Life is a test and all things in this life are just distractions!

It has become apparent to me that all things in this life are just distractions. Yes, I mean ALL things that do not involve reading, learning and loving the Word of God. There are of course good distractions and bad distractions. A good distraction is that which will eventually lead one to the pages of God’s Word, which in reality are the only words of life (Philippians 2:6, 1 John 1:1). One example of a good distraction is a godly wife who urges her husband to go and lose himself in the pages of the Word of God (1 Corinthians 7:33). Another example of a good distraction is a daily hour of passive commute time (e.g. on a train) which allows a prudent believer to routinely engage the weighty parts of God’s word. It is a distraction because it is a commute, but it is a good distraction (if re-purposed advantageously) because it forces one into a routine of Bible study which might not otherwise be as routine. There are also necessary distractions such as eating and sleeping. Nevertheless, these necessary distractions are still distractions as they do not lead us to the Word of God, though they enable us to continue that quest. Living a spiritually healthy life is all about managing the many distractions that are in one’s life. Do not get caught up in distractions.
God—understanding that we need significant amounts of undistracted alone time with Him in order to truly know Him and excel in this test that is life— prudently designated 1/7th of our time here on this earth as distraction-free. In His study guide for how to pass the test, He called this distraction-free time, the Sabbath. He promised that those who partook of worship and rest during this period would experience the blessings specifically associated with this time segment. However, most have seen this Sabbath as an affront to their own personal time and/or have decided to redesignate another unblessed and unhallowed time-segment as their Sabbath. They have also shunned the idea that the entire time-segment needs to be distraction-free and have hence encumbered their Sabbath with all sorts of distractions which are sure to limit the time spent in the word of God.
Surprisingly, many times our own family members can be the greatest distractions. Jesus in Matthew 10:25 says: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” A brother, a relative, or a friend can prove to be a bad influence and therefore a bad distraction. We pursue earthly distractions because we think that they will bring us happiness. But the Bible tells us that Christ has gone to prepare mansions in Heaven for those who believe in Him (John 14:1-3). The earthly success that we desire is merely a glimpse of the joy that believers will realize in Heaven. The Bible in Psalms 16:11 tells us that “in God’s presence is fullness of joy; [and] at His right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Therefore, if we do not seek to place ALL of our dreams, desires, and hopes in Christ then we have misunderstood our purpose here on earth and will surely encounter disappointment. This is why Paul in Colossians 3:2-3 says “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” The success that we desire is “hid with Christ in God.” Though we may encounter success in this life, that is not the purpose of life. Each person whom God allows to live in this world must realize that they have entered a test, a final examination. This a profound test as it involves our future well-being. There are only two outcomes for this test: a future eternal life with Christ in a world which unlike our current one is not cursed (Genesis 3:16-19, Romans 8:20-22, Revelation 22:3) or dying the “Second Death” which the Bible tells us is experiencing eternal torment in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41, 2 Thessalonians 1:9 and Revelation 20:14-15; 21:8). Hence, the outcomes of this test called life involve the greatest incentive (i.e. the good news of the gospel) and the greatest disincentive (i.e. the failure to obey the gospel). No one knows when the test will end; for some people, the test ends a lot sooner than they hoped or expected and some sadly find out that they have not done what it takes to even get a passing grade. Therefore, we all need to be concerned with passing the test with flying colors. How do we pass the test with flying colors? By realizing that all things in this life that do not involve reading, learning and loving the Word of God are distractions. Once we understand this then we can manage the distractions in our life so that we will leave this life with a rich understanding of the true knowledge of God. Do not, therefore, allow the distractions in your life to steal your destiny. Many church-goers will end up in dying the Second Death because they thought it was more important to chase “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). The Bible reminds us in 1 Timothy 6:10 that in chasing these distractions, many have “erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” From the day we are born, we are told and taught to covet “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” and sadly most people will die in pursuit of these earthly treasures. Jesus urges us not to pursue these earthly treasures and warns us that “moth and rust will corrupt” them and that “thieves break through and steal” them. Christ’s advice is to instead “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (Matthew 6:20). So how do we lay up treasures in Heaven?

God knows that we all yearn for some measure of earthly happiness which I will hereafter refer to as “these things.” That is why He has provided us with a non-destructive way to arrive at “these things.” A way which doesn’t involve the pursuit of distractions. In Matthew 6:33, God says “seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all ‘these things’ shall be added unto you.” In Psalms 37:4, God says “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” In Psalms 145:19  we read “God will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.”  In John 15:7 Christ says “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
Therefore, anytime you (or anyone you care about) find yourself yearning for “these things” or wondering whether you will find some modicum of success in this life, just remember God’s advice: Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, delight yourself in the LORD, fear Him, abide in Him, and allow His words to abide in you.
To many, this advice may sound counter-intuitive. After all, why would someone want to read a Bible if they can’t eat, buy clothes, or do not have anywhere to sleep? Yet, we must remember that all our help comes from God. I am weak having my own burdens. I need God’s grace every day just to survive. But my King is strong and He is still coming back soon! He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). He supplies my needs in proportion to how relentlessly I pursue His Word.
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A Christian’s Funeral Remarks

As a bible-believing Christian, I knew that my brother John would die someday but I never imagined that he would die so young and abruptly (at the age of 40). Many worldviews are content with rationalizing death as a natural part of life. They tell us that death is necessary and even warn us of the dire consequences of a world without death. Death is supposed to be the solution for overpopulation. Death is alleged to be the driving force behind human evolution. Death, we are told, is something that we must get used too since we will all face it someday. Continue reading

Did you know that the Bible is actually alive?

