The Last Day Before Eternity

As of this writing the World Population Clock estimates the world’s population to be about 7.3 billion people. Researchers and mathematicians estimate the number of people who have ever lived and died to be about 100 billion. The first number is an educated theory, while the second number is an educated guess.

Regardless of the exact figures, it is mind boggling when we consider these numbers, even the smaller of the two which is only 7.3 billion. In longhand that is 7,300,000,000. One billion is one-thousand millions. One billion dollars is the combined wealth of one-thousand millionaires!

The Bible speaks of a day that is soon coming, a very busy day in Heaven. Each and every person who has ever lived (perhaps a total of 107,300,000,000 as of today) will face the Judge of the universe. Each and every one of us will have our day in court.

“The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding Your servants… Your people who revere Your name, both great and small, and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

~ Revelation 11:18

One man’s Judgment Day is another man’s Inauguration Day. The wicked unbelievers will be sentenced to an eternity in a quaint little party place called “Hell” (at least that’s the description of hell that a lot of people say while they are partying hard in life). The forgiven believers will be inaugurated into eternity with Christ in Heaven.

Which kind of Day will you have on that last day before eternity? One must choose today because tomorrow may be the last day before eternity, and on that day it will be too late to change your destination. Our default destination is not Heaven; that destination must be consciously chosen and the proper changes recorded in those books that will be checked on that last day before eternity.

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#PastorsTip #Revelation11 #JudgmentDay #InaugurationDay #Choice #Faith #WorldPopulation #Court #Sentencing

The Warrior’s Peace

A healthy Christian has a peaceful heart even as they advance through the battlefields of life. Jesus Himself walked through some very tough battlefields, even before His Passion began (His “Passion” is a term that commonly refers to His suffering during the arrest, trial, torture, and crucifixion).

Jesus suffered loss, betrayal, false accusations, theft, threats, misunderstandings, physical torture, humiliation, and the like. However, He had within His soul the Spirit of Peace (the Holy Spirit), the Peace which kept Him emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually steady even while He cried, wept, and suffered. Knowing what it is like to grieve deeply and to experience horrendous pain, He gives to us His Holy Spirit, the same Peace that He relied upon.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

‭‭~ John‬ ‭14:27‬

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

~ John‬ ‭16:33‬

Are you walking through your own “Passion” today, carrying your own cross, enduring loss and grief, betrayal, false accusation, threats, theft, horrendous pain, humiliation? Jesus told us that we would go through tough times, but in the same breath He said that we can have His Peace. It’s an overcome-the-world kind of Peace! You may have to stay on the battlefield , you may have to finish walking your own “Passion” path, but in those times His Peace will enable you to be a world-overcoming warrior that is at peace.

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#PastorsTip #John14 #John16 #Peace #Overcome #Passion #PassionOfChrist #Warrior

Safeguarding Faith in Christ Alone

Personally, as a Gentile-American-Christian, I enjoy some of the Messianic-Jewish culture, music, and traditions. Learning about the various Old Testament feasts and their spiritual and prophetic meaning provides some tremendous insight for understanding the larger context of both of the Testaments of scripture. Learning about the prayer shawls that they wore through the generations and the meanings tied to the tassels is a wonderful and enlightening experience.

It is very easy for any of us, “Jewish” or “Gentile,” to begin to see the style of our gatherings or our church services as being more than just the good culture that they are. Whether it’s the order of service, (pass the offering plate or mount the offering box by the exits), the kind of music (Messianic-Jewish, Hillsong, Hymns, or Calvary Chapel), the way we pray (kneeling or standing, hats off or prayer shawls on, hands clasped at our chest or open handed toward heaven), the special days we celebrate (Sabbath or Sunday, Hanukah or Christmas, Day of Feasts or Super Bowl Sunday… Sorry, maybe that last one isn’t a good example), each element does serve a good purpose, but that purpose must not be elevated higher than it is intended by Jesus Christ, our Messiah.

While I encourage every Christian to learn as much as they can about the Old Testament practices and laws, I must also caution against elevating these things to a significance that God has not intended for His New Testament church. Participating in these things does not impute or increase any righteousness or make one holier. Neither the Messianic-Jewish-Style nor the Messianic-Gentile-Style are “more saved” or “more blessed” or “closer to God” than the other.

“… foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith… Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified… because ‘the righteous will live by faith.’ The law is not based on faith… He redeemed us in order that the blessing… might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus… by faith we… receive the promise of the Spirit.”

~ Galatians 3:5-14

We are one body (see Romans 10:12-13), saved through faith alone in Christ alone and through Whom alone we are made righteous to approach our Heavenly Father. Surely, let’s enjoy whatever style we are in, but let us keep our style in perspective. Our own righteousness-through-style practice produces filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), not more righteousness or a closer proximity to God.

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#PastorsTip #Galatians3 #Messianic #Jewish #Gentile #Style #ChristAlone #Perspective

The Secret of Coded Messaging

As children we enjoyed playing the role of secret agents who sent each other coded messages in class, coded just in case the note was intercepted by one of the enemy agents (the teacher, or the obnoxious class clown, both of whom would read intercepted uncoded notes out loud to the whole class, to our eternal embarrassment).

As adults now in marriage relationships, we too often subconsciously and consciously still utilize coded messaging in our communications. Only this time, we aren’t afraid of a teacher or a class clown, we are afraid of fear and pride. The thought of clear communication can at first make us feel vulnerable (fear) or humiliated (pride).

