The Dangers of a Yes Man by Larry W. Peebles

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The Dangers of a Yes Man   by Larry W Peebles   August 26, 2016   16.32

I don’t know if I would have made a good soldier.  I voluntarily subjected myself to the military draft in the late 1960s, but was never selected.  In those days, the draft was conducted by a lottery drawing.   The order in which birthdates were drawn determined the order in which those subject to the draft were called for service in the military.  The year I was eligible, my birthdate was drawn so late in the lottery my local draft board filled its quota before they got to my number.

I have always had a reluctance to follow orders until I knew the reason behind the orders, so following orders in the military without knowing why would have been difficult for me.  It is simply not in my character to say “yes” or “yes sir” without knowing the big picture-the objective.  On the other hand, once I have understood the reasons for an order, and buy in to the plan, I have had no trouble following orders and respecting the person in authority.  In short, I am not a good “yes man”, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “a person who agrees with everything that is said; especially one who endorses or supports without criticism every opinion or proposal of an associate or superior.”

The concept of a yes man is not new.  From Biblical times, both the Old and New Testaments contain interesting stories and warnings concerning this subject.  During the time of 1 Kings 22 (and 2 Chronicles 18), when the children of Israel were split into two kingdoms, we learn that Ahab was the king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah.  Three years prior, a treaty had been struck with Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, but there remained disagreement over the possession of Ramoth Gilead, a territory claimed by Israel but taken by Aram.  Ahab wanted to advance on Ramoth Gilead to re-take it, and sought Judah’s assistance in the war. Ahab threw a big feast in honor of Jehoshaphat, and asked if he would go down to Ramoth Gilead with him.  In 1 Kings 22:5, Jehoshaphat responded wisely “First seek the counsel of the Lord”.  The counsel of the Lord had left Ahab due to his disobedience (see chapters 20 and 21 of 1 Kings).  Nevertheless, he called on four hundred of his so-called prophets (false prophets), and asked if he should go to war or refrain.  They responded (v. 6) “Go…for the Lord will give it into the king’s hands.”  They told him what the king wanted to hear.  I’m sure the king smiled with delight, because he wanted to take the city back more than he wanted the truth and wisdom from God.

Jehoshaphat had the discernment that these were not prophets, rather mere “yes men.”  He asked (v. 7) “Is there not a [real] prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?”  Ahab responded (v. 8) “There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.”  The prophet Micaiah was summoned to the gathering.  He was warned by the messenger that the other prophets were not only encouraging Ahab to fight, they were also making wild and brash predictions about the gore and destruction of the Arameans.  Micaiah agreed to come, but cautioned (v. 14) “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.”  This is not the response of a yes man.  It is remarkably similar to what Jesus said in John 12:49-50 “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.  I know that His command leads to eternal life.  So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”  How very wise for a man to seek first and solely the wisdom of the Lord on a matter, for it leads to life; and how very wise for a prophet to neither add to nor detract from a word from the Lord.

When Micaiah arrived he sensed the atmosphere.  The king immediately asked him if he should go to war or refrain.  Micaiah knew what he wanted to hear so he answered sarcastically (v. 15), using the very words of the false prophets -“Attack and be victorious…for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”  Sensing the sarcasm, the king pressed him to tell what he really heard from the Lord.  In verses 19-23, Micaiah told the king that he should not proceed to war, that instead every man should go home.  He also described a vision from the Lord where he saw a lying spirit had attempted to deceive Ahab through his prophets.  He concluded by saying “The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”  Speaking the truth landed him a round of insults, followed by a stay in prison on bread and water.

This provoked Ahab into a final decision.  He ignored Micaiah, and proceeded into battle against Aram.  Ahab died in the battle, and his army retreated at the end of the day.  He had believed the lie, and it led to his death.  Although the truth would have saved his life, out of his own pride he refuted the truth because it did not agree with what he wanted to do, and it ended in disaster for him.

In the New Testament Timothy, assistant to the apostle Paul, and described by Paul as “my true son in the faith”, received the following warning from Paul in a letter.  “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self- control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-having a form of godliness, but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.” (2 Timothy 3: 1-5).  We must also honestly admit we can see this around us today.  We can see the pride in Ahab, and the form of godliness in his false prophets from the story above.

Paul goes on to say in his letter in 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”  Those who say what itching ears want to hear are “yes men”.  Those who want their ears scratched or rubbed are looking for a massage, not a message.  Jeremiah 6:14 warned about prophets and priests (yes, even the church) who say “Peace, peace….when there is no peace.”

Society in general, and yes even the church, sends messages intended for itching ears.  These include messages that people are not required to change because repentance is outmoded.  Do what feels good.  People are basically good, and there is no need to deal with sin.  A person can come to Jesus just as they are, and stay that way.  God is so loving he will not judge anyone.  God wants his children to be healthy, wealthy and content in this world.

The truth is that God’s ways and priorities are different from ours.  He is more concerned about our character than He is our comfort.  He is more concerned about our forgiveness than He is about our finances.  He will speak the hard truth for our own good.  We can come to Jesus just as we are, in a low and sinful state, but He will operate on us by grace through His Holy Spirit until we are convicted and convinced of the need for a change for our own good.

Rather than walk away from hard truth, consider these additional words from Paul’s letter to Timothy, a remedy for today’s situation.  “Preach the word (as an official messenger); be ready when the time is right and even when it is not (keep your sense of urgency, whether the opportunity seems favorable or unfavorable, whether convenient or inconvenient, whether welcome or unwelcome); correct (those who err in doctrine or behavior), warn (those who sin), exhort and encourage (those who are growing toward spiritual maturity), with inexhaustible patience and (faithful) teaching.”  (2 Timothy 4:2, Amplified).

A yes man answers according to the current direction of the wind.   The truth is not dependent on the wind.  A yes man answers according to what he thinks one wants to hear.  The truth speaks of what one needs to hear.  The truth is not a philosophical concept.  The truth is a person, Jesus Christ.  “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).  When we know the Truth (Jesus), we can recognize the truth.  We can then be ready at all times to both speak the truth and hear the truth.  This leads to life.  A yes man is no help at all.  The danger of a yes man is his half-truths and lies ultimately lead to destruction.

Take Up Your Sword by Kay Keith Peebles

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It was hilarious!  I had always been afraid of snakes.  I became afraid of snakes in the third grade when I learned to distinguish the poisonous ones from the non-poisonous.  Since then, I had only seen two poisonous snakes in the wild, one was a baby copperhead.

This summer, after coming up to the mountains for ten years, I saw my first poisonous snake in our area.  I was near one of the small lakes close to our home when I saw a snake swimming on top of the water several feet from where I was standing.  I could see his head and knew he was poisonous!  Although the water was a bit murky, I got a picture of him with my cell phone and discerned he was a copperhead.  I realized, for the first time in my life I wasn’t afraid of the snake, just respectful.

A week ago, my husband and I were coming home from a day-long outing and parked our car in the garage.  When we began unloading the car, my husband shouted, “There’s a snake in the garage!”  He was in the corner by the garage door.  We could see that the front half of its body was inside a box which the exterminator had placed in the corner of the garage to catch small rodents and insects as they entered.  It was late in the afternoon and the inside of the garage was dark.  I maneuvered myself to the other side of the car so that I could step outside of the garage to see the snake with better light. “It’s a copperhead,” I yelled to my husband.  We had no rake or shovel with which to defend ourselves.  Upon observing the situation, it appeared he had entered the box to eat something that may have been inside.  We realized he had become caught on the sticky surface and was unable to pull himself free.  I asked the Lord for wisdom and immediately we decided the best thing to do was back the car out of the garage so that we could sweep the box out of the corner and onto the driveway.  Our weapons became a broom and an automobile.  When the box was pushed outside, the snake drew up the rest of his body inside the box which made him fully contained inside. My husband then proceeded to drive the car over the box five or six times to make sure the snake could not harm anyone.  There was no way we could have removed him from the box.  He was stuck there to die a slow death and since he knew small critters could enter our garage, we did not want this happening again.

