God’s Still Plays Music On Broken Chords

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free bing pictures broken down piano keys

There is a true story found in the pages of a book entitled, Tramp for the Lord. The story is that of brokenness, specifically the brokenness of the country of Germany after WWII. The people of that nation were devastated at the end of the war, and many were astounded to hear of Hitler’s atrocities. Some who had had positions of importance had lost everything, including their home, their job, their family, and their dignity.

It was into this scene that Corrie ten Boom enters, turning a concentration camp of horror into a transitional home for those who were destitute. While visiting such a transformed facility, she met an older woman who sat in a corner of a large room that she shared with three families. The woman had been a concert pianist and a professor of music before the war. Now, she had lost everything. However, a pastor offered her the use of a piano miles away in a church that had been demolished by bombs, but the piano was untouched.

One thing led to another, and Corrie ten Boom was invited to hear this woman play. After walking miles and miles (since there was no other mode of transportation), they finally reached their destination. As the woman sat down to play, she asked Corrie if she would like to hear something in particular. Breathing a prayer, Corrie responded, “The Chromatic Fantasy” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJ5IkHlKQrw). Well, Ms. Ten Boom was appalled with her selection for it is one of Bach’s (and truly one of classical music’s) most difficult pieces ever written. Not only this, but though the piano had survived the bombs it had not survived the inclement weather. It was soggy, dilapidated, with all of its peddles broken off. The ivory of the keys was non-existant, and the chords were terribly rusting and some were even broken. Corrie looked on in horror, wondering what on earth was about to happen.

The older concert pianist smiled however, poised her fingers above the broken keys, and prepared to play. Her fingers flew across those decaying keys, and unexpected heavenly music danced in Corrie ten Boom’s shocked ears. How could such a weather worn piano play with such elegance, and how could such a war-crushed woman play with such poise? (For the rest of the story read: Tramp for the Lord, page 47-50, “Music from Broken Chords”).

We all in a way are like that piano. Even the woman in the story was like that weathered, battered piano. We too are weathered. She thought life had robbed her and left her a mere shell, devoid of purpose. We too have been through experiences that have left us less than perfect. The rains of life have left us soggy but not unusable. The rust of life has crept up on us over time, even as weeds encroach upon a garden, but our chords are still musical. We too are still capable of playing beautiful music. We too are vessels that can still be used by God.

There are many in the Bible who were weathered and worn, but one in particular stood out to me, and her name is Naomi. We read in the book of Ruth that Naomi first had to leave her home, family and friends behind because of a devastating famine (vs. 1). Then, while trying to survive in a foreign land, her husband died (vs. 3). Still reeling from the loss of her husband and hoping that all was turning around, Naomi went on to lose not one but both of her childless sons (vs. 5). All too easily we can glance over those verses and hurry on to the rest of the story. But truly it is astounding to note that in a mere 5 verses we catch a glimpse of the enormity of Naomi’s losses. For indeed, she’s lost everything. In verse 13 she states that she felt the hand of the Lord was against her (vs 13). Later when she returns to the land of Israel, she tells her old friends to call her Mara meaning “bitter” instead of Naomi which means “sweet” (vs 20). She goes on to say that when her family and she had left the land of Israel because of the famine, her heart and life had been full. There may have been a horrible famine, but life was good. However now, though she still owned the land, it meant nothing to her for she was returning to it empty (vs 21). She had no husband, no sons, no grandchildren and no prospect of them, no money and no prospect of it, and therefore, no future. Or so she thought…

For the story doesn’t end there, for unbeknownst to her, her daughter-in-law, the young, quiet, gentle, Moabite woman who begs to accompany her in her devastation and despair, is ordained by God to become the great grandmother of King David and was to be in the lineage of Jesus, the Savior of the World.

But, all too often we can be like Naomi, focused on our losses, focused how we used to be full but now are empty, focused on the past, thinking we’ve no future. The devil loves to keep us in the slough of despond, wallowing about unable to move beyond our present experiences. Or maybe we think our best days are over, that we’ve no real purpose now. The devil loves to keep us thinking like this too, for it keeps our minds on what we are not, instead of on who God is in us.

In 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 we read,

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

Now, this passage talks to us about “light” and “earthen vessels” and “glory”. So let’s take a closer look!

First of all, what is this “light”? In Genesis 1 God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God separated the light from the darkness. This was a physical light that the darkness could not overwhelm. In John 1 God said He sent the Light of Jesus into the World. He is the spiritual light of the world that the darkness could not understand nor overcome. This same light of Jesus has shined in our hearts, and His fellowship with us has brought about illumination to our spirits that we might begin to comprehend who He truly is.

Second of all, what are the “earthen vessels”? In Exodus 31-32 God wrote His law on actual stone tablets. It says that with His finger He wrote it and engraved it. However, God predicted that the day would come when He would write His Word upon the hearts of His people and not on stone. 2 Corinthians 3:3 states that Christians are the “epistles” or letter of Christ written by the Spirit of God on “fleshly tables of the heart.” Indeed, we are those “fleshly tables,” those “earthen vessels” made of clay and extremely fragile. Nevertheless, upon these earthen vessels are written the very Words of God.

And lastly, what is “glory”? “Glory” means to think or recognize. It is the value of something or someone based on God’s perfect objective opinion. When speaking of the glory of God it means His unchanging essence.

When we give God glory we are giving Him His full recognition. Thus, the “glory of God” is essentially what He is, and the “glory of man” is what God created him to be.

2 Corinthians 3:7,9,13, 18 states,

“But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance…for if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory…And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished…”

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Now, from these passages it appears that “glory” also has a light to it, because Moses had to veil his face because of the glory of God that shone from it. Not only did Moses’ face glow, but the glow faded. It was actually more the fading of the light that was covered by the veil than the glow.

However, the glory of God in the “face of Jesus” is unfading and undimmed, and we all look with unveiled face upon His radiance and splendor, and are changed from glory to glory to look more and more like Him. Though we are simple, fragile pottery made of clay, He has written His Word on us and has filled us with the treasures of His light and understanding. Each of us is written on by God, filled with the unfading glory of God, and are storage vessels of God’s vast treasure. We contain the wealth of heaven, glow with God’s essence and are engraved by God’s finger.

No, we may not be the grandparents of a king nor may we be in the lineage of the Savior of the World, but we are all individually God’s masterpieces created for good works in Christ, and those good works don’t end when we hit a certain age or when we lose a spouse or when we are unemployed or when we think we have no purpose. Bitter Naomi who thought life was over had impacted a young woman, altering that young woman’s life forever. In spite of all of Naomi’s disappointments and disillusionment, Ruth had seen the one true and real God in Naomi, and because of this, Ruth abandoned everything to follow Naomi and her God. Naomi still had purpose even when she thought she didn’t. Naomi thought she was too old, but she wasn’t. Naomi had given up, but God hadn’t.

Let us not limit God! For, indeed, no matter how broken we are, no matter how disappointed we are, no matter how flawed we are, no matter how old we are, no matter if our families are Christian or not, no matter how the rains of life have left us rusted and the strings of our piano broken, God has chosen to write upon us, to light us up with His glory, to stash His treasure into these vessels of clay, and to play His celestial music through our broken chords.

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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

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Bible and Glasses

Last Bible Study

Last time we looked at 2 Timothy 3:15-17 which states that every letter and smallest mark of Scripture is holy to the Lord and every book therein is God-breathed or inspired. There is not the smallest part of Scripture that is not inspired, and Jesus even states that not one jot or tittle of the Bible will pass away until ALL is fulfilled (Matthew 5:18). Thus, as the inspired Word it is God’s voice to us, through which the Spirit can lead us into all truth. In the words of Corrie ten Boom, “Now you are listening to the voice of God. Keep listening. He has much more to say to you.”

The importance of God’s Word thus being established, let’s move on into the area of how we are to interpret the Bible.

Our Passage For Today

Second Timothy 2:15 states, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” In other words we are to “Zealously and diligently make every effort to stand approved (just as metal is in the fire) to God, an unashamed workman who accurately, correctly and skillfully handles the Word of Truth.” Since this is so imperative and important, what does it mean to “rightly divide” the Scripture?

Food For Thought

Let’s say it’s your job to assign everyone a duty based on their gifting. Some of you may think you know someone, we’ll call him “Doug”, pretty well just by looking at him, and you need to give him a job. So, because he likes music you decide he’s going to be a ballerina. You give him ballet slippers, a tutu, and tights. Did you interpret him correctly? Did you apply him to the right work? NO! “Doug” likes to sing, not dance!! (But, he says that if he had to do ballet he’d want a pink tutu like his granddaughters have!)

