Hard Times

Play Folk Music
"Hard Times" Mavis Staples, (Stephen Foster)
"All the Good Times are Past and Gone" (Norman and Nancy Blake)

Times  of Stress

I keep running onto people who are apparently living in near-total denial! This very day Worldometers tells me that 120,000 babies will be aborted and 150,000 people will die. Many around me can't wait until things get back to normal, whatever that is. Sorry, it ain't gonna happen. Aslan is on the move--Almighty God is stirring, and He is a man to be reckoned with!

I know only one contemporary friend who is interested in world history! He is great to talk to because he forces me to access all sorts of great stuff I was steeped in fifty years ago. I remember now my 7th grade world history teacher Mrs. Edna Bruce — she was absolutely enthralling in showing us kids glimpses of European History. Stanford University back in the old days required every entering freshman to take a full year of Western Civilization. I am appalled to realize how dumbed-down the present generation is! Biblical illiteracy is at an all-time high, but there is no excuse for anyone not knowing something about history!

At least a third of Americans identify themselves as "Christians." "I accepted Jesus in Sunday school because it was the right thing to do, but I out grew that myth when I got into college." "I lost job and got kicked out of my parents' home, so I prayed to God to help me, and He did but then....I drifted away." "I was horny all the time, so I asked God for a wife. For a few years everything about being married was cool, but then..." "I was a high school dropout so I prayed to God for a job. God gave me my own company to run and a wonderful house, wife and kids, we attended church. But then..."

How about "a long obedience to Jesus in the same direction?"

Is the real Jesus that dull, boring, uninteresting? Is it any wonder that many professing Christians are dull and boring?

"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power."

A chain of events followed the work of God in creation—all has gone downhill since, as far as knowing the real God is concerned. In Physics Entropy Always Increases. Apart from sustaining life from God, the vast and highly ordered reservoirs of energy built in during creation week have been steadily declining for the past seven thousand years.

The notion of "progress" is an illusion! The mortality rate of mankind is still a flat 100%. There are presently nearly 200 nations on earth. Generally none get along well with their neighbors, either in-country, next door, or far away.

At the beginning of the 20th Century there was widespread belief that an era of peace and prosperity lay just ahead. World War One shattered that delusion. A League of Nations was quickly formed in 1920. But that group proved impotent leading to the formation of the United Nations in 1945, right after the terrible Second World War (1941-1945).

The UN was established after World War II with the aim of preventing future wars, succeeding the ineffective League of Nations. On 25 April 1945, 50 governments met in San Francisco for a conference and started drafting the UN Charter, which was adopted on 25 June 1945 and took effect on 24 October 1945, when the UN began operations. Pursuant to the Charter, the organization's objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development, and upholding international law. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; this number grew to 193 in 2011, representing almost all of the world's sovereign states. (Wikipedia)

Wikipedia lists wars from 500 BC to now, nearly two hundred in number, with WW1 claiming 122,000,000 million lives, and WW2, 70,000,000 lives. This is not counting widows and orphans, or the costs of war on the economy. No one I know believes (right now today) that world peace is humanly possible. But without God in charge and Jesus rejected, we've got to try, some die-hards say.

The stage is being now set for a great secular champion to emerge. The term "Antichrist" refers someone who comes to power instead of Christ. He will be a Jesus look alike. Watch for him to appear in Europe and to work in cahoots with a soon-to-come-on-stage "king" in Israel -- replacing the monocameral government which has been in place the last 72 years. The bad guy will look and act like Jesus but be innerly possessed by the fallen angel, Satan.

The United States is nowhere to be seen in Bible prophecy about the end of the age, Ezekiel 38-39, for instance. Incidentally the Antichrist can not appear on stage until the people of Christ, are out of here at the Rapture, (2 Thessalonians 2)

(Denial is not a river in Egypt by the way)

The Near Future

Coming Soon! Increased Social Disorder, More Mind-control, Rise of the False Messiah, Synergy of World Religions, Law and Order Enforced, Better Life Through Chemicals, One World Administration, The 144,000, The Overall Rule of Heaven on Earth, Times of Stress in the World, Perilous Times

The Bible says that the primary cause of these repetitive cycles of stress and danger is the hypocritical lives of Christians who outwardly look pious, religious, committed and devoted, but are actually unchanged inside and have no power to overcome evil in their lives. Hypocritical Christianity -- that is the bottom line in these times of stress. I do not think any of us really grasps the revelation of Scripture about the nature of the church. The New Testament everywhere seeks to convince us that the church is the most important body of people in the world. God builds society around what happens in the church. The church is in control of history. "You are the salt of the earth," Jesus said (Matthew 5:13a). If the salt loses its savor, becomes saltless, without flavor, the whole world will go to pot. "You are the light of the world," he said (Matthew 5:14a). If the light dims, the whole world will sink into darkness. That is what the Scriptures tell us. Immorality in the world is caused by insincerity in Christians. Darkness among the nations is an outgrowth of ignorance and darkness in the church. (Ray Stedman)

We don’t want revival
—and most of us don’t want the rapture either. 

