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The Holy Spirit Part 2

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

To begin this message lets review God’s appointing of gifts in the body of Christ.  “And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.”  (1 Cor 12:28) As members of the body of Christ it is so very important to use our gifts with all humility so as to edify the body.  It is a huge mistake to seek our own glory for, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness'”  (Matthew 7: 21 – 23)  Wait a minute, how could God deny access to His kingdom to those who were prophesying, casting out demons, and performing many miracles?  Yes they were administering gifts of the Holy Spirit; however, in doing so they lacked the one thing that is paramount in God’s eyes.  

“If I speak with the tongues of man and of angels, but do not have love I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender  my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. (1 Cor 13:  1 – 3)   After reading this passage it is quite evident our Father places great emphasis on love.  This being the case we would be wise to understand God’s interpretation of love.  “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; it there is knowledge, it will be done away.”  (1 Cor 13: 4 – 8 )  If we pay close attention we can see that God’s love is all about action.  Worldly love is emotional.  Godly love is action.  Think about it, do we know people love us by what they say, or by how they treat us?  In this instance talk is definitely cheap.  Does this mean we should not seek the gifts of the Holy Spirit?  Absolutely  should, “Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.  (1 Cor 14: 1)

In order for us to receive spiritual gifts we must first be baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit.  For John the baptist tells us, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  (Matt 3: 11)  In our culture we practice baptism by water which is according to His word.  In some cases people are baptized when they are infants with the sprinkling of water.  Older children and adults are many times submerged in water.  My question is why aren’t people being baptized by Jesus with His precious Holy Spirit?  The reason is because the vast majority of churches in America do not believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit; however, just because a church doesn’t believe, doesn’t mean a believer cannot receive our Lord’s precious gift.  Keep in mind baptism in the Holy Spirit is from God, not an earthly church.  Searching the Scriptures I have found three ways our Lord baptizes with power from on high.  The first and most notable experience is when the Holy Spirit falls on the believer like He did on the day of Pentecost.  Also the Holy Spirit fell on people when Peter was talking to a group of Gentiles.  As Peter states, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning.”  (Acts 11: 15)  A second way to receive the baptism is by the laying on of hands.  Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.”  (Acts 8: 14 – 17)  Receiving the Holy Spirit is not about works.  It’s about about faith which brings us to the third way to receive the baptism.  “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find, knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.  Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?  Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?  It you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”  (Luke 11: 9 – 13) 

One reason the brethren have so little knowledge of the baptism of the  Holy Spirit is because it is rarely preached in churches across America.  A second   reason is because most people who claim Jesus as Lord very seldom read His word.  They very seldom read the Bible.  I know this is true because that is the way I practiced religion for most of my young adult life, and I know I am not the only one.  I have a good Christian friend who I had not seen for years.  We came in contact with each other at a luncheon and one of the first things out of her mouth was that she was trying to find a good Bible teacher.  I couldn’t believe it.  She had been a Christian for as long as I could remember, how could she say she was still looking for a Bible teacher.  Sadly this is the condition of the church in America today, always looking for a teacher instead of seeking the Teacher.  After rebuking the religious leaders in His day, Jesus said, “They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.  But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.  Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.  Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is Christ.  But the greatest among shall you be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”  (Matt 23: 6 – 12)  Here’s where to find the real teacher.  “These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.  As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”  (1 John 2:  26 & 27)  And then there is this,  “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”  (John 14: 16 & 17)

Doesn’t it seem strange for the Lord to say One is our Teacher, Father, and Leader?  How can it be that we need no one to teach us relying instead on the anointing of the Holy Spirit?  These things seem strange to us, and appear to be unreasonable.  We feel this way because we haven’t a notion about the reality of God.  It also reveals how far we have fallen away from the truth.  For the most part we have ignored the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity.  In this regard the Lord has a word for us.  “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come,  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power;  Avoid such men as these.  (2 Timothy 3: 1 -5)  By denying the Holy Spirit, the very power of God, we walk away from all the joy and love the Father has for us.  In other words we give up the kingdom of God.  “Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 14: 16 & 17)  Until we understand the fellowship of the Holy Spirit we’ll never experience real joy.  “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”  (John 15: 11) 

If we want to know how to walk in the Spirit, when administering His gifts, look to Jesus as our example. Every healing, casting out demons, raising the dead, and performing of miracles was done to glorify the Father.  In many cases Jesus would tell recipients of His power not to tell others what he had done for them.  There was no fanfare or exulting of self when He performed His many works.  He knew who He was, and that He had authority to do His Father’s will on earth.  My dear brethren, our heavenly Father wants to give us a portion of His authority through the Holy Spirit.  All we have to do is ask.                

God Bless!!!

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The Holy Spirit

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

As Christians we often finish a prayer with, “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” and we say it without much thought.  If we did give it some thought we’d realize that our knowledge of the Father and Son far out weighs what we know about the Holy Spirit.  In fact in most denominations in America the Holy Spirit is rarely mentioned except at the end of a prayer.  When the Father led me to Jesus I had no idea what had happened; however, for the first time in my life I felt a relationship with Him, the same kind of relationship I had had with my earthly father who just happened to be a super good dad.  A few weeks later I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit which took place in my home.  I was so excited about the baptism I made an appointment with the minister of our church to tell him the good news.  At my surprise the minister was not at all happy over my experience stating that charismatics caused trouble, and were too divisive in the church.  I had never heard the word charismatic used in religious circles so I checked it out.  The dictionary indicated it was “a person who supposedly has some Divinely inspired power, as the ability to prophecy, and the heal.”  I also did an exhaustive search in a Bible concordance and found that the word, “charismatic,” is not mentioned in the Bible.  I don’t know how the word came into being; however, I do know it is sure easier to be labeled a charismatic than a, “Holy Roller.”  By the way, charismatics call other denominations, “The Frozen Chosen.”  It’s religion folks let the name calling begin, what can I say.