Your next assignment is to buy snacks for “Jennifer”. You haven’t really talked with her much, but you think you know her pretty well because you see her in the dining room every day. Something you always see on her tray is potato chips so you assume that she prefers salty snacks. So you buy her all sorts of salty things. But, did you interpret her correctly? Did you apply the correct snacks to her? NO! “Jennifer” prefers sweets!

Lastly you are to assign someone to be a hostess at a large party. Since you have seen “Sally” interacting with many different people, laughing in the hallway, dining room, and activity room you think she must be an extrovert who is good at socializing. So, you assign her to the role of party planner and hostess. But, were you right in your assumption based on your observations? NO!! “Sally” does not like parties nor is good at small talk and socializing!!

It’s all about CONTEXT. For years in school, professors would say, “Context, context, context.”

After all, a TEXT without CONTEXT is PRETEXT. A pretext is a half-truth based on faulty understandings. So, when we sit down and read the Bible, one must read it within context. How do we keep things in context?

1.) Look at the whole chapter, not just a single verse.

2.) Look at the whole book, not just the chapter.

Who is the audience?

How would the audience have understood that passage?

Who is the author?

What was happening historically/culturally at that time?

Ex. Luke 10:3-4 “Go your ways: behold I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.”

Now that sounds downright unfriendly!!! Don’t salute anyone? However, Salute does not mean “hi” but was an elaborate form of greeting that included sitting down together and lots of talking about family and friends and could last far more than an hour!!

Be careful with grammar that appears contradictory:

Ex. Habakkuk 1:13

“Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity…”

Does NOT mean that God doesn’t see evil. What it means is that God does not condone evil.

Ex. 1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not.”

Compared with 1 John 1:10 “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

So, what is going on here? Grammar!! When it says that those born of God sinneth not, it means they do not “habitually sin” anymore. We all have sinned in the past, but we are now no longer habitually sinning.

**Whenever we think there is a contradiction in the Bible, that seeming contradiction is because of our own misunderstanding of the grammar or history/culture of the time! The Bible NEVER contradicts itself!!!**

Ex. My friend and the yoke vs. yolk. Jesus said, My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Well, my high school friend thought this meant an over-easy yolk of an egg. Not only is this a grammatical issue but is a spelling issue!! After all, Jesus was speaking about a yoke for oxen not the yolk of an egg!!

3.) Look at books by the same author to see if something more is said on the topic

4.) Look at books by different authors in the New Testament

The topic of “Judging” in Matthew 7 vs. Corinthians 6

5.) Look at the books by different authors in the Old Testament.

Only AFTER a thorough examination are we to APPLY the Word to us today. It is only after ALL of this that we can more accurately apply Scripture to our daily lives.

This may seem like a lot. You might think, shouldn’t we just read it? Just reading it is a good start, but, 2 Timothy states that we are to skillfully handle the Sword of the Spirit that is the Word of God. And, Proverbs 25:2 states, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” We are not merely to read; we are to search through God’s Word as for buried treasure.

We must not assume or jump to conclusions when reading God’s Word. We may think we understand it because we read through it completely at some point in our lives or because we heard a good sermon on the passage or we memorized that passage when we were ten. But, that is not “rightly dividing”. When it says in 2 Timothy that we are to “Study”, that means we are to do so “zealously, making every effort with all earnestness”. First Peter 2:2 says, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby…” We’re supposed to be hungry for God’s Word. For according to Jesus, “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Our Current Passage

Now, according to 2 Timothy 2:15, why are we to “rightly divide” the Bible? To show ourselves “approved unto God”. Approved carries the concept of metal that has been tried in the fire. For it goes on to say in verses 20-21, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”

Thus, those who are studying God’s Word, seeking its hidden treasures, hungering and thirsting for it like babies are ravenous for nourishment, are like gold and silver that have been refined in the fire, are vessels of honor in God’s house, and able to please Him.

The Chapter

In contrast to the one who diligently studies the Bible, 2 Timothy 2 speaks of those who do not study God’s Word, but are instead, studying man’s words such as the words of their own opinions, empty discussions, foolish questions, and quarreling. They are those who are “ever learning” but “never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).

The Book

Second Timothy is the last of Paul’s epistles, and is written to a young pastor named Timothy. He is imprisoned in Rome. Nero is emperor in the 60s. Paul is facing his own imminent execution. Young Timothy is pastoring in Ephesus (1:18; 4:19), and is facing persecution outside of the church and false teachers inside of the church. Since evil words from seducers and deceivers were flying everywhere like fiery darts, Timothy is to “Study to show himself approved, rightly dividing the word of truth.” He is to preach that word of truth and sound doctrine and make “full proof of his ministry” (4:1-5).

Paul’s Other Letters

The subject of Knowing God’s Word is emphasized in Paul’s other letters as well. In 1 Corinthians he calls them spiritual babes who still need milk when they should be ready for the meat of the Word. And in Galatians he calls them foolish for abandoning the unpolluted Gospel for another Gospel of works.

The New Testament

Hebrews 5:11-14 says that the readers were “dull of hearing” and were in need of milk instead of meat, and are therefore, “unskilful in the word of righteousness…but strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

And Acts 17 praises the Berean people for searching the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul taught was true.

The Old Testament

And then in the Old Testament we see such verses as Deuteronomy 8:3 which Jesus quoted, “…that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” and Psalm 1:1-2 “Blessed is the man…[whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night”, and Proverbs 6:23, “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.”

Conclusion

Just because Brother “Doug” loves music does not make him a dancer much less a ballerina. Just because Sister “Jennifer” is seen to have a bag of potato chips at her table does not mean that she prefers salty snacks over sweet ones. And just because Sister “Sally” is heard talking and laughing with numerous people does not mean she would ever be a gifted socialite or perfect party planner. We must not just assume things with each other, thinking that we know each other.

Even so, we don’t want to assume to know the Bible, but must desire to know the Scriptures correctly so that we can correctly apply it to our lives and thus, glorify God. Let us therefore, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Why We Study The Word

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Bible and Glasses

2 Timothy 3:1, 13-16 reads:

“1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

What Corrie ten Boom said is true: “Now you are listening to the voice of God. Keep listening. He has much more to say to you,” (Corrie ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord, page 127-130). Oh how God longs for His people to be in His word, to be listening to His voice written there. How often we run to devotionals, to popular literature by others about what they think the Bible says, and even to uninspired sermons based on the opinions of commentators and theologians. But what about His word that lies dusty on a shelf or under a stack of other books or in a drawer or laying in a corner somewhere? And when we do open it, we become so distracted that we don’t get much read and very little of it is thought about.

But, according to Jesus, we shall not live by bread (food) alone, but by every word of God (Matthew 4). And Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16 says that, “All Scripture is inspired.” The Greek for inspired there is God-breathed. This is the same word that is used in Genesis when it says that God breathed into Adam and Eve the breath of life, and they became living souls. God’s word is God-breathed too. Thus, it is “living and active” (Hebrews 4) and life giving.

I’m going to go just a little bit deeper a minute. Stick with me if you can.

There are two Greek words used for the Word of God in these verses. Ta hiera grammata meaning “holy scriptures” and pasa graphe meaning “all Scripture”. So….there are two different words here used for Scripture. Graphe and Grammata.

In verse 15 “holy Scripture”, reveals to us that every microscopic detail matters to God and has been consecrated to Him. To begin with, the adjective used to define writings/Scripture is the term SACRED, which is hieros in the Greek meaning, “sacred and that which may not be violated” and refers to one’s position of office not one’s character. Thus, the scriptures have been given a holy position by God Himself. They are holy because He has consecrated them and made them holy. The Scriptures that have been consecrated are the very “letters of the alphabet,” even each book is made up of those letters. The letters of the alphabet mentioned here would be the letters of the Hebrew alphabet specifically, which Timothy had been trained up in since a child. And these sacred letters of the Hebrew alphabet make up the words of the books of the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures). These letters and individual books have been made holy by the Lord.

What is the importance of every letter in Scripture? Jesus in Matthew 5:18 states, that “18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” A iota/jot is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and a tittle is the Greek word keraia which refers to the small stroke of the pen that helped to distinguish the difference between the letters. Both the iota and keraia are extremely small, yet extremely important! After all, Jesus said that they are. The smallest marks of the pen in the Scriptures is extraordinarily significant. Indeed, every letter makes up a specific word, and every mark (that distinguished one letter from another) makes the message clearer. Indeed, every letter and mark is sacred, for all will be brought to pass.

