Category Archives: Christians

Is Your Church the “Real” Church?

March 2020

And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. Act 11:26

Diverse Doctrine

People of many different kinds of churches believe their church is the real church and often think they are the only ones destined for heaven.  Truth be told, many churches only operate in a portion of the gospel.  The church has crossed two millenniums and multiple changes since the original upper room,  spirit-filled church was birthed. Even then the early believers had different levels of understanding as Paul discovered among the Ephesus believers who had not yet received the Holy Spirit (Act 19:1).  They went on to grow in knowledge and power and we should be continuing in our growth.  With the benefit of seeing the model church, we can compare our worship experience with theirs to determine if our church experience is authentic. Some church leaders may say the upper room experience was unique and no church should expect that type of experience today.  Actually, that is not true. The Christian church today is part of that same church.  The Holy Spirit is still falling from on high to birth new churches.  People are still hungry for God and God is still willing and waiting to infill believers.  Miracles, signs, and wonders still occur.  The only problem is whether or not we today have the same type of expectation as that first church that got on one accord and waited for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost.

You will recall from scripture that Jesus had disciples that followed Him day and night.  They trusted and believed what He preached because they experienced His miraculous power and saw the results of faith.  He told them to go to the upper chamber and wait on the Holy Ghost that would come upon them.  They obeyed, believed and then received their expectation:  the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit.  After they received God’s power, they went out and began to witness to other people and shared the good news of the gospel.  They began to act just like Jesus did when He was on the earth.  They preached, healed, delivered and empowered others.  Over a period of time, the first church reproduced itself among other nations and overspread the world with the good news of Christ’s resurrection.

It’s true that believers are of that same church; but if we are not seeing the miracles, healings or even the empowerment in the midst of our people like they did, we have cause to wonder.  Even though some churches may be experiencing healing and deliverance in their services, they may be missing other aspects of the church.  Spirit-filled churches should also be experiencing the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  So, many churches may be experiencing only a portion of what the first church experienced and yet they may be satisfied with their experience when there is so much more available to them.  A half-protected warrior is a poor defense against an enemy seeking to overthrow him; and why would we choose to be only a limb if we can be the body?  We live in a time where many churches do not have the same experience or expectations as the first believers.  Their gospel message may have been changed or watered down but the real gospel message brings real power.  So, many people today are willing to come together, sing songs and pray with little or no empowerment and call it the Christian church.

Is Jesus in the Midst

Jesus stated that where two or three believers come together in His name, He would be in the midst (Mt18:20).  Could Jesus be happy to come among those of low expectations, let alone pour out His spirit upon an unbelieving congregation?  All the things of God come by faith and the scripture states that the just shall live by faith. He is faithful to those that believe, but many of us have seen believers come into the church and over time begin to adjust to the atmosphere of the house.  If the church is usually sedate then they learn to be sedate; and where the church is “on fire for the Lord,” newcomers adjust to that temperature as well.  So a church can become comfortable with its church atmosphere and begin to accept their level of experience as complete and normal.  We should have a constant hunger for more of Jesus.

How should the church behave at this hour?   Jesus is Lord over the church and rules as Lord over the earth.  As Lord over His own church, Jesus is in charge and sets the atmosphere for a believing church.  He has shown us the liberty and power of the church in scripture.  The Holy Spirit came among believers in the upper room and saturated the believers with a praise and worship experience that overflowed their hearts and changed their community. The believing church should be alive and excelling in power, authority, and growth.  It should be maturing into a rapturous state. The most important thing to remember is what Jesus spoke:

Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.  Mar  9:23 

The very word that Jesus spoke lets us know that God has given unlimited power to the Christian church to operate in the earth in His name.  The true church consists of born-again believers who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.  There is no problem in the earth that God is not able and willing to handle when the people of God ask in prayer.

A Church Empowered

In the midst of the Coronavirus that America is now contending with, there are many opportunities for the church to represent the Lord.  First of all, the spiritual church has power with God to know and pray about problems before they occur.  The church has been given the ability to be in the know of what God is doing because the church partners with God to do His work in the earth.  The power of God comes down from heaven to rule in the earth and everything on earth must bow in submission. Healing and deliverance power belongs to the church and yet some churches are denying this truth.    A failure in the American church is that it has been willing to relinquish the authority of God and come under the rule of a secular government.  The secular government has become a type of idol to some people but it will never be supreme to the real Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is universal and multi-ethnic.  Some groups have tried to use their beliefs to rule over the church and government but this action is patterned after that of the antichrist.  Jesus, Himself, still rules over His church and the real church is submitted in love and looks like Christ because it is His body.  He came to give every believer direct contact with Him; so He is still there for us even when church or government authority fails.  Jesus’ authority can rest upon the least of mankind of any class, ethnic background or location and the Spirit of prophecy can be activated by Christ through any person He chooses to use at any time.  He has revealed this in scripture over and over.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. 1Co 1:26-29

Father God purposely anointed and used vessels most people would consider unworthy of such power in order to show that it is His power not the wisdom of man that does the work.  Times, like we are experiencing right now, are times when the real church should shine, but we are seeing religious leaders who are dumbfounded or silent.  The church was to represent His arm in the earth in times of trouble to teach truth and correct wrong, but the church has repurposed itself to seek worldly wealth and control.  Such a church has made itself ripe for the antichrist’s rule.  God cannot allow it because He is God and He sent Jesus to set mankind free.  Some things God will personally correct, but there is much that righteous people will have to rise up and correct like Gideon or evil will take control.  The word of God is our instruction book for guidance in troubled times.

A Jealous God

People in places of high visibility expect special treatment because of their position but God hates man’s pride.  It is a fatal mistake for churches to lift the man or woman pastor to the place of God because we have a jealous God whose wrath falls as a result of idolatry. It is in fact already falling.  Some churches have agreed to remove their leaders for misconduct but other congregations are fearful of approaching the religious leader for cause, even though God will back up righteousness with His power.  God showed the church through the examples of Moses, the tabernacle high priests, David, other Israelite Kings and Judas that sin at high levels should be dealt with lest we all be defiled.

For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God… Exo 34:14

We saw in scripture that Paul and Barnabas refused to accept the praise of men.

And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:  Act 14:11-15

The mighty men and women of God called patriarchs were people who had a godly fear or respect for God and we should permit no leadership that will not respect our God.  There is a place we reserve for God that no one has a right to hold in our hearts and lives.  When we put someone or thing in that place, they become an idol and provokes the anger of God upon us. Our modern churches have not been as devoted as Paul and Barnabas were in refusing to accept the glory that rightly belongs only to God.  Many of our ministers have celebrity status and live like stars, being envied by the people that supply their wealth.  When this idol worship happens, the church can expect to see the Spirit of God depart from their midst.  The Holy Spirit is very sensitive and we should make sure not to offend Him.  The church size and wealth may grow while the Spirit departs.

So we have shown in scripture that God is willing to do anything for His people and also that people can disrespect God and cause His power to be withdrawn so that they become powerless.  A powerless church is a mockery to God and becomes a haven for the enemy.  Many of the problems experienced in our churches and our communities are because churches have compromised power and effectiveness to become more like the world and seekers of God have become religious groupies.  While believers could complain about the behavior of our political leadership, it would be a waste of time as long as church members continue to allow their religious leaders to do the same things.  The behavior of our political leaders is simply a duplication of the behavior of many pastors and, therefore, pastors would mock themselves by protesting politicians’ immoral behavior.  Since pastors lord over, abuse and defraud the people, live a life of excess, greed and ungodly conduct; how can they say politicians are guilty of the same.  The media has reported and we have seen overbearing religious leaders who do not yield to Christ.  That is why believers should cautiously consider the appointment of leaders, be responsible to pray for them and check the word they preach to verify the truth.  In His mercy, God has pulled the cover off some leaders to reveal error to protect the sheep.

It was never God’s will to have His church submit to solely the rule of a singular person over the hearts and souls of the church and that is not the model we find in scripture.  Ephesians 4 and I Corinthian 12 teach that the church is established with a multiple-layer leadership that guides the church and operates through various gifts, all subject to the will and agreement of the Holy Spirit.  Apostle Paul as a leader made us aware that he was totally dependent on the Lord.  He said: “And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned…(2Co 12:21).”  Ministers are vessels that the Spirit operates through to speak to the people of God, but He can speak through any vessel He chooses. Christ is the Lord and everyone is called to bow and submit to His power.  It is unconscionable that pastors would abuse their power and make believers subject themselves to a pastor’s carnal will rather than to Christ, but it happens and is an offense to our God.  As long as the church permitted this dishonor of God, it was predictable that the world and Satan would show up to take this power over men’s hearts and souls because he is always at the center of chaos. If leaders would listen to the gentle rebuke from the home or in their peer group, they would be less likely to suffer public rebuke.  While we are expected to respect leadership as authority from God, we saw Christ rebuke false leaders and warn believers about them. If one has surrendered the heart and soul to a false leader or church, the only response is to repent and cry out to God. Repentance is not an ugly word but a cleansing force. God longs to hear us say, “Lord, I am sorry; please forgive and help me.” He will perform a cleansing of the heart and restoration for a person or a church.

God clearly spoke to the Israelites:  Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exo 20:3).  People in America put a high value on material things, self, job, celebrities, religious leaders, money and sometimes unknowingly place them above God.  We must reject false leadership and idols because they supplant God’s place in our hearts.  We are seeing problems in our homes, country, and world because of disobedience to the word of God; but the real church is correctable, committed to God and will yield to the truth. When our hearts turn fully back to Christ, He will change us and our world.  He is even now pulling the cover off false leaders so the believer can escape the lie and walk in truth because the gates of hell will not prevail against the real church.  To be sure, God will prevail, the truth will prevail and God will have His way. He is shining His light to bring all hearts into the knowledge that He alone is Lord, Master, and King!

