracle of all is the universe itself, and all that it contains – from the largest star to the tiniest subatomic particle. Even though there is great disagreement among atheistic scientists about the origin of the universe, they all tenaciously seek a natural explanation for the existence of it all. The Big Bang theory is in such crisis that some have proposed an “eternal” universe disregarding the Second Law of Thermodynamics (entropy – everything is dying). Yet the Bible offers the simplest explanation of all: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, emphasis mine) – beginning (time), heaven (space), earth (matter/energy) – the universe. The existence of the universe is a miracle – an immense effect brought about by a “supernatural” cause – God.

If one rejects this greatest of all miracles, which has no natural explanation despite all the theories man can contrive, then no other miracles recorded in Scripture are credible. For this reason, liberal theologians contend that the Global Flood (Genesis 6-9) was just local in spite of the unreasonableness of the command to build an Ark for the event. The confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel mythically explains the diversity of languages. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah resulted from an asteroid impact or a long-since vanished volcano. The Red Sea crossing came about by a hot easterly wind that died up the very shallow Reed Sea – a marsh. The quail with which God fed the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 16:13) were migrating and coincidently tired out exactly where Israel was camped so that about a million Israelites ate until full. Downplaying such miracles takes little effort, but they are equally defensible by employing some simple logic. What about the sun stopping (Joshua 10:11-13), or regressing ten degrees (2 Kings 20:11)? Can an ax head really float (2 Kings 6:5-6)? These things defy the physical laws as we know them, and since the skeptic fails in concocting natural explanations for such occurrences, these miracles are attributed to either fantasy or myth. Either way, the skeptic rejects all miracles. For the skeptic, miracles either have a natural explanation, or they will have a natural explanation when “science” learns more, or they are simply fantasy.

These are they who “have eyes to see, and see not” (our starting verse); but for those who “have eyes to see,” miracles are real, and they happen every day.  The creation of a new life in the womb occurs thousands of times daily. Those who “see not” attribute that to natural biological reproduction. But out of millions of sperm cells deposited during sexual intercourse, how does one particular sperm cell just happen to fertilize one particular ovum to create one very unique individual? Who writes the DNA code for the 46 chromosomes (23 from each parent) that make up the one-of-a-kind person we are individually? Even identical twins are not exactly identical. The naturalist has no explanation for this and attributes it to random chance. God says, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee …” (Jeremiah 1:5). Those who have “eyes to see” respond, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:14-16). They who “have eyes to see, and see not” suffer from a spiritual blindness that prevents them from seeing the supernatural work of God – the miracles that take place every day.

They who have “eyes to see,” believe the words of Jesus when He said, “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). When God answers their prayer, they who have “eyes to see” recognize the Source and give credit to Whom credit is due.

Recently my brother-in-law was involved in a farming accident where he was run over by a huge farm tractor. There are so many ways that he could have died that day. He tells me that when the tractor ran over him he was completely at peace knowing that he would soon see Jesus. He says, “I kept looking around expecting to see heaven, but all I could see was corn stalks.” The tractor he had been driving was pulling a trailer full of silage, and it was coming toward him to get him a second time. The tractor had crushed his pelvis and broken his hip so that he was unable to move, yet he felt that “Someone” rolled him out of the way of the oncoming trailer. Some time elapsed before his son-in-law found him and contacted emergency services. He was flown to Omaha where he spent two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital. He had several surgeries to reconstruct his pelvis and replace his hip. Today, nearly four months after the accident, he has returned to work and is walking with the assistance of a cane. The skeptic would attribute his recovery to the excellent work of the physicians that attended him, and they completely miss the miracle that transpired. Those who have “eyes to see” know that even before anyone knew of the accident, God was already at work to preserve his life. Then as soon as “believing” friends and family were made aware of the situation, petitions to the Father started flooding the gates of heaven on his behalf and continued throughout his recovery. Those with “eyes to see” see the miracle that those who “see not” miss.

For them who “see not” the miracles that God performs every day but have a desire to see, Jesus says, “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).  To have eyes that see requires only that one take God at His Word and ask. “[I]f thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). If you have “eyes that see not,” Jesus says, “anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” (Revelation 3:18). That “eye-salve” is the Word of God contained in the Bible. It will teach you how to see the miracles of God.

