Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Early Church Before Augustine on Free Will and Original Sin - Winkie Pratney

This is one of the most important videos I have ever listened to. When I as a prodigal and came home to the Father in 1991, He started leading me to change my mind and He is still teaching me. Brethren, you will be shaken as you hear the early church fathers: all of them in unison and proclaiming the truth which goes contrary to most of what the teachers are feeding the people.

I rejoice and worship the God who made us in His image!! He has been so misrepresented by religion. I am so thrilled to follow Him!!! PLEASE watch this all the way through.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The way of Balaam

We find the record of Balaam in Numbers 22-24. Israel, being on the way to the promised land, camped in the “plains of Moab on the side of Jordan across from Jericho” (Numbers 22:1). This made Balak, king of Moab, very afraid and he sent ambassadors to Pethor - a place in Mesopotamia, several hundred kilometers away – to bring Balaam. The assignment he had for him is given in Numbers 22: 5-6:
Numbers 22:5-6
“Look a people has come from Egypt. See they cover the face of the earth, and are settling next to me! Therefore please come at once, curse this people for me, for they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed and he whom you curse is cursed”
Balaam’s fame was that “him whom he blessed was blessed and him whom he cursed was cursed” (Numbers 22:6). If one reads the whole record of Numbers 22-24 he will find out that Balaam initially had a godly attitude. When the servants of Balak approached him, he only promised to them that he would check their request with God. When God told him not to go with them, he obediently sent them away. This is what a man walking on the right path would do and that’s what Balaam did as well. He was obviously walking on that path. However, Balak insisted. After some days more princes, more honorable ones, arrived again at Balaam’s place promising him great honour and riches if he only went and cursed Israel. Somebody that had clearly settled the answer of God in his heart, would not wait: he would again send the princes away, as God had already made it clear that he was not to go with them. But Balaam didn’t do this. Instead he said that he would check with God again. Though this is still okay and certainly not as bad as going with them without checking with God at all, it indeed shows a crack, an instability, an intention to not send them away unsatisfied. You plea God again only for something that you still want, and you are not fine and settled with what He has told you the first time. And this is what happened here. Balaam wanted to go with them, the gifts too many and the honour too much for him to deny. On the other hand, he didn’t want to disobey God either! He would be happy if he went there, curse Israel, get the rewards and have it fine with God too – much the same with us sometimes: I want to do my will, so God please change yours, let me do mine and we will be fine! God seeing him at this stage, told him to go but only if the men came to call him again. Yet, in the morning we see him up on his donkey and ready for the long travel! He didn’t want to lose a second and didn’t wait for anybody to call him! As a result, God’s anger was aroused and He sent His angel to stand against him. Balaam’s ass saved his life for when she saw the angel she tried to avoid him. The angel told Balaam to go but to ONLY say the word that God would speak to him. Why did God have to say to him “ONLY the word that I will speak to you, that you will speak” (Numbers 22:35)? This was a warning to Balaam to not deviate from His word. As we will see, he didn’t pay attention to it fully. Balaam therefore went and met Balak. Despite that Balak took him to various places that would make it easier for him to curse Israel, Balaam kept attached to what God had told him and spoke only His word which was only blessings for Israel. Balak was very upset! Here is what he said to Balaam after a three-round blessing of Israel: “I called you to curse my enemies, and look, you have bountifully blessed them these three times! Now therefore, flee to your place. I said I would greatly honor you, but in fact, the Lord has kept you back from honor” (Numbers 24:10-11).