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Repentance

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Rom 5:8

March 2020

Time for Reflection

Many people recognize this time as the season of Lent (Feb. 26-April 9, 2020).  It is a time when some people, particularly of the Catholic faith, will spend this time in reflection with fasting as they prepare for the celebration of Easter.  Various religions have their own rites for celebration at this time but every nation knows the story of Jesus Christ and His crucifixion on the cross.  Christians recognize Resurrection Sunday because Jesus died on the cross in our place for sins we committed.  Now our sins are forgiven through His death because we accept Him as our Lord and Savior.  However we choose to celebrate or recognize this time, it is a historic occasion, worthy of us taking note.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  Joh 3:16-19

Christians, in particular, know that their sins are already forgiven through Christ’s death and they may take this time lightly, feeling as if they are ready for the season.  Worldwide we are seeing the devastation of the Coronavirus as it takes the lives of mostly the elderly, whose bodies are too weak to resist the devastating virus.  That alone is a reason to begin to pray and seek God for ourselves and others.  We are reminded in scripture that the death angel passed over the Israelites in Egypt when God came in to destroy the Egyptians.  All the first-born in the land of the stubborn Egyptian pharaoh died while the Israelites went unharmed.  God protects His faithful ones.

God knows us one by one and the very sequence of our DNA.  He made us and knows all about each one of us.  We may think we know where we stand with God, but he alone has our scorecard and our accounting is written in His book.  Many people may confess their sins daily but we still cannot imagine all that is on our record.  God is a forgiving God and the blood of Jesus Christ was given to atone for all our sins and Christ still intercedes lovingly on our behalf.

My writings have been online for the past seven years and I have always written that we need to repent.  As Christians and Americans, there is a lot to repent of as a nation.  While I have realized our nation needs to repent, I did not forget about my own soul. I know about others in part only because God has shown me myself and I am thankful.   It is encouraging when the Holy Spirit brings to my attention things I need to correct while I read and study the word.  I readily welcome His correction and work toward eliminating my faults, of which there have been many.  There are some areas that I know of and have struggled with.  Two particular areas God brought to my attention very recently; and I am not claiming I have only two issues, but I recognized them immediately.  I have been through several trials over a problem area and then realized that in the end, I had repeated the same error.  I had not sufficiently learned the lesson.

It is important to stop here and explain that God is a good Father and He loves His children. He is always teaching us so we can do better and be better to do more for Him in the earth.  We know He is patient because He has put up with a lot in us.  It is also important to know that He is willing to teach us again if we are pliable under His hand.  That means we have to acknowledge that we messed up.  Remember David; he messed up a lot but God forgave him, brushed him off and put him back on the throne.  God will do the same thing for us if we repent. Yes, there may still be consequences, but God will see us through them.

Men! Men!

The sad thing is that a lot of people, mostly men, will not say I was wrong and I am sorry.  There is something about men that makes them want to believe that because they are men and in charge, they can do things and not confess to sin.  Bear in mind again that KING David messed up a lot and God forgave him. God called him a man after His own heart (1Sa13:14).  We should take a moment and meditate on that.  That is the kind of child God wants.  Yes, a Man-Child that knows how to go to the Father and repent.  He will forgive us and cleanse us of our sins (1Jn 1:9).  Then He will help us by teaching us principles to live by.  He is loving enough to help us in private, one on one, within the veil.

I want to take a moment as a prophet of God to explain something.  Many people have said God put Donald Trump in office as president. Surely there nothing going on that God did not allow, but everything going on is not necessarily God’s perfect will.  I, like many, was being tempted by the enemy to express hatred rather than love. We all agree His behavior is outrageous.  So why did God allow such a horrible behaving person to become president?  As I struggled with strong emotions about him, God began to show me why he behaves the way he does and my strong dislike of him began to mellow out to the place where I was able to pray for him.  I still have to minimize my time listening to him speak but I don’t hate him.  My sins are just as egregious to the holiness of God.

My understanding of the purpose of Trump in office is that he is there, in all his outrageous behavior, to show us ourselves.  He is in the most visible position to show us what an egotistical fleshly man looks like.  He has been described as arrogant, a liar, a thief, an adulterer, hard-headed, boastful, ignorant, a poor leader, disloyal, untrustworthy, impatient, unsympathetic, and a narcissist.  The list is incomplete but every man can find himself in Trump’s outrageous behavior.  Actually, women can find their personality there too, but men need to see themselves personally and up close in Trump because men do not like to receive correction.  People either love or hate Trump when they see themselves in him.  That may help to explain why our emotions are so strong about him and why the Republican congress stands by him.  How can one deny himself?  He is their mirror and many people are seeing their reflection in him as strength, wealth and power. God is exposing and pulling down the strong men that have exalted themselves through sin.

God as Teacher

Some things we are smart enough to know better, but cannot seem to comply when called upon.  I recognized my sin and I repented being remorseful that God had to bring it to my attention again.  God is so good!  When we fail the test, it is time for more teaching.  So God is taking me through the lesson principles again. None of us are perfect.  We have all sinned and have come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).  Most of our failures are love failures as are mine.  How do we love like Jesus loves?  He has put love in our heart by His Spirit and His Word, but we still must be converted in our mind and soul and then walk it out.  All the while there is an enemy tempting us to fail.  God said no weapon formed against us shall prosper, so it has to come down (Isa 54:17).  It is defeated in Jesus’ name.

We are made stronger through our trials.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.   And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;   And patience, experience; and experience, hope:   And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Rom 5:1-5 (KJV)

We may have overcome some things, but there is more.  We are being perfected in Christ and we shall come forth as pure gold.   Ideally, God wants us to see ourselves in the word when we read it to ourselves.  When we spend time in the word, God will show us our sin and then we can confess: “That’s me.”  When we acknowledge our sin, God is willing to remove it and we are continuously being cleansed through the word.  But the test will still come.  Jesus was tested and we will be tested.

Leaders Need To Imitate Christ

If men insist on being the leader over women and other people, then men must learn to be like Jesus.  We don’t need any help being like the other entity (Satan).  We already know that side, but we need some help in being like the Lord.  Men were to represent the authority of God.  If God cannot use you as a man to help make your wife and children be more like him, what is your purpose? Every man is first called to be head over his own home and only if he excels at that should he be promoted to higher positions. Pastors need to know that they are either the biggest aid or hindrance to the church seeing Christ; and it is time to discover which through seeking Christ.  In Christ and through grace, women can also represent the image and authority of Christ because in Him we are neither male nor female (Gal 3:28).

Ultimately, God is looking for us as His children to be transformed and made perfect or mature through the process He uses in our home, church, and environment to cleanse us of imperfections and be made like Christ, to enjoy life and spend eternity with Him in heaven.  Christ has come and died for every person and every sin to give us access to Father.  Apostle Paul stated: For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Co 11:2).

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Eph 5:25-27

And The Government Shall Be Upon His Shoulder

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. Isa 9:6-7 

The Greater Carries the Lesser

The title and scripture above signifies someone with great power who carries something smaller than Himself.  It seem curious that the scripture starts out talking about a child who does this but it continues the description of a prince, a counselor, the mighty God,  and the everlasting Father which makes more sense to  us.  The mighty is able to carry the lesser and the matured Savior taught us the principle of the strong caring for the weak. 

The title suggests that there is a strong one who carries the government upon his shoulders.  That may be something of an enigma for this generation and in America, where government seems supreme. The scripture signifies that it is God who is supporting and upholding the government but America no longer thinks of God that way.  The nation of America and others declare the greatness of America and how powerful she is with strength above any other nations.  America’s weapons are so great that other nations fear its power of destruction.  America has excelled in knowledge, inventions and wealth above many nations.  We sing and boast of the greatness of America and yet there is someone greater than America who carries her.

It is not that America has a god but rather that God has America.  God who inspired and established this nation through the inspiration, knowledge and strength of various people from its beginning, is still the One who hold the reins that keeps the nation from falling apart. The nation is made up of people of various faiths but it was faith in the One True God and His Son, Jesus that guided the building and sustaining of this nation.  It is so that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance (Ps 33:12).”

People from various nations of the world have come to America to investigate and enjoy the greatness that is America and they have brought their own cultures with them.  But if their practices and ideologies ever overtake the faith that is the foundation of this nation, it will cease to be great.  Those that are descendants of the founders of the nation, who believed in an unseen God, must carry on the faith and traditions of a faithful people who loved a faithful God.  Modernization must never concede to the disruption of the true foundation upon which we all stand or we will all fail.

Loving parents always warn their children of potential dangers ahead to keep them safe and this they have learned from God, the Father, who has done this for his children:

Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations Deu 7:9  …

Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons… Deu 4:9 

Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee. Deu 4:23

Loving parents also build barriers of love and protection of which their children are to live within the confines. They know that danger lurks without those confines and God knows the dangers that await us outside the barriers he has built for us.  Children will test the barriers set for them as we have often done as a people and nation; but discipline, if not danger, awaits the disobedient that breach those barriers.

It is a comfort to be carried by someone stronger than you and it is a comfort for a nation to know that there is a God big enough to carry us and all our concerns and needs.  God, the Father, foresaw all that the nation of America would encounter and require and He prepared a course of protection and provision for it as longs as it walks in obedience.  Just like children who reach an age where they want to rebel so does God’s people from time to time.  It is unwise to “kick against the pricks” as Jesus told Saul, the Pharisee that later became Apostle Paul. God taught us through Prophet Samuel that obedience is better than sacrifice.  Though God does forgive and restore, it is better not to test his restraints. God is carrying the nation of America on His shoulder through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ and our nation should never forget the sacrifice of our Lord or the sacrifice of those who died for our right to enjoy it. 