Once the snake was dead, we both felt relieved.  It was disconcerting to have a poisonous snake in our garage.  It left us feeling a bit vulnerable.  Then we began to laugh.  It was actually hilarious!  The head of the snake could not have touched us.  The snake had been incapacitated!  God had protected us from being bitten when we walked near the snake.  He was a dangerous snake but rendered helpless; unable to harm us.  His poisonous head was covered by a box.  We chuckled at the thought of him chasing us and trying to bite us with this big box on his head.

I began to understand more clearly the victory Jesus gave us through the cross and resurrection and the believer’s call to resist the enemy (devil) to obtain personal freedom from oppression and bondage.  In scripture the devil and the demonic realm is equated with a snake.  It was a snake that spoke to Adam and Eve in the garden tempting them to sin against God.  See Genesis 3:1, 13.  The Apostle John described the devil by what he saw in the Revelation of the end times.  “And the huge dragon was cast down and out—that age-old serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, he who is the seducer (deceiver) of all humanity the world over; he was forced out and down to the earth and his angels were flung out along with him.”  Revelation 12:9 AMP.

The Apostle Paul explained the work of the cross as Jesus redeemed mankind by defeating all the works of darkness (the devil).  “Stripping the rulers and authorities of their power, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by means of the stake (cross).”  Colossians 2:15 Complete Jewish Bible, emphasis mine.  The Amplified version says, “[God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross].”  God had disarmed the snake by sticking his head, which was his weapon, to the inside of the box.  It was impossible for him to bite us.  Christ gave us all the weapons and authority needed to debunk and pull down the enemy’s hold on our lives and the lives of others.

We all came into this fallen world crippled by our sin nature.  We inherited the sins from past generations in our family that did not serve the Lord or they did not deal with the curses of sin on the family tree.  Sins of the father are passed down for several generations and if there is no repentance and breaking of those strongholds, they remain and continue crippling us from one generation to another.  See Exodus 34:7.  Jesus redeemed us from our bondage, giving us all we need to secure our complete freedom.  Unfortunately, some remain bound either because they don’t know how to be free, they are afraid to deal with spiritual matters or they don’t want to be free.

How often do we cower in fear because of the works of the devil?  How many times have we backed off from an opportunity to gain personal or corporate victory over bondages and injustice when the Lord told us the victory was ours?  Fear of the enemy will stifle any hope of victory we have.  It will keep the children of God bound and powerless, always floundering instead of staunchly opposing him.  Victory comes only by resisting every weapon of the enemy, leaning into the fray and wielding our supernatural weapon Jesus provided for us.

We have been given a powerful suit of armor, but that armor only covers the front of our body, not the back.  We were never created to cower or run from the enemy, we were created to face, resist and oppose the enemy because Christ has already defeated him!

Paul encouraged the Ephesian church.  “In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].  Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.”  Ephesians 6:10-11.  AMP.

“Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].”  Ephesians 6:13.

We find the armor of the Lord described in the book of Ephesians in chapter 6:14-18.  We are to be girded about the waist with the belt of Truth, Biblical Truth.  Our breastplate is that of Righteousness (integrity, honesty and transparency; morality according to God’s Word, and our hearts completely surrendered to the Lord).  The shoes upon our feet are Peace, (representing the resolve that we trust in God, believe His Word and rely upon His strength).  Faith is our shield, (faith in the finished work of the cross, the power of the blood of Jesus to redeem and protect us, and the knowledge that He defeated the enemy, we are simply enforcing His victory).  The helmet of salvation guards: 1) our mind which is the mind of Christ Jesus, 2) eyes that look only to Him for our salvation, 3) ears which hear and obey His voice, 4) breath (life in and through Him) and 5) mouths which declare His Word.  Our armor is our defensive protection but our weapon is the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God).  His Word is our supernatural weapon used against every attack of the enemy.

We must know who we are in Christ Jesus and what He accomplished through His life, death and resurrection.  Once we are established securely in Him, We are His agents in the earth raised up to uphold and apply His Word against the lies of the devil.  His Word will sustain us and enable us to stand firm until the enemy surrenders and flees.  James 4:7 promises, “So be subject to God, Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.”

Lessons Learned From The Snake:

1)    Do not be afraid of his power because Christ has overcome all the works of darkness.  Colossians 2:15, 1 John 4:18, Revelation 12:7-10

2)    Seek the Lord for His strategy (wisdom) for victory in each battle.  James 1:5,                   1 Samuel 30:8, Judges Chapters 6 and 7.

3)    Put on your armor, understanding the purpose of each piece, which guarantees victory.  Ephesians 6:13-18

4)    Faith (strength) comes through studying/meditating the Word of God, intercession/prayer, praise/worship and waiting in His presence.  Isaiah 40:31, 2 Timothy 2:15

5)    We overcome by the blood of the Lamb, by declaring our testimony, and by being willing and able to die for the faith.  See Revelation 12:11.

We are not inherently entitled to victory without participating in the battle.  We were created for this purpose.  We are in a battle for our faith, our family and the nations.  There is no true freedom apart from Christ Jesus.  American soldiers have been willing to go to war and die for our national freedom.  Are we willing to fight the spiritual battles necessary to secure our spiritual freedom and that of others and die to ourselves in order to obey the will of God?  Conscientious objectors will not inherit the Kingdom.  The world is looking for the answers only we can provide.  God is depending on us.  It is time for the church to take up our sword and fight!

Asa Had the Answer by Larry W Peebles

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Asa Had the Answer   by   Larry W. Peebles   August 12, 2016  16.30

What does one do when outnumbered two to one?  We are not talking two against one, or even two hundred against one hundred.  What if we were talking over one million enemy soldiers advancing against a nation, and the King’s army to defend the nation consisted of half that many?  What does one do?

King Asa of Judah found himself in that situation in Chapter 14 of 2 Chronicles.  By way of background, Asa was the fifth King of Judah, following his ancestors King David, his son Solomon, his son Rehoboam, and his son Abijah.   Asa was the son of Abijah.  Much is written and studied about the reign of David and Solomon.  They both loved the Lord with all their hearts, and purposed to follow the Lord and lead the people according to God’s laws and plan. Each had their moments involving personal sin and weakness to overcome.  When Solomon died, the kingdom split into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah.  Rehoboam’s first challenge as the new king was to unite the tribes of Judah and Benjamin into the kingdom of Judah, and to fortify the cities of Judah.  The remaining ten tribes formed the kingdom of Israel.  During the first three years of his reign, Rehoboam was successful in doing this as long as he followed the Lord.  However, after his success in establishing himself as King, and fortifying the kingdom, he drifted away from the Lord.  The king of Egypt attacked Judah in Rehoboam’s fifth year, captured the fortified cities, and advanced as far as Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 12).   The prophet Shemaiah gave the word of the Lord to Rehoboam (v. 5) “You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak [king of Egypt].”  The king and the leaders immediately saw the error of their ways, and humbled themselves before God.  Then the Lord sent this word through His prophet (v. 7, 8) “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them…..they will, however, become subject to him [the king of Egypt], so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands.”

Shishak attacked Jerusalem and carried off the treasures of both the temple and the royal palace.  He took everything, including the gold.  With a valuable lesson having been learned, Rehoboam began again establishing his kingdom and fortifying the cities.  The rest of his reign was then marked with continual warfare with Jeroboam, king of Israel.

Abijah followed Rehoboam as king, and faithfully followed the Lord.  Though he reluctantly carried on the fight against his Israelite brothers, in one particular battle with Jeroboam, Abijah addressed the army of Israel (2 Chronicles 13). He pointed out that God intended the kingship of all of Israel (Israel and Judah) belonged to the descendants of David.  The divided kingdom of Israel was an offshoot of the rebellion of Nabat, one of Solomon’s officials, but not a son.  In verse 12, he said “Men of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the god of your fathers, for you will not succeed.”  God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah that day.  Verse 18 says “the men of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord, the God of their fathers.”

With all this as background, we then see Asa, son of Abijah become king of Judah.  2 Chronicles 14:2 says “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.” During years of peace, he built up the towns, and put walls, gates and bars around them.  He prospered.  He built an army of 300,000 from the tribe of Judah, and 280,000 from the tribe of Benjamin.