The experience of being baptized by the Holy Spirit happened to me before it happened to my dear wife, Nicki.  I thought it best to let Nicki share her thoughts that led up to her baptism in the Holy Spirit.  “Roger and I met in college, Ball State University, got married and starting teaching.  I stopped teaching when we had children.  After being married seven years he applied for and got a job with the FBI.  Roger served in two different states before he was transferred to the Orlando, Florida office.

Growing up I went to Sunday school and in high school I sang in the church choir and went to youth group, and in college I also sang in a church choir.  In high school my girlfriends and I had slumber parties and then would go to someone’s church on Sunday morning.  I sang at weddings and in choir in college.  While living in another state, prior to moving to Florida, I sang in a church choir and directed children’s choirs.  When we moved to Florida our family attended church together.

Soon after we moved to Florida I noticed Roger sitting in the living room reading his Bible after work.  Of course I read Bible verses in church and had read some myself.  Since he did this every day I finally asked why.  He smiled and said he had been saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit.  He talked about it for a while and I just listened.  Finally I went in the other room and thought about what he’d said.  Then I did whatever I’d been doing, probably cooking or talking to our kids, or watching TV.  Each day he continued to read his Bible and each day I became more frustrated.  I even thought about leaving.

Then one day he invited me to go to a Bible study group with him and I did.  The people there were very nice and they shared Scripture.  I enjoyed it and then they sang songs.  I had heard a wonderful soloist from the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and members of the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra, but this music was the most beautiful I’d ever heard.  It touched my heart.  Soon after I went to a meeting with Roger again, and God touched my heart to receive Jesus and the Holy Spirit.”  We thought Nicki’s testimony would be helpful to those who are struggling with their salvation.  I know that if Nicki had received Christ before me my testimony would have been pretty much the same. 

In churches across America there is knowledge of the Father and Son; however, as I mention previously very little is ever spoken about the Holy Spirit except to say His  name at the end of the prayer.  Yet in the trinity we curse God and the Son and can be forgiven.  Not so with the Holy Spirit.  If we sin against the Holy Spirit we commit an eternal sin and forgiveness is not available.  Jesus was talking with the Pharisees after He healed a man who was demon-possessed and was blind and mute.  The Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of the ruler of the demons.  “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.  Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”  (Matt 12: 31 &  32)  Man can say what he wants about the Father and the Son, but we better not mess with the Spirit of the the living God.  With this in mind it would be good to see Who the Holy Spirit is, and what His function is in the Holy Trinity.

To put it simply, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the very power of God, and by His grace the Father gives a portion of His Spirit to believers so they might be His ambassadors on earth.  The Scriptures are full of the workings of the Holy Spirit.  The following passages will give us an idea of His works and how they relate to us as believers.  “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.  (John 15: 26 & 27)   That last line, “you have been with Me from the beginning,”  does that include us?  Were we with Him from the beginning?  We sure were, remember when we were chosen, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him…  (Eph 1: 4)  I could stop right there and that would enough.  But there is more, much, much more.  “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”  (John 16: 7)  “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you.”  (John 16: 12 – 15)  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”  (John 14: 26)  “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  (Acts 1: 8)  “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.  (Thess 1: 5)  And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  (Luke 24:49)  “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.  (Eph 3: 16)  “I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you  see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit’ I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”  (John 1: 33)   

We know that our Father gives us the gift of ever lasting life when He takes us to His Son.  There are also gifts the Father bestows on us through His precious Holy Spirit.  As we see from the Scriptures above, the Father gives these gifts so we might serve Him in power upon the earth.  “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.  There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.  But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.  But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”  (1 Cor 12: 4 – 11)   As we can see the gifts mentioned here are actions of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit working through men who are appointed by God in the church, and are, “…first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.”  (1 Cor 12: 28)  It is important to remember God’s appointments are made for the common good of the body.  They are not given to glorify those who are appointed. 

The gift that causes the most reluctance in the denominations today is the gift of tongues, and yet Jesus commanded,  “These signs will accompany those who have believed:  in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues.”  (Mark 16: 17)  Then Paul says, “I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all.”  (1 Cor 14: 18)  The Son of God says tongues is a sign for the believer.  Paul, the author of much of the New Testament says he speaks in tongues more than the rest. In fact do we doubt that all the writers of the Bible were Spirit filled?  Yet Christians in America say that’s not for us.  The reason Christians feel this way is because they do not understand the Spirit’s purpose for tongues.  “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and he who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  (Romans 8: 26 & 27)  Tongues is a prayer language by which our Father gives us a perfect prayer every time we pray.  “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”  (Eph 6: 18)  Yes, tongues is used by the Spirit as a prayer language for the believer.  Problems occur when people use the gift of tongues in groups of people.  Paul speaks to these things, “Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.  For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.  What is the outcome then?  I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also, I will sing with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.  Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the , ‘Amen’ at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying?  For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified.  I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.  Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.  In the Law it is written, ‘By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Men,’ says the Lord.  So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe.  Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter will they not say that you are mad.”  (1 Cor 14: 13 – 23)  In Corinthians 14 Paul gives instruction to the church regarding Spiritual gifts, and how they are to be used when Christians meet together.  He finishes his instruction by saying, “Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy and do not forbid to speak in tongues.  But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.  (1 Cor 14: 39 & 40) 