Christmas A Symbol of Love

The Christmas season is a time when the focus is on giving of gifts to loved ones. It is a time when we celebrate the love of the Father who gave us His only begotten Son to be born into a world of sin. We celebrate the birth of the baby and marvel at the story but we should also remember at this time the cross that he was born to die on to save us.  It is His love shown for us that has generated a love that we share with others.  That is the love Christ expects us to share year round with our neighbors as proof that He still lives because he is loving people through us.

Christ is big enough to love us and everyone around us and the more love He pours in us, the more love we have to share with others.  Love is not selfish. Love grows as we share it and it returns back to us in one form or another.  People often refuse to give because they do not want to lose what they have; but love is something that we can give and never run out because God replenishes shared love. 

The fact that Christ carries this nation upon his shoulders means that He is supplying our needs so that we can help captivate the whole world with the love He has given us.  We should be exporting the love he has given us so that he can pour on us more to give.  The fact that he carries us is proof that we need not worry about running out of anything as long as we choose to walk in obedience and keep him as our God and foundation.

This is a time of love and sharing and it is a time to remember that God is the source of love.  He sacrificed for us to prove His love and we should strive every day to imitate and be more like him.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (Jo 3:16). 

If we stop and focus on the true meaning of the season, it should help us to realign with the Father’s plan for us.  He planned for us to experience his love and then to share that love with others; and we can do it because He is carrying us.

Merry Christmas!

For additional information and reading go to: joycerebapayneministries.com

A Day for Thankfulness

A day to stop and think on all the goodness we’ve been blessed to have
The memory of things past and the joy of things that are
It could have been different and it could have been worst
But thankfulness recognizes the grace of this moment.

Grace recognizes that God has worked it all out in His time
Blessed to have known joy and peace, experienced love and some pain
To have shared with friends and known protection from foes
God has brought us through it all still with the presence of mind to be thankful.

Our past is a window to look through to see all that occurred
It was not all good; it was not all bad
God tempered it so that we could bear it; but when we look back at it all,
We realize that we survived it all and we are thankful.

He never promised that it would be easy
Just that He would be present with us
Like the poem of the Savior carrying us through the storm
We realize that we were never alone.

Life is full of hope and opportunities
And though we go sometimes from sunshine to shadows
The knowledge of someone who shares and cares
Makes life worth living.

We are stronger; we are wiser; we are more caring
Because we went through
And because we went through,
We can help someone else going through the struggles.

We see them; we reach down to give them a hand
Because we remember when we walked through that same path
Someone was with us
And we are Thankful!

by joyce r payne
Thanksgiving
11/28/19

The Great Equalizer – Jesus Christ

October 2019

But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.  For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus…There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:25-26, 28 (KJV)

Many have heard the words that the ground is level at the foot of the cross whether written in an old gospel song or the thoughts expressed in the book of James:

Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. Jas 1:9-10 (KJV)

There is no person higher or lower than another person in God’s eyes.  Everyone that comes to the cross of Christ is a sinner in need of a Savior.  Any good thing one may think to boast of is as filthy rags.  The rich man that comes is no better than the staggering drunk.  Jesus accepts all that come to salvation in repentance by His grace regardless of race, gender, nationality or past sin; and they are all accepted as children in the family of God.  As family, they are freely and abundantly loved by the Father; they no longer have to seek love through fame, material things or performance.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph 2:8-9(KJV)  

In the Old Testament, God showed preference for a specific group of people called Israel.  Everyone outside the family of Israel was considered as a heathen or dog (Mt 15:26).  There was a special love and place set aside only for Israel because of Abraham, the patriarch of Israel who chose to believe God.  This special love God bestowed on Abraham’s lineage alone throughout the pages of the Old Testament eventually brought God’s love to everyone through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ recorded in the New Testament.

A world that was engulfed in oppression, bondage and obvious abuse of power toward the vulnerable was the normal way of life in nations before Jesus came.  The rich and powerful exploited the poor and vulnerable because no one dared defy their evil power.  The powerful had the ability to lift up men to places of authority, regardless of their lack of moral character, and bring humiliation and destruction to whomever they chose. God never approved of abusing the vulnerable but the wages for Adam and Eve’s sin brought a curse upon all men everywhere.  Jesus came to break the curse and end oppression.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.   Joh 3:16-18 (KJV)

Jesus died to set all men free.  He left his disciples a commandment to announce throughout the world that now men could come back to God as His children.  Jesus proclaimed for all men that the truth would set them free.  It was not a difficult message and today we have the means to get the message to everyone.  Yet there are leaders ruling as tyrants in places where the first disciples taught about Jesus; and, in our nation, truth and freedom are often manipulated for the benefit of some one’s power. In America, we are seeing men with ill-gotten power change the rules and moral values of the nation while insisting on their right to do so because they are in charge.  Any tyrant or brute can take power from the weak but  righteous authority comes from God.  Righteousness is God’s standard and no leader has authority to change God’s standard. God’s moral law is backed up by His power and it will stand at long as God stands: for all eternity.

Without real Christian believers revealing the Living Christ of the gospel, words are without power to save.  Apostle Paul said:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Rom 10:13-17 (KJV)

Spirit-filled believers who live and teach the word of God are necessary to persuade all men everywhere that Jesus yet lives. They must do it in the midst of a popular culture with a diluted message of Christ being preached to promote church size and finances.  Erroneous teaching may cause people to lose interest or become lukewarm but the gospel truth preached with power can draw souls back to God.  The gospel message is simple and effective when delivered properly.  The word of God is a transforming message that saves and delivers to set souls free from bondage.

Without faith in Christ our nation would return back to the pagan days of old where corrupt men lord over the people.  Jesus is still reaching out to save souls and save our world.  One believer can turn his world around for God like Paul did, like Daniel did and like Elijah did and, of course, like Abraham did because he believed.  Invested in every spirit filled believer is the same power that raised Jesus up from the grave.  Far too many believers underestimate the power Jesus has given them.

While men of influence are today trying to persuade people of their wisdom because of wealth or position, the believer must remember that all of God’s children are a royal priesthood and have within them the ability to move mountains.  We will all have to give an account for what we have done with our talents and God will require more of those to whom much has been given. Of the utmost importance is what we do with the message we heard about Christ.  That word developed a seed of faith on the inside of us that contains great hope.  The enemy of our soul sets up men of power and wickedness who use threats, fear and intimidation to  suppress righteousness, faith and hope; but the believer in Christ has a new place and source of power:

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: Eph 2:4-6 (KJV)

The believer in Christ as a child of the Great King with all its privileges and has become an heir of all that belongs to Christ.  This position is available to any person at any level of life who will believe the gospel.  We all must come in the same door through simple faith in Christ’s sacrifice. He died on the cross in your place and in my place and for the souls of the whole world of sinners.  It should have been us who died on that cross for all of our sins; but Christ who knew no sin, died in our place so we could go free.  What a wonderful Savior He is!

What Christ did on the cross leveled the ground for all men to come into equal position as brethren.  Christ, as God in the flesh, called disciples His “brethren.”  We observe in scripture that Christ came in a lowly estate and walked in humility and meekness while administering help to others.  Apostle Paul said: “Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits (Rom 12:16).”  Our culture and worldly self always want to be exalted or rewarded for every deed but that is contrary to Christ’s way.  It is Christ who examines the life of His disciples and chooses to raise some to higher callings as he did with the first apostles, where they took on additional duties and risks for the kingdom.  Christ gives no place for any legitimate Christian leader to be proud, arrogant, abusive or demeaning. Those characteristics and others listed in Galatians 5:19-21 are traits that help us identify Satan’s servants who connive, bully and cause fear, intimidation or evil deeds to enforce their pretense of superior power.  The God of love backs up the strength of His people and they have the greater power because of son ship with their Great King. That power is not for self-exaltation over others; but we can, by His power, condescend to men of low estate.  The commandment to love our brethren should cause all of us to assist the less fortunate.  Jesus taught that those who desire to be first will be last and servant to all (Mk 9:35). Adherence to such Christian principles is what causes people to consider the needs of the poor and vulnerable of our community.

The power men use to rule over others is power that ultimately comes from God and every tyrant in history has ultimately fallen under the power of God.  Powerful names such as Alexander, Napoleon, Caesar, Hitler, Stalin and others are only a whisper from our past. We are all like pieces on the chest board that are set up and moved at God’s command.  Our very next breath is at the pleasure of God.  Psalms 24:1 states:  “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”  Though mankind may be reluctant to acknowledge God’s sovereignty, He, nevertheless, will have the final word; and He will use His authority to pull down all forms of evil.  The glory that some men have taken for themselves belongs to God and He has said of Himself that He is jealous over His people and that He will not give His glory to another (2Co. 11:2; Is. 48:11).  Knowing that the All-Powerful God demands His glory and is jealous over His people, who would in foolishness dare take upon himself the glory that belongs only to God or harm the vulnerable that is “the apple of God’s eye” that He protects?  Fear of God helps one to stay in a place of humility and obedience because God puts down oppressors and lifts up the meek while He judges the earth and defends His word.  The wise will hear the word of God and believe in God’s power while the unbelieving may choose to learn the sovereignty of God the hard way through experiencing His anger.  The love of God allows everyone the opportunity of choosing to be an equal partaker of His grace.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren…Heb 2:9-11 (KJV)

But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. Mat 23:8 (KJV)

—O—

THE LEADERSHIP LIE

May 2019

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.  Ps. 32:8 

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. Ps. 23:1-2

Changing Standards

This may be a challenging message to some because it could stretch the spiritual boundaries of some readers’ thinking while providing exposure to greater liberty in Christ.