Balaam: An example to be avoided

It appears that Balaam took a stand for God. He only spoke His word and though he went with the princes of Balak he only said what God wanted him to say. He didn’t deviate from it. One could even ask why II Peter 2:15 as well as other passages that we will see later present him as an example to be avoided. Sure he wanted to go and may be he had his eyes on the gifts. Yet, it seems that he didn’t diverge from what God told him and finally he left the place empty handed. He obeyed God despite the fact that this meant the loss of the gifts and rewards promised to him. Or, was it not so?
Balaam is mentioned as an example to be avoided in II Peter, Jude and Revelation. This may seem unjustified by the records we have seen up to now, but carrying on we will find the reason:
Numbers 25:1-5, 9
“Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They [the women of Moab] invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders before the Lord, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel. So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Every one of you kill his men who were joined to Baal of Peor…… And those who died in the plague were twenty four thousand.”
How did it come that the women of Moab knew how to seduce the Israelites? How did it come that they came, made them to commit harlotry with them, invited them to their sacrifices and made them to bow down to their false gods? God was displeased, His anger was aroused and 24.000 Israelites lost their lives in the plague that followed. Who really devised these wicked plans that brought such a destruction to Israel? Numbers 31:15-16 and Revelation 2:14 give us the answer:
Numbers 31:15-16 
“and Moses said to them: “Have you kept all the women alive? Look these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord””
and Revelation 2:14 (the Lord Jesus is speaking to the angel of the church in Pergamos)
“But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.”
The teacher that taught Moab how to make Israel to stumble was Balaam. We already saw how inclined he was to gifts and honor. II Peter 2:15-16 tell us that he LOVED them:
II Peter 2:15 
“they have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, WHO LOVED THE WAGES OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.”
Up to the time of Numbers 24 Balaam was a prophet of God, a God’s spokesman. He was walking on the right way. BUT not up to the end. He eventually forsook it and went astray, because “he loved the wages of unrighteousness”. He started well but had an awful end. It is not only important to start on the right way. It is also very important to keep on it till the end. Balaam started well, but didn’t continue well. He was finally killed by the Israelites when they took over Midian1. In the record of his death (Joshua 13:22), he is no longer called “prophet” but “soothsayer”. He started as a prophet, a spokesman of God but ended as soothsayer, God’s enemy.

Balaam in II Peter and Jude

Balaam turned from being a spokesman of God to a false teacher that made God’s people stumble (Revelation 2:14). He was on the right way but forsook it and went astray. This is probably the reason that he is mentioned three times by different writers in the New Testament as an example to be avoided. We have already seen the relevant record of Revelation and here are the other two from II Peter and Jude:
II Peter 2:16 
THEY have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.”
and Jude 11 
“Woe to them! For THEY have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah”
Both II Peter and Jude refer to those who follow Balaam’s way. Who are these people? What have they done? Do they have any similarity with Balaam, and if yes what is it? How could this Old Testament figure relate to the today’s age of grace ? We will find the answer in the Scriptures. Starting from II Peter, the word “they” goes back to the first verse, where we read:
II Peter 2:1-3 
“but there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even deny the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”
We will go on with more information given about those false teachers. But let’s first make clear their origin. This becomes obvious from verses 1, 15 and 20-21. There we read:
II Peter 2:1 
“but there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even deny the Lord who bought them and bring on themselves swift destruction.”
II Peter 2:15 
They have forsaken the right way and gone astray
and II Peter 2:20-21
“For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
As it is obvious from the above:
• These people were people the Lord had bought.
• They were people who had escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ2.
• They had known the way of righteousness and the holy commandment was delivered unto them3.
• They had forsaken the right way, which in turn means that they were once walking on it.
The false teachers the Word of God is speaking about here are therefore not unbelievers but believers or to be precise they started as such. For what else are people who were bought by the Lord, have full knowledge of the Lord and to whom the holy commandment was delivered? As Balaam, they started on the right way but they forsook it and turned to false teachers, bringing in destructive heresies and exploiting God’s people by deceptive words! If we think that the matter of these false teachers is rather not to be given much attention, for after all we haven’t seen many openly “denying the Lord that bought them”, we are wrong. God devoted much of II Peter and almost the whole epistle of Jude speaking about these impostors. This is really a matter where the Word of God says: “ATTENTION”. II Timothy 2:15 tells us:
II Timothy 2:15 
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
It is our job to rightly divide the word of truth and without a strong foundation on it, it will be impossible to be protected by the false teachers that go around. Returning to II Peter, verses 10-22 continue on these apostates:
II Peter 2:10-22 
“and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self willed. They are not afraid not to speak of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
God devotes a large part of II Peter to describe these false teachers. Many of them are out there today and many have passed through the centuries, using God’s and Christ’s name for their own cause, for power, for money, for honour. It is not Christ whose example they follow but Balaam’s. II Peter leaves no doubt for their end. As we just read:
• They bring on themselves swift destruction (II Peter 2:1).
• For a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber (II Peter 2:3).
• “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter state has become worse for them that the first. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” (II Peter 2:20-22, NKJV-RSV)
• For them is reserved the blackness of darkness forever (II Peter 2:17).
It is not salvation that is reserved for these people but “the blackness of darkness forever”. But “is not salvation a gift given by grace?”, some will say. Sure it is. It is a gift given by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). But as it is obvious, some people will deny the Lord - and therefore the faith - and will turn to be His enemies exploiting His people and bringing in destructive heresies. They are indeed similar to Balaam. He was also on the right way but he went astray and turned from being a true prophet to a false teacher that taught God’s enemies how to make His people stumble. For these people “is reserved the blackness of darkness forever”. According to II Peter “it would be better for them to not to have known the way of righteousness than having known to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them”.


