Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TIMES THAT TRY MEN's SOUL

Times That Try Men’s Souls

11/24/2011



Today is very different than yesterday. Tomorrow will be nothing like today. But one thing is sure, we don’t see one day passing without reading or hearing a reference being made to this world falling apart – eroding, ending. There are so many signs today which only add to man’s apprehension in regards to an approaching calamity. “Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Luke 21:26. Certainly the kinds of headlines we’re bombarded with today can and do try a man’s soul.



What mankind is witnessing today is only the “birth pangs” associated with the nearness of Christ’s return; certainly we’re not feeling the full on effects of what Jesus tells us is coming in the last days. Jesus’ return is close, and every Christian should reel with anticipation and excitement every time something out of the ordinary or unexplainable happens. But today’s Christians seem to be apathetic concerning the coming of their Lord; a lull between events allows apathy to creep into the Christian’s life lessening the anticipation of future events. Although many may read about the catastrophic occurrences around the world which have led to mass amounts of human death and suffering, there seems to be a sort of disconnect as people simply dismiss any possibility of such devastation occurring near them, or in their lifetime. Today most followers of Jesus Christ are unaware of the unimaginable magnitude of catastrophic events that are coming. Jesus warns the last remaining generation prior to His return that they will be overwhelmed by three specific ever recurring events, which are earthquakes, pestilence, and famines. Interestingly we’re all witnesses to the fact that all three are increasing in frequency and intensity just like birth pangs.



If we were to travel back just fifty years and revisit the “birth pangs” of that era they would seem miniscule in comparison to today. Fifty years ago when I was 10, there was little talk, if any, of the “end of the world” scenarios. Today it’s everywhere we turn. Why? I believe the simple fact is that people, being made in God’s image, are quite adept at recognizing the signs as they effect the earth and sky changes that only God could bring about. Although they know something’s afoot most have no clue as to what is going on, and little desire to pursue God’s word for the answers. Over time, this apathy creates an atmosphere of fear, as men can’t grasp what’s taking place. Thus, men’s hearts will fail them as the end grows ever closer.



There is no doubt in this expositors mind that evil has increased exponentially throughout the world. A moral and upright person can’t even watch the nightly news, or read online news content, without grimacing in disgust while being consumed with sorrow. The horror inflicted on mankind by our fellow man, especially that which is inflicted on the very young and the very old can only be seen a pure satanic. All of this evil is many times more prevalent today than just fifty years ago. Certainly each generation must go through trying times, and the generation of fifty years ago had many troubling tribulations. Our current generation seems to have reached its zenith in regards to this trend of pervasive evil; an evil which has led all civilizations into extreme immorality, and depravity. Another form of evil permeating this world is greed. Astonishing to me is that, while most of us are doing everything we can to tighten our belts to ward off what many see as another Great Depression headed our way, a bunch of the elite bankers are so full of greed that they are doing everything possible to negate our personal sacrifices. Certainly the greed of a few will lead many men to the apex of that which tries souls.



This is our time to be tried. The difference between all those other times and ours is that this is the “last generation” before Christ’s return. The truth is, for those of us who know what’s coming next, these are exciting days. Difficult to comprehend at times yes, but exciting nonetheless. If we give some thought to what’s coming next, and then pay close attention to observe the times and the signs, there will be nothing surprising or terrifying about what follows. “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5.



Apart from all that immorality, depravity, and greed which certainly reigns supreme on planet earth these days are the last day’s events of which Jesus tells His disciples will come. We are on a timeline in which those symbolic birth pangs are occurring more frequently and with much more intensity. But where on that timeline are we currently? Good question. It may help us to define our current position on that timeline by viewing the recurring signs of the past. When we do, we will be confronted with a huge difference in comparison as we look at frequency and intensity. I’ll give three short examples regarding these three observable phenomenon.