The nation of America has devalued some important foundations that used to hold its people within the borders of reason, morality and decency.  Without these strong borders, people are freely crossing over normal lines of restraint and few can rein them in without being accused of phobias or narrow-mindedness.  Americans are so accustomed to concepts of inclusion and the comfort of being “part of the team,” until it has become unacceptable to call out an associate or team member for error.  A spirit of tolerance is deemed as a better approach:  We are all “okay.”  This is our current fallacy that is leading to destructive practices that have descended to new “norms.”  Where did we get this from?  When did the lines between right and wrong, good and evil become so unimportant or invisible?  When purebred animals are mated with a mixed-breed, we call them “mutts” because the value is lost and mutts cannot reproduce a purebred pedigree.  “Mutt” is a term of disdain and has no value in discussion of purebreds.  We can become just like that…without much value or worth because we have become contaminated with something considered filthy or disdained.  This can be a delicate subject and may appear to imply disfavor of people some would not call proper or whole; but Christ loves all kinds of people even when He rejects improper conduct.

Quality of Leadership

Leaders ought to lead followers in the right path because of their familiarity with the goals and standards necessary to reach the destination and they should possess above average skills. Moses had the blueprint to the tabernacle and guidance from God to lead the people from the wilderness to Canaan Land.  The Israelites followed Moses’ guidance from God because they saw evidence of God leading him.  When Moses began to follow his own mind and disobeyed God’s guidance, he was set down and new leadership replaced him.  God is still doing that today, but people are so accustomed to following the flesh of man even when divine guidance is gone. Believers should seek to follow the God in man revealed by the Holy Spirit, not his flesh.

Leaders ought to lead in the right way.  They are not right because they lead; but because they lead, they ought to do what’s right.  The bible painstakingly reveal in the books of Kings and the chronicles, the reign and result of good and bad kings.  God set up good kings and pulled down bad ones, often turning bad ones over to their enemies for punishment.  God grew weary of Israel’s bad leaders and decided to send us the perfect leader: Jesus Christ. The best possible leader and model has already come and shown the right way with empowerment to obtain levels of perfection.  Christ could not remain among us in fleshly form nor was that His mission.  He came to introduce a change that would improve our lives and world.  He corrected our wrong course and brought deliverance from the penalty of sin and entrapment to Satan.  He taught, empowered and established us on a better path for life in righteousness. 

Many see church as the path Christ gave and have submitted themselves to a lifetime of church guidance.  But is that what Jesus planned for the believer?  Isaiah 61 tells us the Messiah would come to bind us the broken hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, opening prisons to the bound, proclaim the day of vengeance, comfort mourners, and to give joy and praise instead of mourning and heaviness.  Jesus came at a time when there was already the God-ordained temple with religious leadership consisting of high priests, local priests, Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes knowledgeable in the word of God and who stood as leaders and teachers over the Israelites.  With this vast knowledgeable religious leadership available, why was it necessary to bring in a new leader or change for God’s people?  It was because these leaders had become self-absorbed and corrupt leaders who abused God’s people and His law.  Prophet Isaiah records God’s summation of this problem:

His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.  Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.  Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant. Isa 56:10-12 

Wickedness in God’s leaders required Jesus to come as Deliverer.  At Christ’s coming, the Israelites needed deliverance from the bondage of Roman oppression and from the Jewish religious leaders working as accomplices to Rome and to their own religious heavy-handedness.  Jesus observed the wickedness of men as individuals and leaders and instituted a new system to set both free. Religious leaders were no longer to be the burden carriers for the people but rather a veil of love covering and instructing the believer. 

Christ’s Impact on Leadership

If Jesus was to come in the flesh today, the same type of bondage would be found in our nation.  Government bondage is not from foreigners but from our own people through unjust laws.  The universal and eternal story of Jesus Christ and His entry into Jerusalem can reveal a lot about our world when we take the time to explore it.  Jesus was sent to bring change, restore and atone for the morality of his day and ours.  His entry was the pivotal moment to change everything at a time when things were at their worst.  We are at a similar moment in the nation of America.  America has had the best opportunity with wealth, knowledge and liberty to provide its entire people the benefits of a good life but rather leaders pressed for more power, wealth and privilege for the elites.  Here are some of the markers of both times.

  • God’s people existed in bondage to oppressive government but Jesus brought liberty.
  • Ungodly government and idol gods.
  • Religious leaders in allegiance with the oppressive government hid truth.
  • Religious leaders conspired with oppressors for position and money and betrayed their own people.
  • The people of God toiled under abuse, extortion, ignorance, and poverty while their leaders were enjoying the benefits of wealth.
  • The people were at a pivotal moment to change everything and establish a new kingdom.
  • Opportunity to choose between two competing kingdoms (Christ or Satan) for eternal destiny.
  • Disciples of Christ were sealed and given a place in His eternal kingdom.

Leadership is still heavy-handed in churches and binds people to legalities for fellowship and experience with God.  People are burdened by both government and church without enjoying the liberties Jesus came to bring.  One of the devastations of today’s religion is that some people do not realize they are in bondage to a religion called Christianity.  The Jewish people at Christ’s coming were in bondage to Judaism because of corrupt religious leaders who ruled them.  John the Baptist released his pastoral authority over followers and directed them to the liberty of Christ.  Pastors today either do not know or refuse to release members into the liberty of Christ. They keep believers in a state of striving to obtain some mystical, unknown church goal.  Christ revealed their inability to lead anyone where they themselves had never gone. 

But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me. Joh 7:29 

Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Joh 8:55 

Christ came to flip the script!  Now every man can know God for himself and escape the false requirements of leaders.  The veil has been ripped from top to bottom, the formalities have ended, and the tabernacle has been changed from a building to a body that is part of the Divine. Bondage has been broken and liberty has come.

And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. Heb 8:11 

Christ told Matthew and Andrew: “Follow me.”  John the Baptist’s disciples left John’s teaching and followed Christ.  But what if John had forbade them to follow Christ’s lead?  Many leaders are doing just that and people remain in bondage after learning of Christ. Christ admonished every believer to read the word for self and the truth would make them free.  Within every believer and especially Spirit-empowered believers is the power to change the world.  They are like “LEGO” bricks:  full of potential as singles but when united with others, they can become anything.  Christ came to give us the potential to do miracles as individuals and greater miracles in unity, but false leadership can squash that potential. Believers can be hindered under fleshly leadership rather than set free to mature and follow Christ into their destiny. 

While visiting a church, the pastor was heard telling the spirit-filled congregation:  “Before you make a major decision, come and talk to me.”  I was appalled at such a demand.  Wise counsel is always good but Christ never instructed believers to be led by the mind of their pastor or for the pastor to make the personal decisions of believers, crippling them to dependence on him.  Christ taught:

And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Joh 16:23 

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Mat 7:7-8 

But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. 1Jn 2:27 

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. Joh 16:13

Major Change in Spiritual Leadership

Christ taught believers to pray and seek God in the name of Jesus and follow the directions of the Holy Spirit, who would lead them into all truth.  Following Christ allowed the believer to ask any question, go anywhere, and be led by Christ into limitless experiences and maturity.  Christ came to take the cuffs off the believer so he could fellowship and work for Christ in the earth.  The weakness and wickedness of fleshly leaders led God to break the believer from spiritual and mental bondage to man that kept them impoverished and ignorant.  Even though authorities still rule over groups of people for compliance to laws and to keep order, Jesus set the mind and spirit of man free to follow Jesus, the righteous leader, into his God-ordained destiny and well being.  Man is no longer crippled in spiritual or mental bondage to any man and Christ’s power can liberate any other bondage or constraint.  There are many people bound by church or government where they could be freed through Christ’s power.  The bondage of mankind to the fleshly leadership of man has led many to submit their entire being over to another person.  This was never the will of God.  This type of bondage makes one vulnerable to Satan’s captivity if he subdues the leader.  Christ taught that once the strong man is bound then his whole house could also be spoiled. Satan’s entrance and control through a weakened defense can destroy whole groups that may be submitted to one leader. Christ came to release believers from that kind of bondage.  The power of man is limitless when he follows Christ.

God revealed in Old and New Testaments the wickedness in some leaders over multitudes of people.  Men have long enslaved other men like themselves for material gain.  One of the horrible realizations of slavery of Africans was that many of their own tribal leaders sold them into slavery to white Europeans for material gain.  Spiritual, mental and physical bondage of men can still be sold to oppressors by leaders without the group’s knowledge, but Christ came to give man a way of escape.  When the individual has a personal relationship with Christ, he always has a functioning alert system.

The reality of our current political dilemma in America has been the question:  Is the American President an asset of Russia?  Is it possible that a people who are willing to put away their God for financial wealth can be sold to an enemy?  The unrepented corruption of America is returning upon her head.  Our nation has long believed national superiority would last and outmaneuver other nations but it seems America’s highest office holder may have betrayed her to her worst enemy whom he calls friend.  God is showing America through her current trauma that we are not to give lordship to our fleshly leaders or put our confidence in any man.  God’s commandment to Israel was that they should have no other God and yet they made many gods, as has America.  One of America’s false gods is money, even though God forbade covetousness and the apostles taught the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10).  America’s love of money has matured and reaped a crop of trouble but each believer can still find personal salvation in Christ.

Israel was led from false gods to the true God but then turned back to idols and chose Caesar over the Savior.  Americans must understand their imitation of this flaw when they choose fleshly leaders over the leadership of Christ.  This choice offends our Sovereign God.  The grace of God has given each individual the right to be delivered from the group’s error of idolatry by personally accepting and following Christ.  Christ came to bring truth that God is the believer’s leader; and the believer who submits to His Lordship is set free.