Balaam is also mentioned in Jude, almost in the same way and context as in II Peter. Jude starts his epistle with the following:
Jude 3 
“Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jude wanted through his epistle to exhort the believers to EARNESTLY CONTEND FOR THE FAITH WHICH WAS ONCE FOR ALL DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS. Obviously this faith was under attack. This faith IS under attack and the enemy, as long as he is around, he will never cease to attack it. We have to contend earnestly for this faith and Jude goes on to give the reasons in his one-chapter long epistle:
Jude 4-19 
“For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ. But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, "to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”
It appears that these are the same kind of people, at least as far as fruit is concerned, with those we saw in II Peter. They are impostors who may even dare to call themselves Christians. Because of these false teachers – and there are many of them active today - Jude felt an earnest need to write to the believers to tell them to fight for the faith delivered once for all to the saints. We have to fight for the faith! It is the Scriptures - not doctrines, ordinances and traditions of men, whoever these are – the basis of our faith. Colossians 2:8 warns us:
Colossians 2:8 
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
also II John 7-8 
“for many deceivers have gone into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
Also Jude and Peter tell us:
Jude 20-25 
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
II Peter 3:14-18 
You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
“Beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked”. All of us can be potentially “led away with the error of the wicked”. None is exempted from this warning. Balaam started on the right way but he eventually forsook it. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”, Peter continues. “Beware” is one part of the action, growth in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ is the other.
There are many impostors out there, and even within the body of Christ – that’s why Peter and Jude address believers - and the only way to be protected from their deceitful teachings is to incline to the pure milk of the Word. The only way to build our house so that it is not overtaken by anything that may come against it, is to build it on the rock, which Jesus Christ explained is to hear God’s Word and do it (Matthew 7:24-25). Balaam knew the word of God, he actually followed it up to a point but not after it crossed with his lust for honour and riches. Once this happened he went astray. In contrast to him, we must go the right way : the way of knowing and at all costs doing God’s Word. Starting, running and finishing the race, reaping complete and full the rewards God has for us.
Hebrews 12:1b-2
let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Anastasios Kioulachoglou

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1.By that time he had moved from his place, in Mesopotamia, and was living in the land of Midian, together with the enemies of Israel.
2.The word “knowledge” here is the Greek word “επίγνωσις” (epignosis) that means “exact or full knowledge” , “precise or further knowledge, thorough acquaintance with; true knowledge” (as opposed to the word “gnosis” that simply means “knowledge”). See Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, MacDonald Publishing Company, p.641 and The Companion Bible, Kregel Publications, Appendix 132.
3.Again the verb “to know” that is used here is the verb “επιγινώσκω” (epiginosko) that means “to know full well”, “to know thoroughly and accurately” (see the references given in ftn.2).

