Archive for June, 2011

The keys to death


                Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me.  And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.  His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.  And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.  But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.  I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.  Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.  Writethe things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.  The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches” (Revelation 1: 12-20.)


                The Apostle John was the author of the book of Revelation.  When the Lord visited him, he was an old man, living in exile on the Aegean Island of Patmos.  John was the last living Apostle; imprisoned for his faith in Jesus Christ (it is generally accepted that John recorded this revelation around 95 A.D.; some sixty years after the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.)  John heard the voice of the Lord and turned and saw Jesus in his Heavenly throne room (in his glorified state.)  His eyes were aflame; his hair was a brilliant white; his feet were like shining brass.  He was bathed in radiance like the shining of the sun.  John was filled with fear and fell face down at Jesus’ feet.  The Lord commanded John to record all that he was about to see and hear.  Jesus verbally expressed four distinct characteristics of his Godly nature; He is eternal and the creator of all things; He cannot die; He can grant eternal life to whomever he desires; and he stands outside of time (to God, the past, present and future are one in the same.)  Jesus also revealed the mysteries of the seven stars and seven Golden lampstands.  The seven golden lampstands were representative of the seven churches of John’s day.  There were large churches in Ephisus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.  The seven stars Jesus held were the seven angels, or spirits that inhabited the churches (Jesus later addressed each individual church, and discussed matters of sin and obedience.)  These churches also stand outside of time (they still exist today.)  Over the course of nearly 2000 years, all seven churches, have grown to circle the earth.  Every true believer is a member of one of God’s churches.  Anyone who does not believe in the God of the bible has no church; they are lost and headed for death and destruction.  Jesus Christ rose from the dead and is seated in heaven as the ‘head of the church.’  The church is ‘the house of God’ and no one in God’s house will ever die.

                Jesus said, “I have the keys of hades and death.”  Only the one true and living God can grant eternal life.  ‘There is an ancient story of a woman who had lost a son; distraught, she sought a way to bring him back to life.  She heard that Buddha had a potion that could bring people back from the dead.  She sought him, and he agreed that he did have such a potion.  Anxious, she asked to help collect herbs to aide him in making the tonic.  Buddha sent her out with one simple requirement; he told her that the herbs had to come from a house that had never been touched by death.  She set out to collect the herbs, but every door she knocked on had (in one way or another) experienced death; (a brother, a cousin, an uncle, a grandparent, a son or daughter.)  The woman came to realize that death afflicts everyone.  She lost hope in the resurrection of her son, and allowed him to be buried.  The woman returned to Buddha to thank him for helping her to come to terms with the death of her child.’  Buddha had no magic potion; he was unable to bring the dead to life.  He was only successful in replacing the woman’s hope with acceptance.  Unlike Buddha, Jesus Christ has replaced the acceptance of death with the hope of resurrection.  Believers understand that there will be a day when they will mourn no more.  Lost loved ones will live again.  For those who love Jesus, death holds no power; all those who have died, will rise to live forever.

                Will you live again?  Are you aware that Jesus is seated on his throne in heaven?  Do you understand that for those who believe, there is no death?  Those who confess that Jesus Christ is their master, and live to please him, are eternal; there is no death, only life.  Don’t lose faith; don’t lose hope; keep your heart and mind focused on that day; the day you and I will see Jesus Christ face to face (just as John saw him); and we will know complete peace; unending peace; eternal peace; in the presence of a loving God.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we recognize Your power and glory.  Jesus we look forward to the day we will see You face to face.  You are the only God, the one true and living God, and we put our faith and trust completely in You.  We trust that we will live forever with You, in Your eternal Kingdom.  Give us the courage and strength to reach out to others who may not know You, that they might come to accept You and receive unending life for themselves.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Correcting Others


                “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite!  First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Mathew 7: 3-5.)


                Critiquing others is a natural and effortless endeavor.  It is human nature to overvalue ourselves, by devaluing others.  There is no better way to feed pride than to look at the faults and shortcomings of those around us (Most people, whether consciously or unconsciously, critique and compare themselves to others daily.)  Some become delusional in this regard, and begin to pick at others; they correct others to avoid facing the difficulties within themselves (focusing on the sins of others, allows them to maintain a positive opinion of themselves.)  Jesus warned his disciples to avoid this form of hypocrisy.  A disciple may humbly point out sin in another person’s life, only when they have had victory over that sin in their own life.  Correcting someone else in any other way is very dangerous indeed; because God, in turn, inspects and corrects the life of the disciple in exactly the same manner and with exactly the same standard as they used to inspect and correct another.