New Leadership Makes the Difference

To be clear, all our church guidance and biblical history were intended to bring erroneous children back to God, the Father.  We are not saved to become bound to a fleshly leader, nation or idol.  Christ unites believers to Himself in a new family.  Our churches were never supposed to bring us under submission to an oppressive nation or leader. Failure to submit and adore our Sovereign God will not be tolerated by God.  Religious leaders should lead followers to Christ and He will direct us to the Father, who longs to love and protect us. 

As was said at the beginning, this is a challenging message and it is not written to everyone.  It is written to those that truly love the Lord. There is a deception going on to deceive multitudes and only the righteous will prevail.  When an oppressive power takes authority over a people, its presence will be revealed through the fruit produced in the people. God’s people show forth His love and truth while Satan’s people cannot contain their evil ways through lying or hatred.

America is set up as a republic where the people’s voice is spoken through representatives from local to federal offices.  Americans are accustomed to submitting to higher authority.  Our representatives have often sought out the moral council of ministers they value during times of crucial indecision.  Governments were established originally from moral religious leaders honoring God and His commandments and this truth was the standard it operated from.  Our national government has bound the hands and voices of many churches through restrictive tax laws.  We, nevertheless, see our government which should be an extension of God’s authority at times invoking the favor of God’s while adopting unrighteous positions.  If truth is forsaken by the government leaders, it does not annihilate God’s leadership and truth, which is higher.  When government decides to uphold a lie, truth still stands and God will judge the nations.  Salvation of the individual’s soul is a personal decision.

The leadership lie is that the believer cannot do anything without his religious leader. The truth is that Jesus is leader and Lord over the believer.  Jesus came to pull down the barrier between man and God. The believer is lifted above religious leaders to God, Himself.  Each believer has access to God, His power and truth. It is no longer solely the duty of religious leaders to enforce truth. Christ has basically deputizes every believer in His service with power and truth. We are individually empowered and responsible to God to stand in His service where He has assigned us.  God will stand in us to provide strength to uphold the standard where He has placed us.  And when we all stand together in our place for truth as a bulwark against evil, the devil or evildoers that stand against us will fall.  One mystery about America is that the God over the nation through Christ will empower any individual, like Gideon, that stands up for truth to restore and preserve righteousness.  History reveals many singular individuals who endangered their personal lives and freedom to help establish and protect America as a nation under God.  We saw individuals like Patrick Henry (“Give me liberty, or give me death!”) stand up alone and declare truth in critical times in early America.  They had an underlying faith, patriotism and indignation against unrighteousness.  Righteous change does not come easily and not without sacrifice.  Christ taught us to make sacrifices for good. Christ empowers any individual believer to stand boldly during crisis with the power of God to bring change.  Politeness is an instrument of compromise, not a weapon of war; and we must know when we are at war.  Heroes are born out of times of crisis and their stand is never easy.  That is the strength that made America and it is the strength that can save America.

. . .and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Mat 28:20 

GOD ASKS US TO JUDGE OURSELVES BEFORE HIS JUDGMENT FALLS

April 2019

For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.  1Co 11:3132 

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?  1Co 6:2 

In Old Testament scripture, the God of Moses sent commandments to the Children of Israel to follow, where sin and disobedience would be judged with death.  The dire consequence of sin is cleared shown in the story of the rebellion of Korah (Nu. 16:32-33), who defied Moses’ authority and dropped alive with his accomplices into the open pit of hell.  In the recording of the prophetic service of prophets like Moses and Abraham, we see often an appeal to God of leniency for the people and God’s openness to appeal for mercy.  The book of Isaiah shows God’s decision to send an eternal intercessor to man for extension of leniency and Jesus’ ministry established the terms of that leniency.  Unfortunately, many New Testament believers have decided the mercy of God through Jesus Christ allows them to practice sin and receive no retribution for breaking God’s commandments.  They have believed the love of God revealed through Jesus makes God too loving to destroy man. However, God never did away with the punishment of His law against sin; He only allowed exceptions permitted through faith in Christ (Mat 5:17).  Those not found in faith through Christ are also not covered under the grace of Christ (John 3:18) and are still subject to the wrath and punishment of God’s anger (Rom. 1:18) against sin.  One of the failures of Christian ministry is neglecting to help churchgoers understand which group they are in.  One is not under the mercy of God through Christ merely by going to church.  One can be near food and still starve to death. Church is merely a vehicle to get one to the place of salvation. We must each individually take Christ’s hand for guidance.

Knowing that God will deal with sin in people of the world and the church, it is important to know how God deals with people in both environments.  That takes us back to the scenario of Israel’s relationship with God.  Sin will either receive the mercy of God through an obedient intercessor, as in Abraham’s intercession for Lot or Christ’s intercession for believers; or one will experience God’s wrath for disobedience like Korah (Nu. 16:32-33) and Paul’s reference in Rom. 1:18.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousnessRom 1:18 

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 6:23 

Since we know through this discussion and scriptures that God will deal with all sin, it is imperative that we know where we fall on God’s scale of justice.  Americans seem convinced that they cannot come under the kind of wrath that the Children of Israel experienced time and time again for disobedience.  When we realize that our sin is either covered or not, we are able to determine where we fall in our susceptibility to judgment of sin.

   …Blessed are they whose iniquities [sins] are forgiven, and whose sins are covered… Rom 4:7 

There have been many intercessory prayers that add cover to America from the prayer of Solomon that appealed for all believers to Jesus’ prayer for His followers, and that of Christian believers and leaders who have prayed a blessing over this nation.  But there comes a time when all the evil of a people or their descendants excel any appeasement of intercessors as God recounted in the Old Testament.

Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble. Jer 11:14 

Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it:  Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD. Eze 14:13-14


The grace and mercy we receive under Jesus Christ provides intercession and forgiveness when sincere repentance comes through faith in Christ. As mentioned earlier, this exception from the wrath of God is revealed in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Church leaders and believers are instructed to pray in intercession for one another and those in authority (I Tim. 2:1-2) while reaching the lost with the message of reconciliation.  When the church and worldly government become corrupt, we find ourselves in the position Jeremiah confronted.  Let’s read what God had to say to Israel when no just man stood in opposition to the evil of the land and let’s read it as if it was written directly to America.  “[ ]” added to show references to America.

Jer 4:1-4(KJV) – If thou wilt return, O Israel [America], saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not [be] remove[d].  And thou shalt swear [say], The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.  For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem [America], Break up [destroy] your fallow ground (evil), and sow not among thorns [stop sinning].  Circumcise yourselves to [obey] the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart [repent], ye men of Judah and inhabitants [America]: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. 

Disaster from the North

Jer 4:5-11  Declare and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land [ announce  throughout America]: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go throughout the land.   Set up the standard of righteousness [re-establish the righteous way]: retire, stay not [do not rest]: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.  The lion [the enemy is coming] is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer from the nations is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate[coming to destroy]; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant.  For this gird you with sackcloth [so repent], lament [sorrow] and howl [cry]: for the fierce anger of the LORD is not turned back from us. And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the LORD, that the heart of the king [president] shall perish [faint], and the heart of the princes [government officials]; and the priests [ministers] shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder.  Then said I Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people [the church] and America, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword [your wrath] reacheth unto the soul.  At that time shall it be said to this people [to churchgoers and all America], A dry wind of the high places [wrath from God] in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people [toward America], not to fan, nor to cleanse,  Even a full wind from those places shall come unto me: now also will I give sentence against them [God’s sentence against America].  Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots [warefare] shall be as a whirlwind: his horses [weapons] are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.  O Jerusalem [America], wash thine heart from wickedness [repent], that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts [evilness] lodge within thee?  For a voice declareth from Dan [the forefathers spoke], and publisheth affliction[they warned] from mount Ephraim[the Commandments].  Make ye mention to the nations [tell the nations]; behold, publish against Jerusalem [cry against America], that watchers [prosecutors] come from a far country, and give out their voice against the cities of Jerusalem [America].  As keepers of a field [as divine guardians], are they against her [America] round about; because she [America] hath been rebellious against me [God], saith the LORD.  Thy way and thy doings [America’s evil ways] have procured [brought] these things [evil] unto thee [against America]; this is thy wickedness[reward, punishment], because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart. 

Anguish over Judah’s Desolation {Prophet’s Remorse]

Jer 4:19-31  My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.  Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.  How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?  For my people is foolish, they have not known me [God; they are sottish (stupid) children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.  …  Jer 4:27  For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate (empty); yet will I not make a full end.  For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.  The whole city (nation) shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen (war); they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.  And when thou art spoiled [when punished], what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson [though still symbols of wealth], though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold though thou rentest thy face with painting [makeup], in vain shalt thou make thyself fair [attractive]; thy lovers [your friends] will despise thee, they will seek thy life.  For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion [prophet foresaw the end], that bewaileth herself [America], that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers [sorrow at the end].

There is an evil in the land and there are few that will stand up for right.  Yet God can only be appeased through righteous intercession for an evil land as we saw in Jonah’s intercession for Nineveh whereby they repented.  Even though God said that the intercession of Noah, Daniel, and Job could not deliver some wicked people that He determined to destroy; Jesus is a better intercessor than Noah, Daniel or Job. Father God has chosen to hear Jesus’ intercession for us.  The righteous church should represent Christ’s voice in the world, but many churches have compromised with the world for worldly profit and some are immature.  In our day, believers are required to do more than just pray; we must repent and make change.  This is where we have an opportunity through our faith, prayers and democratic process to appeal to our nation for change.  Jesus authorized the true church to judge sin in the land and bring about change but when the church is corrupt, and unless the people stand up; God himself will judge all sin. 