To review, tongues is primarily a prayer language for the believer in which the Holy Spirit intercedes for us making our prayer a prayer that is according to the Father’s will.  When used in group setting, tongues is not be spoken unless an interpretation is given afterwards.  In a nut shell all things are to be done in an orderly manner which will in turn edify the body of Christ.  Speaking of edifying, I conclude with this message from our Father who wants us to know Him, and how deeply He wants us to know all things He has for us.  “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?  Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in these taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.  But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; because they are spiritually appraised.  But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.  For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM?  But we have the mind of Christ.  (1 Cor 2:10 – 16)  Enough said!

In my next message our Lord will reveal additional workings of the Holy Spirit.  Love to all!

God Bless:

Roger D.Casterline

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Salvation

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Receiving a gift from someone it is indeed a joyous occasion.  When we receive a gift did we know it was coming?  In most cases we did not.  Who is in control of a gift before it is given, is it the giver or the receiver?  Of course it is the giver.  The receiver of the gift has no control over the gift giving process except to receive.  Now the gift of salvation,  everlasting life, is the most perfect gift anyone could possibly receive, and of course our Father has control over the gift.  We have nothing to do with it, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Rom 6:23), and “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”  (James 2: 17)  It is so important for us to understand that our Father is the gift giver, and that He makes choices regarding who is to receive His precious gift.

I always thought I had to do something to receive His gift of salvation.  We must surely repent.  We must also ask Jesus into our lives.  Theses things are true but will not happen unless our Father acts first.  “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do not grumble among yourselves.  No one can came to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.'”  (John 6: 43 & 44),  “And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.'” (John 6: 65),  “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.”  (John 17: 6),  “even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.”  (John 17: 2),  You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”  (John 15: 16).  Our Father chooses us we don’t choose Him.  If God doesn’t know us it is impossible to know Him.  We don’t go to heaven because we want to, we go to heaven because He wants us to.  From the above Scriptures we now know the truth.  Before we can receive salvation the Precious One must give us to His Son who will then raise us up on the last day.  After that happens the tears of repentance will flow, and we will indeed confess that Jesus is Lord of our life. 

Many years ago I was involved in a prison ministry at the Raiford state prison in Stark, Florida.  On one occasion we were allowed to witness to inmates in the prison library.  I noticed a man with his head down on the table, and I could tell he was deeply troubled.  At first when I talked to him he would not respond.  After a while he indicated that he was once a Christian but had fallen away from the faith when he started drinking.  One night he and his wife got into an argument and in a drunken rage he struck her which caused her death.  He stated that now he so much wanted Jesus in his life but didn’t think it was possible because his sin was too great after killing his wife.  I shared with him the Scriptures mentioned above, and told him that it was not possible for him to want Jesus in his life unless God had granted him access.  Once the Lord gave him understanding he raised his head from the table and we had fellowship and prayer together.  Knowing the truth makes a difference like it did for the inmate.  He was lost in sin trying to figure out what he might do to get back to Jesus.  When he understood the truth, that God had made a choice for him, he received God’s gift with great joy.  Other blessings I’ll mention here is when, “… God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He Loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”  (Ephesians 2: 4 – 6),  “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  (Col 1: 13 & 14), and finally this,  “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  (Col 2: 13 & 14).  Now then does God’s choice for us begin after we’re saved?  No, it begins when our Father sends our born again spirit to Jesus, when we are still dead in our transgressions.  At that point we are made alive with Christ and raised up with Him in heavenly places.  Our Father knows there is no way we can please Him apart from His Son.  Accordingly purification can not begin until we are with Christ.  There is absolutely nothing we can do to deserve redemption, and if people knew this they would not be confused about the Father’s gift of eternal life.  In answer to their salvation I’ve heard people say they are not ready for that yet.  How would they react if they were told that God was not ready for them yet?

Is there any way we rob our Father of His glory concerning matters of salvation?  Yes there is, and it happens when a religious person declares they have led another person to Christ.  When people say they have led someone to Christ are they not robbing God of His glory?  After all Jesus said, “…no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”  (John 6: 65)  Our Father gives His chosen ones to Christ.  How then can we dare say that we had anything to do with it.  God gets the glory not us.  We do however labor for the Lord in regards to salvation.  “For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men?  What then is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.”    We must talk (plant) with the lost and encourage (water) them as much as possible; however, when the Precious One leads them to Christ we must give God the glory not ourselves.

Christians are being discouraged in segments of our society.  The reason given for the discouragement is because voices in high places don’t want people to be offended.  Well how offended will people be when they are doing back strokes in the lake of fire.  There is only one path to eternal life and that is through Jesus Christ.  “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”  (Acts 4: 12)   Does that mean other religions do not lead to everlasting life?  Yes, that’s exactly what it means.  Why do you think the early church suffered beatings and death?  It wasn’t because they gathered together once a week.  They went into areas where Christ was unknown, and preached the truth declaring Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords, and king of kings, and that salvation can only be obtained through Him.  The suffering didn’t happen just to the early church.  Christians have always suffered for Christ, and are doing so around the world today.  We should fall on our knees and thank our Father for choosing us for eternal life. 