If we perform a simple web search on the United States Geological Service website (www.usgs.gov) we’ll find there a plethora of data concerning earthquakes past and present, even predictions of future events. Interestingly we find that both the quantity and severity of earthquakes have increased and are increasing daily. In my birth year, which was 1951, there were zero earthquakes recorded on the day I was born (August 24). I arbitrarily picked the year 2008 for a comparison and was floored by the number of earthquakes recorded that year on my birthday. There were over 293 earthquakes in “diverse” places. Remember were looking at just one single day’s earthquake occurrences. Now let’s take a look at the earthquakes for the entire year of 1951. The total was 592 that year. Now let’s look at that arbitrary year of 2008. Total earthquakes that year were 31,777 according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Are the birth pangs increasing just as Jesus explained? Some will simply say that technology has improved so that we are now able to detect more earthquakes than in previous years. Let’s see if that holds true. The 1906 earthquake that devastated San Francisco, for example, registered 7.8 magnitude. According to the USGS website the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 was recorded at a magnitude of 7.1 on the very same equipment as the quake of 1906. What this example demonstrates is the equipment in place during the 1906 earthquake was quite sufficient in registering any quake that might have come along. Simply put there just weren’t as many. Today’s earthquake frequency and intensity is increasing exponentially just as the Bible clearly states.



Here’s a little more information for the skeptic. So far this year (2011) 189 earthquakes have occurred within the range of magnitude measuring from 6.0 to 9.0. In 1951 there were only two earthquakes at a magnitude above 6.0, one recorded at 6.2 and the other at 6.3. Obviously something substantial is going on in regards to the frequency and intensity of earthquakes today, which point us back to the Bible and the fact that we should regard Jesus’ words as true and indisputable.



What must have been perceived as non-events by Bible teachers fifty years ago has certainly fallen into the category of “WOW the Bible is true” in the mind of any truth seeker today. “…and earthquakes, in divers places” Matthew 24:7b. The Greek word “kata” is translated divers in English meaning “throughout” but it can also mean “daily”. So we can conclude that in the days just prior to Jesus’ return there would be earthquakes occurring on a global scale increasing in their frequency and intensity on a daily basis. Even more interesting is the fact that earthquakes have increased so much in just the last fifty years that now hundreds of earthquakes shake this world every day.



Pestilences: Any deadly infectious malady – including plagues. In the last days they will come on mankind with increasing frequency and intensity. In a country that prides itself as being on the cutting edge of discoveries which result in medical cures and disease control, many ugly maladies remain unstoppable. There are actually so many plagues and diseases being combated today that they are too numerous to mention in this commentary. Let me just say that the mother of major infectious plagues these days, HIV/AIDS, is still on the top of the ladder when it comes to stubbornness. HIV/AIDS has been found to be increasingly difficult to eradicate. Certainly AIDS is the personification of the meaning behind Jesus’ word pestilence – meaning communicable, transferable, transmittable, contagious. Take your pick, isn’t this exactly what every society in every country on earth is experiencing? There is an inordinate amount of frustration with this burgeoning disease.



Famine is the one sign on our Lord’s list of signs that has the most potential for causing widespread calamity, which will certainly try man’s soul to the max. And just as earthquakes and pestilences are nothing new yet increasing in both intensity and frequency, so it is with famines. Today we witness an intensifying devastation occurring in drought stricken countries.



I recently read an article which indicated that extreme poverty in the U.S. is at record levels. The article stated that 1 in every 15 Americans are considered very poor, and that 20 million Americans are living in extreme poverty.



“About 20.5 million Americans, or 6.7 percent of the U.S. population, make up the poorest poor, defined as those at 50 per cent or less of the official poverty level. Those living in deep poverty represent nearly half of the 46.2 million people scraping by below the poverty line. In 2010, the poorest poor meant an income of $5,570 or less for an individual and $11,157 for a family of four. That 6.7 percent share is the highest in the 35 years that the Census Bureau has maintained such records, surpassing previous highs in 2009 and 1993 of just over 6 percent.” Source – Daily Mail



The obvious picture we see developing is that American’s overall are becoming poorer not wealthier. Not only is employment declining but so are wages. Once upon a time a famine was coming to America. It’s no fairytale folks that famine, by all intents and purposes, has arrived. Food is certainly high on the average persons mind every day. Poor people have a hard time buying food, some people resort to stealing to get their daily bread. Some 46 million Americans are currently receiving food stamps. When that well runs dry many will turn to stealing to get what they and their family need to survive. The birth pangs Jesus spoke about are unfolding before our eyes. Famines certainly can cause the hearts of men to fail.