31507-biblewithlight-light-bible.1200w.tnUnless otherwise noted, all verses below are taken from the King James Version of the bible.

Unlike any other book ever written, the Bible (i.e. the Word of God) is actually alive—in fact, according to 1 Peter 1:23-25, it is said that He “lives and abides for ever.” By He, of course, I am referring to Jesus the Messiah Who is also known as the “Word [of God]” in John 1:1 and the “Word [of God Who] was made flesh” in John 1:14. By the way, did you notice how I started out by talking about God’s Word but then transitioned into talking about a Person? From where did I get the idea that it is proper to refer to God’s written or spoken Word as a He? Actually, I got this idea from the Scriptures. The Scriptures, of Continue reading

Does the God of the Bible espouse murder and rape?

Friend:
So I got into another debate with a liberal on Facebook—gotta stop that, about abortion and the liberals endorsing it.  So, this woman tells me that God espouses murder and cites the following scripture (i.e. Judges 21:10-24, Numbers 31:7-18, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Deuteronomy 22:23-24, Deuteronomy 21:10-14).  Do you have any context to that?

James:

My responses to your request for context are below. Let me know if it helps or not. Continue reading

Angels or Saints? Part 2

A continuation of Angels and Saints Part 1

John:
Thanks for the feedback. Regarding “hagios”, however, I think I gave a more than sufficient example of the noun form referring unequivocally to angels in 1 Thess 3:13.
James:
No, not really. Remember, the fact that you think the word translated as “saint” may really refer to angels is quite different from the fact that the Greek term “hagios” literally (and I would add contextually) means “saint”.
John:
Still, let’s cut to the chase. In 2 Thess 2, What was Paul warning us not to let anyone deceive us about? A different chronology of events than the one he gave us. And what was Paul’s chronology? That we won’t be gathered together unto the Lord until AFTER the “apostasia” (that word refers to “rebellion” in both Acts 21:21 as well as all six times it’s used in the Septuagint), and AFTER the “son of perdition” is revealed (2 Thess 2:1-3). And how is he revealed? Paul goes on to tell us in verse 4, which seems to be a description of the Abomination of Desolation (which the Lord told us we’d see- Matthew 24:15).Keep in mind that had Paul given us any OTHER chronology of events (like you’re suggesting), the Thessalonians would have been duped again by the very next charlatan that came around saying the DOTL had begun. But again, Paul gave them/us two markers to KNOW what to look for first. They/we should never be fooled again. Sadly, we have.
James:
Dave Hunt’s book had a section called “Post-Tribbers Would Not Be Troubled” which deals with your concerns about the Thessalonians and the DOTL. I thought he did a good job explaining what would essentially be my response to your point, so, I would simply point you to that part of the book. I have included part of it for you to digest:
Other than being caught by surprise, which they shouldn’t have been, why would the Thessalonian believers be upset to be told that the day of Christ had arrived? There was no reason to be “shaken in mind” if they believed in a post-tribulation Rapture. There was, however, sound reason for being shaken if they believed in a pre-trib Rapture. Clearly, then, the latter was their view. If the Thessalonians knew they had to go through the Great Tribulation in order to arrive at the Rapture, which they looked forward to with eager anticipation, then it would not have troubled them to know that the day of Christ had come. Their reaction rather would have been, “Praise God! The time has come for us to face Antichrist and prove our love and faithfulness to our Lord. If we are martyred, we have a special crown. If not, and we endure to the end, then we will be caught up to meet Christ on His descent to the Mount of Olives.” After all, the coming of the day of the Lord and the revelation of the Antichrist with the accompanying tribulation was certainly what they had anticipated if they believed in a post-trib Rapture. Not exactly a “blessed hope,” but surely nothing to be “shaken in mind” or “troubled” about. If, on the other hand, the Thessalonians were expecting Christ before the tribulation period and it had arrived without their leaving in the Rapture, they had something, indeed, to be “shaken in mind” about! Had they been rejected by Christ? Why hadn’t they been taken? And why was Paul still there and all of the other Christians? No one had been caught up to heaven…
Dave Hunt. When Will Jesus Come?: Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ (pp. 161-162).
John says:
After all, the Lord only described one gathering together of believers, and that being “after the tribulation of those days” (Matthew 24:29-31).
James says:
I disagree, your reference to Matthew 24:29-31 is actually about Israel. He does consolidate His “elect” from all over as mentioned in Matthew 24:31 and Mark 13:27. However, the word “elect” in the bible refers to both Israel and the Church (Isaiah 45:4, Isaiah 65:9, Matthew 24:31, 1 Peter 1:2, Colosians 3:12). However, Jeremiah 9:25-26 suggests that Israel (and not the Church) will be the elect entity that must endure the great tribulation. Therefore, since the Church is already in heaven attending the Wedding that occurs during the great tribulation (Revelation 19:7-8); and since God said that in that day (when Christ returns in wrath), no Jew would be left outside Israel: “I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them [among other nations] any more” (Ezekiel 39:28, cf. Isaiah 27:12; Amos 9:9); it seems reasonable to interpret Matthew 24:31 in light of God’s promise to gather Israel from all ends of the earth.
John says:
The “hagios” issue notwithstanding, I think I gave a Scripturally faithful description of the “day of the Lord”, and how the tribulation cannot be the “wrath” which we’re “not appointed to”. Have you considered these important points?
James says:
I have considered your points. Some I am clear on and others (like your 2 Thess 2 explanation) still elude me. In regards to your comments about our being appointed to endure the tribulation, I wrote a blog entitled (Four reasons why Isaiah 26:19-21 refers to the Rapture – https://christpluszero.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/four-reasons-why-isaiah-2619-21-refers-to-the-rapture/) where I explain why I believe that this passage affirms God’s intent that we escape the wrath that He has prepared specifically for those that have disregarded and disobeyed His loving truth. Have you considered this passage?