Many people are not sure of their salvation.  If you happen to be that person, there is a simple test so you’ll know for sure.  If you desire to a part of God’s glorious kingdom, if you want Jesus to be Lord of your life, the Father has already taken you to Christ, and He will raise you up on the last day.  Tears of repentance and your confession of Him will follow His acceptance of you.  Now for the, “mind blowing,” ending to this message.  When did our Father make His choice for us, at the time we actually received His gift of ever lasting life?  The answer is NO!  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”  (Ephesians 1: 3 – 6).    

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God Bless!!!

Roger

               

His Coming Part 3

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

My last two messages reveal a wonderful future for the believer; however, in regards to our time on earth we as Christians are most to be pitied.  Why?  Because we are waiting to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Over and over again Jesus encourages us to, “Abide in Me, and I in you.”  When Jesus says these things He means just what He says.  We are to live in Him and He in us, and He means for this to happen right now before His coming.  When we read the Scriptures presented in this message the Lord is letting us know in no uncertain terms that we are to enjoy all the fruits heaven has to offer except for the resurrection of the body.    “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”  (Philippians 3: 20 & 21)  When you read verse 20 it looks like we are waiting for something.  Not so, believers are already in heaven.  What we’re waiting for is to be transformed to be like Christ which is stated in verse 21.  How about this one.  even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all You have given Him, He may give eternal life.  This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17: 2 & 3)  Dying has nothing to do with obtaining eternal life, it’s obtained by knowing the Father and the Son.  The way we live our lives we can only say we know of Him.  In order to know Him we must eagerly seek our Lord through His word.  It’s a one on one deal between us and the Father.  If we depend upon others to feed us we’ll grow hungry.

The Bible is of the Spirit.  It is a Spiritual book.  In this regard we need an interpreter to understand it.  The interpreter of course is the Spirit.  Unless the Spirit of Christ is in a person they will never understand It’s meaning.  How many times have you heard an unbeliever say, “I’ve read the Bible but I don’t understand it.”  “And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  (Ephesians 6: 17)  Then there is this, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. (Colossians 1: 9)  Unless the Spirit of Christ is in us we are helpless to understand the Scriptures, and the glorious life the Father would have us live while yet on earth.    But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”  (John 16: 13)

Now let us understand the administration of God’s will in regards to us living in Him, and Him living in us.  As I mentioned above, Christ encourages us to, “Abide in Me, and I in you.”  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  (John 15: 4 & 5)  Reading the words, “Abide in Me, and I in you,” were just that to me, they were simply words.  I had no understanding of the glory He wants us to share with Him when He says, “Abide in Me, and I in you.”  Remember the Lord is Spirit and His words are Spiritual.  He’s not talking about us living in Him in our present, physical state.  He’s talking about our spirit abiding in Him and His Spirit abiding in us. This whole process of living in Him, and He in us, is initiated when we are born again.  Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I said to you, [you must be born again.]  The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.'”  (John 3: 5 – 8) 

 The Lord will now share the actual process of being born again and what it truly mean to, “abide in Me, and I in you.” I know I am repeating myself; however, in order to understand the following passages we must keep in mind the Bible is of the Spirit, and references made to, “abide in Me, and I in you,” are Spiritual in nature not physical.  When a person is born again, their spirit then becomes a Spiritual being, and by His grace we are able to partake in the fullness of His love for us.  First we’ll see the administration by the Lord when He tells us to, “abide in Me.”  There are numerous references in Scripture relating to our abiding in Christ.  The passages I’ve chosen for this writing are as follows:  “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”  (John 15: 18 & 19)  “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are one”  (John 17: 9)  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He Loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2: 4 – 6)  “And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.”  (Ephesians 2: 17 – 19)  “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.  For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  (Colossians 1: 12 – 14)  “having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”  (Colossians 2: 12)  “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”  (Colossians 3: 1 – 4)   For sure our, “born again spirits.”are with Christ in heavenly places, and we will live in Him until His coming at which time our spirits will be clothed in glory by the One, “who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory…”  (Philippians 3: 21)   From reading the above Scriptures it’s quite evident our born again spirits are indeed with Christ who is seated at the right hand of the Father.  Can you imagine what a wondrous thing our Lord has done for those who believe?  In regards to wonders it is just the beginning.  For if our born again spirit is with Christ, what kind of spirit are we left with here on earth.  The answer is so astounding it can take ones breath away.

The Lord has revealed what it means to abide in Him.  Now He is going to reveal what it means for Him to abide in us.  “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”            (1 Corinthians 6:19 & 20)  “For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but  to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.  Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.”  (2 Cor 5: 4 & 5)  Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall by My people.  Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord.  ‘And do not touch what is unclean  and I will welcome you.  And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me,’ Says the Lord Almighty.”  (2 Cor. 6: 16 – 18)”  I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  (Gal. 2: 20)  “Because  you are sons, God has sent forth the  Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'”  (Gal. 4: 6 & 7)  Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose; ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us'”  (James 4: 5)  “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!  Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test?  (2 Cor. 13: 5)  “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”   (Ephesians 1: 13 & 14)  “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.  We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”  (1 John 3: 24)  “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.  By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because he has given us of His Spirit.” (1 John 4: 11 – 13)  As we read the above Scriptures one may become confused as it refers to both Jesus and the Holy Spirit being in us.  Truth is there is no discrepancy for, Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”  (2 Cor 3: 17)  After understanding all the gifts the Father has given us what could we possibly give back to Him.  How do we thank a loving Father who loves us so much that He wants us with Him even before the resurrection?  How do we thank a Father who has given a portion of His Spirit to His followers?  Because of the wonderful gifts our Father has given us we must surely know that he loves us, and the only way we give back to Him, and show our love for Him, is to obey Him.  “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.  (1 John 5: 3)

Please feel free leave a comment below.  It is always great to hear from the brethren.  Love to all!