Friday, August 12, 2016

The shortest way is not always the best way - Exodus 13:17-18

We all know more or less the story of the Israelites. It took them 40 years to enter the promised land, in a trip that shouldn’t normally last more than a few weeks. As we may also know, almost all the delay was due to their own disobedience. When the time had finally arrived to enter the land, they were afraid to do so and stepped back. The result was that it took them 40 years more (!!) to go into the land and only 2 people from the initial generation succeeded. All the others died in the wilderness and it was their kids that entered in their place. We will not concentrate on this exercise of disobedience today. Anyway, it was NOT the initial plan of God to have them in the wilderness 40 years. However God did delay a little bit the plan of entering the land. Not for years but it was indeed a little bit longer than the shortest way. We find the relative passage in Exodus 13:17-18. There we read:
Exodus 13:17-18
"Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of Philistines, ALTHOUGH THAT WAS NEAR; for God said, "Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt." So God led the people around by the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt"
What impressed me in this passage is the fact that God didn’t lead the people through the shortest way but He preferred a path a little bit longer. We sail off sometimes to a trip that we expect to take time X. We expect that we will get a job at age X, we will get married at time XX, we will make the first kid at time XXX and we will live XXXX years. It may not be an illogical plan. We may have planned things as we see them around in our world. And the way we may have planned them it may be fine and it may work this way. But it doesn’t always. At least it didn’t in the case of the Israelite's, in my case in certain things and it might be in your case too. Sometimes, time is going by and our lives seem to drift away from our expectations. We wonder what are we doing in a wilderness that is looking like the "wilderness of the Red Sea". If a few years ago you had told me that I would be in Germany, doing the job that I’m doing right now I would have told you "that’s impossible. It is completely out of my plans." I had planned my life probably in a similar way that you had planned yours. But it didn’t turn out like this. Not living the alternative (what I had planned), I don’t know whether it is better or worse. I don’t know and I may never know. You don’t know and you may never know - perhaps prior to see the One that sits on the throne - why things turned out the way they did. Why you are there still expecting something that you thought was the simplest thing of the world. Things may have happened that you had never imagined. You might have planned your life the way I had planned mine but…. You might have planned your life the way the Israelite's had planned theirs but…. I good news for you: GOD LEADS YOU. There is the case where the wilderness is because of disobedience. I don’t want to speak about it today. I hope you are not in this one. If you are, the answer is OBEDIENCE. "Draw nearer to God and He will draw nearer to you" (James 4:8). But this is not the purpose of this article. The purpose of this article is the unfulfilled expectation. The cases were it seems that God is late. "God" we say, "I expected from you more than what I ask or think. And yet the years go by and by and I never see my prayer answered." And God says through the mouth of the Lord with the parable of the widow (Luke 18:1-5): "Don’t give up praying son. I don’t give up on you." We say to God, "God, you have written about deferred hope… that makes the heart sick. And yet it seems like You Yourself act like you never wrote about it". And God says "be patient". What God tells you brother today, is to be patient. Follow the lead of the Lord, trust in Him and He will bring it to pass. He will give you the desires of your heart. This may not be what your mind says. After years and years you may have given up on your dreams and godly desires. I would like to encourage you to stand UP. God does not give up on You. The God that you saw when you first believed is the same God today. God NEVER changes (James 1:17). Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). The God of the terrible wonders before Pharaoh is the same God that is leading you in the wilderness too. Don’t give up, admitting a defeat that is NOT there! If God does not take you straight away to what He has promised for you is only because HE LOVES YOU. It is not his main concern. His main concern is YOU! It was not His concern to have the Israelite's in the promised land a few weeks earlier. His main concern was THEM. If you look at the passage it is like God is skeptical. God is not a machine, a robot. He is Someone that THINKS. Thinks about you and your best. In this case, He was concerned about the Israelite's, that if they went through this shortest way they might see war and thus return back to Egypt!! God thinks of YOU my friend. The shortest way may have things that you may not be able to handle. Have you ever thought that if everything came as you had planned it, whether you wouldn’t have returned to the Egypt, to the world, again? You don’t know. I don’t know either for myself. But I do know something. That whatever I have, wherever I stand right now is the path that God has chosen for me to stand. And in this I have peace. For God is leading the way and He chooses only the best for me. And the best is to be near to Him, even if the way is a little bit longer. The purpose is NEVER to short the promises. The promises will come, for God has SPOKEN. But with no danger to be afraid and step back, or be tempted and do the same. The path of your life may not be exactly as you had planned it. But I can tell you. It is as GOD has planned it. It is what GOD has thought it for YOU. And being so, it is the BEST. Stand up, walk on the way, live for today, don’t care for tomorrow and God will lead your life, NOT to frustration but to what you may expect, no.. to more than what you think or expect. Don’t give up on whatever is godly. Don’t give up praying for this.

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

“Fear not YE”

I know, "ye" is not a word you will find in the NKJV that I usually use. It is a word of the good old KJV. I love KJV. I believe that in some points no other English translation can catch the tone of the original language as much as KJV does. But let’s get to our subject, which obviously is not Bible translations! So we are at Matthew 28. It is "towards the first day of the week". Three days before, the religious leaders had crucified the Lord. Joseph from Arimathea put His body in a tomb and the Pharisees sealed the stone and put guards around the tomb. And then, "in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week"…
Matthew 28:1-6
"… came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And behold there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lighting, and his raiment white as snow: AND FROM FEAR OF HIM THE KEEPERS DID SHAKE AND BECAME AS DEAD MEN. And the angel answered and said unto the women, FEAR NOT YE FOR I KNOW THAT YOU SEEK JESUS WHO WAS CRUCIFIED. He is not here: for He is risen as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
What impressed me in this passage is that the angel didn’t say "fear not" to the guards. They were terrified. They became as dead men when they saw him. The one that was dead was risen and those who were up guarding him became as dead! But the angel didn’t say a word to them. He didn’t encourage them! And that’s why the word "you", "YE", becomes so important. Turning to the women the angel said: "Don’t be afraid YE". "Don’t look at the guards. They are terrified and that’s what they should be. But not YOU. YOU, follower of Jesus, seeker of Jesus, DON’T BE AFRAID. I don’t say this to those who guard an empty tomb. To those who try to keep the Lord in a tomb. These are terrified but not YOU. For I know that YOU, dear brother, dear sister, seek the Lord and wherever He is, you will be also. Don’t be afraid! "Fear not YE, for I know that you seek Jesus".
In the same tone the holy spirit tells us in I Thessalonians 5:1-10:
I Thessalonians 5:1-10
"But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him."
As suddenly as the resurrection came upon the guards, so also the day of the Lord will come. Like a thief in the night. "For when they say peace and safety suddenly destruction comes upon them. And they shall not escape". They will be terrified and nobody will tell them "don’t be afraid". But again, not we dear brethren. For we are not in the darkness so that the day overtake us as a thief. God knows whom we follow. God knows whom we seek. That we seek and wait for Jesus. Therefore, don’t be afraid! For God didn’t appoint us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ! He is coming. Our Lord is coming. YOU, follower, seeker of Jesus, don’t be afraid!

