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W Pat Cunningham
God's Will is Best
Angels are pure spirits, but it was God's intention to raise human beings, who are lower than the angels, to divine status, to union with the Trinity. An ancient tradition tells us that this was the cause of Lucifer's rebellion, jealousy over one day being ruled by a mere human. The great army of Michael got it right–-God's will is best, and serving God's will is the highest happiness, even if it causes us some inconvenience.
SEPARATE: STAYING IN RANKS
The word "separate" is a military term, and it means to "stay in ranks." My son Jason just graduated from an intensive 9-week school for Drill Sergeants (we Brownworths never seem to finish going to school!). He will now be responsible for training as many as 240 "raw" recruits in each cycle what it means to form and stay in ranks. More importantly he will help them know that in battle keeping in ranks may just save lives. Rank and file is not just about marching in parades on holidays – order, discipline and tactical symmetry are the strength of ranks; it is how battles are won or lost.
Soldiers need to stay in their ranks; Christian believers are also in ranks (local churches) as parts of the Body of Christ. We must not only stay in ranks, there is also the need to keep those ranks strong and alert for signs of the enemy. Paul put it this way – what possible relationship can light (Christ) have with Belial (Lucifer, Satan)? What happens when you mix darkness and light? One of them has to die!
John Bevere notes: That when Adam sinned in the Garden he not only became subject to decay and death all of creation itself suffered the consequence of Adams choice to sin.
i. “Consequently, not only Adam but all creation he was placed over immediately took the nature of death. Prior to Adam’s treason-animals didn’t devour and eat flesh, nor did they die. Tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, famines, disease, and pestilence didn’t exist. This all resulted from and not guarding what God entrusted to his care, now not only mankind had the nature of death, but all creation as well. We read: “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. Romans 8:20-21 (NLT)” Nature wasn’t cursed with death by its own choice, but rather by man’s insubordination to God. He didn’t protect what was entrusted to his care. Adam subjected not only nature, but himself, his wife, and future offspring to what was originally Lucifer’s curse, separation from God. What treachery; what treason!” (Page 76, Driven by Eternity).
A story is told about a meeting Satan had with his chief demons. Christianity was spreading rapidly and growing fervently, and they needed to devise a way to undermine the work. The arch deceiver called for suggestions.
“We could bring some more hypocrites into the church” said one.
“No,” said the devil, “the Christians realise that there will always be hypocrites, and are teaching each other to look to Jesus. That won’t work.”
“What about bringing in some fierce persecutions?” suggested another. “If we make being a Christian unbearable, they’ll run away for sure.”
“That might get some” agreed the prince of darkness. “But what we’ve found is that when we bring in persecution, the few that leave are replaced by dozens more who are convicted by the faith of those who remain. It’s not a successful enough campaign.”
Many ideas were suggested, discussed, and thrown out, when at last Lucifer turned to his council. “I think what would work best” he declared “is to make the Christians lose sight of the return of their God. Yes, I think that would work.”
“You mean, tell them He’s not coming back?” questioned one of the council.
“No,” replied Satan, “that would be foolish. If we told them He wasn’t coming, they’d see right through it. But,” he said, “get them to think He’s not coming for a long time, and we’ll make some progress. Remind them of how generations before thought He was coming back in their time, and it never happened. Make them believe that there are still too many things to happen before He returns – too...
Beware of pride. I would put it first in the list of the seven deadly sins. It produces independence, rebellion and self-will. It leads to all the other sins. It makes on think, as Lucifer did, that he is more important than God.
Sometime when you’re feeling important,
Sometimes when your ego’s way up;
Sometime when you take it for granted
That you are the prize-winning “pup”;
Sometime when you feel that your absence
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions,
And see how it humbles your soul.
Take a buck and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to your wrist.
Now pull it out fast and the hole that remains
Is the measure of how you’ll be missed.
You may splash all you wish as you enter,
And stir up the water galore,
But STOP and you’ll find in a minute,
It’s back where it was before.
-A Dudley Dennison, Jr., Windows, Ladders and Bridges
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
The film takes place three years after the onset of the Clone Wars; the noble Jedi knights are spread out across the galaxy leading a massive clone army in the war against the separatists. After Chancellor Palpatine is kidnapped, Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi and his former padawan, Anakin Skywalker, are dispatched to eliminate the evil General Grievous and rescue the chancellor. Meanwhile, Anakin’s friendship with the chancellor arouses suspicion in the Jedi order and proves dangerous to the Jedi knight himself as the chancellor turns out to be Sith lord, Darth Sidious who tempts Anakin to come over to the dark side, with the promise that the death of his wife, which he has constant dreams about, can be reversed. A tussle begins in Anakin’s heart over following the light and the Jedi order or stepping over to the dark side with the Sith lord Darth Sidious. Anakin succumbs to temptation; he steps out of the light and his whole character changes as he enters the dark side and becomes the evil Darth Vader.
Why am I telling you that fictional story? Because it’s a picture of how we are all prone to acts of darkness and how darkness entered into our world in the beginning. I want to share another story this time; it’s a real historical story about our ancestors, the first man called Adam and the first woman called Eve, who were serving and living in the presence of God, who is light and all that is good and perfect. Yet evil lurked in the shadows under the guise of a serpent. It was Satan (Lucifer), a fallen angel who wanted to be like God and who had been banished from God’s presence in heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14). Satan brought temptation and doubts before them both, with the promise they would be like God and the lie that they would not die. They succumbed to eat of the fruit that God forbade to eat (Gen 3:1-7). Adam and Eve succumbed just like Anakin to the dark side. As a result, darkness has entered into our world and our lives with separation from God becoming the norm, physical and spiritual death awaiting us and the world in utter darkness as evil prevails to this day.
Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up?
In Matthew 24: 24, Jesus provides a stern warning that "false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible..."
In the old "To Tell the Truth" game show, you had to question three contestants to determine the true identity of the person who would then stand up to be recognized. Unfortunately, if you're looking for the true Jesus these days, you have more than three "contestants". The cults and false religions of the day have produced some such as these --
Jesus #1: Jesus was Michael the archangel, the first being created by Jehovah God, "a god" but not Almighty God, was invisibly raised from the dead as a "spirit being" and has already invisibly returned to earth.
Jesus #2: Jesus was the "spirit brother" of Lucifer, a man who evolved to godhood and was married to more than one woman while on this earth.
Jesus #3: This is a Jesus who never came in the flesh, but is simply a divine idea or principle inherent in every person.
Jesus #4: Jesus is one of many great prophets but has since been superseded by a greater prophet. He did live a sinless life but was not crucified nor did he die to pay the penalty for anyone's sins.
All of the above are the creations of men although they bear the same name as the true Jesus revealed in the Holy Scriptures. However, as eternally dangerous as all of the above "Jesuses" are, there may be some that are even more dangerous.
There are many people, some even sitting in church week after week, who have created a Jesus in their own minds with whom they are comfortable. He may be a Jesus that is all "love" but no judgment. He may be a Jesus that tolerates all lifestyles and life choices even though they conflict with His Word. But, he is not the true Jesus revealed in the entirety of God's Word.
In 2 Corinthians 11: 4, the apostle Paul warned the believers at Corinth, "For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough."
There are other Jesuses, other spirits and other gospels. Are you "putting up" with a false Jesus, one that cannot save? At one point while Jesus was walking this earth, He turned to His disciple Peter, and asked, "Who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, answered boldly, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
There is only One Jesus who is God in the flesh, only One who died on the cross for your sins, only One who rose physically from the dead and is alive forevermore, only One who sets you free from the bondage of sin, only One who grants eternal life to those who believe. Do you know Him?