God Bless!!!

Roger 

 

 

His Coming Part 2

Monday, May 26th, 2014

 

Dear Family and Friends:

As we know from my previous message, “His Coming,” upon His return the dead in Christ will rise first then those who are still alive with be taken up.  This group of believers referred to as, “Saints,” will then be with Christ forever.  At this point we know the Saints will be saved which is a glorious testimony to God’s love for us.  However, there is much, much more glory awaiting  the Saints.  Scripture states that at His coming the armies of heaven will be following Christ on white horses.  Now the question becomes, who are those who make up the armies of heaven.  “…the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.  From His mouth comes sharp a sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.”  (Rev 19: 14 & 15)  And also,  “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”  (Rev 17: 14)   And then there is this, from the beginning of time, from the seventh generation from Adam, Enoch prophesied saying, “…Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgement upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”  (Jude 1: 14 & 15)  The armies of heaven are those who are raised up to be with Christ at his coming.  It’s going to be us folks, we are the armies in heaven.  It is indeed hard to believe which is the reason He says,  “but just as it is written, things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”  (1Cor 2: 10)  We must prepare ourselves for battle.  We’re not  going to just sit around in heaven playing harps all day.  In order to prepare we must train ourselves in righteousness which can only be done through His word.  “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Tim 3: 16 & 17)  And this,  “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”  (John 17:17)  It is so very important for us to understand that Saints are those who prepared themselves while living on earth.  It is easy to see how one would follow Christ at His coming.  Thing is, the Saints were following Christ before His coming.  As Enoch stated, “…the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,”  and the question we must consider, are we holy?  Do we actually believe our Father expects us to be holy, to be perfect as He is?  “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the the same?  If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  THEREFORE YOU ARE TO BE PERFECT, AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT.”  (Matt 5:  43 – 48)  Do I think I am perfect?  Not by a long shot but it is a goal we should all be striving to attain.  And how do we reach the goal?  If we carefully read the Scriptures  above we’ll find that in order to be perfect we must love our neighbor, including those who love us, and also those who hate us.  A true example of perfection for us to follow is when Jesus was dying on the cross.  After being beaten and crucified, “…Jesus was saying, ‘Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing…'”  (Luke 23: 34)  It appears to me that for us to achieve perfection we must totally and completely die to self.          

Before continuing I’d like to briefly summarize my previous message, “His Coming.”  When Christ returns with His holy ones all who are left on earth will be killed with the sword.  There will then be a thousand years on earth in which Satan will be locked up.  At the end of the thousand years Satan will be released to deceive the nations to attack the Saints.  As the nations surround the camp of the Saints, fire will come down from heaven and devour them.  Next will come the great white throne judgement by which everyone who has set foot on the earth from the beginning of time will be judged.  Those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be saved.  Everyone else will be lost forever.

After the great white throne judgement Jesus will  indeed be on a mission for he must prepare all things for the coming of His Father to the new earth.  “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own order; Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.  For he must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that will be abolished is death.  For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.  But when He says, ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.  When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.  (1 Cor 15: 22 – 28)

Are we ready for what happens next?  After the Father is all in all,  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.”  (Rev 21: 1)  In this passage we see few details relating to a new earth and new heaven, but looking further, “…the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for the hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat.  But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”  (2Peter 3: 10-13)   “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’ And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’  And he said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’  Then He said to me, ‘It is done, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.   I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.'”  (Rev 21: 1-6)  Just so we are sure of what is happening here, the new Jerusalem, where we will live for eternity, will not be located in the new heaven but rather on the new earth.  At the end of all things we will not be living with God in heaven but rather our Father will be living with us on the new earth.  Regarding our final dwelling place,  “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God,  Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.”  (Rev 21: 10 & 11)   If we read further we find, “The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.  (Rev 21:16)

The coming of Christ will be the beginning of a whole host of events my feeble mind simply can not comprehend.  I always thought if we were good little boys and girls we would one day live in the heavens with the Father forever, end of story.  Truth is when the Father says, “It is done,” we’ll be living with our Father in the new Jerusalem located on the new earth.    And why did I not know of these things?  Because, “…the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2Timothy 4: 3 & 4)    The words of men have spun a fairy tale ending for mankind, and I for one believed every bit of it.  I never had any reason to believe otherwise because I was so far away from the Lord it never entered my mind to seek His truth.  I’ll end this message with a question for all of us to ponder?  Is there anything we are doing here on earth that compares to the reality of His coming?  