In verse 16, ALL is the Greek word pasa meaning “every part of it together, and every part of the whole respectively and includes the idea of oneness, a totality of the whole”. Graphe is the Greek word most often used for Scriptures in the Bible. Thus, it could read, “every part of the Scriptures all together.”

Thus, when Paul writes that “all Scripture is God-breathed” he means quite clearly that every smallest letter and every tiniest mark is God-inspired. Not even the smallest part can be avoided, for every part of it all together is God-breathed and will be fulfilled. For indeed, God honors His word above His name (Psalm 138:2). Thus, He will bring every part of it to pass, both Old and New.

Now, according to this passage why is it important to know that the Bible in its totality is God-breathed?

1. We’re living in the last days and those perilous times are upon us. Evil men and seducers are waxing worse and worse, even infiltrating the Church, polluting the Gospel, and leading away believers into deception. There is an unseen war, and we are apart of it. Our weapon is the Word of God (Ephesians 6). There is a war of words, and the only way to win it is to know the Word. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15).

2. In them is the Gospel of salvation through Jesus (John 5:39, 46-47).

3. Furthermore, it changes us from the inside out, and is “profitable”

*for doctrine (biblically sound beliefs),

*for reproof (showing us where we are wrong),

*for correction (showing us the right way, getting us back on the right path),

*and for instruction in righteousness (it helps us put the Word of God to Action).

A lot of us have been in church a lot of years. A lot of us attended Sunday school as children. A lot of us have known Jesus a long time. But, I encourage us to continue reading the Bible. Don’t let tv or devotionals get in the way. If your eyes can’t read too well anymore, have someone read it to you. There is also the Bible on cassette tape or cd. You see, the Word of God is life for us. It is the voice of God to us. As Corrie ten Boom said, “Now you are listening to the voice of God. Keep listening. He has much more to say to you.”

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We Are At War: The Belt of Truth

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free bing roman soldiers belt from freebibleimages

We have been learning about the full armor of God and its importance in our daily lives. We have learned about the reality of the warfare raging around us, that we do not wrestle with people but we do wrestle with very real spiritual entities which we cannot see. Because we are wrestling in hand-to-hand combat with spiritual forces, we are to be clad in God’s armor of light. This armor is composed of pieces that are woven intricately together. We started by looking at the beautifully ornate yet impenetrable, irreplaceable helmet of salvation and how it is there to protect our thinking, for we have been given the mind of Christ. The helmet is one of wholeness, security, right thinking, renewal, a shield from destructive mindsets and emotions. It is a helmet that enables us to change our form and be transfigured from the earthly to the spiritual, from darkness to light.

Today, we’re moving on to the belt of truth. Ephesians 6:14 reads, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth….”

When dressed for battle, everyone could identify a Roman soldier without problem. But, when off duty, was there something that still made him recognizable?

Unlike the present day and age wherein everyone on vacation, running errands or lounging around looks and dresses essentially the same, in Jesus’ day, according to researcher and professor Stefanie Hoss, “In Rome, a man’s dress and his social cultural and political identity in Roman society were directly connected.”

Thus, there was something about the Roman soldier’s dress and manner that led an onlooker to quickly identify him as a soldier. So, what was it about his clothing that defined him? His loinbelt with sword attached and shoes (Stefanie Hoss, “A Theoretical Approach to Roman Military Belts,” http://www.academia.edu/4849015/A_Theoretical_Approach_to_Roman_Military_Belts). (Since we’ll be talking about the shoes and sword later, we won’t address them today. We’re going to focus on the belt.) According to researchers and archeologists, the Roman military belt was “decorated with elaborate buckles, metal plates, strp-ends and other attachments, which made it heavy, eye-catching and jingly. Together with the crunch of hob-nailed sandals, the jingling of the metal belt pieces must have given soldiers a distinctive sound, announcing their presence” (Stefanie Hoss, “The Roman Military Belt,” http://www.academia.edu/212354/The_Roman_Military_Belt). Not only this, but Roman soldiers walked differently and had a distinctive stance because their belts were heavy (actually all of their armor was heavy). Even when not on the battlefield, this heavy belt with its sword was worn with pride. Truly the belt was the mark of soldier, and was symbolic of who he was. To take it away (such as they did at times for disciplinary reasons), was shameful and humiliating.

Furthermore, when used in battle, Rick Renner states that, “…the Roman soldier’s loinbelt was the piece of armor that held all the other pieces together…When not in use, his shield was hung on a special clip on the other side of his loinbelt. The pouch that carried his arrows rested on a small ledge attached to his loinbelt on his backside. Even his breastplate was attached in some places to his loinbelt.

You can see why the loinbelt was absolutely essential to the Roman soldier in order for him to be confident in battle. With that belt securely fastened, he could be assured that all the other pieces of his equipment would stay in place, enabling him to move quickly and fight with great fury.

Thus, the loinbelt was the most vital part of all the weaponry the Roman soldier wore” (Rick Renner, The Most Essential Weapon In Your Spiritual Arsenal,https://renner.org/the-most-essential-weapon-in-your-spiritual-arsenal/).

Thus, whether on the battlefield or while recreating, the Roman soldier’s belt was not only a recognizable marker and proud symbol but was apart of who he was. His identity was wrapped up in it, and a true soldier would never be without it.

Application

So, how do we apply this?

There are a lot of facts in this life, but facts are not truth. In the story of David and Goliath this is made very clear.

First Samuel 17 states beginning in verse 4, “And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.

5 And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass.

6 And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.

7 And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.

8 And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me.

9 If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.

10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.

11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.”

Fact number one: Goliath is a champion meaning, he’s done this many times before and won, so….he’s frightening in reputation

Fact number two: Goliath is massive, after all everything he’s wearing is heavy and long and tall and wide etc. So….he’s frightening in appearance

Fact number three: He’s boastful and charismatic and loud. So….he’s frightening in speech

These are facts that the Israelite soldiers were well aware of and took very seriously, after all it says that “they were dismayed and greatly afraid.”

Then comes David who sees, hears and knows the facts like everyone else, BUT he does sees God’s appearance, hears God’s words, and knows of God’s reputation better than Goliaths. As David stated to King Saul, “Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:35-37).

David held onto that truth as he marched out to meet the frightening, very real, factual giant with only a stone and sling shot. Though Goliath mocks him, David boldly exclaimed the TRUTH,

“Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:45-47).

Our application of this timeless truth is not so different from what David did, only our adversary is unseen. But, the message is the same.

Now, how can this look for us?

The enemy uses a fact…yes, he tells us something factual…but then he turns it on us and gets us to believe a lie. He might say, “You live in a care center.” Yes, that’s a fact. Then comes the lie. “So, you have no purpose now.” Or he might say, “You’re just a housewife and mother.” Again, that’s a fact, but he always spins it. “So, you’re not important.” Or he might say, “You work as a cook or a salesman or whatever it is that you do.” And then he’ll state the lie that you again believe, “So, you’ll never amount to anything.” Or he again might say, “You’re not married.” Okay, that may be a fact. But then comes the lie, “Because you’re not worth it,” or “you’re not handsome/pretty enough” or “because you’re too shy or too outgoing.” And the more we think on that lie which is based in fact (so he gets us all confused) the farther away from truth we get, and we become like the children of Israel who huddled together at the sound of Goliath’s voice. So long as we ingest the poison, the more poisoned we’ll become. The more we resonate with the lie, the farther from truth we’ll wander. The more we consider the deception, the more self-focused and less God-focused we’ll get. Until our weaknesses and shortcomings are magnified larger than God’s Word, even God Himself.

So, how can we better respond?

Remember Eve in Genesis 3. Her mistake was not in her facts, but rather, her mistake was in arguing the facts with the most cunning of all creatures, the wisest of God’s creation. Our adversary is not stupid. He may be repetitive, but he’s not dumb. He knows we are like silly sheep and easily duped. So, here’s one way to NOT respond: Don’t argue facts with the enemy. Usually he’s got the facts right anyway. The facts are rather obvious after all. But, once you start down that slope of argumentation, he’s won. He’s good at arguing. He’s been at it a long time.

Let’s, instead, learn from Jesus who was tempted by the devil in Matthew 4. It is there during that confrontation that we do not see him discussing things nor arguing with the adversary. He simply speaks the Word. We see Him standing firmly with the belt of truth buckled on tightly. His words are not His own, but rather, are the Word of God. We see the enemy use and misuse the Word, but Jesus does not correct Him nor debate Him. Rather, He unwaveringly quotes the unchanging Word of truth. And that is the ONLY WAY that the enemy is defeated. The Truth of the God’s Word.