Obviously the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ can’t be far off. These are the times Jesus referred to as the beginnings of sorrows. According to Jesus’ own words the last generation is the generation that will experience the brunt of birth pangs. We are that generation. But the most intense of those birth pangs are yet to come and the removal of His Church must surely be at hand. These times will become much worse as we move closer to Christ’s return. Many of my brethren, me included, are praying constantly that His return is only seven years away. That would mean that the Rapture of the Church could occur today.



Everywhere we look the sky seems to be falling, yet few are running for the One that protects and covers. Nothing can stop what’s coming, the prophecies of the Bible must be fulfilled, and they will be to the letter. Since there’s no place to run, no place to hide, that only leaves us one alternative. The peace and joy we have in Christ will endure right up to the day He takes us home. “Be careful for nothing… And the peace of God, which passed all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6a-7.



God bless you all,



Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed

Thursday, November 17, 2011

PARADISE LOST

Paradise Lost

11/17/2011



These days there seems to be a lot of confusion, conjecture, fictional theories, and downright foolishness concerning the whereabouts of the Garden of Eden. What happened to that awesome Garden after Adam and Eve rebelled and received their eviction notice demanding they leave their one time home post-haste? Was it destroyed by the Flood of Noah’s time? Was it just simply eliminated by God? Where has it gone, this Garden of God?



“And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” Genesis 2:8. Planted in the Hebrew is “nata” and it means to establish. We see from the scripture verse above that God planted (established) this Garden in Eden (Eden, by the way, means pleasure) and then after creating Adam, placed him in his new habitat. “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Genesis 2:15. Adam was created from the dust of the earth, and then he was transported to a location more befitting his newly created life. Adam was given an awesome responsibility in this newly established habitat, which was to keep the garden beautiful (dress it). But none of these verses tell us precisely where Eden was. So, just where is this garden of God?



After their rebellion and subsequent fall, Adam and his wife were given an eviction notice. Suddenly we see our antediluvian parents being banished from the Garden of Eden. That banishment included a new life in another location apart from the Garden of Eden, a life that would be consumed with hard physical labor, undoubtedly coupled with a deep sense of guilt, shame, and misery for them both. “Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” Genesis 3:23. God sent Adam (and Eve) out of the Garden and back to the land and ground from which he was created. So here we see that God speaks of two distinct locations. The ground that He used to create Adam was distinctly different than the surroundings in the Garden of Eden – the perfect environment for God’s new creation. We know where the “ground” is – it’s the earth where we all live today. But where is that elusive Garden?



“So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” Genesis 3:24. The word “kĕruwb (Cherub) in the Hebrew, used in the above verse, can denote one Cherub or a number of Cherubim. The translators of the King James Version of the Bible translated “kĕruwb” into English as Cherubims which doesn’t really make sense. The plural of cherub is cherubim. There is no need for an “s” at the end as we see rendered in English in the above verse. In this case God placed a Cherub (kĕruwb) at the east of the Garden of Eden to keep the way of the tree of life. As we look further into the Hebrew words we find that God placed just one angelic sword there with the Cherub, this would further indicate the presence of just one Cherub.



Was this precaution to keep Adam and his descendents out of the Garden of Eden? Not hardly. Angels are very powerful and cherubim are even more so. One angel would have been over-kill to keep mankind out of God’s Garden.



Here’s a little tidbit of information for those of you who are not familiar with the power of angels. “And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.” 2 Kings 19:35. One angel in one night slew 185,000 Assyrians; they are much more powerful than humans.