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

His Coming

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Dear Family and Friends:

We all wonder what heaven will be like, and what will happen when Christ returns.  Without really knowing, I believed Christ would return, and we would be with our family and friends forever after Jesus kicked out all the bad guys.  I thought people would surely repent when they witnessed His presence, and everything would be hunky dory from that time forward.  For the past forty years I have read the Scriptures in an attempt to learn and understand God’s truth.  I must confess that even though I’ve read the Scriptures from front to back numerous times, I’ve only scratched the surface of the truth that lies therein.  At times I think I’ve read the Scriptures so many times there isn’t much left for me to learn.  Foolish, foolish, man that I am to ever consider such a notion.  One thing I do know is that I know very little when it comes to the understanding of God’s knowledge which is contained in the Scriptures.  Recently I read passages from His word that totally changed my understanding of His return.  It is the most astounding, glorious, and yes alarming piece of Scripture I’ve ever understood thus far.

I’d like to start by providing a summary of the events that will take place when Jesus returns.  First order of business will be for the Lord to collect, from the four corners of the earth, those who have died in Christ, and those in Christ who are alive at His coming.  Then the beast and false prophet will be seized, and throw them alive into the lake of fire.  All the rest of the people left on earth will be killed with the sword.  Then Satan will be bound for a thousand years and thrown into the abyss.  After a thousand years Satan will be released so he might deceive the nations into destroying the saints and the beloved city.  However, the Lord will devour the invaders with fire from heaven, and the devil who deceived them will be thrown into the lake of fire with the beast and false prophet.  After that there will be the great white throne judgement followed by a new heaven and new earth, and God will live forever among His people.  Alright that’s all.  Have a good day.  No, no, a thousand times no, that’s not all!  My words are but nonsense unless tested in the fire of His word.  So let’s see what Jesus has to say about the matter.

The following words of Jesus I’ve read again and again, and never understood its true meaning in regards to His return.  His words gives us understanding into the events that will take place at His coming.  And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man:  they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.  It was the same as happened in the days of Lot:  they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.  It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.”  (Luke 17:26 – 30)  Yes, as alarming as it may seem, at His coming all those on earth will be destroyed just like in the days of Noah, just like the days of Sodom.  So far the Lord’s plan seems hopeless for everyone, even those who believe; however, the Lord has made a way for those that are His at His coming.  ” Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him,  for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.  It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.  Then he said to me, ‘Write, Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’  And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.'”  (Rev. 19: 7 – 9)  Here is another piece of Scripture relating to this glorious event as our joy will indeed be made full.  “…we do not want you to be uniformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.  (1Thess 4: 13 – 18)      

Moving on, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.  His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.  He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.  And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.    From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.  And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘Kings of Kings and Lord of Lords’.  Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, ‘come, assemble for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both small and great.’  And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.  And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.  and the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.  (Rev. 19: 11 -21)  As this  event is taking place, “…the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.'”  (Rev. 6: 15 – 17) 

After man is dealt with, …”I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.  And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.  Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them.  And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.  The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.  This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.  (Rev 20: 1 – 6Let’s stop here to  to try and determine who these people might be who are sitting on thrones, making judgements, and reigning with Christ for a thousand years?  For understanding,Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?  Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?  Do you not know that we will judge angels?  How much more matters of this life.?”  (1Cor 6: 1 – 3)  And how about this from the beginning of time.  “It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation  from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.'”  We simply have no clue regarding our Father’s love for those who obey Him.

Continuing on, “When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.”  (Rev 20: 7 – 8)  Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop the presses!  How can it be that everyone dies by the sword at the coming of Christ, then after a thousand years we see Satan released to lead a multitude of people into war.  Where did these people come from?  For the answer we must remember what Jesus said would happen at His coming.  Did he not say that it would be just like in the days of Noah and Sodom?  In the days of Noah and Sodom there was mass destruction; however, in each case there was also left a remnant.  In the case of Noah, his family was saved, and in the case of Sodom, Lot and his family were saved.  And so it will be when Christ returns.  Just like in the days of Noah and Sodom a remnant will be left to repopulate the earth.  This multitude then will be deceived by Satan after a thousand years and be led into war.  “And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.  And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false pr0phet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”  (Rev 20: 9 – 10)

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was for them.  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”  (Rev 20: 11 – 12)  We know about the book of life, but what are the books that are going to be used to judge the dead according to their deeds?   How about, Matthew, Mark Luke and John, and the rest of the books in the Bible.  “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.  If anyone hears my  sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.  He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.”  (John 12: 46 – 48)  Back to the great white throne judgement, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life. he was thrown into the lake of fire.”  (Rev 20: 13 – 15) 

The rest of the book of Revelation, chapters 21 and 22, gives us glorious insight into the new heaven and new earth.  One cannot describe the eternal glory the saints will enjoy on that day.  “but just as it is written, things which the eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and which God has prepared for those who love him.”  (1Cor 1 : 9)   In our wildest dreams we cannot understand our Father’s love for us, and what He has prepared for our future.  Keep in mind He has made preparation for, “those who love Him.”  And how does He know that we love Him? “By  this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”  (1John 5: 2 & 3)  The coming of our Lord Jesus will touch every human being that has ever lived on the plant, everyone!  Now that we understand His coming, how should we live our lives?  I simply do not have the words to express the urgency I feel.  What can one say that would help people understand?  I sat at my desk for the longest time trying to find the words to finish this message.  Truth is my words are of no consequence, only His words can cause growth.  Therefore I encourage us all to read the Scriptures and learn from Him.  It is the only way we can truly know His love.  “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  These things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you, and that  your joy may be made complete.”  (John 15: 9 – 11)  Knowledge is to know the Father, wisdom is to obey Him.  Obedience ignites knowledge and wisdom within the believer resulting in the kingdom of God.  “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,”  (Romans 14: 17)  Love to  all.

God Bless!!!