In closing, like Roman soldiers, we as Christians are never to take off our belts, for it is the belt of truth and upon it all else holds together. Like David we are to stand on that TRUTH of what God has already done in our lives and the Bible. We are to buckle on the belt of truth and keep it on, for it is the mark of a Christian. When evil in the world looks gigantic, we’re to say, “Our God is Bigger!” When facts are used against us, may we like David say, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand…for the battle is the Lord’s!”

References:

Stefanie Hoss, “A Theoretical Approach to Roman Military Belts,” http://www.academia.edu/4849015/A_Theoretical_Approach_to_Roman_Military_Belts

Stefanie Hoss, “The Roman Military Belt,” http://www.academia.edu/212354/The_Roman_Military_Belt

Rick Renner, The Most Essential Weapon In Your Spiritual Arsenal, https://renner.org/the-most-essential-weapon-in-your-spiritual-arsenal/

We Are At War: The Renewing of the Mind

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Imagine…

Imagine with me for a second that you have no bad memories. It’s not that nothing bad ever happened to you, but you don’t remember anything bad. You don’t remember that someone hurt you, slighted you, or was unkind to you. You can’t recall that someone gossiped about you or was abusive emotionally, physically, sexually, or otherwise. Like a victim of amnesia, it’s not that something did not happen to you in the past, there’s just no memory of it and no emotion associated with it. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine not feeling the pain of a memory? Can you imagine that memory gone? Can you imagine the pain gone? The depression’s gone, the anger is gone, the frustration, the fear. Can you imagine what you’d be like without that pain? Without that memory? Just imagine…

I’ve been watching a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies (they’re like eating junk food–not a lot of substance, addictive and can make you sick–LOL) these days and a popular theme appears to be that of “amnesia.” It’s incredible to watch how a person had been controlling or confused before, BUT after hitting their head and losing their memory, they are now more relaxed and calm. BEFORE they were angry, now they are forgiving and kind. They WERE workaholic, now they have time for family and friends. They WERE successful and rich, now they don’t know it and don’t care about fortune or fame. It seems that in these fictional stories that with the loss of memory and the emotions associated with that priorities become more clear and what really matters stands out.

You see, our memories and their accompanying emotions are what make us who we are. Each memory has an emotion attached to it so that each time you remember that memory, that same emotion attached to that event is relived when you access that memory. In other words, you feel and relive that memory every time you think about it. So, if we lost those bad memories and therefore, those bad emotions too, we would be different….wouldn’t we? We wouldn’t snap anymore when someone questions us or freeze with fear when faced with a decision or get moody when someone in particular walks into a room or eat too much chocolate when depressed or nitpick when things aren’t the way we think they ought to be or hide in our room when worried.

Memories however, don’t just go away like that. They and their emotions linger and literally gain a stronghold in our minds. And the bad emotions attached to those bad memories have very physical manifestations in our bodies.

I haven’t just been watching lots of Hallmark Christmas movies, but have been reading books by neuroscientists and doctors of medicine concerning the mind/body connection. Scientific researchers have discovered that upwards to 87% of diseases are caused by our negative emotions and thoughts. Our emotions may be unseen, but they have a very real physical manifestation. This is because emotions cause the body to release very real chemicals and hormones into our bodies, and these can either change us physically for better or for worse. Because of this, pharmaceutical companies have come up with drugs to alter the brain by the creation of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs.

Therefore, what we think and feel are hugely important!! Our thinking does not just stay in our heads. Our emotions do not simply stay put in our hearts. Our thinking and feeling affects our bodies in very real ways when not dealt with properly. This is not a theory. This is not a guess. This is a scientific fact.

This is why God says in Romans 12:2 that we are to, “…not [be] conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

We have been learning about the full armor of God. We have learned that we are in a very real spiritual war, and we have been given spiritual weapons to battle the enemy of our souls. We have learned that we’ve been given a helmet, the helmet of Salvation for the protection of our minds. By Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross those who believe on Him are instantly, spiritually “born again”. Thus we are immediately spiritually saved (at a set date in our past). Furthermore, by His resurrection we are offered future hope of bodily resurrection, thus our physical salvation. Thirdly, there is the daily salvation of our minds. We are saved spiritually, will be saved physically and are being saved mentally/emotionally.

Like amnesia patients act differently when memories are forgotten through a blow to the head, Christians are to be “transformed by the renewing” of the mind. To “renew” the mind means that it is to be made new again, to be renovated, “to renew qualitatively.”* As an old building is renovated, even so, our minds are to be renovated. A renovated building looks different than it first looked because it is restored to another form, and may function in another capacity. Like, an old firehouse when renovated no longer looks like the firehouse. Instead, it is turned into a coffee shop and art gallery. At one time the building was the old firehouse, but it is now renovated into a different form; instead of hoses and firetrucks there is now an espresso machine and paintings on the walls. The old building was not torn down and then another put in its place; it’s still the old building, but it is now made of a different quality and for a different purpose. This is the “renewing” spoken of here in Romans 12:2. We do not do this “renewing,” but rather, it is done to us by God.

When we are renewed in our minds by God, we are transformed.** The word in the Greek for transformed is metamorphoo, meaning, “to be transfigured, to change one’s form.” This happened to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17 and Mark 9 when He radiated and glowed with a supernatural, heavenly appearance of light. Even so, we are being radiantly “transfigured” and “changed in form” as our minds are “renewed in quality.”

God has given us the Spirit of a “sound” mind (2 Timothy1:7). To condense the meaning of this amazing “soundness of mind”, it means, “safe in mind.”*** But there’s more to it than that. This safety of the mind also has to do with “wholeness, preservation from danger, loss and destruction, and deliverance”. According to Rick Renner, “When the words sodzo and phroneo are compounded into one word, they form the word sophroneo, which pictures a mind that has been delivered, rescued, revived, salvaged, and protected and is now safe and secure. Thus, even if your mind is tempted to succumb to fear…you can allow God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to work in you to deliver, rescue, revive, and salvage your mind. This means your rationale, logic, and emotions can be shielded from the illogically absurd, ridiculous, unfounded, and crazy thoughts that have tried to grip your mind in the past. All you have to do is grab hold of God’s Word and His Spirit…Second Timothy 1:7 could be translated:

God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love — He has given you a mind that has been delivered, rescued, revived, salvaged, protected, and brought into a place of safety and security so that it is no longer affected by illogical, unfounded, and absurd thoughts.”

You see, when your mind is guarded by the Word of God, you think differently. When the Word of God is allowed to work in your mind, it safeguards your emotions; it defends your mind from demonic assault; and it shields you from arrows the enemy may try to shoot in your direction in order to arouse a spirit of fear inside you.”

Over the last 20 years, antidepressant use has risen 400% in the United States according to phychcentral.com.**** The body of Christ is riddled with this sickness too. The body of Christ is on anti-depressants. The body of Christ is on anti-anxiety drugs. As Saint Augustine once said, “the Church is a hospital for sinners”.

But, the Church is not supposed to remain sickly conformed to the deformed, depressed, angry, worried, fearful image of the world, for we have been given the helmet of salvation and the Spirit of a “sound mind”. We have the helmet of wholeness, the helmet of a new beginning, the helmet of preservation from wrong thoughts, the helmet of safety and of security. It is the helmet of renewal, renovation, and right thinking. It is the helmet that shields us from destructive mindsets and poisonous emotions. It is a helmet that enables us to change our form and be transfigured from the earthly to the spiritual, from darkness to light.

No matter what memories we have, no matter what we’ve been through or are going through, God is still in the transforming and renewing ministry. The helmet is not so old that is is out-dated or obsolete, but rather, is still powerful enough to save and make us completely whole in our minds if we’ll allow Him to do so. He longs to “sanctify and cleanse” us “with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26), to change us into the image of Christ “from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). So, let’s not keep allowing for toxic emotions and memories to rule us when we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2). We just need to eagerly take hold of the helmet and put it on!

End Notes and Sources:

*The Complete Word Study Dictionary, pg. 151, anakainosis #342 from #341 anakainoo which is in turn from two words ana (#303) “again” and kainos “qualitatively new” (#2537),

pg. 804 kainos (#2537) meaning, “qualitatively new” as compared to neos (#3501) “temporarily new”, and pg. 1007 under the term neos (#3501) kainos is also described as “novel or strange”, “The kainon is the heteron (#2087), another of a different kind, the qualitatively new”.

**The Complete Word Study Dictionary, pg 968,# 3339, metamorphoo, “To transform, transfigure, change one’s form” from meta #3326 “a change of place or condition” and morphoo #3445 “to form”. Used in Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2 of Jesus’ transfiguration).

***Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Rick Renner http://www.renner.org/mind/what-does-it-mean-to-have-a-sound-mind/, and The Complete Word Study Dictionary, pg 1362-1363 and 1353 and 1454. Sophronos comes from two words, sozo (4982) “to save, deliver, make whole, safe from danger,” and phren (5424) which has to do with the diaphragm and breathing (the diaphragm determines one’s breaths and thus also has to do with the spirit and emotions) which was believed to have to do with the seat of mental and emotional activity and had to do with the ability to think and to control one’s thoughts and attitudes.

****https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/10/25/antidepressant-use-up-400-percent-in-us/30677.html

Other sources include:

Who Switched Off My Brain? by Dr. Caroline Leaf

Mind Over Back Pain, by Dr. John Sarno

Molecules of Emotion, by Dr. Candace Pert

Sparkling Gems from the Greek, the website of minister Rick Renner, http://www.renner.org/

We Are At War: Helmet of Salvation

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Ephesians 6:17, “And take the helmet of salvation…”

What does this mean? What does it mean to take on the helmet of salvation? We often hear the phrase, quote it word for word, hear brief sermons on it, and some Christians every day imagine themselves literally putting on a helmet. But, what does it really mean to put on the helmet of salvation?

This brief statement seems to almost be an after thought on the part of Paul. He’s already listed quite important items of armor already, and has stated that the shield is most important. Then he says, “and”. Like it was an “oh and what is it I’m forgetting, hmmmm…. Let me think…. Oh, yes, “and take the helmet of salvation.” However, each piece is extremely important….and is a matter of life and death. In the life of the Roman soldier it was literally life and death. For the Christian it is a matter of the life and death of the soul.

In Greek the word for helmet means, “about the head” or “around the head.” For the Roman soldier the helmet was made of bronze and was exceedingly heavy. Because of its great weight, sponge was placed inside it so that it would be more comfortable on a soldier’s head. It fit very snuggly, and wrapped around to even cover the cheeks and jaw of the soldier. It was so strong and durable that not any form of weapon could penetrate it. When in battle it specifically protected the soldier against those wielding barbaric battle axes that could and would chop people’s heads off.

free bing picture helmet of salvation

Not only was the Roman soldier’s helmet protective, it could be very ornate, depicting different engraved scenes, and could even be forged to look like an animal such as an elephant. Then, to top it all off, it sported a showy, colorful plume of feathers or horse’s hair. Therefore, not only was it a heavy, impenetrable source of protection, it was also quite a noticeable, unmissable showpiece!

Such is our salvation. Impenetrable and ornate. Rick Renner states, “Why would the Holy Spirit compare a piece of weaponry like this to salvation? Because your salvation is the most gorgeous, most intricate, most elaborate, most ornate gift God ever gave to you! Paul calls this marvelous gift “the helmet of salvation.” He likened salvation to these flamboyant helmets that were worn on the head where everyone would notice. By using this example, Paul is telling us something very important. When a person is confident of his salvation — and when he walks confidently in the powerful reality of all that salvation means for him — he is a noticeable individual!(http://www.renner.org/salvation/the-helmet-of-salvation/).

But what does it mean to “take the helmet of salvation”? Does that mean we need to be saved every day? What are we to do with this fantastic helmet?

To begin with, we’re commanded to “take” it. The word for “take” in this particular instance in Greek means, “To accept an offer readily, to take to oneself what is presented,” to approve of it, embrace it. We are to eagerly take hold of the helmet of salvation and place it securely on our head, and prepare for hand-to-hand combat with the battle ax wielding enemy who wants to chop our heads off!

Furthermore, this is not just any helmet. This is the helmet of “salvation.” In the Greek the word is actually an adjective. So, a better way to put it would be, “And take on the saving/delivering helmet.”

free bing picture cross with scripture

So, number one, we accept eagerly the offer of Christ’s sacrificial salvation. And this salvation guarantees us daily power over sin and future power over eternal punishment and death. But, as for being “re-saved” spiritually every day, that is not what this is talking about here. As soon as one believes in Jesus, who He is and what He did in His death and resurrection, and tell others about this, we are saved and guaranteed eternal life (Romans 10).

However, there is a battle still in the arena of our souls, for we are in the process of being transformed through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) through the washing of the Word (Ephesians 5); from glory to glory He is changing our minds! (2 Corinthians 3). Indeed, though we are saved, we are still in the conflict. But, instead of us being slaves we are now the masters and more than conquerors through Christ (Romans 8:37), who is our Head, our Lord, our Salvation…indeed, Jesus is our helmet of Salvation. Without Him there is no salvation.

However, the devil wants to be your head. So, he sends thoughts to us, even dreams at night. This is a part of the tactic of his warfare. These thoughts can sometimes seem good, reasonable, logical, even compassionate, when in reality they do not align with Scripture (for example: a relative cohabiting with someone outside of marriage while claiming to be Christian and we want to be accepting so we explain it away; we lied, but we reason that it’s just a white lie; we know that what we said is true about our roommate and therefore it could not be gossip; this movie isn’t so bad even if it is filled with worldly concepts after all the actress is a Christian in real life; I’m overwhelmed and God isn’t speaking to me right now so I’ll figure something out on my own!; I’m not worrying, I just care!).

And then, there are the thoughts that we know drag us down and yet we get sucked in every time. The Bible calls these “anxious” thoughts (Philippians 4:6-7), but in Greek it means more than merely being anxious. It means “to be troubled, to care to the point of bringing disruption to the personality and mind”. It comes from a root word meaning “to part, to divide, separate into parts, or disunite.” Thus, these thoughts not only change our moods and affect our words and actions, but they also cause our minds to be disrupted by the enemy.

First Corinthians 2 says, we have the “mind of Christ.” Thus, Jesus is our Head, not Satan. (Ephesians 4: 15-16, 5:23, Colossians 1:18, and 2:19 state this). Having been “baptized into Christ” we have “put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27), and are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Because we are saved through Him, and He is now our head, we are to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 – emphasis added is mine). In other words, we are to make every thought given us by the enemy a prisoner of war!

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Are you depressed? Are you worried? Are you fearful? Are you dismissing habitual sins in Christians and reasoning that that is a loving thing to do? Are you dismissing your own sins by thinking they’re not that bad? Are you possibly even questioning whether or not you’re really saved? What are we thinking about? Are we focusing more on Satan’s word than God’s?

As Christians we have been given a gift that the world does not have and that the world cannot take away. Satan can manipulate the minds of the masses, for they’ve no armor to protect themselves from a battle of which they are completely ignorant. But Christians have been given a colorful, show-stopping, weighty, ornate helmet that the enemy cannot penetrate no matter how hard he tries!!! But, it’s no good unless we first of all realize that we are in a very real war. We’re not just thinking simple thoughts or dreaming simple dreams. Those thoughts and dreams can be weapons used against us to destroy us from the inside out. They can be the battle ax to take off our heads. And secondly, we must realize that our helmet is no good if we do not “receive it eagerly” it and put it on. After all, what good it is if we’re not wearing it? It’s not meant to sit and look pretty on the shelf like a trophy or remain all shiny and new in a box in the closet. It’s meant to be worn. We are not the slave of our thoughts. Through Christ and in His name, we are the master of our thoughts. God wants to guard our every thought with His peace, but He can’t do so until we are at rest in Christ who is our Head (Philippians 4:6-7).

So, let’s take on that helmet of salvation. Let’s every day acknowledge Christ’s Lordship and Headship in our minds. Let’s no longer allow our thoughts to trouble us to the point of altering our mood or our actions or our decisions, but rather, let’s take every thought a prisoner of war to the obedience of Christ who is our Salvation and our Head!

 

And The Darkness Could Not Comprehend It…

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In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep….and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the waters. “The earth was without form and void”, this statement of Genesis 1 carries more weight than most people think, for those words “without form” and “void” equal something far more sinister and evil than at first comprehended at a cursory glance, or even a second and third reading. These two words signify that the earth was a formless destroyed waste of confusion and chaos. These words are used throughout Scripture for destroyed cities or land or empty barren wastelands of the earth after God has judged it (Job 26:7; Isaiah 24:10; 34:11; 45:18; Jer 4:23). It is difficult for us in the English language to grasp the enormity associated with these words, but they represent “chaos, confusion, and disorder,” and everything opposed to order and harmony (The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the Old Testament, pgs. 121 #922 bohu and 1214 #8414 tohu). And there was darkness on the face of the deep…This darkness is has been said is a darkness that could be felt, and the “waters of the deep” are not just still and peaceful sitting there doing nothing kind of waters, but instead are an abyss of a surging mass of agitated waters of fathomless depth (Strong’s, #8415 tehom and root word #1949 huwm).