Notes:


[1]  http://www.inhumanthemovie.com/

[2]  Horn, Thomas and Nita Horn, Forbidden Gates: How Genetics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Biology, Nanotechnology, and Human Enhancement Herald The Dawn Of TechnoDimensional Spiritual Warfare, (Defender Publishing LLC, January 1, 2011)

[3]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible

[4]  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/miracle?s=t

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Priorities

priorities

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

We all have priorities – those things that are most important to us. Things that, when we are forced to make a choice, supersede all others. Many of those things merit high priority – spouse, family, friends, health, etc. Other things that we make high priority are not so worthy – entertainment, pleasure, material possessions, and things of that sort. Whatever our priorities, God wants us to make Him top priority in all things.

A couple of Sundays ago, the Rev. J. John of England, touted as “Europe’s Billy Graham,” gave the sermon at our church. He presented a great message, but the part that stuck with me most was the acrostic “FIRST” that was offered as a memory aid to help us remember to put Jesus first in every area of our lives.

F

Put Jesus FIRST in your Finances. Someone once said, “Show me a man’s checkbook register, and I will show you where his priorities lie.” Throughout the Old Testament, God demanded the first and the best of the people’s possessions – the firstborn male child (Exodus 13:2), the firstborn of every animal (Exodus 34:19), the first of the harvest, a tenth of the harvest (Leviticus 27:30, 32; Deuteronomy 14:22, 28), etc. God has no need of any of these things. In fact, they all belong to Him in the first place (Exodus 19:5; Leviticus 25:23; Job 41:11; Psalm 50:10, 12; Haggai 2:8). The reason He makes these demands is so that His people will learn to depend on Him for their provision. The tithe (the tenth part) is not addressed in the New Testament, but “generous giving” is encouraged. Luke tells us that the early believers “sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need” (Acts 2:45). As Paul made the circuit of the churches, he took up a collection for the needs of the Christians in Jerusalem. Of the churches in Macedonia he commented, “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality … Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God” (2 Corinthians 8:2, 4, 5, emphasis mine). Note that they gave themselves FIRST to the Lord. In order to have our priorities right, we must put Jesus and His kingdom FIRST in your Finances.

I

Put Jesus FIRST in your Interests. These days many things contend for our attention – television, Facebook, entertainment, family, friends, etc. How often do those things keep us from spending time in God’s Word or in prayer? What kinds of books or magazines do we read? Are they God-honoring? When given the opportunity to attend a professional sporting event that conflicts with a church service, which do we choose? Do you allow your children’s sports activities to keep you away from church on Sunday? If our priorities are right, the things of God should be FIRST in our Interests.

R

Put Jesus FIRST in your Relationships. Jesus said “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). That is painfully clear, and it may seem rather harsh; but God created the family, and when God is given first place in familial relationships, there will be enough love to go around and then some. In fact, we are instructed in proper familial relationships. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8). “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).  “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right … And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1, 4). Of course, even when we follow God’s instructions, our relationships may not work out to our liking. Jesus warned that our commitment to Him may divide our families. “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Matthew 10:35-36, emphasis mine). In that case, Jesus must come FIRST. As for relationships outside of the family, we are instructed: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). If our priorities are right, we must put Jesus FIRST in our Relationships.

S

Put Jesus FIRST in your Schedule. Many things compete for our time. In the busyness of our lives, making time for God can be a challenge. The best way to overcome this is to set a time every day to spend time with God in prayer and Bible reading. I am reminded of Daniel when a law was passed “that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God … shall be cast into the den of lions” (Daniel 6:7). Daniel put God FIRST in his Schedule and “he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (Daniel 6:10, emphasis mine). Daniel had his schedule set and nothing was going to keep him from his appointment with God, not even a decree from the king. If we want our priorities to be right, we must put Jesus FIRST in our Schedule.

T

Put Jesus FIRST in your Troubles. While it is true that we often forget about God until we are really in trouble, too many times we try to manage our trouble all on our own and only call on God as a last resort. How about calling on Him at the first sign of trouble? “I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill” (Psalm 3:4). “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4). “In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me” (Psalm 120:1). “But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer” (Psalm 66:19). “I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation” (Psalm 118:21). Since God hears us and is ready to come to our aid, why not call on Him FIRST? Better yet, why not stay “prayed up” before trouble hits? When our priorities are right, we make Jesus FIRST in our Troubles.