John says:

James, I would recommend that you examine 1 Thess 3:13 further:

1 Thessalonians 3:13- “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints (“hagios”).”

That verse would make no sense if we’re the “hagios” who come back with the Lord at His second coming. Otherwise, why would Paul need to pray for our hearts to be made “unblameable” at that time? Weren’t they made “unblameable” seven years prior (at a “pretrib rapture”)? No, the only way that verse makes any sense is if we’re here when the Lord comes back with His “holy ones” (see Matthew 25:31). Then it makes all the sense in the world for Paul to be praying for our hearts to be made “unblameable”…”at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”

Do you see the point?

James says:

I do not see a problem with the idea that our hearts will be established unblameable in holiness before God at Christ’s coming with all his saints (and angels – c.f. 2Th 1:7). Why must this occur at the pretrib rapture? Yes, we get resurrected bodies at the rapture but why must that include the “establishing of our hearts as unblameable and holy?” God can do whatever He wants when he wants and this verse appears to suggest that our hearts will be established when we come back with Christ. No problem there. Unfortunately, the greek word “hagios” can never produce a noun interpretation of angel; such a deviation from the semantic range of a word would allow us to practically interpret the bible to say anything.

Barack Obama: God’s choice?

“Like the Israelites of old, we have grown decadent and have forgotten our Christian roots,” Ervin argues. “And so, like the Israelites of old that clamored for a king to lead them, God has given us President Obama so that we can be given over to our craven desires. We have sinned against God, and it is time to take our medicine.”

I grabed the following quote from the WorldNetDaily news article published with the same title as this blog.  The article was discussing different viewpoints about whether Obama was sent by God to do great things or as a reward for our ungodly decisions. By my approval of the aforementioned quote it is easy to see which side I believe is correct, nevertheless, I think that the point missed by some in the article was that regardless of whether Obama is a blessing or a punishment, God is completely in control and thus Obama’s victory was caused directly by God (even if it was also caused directly by the American voters).

Consider the following, Satan in John 14:30 is called “the prince of this world”, in II Corinthians 4:4 he is called “the god of this world”, and in Ephesians 2:2 is called “the prince of the power of the air.” In all of these titles, we are able to surmise that the devil’s power on earth is extensive to the point that he is acknowledged to rule the “world”, yet, he is still observed asking for permission from God before laying a finger on Job (Job 1:12,2:5) thereby confirming what scripture says with certainty, namely, that God is overwhelmingly and simultaneously in control even over domains that He seemingly ceded to other entities. And after all, such is the essence of sovereignty.

So, yes America made the choice to elect Obama and it was God’s will to ratify our decision. This action from God is in line with what he did in Romans 1:24,26,28. In these verses the phrase “God gave them up” or “God gave them over” explains what happens when we frustrate God’s goodness. The Obama presidency (as well as many others before) are also a result of America reaping what was sowed many years ago when we decided to crack open the door to ungodly decisions such as the removal of God from the classroom and the embracing of policies that undermined biblical principles.

Obama was effectively God saying “here, this is what you asked for.”

Every Idle Word…

Matthew 12:36 informs us that every person will have to give an account to God on the day of Judgement for every careless word spoken while here on earth and evidently the words men speak will have a bearing on their degrees of reward in heaven, or degrees of suffering in hell.

This frightens me when I think of all the foolishness that I have authored in numerous discourse that I am ashamed to have partaken. However, I must admit that this verse also gives me some solace when thinking about Christians that insist on abnegating thier responsibility to denounce evil as evil while refusing to relinquish the title “follower of Christ.” After all, if we as Christians are ashamed of “following Christ” in his denunciations of the many abominations laid out in scripture, why should anyone take us seriously when we claim that we are following Him in the area of submission to His will?