Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

How Important is "Who we worship?"

I've recently been reading through the prophets. It's a difficult journey, because there are so many negatives, but I'm finding that many people don't attach enough importance to "Who I worship." Many folks say things like, "All roads lead to the same place;" and, "Religion is good;" The problem with those sentiments is that the nation of Israel tried that. They worshipped a variety of gods, despite being commanded to worship ONLY the Lord:

Exodus 20:2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 "You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Deuteronomy 6:5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 "These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.

When the nation of Israel was sent into captivity for their sins, the foremost reason was their rejection of God:
2 Chronicles 36:14 Furthermore, all the officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful following all the abominations of the nations; and they defiled the house of the LORD which He had sanctified in Jerusalem. 15 The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place;
16 but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy.

It's pretty clear (this is just one passage of many I could use) that the real reason God sent His people into captivity was their worship of other gods.

Now this is intimately connected with the book of Revelation, which we are discussing in the blog. The basic problem with us humans is our rejection of the living and true God. Once we do that, we get seduced by the evil one, and eventually listen to his lies about religion... (or no religion), and then about right, wrong, and evil. This will culminate in many of the people of the world selecting the Dragon as their god and the Beast (Antichrist) as his representative. You ask me, "how can this happen?" Well, really, it's pretty simple.  Once you reject God, your mind gets blinded, and you are then susceptible to all sorts of false teaching.

Paul put it like this:
1 Thess. 2:10: because  (people who eventually worship the dragon) did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence (KJV, "Strong Delusion") so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

In other words, when you reject God, it's like taking red-hot nails and poking your eyes out intentionally. When you choose to do that, you can be led in any direction and false teaching seems as true to you as any other. Add to that enough pressure (you have to believe or die, for example), and you'll swear allegiance to anything or anyone because you are blind to the consequences.

Idols (which the ancients worshipped, and which are still worshipped today by some) are mere representations of the Dragon ("the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons [not idols]...").

So can you come back from this spiritual blindness? YES. However, it takes your wholehearted effort: The Scriptures say, "You will search for me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart."

It's important to keep in mind that Satan doesn't exactly have your best interests at heart. He wants to destroy the human race. You're included. Every one of his actions translates into: Defy God. Destroy people.

There is a gigantic spiritual conspiracy to keep you from the truth about the importance of worshipping the living and true God and His Son Jesus Christ. It comes from the Dragon, and that conspiracy will come to its full fruition in the future, as the Dragon takes control of the world in ways that he's never been allowed to do before. People who believe in Jesus Christ will not just be despised or persecuted in some areas of the world. They will be murdered wholesale and everywhere to show that the Dragon is a mightier being than Christ (utterly false, of course). There will, by the way, be no atheists or agnostics in those days. All people who reject Jesus Christ will worship the Dragon. OR ELSE.

It was the same in other eras:
In ancient times, worship of the true God disappeared from Israel. Israel moved into a vicious downward spiral that could be characterized as, "the worse they were, the worse they got," moving ever downward until they were empty of good and of God, and God judged them without pity because they chose this. The prophets tried to stop the people, to call them back, to beg them to do good for themselves and not to allow themselves to be suckered into worshipping the things that not only would destroy them, but things that made no sense at all, such as a piece of wood. 

The people refused, and eventually they were destroyed by the Northern armies of the Assyrians and the Babylonians.

It's the same today. Influences that drag you away from the living God destroy you, and you become easy prey for Satan and his demons. Once you stop worshipping the living and true God, who made the world we live in, you are "deceivable." You have a hard time telling right from wrong (look around you at the world; isn't that just what's going on today?), and you justify the greatest evils with deceptive words.

See what Paul says in Romans 1:
21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools...
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24 Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever...
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28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,  29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30  slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

This is what happens in a society that rejects God--Satan takes up the vacuum with his ideas and temptations, and the society and its people disintegrate, destroy themselves and find themselves permanently separated from God (there's lots more in this passage, and the dashes represent material I've left out).

The key to human life is the worship of the living and true God and His Son Jesus Christ. The worship of any other being or creature (or yourself, or money or power) destroys you. It's an idol, which you've set up in your heart. That idol in your heart is like a burning poison that consumes you.

So please don't say, "All roads lead to the same place;" in fact, all roads BUT ONE lead to the same place, but it's not the place you may think. Jesus is the ONE WAY. 

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." NOBODY comes to the Father, except through Me." 

That is the truth. There is no exception, and there is no reprieve, if you reject the living and true God and His Son Jesus Christ.

So what do you intend to do about this?

"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Revelation 12-19: Does WHO you worship really matter?

In my daily Bible reading, I've been going through the prophets--you know, those guys named Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and so forth ("and so forth" is a compendium of 13 prophets...). One of the things I keep hearing from atheists and agnostics is that "it doesn't matter IF I worship God, or whom I worship." This runs completely counter to the statements of the prophets, all of whom categorically reject that idea.
From other religions, and some Christians, I hear "All roads lead to the same place," and "It's more important THAT you worship than WHO you worship. There are many other similar statements, and they can all be described as, "Which god? Doesn't matter."