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Too Late

And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart … Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah …  (2 Kings 23:25-26)

I hear many well-intentioned Christians exhorting us to pray for our nation and for our leaders. The call seems to have increased in intensity since the recent foolish ruling by the United States Supreme Court declaring same-sex marriage a constitutional right. Such a ruling places this nation in the death throes of social order described in Romans 1:32 “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” At this juncture our nation finds itself near the bottom of the sucking vortex that will end its days, and no plea to God for restoration will be heeded. Such was the case for the nation of Judah in her final days.

King Josiah was a good king. He began his reign at the age of eight, and despite the poor example set for him by his father Amon and grandfather Manasseh, “he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2). By the time of his ascendency, the northern kingdom of Israel, whose kings all earned the comment, “he did evil in the sight of the LORD,” no longer existed as a nation having been conquered and repatriated by Shalmaneser king of Assyria (2 Kings 17). Failing to learn the lesson of her sister, Judah followed the same path of destruction. Of Manasseh, the Bible says that “he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove [an image of the Phoenician goddess Astarte] … he built altars [for pagan gods] in the house of the LORD … he made his son pass through the fire [i.e., he sacrificed his children to the god Molech], and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits [demons] and wizards … he set a graven image of the grove [Astarte] that he had made in the house [the Temple] … Manasseh seduced them [Judah] to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Kings 21:3-9). Manasseh was so bad that the Bible says he “hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols” (2 Kings 21:11). For comparison, the Amorites were included in the list of nations living in the Promised Land that God instructed Joshua to wipe out in the conquest of the land because of their depravity. As bad as the Amorites were, Manasseh had exceeded their depravity in God’s eyes. To top that, Manasseh’s son (Josiah’s father), Amon, though his reign was brief, “forsook the LORD God of his fathers, and walked not in the way of the LORD” (2 Kings 21:22).  This was the young Josiah’s inheritance.

In his eighteenth year on the throne, Josiah, now 26, ordered that the Temple, which had fallen into disrepair, be restored. In the process of restoring the Temple, Hilkiah the high priest found a copy of the Torah (the book of the law). Obviously the Torah, like many of our Bibles, had been put away and not read in a long time. The find was so significant that Hilkiah sent it by way of Shaphan, the king’s scribe, to Josiah. Shaphan read the scroll to King Josiah, “And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes” (2 Kings 22:11). So convicted was Josiah by God’s Word that he immediately started a campaign of reformation in the land. “And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD” (2 Kings 23:1-2, emphasis mine). Notice that the king initiated the revival; he assumed the responsibility to lead his nation under God. Furthermore, he completely removed every vestige of idol worship from Judah more than any other king before him. More than that, he reinstituted the practice of keeping the Feasts of the Lord. “And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant. Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah” (2 Kings 23:22, emphasis mine). It is hard to imagine, but not even the “man after God’s own heart,” King David, had kept the Passover. Now it might be argued that the phrase “such a Passover” implies that perhaps it had never been done to this extent before, but the fact remains that prior to this passage, the last time a celebration of the Passover is recorded is in Joshua 5:10-11 after the children of Israel crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land.

Josiah was arguably the most righteous king that Judah ever had. His reforms exceeded any king before or after him. “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (2 Kings 23:25). One would think that such a “great awakening” and “revival” of God’s people would alter God’s plan. Yet, “Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.” (2 Kings 23:26-27, emphasis mine).

Josiah died and was succeeded by his son Jehoahaz, “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Kings 23:32). He ruled for only three months and was succeeded by Eliakim (a.k.a. Jehoiakim), another son of Josiah. Jehoiakim ruled 11 years, “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Kings 23:37). That was the end of Judah. “In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him. And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets” (2 Kings 24:1-2).

All the good Josiah had done was for naught, and while it stayed the hand of God during his reign, eventually – in less than 11 years – God’s judgment fell on Judah anyway. Friends, that is where America stands right now. As a nation, we stand under God’s judgment, and there is nothing that will stay His hand from executing His judgment on our nation. As a nation we have banned Him from our schools. We have rejected His Word. We have sacrificed our children at the altar of convenience and self-gratification. We have destroyed God’s design for the family through easy divorce. We have replaced the worship of our God for the idols of self and pleasure. And to top it off, we have called what is evil good and what is good evil with this repugnant ruling by our Supreme Court legitimizing sodomy. And the leader of the free world, our President, celebrates the decision by bathing the White House – the “People’s House” – in the colors of the perverts’ banner.