This was not a tranquil scene of still waters and a gentle earth waiting to be formed. No… Genesis 1 presents to us a scene of tumult, judgment and chaos and the darkness that covered all with its barbarous, suffocating tentacles. This is the realm into which God’s Spirit entered, hovered as an eagle over her young (#7363 rachaph), gently moving upon the face of the tumultuous deep. And then it happened, that which shook the world and shattered the tangible darkness sending tremors into the very abyss…Genesis 1:3 states, “then God said, “Let light be!” How incredible those words are, and how much more incredible is the God who spoke them, commanding light to shine forth into a chaotic world filled with destruction and chaos, covered with turbulent waters and blinding darkness. But, at His word, Light overwhelmed and overcame the darkness, and the darkness could not comprehend what had happened.

Even so, in John 1, darkness of ignorance and blindness and hopelessness covered a world overwhelmed by sin and depravity wherein religion held captive the helpless masses. For, into the world stepped the most extraordinary being ever to walk the earth. Though He was clothed in humanity and humility, He was the very Word of God and Light of God entering the thickest, tangible, ruinous darkness and with that entrance saying loud and clear with all authority and power, “Let there be Light!” And the proud, puffed up darkness could not grasp what had happened, nor could it overcome, nor could it seize by force the Word and the Light of the Living Creator God. For the very “I Am” had entered the world, and it could not silence Him. It could not cover Him. It could not hide Him. It could not shake Him. It could not defeat Him!

Time after time, that same darkness has fought to overcome that Light, the Word of God. From the very birth of the Church, it has sought to silence the Gospel of Life and Light, mainly through persecution, fear, and war. Millions of martyrs have spilled their blood for Christ, as Roman emperors crucified them, burned them alive, tortured them, ruined their businesses, and drove them into the catacombs. But, the Gospel was not defeated. The more pressure the darkness placed upon the Body of Christ, the more the Gospel spread.

And so the darkness tried another tactic: infiltration.

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In the 300s, the Roman Empire was struggling to hold itself together. Inside the Roman empire there were warring religions and the persecution of Christianity; on the outside of the Roman empire there was resistance and war. No one was getting along. It was then that a Roman emperor observed the disintegration of his empire with great interest. He was the high priest of the Mithras religion (the worship of Apollo the sun god, but he found in Christianity a common bond. For the stories of the sun god Mithras and the Son of God Jesus Christ seemed in his mind, to mesh. It is even said that before marching into battle one day, this emperor while worshiping the sun, saw a vision of the cross and was told by a voice that in this sign he was to conquer. Upon returning from great victory in battle, he realized that all religions must have freedom, and that all religions must find common ground. The Edict of Milan was issued in the year 313, as a joint venture of the Roman emperors of the West and the East. Through this edict it became illegal to persecute Christians, and tolerance of all religions became the law of the land. Everyone was to get along. There was a common prayer that all could pray to the nameless deity all held in common and thus not offend. Syncretism (a blending together of different religions) was put into place as the order of day, worship on Sundays for Christians and the celebration of Christmas was protected, which also meant protection for those of the Mithras religion who also worshiped their sun god (Apollo) on Sundays and celebrated Christmas. Everyone was free to practice their own religion, but the Emperor was to be Pontifex Maximus (the high priest—literally meaning the “greatest bridge maker” – http://www.dictionary.com/browse/pontifex) of them all. This Emperor’s name was Constantine.

Nevertheless, the Word of God still prevailed and firmly founded the Church on the Nicene Creed. The Council of Nicaea met in A.D. 325 amidst much argumentation regarding the “substance” of Christ (https://probe.org/the-council-of-nicea/). The Nicene Creed clarified the role of Christ, that He was of the same substance of the Father, was not a created being, and thus, firmly established the doctrine of the Trinity. Furthermore, the temporary peace produced at this time allowed for the historian Eusibeus to carefully organize and affirm the unquestionable books that are contained in our Bibles today. Several councils followed to confirm what Eusibeus affirmed and that the churches had been following from the beginning.

Though this strange peace gave the Church a brief respite from outside persecution and allowed for the Nicene Creed and the books of the Bible to be carefully examined for Canonicity, the pulsating darkness of paganism began to spread within the Church.

By the year 1517 that very darkness had so infiltrated and enveloped the Church that people hopelessly and blindly groped about in great superstition and in an overwhelming fear of death. Owning a Bible was against the law (http://justforcatholics.org/a198.htm), prayers were made to Mary, the saints and angels, relics (even bones stolen from graves that the Roman church claimed were of Stephen or Peter or Paul) were superstitiously bought and venerated, the Pope was seen as Christ (The Vicar of Christ – from the Latin Vicarious meaning “substitute” https://www.thefreedictionary.com/vicar) on earth and his word was infallible, salvation was through works and helped along by buying indulgences (https://www.christian-history.org/indulgences.html). Because people were not good enough to get into heaven and they were taught by the Roman Church that they would eventually upon death go to purgatory (a place where sinners must be purged of their sins before going on to heaven), they desperately struggled to buy indulgences that would free them and/or their relatives from this horrific place. Even perilous pilgrimages were made to Rome where they would pay to kiss statues, kneel on hundreds of steps while praying in a certain fashion, etc. in order to get indulgences that would cut their time short in purgatory. “For hundreds of years (approximately 500-1600 A.D.) through the Roman Catholic Church, the insatiable appetite of evil had taken hold of the people. Though little groups here and individuals there had sought the truth of Scripture, they were mercilessly persecuted and martyred by those who wanted to keep them in tangible darkness. People like John Huss, John Wycliffe and Jerome Savonarola spoke out against the immorality and unbiblical practices of the Roman Catholic church, and because of this they and others like them (thousands upon thousands) were pressured unsuccessfully to recant and then without trial” martyred for their faith (HolyLight Reformation Presentation of October 2016).

The same agitated, tangible darkness that filled the earth with chaos of Genesis 1 sought tirelessly to destroy the body of Christ in the Dark Ages. The same blindness of sin and blackness of despair in Jesus’ day, mesmerized the masses of the Dark Ages. Why? Because the Gospel message was no longer preached nor was it widely known. And this was because the Word of God had been withheld from the common people.

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Then, 500 years ago on October 31st of 1517, in the midst of colorful leaves and the crisp cool autumn air, 34 year old Martin Luther placed his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle church in Germany. The pounding of the hammer to the nail echoed throughout the land of Germany, rattled the foundations of the Pope’s Roman residence, shook the powers of darkness, and sent the demons squealing with terror. For not only did Luther dare to nail his 95 theses to the door, but they knew that that the Johaness Gutenburg printing press of 1440 that had at one time printed thousands upon thousands of indulgences now would print not only Luther’s 95 theses as well a multiplicity of his other writings, but would print the Word of God in the language of the people. “By 1519, this unknown monk had become Europe’s most published author, his 45 original compositions [were] republished in nearly 300 editions…Three years later, Luther had produced some 160 writings, the majority addressed to the Christian people of Germany in their own language, even though many of them had never before owned a printed work,” (Colin Woodard, December 2015 article, “The Power of Luther’s Printing Press,” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-power-of-luthers-printing-press/2015/12/18/a74da424-743c-11e5-8d93-0af317ed58c9_story.html?utm_term=.6230eb429e9d). Furthermore, a copy of Luther’s New Testament translated from Greek into the German language of the people “was released September 21, 1522, and a second edition was produced the same December” (https://www.christian-history.org/martin-luther-bible.html). “In two months, no less than five thousand copies were sold. In twelve years, nearly a quarter of a million New Testaments were distributed amongst the German people” (Captive to the Word: Martin Luther, Doctor of Sacred Scripture, by A. Skevington Wood, chapter “Luther as a Translator,” pg 102, https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/asw/captive/captive-to-the-word_09.pdf). Soon Luther’s copy of the Pentateuch followed in 1523. Finally in 1534, the whole of the Bible had been translated by Luther into the German language.

The endless night of the Dark Ages ruled by Popes and Bishops and by superstition and mysticism was pierced by the blinding, enduring light of God, as Martin Luther nailed the theses to the door and then translated and printed the words of Scripture into the German language. Indeed, in the words of Isaiah 9:2, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” And the people in Germany had and did see that great light. Though for hundreds of years the insidious midnight desperately attempted to suppress the truth, to keep the Bible from the people, to steal, kill and destroy all hope of salvation, and to snuff out the last embers of light, the Light of the World still could not be comprehended nor overcome.