Coded messages (as opposed to clear communication) are words, phrases, and body language that say one thing but mean another. A simple example would be where “Would you like some salt?” isn’t really a question, but actually means “Please pass the salt to me.” Of course, this isn’t a big deal, but it’s something simple to illustrate how the really important subjects of life in a marriage can be distorted.

The more complex the issue, the more uncomfortable the subject, or the more intimate the level, the less likely a person will just naturally be clear and uncoded in their communication. Clear, uncoded communication for most people requires a deliberate development and practice in their lives.

It is a research-verified and observable fact that women have a much greater capacity and propensity to verbalize than men. But men can be just as much coders as women, they just might use fewer words in their coded messaging.

The need for clear, uncoded messaging is taught in scripture. Each message must be communicated with clarity, or else it develops a problem. As this principle is true for the church as a whole, it is also true in a marriage or in any other kind of relationship.

“Even in the case of… the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes

So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words… how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air…

If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me.”

‭‭~ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭14:7-11‬

It is never too late to start uncoding our communications. We may have already missed out on a lot, frustrated one another a lot, even angered each other a lot with our coded messaging that our spouse never quite figured out the key for deciphering, but that is in the past.

Start fresh today by sharing with your spouse your personal intention to discontinue the encoding of your own messaging. Then, as you do that, the benefits of your clarity will bring more joy, and they themselves will soon follow suit. You and your spouse will no longer be “foreigners” to each other.

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#PastorsTip #1Corinthians14 #Code #Communication #Messaging #Clarity #Distinct

The Joy from Asking with Clarity

Asking (as opposed to remaining silent) within the context of any relationship is important. From the home to the office, the church to the restaurant, the bedroom to the dr’s office, the grocery store to the gas station, the marriage to the acquaintance, each relationship can bring much more joy when we ask for what we want or need.

The scriptures speak often of the principle of asking. One of those references is in James:

“… You desire but do not have… you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask… When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…”

~ James 4:1-3

Too often we finally break our silence only when we have been sufficiently frustrated or angered, and by then our asking sounds like our motive for asking is pure selfishness or that we see it as a prime opportunity to imply to the other person that they are clueless, that they should have known what we wanted.

We sometimes act like our being made to ask is a terrible point to reach. I think we tend to not ask for what we want or need out of fear or pride (pride is one particularly powerful form of fear). At times asking can make us feel vulnerable (fear) or humiliated (pride).

However, especially in our marriage and family relationships, let’s be encouraged by the promise of scripture when it teaches:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

‭‭~ 1 John‬ ‭4:18‬

The promise is this: if we will lovingly do what is appropriate in a love-relationship, the fear will be driven away! “Love drives out fear” speaks of a sequence of events, first is the love-motivated action, second is fear’s departure in direct response to the first action.

Fear and pride may try to keep us silent but if we will proceed with a love-motivated request (“ask”), the fear and pride will lose their power over us. I know that we would prefer the sequence to be first the fear leaves, second the love-action (“ask”) can be done. But, war is never easy, and war is what we must wage upon our own fear and pride if we are going to enjoy what we can receive when we lovingly ask (James 4:1-3).

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#PastorsTip # James4 #1John4 #Ask #Fear #Pride #Love

Are You Obsessively Suspicious in Relationships?

How much suspicion is okay in a marriage?  Well, none is good!

“… an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels… that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people… But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

~ 1 Timothy 6:4-6

What might define a measure of suspicion as “obsessive” as opposed to “normal”? If “normal” is a measure of the average person, let’s remember that the “average person” is self-destructive and relationship-destructive unless they completely surrender their heart to Jesus Christ. Even then, things do not automatically get better right away, it is a lifelong journey.

So, to answer my question with another question: How much dirt does it take to make a glass of water unpleasant? So it is with a person: it only takes a little bit of suspicion to make a person unpleasant to be around.

Traits of an obsessively suspicious person might include: Eavesdropping on their spouse’s communications like emails, phone calls, and the mail box; imagining how and with whom their spouse might have an affair; discreetly interrogating the spouse’s friends and coworkers regarding the spouse’s work and social schedule and topics of recent conversations; analyzing the spouse’s bank and credit card statements for charges that would indicate their suspicions are valid; and the list goes on.

Including the above explained examples, here is a short list of behaviors (without full explanations) that can indicate an obsessively suspicious person:

  • Eavesdropping.
  • Imagining.
  • Cross-examining.
  • Insomnia.
  • Snooping.
  • Investigating.
  • Quick-tempered.
  • Secretive.
  • Researching.
  • Analyzing.
  • Probing.
  • Undermining.
  • Jealousy.
  • Argumentative.
  • Entrapment.
  • Abusive.

Naturally, as humans our first thoughts go to other people. Who do we know that fits into this list, partially or wholly? However, as with most biblical principles for living, our first thoughts should go to ourselves, to carefully test ourselves to see if we are walking within the parameters of the Spirit of Christ, if we are “in the faith” or not.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you, unless of course, you fail the test?”

‭‭~ 2 Corinthians‬ ‭13:5‬

What have you examined in your own life recently? How about today on the topic of “obsessive” suspicions, or even “normal” suspicions? Let’s remember that “normal” just means “average” among others, it doesn’t mean “okay” or “acceptable” in God’s eyes.

It does not require much dirt to make a glass of water very unpleasant, and even undrinkable. For our marriage relationship let’s strive to always be pleasant and refreshing like a glass of clear, cool water on a hot day; let’s expel all of our suspicions. As we read earlier, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

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