Thirty years after his grandfather’s lesson in the battle with Shishak, Asa learned that Zerah the Cushite was approaching with a “vast” army (literal translation-thousands of thousands, or a thousand thousand [million]).  There is historical evidence to suggest he was a general hired by the current pharaoh of Egypt.  With all the prosperity and peace in the land, Egypt thought it was time to drain the temple treasury again, and loot the royal palace.  How could Asa defend his people against an army of over one million with an army of only 580,000 men?  Verse 11 says “Asa called to the Lord his God, and said ‘Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty.  Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army.  O Lord, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.’”

Verses 12-15 in Chapter 14 tell us the ending of the story.  The Lord struck down the Cushites.  Asa and his army pursued, annihilating such a great number they could not recover.  The men of Judah carried off a large amount of plunder, including plunder from the enemy villages destroyed in a counter-attack.  They also carried off droves of sheep and camels before returning to Jerusalem.  The Lord turned what could have been a devastating attack into a stunning rout and counter-attack.  Instead of having their treasures plundered, the kingdom of Judah saw its wealth and treasures grow.

Upon their return to Jerusalem, 2 Chronicles 15: 1-2 says “The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Obed.  He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin.  The Lord is with you when you are with him.  If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.”

The lessons we see in these Scriptures contain some jewels of wisdom.  They apply not only to nations and leaders of nations, but to individuals as well.  Consider these twelve take-away points:

  1. We must be careful to attribute our success to the Lord.  Psalm 121:2 says “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
  2. Human nature is to forget where our success comes from, and to drift away from the Lord when we are successful.
  3. When we drift away from the Lord, we must rush back to Him with humility, and ask for forgiveness.
  4. Drifting away from the Lord carries consequences we may have to live with for a while.
  5. When we humbly come back to the Lord, He restores us and lets us start over again.
  6. Men do not prevail when they fight against the Lord.
  7. When going into battle, better to rely on the Lord than on the size of your army.
  8. God helps the powerless against the mighty.
  9. When the Lord is on our side, we can expect astonishing results, but never predictable results.
  10. When we are with the Lord, He is with us.
  11. When we seek the Lord, we will find Him.
  12. If we forsake the Lord, He will forsake us.

When Solomon finished the temple, the Lord appeared to him at night and said (2 Chronicles 7:14) “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”  What to do when the problems and opposition that face a person or a nation are overwhelming?  Where do we start when we have lost our moral bearings?   Solomon received the answer when he was king.  Asa remembered the answer when he was tested.  We return to the Lord our God.

Casual Christianity by Kay Keith Peebles

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“Que sera, sera” is a dangerous theology!  The song “Que Sera, Sera” which means- “Whatever will be, will be” was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans in 1956.  It was sung by Doris Day and featured in the movie “The Man Who Knew Too Much”.  The premise of the song was we do not have control over our lives because our fate is determined by the “gods”.  It is a care-free, casual belief which motivates people to live their lives to the fullest centered around their own desires, because they have no say or power to determine the final outcome.  This belief has seeped into the church and is affecting how people regard the good news of the kingdom (the Gospel).

My husband and I attended the funeral for a 16 year old young man several years ago.  He was one of four passengers killed in an automobile driven by a drunk teenager.  They had all been partying and the driver was speeding when he accidentally plowed into a large tree killing everyone in the car.  The mother of the teenager was an employee of the company my husband managed.  The family was inconsolable.  We came to the funeral to express our love and sympathy for their deep loss.

The funeral began with a hymn and a prayer; then the pastor stood at the pulpit to preach a sermon.  He asked the mourners a question:  “Why did God take this young man”?  He then proceeded to answer his question by sharing his version of the sovereignty of God.  His message to the grieving family in essence, was “Que sera, sera” (whatever will be, will be).  He explained his belief that the Lord required the young man in the prime of his life and there was nothing the family could do about it because God is God.  His remarks were similar to things I have heard others say to those grieving; “God needed your _________ (family member) more than you did.”  His message left all those in the pews feeling hopeless and brought no consolation to the family.  It did, however, stir doubt, and perhaps anger toward a God who would “take” our precious loved ones from us.  It was heartbreaking to hear him blame God’s sovereign will for the death of the teenager.  He left the entire room of people questioning the futility of life.

God’s sovereignty is blamed for many things that are not His doing but rather, they are the result of the missteps of others.  Unfortunately, like I witnessed the day of the funeral, many people believe in the theology of “Que sera, sera”.

Although the Lord is sovereign over all of creation, He created mankind with the ability to choose to follow or reject Him.  Those who believe that everything happens according to God’s perfect plan must eliminate the majority of the Bible.  From Genesis to Revelation the written Word of God is filled with God’s intervention in men’s lives, but His will is also subjected to man’s free will choice.  God never made man sin nor was he created with the propensity to do so.  Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God’s commandment.  Their disobedience caused sin, death and destruction to enter our world.  The Bible is clear, it is not God’s will for anyone to perish eternally, but many do because they reject God’s call to salvation, kingdom living and destiny.  See 2 Peter 3:9.  Many people die every day because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.  God is sovereign and all-knowing, but we make our own choices.  He does try to influence our decisions but we have been given the right to choose whether we obey Him or not.

This dangerous theology deceives Christians into thinking they have no part or responsibility in what happens here on earth.  It especially affects their attitudes toward their having an active role regarding their own Christian walk, the salvation of others and the end times.  They feel no need to study the word of God and mature in the things of God.  They participate in church with a casual attitude, lightly esteeming the Lord because they are pre-occupied with their own plans.  They do not know fully what they believe and why, which can make them targets to the lies and doctrines of false prophets within the church.  See Matthew 7:15.  They can then be easily swayed by human reasoning which contradicts Biblical Truth.  This is currently happening today!

We are presently living in a treacherous time and therefore we must know the Word of God because we are daily being positioned with opportunities to speak truth or succumb to lies.  If we do not know the Word, we are in danger of believing whatever is presented as the Gospel, rendering us unable to stand in faith on God’s side.

Jesus’ disciples asked Him what the sign of His return would be and what would take place at the end of the age.  See Matthew 24 (entire chapter).  “Jesus answered them, Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error].”  Matthew 24:4 AMPV.  He continued, “And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred, And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error…”  Matthew 24:10-11 AMPV.  Jesus continued speaking in parables about our responsibility to be diligent, watchful and busy about the kingdom’s business while we wait expectantly for His return.

Our Christian faith is far from casual.  It calls us to be active, equipped, matured, discerning and focused on Him.  We must not be busy doing solely our own activities while leaving no room for Him, except an hour on Sunday mornings.  Jesus described what the kingdom of heaven is like in Matthew Chapter 25 by comparing 10 virgins.  These virgins represent the church, those who are righteous by receiving salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  The Bridegroom represents Jesus Who will return at the end of the age.  (See Matthew Chapter 22; Revelations 21:9, 22:17; John 3:29 and Isaiah 65:5)  Five of the virgins were described as wise and five as foolish.  The five wise virgins were sensible, intelligent and prudent.  They were prepared by pre-planning and using their time wisely.  The five foolish were negligent, wasteful and casual in regard to their bridegroom’s return.

The bridegroom delayed His reappearance long enough the five foolish virgins nodded off and went to sleep, not considering how long or difficult the night might become.  Unprepared, their lamps burned out and they had no way of acquiring the oil to re-light them before He came back.  When the bridegroom arrived, the five foolish were nowhere to be found, because they were searching for the necessary oil (the evidence of their faithful obedience) in vain.  The five wise virgins who had prepared themselves entered into the marriage feast with Him.  The door was then shut and no one else would be allowed to enter in.  When the five foolish virgins finally returned it was too late.  They insistently knocked at the door of the wedding feast.  The bridegroom answered the door and spoke heartbreaking words to them.  “But He replied, I solemnly declare to you, I do not know you [I am not acquainted with you].”  See Matthew 25.  Although they had been invited to the wedding feast, their casual attitudes toward it and the bridegroom kept them from properly preparing themselves so that they could enter in.  They were sadly rejected from the kingdom for all eternity.

God is sovereign, but we can thwart His perfect will from coming to pass in our lives.  We, like the Israelites before us, can become rebellious, calloused or simply too casual in regard to Him, risking eternal judgement.  It is true, the Word of God says the enemy (devil) cannot snatch us out of God’s hand.  We can, however, be denied entry through our own continual disobedience by having a casual disregard of His Word, His kingdom, His presence and His own sovereign plan for our lives.