Paul taught in 1Co 11:31-32 how we could avoid the consequences announced in Jeremiah 4.  Paul said we have the ability and commission to judge ourselves and prevent God’s judgment.  We, as individuals, are to judge our own lives during Christian communion even as we pray for our church fellowship.  As the righteous church, we are to judge our own Christian body first for sin and then we are granted authority to judge the land as Christ’s representative.  Many Christian churches have become corrupt because they failed to judge members or leader’s sin. So how is it that the church has fallen so short that the world has judged the church and found it corrupt and inept to decide the issues of the world?  How can God be pleased with this state of affairs?  It is important for America to know that God’s grace first allows us to be judged by those close to us that love us before He next brings our enemy in to judge us with His wrath, still with a hope for signs of repentance.  If America does not allow the worldly justice of its lawmakers to determine and judge the sin of corruption at the highest levels of our society then God will permit outside authorities, who do not love us, to judge us.  The mercy of God is at the final stage before turning our nation over to our enemies without to punish the evil deeds inside our nation.  Remember that He said, in some circumstances, not even Noah, Daniel or Abraham could intercede for some evil.  So we must, while we still can, judge ourselves and allow our just representatives to judge the wrong before we are turned over to our enemies in God’s destruction because God will not allow America’s sin to further corrupt the world and defame His name.  Judgment of the world always begins with those that claim to know the Creator and His ways.  This former Christian nation must be judged for turning on God.

I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds [corrupt leaders].  Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased [enemies allowed to punish us].  How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses [even the youth are spoiled by their wealth and enjoy worshiping false gods].  They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife.  Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? Jer 5:5-9 

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Joh 3:17-18 

God has shown us the evil of our nation and we have to judge the evil.  When Israel had evil in the camp everyone had to choose a stone and come out into the courtyard before the criminal and throw a stone at the evildoer until dead to put evil out of the camp.  Sounds cruel but evil could not be tolerated or allowed to contaminate and destroy the whole camp.  Righteousness had to rise up against evil and defeat it.  In the New Testament we are still required to put evil to death.  However, for those that accept Christ, God has put Jesus to death in our place. All our sin was rolled onto Christ, judged by authority, sentenced to death and punished on the cross until it was destroyed.  New life could only begin for us after the crucifixion.

America has sinned and corruption and evil runs throughout its body.  Sins of greed, lust, extortion, murder, treachery, pedophilia, pornography, abortion, adultery, lying, apostasy, false religions, political corruption, abuse, sexual dysfunction, rape, unjust laws, discrimination, prejudice, false leaders, witchcraft, false gods, and hatred are found in our nation and must be put to death.  Some have in error called our President a type of biblical Cyrus but rather he, as head of the nation, is symbolic of all that is evil in the body of our nation and his presidency represents the wicked heart of our nation.  Isaiah (1:5) announced “the whole head is sick…” All unlawfulness found and proven guilty in him should be judged and sentenced because it represents the guilt of our nation and our ability to still call sin as sin. Only after our judgment for sin and death can we be born again. Sounds cruel but evil cannot rein over the righteous.  It’s not political; it is law. Grace comes after the law is fulfilled.

No one wants to be the one who throws the first stone.  No one wants to be the one with the hammer or the nail nor the hand that holds it.  Few want to be the lawmaker, lawyer or judge but we all have to play the role God has given us.  Righteousness must always stand against sin, but it was God who sentenced Christ to the cross for sin so we could live.  We all died in Christ. Christ was guilty with our sin even though He was not a sinner.  He bore the guilt and it had to be punished for us to live.  Evil had to be judged.  God’s judgment told through Prophet Ezekiel was to spare only those that angels identified as crying out against the evil corruption of the land.  Every Christian has to acknowledge their sinfulness and that it was nailed to Christ’s cross. We must confess sin because it is our path to righteousness. Only God had the resurrection power to raise up Christ again and only God has the power to raise up America again.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Rom 5:8 



Why America is in Confusion?

March 2019

The nation of America had a good start and great opportunities to be the first nation to have a truly free people.  The blueprint was fair and just for all people but Americans strayed from the blueprint. The blueprint established freedom, justice and equality for all citizens.  The blueprint was based on the bible that America no longer wants to follow.  The blueprint put forth the standards of Jesus Christ, who illustrated and set up a plan for us to share love with every person regardless of gender, race, culture or past mistakes.  God, as Creator, upholds His own standard of love and truth and He cares for every individual made in His image.

The Europeans who came to America were from a people who fought religious wars, resisted aristocracy and religious authoritarianism and evolved into a people of liberty.  These immigrants escaped European rule and won freedom to practice a new liberty where they followed the bible and their own conscious without the heavy hand of government or church.  With this new freedom, they chose to put themselves under the rule of God and be guided by the values learned from scripture to provide equal opportunity and justice for all citizens.

After Christian evangelism hit Europe and persuaded its citizen of the cruelty of slavery and abolished it (1833); the colonists to America, nevertheless, used scriptures to justify enslavement and used the bible and African slaves to build the new society brick by brick.  European Christian evangelists came to evangelize America against slavery but it took the Civil War (1865) to finally deliver Africans from American slavery.  After abolition of slavery in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, American legislators and hate mongers found new ways to enslave blacks through laws, taxes, social practices, clan activity, miseducation, and religious deception.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 granted blacks’ freedom from discriminatory legal practices but the same racist practices still continue to the day enhanced by voter suppression and gerrymandering to diminish black empowerment. Various ethnic American citizens have suffered injustice by white Americans and have had their complaints settled by court suits or financial reparations while white America refuses to atone for their most egregious sin: cruelty and stolen labor from African slaves who built this nation.

White Americans, descendants of those delivered from European religious and governmental bondage, refuse to recognize their hypocritical reverse treatment toward black people captured and enslaved for profit.  The nation that promised to give every citizen the right to pursue liberty and justice under an oath to God has lied to God and non-white citizens. Their Sunday ceremonial worship and praise cannot alleviate this error.  The long journeys of European explorers and exploiters who travelled distant lands and did mental search of divinity have settled on the opinion of past researchers:  that they are the supreme beings of the universe.   White American citizens, legislators, judges and ministers still justify their discriminatory practices toward black American citizens and make no apology or effort to fulfill their covenant promise to the God that allowed them possession of this land.  In the mist of religious, political, social and economic turmoil; American whites cannot figure out what is wrong.  One news panelist trying to uphold old standards recently said in disappointment, “No one is coming to help us.”  How sad!  Someone already came and they crucified Him! 

The nation of American was set up on Christian values and prayers but now refuses to conform to the requirements of the God of the bible or His revealed Son, Jesus Christ.  Their Christian journey seems to have hit a snag and reverted back to the ways of their European forefathers, before they repented of slavery.  This original sin has tainted the religious faith of white Christians. Many of these “Christians” have made a mockery of the word “Christian” in their practice of Christianity because Christianity is based on love of neighbor as one loves himself; and a practice of racial supremacy by white America reveals proof of hatred against neighbors who do not look like them.  How can they represent Christ, who is love, and finish their Christian journey while hating those He died for?  Has Christ given them an exception from the love clause?  Their faith is found to be fraudulent and their covenant void. Their “god” who lords over hatred is trying to force the nation to serve him and those he has appointed as his leader, cabinet, and false ministers to carry out his plan of false leadership and religion, imitating Christ and His church.  Christ taught much about the last day’s deception using a false church of which true believers should beware. 

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Mat 24:24 

False Christs want us to believe that everything is okay with the church and we are all in line with the Lord but racial hatred and superiority rants expose this lie.   Christ came and exposed a hypocritical church and false leaders.  He pulled the cover off hypocrisy and exposed their evil in order to protect true believers.

Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.  Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. Joh 8:42-44

America, who fought a civil war over racial prejudice, is now fighting a spiritual war based on the lie of racial superiority and is willing to bow to the father of lies to prevail in power. White America needs to remember that it was a non-church attending 16th U.S. President during the Civil War who settled the debate but, nevertheless, surmised that maybe both sides claiming to be doing the will of God were in error. They must have been because the debate continues.  Is God satisfied with the continuing debate?  Americans must individually choose to stand for truth and reject the liar and his lies.  Changing gods or denouncing the True God and His ways mean warfare and we are experiencing the turmoil of this change.  Even the devil wants a peaceful entrance into power and he uses deception and subtlety until he is ready to reveal himself in authority. God prevents this evil unveiling while His people remain in the earth.  The reason the public is confused about determining the right from wrong path is the interference of evil oversight.  The evil one is a chameleon, changing to suit the occasion.  God withdraws His hand when His guidance is refused and evil’s influence is strengthened. Compromise of truth eases us more and more into the way of error.  Jesus has declared though that “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18) so the real church will hold the line by the power of the Holy Ghost until Jesus says it is enough. The masquerading of evil as light must not deceive the church.  Every individual has free will to choose what god to serve, but the True God will judge every decision at His throne.  The best thing the nation can do is to choose wisely by rejecting the god of confusion while upholding truth by serving the True God of Creation, Jehovah God.

For more discussion on this subject, read my book:  Christianity and Ethnicity:  Is Christ Concerned About Race? ISBN: 9781387188253; (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christianity-and-ethnicity-joyce-reba-payne/1127151207

Posted to website: joycerebapayneministries.com – March 25, 2019

ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM: FOR TRUE UNITY

February 2019

God Reveals Himself

The plan of God to restore mankind back to righteousness is presented through preaching the good news of the gospel.   Jesus Christ both brought this message and was the embodiment of the good news from the Father.  His instruction to his disciples was to disseminate the gospel message throughout the world to bring all people back into unity in God.  Jesus is still teaching His disciples to follow and preach the gospel today; however, some preachers distort His message for their own purposes.  The bible boldly declares there is “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph 4:5-6).  Everything outside of that truth is a lie spun by the devil, the father of lies.