Roger D. Casterline

The Teacher

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Today’s education is filled with financial waste and busy work.  I’ll begin with teacher testing.  It has always been a mystery to me why people with a degree in education, many times a masters degree, are required to pass a test on basic skills before being awarded a license to teach in the public school system.   My question is, what does passing a test on basic skills have to do with defining ones ability to be in the classroom?  If people fail the test, they always end up passing after additional attempts so what’s the use of testing in the first place?  Four years of college in the field of education, which includes student teaching, more than qualifies an individual to be in the classroom.  If a person gets a degree to teach, the institution they graduate from should be the deciding factor as to ones ability to be in the classroom.  The state doesn’t need to come up with some meaningless test which serves only to eat up finances from the educational budget.

Now on to standardized testing for students, the passing of which must occur before the student is awarded a diploma.  If a student fails to pass the test they are given the test again and again until they pass it.  If they cannot pass the test they are given something less than a diploma after completing their other requirements to graduate.  To encourage passing of the test schools are graded.  Schools with an “A” rating are given huge sums of money which can be spent at the district’s discretion.  Schools usually divvy up the money among the teachers which is the only positive element in the whole program.  Actually the grading system has nothing to do with improving student education but rather ends up identifying demographics in the respective school districts.  “A” schools are loaded with motivated students who for the most part come from good homes with parents who have college degrees.  “D” and “F” have few advantages, and for the most part struggle from day to day just to make ends meet.  In its infinite wisdom the state awards those that have and ignore those who have not.  In this matter the unbelieving ignorance of the state completely fails to understand that the home situation is the most dominant force in a student’s ability to succeed in the classroom.  Education has the clueless idea that they can change students by merely being in the classroom.  Teachers most definitely influence success in students; however, if they want to affect total change they need take them home and raise them.

In my younger days I coached freshman basketball at a local high school.  Joe tried out for the team and was a wonderful player.   However after one week of practice Joe informed me he couldn’t continue because he didn’t have a ride to practice.  After looking into the matter I found that Joe lived with his aunt in a small home with ten other siblings.  Joe and his brothers and sisters shared bedrooms sleeping on the floor.  My wife and I saw the need and asked Joe’s aunt if she might allow him to live with us during basketball season so he might participate in the program.  The aunt agreed and Joe ended up staying with us the entire semester.  When Joe came to us he had a 1.8 grade point average (GPA) and had numerous issues with truancy and discipline.  At the end of the semester Joe had a 3.3 GPA with no truancy or discipline issues.

In my guidance department there were six counselors.  Joan had been in the department for quite a while, and towards the end of her career decided to take a counseling job at Muscle Shoals, Alabama to be closer to her family.  We kept in touch and on one occasion I bragged to Joan about the four National Merit Scholarship winners we had at the school.  Four winners were the most of any school in the county.   Joan agreed that was pretty good then stated that her high school had thirty five National Merit Scholarship winners.   She then explained that Muscle Shoals was the home of the NASA space center and that many of the students in her district came from homes whose parents were scientists  and engineers at the space center.  Need I say more.  Unless standard testing includes the home in it’s measurement it will never produce the desired result.  Of course that will never happen so results will continue to be incomplete and worthless for any reliable measurement.  Another component is that many students become discouraged with standardized testing, and end up dropping out of school.  One could even draw the conclusion that students who drop out truly understand the insanity of standardized testing.

True education takes place in the classroom and the only tool that can improve success is, “The Teacher.”    How many teaching days are lost because of standardized testing?  How many teacher hours are wasted because teachers are required to execute piles of useless paper work.  The state now even requires teachers to justify themselves with self critiques.  How worthless can an idea be?  Does the state actually believe a teacher is going to destroy their career by writing something about themselves that would indicate they’re a lousy teacher?  Get real!!!!  Teachers are the only hope for education.  The state board of education, superintendents, principals, and guidance counselors are not in the classroom; and therefore, they have no idea.   Their only purpose for existence should be to support the classroom teacher.  As it is now the teachers are viewed as children who need constant supervision by the bosses.  Take all the money from standardized testing, and useless paper work, and put it back into the classroom were the action is.  Teachers are the real force in education, and the so called educators need to get out of the way and let the teachers do their jobs.  Think of the money that could be saved if politicians and administrators came to the understanding that, “compared to the classroom teacher they know nothing about education.”  So called educator’s full attention to making themselves look good is destroying the classroom by bringing down teacher morale.  Any distraction that takes teachers away from teaching students should be done away with.  In a nutshell we have politicians and college professors, many of whom have never taught a day in the public school system (k -12), writing all the rules and regulations which only serve to hinder classroom teachers from doing their job.  In order to be called stupid one must continue to pour money into programs that yield zero results.  Any effort to improve education need only one simple guideline.  What can be done to better support,  “The Teacher?”

God Bless!!!

Roger D. Casterline

 

 

 

The Nature of God

Monday, March 25th, 2013

As believers we know about God, and believe in His existence; however, we seldom consider His form or nature.  Our Father does not intentionally hide these things from us.  He does however expect us to seek Him through His Word.  In regards to the Father’s form, Ezekiel looked, and, “above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis luzuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man.  Then I noticed from the appearance of His loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was  a radiance around Him.  As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance.  Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord,  And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.”  (Ezekiel 1:26 & 27)  This dear family and friends is our Father, and is it any wonder then Ezekiel saw Him, “with the appearance of a man?”  After all didn’t God create us in His image?