The kingdom of God was offered to us at the cost of Jesus’ painful sacrifice.  He was mutilated and crucified because that alone could demonstrate the depth of wickedness our sins created.  He bore the fullness of our shame, guilt and mocking which we deserved.  Salvation was given to us freely by His great love for us, although we deserved eternal judgment.   He fully gave His life for us; therefore, to truly be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we must give our lives to Him completely.  Whether we live or die, we are His only.  2 Timothy 2:11-12 proclaims, “The saying is sure and worthy of confidence:  If we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him.  If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.  If we deny and disown and reject Him, He will also deny and disown and reject us.  If we are faithless [do not believe and are untrue to Him], He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.”  His faithfulness to His Word and his righteous character is the very reason He denied the five virgins entrance to the wedding feast.  They were imposters of the true believers.

Many of the churches in Germany succumbed to the pressure of the Nazi regime in World War II, compromising their beliefs and exchanging true Biblical doctrines for the Nazi propaganda.  Today, many in the churches in America are capitulating to the pressures of our society and the escalating resistance to God’s word by our American culture.  There is a growing pressure for Christians to approve those who live godless and immoral lives.  Believers are already being persecuted for taking their stand with God.

Every day we are inching closer to the Lord’s return.  We must be equipped to endure to the end.  The night is drawing nigh.  We must prepare our lamps by filling them with the oil of the Holy Spirit while the Lord’s presence may be found.  The diligent will reap the reward.  The seeker will apprehend the prize.  The faithful will see the Lord.  There is NOTHING casual about Christianity; that is why so few are willing to walk on the narrow path.  Are you one of them?

Obed-Edom and the Presence of God by Larry W. Peebles

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Obed-Edom and the Presence of God   by   Larry W Peebles    July 29, 2016   16.28

Obed-Edom was in for a big surprise.  King David of Israel had defeated the Philistines, who had previously captured the Ark of the Covenant.  The Philistines were eager to return it after only seven months because the presence of the Ark had wreaked havoc on the Philistine people (1 Samuel 5, 6).  David attempted to move it back to Jerusalem.  He had great respect for the Ark, which was a God-ordained symbol from the days of the exodus led by Moses.  It was constructed during the time the children of Israel were set free from Egyptian slavery and journeyed into the Promised Land.  The Ark contained the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod, and a sample of manna.  It represented the very presence and power of God when the children of Israel walked across the Jordan River on dry ground into the Promised Land, and at the destruction of the walls of Jericho.  Vines Expository Dictionary explains it this way “the powerful presence of Yahweh is metaphorically yet truly concentrated in the Ark.”

David chose thirty thousand men to form the procession to accompany the Ark home, and ordered a new cart pulled by oxen to transport it.  2 Samuel 6:5 says “David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals.”

Then a tragedy occurred.  One of the oxen stumbled, and the Ark suddenly shifted in the cart.  A man named Uzzah instinctively reached out to steady the Ark so that it did not fall off the cart.  He was instantly struck dead.  Although his intentions may have been good, he and the entire procession were being too casual and careless in handling the Ark.  When God gave Moses the detailed instructions for building the tabernacle and all of its altars and furnishings, the main feature of the most holy part of the tabernacle, the holy of holies, was the Ark.  The holy of holies was the most sacred room, hidden behind the curtain, where only the high priest entered once a year to sacrifice and atone for the sins of Israel.  The Ark in that sacred place contained the very presence of God.  When He gave Moses the instructions on how to build the Ark, He also gave specific and detailed instructions on how to carry and move the Ark.  These instructions were not only to show proper respect and reverence for the Ark, but also to protect someone from likely touching the power of God in a casual manner.  Man is not built to withstand the full power of God.  The unimaginable power of the Divine cannot be handled by human flesh.  Without preparation, and without thinking, Uzzah reached out and touched the Ark.  He may as well have reached out and grabbed a one million volt live wire falling to the ground.

Realizing the gravity of the situation, David became afraid and wondered how it would be possible to safely bring the Ark home to Jerusalem where it belonged among the chosen people of God.  2 Samuel 6:10 says David “took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom.”  He needed time to re-group and research God’s instructions on how to move it to Jerusalem; perhaps he had over looked something.

Can you imagine Obed-Edom’s surprise when King David asked if he could drop off the Ark of God at his house for a while, until they could assess its proper handling?  Then King David and his procession of thirty thousand walked off down the road, leaving the Ark, the very presence of God, with Obed-Edom.  What would happen next?

We know from Scripture that Obed-Edom was a Levite (1 Chronicles 16:4-5), a man from the order of priests, called by God to serve the people by ministering before God.  He had received the training of a Levite, and knew about the tabernacle, the altars, and the Ark, as all were still in use.  These were the days before Solomon built the permanent Temple of God in Jerusalem.  God’s presence still dwelt among the Israelites in the tabernacle.  He knew the Ark represented the presence of God, and only the high priest could access the room where it was contained in the tabernacle.  He understood the history and the symbolism, but he also respected the power of the God of his forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He was awe-struck at the very thought of the Ark of God being left at his house.

Three months passed before David returned to take the Ark on to Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 6:11).  This time he researched and followed God’s instructions to the letter on how to carry the Ark (1 Chronicles 15:13-15).  The three months Obed-Edom spent in the continual and intense presence of God changed his life forever.  A few minutes in God’s presence weekly in church, or even daily in prayer does not equate to the literal “soaking” in God’s presence that Obed-Edom and his household received during these three months.  The following Scriptures give us a flavor for and a picture of the results of that “soaking in God’s presence”:

  1. 1 Chronicles 13:14- “The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had.”
  2. 2 Samuel 6:11- “The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite [reference to place of birth] for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.” [Insert mine.]
  3. 1 Chronicles 26:4- 5- Obed-Edom had eight sons, “for God had blessed Obed-Edom.”
  4. 1 Chronicles 15:18- Obed-Edom was named a gatekeeper when the Ark was brought up to Jerusalem.
  5. 1 Chronicles 15:21- Obed-Edom played the harp in the procession that brought the Ark from his house to Jerusalem.
  6. 1 Chronicles: 15:24- he was appointed as a doorkeeper for the Ark before the procession.
  7. 1 Chronicles 16:4-5- once the Ark arrived in Jerusalem, Obed-Edom was appointed by David as a Levite “to minister before the ark of the Lord, to make petition [pray], to give thanks, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel.” [Insert mine.]
  8. 1 Chronicles 26:15- the gatekeepers drew lots for their duties.  “The lot for the South Gate fell to Obed-Edom, and the lot for the storehouse fell to his sons.”  The South Gate was just outside the palaces of David and eventually Solomon.  This was a strategic and very important body-guard type position and responsibility.
  9. 2 Chronicles 25:24- in a reference to an event that occurred under the reign of a later king, Scripture tells us that the temple storehouse contained the temple “gold and silver and all the articles found in the temple of God.”  These had been in the responsible care of Obed-Edom and his family. 1 Kings 7:13-51 describes in great detail the furnishings of the temple, and confirms that these items were kept in “the treasuries of the Lord’s temple.”
  10. 1 Kings 8:1-10 tells the story of again moving the ark into its final resting place in the completed inner sanctuary of the temple Solomon built, in the Most Holy Place.  Obed-Edom, along with all the priests and Levites, was involved in that event. He played the harp. (2 Chronicles 6:12).  When the Ark was put into position, and the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, “the cloud filled the temple of the Lord, and the priests could not perform their service, because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.”  Obed-Edom witnessed that cloud, and experienced the presence of the Lord again.

When presented with the opportunity to be in the presence of the Lord, Obed-Edom took advantage of it.  He was neither too busy nor afraid.  He and his family handled the presence of the Lord with great respect and reverence.  Otherwise they were subject to the same outcome as fell upon Uzzah.  As a result, he and his whole family were blessed. His life was changed forever.  Following that initial experience, he was called upon to move the Ark whenever it needed to be moved.  God caused kings to ask him to serve continually in the temple, where God’s presence dwelled.  He was trusted with the great treasures of the temple, both monetary and spiritual.  He was trusted with guarding the doors to the temple, and keeping watch over the palaces of kings.  He was able to labor alongside his family while serving the Lord and the people of Israel in the temple. God lifted him up into positions of honor.  I can only imagine the continual anointing and presence of the Lord allowed his serving to be a great joy, and not a burden.