And the light spread as the truth of the Gospel was preached in France, Holland, England and beyond. Soon the Bible was translated into other languages of the people, so that, as John Wycliffe (also known as “the morning star of the reformation”) desired, every plow boy could read the word.

October 31st of this year, 2017, marks the 500 year anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the Wittenburg Castle Church in Germany. 500 years ago, he risked his life to ask questions that needed to be asked, and though he honored the Church he dared to question the unScriptural behavior of church leadership. Though he knew the flesh and blood that stood against him and sought to kill him, he also was more than aware that he wrestled not against flesh and blood, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). Indeed, one of several hymns he wrote reveals this spiritual warfare reality in the life of Martin Luther, entitled, “A Mighty Fortress is our God.” *Lyrics below

Throughout the years, the darkness has struggled against the light, trying unsuccessfully to extinguish that light. True scholars have fought to preserve the Bible from contamination, and though many versions are based on a polluted, man-made text, the Received Text (Textus Receptus) still endures unconquerable. And in spite of sin’s draw, Great Awakening after Great Awakening reveals that God’s light still pierces the darkness.

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Though so many throughout history have risked their lives and families on behalf of the Word of God and have even died simply because they dared to own one in their own language, and though today in third world countries people are desperate to have a Bible and are willing to lay all on the line to obtain one, the Christians of the West have no time for it. According to Barna (A Christian Research Group) “Nearly a quarter of a century ago in 1991, 45 percent of American adults told Barna they read the Bible at least once a week. In 2009, 46 percent reported doing so. These percentages were remarkably consistent over the course of nearly two decades. But since 2009, Bible reading has become less widespread, especially among the youngest adults. As more and more Millennials join the ranks of adulthood, the national average continues to weaken. Today, about one-third of all American adults report reading the Bible once a week or more. The percentage is highest among Elders (49%) and lowest among Millennials (24%)” (https://www.barna.com/research/the-bible-in-america-6-year-trends/) (emphasis added is mine).

According to

Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Hosea 4:6
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
This lack of knowledge and vision is all about people not knowing the Word of God, and without knowing it, people perish in their minds, in their politics, in their judicial system, in their family structure, in every way.

500 years after Martin Luther, our enemy is still at work. Since the foundation of the world until now, the darkness still hates the light. The battle for the Bible still rages on. Let us therefore remember along with Martin Luther and others throughout the ages that we are children of the Light, that we are of the day, that our only offensive combat weapon is the sword of the Spirit that is the Word of God, that we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Another Dark Ages is now enveloping this nation and the West. Let us not be apart of it. As Philippians 2:15-16 says, Let us truly be “the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life.”

 

Other Sources Used Not Listed Already Above:

Information regarding Constantine:

*Doc Marquis various dvds

*http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04295c.htm

Mithras/Sun god Religion:

*http://www.truthbeknown.com/mithra.htm

*Encyclopedia Britannica (online)

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Mithra

Information about the Reformers/Martyrs:

*http://www.ministers-best-friend.com/Protestant-Reformer-Heroes.html

*Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

*https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Wycliffe

Canon of Scripture:

*https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/who-decided-what-went-into-the-bible.html

*https://www.gci.org/history/athanasius

*https://bible.org/seriespage/7-bible-holy-canon-scripture

*http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/ntcanon_emergence.aspx

*http://biblehub.com/library/davidson/the_canon_of_the_bible/chapter_vii_the_bible_canon.htm

*http://ntcanon.org/Eusebius.shtml

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

by Martin Luther

A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing.
Our helper He amid the flood, Of mortal ills prevailing.

For still our ancient foe, Doth seek to work us woe.
His craft and power are great, And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right man on our side, The man of God’s own choosing.

Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He.

Lord Sabaoth, his name, From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.

The Prince of Darkness grim, We tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure, For lo, his doom is sure.
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers Not thanks to them, abideth.
The Spirit and the gifts are ours Through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also.
The body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still.
His kingdom is forever…

The Trinity of “The Shack”

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A hot topic right now among Christians seems to be concerning the movie “The Shack.” Many Christians are calling it a “Christian” movie. Some are calling it mere fiction that need not be taken seriously. Still others are declaring that it teaches Universalism and New Age doctrines that are deceptively garbed in Christian terms. Emotionally moving  from the start to the finish for so many broken Christians around the world, the book took the globe by storm, and now the movie will probably do no less. The author Wm. Paul Young’s excellent storytelling, wove a poignant tale that aimed straight for the heart. But, with what words do the readers find comfort? Are they words from the Bible or from another source. And why is Father God called “Papa” portrayed not only as a woman but as a black woman in the story?
The truth concerning this popular book and soon to be popular film, however, is far more sinister than many may realize. For, not only is “the Shack” openly Universalist (teaching through dialogue that all are saved) and New Age (teaching that god is in everyone and everything), but it deceptively presents the concept of the Hindu trinity (trimurti).
At first glance in “the Shack” one simply sees an odd concoction of a black “Papa” god who is always busy baking and cooking (much like the black woman “the Oracle” in the movie “the Matrix”), a handyman Jesus teaching that he is only the “best” way, and a wispy, oriental, female spirit with the East Indian name of Sarayu, meaning “wind” or “holy river” (and yes, there is actually a river in India called Sarayu). It was blasphemous enough to have Father God of the Bible portrayed as a black woman, but when one takes an even closer look, the story gets even darker.
First of all, an age old belief in Hinduism states that there is a sort of trinity called a “trimurti” of the gods: Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva. Yes, believe it or not, there actually is a so-called trinity in Hinduism. Though on the surface Hinduism has by several accounts 330 million gods, there is one “Supreme Reality” and there are three main gods flowing from that “Reality” that Hindus esteem and from which their other gods have emanated. It is generally thought that the Hindu trinity was created by the eternal, impersonal Supreme Reality. Though each of these three have different ways of manifesting, they are the three main gods of Hinduism. Furthermore, there are four major denominations in Hinduism, each emphasizing one of these three gods. Shaktism is one of these Hindu denominations, and Shaktism has four divisions/expressions. One of those expressions is “universalist” in nature. Unlike the other Hindu denominations, Shaktism believes that Brahman, the creator of all, is a goddess not a god, and that creator goddess goes by different names. One of those names is Kali. Kali is a black goddess. Her name in Sanskrit can refer to “time”, but usually is taken to mean “she who is black” or “she who is death”. She resides on the cremation grounds of people’s lives and hearts in order to help her followers to face what they do not want to face. She is constantly busy because she is energy (shakti), and appears as kundalini (the female serpent). Though she is closely connected with death and destruction, she is also revered as Kali Ma (the mother goddess) who swallows up sorrow, bad emotions and painful memories etc. in people’s lives so that they might be healed and renewed.
Is this not like “Papa” in “the Shack”? Is “Papa” not more of a creator goddess than a god? Is “Papa” not black? Is she not at the place of Mack’s daughter’s death? Is she not always busy doing something, making something? Is she not helping him to overcome and face what he does not want to face, helping him to heal? From all appearances, Papa looks and sounds and feels a lot like Kali.
Thus, “The Shack” is a seductive, deceptive mixture of Hinduism, Universalism, and New Age beliefs (after all, New Age philosophy is westernized Hinduism anyway). Not only can this be seen through its portrayal of a black goddess and a Hindu trinity, but can be seen through Wm. Paul Young’s associations with New Age mystics such as Cynthia Bourgeault and Richard Rohr who emphasize the “Divine Dance” of the “trinity”. In Hinduism, both the god Shiva and goddess Kali are known for their dancing, particularly their dances of destruction. Indeed, Shiva is known as the Lord of the dance.
There is so much more that could be said, but to be very bluntly succinct, Wm. Paul Young has deceptively presented a Hindu trinity to the body of Christ, and too many Christians have readily accepted and adopted it as their own in place of the true Godhead of the Bible.
I pray that your heart has been moved as you read this. I pray that you will seriously and sincerely consider the content of this article.
I leave you with this Scripture from 2 Corinthians 6:

“14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

 

***I have not yet documented my sources, but they are readily available on the internet and public as well as university libraries (mostly Hindu, pagan, and Wiccan sources were used–no Christian sources were used in the research for this article).
***For further Christian writing on this topic, I refer you to Warren Smith (an expert on the New Age), Lighthousetrailsresearch.com, Eric Barger, Lamb and Lion Ministries at http://christinprophecy.org/, and Michael Youssef.

 

Thanking God for the Fleas

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Thanksgiving is a time of the gathering together of family and friends, playing games, eating turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, pumpkin pie with lots of whipped cream, and some even boast of family football games. Though those are some things that we do on Thanksgiving, what does it really mean?