In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, Moses revealed to the church in the wilderness their God:  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deu. 6:4-5).  God revealed Himself to Abraham and foretold that Abraham would guide his descendants in the fear of God (Gen. 18:19).  God loved and established David as king over His people because David reverenced God with love and worship with all his might (2 Sam. 6:14).  Zechariah prophesied: “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one” (Zec. 14:9).  Old Testament prophets knew of this one-God truth and Jesus’ ministry confirmed it: “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mar 12:29-30).  Apostle Paul declared the truth of God to the Jews and Gentiles: “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1Co 8:6).  Paul taught a message of church unity upon seeing the division in the Corinthian church:

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? 1Co 1:10-13 

Throughout the bible, God declared and revealed Himself through prophets, teachers and nature to those who would hear. Jesus entrusted His message to disciples that would declare it to the world.  His trusted inner circle of followers and disciples received the message and started the first Christian church with this central truth. Even though the same message is written in the scriptures for all to read, it has somehow been distorted and a new message has been written that people are trying to follow.  Not only is God rising up ministers to declare His true message, but some ministers are rising up their own ministers to teach their distorted message.

Union through the Message

Our Christian faith is based on the truth of one God and we are baptized into the body of Christ.  That truth, that faith and that baptism leads us all into the one body of Christ that makes us the family of God.  Everything outside of it is of the world and rooted in the devil’s lie, but Christ is still the door which all people are brought into the unity as the body of believers.

The church, as it is known in America and some other nations, have done an extraordinary job of confusing the people.  Many who would serve God are being delivered a distorted message about the Christian faith.  Leaders, who could not be trusted like Abraham or David, have discipled a group of believers with a false gospel that have brought confusion to the church.  The bible teaches that the devil is the author of confusion and not God (I Cor. 14:33).  The voice of some teachers have invalidated the voice of bible scripture and therein lies the problem.

My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace. Jer 50:6 

Paul taught:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Rom 10:13-15)

God has sent His preachers with the true message; and Satan, as an imitator of God, has sent his false messengers to contaminate the true message of God.  The mistake of some seekers of God is their failure to compare the written word of God to the message of their preachers to see if it is truth.

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.  Act 17:10-11

God has warned the believer of false teachers and commanded them to study the word for themselves.  There is amazing access to the scripture everywhere in America through libraries, bookstores, braille texts, radio, tracts, CD’s, computers, television and through church and outreach ministries.   Anyone crying out to God can expect a response from God so there is no excuse for ignorance of God in America.  With all the truth that God has given us through prophets, Jesus, preachers, the bible, and the Holy Spirit; the church and the gospel message have still been led astray by false teachings.  It is disheartening to watch some of the things taught by preachers, from snake handling to the “name and claim it” message.  We never saw Abraham, David, Peter or Paul teach some of the things that are being emphasized in churches today.  Paul was not trying to test God’s power when he was bitten by a snake.  He was going about the business of his ministry when a viper tried to abort the mission.   Neither did Abraham, David, Peter or Paul serve God to heap on themselves material things like the televangelists do today.  The early disciples were empowered with God’s ability because of their obedient service to God and their obedience brought the blessings of God into their lives without defrauding the people.  Though Abraham was abundantly blessed, we never saw him pursuing the things.  He refused the spoils of war offered him by Melchizedek, the priest of God. Elijah’s servant Gehazi was cursed with leprosy because of greed in seeking reward for ministry work. The most profound teacher of scripture, Apostle Paul taught more about aligning our lives with the will of God than on exercising faith for things. Jesus actually taught that we should seek God and take no thought about the things of life:

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Mat 6:25, 32, 33

Paul emphasized the Deuteronomy Chapter 28 teaching about obedience reaping good things and disobedience reaping evil.  He also taught about a people “Who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator…” (Rom. 1:25).  Man’s religion consists of his idea of serving God but it does not mean it is God’s way.  James taught in the New Testament that “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world (Jas. 1:27).  James emphasized love and service to God while loving his neighbor as evidence of pure religion.  The racial hatred, division and community corruption we see in our world today is evidence of a false religion, false worship and false god.  Pure religion will result in love of God and man, where peace and harmony exists in the community and the needs of people are met.

Many of our churches are teaching a “Me” gospel where one seeks to satisfy self with all he desires while preachers illustrate a model of greed that is never satisfied regardless of the multiple houses, cars or planes acquired.  A church focused on things causes disunity because greed repeals while giving draws and promotes love and unity.  Churches are failing to deal with the moral issues of our community while busy reaping material things for self-glory.  The self-sacrificing service and Christian surrender of Acts Chapter Two is visibly missing.

Christ taught the church to be at the forefront and gave warnings of danger and strategies of the enemy.  Here is an Old Testament example of a warning pertinent in today’s society: “Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter” (Ecc. 10:20).  That wisdom given to the children of God gave forewarning of days like these where one’s words are carried by electronic devices from the bedchamber to the public arena to be used by an enemy.  Imagine if some of our exposed leaders had heeded that biblical warning!  When the church is caught up in pursuing money, it puts itself in a place of temptation where the enemy lies in wait.  This temptation by Satan for money was one of the first lessons Jesus revealed to us in scripture.  When the church craves money just like the world then the world loses its moral teacher.  With little or no moral guidance, money temptations have led some of our leaders astray from within and without the borders.

The Church’s Responsibility to Unite

At the core of the problems facing America as a nation is a church failing to do its job.  It was given one job and that was to imitate Christ and make disciples.  If you think, “Impossible!” then consider these questions.  To whom did Jesus:

  • Make heir of His power and authority on earth? (Luk 9:1)
  • Give power to declare the message of salvation and loosen captives? (Mar 16:15-16, 18)
  • Assign power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy? (Luk 10:19)
  • Declare that nothing would be impossible to them that believe? (Mat 17:20)

Jesus did not come to Jerusalem to blame the sick people for being sick. He came amazed at finding no doctors to heal them.  If the doctor has no knowledge to operate, he has no business being called a surgeon or going into the operating room.  When Jesus came to Jerusalem there were plenty of surgeons with no power to heal and he called them out for their inability.  God described the religious leaders as: “…dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber” (Isa 56:10).  Jesus called Jerusalem’s religious leaders: hypocrites, vipers and serpents.  Marveling over the lack of watchmen or ministers to help the people, Jesus began to heal, deliver and set free those in bondage.

Among my early writings online was an article inquiring of pastors: “How Much Are You Like the Lord?”  That is the assignment of Christ’s ministers: to be like Him.  People looking for Christ should find His ministers doing the healing and delivering that Christ demonstrated.  The healed will then return home witnessing that God still heals and glorifying Jesus, that he is still alive!  Where is that witness to bring glory to God and why are people asking if God is dead?  Jesus called out the Charlatans that deceived the people for filthy lucre who left them broken, hurt and disappointed.  He came to heal the people but he rebuked the leaders who did not know Him or His Father.  God had already prophesied this through Jeremiah: “Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD” (Jer 23:2).  God is requiring a change from the head down because leaders should lead the people in the right way.  That is why God is exposing American false leaders at all levels that have defrauded His people and led them astray.  He is challenging us to look higher than men to Christ.  True leaders are those that know God; they have His power, authority and knowledge to represent Him to the people.  King David was a blessing to the people of his kingdom because of his love for God.  Believers should be able to recognize the difference between true and false leaders: a King Saul compared to King David.  Jesus taught us about a separating of the sheep from the goats. Neither God nor Jesus ever commanded that people had to believe and follow all leaders.  They taught the difference so believers would not be deceived.  Peter taught: “We ought better to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  Jesus taught:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. Joh 10:27-28 

And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.  And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. Joh 10:4-5

True Christian ministry starts with one who has known the Father and His Son through an encounter or intimacy like that experienced by Abraham, Moses, David or Paul and one who goes on to disciple family and the world for the love of God.  “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Rom 10:15).

Christians have one Lord who is Christ; one faith which is the finished work of Christ on the cross and they are united in the one body of Christ.  Christ’s kingdom and church in the earth prevents the rule of the evil one in the earth.   Satan cannot possibly head a true Christian body and certainly cannot come near without sounding bells and whistles; Christ will always rise up His trumpets and trumpeters.  Satan can, however, rise to the head of a false church without any alarms going off because it is his.  Organizations or groups where evil rises to rule as head are void of Christ, even if they once recognized Christ.  True believers will not follow a false lord but will flee from him as Christ taught.  Those religious people who pursue money are actually pursuing a false god, not Christ.    Christ commanded His disciples to follow Him, not things. Jesus Christ is Lord over the Christian church, but Satan lords over many false religions.  The devil has led people astray in church, organizations and government where he lords and is preparing to one day manifest himself as their leader.  Where some people may believe they are too entrenched in certain unions to deny the devil that has them bound, freedom starts by denouncing Satan and professing Jesus Christ as Lord.  Jesus taught the sinner that he must be born again (Joh. 3:7) and He came into the world to save those that were hopelessly lost and enslaved to the devil.  They can be “born again” into the family of God when they receive Christ as Lord. Through faith they become baptized into a new family:  the body of Christ.