The story of Obed-Edom causes us to ask some questions.  Do we seek the presence of the Lord?  When the opportunity presents itself to be alone with Him, do we take advantage of it?  What is the attitude of our heart when we do have time alone with God?  Do we come with joy and expectation, or do we come before Him out of a sense of duty?  Is our approach casual or reverential?  Are we too preoccupied with our own concerns to let Him impact us in the way He chooses?  Obed-Edom honored and revered God, and the Lord blessed him mightily.  When we demonstrate the proper reverence God expects and requires we can be trusted with His anointing, presence and power.  May we all examine our hearts, and be led by the spirit of God into His presence.

The Gift of Pure Blood by Kay Keith Peebles

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The only option was a blood transfusion!  Our daughter-in-law began to hemorrhage after her second son was born in 2004.  The doctors had been trying to stop the bleeding since she delivered our grandson.  The medication finally succeeded after several hours, but our daughter-in-law had lost so much blood they felt she needed a blood transfusion.  The birth of our grandson was joyous, though our celebration was cut short.  He had been born at 7 p.m. but it was midnight before our daughter-in-law was stabilized.  We left the hospital weary and uneasy because of our concern for her health and well-being.  The doctors would make their decision the next morning based on her blood count.

I could not sleep, although I was exhausted after a long day and late night.    The gamut of emotions had drained my mind and body.  I prayed my daughter-in-law would not require a blood transfusion but the doctors seemed adamant about her need for several pints of blood.  Screening for blood purity had begun to improve over the last 10 years, but there were still cases of people contracting serious diseases or infections from donated blood.  I wrestled with the thought of her receiving a blood transfusion from a stranger and kept praying against the need for one.

Tossing and turning for over an hour, I cried out to the Lord for peace and a word from Him on the matter.  The answer was not exactly what I had prayed, but with God’s revelation the peace flooded my mind and heart.  The Lord assured me our daughter-in-law would receive a blood transfusion but He promised she would be fine.  His word was profound:  “Your husband has been donating his blood monthly for years.  He has given over a gallon of blood to others which was pure, free of disease and contaminants.  What he has given freely to others your daughter-in-law will receive.  She will be given pure, uncontaminated blood.”  I wept.

Galatians 6:7 states, “Do not be deceived and deluded and misled:  God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside), [He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God.]  For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap.”  AMPV.  Emphasis mine.  Although the context of this scripture is in regard to true salvation, the principles of God’s Word regarding sowing and reaping are His law and they are irrevocable!  The Lord spoke that promise to me and the peace of God filled the room.  I slept the rest of the night undisturbed.

The next morning we arrived at the hospital.  The doctors had already begun giving our daughter-in-law the two pints of blood she needed.  I felt such amazement and peace that the Lord had prepared for this need years before, prompting my husband to give his blood for others’ lives.  Someone visiting in the hospital room mentioned concerns about the blood transfusion and I could see my daughter-in-law’s face turn fearful.  I was quickly able to pull down the words of doubt and concern by speaking the word the Lord had given me the night before.  His peace came into that hospital room and hovered over us all.  It has been 12 years since that happened and my daughter-in-law is healthy and strong.  She was given the gift of pure blood.

Two thousand years ago, the entire world was given the opportunity to receive a blood transfusion and it is continually offered to all who will receive it.  It was the gift of clean, pure blood.  It was not only pure, it was sinless, holy, and divine blood.  Isaiah 53:6 describes the condition of mankind and why we needed a blood transfusion.  “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord had made to light upon Him the guilt and iniquity of us all.”  AMPV.  See 1 Peter 2:24-25.  Paul addressed the same principle in Romans 3:23 which declares, “No distinction is made:  all have sinned and lack God’s glory.”  The New Jerusalem Bible.    Conditions were placed upon man’s behavior when God established His covenant with him.  God declared blessings upon those who obeyed His covenant but curses would be upon all who rebelled against Him and His word.  Those curses occurred because of the fall of man and still affect all who do not trust in the Lord.

Sin exacted a stiff penalty upon Adam and Eve and all their descendants (the whole world).  Because the wages of sin is death, both physical and spiritual, Adam and Eve lost their created right to dwell in the Lord’s presence of holiness.  See Genesis Chapter 3 and Romans 6:23.  They were not created to know good and evil.  God placed them in the garden, clothed them with His glory and they abided in the holy presence of God.  Their rebellion opened their eyes to evil which also opened the door to death.  It also closed the door to the Lord’s intimate presence in their lives.  Their nakedness exposed the fact that they had sinned.  The first generation after Adam and Eve introduced death when Cain, their son, killed his brother Abel.  Now, their only remedy for sin was through the shedding of pure, undefiled blood.  Hebrews 9:22 states, “[In fact] under the Law almost everything is purified by means of blood, and without the shedding of blood there is neither release from sin and its guilt nor the remission of the due and merited punishment for sins.”  AMPV.Life is in the blood and therefore, there cannot be life without the blood:  physically or spiritually.  This created a dilemma for mankind, but God had already prepared the remedy.  The blood of animals temporarily “covered” man’s sin, but God’s perfect plan was to completely eradicate it!  The pure blood necessary for man’s atonement had to come through a sinless man.  See Romans 5:12-14.  There was only One candidate Who met the criteria for the sacrifice, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus was born to a virgin by the Holy Spirit.  It was a supernatural conception which gave Him both the blood of man and God.  He lived a holy life and kept the law of God, therefore, His blood was sinless pure and holy.  His blood was enough to cover every man, woman and child that had ever been or would ever be born in the entire world.  Jesus’ pure blood had a miraculous effect on all mankind and our relationship with God.  His blood sacrifice provided:

  1. Redemption:  His blood redeemed the world from the authority of Satan changing it back to the authority of God for all who believed.  It was the perfect ransom for our bondage to a sinful life.  “[The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, In Whom we have our redemption through His blood, [which means] the forgiveness of our sins.”  Colossians 1:13-14 AMPV.  Our debt of spiritual death was removed by our appropriate application of the Blood of Jesus.  Repentance of our sin/sins and faith in Jesus’ blood sacrifice to atone us is required to receive this gift of redemption.
  2. Forgiveness:  Through our repentance and faith in Jesus’ blood sacrifice, God has forgiven all our sins and transgressions:  past, present and future (when confessed and repented).  Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”   “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive out sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].”  1 John 1:9 AMV.  Our sins are remembered no more and we have been given a new beginning.
  3. Justification:  All charges for violating God’s Law of moral, ethical and spiritual principles were acquitted for all who believe in the power of Jesus’ blood sacrifice.  The penalty should have been our death.  Instead, because Jesus substituted Himself in our place, all who believe in His sacrifice become reconciled to God and are called to be a child of God.  Romans 5:1 “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” NKJV.
  4. New Creation: Jesus described our conversion as being born again.  See John 3:1-5.  The power of sin was broken and freedom from guilt and shame became available to all who would call upon the name of Jesus for their salvation.  2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away.  Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].” AMPV. Just as the natural blood in our bodies gives us life and pulses that life throughout our body, Jesus’ blood gives us spiritual life which transforms us into new creatures in Christ Jesus.
  5. Access to God: Jesus’ death and resurrection removed the veil which kept us from having the same access Adam and Eve had with God before they sinned.  Ephesians 3:12 “In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom without fear).”  AMPV. The Lord is close to those who love Him.  He dwells in our hearts and we become the temple of His presence giving Him full freedom to transform our lives according to His will.
  6. Healing/Deliverance: The blood of Jesus was used to break the power of the curse.  His blood was not simply for our salvation.  It also purchased our right to be healed and delivered of physical and mental oppression of the devil.  Isaiah 53:4-5 proclaims, “Surely He hath borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.”  AMPV.

When Jesus’ blood seeped into the ground in Jerusalem and at Golgotha, the entire force of heaven’s power crushed every work of darkness.  It ratified God’s covenant while destroying every curse and hold the devil had on all who received Jesus’ blood sacrifice for mankind.  Faith in the power of the Blood of Jesus and the authority of the Name of Jesus is our defense against all the works of the devil and our assurance of a victorious life.