 “Leave us alone God.” 
“Can’t you see I’m Busy?”
”Mind your own Business God.” 
“I’ll Call You When I Need You” 
“Hell No, I Won’t Go.” 
“You Owe Me Big Time God.” 
“I’m Entitled to a Decent Life.”

Meanwhile Down on Planet Earth...

All manner of prophecy experts today keep talking about how living down here in earth after the Rapture will be terrible and violent. These commentators seem to all assume they will be Left Behind! 

No one these days apparently really looks forward to seeing Jesus, meeting loved ones who have gone before, or getting acquainted with fellow pilgrims, let alone meeting the great saints of all the ages. Is no one among us eager to take part in the marriage Supper of Jesus? How about our part in the ages to come? Should not our “leaders” be telling us about our unfolding place in history and our glorious future, ruling and reigning with Jesus? Need we be preoccupied with God’s just treatment for all left behind who continue to refuse His mercy and grace? I guess Jesus is fading away into oblivion after all? Too bad His program failed so miserably. 

Other people I know can’t wait to get to heaven—as if heaven was merely an awards ceremony set up to congratulate us for all our great accomplishments and meritorious deeds. “Heaven” is way more, I am convinced. The unqualified won't be able take in the splendor. Jesus in glory is the central attraction, which is a sharp contrast to how we treated Jesus on His first visit to the planet. He, in fact, owns the whole place, leaving us mere houseguests in a universe that does not belong to us!

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. 

“I do not receive honor from men. “But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 

“I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.” (Jesus in John 5:39-43)

By now it ought to be clear that we earth-dwellers are not peace-loving at all! We can't save even ourselves. As for the nature of the human heart Jesus taught:

"For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery,coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man."(Mark 7:21-23)

James, the half-brother of Jesus came to know God after the resurrection of Jesus. He went on to become the leader of the early Jewish-Christian church in Jerusalem. His epistle is probably the earliest letter we have in the New Testament. In Chapter Four, James puts his finger squarely on the reason why violence, fighting and wars are in the world:

What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war (stratos) in your members? You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

The Greek original is interesting because "wars" (machomai) and "fightings (polemos) in this passage are military terms in the original. They refer to the individual campaigns and skirmishes as well as a war as a totality. "Members" is melos in Greek--from which our English word "melody" is derived! "Passions" (or pleasures), hedone, is the root for our English word "hedonism."

James bluntly states that the pursuit of pleasure, living for self- choosing false gods and the resulting spiritual adultery is what causes our unfulfilled search for pleasure and happiness to turn into hatred, violence and murder! We were made to find our fulfillment living in union with God. When we choose other gods instead, we act contrary to the way the universe was made to function--our idolatry leads to emptiness and despair. It can not be otherwise.

Unfaithful creatures! (Greek: adulteresses, feminine, plural)

Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is in vain that the scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us"? But he gives more grace; therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

Finally James urges us to turn wholeheartedly to God--for therein in our salvation and the means of repairing and restoring a broken social order. Without God's help we as a people have no defense against the forces of darkness which seek to erupt and destroy us all.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. (James 4:1-10)

The Root Cause of Violence in Society
The Man Who Claims to be God
When Men Become Beasts

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness." (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)

From Ray Stedman:

...Bible scholars sometimes talk about a revived Roman Empire to be made up of 10 nations who will give their authority to a single individual. This satanically controlled man will rule in the geographic area of the old Roman Empire. That is why many people have been watching what is happening in Europe today, not only the ferment and upheavals of Eastern Europe, but also the changes in Western Europe, the site of the old Roman Empire. There, nations are softening their nationalistic passions and seeking to unite together in a United States of Europe. Some commentators have sought to identify this ten-kingdomed coalition with the European Common Market, or the European Economic Community (EEC). For awhile that organization did have ten members, but it has now increased to twelve or thirteen, so it is evident that it is not the actual revived empire, but it may be a predecessor. What is clear is that the direction of movement is toward the very thing we read of here. There will come a coalition of nations in Western Europe...

Blasphemy is to claim godlike powers, to claim to be God, or to identify God with lesser persons or objects. Idolatry, for instance, is blasphemy. That is what this individual becomes guilty of. He blasphemes God by claiming to have the powers of God, as we have seen. It would also involve an attack upon those who do not accept his claims. He ridicules and slanders those who do believe in God and in heaven (the unseen spiritual realm that exists), and whose thinking is centered upon and guided by the teaching of the Word of God. Those who thus "tabernacle in heaven" are not people who have died and gone to heaven. They are saints who live on the earth but whose lives are governed by heavenly realities. It is exactly what the apostle says about the church today. "Our citizenship," he says in Philippians, "is in heaven," (Philippians 3:20). We are strangers and sojourners on earth, but our true citizenship is in heaven. Let us read on.