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Saul vs. David

I was recently reading in I Samuel, the record of the start of Saul's kingdom. Saul was made king within very short time. Before he even understood what was going on, he found himself as a king. He did not have the character, he did not have the qualities needed. He was a humble man in the beginning. He did not even dare to come out when his name was called (I Samuel 10:22). But the children of Israel were so pressing asking for a king. I bet they could not wait at all. They wanted a king and they wanted him now! No wonder therefore that Saul ended up the way he did. Most of us would have ended up the same. We would not know what to do, our pride would rise up, and we would mess around not having the character and the qualities needed. It is not to know exactly what to do, but to have the character to wait and find out what to do. It seems to me that Saul was a victim of the Israelites stubbornness. But then David came. David did not come as a king. He had the word of God from the beginning but then many years passed and it seemed that this word would never be realized. He was fighting in the deserts and in the mountains and it seemed that that word only trouble had brought to him. He had lost his friends, his peace, his contact with his family and all this because of that word. Why did God tell him that? Why He did not rush him to be a king right away? Why God "treated him so badly"? If somebody had un-answered whys this must have been David. And yet the appointed time came. Saul, the result of the rush of the Israelites, died. I am so sorry for him. It was not God's mistake, it was probably not even his mistake. It was mostly the mistake of his own people who did it. Saul dies and David becomes a king. It took many years. It took many frustrations. It took many whys. It took much trouble in between. He could have died in those years. His life was continuously at stake. It was certainly not what he had dreamed about God, about his life about the word of God spoken to him. And yet its purpose was clear: after all these, David was now READY to be a king. He would not blow it. Because he was trained. He was softened. His desires were subjected to God's will and were put into His hands. It is frightening all that he went through, but it is also encouraging. For it may also have happened in our lives. We just wonder why this and why that. Why God does not do it right from the beginning. But God wants to make us like David, so that we can enjoy what he opens before us. Saul had it right from the beginning but then he destroyed it. I love God's way even if it is sometimes painful and looks like a desert. For the desert finishes and a new bright day starts!

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Christian, are we mere men?

I was recently reading in Matthew 4 the temptations of Christ in the wilderness. The adversary two times challenged Him with the phrase "If you are the Son of God". Taking it in another way, it sounded to me like "Jesus, you are not the Son of God. You are just a mere man... if you fall down from the temple nobody is going to pick you up. If you are hungry nobody is going to feed you. Come on try....can you make these stones bread? Can you fall down from the temple? Go ahead try, if you are not but a mere human being i.e. if you are the Son of God". It is the same story with us today. We are sons and daughters of God and the enemy wants to persuade us that we are nothing else but helpless human beings. He whispers to our ears: "you are alone in this world .... your God is very far away. Just settle down as anybody else.".
We are human beings like anybody else on this earth. Right. BUT, and this is the BUT that he was distorting with Christ and with us: we are also CHILDREN OF THE KING. We have a home in His palace right now, a place in his hug right now. We are not the helpless beings he presents to us but God’s kids!! "BELOVED NOW WE ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD" says the Word (I John 3:2). This is what WE ARE NOW. This is what you heavenly ID says. It goes like this: Name: [Put your name here] Known: Before the foundation of the world, Born by: God, Saved by: Jesus Christ, he/she is: Son/Daughter of God, Access to God's hug: unlimited.
Mediocrity ("be as anybody else" with the hidden sentence behind it: "because YOU ARE as anybody else") is a weapon of the devil against the excellence of God's kids. We are men but not "mere" men. We are NOT as anybody else. We are God's kids NOW. Let's rest in the Father's hug, relaxing in His lap, today and tomorrow and for ever. It is there where we belong.

               Please check out Anastasios's book 
               "The Warnings of the New Testament". 
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