The New Covenant God established now guarantees full victory in every area of our lives when we walk in the righteousness and holiness His blood purchased for us.  We must trust and believe in what He accomplished for our benefit without doubting or wavering.  His blood calls us to become pure and holy as He is.  His blood demands us to not only be transformed but to also be transformers who change the world.  His blood was not just shed for us, but for all; and His blood compels us to tell the world they have been given the gift of pure, sinless and holy blood.

The Value of Destruction by Larry W Peebles

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The Value of Destruction    by   Larry W Peebles   July 15, 2016   16.26

What was eventually going to be such a beautiful home kitchen remodel project started out with very dusty, devastating demolition.   Cabinets, counter-tops, walls, drywall, sink, faucet, cooktop, and dishwasher were all gutted and hauled away.  Even parts of the floor and ceiling were destroyed.  When the backsplash was removed, bare frame walls were exposed.  Nothing was spared.  If it was broken, out of date, or did not function well as a component of an efficient kitchen, it was removed.  My wife and I were quite enthused about the plans for the new kitchen, but I knew the starting point would not be her favorite.  She is allergic to the drywall dust and the sawdust, and generally does not like the clutter and chaos of the demolition process.  One of the stars of a popular remodel show on TV these days gets all excited for “demo day”, but not my wife.  Never- the- less, all remodels start with destruction.

We would lose complete use of the kitchen for weeks.  We were on a tight four week schedule to finish the remodel.  When the first week was spent on major destruction, which made the kitchen worse, not better, it became hard to see how the next three weeks could result in an improved kitchen over the one we had when we started.

The second week was not much better, as much had to be done “behind the walls” to straighten out the location of electric plugs, gas lines, and vent ducts in the floor truss space for the cooktop.  There was more sawing, chipping, and adjusting on things that would not be seen in the final finished product.  We were beginning to move forward and make progress, but the end still seemed a long way off, and we were halfway into the project time line.

The final two weeks of the project saw all the new finishes and components of the kitchen come together flawlessly.  The dust and chaos of destruction had evolved into a new and beautiful creation that previously had existed only in our hopes and dreams.  In fact, the final product exceeded our expectations, thanks to the skilled craftsmen who had labored over every detail and task.  A process that began with destruction ended in some of the finest construction I have ever seen, and resulted in a brand- new, modern kitchen.

When a person comes to know Christ, they become a candidate for a remodel.  While it is true God loves us and we can come to Christ just as we are, no matter our condition, it is also true that we should not expect to remain in that same condition after coming to Christ.  The grace from God that saved us unto Christ is the same grace that begins to work with us for our own good.  His grace convicts us of our sin, causes us to develop distaste for the sin, and convinces us to repent and turn away from our sin.  Once free from sin, we are free to become His new creation.  His grace points us toward Christ as our example or pattern.  When we see ourselves compared to Him, we are satisfied with nothing less than His glory.  We were created in his image (Genesis 1:27), so in a very real sense, we are being restored to our original grand design.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

This personal remodel starts with demolition, but there is no need to fear.  God is a skilled craftsman, and does not begin removing the old without the perfect new blueprint design in mind.  His grace convinces us that our thoughts, habits, and attitudes must change.  Priorities and the way we spend our time and money must be scrutinized.  Sometimes friends that are holding us back must be exchanged for friends that will challenge us and lead us forward.  We must evaluate things that we watch such as TV, movies, and video games to see if they are helping develop us into Christ’s likeness, or if they are inhibiting our development. If our reading habits are obsessive or too focused on Facebook and emails they must shift toward reading His word and other Christian writers.  How do we use the internet–for learning, encouragement and training, or mostly for time-consuming entertainment and petty dialogue over meaningless trivia?  Anything that does not lead us toward our new goal of knowing Christ and His glory must be ripped out and hauled off.  If necessary, He will lovingly expose our bare walls, so that the hidden things can be revealed and corrected.  Nothing is spared.  The thought of such a process may be frightening, but the remodel is worth the cost.  We may initially throw up some dust and chaos, but we must keep in mind the final plan, which is to be the incredible person He created us to be.  This may seem radical, but we have help.  If we pray and cry out for this remodel work in us, he will expose the next thing we need to pull out and modify.  It is not long before we realize He is right beside us, supervising the entire demolition process.

As the old, useless things are disposed of, God will begin to work the new creation in us through His Holy Spirit.   The old ways and habits will no longer satisfy.  We find ourselves thinking of Him, and talking more with Him.  Our thoughts, actions, language and priorities begin to change for the better.  He gives us the ability to drop those bad habits.  In its place He drops in more love, with higher levels of concern and consideration for others.  We begin to speak more encouragement to others, and less discouragement.  We begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit working in our lives, which is (Galatians 5:22) “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self -control.”  He begins to reveal glimpses of the final design so that we are encouraged to cooperate further, which in turn allows Him to do a deeper work, and cause a greater change.  The finished product is worth it.

For added encouragement, three Scriptures come to mind:

  1. Philippians 1:6- “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
  2. Jeremiah 29:11- 13- “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
  3. 2 Corinthians: 17, 18- “Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are all being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Do not be afraid of the demolition/remodel process when it concerns your relationship with Jesus.  His nature is love, and His plans for us are good.  We must let Him remove from our heart anything that separates us from Him, and remodel with new parts and finishes that will draw us to Him.  The initial destruction in that remodel process is nothing compared to the glory of the finished product: the fullness of God dwelling in us.

Politically Correct by Kay Keith Peebles

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The famous children’s book author Hans Christian Andersen wrote a story entitled “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.  It was first published in 1837.  The Emperor had an obsession for clothing and continually sought more garments to wear.  He spent much of his time standing before a mirror admiring himself and showing off his latest fashions to the people.  The story builds when two swindlers saw an opportunity to become wealthy.  They posed as weavers of fine fabrics and promised to make the Emperor a remarkable new suit of clothing that was invisible to a certain group of people.  They made it perfectly clear that those who were not fit for the position they held, were imprudent or inept would not be able to see the emperor’s new clothes.

The weavers appeared to work diligently day and night perfecting the fabrics for the Emperor’s new garment.  They bilked the kingdom treasuries of money and demanded more donations of expensive threads including gold and silver.  They stored the money and threads with their belongings as they planned a quick exit out of town at the revealing of the clothing.  Everyone in the kingdom was informed that only the ignorant and inept would not be able to see the Emperor’s clothes. The Emperor sent two of his highest officials to inspect the new garments while they were being woven.  Although there was nothing on the looms, the officials applauded the beauty of the work in fear of losing their positions of authority in the kingdom.

When the swindlers presented the emperor with his new “suit” of clothing (the Emperor could not see) he praised their workmanship as they supposedly dressed him before a mirror.  He then proudly proceeded to enter a procession before all the people in his kingdom.  This was the most expensive garment he had ever bought.  The people bowed before him and complemented his new garment because of the fear of being ridiculed or judged as stupid and incompetent.  It took the innocence of a little child to speak the truth.  He told the emperor he wasn’t wearing any clothes at all!  His words astonished the people who had lied about seeing them because of fear and intimidation.  The truth he spoke broke the power of the lie which had duped the emperor and the entire kingdom.  They had all acted on a pretense which not only brought confusion and chaos to the kingdom, but embarrassment to the Emperor himself.

The story was a fun tale to read and it has been enjoyed by many since the day it was first published.  It was hilarious to think of the Emperor proudly parading through the kingdom without any clothes on his body.  It carried a poignant message of cowering under peer pressure and surrendering control to the fear of man.  Pride was at the root of each person’s choice to lie.  The pride of the Emperor seeped down into every level of the kingdom corrupting all but the innocent child who was the only one brave enough to speak the truth.

We are living in a time when being “politically correct” is the expected posture when interacting with others.   According to Webster’s Dictionary politically correct means: conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.  Currently taken to the extreme, it basically means one must not say or do anything to offend others.  Its premise is that we must all be accepting of everyone’s actions and any contradiction of a belief or lifestyle is hateful, ignorant, or based upon antiquated ideals.  Unfortunately, many in our society are full of offense because they have drifted far from God.  They have rejected any truth spoken that conflicts with their own beliefs and lifestyle choices.