                In 1986, a very well known radio and television minister became aware that a fellow Pastor was guilty of carrying on numerous affairs.  He went public with the information and his friend was removed from his position within the church and publicly humiliated.  Unfortunately, this pastor, who had been more than willing to expose the faults of his colleague, became embroiled in a far more insidious scandal just two years later.  In 1988 he was caught with a prostitute (he had been meeting with her for some time; in an interview she stated, “He was a regular customer”); filled with tears, this minister went on television and confessed his sins to the world, to his congregation, and to his family.  He pleaded and begged for forgiveness.  Despite breaking with his denomination when they claimed ‘he was not truly repentant,’ he continued on in ministry.  In 1991, he was stopped by police for driving on the wrong side of the road, and they found the prostitute he had just picked up sitting in his passenger’s seat.  This time, instead of admitting his fault, he lashed out and proclaimed, “The Lord told me, it’s flat none of your business.”  He later stepped down for a period of time.  This minister was guilty of trying to correct the sexual sins of another, before cleaning up his own sexually deviant lifestyle.  In turn, God judged him according to the standard by which he judged his colleague.

                As believer’s today, self-examination is critical; it is the precursor to effectively helping others.  We must ‘face the demons’ in our own lives, and be victorious over them before we can help others to overcome similar difficulties.  We must be extremely cautious before we attempt to lovingly correct others; for if we judge and correct others, the same judgment and correction will be measured back to us by God.  Have you carefully studied your own life?  Are you guilty of using the faults of others to feel better about yourself?  Are you trying to correct others in areas you yourself need correction?  Take time daily to evaluate yourself; write down behaviors that are in opposition to the will of God.  Record the sins that plague you; pray for deliverance and be diligent in your efforts to repent.  You will fight many battles, but with God’s help, you will be a conqueror.  With each new victory, God will use you as a light to guide others who desire victory over their own sins.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask that You protect us from the sin of hypocrisy.  May we refrain from measuring others in prideful ways; may we not correct others when we ourselves need correction.  Help us in our battles and reveal areas of sin in our lives.  Lord, if there are any opportunities to help others who struggle with the sins we have conquered by Your power, we pray that You would give us opportunities to speak to them and to help them to be victorious as well.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Making Amends


                “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mathew 5: 23-24.)               


                No one can have a close relationship with God in a vacuum; everyone lives within a social structure, made up of family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and complete strangers.  Our relationships with others are a reflection of our relationship with God; if we sin against someone, we also sin against God; if we have cheated anyone, we have also cheated God.  When we lie, slander, or feel hatred toward another person, we have lied, slandered, and hated the One True and Living God.  In the first century many Jewish families journeyed long distances to sacrifice animals to atone for their sins and to be restored to a right relationship with God.  Jesus taught that prior to offering a sacrifice to God for restoration and forgiveness, everyone had to make right, the harms they had committed against others.  This principal, known as ‘making amends’ is still very much in effect today. 

                In June of 2005 I landed in a rehabilitation center in Anaheim California.  Although not yet saved, I began working a 12 step program.  The 12 steps have been shunned by many churches that see them as pagan.  Although they are pagan, and do not acknowledge Jesus Christ, the 12 steps and the principals were taken almost completely from the bible.  Those who formed the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous were Christians, strongly influenced by Jesus; the literature used by those early recovering alcoholics was the bible (specifically the book of James, the sermon on the mount, and 1 Corinthians 13.)  Personally, after about a year and ½ in to my new found sobriety, I received the Lord and began to read the bible.  I continued to work the steps as well.  I came across this scripture, where Jesus commanded his followers to apologize and make restitution for the wrongs they had committed.  I immediately recognized that Jesus’ command had been the basis for the eighth and the ninth steps.  The eighth step reads, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to amends to them all,” and the ninth step reads, Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”  From 2005 until today, I have continued to make amends to others I have harmed.  I have made restitution, paid off debts, and asked for forgiveness from many who were affected by my sins.  With every debt paid and every apology given, I have felt my Spirit drawing ever closer to my teacher, my Lord, and my God.

                Today, if you are struggling to get closer to God, you might consider examining your past mistakes and previous sins against others; if you have stolen from anyone (and have the capacity to repay what you took) go to them and make restitution.  If you have lied, and your lies have caused hardships for others, return and speak the truth.  If you mistreated someone and they are harboring resentment, humble yourself and ask them for forgiveness.  Making amends is a very real and essential part of what it means to be a Christian; often the pathway toward a more Godly future, leads through the sins of our past; what we do with those sins once we have faced them, will determine whether we go deeper with God, or remain distant from Him.  The choice is ours to make.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and lift You up; You are worthy to be praised.  Father, if we have harmed anyone in our past and have not gone back to make restitution, we ask that You would make us aware of our wrongs.  Give us strength and humility, that we might ask for forgiveness, and be reconciled to those who resent us.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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