If we humans were being kept from the Garden we would be able to see it and the Cherub wielding his flaming sword. So, where is that Garden? Consider this. The Garden of Eden does not exist in the dimension in which we live and the Cherub is not guarding against humans, but guarding against supernatural beings bent on wickedness who desperately want access to the tree of life. The flaming sword (angelic sword in the Hebrew) that turned every way indicates a supernatural barrier. Therefore there would be no “earthly” reason for guarding the entrance to the Garden of Eden against unlawful entry by mankind. It’s a physical impossibility for mortal humans “in the flesh” to see it, let alone enter the Garden of Eden (Paradise).



That Cherub is there explicitly to keep supernatural malevolent beings from entering and being mischievous. But why? I’m going to answer that question with a bit of conjecture on my part, but it’s a logical conclusion. God told Satan and his hoard of fallen angels that there would be a fight between two distinct seeds (“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15). The hostility God is speaking about is between Jesus the Christ (the seed of the women) and Satan’s seed. This proclamation caused Satan to realize that if he was to survive it was up to him to disrupt God’s plan of the redemption of mankind. If Satan had been allowed to enter the Garden of Eden again; and more specifically to gain access to the “tree of life,” that access could have greatly contributed to his agenda of disrupting God’s plan to restore the broken relationship between Him and man. Obviously God had no intention of allowing Satan any latitude in this area again – hence the Cherub and his sword. The Garden of Eden/Paradise is of another dimension where the faithful go when they die. Therefore Satan and his cohorts had to have been denied any access to that dimension without exception.



“And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life , and eat, and live for ever:” Genesis 3:23. The above verse explains why God, being fully aware of Satan’s plan, had no choice but to guard the entrance to the Garden of Eden. Otherwise man, by way of Satan and his malevolent hoard of fallen angels, would have become as corrupt as those wicked supernatural beings, but with one added detriment for mankind. With access to the properties of that “Tree of Life”, man would have been immortal just like those malevolent supernatural beings and just as bent on corruption, shades of Genesis chapter 6 occurring over and over again.



The only way we humans can live forever is to shed these mortal vessels we refer to as bodies. Basically we must die to live. “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:54. It was Christ’s victory over death and over Satan that gives humanity the only way of by-passing eternal damnation. Not at all the way Satan would have preferred things to have turned out. But hey, there it is. God is faithful! We can depend on God’s plans as always being perfect.



“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7. Jesus’ own words tell us where the tree of life can be found – it’s in the midst of Paradise. And those who overcome will be given access to that tree. Certainly the probability of Paradise and the Garden of Eden being the same location is very great indeed since from the beginning the “tree of life” was “established” as one of the trees in the Garden of Eden. We either have two names for the same location – The Garden of Eden/Paradise – or someone dug up the “tree of life” and replanted it in another location.



“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom:” Luke 16:22. Abraham’s bosom is a reference to Paradise. On the day Christ was crucified there were two others suspended on their own crosses. One recognized who Christ was and asked to be remembered. He is now in paradise with the rest of the believers. “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43. Paradise is the location where the Apostle Paul tells us he went when he was raptured (caught up – Harpazō in the Greek). “How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” 2 Corinthians 12:4. When the saints are finally caught up (Raptured) we too will be with the Lord in Paradise (the Garden of Eden). If I’m correct in my theory about the Garden of Eden and Paradise being the same location, then the Garden of Eden has moved. “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Ephesians 4:8. Now we see Paradise has been moved to a new location – it has ascended up on high.



So, the Garden of Eden is still very real, it’s just not visible to those still living on earth. Paradise is also very real because both locations are one and the same, and God confirms this by referring to the “tree of life” and it’s location as being both in the Garden and in Paradise. It’s a place that is completely off limits to any form of evil. It can’t be described with human words. It’s a dimension that will never be seen by the damned. It belongs to God and the redeemed.