Just as the emperor’s new clothes posed a problem for the (imaginary) kingdom, the politically correct doctrine produces a dilemma for the church as well as our nation.  The true church of Jesus Christ possess the only message of truth, hope and eternal security for the world.  This dilemma places the church in America and the individual believer at a crossroad between God and man.  How we deal with that one issue may well impact the future of America and our own eternity!

My husband and I led a Sunday school class of young married couples several years ago.  We taught the Word of God including Paul’s instruction on Christian conduct.  It caused one in our class to object to our teaching insisting we were to be “tolerant” of others.  We began to realize that her definition of “tolerance” did not mean allowing each to live their own lives, but rather meant approval of other’s behaviors.  She confused the Biblical command “judge not” with acceptance of wrong, sinful behavior.  She misunderstood the message of the Gospel which calls believers to live righteously and hate evil (not people).

The Bible is very clear who will inherit the Kingdom of God and who will not.  Both the Old and New Testaments contain passages listing those God will not accept into His Kingdom.  They are the ones who reject God’s law by living unethical and immoral lifestyles. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived.  Neither fornicators (sexual intercourse between unmarried people), nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”  1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NKJV.  Emphasis mine.  There are many more sins mentioned in both Old and New Testament passages but the above passage is a great example.

Only those who accept the blood sacrifice Jesus made for the sins of the world can be saved.  They acknowledge their sin (many of the above mentioned sins) and repent (change their behaviors and mindset) before God asking for His help to live righteously.  Christians are not perfect people but because they accepted the blood sacrifice Jesus made for their sins, they are a new creation and are considered righteous by God.  The power of the grace of God enables them to begin practicing righteous living.  Those who have not believed in Jesus’ blood sacrifice are still practicing sin and are not considered righteous in God’s eyes.  The Bible declares the wages of sin is death.  A sinful life can only produce death but a righteous lifestyle produces life.

Believers are called to love God, practice righteousness and hate evil as God does.  We were never called to tolerate evil or make an excuse or exception for evil.  Separating the value of the individual person before God and their sin is imperative when we try to minister God’s love toward others.  Today, more than any other time, we face a new dilemma regarding ministry.  The world is equating their sinful actions to their identity.  If we speak against a sin, they receive it as an attack on their own identity.  Our value and identity were never to be equated with our actions.  It could only be determined through the value God placed upon us.  We were so valued before God that he sent His only Son to be the pure sacrifice for the sins of the world.  We are dearly loved and highly prized by God.

Historically, secular values fluctuate and the rules that govern secular societies change over time.  Man’s opinion is constantly subject to change but God’s Word never changes.  The Bible states that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Because His Word is eternal, His moral codes are truth.  Our Creator established His moral codes, and His kingdom is not democratic.  We cannot vote on the parts we like and neither can we change or select only the laws we personally approve.  All believers are bound to embrace the whole Word of God.

Americans face a new battle in these turbulent times.  Sin and immorality are not only rampant, they are flaunted in our streets with attitudes of pride and arrogance.  God called His people to be a light in the darkness, not to agree with and succumb to the darkness.  Only true believers have the words of life which the world needs.  He calls us to speak truth, but with compassion, not condemnation.  If the people living in sin do not hear the words of life they may not know God loves them and has provided a better way for them to live.  We must not cower to the pressure to be silent because our silence is condoning.  We are to live our lives before others, but it is also our duty to speak truth in love to those who are bound by sin.  The greatest love of all sacrifices for the good of another.

Jesus was not politically correct in His time of ministry and yet the sinner loved Him.  It was the religious establishment who hated Him and arranged for His crucifixion.  He never judged the sinner, but He showed them a better way, God’s way.  He never considered Himself better than the sinners, He sat with them, ate with them and ministered to them.  Pointing a finger in judgement always drives a wedge between the sinner and God, but lovingly speaking the truth will woo them to the Savior.

We need not worry about being politically correct when we are clothed in the Love of God.  They will see His heart when they look into our eyes.  Love conquers all.  Love will prevail.  Truth spoken with love is the greatest gift a believer can give the broken hearted.

Call The Roll by Larry W Peebles

Call The Roll   by   Larry W Peebles   July 1, 2016   16.24

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My dad passed last week.  He was 97, fighting numerous health issues, so this was not unexpected.  I had rushed out from Georgia to Texas to see him two weeks earlier.  He was in the hospital, and not doing well.  When I saw him, I knew it would not be long.  After he returned to the nursing home, the call came two weeks later that he was failing.  A few hours later another call came with the news that he had passed.  I was told he was comfortable and peaceful the whole time.

On that last visit to see him in the hospital, we had some precious moments.  Though he suffered from Alzheimer’s, we connected for a while that Saturday evening.  Sensing that he had only a short time left on this earth, I talked with him about Heaven.  I assured him he could go see Jesus, and be reunited with mom, who preceded him in death by about two years.  They were married seventy two years when she died.  I reminded him of a dream he shared with me when he had triple bypass surgery at age 82.  He told me he went to a place that was immensely light and bright.  He said he saw long flowing white linens blowing in a cool breeze.  In his own words, it was the most peaceful place he had ever been.  I told him it sounded to me like Heaven.

In the process of reminding him of Jesus and Heaven, his dream, and going to see mom again, he appeared to be very intrigued.  He could not speak, but he could not take his eyes off me.  He could not relax.  I knew that in spite of the condition of his mind and his speech, we had connected.  We could not dialogue, so I whispered a quick prayer, asking for wisdom on what to do next.  My dad always sang, and played the guitar and the harmonica.  I felt I should sing to him in that hospital room.  Two songs quickly came to mind—Amazing Grace, and Jesus Loves Me.  Dad sang those songs to me when I was a child.  I would sit at his feet and listen to him sing and play, working his way through his songbook. Anytime, when no one in particular was listening, he would pull a harmonica out of his shirt pocket and play those songs.  When I began to play the guitar, those were some of the first songs I learned.  In fifteen years of leading worship for our ministry group in the juvenile justice system, those two songs were the songs most requested by the young men and women we met with in maximum security lock-up.  Unplanned and unrehearsed, he played Amazing Grace on his harmonica at mom’s funeral.  Those two songs carry a powerful anointing that transcends time, troubles, and eternity.

As I sang those two songs to him over and over in the hospital room that Saturday night, his whole countenance began to change.  He relaxed.  I saw peace overcome whatever was troubling him. He had an assurance of where he was going after this life.  I watched his eyes begin to get heavy, until he dozed off.  I sang my father to sleep.  It was a deep and peaceful sleep.  He was no longer afraid of what lay ahead.  Neither was I.

After his passing, my daughter found a very precious video.  It was taken at dad’s 90th birthday party.  Dad and his younger brother, age 85, were playing a harmonica duet and singing “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder”.  They often did that at family gatherings.  His brother, my uncle, later told me that the last time he visited dad at the nursing home they could not connect until my uncle pulled out his harmonica and began to play.  Dad had not said a word during the visit, and may not have even known his brother, but when the music finally started dad reached in his shirt pocket, pulled out his harmonica, and began to play along.

Dad told me stories of answering roll call during basic training in the Army during WWII.   After the morning trumpet sounded, answering roll call with a sharp “here” or “yo” gave the soldier a sense of belonging to a unit of men called to a purpose.  It meant the soldier was present and accounted for, ready to face the day.  It signified a soldier who was prompt, and could be counted on for any duty that might arise.  The roll contained the name of every soldier of that unit who was supposed to be present.  Dad answered heaven’s roll call when he passed.  When the roll is called in Heaven, he’ll be there.

Revelation 21:27 speaks of Heaven and those who enter it will be “only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”  This book contains the names of every person who should enter Heaven at the end of their life on this earth.  The Bible says (Romans 10: 9, 10) “If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”  Those are the simple yet vitally important requirements to have one’s name written in the Lamb’s book of life.  We are to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross as the ultimate perfect sacrifice to forgive and destroy our sin.  If we confess that belief before God and man, we can be spared the consequences of a sinful life.  We can be forgiven and justified, and spend our eternal life with God in Heaven where there is no more of the brokenness associated with a fallen world such as pain, sorrow, sickness or poverty.  This simple action taken during this life will lead to our name being written in the book of life, and our name being called on Heaven’s roll when this life on earth is over.