Really, it’s name says it all! It’s about THANKSGIVING. But, not just thanksgiving to just anyone…no…it’s all about Thanksgiving to God. And it’s not just about being thankful for the good in our lives either. The truth of this can not only be found in Scripture but also in the pages of American history.

To begin with, in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 we read the Apostle Paul saying under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”

Now the Apostle Paul did not have a posh life, but rather was afflicted, beaten, ship wrecked, stoned unto death, was swimming in the sea for a day and a night, harassed, and went hungry and thirsty. This same Paul also said in Philippians 4:4-7,

“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

And again in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 & 18 Paul states,

“Rejoice evermore…In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Thus, we learn from Paul that rejoicing is to be done always and giving thanks is to be done in all situations.

Even so, in the Old Testament we see a miraculous story of thanksgiving in 2 Chronicles 20 when the Israelites were up against 3 nations that had unjustly gathered against them. All was not good. All was not okay. And so, King Jehoshaphat called all Israelites to assemble, women and children included, and they fasted cried out to God. Then, after humbling themselves before God in repentance and desperation, God spoke to them through the prophet Jahaziel saying, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s…” (vs 15). And so, early the following the morning, the Israelites arose early, and stationed the Levites in front of them who lead not just in the march but in worship and praise unto God as they marched forward to the battle. And it says in 2 Chronicles 20:22 that “when they BEGAN to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against” the multitude of their enemies, so that the enemy turned upon themselves, slaughtering themselves before the Israelites ever reached them!!!!!

It states, when they “BEGAN” to sing and to praise, that God then went to battle for them. As they gave thanks in the overwhelming situation that they had no power in themselves to overcome, God heeded their thanksgiving and overwhelmed the enemy on their behalf.

In the book, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, Corrie relates her experience in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII. One such remembrance was that of her sister Betsy (who also was in the camp with her) who had Corrie look up and read I Thessalonians 5. As Corrie read from their precious hidden Bible (for Bible’s were forbidden in the concentration camp), she came came across verse 18 that says to give thanks in all things. That’s when Betsy encouraged them to begin right at that moment to give thanks to God in their situation. So, they got down on their knees and Betsy led in thanking God for His provision in the camp, their cramped quarters with too many people (for this meant more could hear the Gospel), and then Betsy dared to thank God for the fleas that infested their beds. Well, Corrie just could not repeat that nor agree at first, but with some prompting, she thanked God for the fleas. Later Corrie would come to realize that because of the fleas the Nazi soldiers stayed away from their barracks, and because of that, their Bibles were never found and confiscated (Excerpt from Hiding Place, pg 179).

And our own American story clearly communicates this type of thanksgiving as well, in spite of all odds, war, grief, death and pain.

To begin with, in 1618, a young Indian man by the name of Squanto, had finally earned enough money as a stable boy in England to sail home to his tribal people in America. He had been stolen in 1612 by a trader and was then sold into slavery in Spain. It was there that Spanish monks bought him, treated him well, educated him, and made it possible for him to go to England where he attained a job as a stable boy. Thus, in 1618, he set sail for his home. However, upon arriving, his came to the starkly painful realization that his entire tribe had been wiped out by disease. He was the ONLY one left.

Heartbroken and utterly alone, Squanto was adopted into a neighboring tribe called Wampanoag with friendly Massasoit as their chief.

Then, in 1620, the weary English Pilgrims had run out of options, and had petitioned the government of England to allow them passage to the Virginia Colony in America. Long had the Pilgrims been persecuted by English kings, including King James I, who had harassed, fined, imprisoned, and even unjustly killed many, like my anabaptist ancestor Edward Wightman (burned at the stake in 1612), just because they did not agree with the Anglican state church of England. The Pilgrims had even tried living in Holland. And though they found religious liberty in Holland, they also found a great deal of Catholic paganism there as well, and they worried for the future of their children. Because of this, the Pilgrims sought God for a miracle to their seemingly solutionless problem. And God provided the 66 day Mayflower voyage across the horrifically stormy waters of the autumn Atlantic ocean.

They aimed high for the fertile area of New York’s Hudson river, but because of the extreme storms, they found themselves in Massachusetts.

While there, many became quite ill from malnourishment, and for a while only 6 would be well enough to work at a time. Of the 102 Pilgrims only about 50 survived (30 of those were children), and only half the Mayflower crew that had accompanied them. Most of the mothers died because they gave their food (six kernels of corn a day) to their children.

With the Spring came the miracle of Squanto to help them and the hope of those who survived was renewed. Though much grief had overwhelmed both Squanto and the Pilgrims through the loss of their loved ones, God’s mercy and grace overwhelmed them still more. For indeed, the very land that Squanto’s people had cleared and tended and lived, was the very land that the Pilgrims finally settled upon. And, unbeknownst to the Pilgrims at the time, the land in New York that they had hoped to reach was inhabited by hostile Indians who would have had no trouble killing them. Not only this, but Squanto’s very life was a testimony of God’s goodness, not only for him that he might be saved spiritually by Jesus and physically from the plague that killed his people, but also was saved for the sake of God’s weary Pilgrims who would so need him in their new home. Indeed, miracle upon miracle was multiplied upon Squanto and the Pilgrims, because our sovereign God was in it! And all of them gave thanks in the Fall of 1621 for God’s bountiful blessings in spite of all the pain and death and suffering.

But the American story of Thanksgiving does not end there!

In 1777, in the middle of our overwhelming war for Independence, the Continental Congress felt it imperative that the infant nation give thanks to God and to pray for his blessing and help in the war. The odds were stacked against the Continental Army. It was David and Goliath, and the outcome appeared dire. Nevertheless, our fledgling government called all to an official day of Thanksgiving and Repentance.

Here is part of their proclamation sent to the 13 states:

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE…” (http://www.pilgrimhallmuseum.org/pdf/TG_First_National_Thanksgiving_Proclamation_1777.pdf)

But, America’s Thanksgiving did not stopped there.

Another war again riddled our young nation in the form of the Civil War. For two bloody years, battle after battle left the United States in jeopardy of complete separation. Frayed and near destruction at the hands of the talented Southern Confederacy, the Union hung by a thread. Then, in 1863, a miraculous Union victory at Gettysburg, one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War in which approximately 51,000 men perished, arrayed the North with great hope that all was not in vain. Now, Sarah Josepha Hale (writer of Mary Had a Little Lamb) had been petitioning every U.S. president since 1827 to instate an official day of national Thanksgiving. Thus, at that point in time, President Abraham Lincoln believed it fitting to do just that. He declared an official day of Thanksgiving be celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November.

Though for years Thanksgiving had been celebrated loosely as the state’s saw fit, this for the first time in U.S. history made Thanksgiving a formal, national holiday with a set date.

In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt trying to appease businessmen, tried to change the date of Thanksgiving so as to give more Christmas shopping weeks to businesses. However, this only caused confusion, for some celebrated on the new date while others kept it on the old date. So, Congress on December 26, 1941, only a few years after the Great Depression and only a few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, felt it necessary that a set date for a day of Thanksgiving unto God be made. So, they enacted a law stating that the official Thanksgiving day would remain on the last Thursday of November. And so, again, our nation in a time of war and great distress, called for a day to give thanks unto our sovereign, awesome and unchanging God.

For, indeed, the giving of thanks is not just for the good times, but for the times when we see no way out, when we are overwhelmed by a flood of emotions, when war is raging, when death is all around us and when our circumstances make no sense. No matter what our circumstances this Thanksgiving, no matter what physical ailment, no matter what family problem, no matter what grief nor death, no matter what is happening in the world or America, no matter what our financial situation may be, let us give Thanks. Let’s remember that in EVERY situation God has called us to rejoice…not to understand…and to give thanks even for the fleas in our lives, whatever those “fleas” for us may be!

God is Still on the Throne

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The 2016 U.S. Presidential election has come to a dramatic close. Many are calling it historic. And really, several states that have in recent years ALWAYS voted Democrat, surprised many by changing their color. The so-called favorite in the race never led the race even once as the mystery horse surged ahead early and held the lead.

Well, a winner in this race has been determined. It appears that “Bloody Mary” lost, and an “Emperor Constantine” has won. The future will determine if he is truly a Constantine or not.

I stand now on the words of Daniel 2:20-23 that say,

Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee...”

Indeed, God is still in control. He is still sovereign over all. He still determines who wins and who loses. He still gives power and authority to whom He will for His purposes. God is still on the throne, and no one can vote Him off!!!