“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8. Everyone who has died with their faith firmly established in the Son of God is now occupying that Garden/Paradise. They now know without any doubt that Paradise was never lost – only man. Paradise awaits each of us who’ve placed our faith and trust in the One who designed and created it, our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. The alternative to Paradise has never moved; it’s exactly where it was when Abraham had the discussion with the rich man in Luke chapter 16 verses 19 through 31. By the way, that discourse was not a parable but a true account.



The Creator of all dimensions (Jesus Christ) has a special dimension fully established, which currently houses multitudes of God’s children. In contrast to that beautiful, awesome Garden (Paradise) is a location which is the most unpleasant of habitations, and that is a gross understatement. It currently awaits all the Christ-rejecters who have made it plain they want nothing to do with God. Two distinct and completely dissimilar eternal locations are in view as we live our lives out on planet earth. Paradise and Hell – both equally real. Paradise is the place where the living, continue living…forever. Hell is the place where the dead continue dying…forever. Deciding on which location you prefer doesn’t take a lot of intellectual prowess. It’s a simple choice. Which place is yours?



God bless you all,



Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed

Friday, November 11, 2011

IT'S PERSONAL NOT CORPORATE

It’s Personal not Corporate

11/10/2011



“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” Genesis 3:6. Since the beginning of our human existence the influence of one spouse over another has been, in many cases, disastrous. Eve was deceived by the serpent, not Adam. But through Eve’s influential prodding Adam made a decision that led to his death. It was Eve’s will that Adam should eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. From the very beginning we see that one spouse can have a strong influence over the other.



Stumbling blocks and strongholds of the enemy are continually placed in all our lives. We must learn to fight to withstand the enemy forces. The lost people of this world will find this increasingly difficult. One such stumbling block is known as conformity. A somewhat touchy subject for any writer is to address the conforming influence a husband has over his wife, or vice versa. A man and woman will have various conflicting convictions prior to marriage, but soon after the consummation of that marriage a change begins to occur. Many times that change results in one or the other being conformed into accepting what the other believes. In most cases the wife’s beliefs change to mirror the beliefs of her husband. In some cases it’s not a bad thing; sometimes a spouse, being at one time lost and worldly, begins to see God’s truth. Thus the positive influence of this spouse is a good thing. On the other hand, when a husband or wife holds to a false belief system and influences their spouse against believing the truth of the Gospel of Christ, this conformity will only lead to destruction. Satan knows the truth, that Jesus the Christ is alive. But to fight that truth, a weapon in his vast arsenal is the influence of one spouse over the other.



Each individual on this planet must make a choice concerning the eternal. This choice is a personal decision affecting only the person making the choice. For example, I can’t make the choice for my wife nor can she make it for me. The same goes for our children, we can teach our children right from wrong, we can teach them about faith and love – all about Jesus – but we can’t make the most important decision of their lives for them. I’m sure some of us would like it if we could make that decision for a loved one, but it just doesn’t work that way. Even though salvation is a free gift of God, He’s made it abundantly clear it’s personal not corporate. Everyone must face the reality that Satan wields his influence over the lost like a king over his kingdom. An unbelieving spouse is a subject of that king, thus he/she must do his bidding.



My wife and I were married in June of 1988. I was 36 years old. I was pretty well set in my ways. I was already an alcoholic, my vocabulary was more than just laced with profanity, and I had a mean disposition. My new bride, a godly shy woman, a born again Christian with a heart that could only have come from God, knew that she was not following the word of God by becoming yoked with a non-believing and very ungodly, worldly man. I was for all intents and purposes a follower of the enemy of God; this is something my wife should have been repulsed with. Instead she fell in love me and I with her. We were married shortly thereafter. Can you see how horrible my influence over her life could have been? But instead she influenced my life. Please understand, it seldom works out that way.



Husband or wife, whichever one follows Satan normally will have the stronger influence. In most marriages the husband is the dominant force. They exercise an incredible amount of influence over their wife’s life. A wife, who obeys her unbelieving and many times manipulative husband, when it comes to a decision for Christ may just obey him right into Hell. In many marriages this tragedy is very real. Similarly, a wife can have the same detrimental effect on her husband if she remains in her satanic induced blindness toward the truth.