It is already too late to pray for the nation and for our leaders. God has already given us too many chances to repent, and all we have done is thumb our noses in His face. It is too late! As it was with Judah in her last days, so it is with America today.

And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. (Jeremiah 7:14-16, emphasis mine)

Christian, don’t pray for this country and for our leaders, except that God judge righteously. Pray instead for His Kingdom where our true allegiance lies. Pray instead for His Church that her light might shine brighter in the growing darkness. Pray instead for your brothers and sisters in Christ that they will remain strong in the Faith and bold in the face of the persecution that is sure to come. This is no time for cowards. The King is coming! May He find us faithful when He returns. But for America, it’s too late!

P.S.

Although I have no hope for a reversal in America’s increasingly rapid decline, I will continue to participate in the democratic process. I will continue to support those running for political offices who hold to strict conservative and Judeo-Christian values. As long as we have the level of freedom that we currently enjoy, it is important that Christians continue to engage in the political process. That is our right, our responsibility, and our obligation under God. It is the right thing to do, but do not be under the delusion that it will change the downward course of America. Our primary focus should be God’s kingdom, God’s Church and God’s people. God will remain when America is long gone.

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Knowing the Will of God

Image Credit: Lightstock.com

Image Credit: Lightstock.com

For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother. (Mark 3:35)

What is God’s will for me? That is a questions many Christians ask. Volumes of books have been written on the topic and yet the question persists. If I had the time or the inclination, I might set out on a project to answer that question from yet another perspective. But the question is not that difficult to resolve. Do you want to know the will of God for your life? Great! Read, better yet, study the Bible. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, emphasis added)

God has made His will clearly known from the beginning. To begin with, God gave dominion over all of His creation to man and wanted man to fill the earth (Genesis 1:26-28). For us, that means that God wants man to exercise stewardship of all that He has placed at our disposal, from the individual managing his “personal” possessions to the stewardship of the planet and all its resources by the whole of mankind. It also gives us an inkling of the value God places on human beings.

In Genesis 2, God again makes His will known: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (v. 17). This was only one prohibition, but the message was (and is) clear: God expects obedience. Later, God codified His law through the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) and the rest of what is known as the Mosaic Law. The first three of the Ten Commandments are of utmost priority: (1) You shall have no other gods before Me. The English word “before” is actually two Hebrew words, ‛al and pânı̂ym meaning “against my face.” In other words, God does not want you putting anything in your life that obstructs your vision of Him. (2) You shall not make for yourself or worship any idols. The list is long, but basically, anything you value more highly than God. (3) You shall not use God’s name carelessly. That includes, but is not limited to, using Gods name as an expletive, using it as a curse, or using in an oath, especially to legitimize a lie. Jesus summed all of the Old Testament Law down to two: (1) Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and (2) love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). So, there you have it, God’s will for your life, but there is more.

God’s will is that you deal with integrity in all that you do including in your work. “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Ephesians 6:5-6, emphasis added). God’s will for your life is sanctification, i.e., “set apartness” – set apart and distinct from the world. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel [i.e., your body] in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-6, emphasis added). This passage specifies sexual purity, but it also addresses defrauding or dealing dishonestly with someone.

God’s will is that you be thankful in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18). God’s will is that you not lose heart as you await His return (Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13; Hebrews 10:35-37). God makes no promise that our lives will be free of trouble simply because we follow His will. “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19, emphasis added). His will is that we trust our souls – our lives – to Him who is our faithful Creator.

God’s will is for all to be saved. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis added). Of course, not all will be saved. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21, emphasis added.). That will is that you repent from your sin and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. At the end of his gospel, John wrote: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31, emphasis added). That is the will of God.

Oh! Wait! What about my career? What about my mate? What about the school I should attend? What about God’s will in what church I should attend? Well, God does have a will for every one of those things in your life, but you will not find them hidden in some secret code in the Bible, and He probably will not tap you on the shoulder and tell you what choice to make. The answer is in following His will as He has made it known in His Word. When you practice obedience to God’s Word, your “super” natural inclination will be to please and honor God in all that you do. When you are doing that as your standard method of operation, you will find that He will “guide” you in the right direction. Jesus said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name [according to God’s will], he may give it you” (John 15:16, emphasis added.). If you are following God’s will as revealed in Scripture, you will not be making foolish requests, and He will guide you. Just try it and see. “Without faith, it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6)

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