This simple action also leads to a more victorious life today.  The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15: 54, 55 “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?’”  Our whole approach to our current life then changes.  With this belief and confession, our fear of death is mitigated.  If death, the unbeliever’s worst possible outcome, has no hold on the believer, neither does any other of the world’s so-called calamities.  We can truly live a victorious life free from all fears because we are holding on to Jesus.

I am sad my father is gone from this life.  I will surely miss him.  I rejoice, however, that he is in Heaven today.  His pain and suffering from sickness and disease is over.  He is rejoicing with the saints in the presence of Jesus, and has been reunited with loved ones who passed before him.  He answered the final roll call, and went out a winner.  1 Corinthians 15:57 says “Thanks be to God.  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Hidden Treasures By Kay Keith Peebles

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I began to weep.  It seemed silly, but it was so beautiful.  Then the Lord spoke to me…

We damaged our hardwood floors when we moved into our 10 year old house.  We were trying to protect them by using thick packing paper and blue painter’s tape to secure it down.  A week later when we removed the paper, the tape pulled up the polyurethane finish off the hardwood leaving ugly dull stripes throughout our family room, kitchen and hallways.  The finish had aged and therefore easily lifted off the floor.  We already had patches of faded color on the high traffic areas and the over-all appearance of the floor was becoming dull and worn.  It was obviously time to refinish the floors.

Knowing the process would majorly disrupt our main living area and kitchen for several weeks, we also chose to replace/repair windows that needed to be re-sealed.  They were not only allowing hot and cold air to flow inside during the wrong seasons, we had an annual influx of hundreds of lady bugs seeking shelter during the winter months.  Unsealed doors allowed other unwanted menacing insects, including scorpions, to enter the house unchallenged while shifting and settling caused the wood to warp and rot the trim around several windows and door frames.  Because the work was necessary, it seemed logical to fix some other issues in the kitchen at the same time.  A few weeks of “pain” would lend years of relief from constant problems.

The process of restoration created lots of dust and dirt as things were torn out and re-built.  The “destruction” phase of reconstruction was messy and living in the house while it was taking place was challenging.  As the work crews created more dust, we were cleaning daily.  It took several weeks to finish the list of projects.  Finally, the restoration stage began when cabinet repairs were completed and the granite countertops were installed.  In the U.S., one of the typical kitchen countertop surfaces is granite, which is a hard natural stone harvested from within certain mountains all over the world.  It wasn’t the first time I had granite countertops.  However, this time I was deeply touched at the amazing beauty of the stone, when the men brought it into the kitchen and laid it upon our island cabinet.  It looked like a stunning piece of artwork resting on my cabinets.

My eyes welled with tears, but not because of “owning” something of the world.  It wasn’t pride that swelled in my heart but oddly, it was humility.  I love the mountains and we had moved into our mountain home six months ago.  I have also grown to love hiking in the mountains because being in creation has always caused me to feel closer to God.  After all, He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth.  The beauty of creation has often overwhelmed me when I have looked at God’s handiworks.  Staring and the beautiful slab of granite on my countertop I felt surprised at how it affected me, and I immediately felt the Lord was speaking to me.  What I sensed the Lord was communicating to me was amazing.  He said, “You love the mountains and their beauty.  I not only made the mountains and all of creation, I hid treasures within the mountains that cannot be seen without searching for them.  This piece of granite I created and designed, and I hid it in the mountains to see if someone would search for the treasure within.  You now have a piece of a mountain which I designed in your home.  It is My artwork!”

“For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers:  all things were created by him, and for him.”  Colossians 1:16 KJV.

It was an astounding statement.  I began to think of all the beautiful treasures God had created that are not seen nor easily accessible.  Pearls hidden in the ocean, in the shell of an oyster.  Gold, silver, copper and diamonds/gemstones are hidden in the mountains and/or streams.  Oil is concealed within the deserts and ocean floors while exquisite formations of limestone can be found in caves.  Geodes containing beautiful crystals come from sedimentary and limestone rocks.  Mountains, which were decorated internally with amazing colors and designs, contain granite, quartz and marble stones. The earth is full of hidden treasures which no one would see if someone had not sacrificed to obtain them.  In some cases, it cost them their own lives.

The Hubble telescope has photographed incredible images of God’s artwork in the heavens.  Colors, shapes, and spheres were strategically placed in a divine order and commanded to dance and twirl around each other in a heavenly rhythm man had never seen before.  The heavens were not simply created to sustain life on earth, they are a heavenly art gallery in the sky!  The beauty of galaxies millions of light years from earth display the exquisiteness and wonder of our Creator’s “paint brush”.

The Lord spoke to me again saying, “Man has been willing to give everything, even his own life, in pursuit of earthly treasures, but they are nothing compared to the treasures I have hidden in My Holy mountain!  I have hidden them, because I require that they be the reward for those who seek Me with their whole heart.  They are for those who will not hold back anything from their pursuit of Me.”  Several scriptures from the Bible came to my remembrance.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid, and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls.  “who when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  Matthew 13:44-46 NKJV.

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”  Proverbs 25:2 NKJV.

The beauty of creation is a reflection of the Glory of God, its Creator.  We have not begun to tap into the riches, beauty and glory of God.  “The heavens are telling the glory of God, And the expanse [of heaven] is declaring the work of His hands.  Day unto day pours forth speech, And night after night reveals knowledge.  There is no speech, nor are there [spoken] words [from the stars]; Their voice is not heard.  Yet their voice [in quiet evidence] has gone out through all the earth, Their words to the ends of the world.”  Psalm 19:1-4a AMPV.

This is the God Who took a handful of dust to form man and then blew His breath inside of him.  This is the God Who took a piece of clay, spit upon it and formed eyes for a blind man.  This is the God Who spoke “Let there be light” and the galaxies were shaped instantaneously and will continue to reproduce for all eternity.  This is the God Who created a kaleidoscope of colors, patterns, spaces and shapes which excite, ignite and stimulate the eyes of those who behold them.  This is the God Who turned the most grotesque death one could experience into the most beautiful example of love ever known to mankind.  All this and much more He did for you and me.

All of creation screams, “There is nothing too difficult for God!”  It begs us to draw nigh and give our full attention to its proclamation.  It affirms the Love of God, the Power of God and the Faithfulness of God.  Each piece is a revelation of a portion of the Glory of God and beckons us to search intently for more, but the greatest realms of Glory lie in the revelations of the Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit knew my love of creation and took my revelation of God’s creativity to a whole new level.  Although I knew God had created all things and many of his creations were highly valued, I did not see them as His artwork nor the mystery of “hiding” them in the earth.  Who would create such incredible things and then hide them from view?  The One Who loves the intrigue of searching for those things that are not evident.  The heart of the explorer that is not satisfied with knowing only things that are seen, but desires to discover that which no one else has seen or experienced.  That same determination caused Columbus to find the New World.  It caused the pioneers to endure extreme hardship and also the loss of life to find the New Territories yet undiscovered.  It caused the scientists, mathematicians and engineers to work together and build a rocket that would shoot a man into outer space and land him on the moon.

If we apply that same spirit of searching and exploring the natural realm to the spiritual realms of Almighty God, how much more would we find when we search for the Lord with all our hearts?  I am not talking about re-writing the Bible or receiving revelation that cannot be confirmed by Biblical text.  I am talking about seeking the Lord and experiencing Him unveil to us more revelation of Who He is.  There are layers upon layers of Truths which are imbedded in His Word which we have never seen before.  In some cases we did not pause to meditate on them.  We read quickly and skimmed over truth without taking the time to study it.  There are applications in His Word which could enrich our understanding of Him in greater and greater ways drawing us closer to Him.   If we sought to know Him intently the rest of our lives, we would never come to an end of the wonder and awe of Who He is.

Some of the greatest secrets of God are hidden within the mountain of the Lord.  His invitation extends to all who hunger and thirst for Him.  No one will be denied if they seek Him with their whole heart.  Jesus challenged His disciples to “Seek Me while I may be found.”  Now, more than ever before, it is imperative we allow the Lord to search our hearts, teach us His ways, and enter into the greater realms of His Glory (Presence).   He has hidden His treasures for us to find.

Now is the perfect time to discover God’s hidden treasure.