When men or women ignore the truth of God just to appease their spouse they are only foolishly falling into a trap laid down by the father of all lies (Satan). This personification of evil keeps a tight rein on those who belong to him. Satan will work one spouse against the other convincing them to remain in his camp. I’ve seen this type of situation time and time again, where a spouse begins to climb out of the muck and mire of the filthy camp of the enemy only to be waylaid by their other half who unabashedly steps in to do Satan’s bidding. I’ve also witnessed that at this point both of their hearts become incredibly hardened against their Creator, and when they remain in that steadfast position they all but cement their decision to spend an eternity in Hell.



Many will follow their spouses into the abyss instead of using their own intellect to come to a decision for Christ. Ignoring the power of the enemy is a common mistake these days as so many relegate Satan to nothing more than a mythological existence at best. Thus, he’s able to keep his hold on people through their own ignorant and erroneous beliefs.



Influence and conformity can be powerful stumbling blocks that, when coupled with decision making, can and do lead people astray. Certainly there are everyday decisions that affect the marriage and those decisions must be made together. Both spouses must participate in the decision making process to really enjoy a good and loving marriage. But the decision to turn one’s life over to Christ is the most important decision in this life, and it is personal not corporate.



Over the years I’ve learned, as many of you have, that marriage is a great institution. I can’t, or won’t, even contemplate living alone without my wife. My wife is not just a woman I met fell in love with and then married, she is more, much more. She is a major part of my life, she has become a part of me – bodily she and I are one. I can’t be separated from her for any length of time at all without missing her in a way that is almost impossible to describe. The love we have for one another is that same love that Jesus has for His Church. When she is away from me it’s the same as though a part of my body has been ripped away. God meant for us to view marriage just as He described it in the book of Genesis “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:24. God meant it. When a man takes a woman to be his wife there’s a lifelong bond established. This bond is never to be broken. This is exactly why the influence of one spouse over the other can be so great. If one spouse is a non-believer, the adverse affect that that one person can have on the other can truly mean Hell for all eternity.



This is precisely the reason why we (believers in Christ) aren’t to be unequally yoked with non-believing people “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. Why is the Apostle Paul giving us this admonition? Because time and time again unequal unions result in a most devastating end for one or both participants.



Then, of course, we have marriages with both husband and wife being non-believers. These two unbelievers aren’t really going to know love, the love of Christ that transcends all barriers, since their union was not built on a godly foundation. This ungodly union can place an incredible strain on a marriage, especially if one spouse begins to learn the truth about God. There’s a span of time where one spouse might begin to see God in ways they’ve never perceived before. This can cause friction in a marriage and even result in divorce. Even though one spouse emerges victorious in Christ they may have just destroyed their marriage. The Bible tells us that God hates divorce – and please don’t misunderstand, I’m not advocating divorce – but God in His word tells us that the believing spouse is under no obligation to remain in a marriage with an unbeliever. “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” 1 Corinthians 7:15.



Because of the incredibly powerful influence of their spouse, many who might be on the verge of making a decision for Christ will be convinced to stay in unbelief. As such they continue to drink from Satan’s pool of damnation. This is just another of Satan’s tools of deception. It’s a horrible sight to be witness to, especially when it occurs within your own family. In the big scheme of life, a personal decision for Christ is the most important of all decisions; all other decisions are comparatively immaterial. If we understand nothing else in this life, we must come to grips with the fact that a decision for Christ is personal not corporate.



Wife, your husband has no say in the matter concerning your eternal destination – husband, your wife has no say in the matter concerning your eternal destination. Here’s something to consider, when you stand before the God of all creation, at His Throne of Judgment with the rest of those who rejected Christ as their Savior, you will not be able to use the excuse that it was your spouse that kept you from making the decision to avoid Hell. It will be too late at that point to make excuses and there will be no chance for you to change your mind concerning your eternal destination.