If you are a Christian, I hope you have the good sense to reject this asinine drivel. In this post, I want to discuss how GOD looks at people who worship other gods than Him. So here are some passages:

1. The first commandment, of the 10: "You shall have no other gods before Me." True, this was written to the nation of Israel, but we stand in the same line, and almost all Christians agree that the 10 Commandments are important.

2. The "Great Commandment:" When Jesus was asked, "What is the first (foremost) and Great Commandment, He answered: "You shall love the LORD your God (insert Yahweh/Jehovah here) with all your heart, soul, mind and strength." Jesus did not say, I might point out, that "You should love your 'Higher Power...'" or that you should "love whatever god you worship..." HE said, "You shall love the Lord your God..." That is a specific person. It is not just anybody.

3. Jesus taught that there was only one way to God, and it was Him: He said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; NOBODY comes to the Father, except through ME." (John 14:6, for those who don't want to look it up).

4. Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, specifically connected rejecting the God of the Bible to terrible moral and spiritual decline. See Romans 1:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

The final result is here, in his conclusion:

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,
30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;

32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

This conclusion is one of the most damning passages in the history of mankind, because as Paul wrote this, he was in Corinth, no doubt watching all the things that happened in the city he was in on a daily basis, and concluding that the rejection of God was behind all the evil in the world.

5. John the Apostle says the same thing in John 3:
19 "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
An evil heart is at the root of the rejection of God, and the result of that rejection is more evil, until the person and his society is utterly consumed.

This all comes to a head in Revelation 12-19, where the worship of God (the God of the Bible) is rejected by most of the world, and Christians and Jews are "outed" as the real cause of all the world's problems (classic method of "deflection," here), so much so that they are persecuted and must go into hiding.
At the same time, the Dragon empowers the Antichrist, who comes into power and displays himself as God. In addition, much of the world's population worship the Dragon himself, and they accept an identifying mark that makes them his servants, his possession.

Now if it really did not matter who you worship, then Dragon-worship would be just fine and have no consequence, only benefits. However, Dragon-worship is what brings all the judgments of Revelation. Why is that?

Well, folks, the reality is that when you worship some other entity than the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ, you really are fulfilling the Dragon's plans for you, and you will pay for that.

The very idea that God will judge the world is currently derided and laughed at by many, but all we need to say about this is, "Wait and see."

Here are some of the results that arise from "Dragon worship..."
1. Dragon-worship makes you hate and persecute Christians (Revelation 12:17, 13:6-8. Dragon-worship is the real source of persecution, whatever anyone may say.

2. When the end-game occurs, it will make you willing to accept the "mark of the Beast," in order to buy and sell. Accepting that mark is the single most destructive thing you can do to your own soul. It finalizes your commitment to the Dragon and to the Antichrist, and puts you eternally at odds with the True and Living God.

3. Dragon-worship will curse you, and make you unable to stand before God in the final judgment and you will be destroyed. Revelation 14:9.

4. It will make you the recipient of awful judgments that fall only on the Dragon-worshippers. Revelation 15:1-11,17-21.

5. It will make you wail, weep and find no relief when Jesus Christ returns. Revelation 1:7, 19:12-21.

Had enough? If I'm talking to you, and you happen to be reading this and raging over it because you think I'm an insufferable jerk and a liar and idiot and you wish I was dead, you've probably proved my point, at least in part.

I'm actually your friend. I'm telling you what will happen if you DON'T worship God and His Son Jesus Christ. He is the ONLY way.

So why did I write all this?

Because I read the prophets recently, and most recently Ezekiel, and I once again discovered a truth that is as old as time itself: "Who you worship is everything." I watched, in my mind's eye, as Ezekiel went and discovered what his fellow Jews were doing in Jerusalem (See Ezekiel 8). I also watched as God responded to those evils (See Ezekiel 9)--how few were left alive, and how those who were still alive were subjected to intense misery and suffering (also see Lamentations).

A wise man once said, "God deferred His judgments against Israel and Judah for generations, sending them prophet after prophet, but judgment finally did come because the people wouldn't listen, and when it did come, it was utterly without pity." This is a true statement.

Ecclesiastes said, "Because sentence against an evil work is not swiftly executed, the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."

You think that because judgment is deferred, it will never happen. WRONG.

You also think that it will "not be as bad as all that." Absolutely WRONG. It will be far worse than you imagine, far worse than any of the "dystopian futures" discussed in the current crop of sci-fi movies and series, far worse than the "Zombie Apocalypse," far worse than you ever dreamed, even in your worst nightmares
Endless terror.
Constant oppression.
Forced worship (of the Dragon).
Awful judgments.
And then if you survive all the rest, ...Armageddon, where the bodies heap up until there is no room, and finally, judgment by a God who has divested Himself of all mercy in your case, because you rejected Him and decided on the Dragon and his ways instead--and refused to listen when He begged you to turn to Him.
Do I want this to happen to you? NO.

The real question, though, is "Do you want it to happen to you?" You can avoid all this by turning to God. You may be persecuted, but that is much better than what awaits you if you reject God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus said this: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (John 5:24)

What I want for you is that you decide to follow Jesus Christ completely, so that you do not experience all the evil that is in the Dragon's heart, and all the judgments God has for those who refuse Him. If you refuse God, disaster awaits. If you follow Him, heaven awaits. 

Pretty simple, isn't it?