This second beast arises from the earth, used throughout the book as a symbol of Israel. That is why most biblical scholars say this man is probably a Jew. He comes from Israel and has "two horns like a lamb, but he talks like a dragon." He looks like a lamb, but he talks like a dragon. He is, therefore, a fake lamb, to put it bluntly. This is the Antichrist, the one who comes instead of Christ, who offers himself as though he were Christ. It is for this reason I believe the term Antichrist is properly applied to this second beast, although both beasts are anti-Christian in character. Horns speak of power, and this man has two lamb-like powers. Jesus also had these powers: the powers of a priest and of a prophet. This man acts as both. Jesus is a priest who leads men and women all over the world to worship the Father; and this individual is a priest, leading the world to worship the first beast.

Many have pointed out that we have here a kind of Satanic trinity -- the first beast corresponding to the Father, the false prophet corresponding to the Son, and the dragon himself, Satan, playing the role of the invisible Holy Spirit. It is Satan's imitation of the true God. The false priest accomplishes his aim in getting the world to worship the beast in a very remarkable way, described in 13 through 15.... In Verse 16 we learn this man also rebuilds the world's economic system.

"He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666." (Revelation 13:16-18)

Evidently during these days worldwide commerce will be rigidly controlled from a central headquarters. Again we know that the technology to do this is already in place. If you have a credit card you know that your entire credit information can be imprinted on that little metallic strip on the back so that whenever you present that card everyone will instantly know whether you are a cheapskate or that you pay your bills. You cannot hide. Furthermore, we are told that it can all be actually implanted in a tiny disk in the skin on the back of the hand or on the forehead or wherever desired, so that information about you can be read by passing your hand under a beam of light just as they do now in the supermarkets with the bar codes. The technology is already available. It is remarkable how we are apparently drawing close to these days.

The mark, of course, is Satan's imitation of God's seal on his own people. In Revelation Chapter 7 we learned that 144,000 from the tribes of Israel were sealed on their foreheads by God. That indicates they are owned by God, they belong to him. The Apostle Paul says that Christians are sealed today. Every believer in Christ is sealed by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God comes to dwell in us and he will never leave. It is the sign that we belong to God. "You are not your own ... you are bought with a price," (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a). You cannot live your life for yourself anymore. You belong to God. Christians in the First Century often had to make a public choice once a year between declaring "Caesar is Lord," or "Jesus is Lord." Many of them died because they would not say "Caesar is Lord." So there comes again a scheme devised by these two leaders to force people to declare whether they belong to the beast or to the Lord. Which will it be, "the Beast is Lord" or "Jesus is Lord?"

The mark that is mentioned is said to be either the name of the beast or the number of his name. It is referring to the first beast, not the second. The second is called later "the false prophet," (Revelation 16:3, 19:20, 20:10). Also the first beast is simply called "the beast." The mark is the name of that beast or its number. His name is unknown. It is never referred to, but the number is given -- 666.

Surely the most foolish thing you can do is to try to identify this person today by using number 666. You know, of course, that the ancient languages used letters for numbers. If you use Roman numerals today you use letters in place of numbers. The Greek language was similar. The letters have numerical value and many feel that when you add up the numerical value of certain names if it comes out to 666 that person must be the Antichrist. The problem is they try this with English letters. That is simply stupid, because you are working with the wrong language to start with. Also there is another excellent reason to view such a practice as foolish which I will show you in just a moment.

First let me give you a brief list of names that have been identified as the Antichrist by this means: Nero, of course, was one of the first. One of his predecessors as emperor was Caligula, the mad emperor, and his name supposedly adds up to 666. Then the successor to Nero was Domitian, and his name, with a little manipulation, can be added up in this way. So also was Mohammed, Oliver Cromwell, John Knox, Martin Luther, various popes, and, of course, Adolf Hitler. Even poor Henry Kissinger had to bear this stigma, and now, of course, it is Gorbachev. It is really ridiculous to use this method because the clue given here is the important thing. Look what it says, "This calls for wisdom." No Tom, Dick, or Harry with a calculator can figure this out. This calls for wisdom! "If any one has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast."

Now here is the clue: "it is man's number." Not a man's number. It is man's number. It is the number associated with man. It is not an individual in view here at all. It reveals the character of the one who is talking and acting and living. If you see someone acting like God, claiming unusual powers, and teaching people that man is in charge of all things, that he can do anything, you are listening to a man, and his thinking reflects the number of man, 666. It is man's number. Eugene Peterson says something very helpful on this:

Expose these religious pretensions. This religion has nothing to do with God. Get its number: it is a human number. This is not divine mystery, but a confidence man's patter; it is religion that makes a show, religion that vaunts itself, religion that takes our eyes off of the poor and suffering and holy Christ. In the language of numbers, 666 is a triple failure to be a 777, the three-times perfect, whole, divine number.

So we see that John is showing us how the devil works. He attempts to organize behavior and from that always comes violence. When any government turns totalitarian and seeks to control every deed, every act, of its citizens, it produces a violent reaction. Turn on your television sets and you will see it in every news broadcast today. The Antichrist tries to organize belief as well as behavior, and when belief is organized it always produces deceit. There is nothing more deceitful than false religion. These are the weapons of Satan: He either intimidates or deceives. He has only two weapons, force and fantasy, lying and brutality, one or the other, or a mixture of both</font>

What this text is saying is that when he is violent, then wait, endure, be patient! God will work this all out. His rules will never be set aside. Sooner or later Satan's instrument will hang himself, as Judas did; he will be caught up in his own web. And when he lies, "Think," God says, "be critical, evaluate!" When anyone acts godlike, makes pretentious claims, claims supernatural gifts and demands obedience, that is not God talking. He is not from God. It is just a man, that is all, thinking and acting like a fallen man. It is not the real Lamb -- it is only a fake lamb, so laugh at him and refuse to follow him. But be prepared to hold out even unto death! That is the message of this chapter. I hope you can see how true this is, how it is confirmed by life around us every day. We are headed for these very things at a greater speed then we have ever seen before in the history of the world. --When Men Become Beasts.

We are created beings, the "offspring" of God “who alone has life and immortality.” If disconnected from the Source we all die! 

God saves men, women, and children one at a time. His concerns are for every person down here. He even loves His enemies--and He desires that not one should perish. God is Love. When our first parents, Adam and Eve, became estranged from God--disconnected that is, God did not leave them with no hope.

But God saves Adam differently from the way He saves Eve, to a degree. Males and females each bear the image of God. We are different in soul and body, but identical in spirit. God addresses us Spirit to spirit, first and foremost through logical, rational truth. He also speaks to us directly, experientially, emotionally through love. The first mode leads to the whole field of theology and what is called, 'sound doctrine.' His other approach is to love us directly, usually through people. Truth perceived through the gate of our emotions can be more convincing subjectively than information entering through the brain. Jesus is called the Logos of God (M) and also the Wisdom of God (sophia, F). Everything depends upon how well one knows Jesus! Some insist on "sound doctrine" as the measure of truth insisting their friends' list is limited to adherents of their form of "dead orthodoxy." Whole denominations govern themselves this way -- throwing the baby with the bath water by believing the universe is mostly Logos with minimal Sophia. At the other end of the spectrum are the wild-eyed charismatics who are openly relational but may have little concern about what God has actually said in His Word, the Bible. In this camp, more fail, are deceived or led astray, probably, more often than their brothers and sisters who are at least Biblically literate. Jesus stands above this dilemma, saving whomever He wills.

Many today do not fall into either category of belief. Jesus trains each and everyone who knows Him, meeting us where we are, not where we ought to be. But neither sex has been given the whole enchilada. The importance of knowing the whole Bible well can't be overemphasized,

Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19)

God's current strategy in saving every who can possibly be saved, is to turn up the heat and pull the rug out from the self-satisfied.

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

1. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)

2. "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10)

The history of History of Israel has been archived for us in the Old Testament. The New Testament is full of very good news! Ignore the Bible at your own risk.  But terrible blunders have taken place because of ignorance of who God really is or, by presumptuous sin. Even the Apostle Paul blew it big time later in life.

Who is Your Authority Figure?

Mom and Dad? Your Teacher? Your Pastor? The President? Your Employer? The Virgin Mary? The Pope? Your Spouse? Your Intuition? Your Ego? Buddha? Allah? Confucius? Other? Knowing Jesus as He is all about authority!

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him. " (1 Peter 3:19-22)

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." (Colossians 2:6-9)

Homework Assignments

Strike the Shepherd
Revival? Not Likely
2020 Lockdown Distresses
The Approaching Time of the End
Rapture Shock
The Left Behind
Denial is Not a River in Egypt
The Backside of Love
If the Rapture Happened Today
The One hundred forty-four Thousand
City Living in New Jerusalem
Rapture and Second Advent 
City Living
The Seven Churches in New Jerusalem
The Revirginized Bride

Momentary Light Affliction
Six Hours in Eternity on The Cross

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (Matthew 24:36-42)

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July 30, 2020. September 1, 2023.