Here are your choices: follow my unbelieving spouse into Hell or follow Jesus Christ into Heaven. Remember influence works both ways – your decision for Christ could be just what your spouse has been waiting for – to see the love of Christ in you. That Christ centered love might be the catalysts that turns another hardened hear toward Christ. Hear Jesus promise to you: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28. (Emphasis mine)



God bless you all,



Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed

Thursday, November 03, 2011

NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES

Name above All Names

11/3/2011



“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9, 10a, 11. Why is the name which God placed above every name so often looked upon with disgust, animosity, and even hatred? Hatred toward the one who gave us life is beyond understanding. Yet even though God exalted His Son’s Name above all names it has become the most hated name in man’s history. I’m not taking about the most hated man in all man’s history, such as Adolf Hitler, but the most hated name above all names. In the United States of American you better think twice before mentioning the name of Jesus in the hallowed halls of academia. Mentioning Jesus’ name in public school as a visitor these days will get you a quick rebuke and if you are a student – detention and expulsion.



Why? What’s in a name anyway? Jesus, is a word translated from a Greek word “Iēsous” which means salvation. So Jesus’ name – a name we use every day (many times in the most derogatory manner) means salvation (our salvation). Most people hate the idea that they need to be saved so they reject the name of the one who wishes only to save them.



A huge majority of folks these days use the Lords name in the most disgusting manner. Jesus is coupled together with the word Christ to facilitate a revolting response to someone else’s angry and suggestive overture. Many times the name Jesus is used to express some annoyance or dissatisfaction. Jesus is used many times by many people who ignorantly go through life with little to no understanding of what they are doing by bantering about the name that God hath highly exalted and placed above all names.



Why don’t people use the name of Mohammad, or Buddha, or even one of the many names attributed to God’s adversary such as Lucifer, Satan, or Baal to express all the filth associated with our imaginations? Why is the name Jesus, which God elevated above all other names for His glory, made to be the brunt of so many filthy conversations these days? We can attribute the reasons for all these unholy expressions of anger and annoyance to two main categories – ignorance and hate.



Hate can be explained in many ways, but the main reason people hate Jesus is because of His most exclusive words. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6. Jesus proclaimed to His disciples that there was only one way to get into Heaven and that was through Him (Jesus). Basically, Jesus was only reiterating what He had previously proclaimed “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 3:36. Only through Him (the Son of God) can a person enter Heaven. This statement of Jesus’, for many people, is beyond ridiculous. How can God condemn so many people to Hell just because they believe in an alternative path to Him? After all, we can see that many people want to get to God, they just don’t want to go through God to get to God. They don’t see Jesus as God; interestingly, even though many will see Jesus as God’s Son they don’t equate the two as one.



Let’s be right up front here. There are no paths to Heaven. There is only one way to Heaven and that way was just explained above. The thought of many “paths” is encouraging to a wide variety of folks who are obsessed with being politically correct. This pervasive mindset doesn’t allow for such exclusivity as we see in the Christian faith. The minds of many have been so thoroughly deceived that they believe the lie of the enemy that many roads (paths) lead to God. In all actuality they do all lead to God, but not the way these folks would like to believe. Everyone who continues to believe in the lie which points to many alternative paths to God while rejecting His Son will one day stand before the very God they’ve rejected, Jesus the Christ. It will only be as a hearing, though, for their final judgment which will relegate them to an existence without the presence of God for all of eternity, which is Hell. Sadly, when they finally realize their mistake it will be too late.



Still others hate Him and His name because He was born Jewish, and we know that many people and even whole nations this world over hate the Jews and have for centuries. God entered His creation and became a Jewish man, fulfilling many prophecies. That truth is repugnant to those who have a deep-seated hatred for the Jews. Therefore that hatred continues into the supernatural. People hate Jesus and His name not even realizing that He is their God -- the only God of all eternity.