The true gospel has the power to put us on the path to becoming one with the body of Christ.  It is the responsibility of Christ‘s ministers to help believers come into full maturity ready to carry out their own Christian witness.  What we have seen too often is Christ giving liberty and then some “churches” bringing people back into bondage to their church rules and guilt. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.  Church rules do not have the ability to unite the body across lines of physical division, but Christ’s power can.   Strong church leaders can lead people into a unity with Christ or to a false god through ignorance and people must know who is lord over their religious fellowship.  Christ has come to set all men free and give us the Holy Spirit who brings union with the body of Christ as one people and one family.  It starts with confession of sin and receiving Christ’s salvation.  Liberty and maturity in Christ leads us into a united body of believers across gender, race, cultural and physical lines.  This is the unity America was destined to display for the nations.  Christ’s prayer to the Father before His crucifixion was that believers would become one as He and the Father are one.  We become one through recognizing and walking in: One Lord, one faith, one baptism that unites believers in the one body of Christ.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (Joh 13:35)

 

 

When the Curtain is Drawn Back

January 2019

When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever:    But thou, LORD, art most high for evermore.  For, lo, thine enemies, O LORD, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. . . . Ps. 92:7-9

We are taught stories at a young age that reveal the mysteries of life to guide us from youth, if we retain them.  Such a lesson is the story of the big bad wolf that came to blow down the houses of the three little pigs.  He blew down the house of straw and the one made of sticks because they were weak in structure.  When the wolf came to blow down the house of bricks, it was too strong and withstood his attack. This lesson teaches us to build strong houses or lives that can withstand the storms of life.  Important lessons can be learned from simple childhood stories.

Several more complicated lessons can be learned from the lengthy story of the Wizard of Oz.  Who could forget the end of the story?  The long, tedious journey of Dorothy and her friends brought them before a menacing wizard that made them shake in their boots.  When Dorothy’s dog pulled back the curtain, a shocking sight was revealed to them.  The menacing voice behind the curtain was really a small, weak old man using a magnified voice to create fear in those who heard him. He was revealed as a fraud and imitator. Things can seem menacing or impenetrable but that may just be the curtain.  The wolf is not always so smart and the evil curtain is not always as invincible as it appears.

The scripture written above reveals a truth about the end of a menacing enemy.  First appearances may seem foreboding and impenetrable but it does not mean it will withstand the force of time or pressure.  Scriptures in Psalms and Proverbs give us the wisdom of age-old problems.  They reveal our most earnest needs in life and our fear at the challenges of an enemy.  God reveals in Psalms and Proverbs that He both supplies what we need and conquers our fear.  The lessons of our youth, which brought us hope, often need to be repeated to our more mature self because of the many times we have failed the test and the challenges to our faith.

The innocence of the Garden of Eden gave way to the evil that was waiting behind the curtain when disobedience was accomplished.  We have had to deal with that evil throughout life as it has risen and fallen.  When it rises to an overwhelming force where it looks like it will destroy us, there is an invisible force behind another curtain that causes it to subside because the Overseer behind this curtain is neither timid nor powerless to help us.  Childhood stories gave us hope that evil could be overcome but the terrorizing fear in adulthood may not always withstand the fear with youthful hope.  Amazingly, God has told believers that they must come to Him as little children (Mt. 18:3); yet adults often choose to internalize their fear that unconquered will cause tumors, heart disease, cancer, strokes as well as many phobias and other diseases resulting from fear.

Ancient Israel had an experience with a curtain that had hidden behind it the means of their deliverance and instruction.  As long as they obeyed, God kept them safe.  In the midst of their camp in the wilderness, they built a place of worship called the tabernacle that was surrounded by curtains.  They stepped within the borders of the curtains to interact with their God.  They brought an offering behind the curtains from their bounty in penitence for sin  and found God’s mercy extended toward them.  Once a year, God extended an opportunity to meet with Him for a fresh start.  The high priest would go behind the curtain into the holy of holies to meet with God on behalf of the people.  If he was a clean representative of the people, he would meet with God and receive favor and the removal of the sin from Israel.  If he had not properly prepared himself to meet with God and was unclean, he would die behind the curtain and the rope attached to his leg would be used by the people to pull him out from behind the curtain where the glory and presence of God abode.  The nature of God was always that He was good but the people and the priests received the consequences of their actions.  This practice left a lot to be desired and God had in mind a better way that was to come down through the ages of time in Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice and perfect priest.

When Jesus came into the earth, Divinity was wrapped in a curtain of human flesh.  God was extending mercy to all mankind.  Jesus walked the earth for 33 years, repudiating sin and rebuking evil.  His mission was to overcome evil with good.  Evil seemed to have won when the evil one provoked man to pierce the flesh of the Holy One on a cruel cross until Jesus died.  What seemed to have been the end was only a new beginning though. When darkness pierced the curtain (the flesh of Jesus’ body), it rend the veil between man and God that released the Holy Spirit.  The darkness of sin met with the mercy of God revealed in the Holy Spirit that dwelt behind the curtain in the tabernacle. The barrier between God and man was removed so man could approach his God for himself without the intermediary of a high priest. Sin and the devil had lost and man and the Holy Spirit had won by the power of God.

Jesus paid the price for the removal of sin and evil. The Holy Spirit abides with us today in an intimacy that neither the tabernacle nor the flesh of Jesus could.  The tabernacle was limited to a particular place and time as was Jesus when He walked the earth.  But today the Holy Spirit can be everywhere at the same time and available to whomever needs Him.  The Holy Spirit is also a curtain now that hides the saints of God from the evil that is without. We know that the devil is an imitator of God, so he hides his workers behind a curtain too.  The source of evil is often veiled and it can be difficult to discern where it is coming from or what hand has dealt the fatal blow.  It can often hit us from various directions until it seems overwhelming.  No amount of darkness though is hidden from the All-Seeing Eyes of God who watches over the earth and His children.

When those that possesses the Holy Spirit of God commune behind the veil with the Father about the evil in the earth, God rolls back the curtain of darkness to expose the evil with His light.  We no longer have to wait on the high priest of the tabernacle or the once-a-year intervention.  God’s power is immediately available to all His children.  Satan, who manipulates people and operates in darkness, is revealed when the curtain of darkness is pulled back by the light of Christ Jesus.  Behind that curtain is a weak and defeated enemy who has already succumbed to the power of Christ’s resurrection.  The truth that Satan is already defeated is a truth he wanted kept a secret but it is one destroys the fear of his lies.

The three little pigs need not fear the big bad wolf anymore because they dwell in a house strong enough to withstand the wolf’s attack.  One version of the story has the wolf trying to sneak in the house by the chimney and ending up in a pot of scalding water on the fireplace that provides a wealth for the three little pigs when they sell his hide.  The menacing wizard behind the curtain was powerless as is the devil against the child of God. Jesus came veiled in a body of flesh and blood to destroy the devil that had the power of death and Jesus delivered believers from a lifetime in the fear of death.

The wolf has brought a breath of fear against the nation of America and the wisdom of God has allowed some houses of straw or sticks to fall.  There were houses built on false teachings; lust of money, sex and self-fulfillment that fell when exposed to the light.  America’s nature of infidelity was revealed when God pulled back the curtain of false religion and exposed false doctrine, fraud, idolatry and sexual immorality in the pulpit and priesthood.  He pulled back the curtain of government and exposed racism, discrimination, fraud, organized crime, hatred, sexual immorality, lies, national disloyalty, ignorance and pride.  He pulled back the curtain of business and exposed fraud, theft, sexual immorality, greed and treachery.  God has allowed America to see that it has poor leadership in homes, schools, government, businesses and its churches  Their weaknesses came because of failing to acknowledge and uphold the power of God in their leadership.  God did not expose these weaknesses for America’s defeat but rather for America’s repentance.  Even though these weaknesses could cause the nation to fall, it is God who determines whether it stands or falls.  His decision depends on the nation’s decision on repentance and turn from sin.  A drowning man must make the decision between fighting for life and giving up to die.  The fight for America depends on giving up the fight against God and dying to sin so there can be a rebirth.  The unethical nature of America is no better than the nations to whom it once stood as a shining light on a hill or beacon.

Righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people. Prov. 11:34

God reveals man’s sin in the open when he fails to heed the various warnings sent to him to repent. At every church communion, God asks that believers examine themselves and determine if they are suitable to commune with God behind the veil.  God both allows and helps His children to discover their own sin so as to repent and be delivered from that which can cause death.  It is the love of God that reveals our sin to us.  Every Israelite that came to the tabernacle with an offering for sin was acknowledging to the priest that he was a sinner deserving death but was requesting mercy instead. The priest accepting the offering was supposed to be sanctified for the purpose of receiving the offering for sin and standing as an intermediary between God and man even though no human has ever been worthy for this task.  Judgment was temporarily prevented by this system of repentance and forgiveness of sin.  The resurrection of Christ from the dead for our sin has replaced the Israelite system with the new system of Christ’s own blood offered once for the sin of every believer.

Today Christ requires man to confess sin in intimacy with Him through prayer and in some cases to another believer to receive forgiveness.  Christ will reveal our sin to us in the privacy of our prayer in communion with Him when our heart is tender enough to hear.  Those that resist this option will have the opportunity to be told their sin by another person or circumstance.  Strong resistance against confession of sin brings more sternness from God to make one aware of sin and allow opportunity for repentance.  This is the mercy of God.  Prophets may be sent to a people refusing to heed God’s warnings.  They stand as an intermediary between man and the judgment in the Old and New Testaments.  God has always shown mercy toward mankind to get them to return to Him before destruction.  Noah preached for 120 years before the destruction by flood that wiped out the whole earth.  God loves the creation He has made and He said it all was good after making it.  Romans Chapter One tells us that even the wicked on which wrath will fall have had God revealed to them through nature itself testifying of God and that they are without excuse.  God is willing to reveal Himself to all that seek Him in sincerity and forgive all sin through Jesus Christ’s blood shed on the cross.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Pe 3:9 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. Jo. 3:16-17

God has allowed the curtain to be pulled back to reveal the sin of our nation, leaders and people so that we can receive the forgiveness made available to us through the ripping of the tabernacle veil to reveal Jesus Christ as Savior of the world, where we can find mercy in our time of need.  If the veil of our heart has been rend to reveal our personal need, then God has allowed us opportunity to humble ourselves in His presence to receive His mercy and grace.