Of course we know Jesus as a man but can we actually know Him in His glorified state?  Yes we can because our brother, John, reports, “Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me.  And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.  His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.  His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.  In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.  When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man…”  (Revelation 1: 12 – 17)  We should rejoice in these things, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”  (Phillippians 3: 20 & 21)  Now we know what the Father and Son look like, and we also know what we shall become upon His return.  The reality of all this is we’ll live in our glorified bodies far longer than our earthly bodies.  In fact, if we compared our time on earth with eternity, would our time on earth even be found in comparison?

As I mentioned above, God is not hiding and He wants us to know His appearance as well as His nature.  In regards to His nature, “…since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”  (Romans 1: 20)    I know there must be numerous examples of God’s nature in what He has created, but one example of His nature, and feeling of love towards us, is something very special.  I am talking about man’s best friend, the dog.  Those who have ever had a pet dog will completely relate to this.  By considering the nature of the dog we get an inkling of God’s nature.  Dogs are totally and completely loyal to family members.  Their only goal in life is to be near us and to gain our attention.  When we are away from home the first to greet us at the front door is the dog, tail wagging, so glad to see us.  A dog simply cannot get close enough to us, and will sleep by our beds and in our laps if allowed to do so (oh the dog hairs).  On earth there is probably nothing more loving than a dog which is why we call him, “man’s best friend.”  By knowing the nature of the dog we gain insight into the nature of our Father except His nature in love is far greater.  Even though we pay little attention to Him on a daily basis, He pays total attention to us, and His love for us cannot be put into words so I’ll not try.  In His own words, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?  God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns?  Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.  Who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”  (Romans 8: 33 -35)  Thank you Dearest One for your love.

God Bless!!!

Roger  D. Casterline

 

 

 

 

Faith

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Our Father calls us to follow Him through obedience, and His calling can only be accomplished by faith.  There aren’t any manuals, lectures, or videos from God to teach us His ways.  We must know His word through the Scriptures, and by faith believe what He says is true.  Through faith then we walk according to His will.  The ultimate example of faith was when Jesus died for our sins on the cross.  What guarantee did Jesus have that the Father would resurrect Him?  His only guarantee was that God told Him that He would,  and in my mind His obedience to the Father’s word by dying on the cross is the ultimate act of faith.

Faith is the only way we can be pleasing to our Father.  Before action comes faith.  Man is not powerful because of faithFaith in man brings forth righteous acts by the power God.  At this point I think it might be helpful to understand how faith might be increased in our personal life.  “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’  And the Lord said, ‘If you had the faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, [Be uprooted and be planted in the sea];  and it would obey you.  Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, [Come immediately and sit down to eat]?  But will he not say to him, [Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink]?  He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?  So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, [We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done]”.  (Luke 17: 5-10)  Many times Jesus answered questioned and presented  teachings with a parable which is the case here.  At first look, when the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith, it looked like He never told them how to increase their faith.  I mean they wanted to know how to increase their faith and Jesus tells them a story about a slave serving dinner to his master.  On occasion I read a parable and do not understand the Lord’s meaning but this one I get.  The parable is about obedience, the master told the slave what to do, and he did it.  In a nut shell Jesus is simply saying to the apostles that in order to increase their faith they must obey their Master, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ disciples were unable to cast out a demon, and they asked Jesus why they could not cast it out.  Jesus responded, “...Because of the littleness of you faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will be moved; and nothing will be impossible to you.”  (Matt 20:17)  Let me ask a question, how many mountains have we seen moved lately?  How many healings have we seen, how many miracles have we witnessed,  how many demons have we seen cast out?  We’ve not seen these thing because of the lack of faith, we’ve not seen these things because of the lack of obedience which is the only way to increase faith. Faith in America is pretty much limited to church membership, and it will not change until people dig into the Scriptures, and with passion obey the Father’s Word.  Obedience is many times taken as limiting our lives, keeping us from having fun.  It’s true it does limit our lives on earth; however,  the trade off is a deepening relationship with the Father which in turn brings forth great joy and peace.  Eternal life doesn’t begin when we die.  It begins when we know Christ who is the, “Word of God.”  So as we walk in obedience to the Word we have, through faith, eternity.  For “This is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.  (John 17:3)    The question then boils down to where we prefer to live, in the earth or in the kingdom of the most high God?

 

First Chrismas Day

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Twas night before

Creation begins

God laid His plan

To Conquer sin

 

Turning to Son

For loving deed

To sacrifice Self

For man in need

God did say

Rejection will come

But Son replied

If I can save but one

 

Lowering Self

Was God’s command

To know the struggles

Of being a man

 

I understand

The Son did say

I fully know

The price I’ll pay

 

But god replied

They’ll curse Your name

Turning their backs

For earthly things

 

I know my Lord

But I’m the key

So man might see

Your love in me

 

Your will on earth

I shall pursue

And all your works

I promise to do

 

I know that many

Will not believe

But I must try

On creation’s eve

 

To sheperd those

That You will give

Their lives to Me

Their eternal gift

 

I pray to Thee

Do let me go

To serve Your plan

At a time You know

 

Your love for man

Will never be known

Unless I die

For them alone

 

I’ll go to earth

As child in hay

Man will rejoice

For the debt I pay

 

And because of debt

They couldn’t afford

In heaven and earth

My Son is Lord

 

So Saviour was born

And angels did say

Good will to man

First Christmas Day