Most won’t accept the truth about Jesus the Christ during their lifetime. Many multitudes will continue to lash out in hatred and ignorance at the one who would freely give them everlasting life, the one who loves them beyond compare. The name of Jesus is horribly mistreated by a mass of people who see Him as just another man. Some don’t even believe He ever really existed. Some hate Him so much that they will go to any length to explain Him away. Sadly, many of these folks will die carrying that mindset of hate with them to the grave and beyond.



The other category, ignorance, is where many people reside. They remain in the bliss of their ignorance, never wishing to disrupt the lives they’ve made for themselves by intertwining themselves with the foolish tradition of men. “The Bible was written by men therefore it is only of men not of God.” This misconception of God’s word has and will have a very detrimental effect on a large portion of humanity before the end. In this enlightened post-modern world, many people believe they’ve risen above the need for a God. These days, the enlightened crowd considers anything that has to do with God simply manmade, pure superstition. If a person were to casually mention the name Jesus in the presence of one of these enlightened folks they would soon realize the brunt of their mistake as almost immediately there would come a pounce on that person like an attacking lioness protecting her cubs.



Many people today have been taught the lie of evolution to the exclusion of all other very real possibilities. These people believe that evolution is the catalyst which has propelled humanity into the 21st century. These same folks are fully convinced that all religions, including Christianity, are built on nothing more than foolish fantasies, excluding of course their own religion of secular humanism. Now that the populous has been enlightened with the idea that there is no absolute truth and the time of “reason” has been established, they can now say there is no God with complete impunity. Their zeal is unfettered as they trample on the Name above all names – Jesus the Christ, the only way to the Father.



Perhaps the two categories of hate and ignorance are more intertwined than we perceive. Here’s a recent headline taken from the WND website “Jesus’ name ruled unconstitutional, Judge says prayers to Christ do violence to America's pluralistic, inclusive values.” This attempt to bury the Name that God has exalted above all names is fraught with evil. Satan is the one who is behind every attempt to rid mankind of their Creator’s Name. But his attempts will always be fruitless as we who are Christ’s followers are still here reminding the unbelievers that Jesus is the Name above all names, and that He is the only way of salvation.



Obviously many will remain in their progressive state of ignorance, standing firm in their contempt for the one true God while they continually drag His Name through the filthiness of their grossly flawed minds. There are many reasons why Jesus’ name is so infused in the culture of hate today, some of which are due in part to those of His followers. Sometimes Christians can be their own worst enemies. If we study our Bibles we learn that we aren’t to be argumentative or abrasive when it comes to our interactions with non-believers, but we are to be as the Apostle Paul admonishes “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:3-5. Lowliness of mind means that we are to be humble servants of the most High God, Jesus the Christ. We are to address the unbelievers with the mind of Christ who, when addressing the non-believing world, did so with love and compassion not strife or vainglory.



Does it infuriate you when Jesus’ name is used in vain? Think about how God sees those who use His name thusly. Does it infuriate Him? No. He loves them, and He understands better than the rest of us how powerful the enemy is. God wants us to love those who mistreat us and who drag the name of our Savior and Lord through the mud. And when we witness to them we might convince them that the Name they are showing so much disrespect for is indeed the Creator of the universe, and He loves them and is ready to forgive them all their trespasses. If only they will believe.



One day, very soon now, all knees will bow and all tongues will confess that the Name so many willfully abuse is the Name of the Judge of the universe. Jesus the Christ is God Almighty and without exception no matter how people treat His name He loves them all. But God’s word is true, only those who’ve placed their faith and trust in Him and Him alone for their salvation will avoid that Judgment Throne. The rest will be relegated to a place that is filled with fire and brimstone.



Let’s talk to these folks with the love of Christ in our hearts, after all some might just believe and be saved. Talk to them in a manner that they perceive to be argumentative and full of vainglory and they will not respond to His name with any semblance of love and affection. Let’s help all we can to rid them of the hate they profess toward Jesus our Savior God. We can help educate those who are ignorant to who He is. We, His Church, can be the light that so many are looking for in this dark world, which is just about to end, as we promote the truth about the one who has been assigned the Name above all Names. Jesus!



God bless you all,



Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed