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Episode 2. My Revelation Visitation; Out of the Fire!!! (The Prequel)

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Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Diop

It was the last day that I was to spend in the guest bedroom of my friend’s house. In that springtime of 1988, I was about to have an antecedent, awesome visitation. It was an all-out, no-holds-barred, physical confrontation with Satan the devil himself. Mono a mono – me against him. We met in the middle of a ring, just like the wrestlers at a WWF event. We squared off against one another. For a moment, circling each other in the middle of the ring, just like the professional wrestlers do. Then, we clasped arms – face to face, shoulder to shoulder, ready for the smack-down, throw-down, main event. And, as if by some fateful script, we each said on queue and simultaneously to one another, “Woe to you!” It was on!! My faith against the devil’s power unleashed. Who would win the day???

Before I proceed with the visitation, let me digress for a moment. I have to share a childhood prayer with you. I was about eight years old at the time. My father had established a practice of reading to me from a family Bible that contained lots of pictures. These depicted some the Bible’s greatest stories with the most epic showdowns of men of faith, like David facing Goliath, and Daniel in the lions’ den, and Moses with the children of Israel at the Red Sea. There were lots and lots of pictures, even Jesus with his disciples during a couple of his most notable healings and miracles. These stories and pictures totally captured my imagination. As a result, at that early age, these men of God had become my personal heroes. So, what was I to do but pray a prayer to request admission to Jesus’ faith academy. I desperately wanted to be like all those men I had heard about. So, in my innocence, I submitted a prayer to be accepted as a disciple, so that I could become just like them. That childhood prayer went something like the following.

Mr. Jesus, what a joy and an honor it would be, if you would accept me into your school of disciples. They always proved to be the greatest, the wisest, and the most courageous and awesome people in the whole-wide world. I’d be willing to do anything to get into that number, including being subjected to the rigorous tests of your servant, Job. Please, sir, would you accept me into your next class? I can’t imagine the kind of man I would turn out to be, if you accepted me. Amen.

(At this point in my life, no one had thought to warn me, “Be careful what you ask God for, because you just might get it.” (Fast forward to 1988 and my wrestling match with the devil. So now, here I was; just about to be thrust into the trial of my life, FOR my life.)

So, after having said our criss-crossing “Woe to you!” the devil then by his power rolled me up in his hands like a big ball, about the size of a basketball. And, as if on a cartoon, the only physical features you could still make out were my eyes. I then let out a loud “Help!” Then, the sweet Christian lady who was my hostess, in the visitation, glided into the room with the grace of an angel. But, the only thing she could do was look on. Now, the Lord himself was present in this visitation, looking on from the side of the ring, the only present spectator. Watching the whole time, He had been completely silent – an almost unnoticeable presence. When I saw that my hostess could not help me, then I became resigned to my fate. So, to God I uttered these words, “Well Lord, I’m glad this is happening to me, rather than to my sister here, because if it was happening to her, I don’t think that I could take it.”

Apparently, those were magic words. Because, as soon as I had uttered them, the Lord rebuked the devil. Satan immediately released me, and fled the scene. Then, my body started unfurling like an accordion back to normal configuration. Starting from the head downward, I rolled gradually back to my normal, healthy human form, until I was completely restored. Then, the visitation ended, and I began trying to process what had just happened. After meditating on this for a while, I thought that had been a divine recap of my first couple months in Dallas, Texas, since I had encountered quite a bit of tribulation trying to get transplanted. I had even spent some time being homeless, resorting to the Salvation Army lodge for shelter. I had been ostracized by some of the citizens who could not identify with the level of faith I was sojourning with. Even some so-called Christian brothers had given me a hard time. And this particular day, I was scheduled to move into an apartment of my own – my first private residence in Dallas. Surely, my big troubles were all behind me. Wistful thinking! Little did I know that in a few short years, I was going to have that fateful showdown with the devil play out in real life, on the plain of actual flesh-and-blood events, with the whole world looking on. And, that meeting would comprise my Job-like trial. Then, I would draw the dreaded card which reads, “Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass “Go.” Do not collect $200.00.”

To Be Continued

Are you ready to meet God? Or, how about this question instead. Are you ready to have a personal showdown with Satan? That day is coming soon, my friend. It’s coming to everyone. As the scripture says, “10The hour of trial [is coming], which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11“Behold, I am coming quickly!” (Rev 3:10,11 NKJV). There’s not any time to spare to get prepared. If you know you’re in that “whole world” crowd, who have that divine woeful appointment, then don’t delay to pray the following prayer.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

3-4-3-2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Episode 1. My Revelation Visitation; or, Out of the Fire!!!

Copyright © 2015 by Joseph Diop

 
Absolutely mind-rending!!! I would have to spend a little time in the mental hospital after this. The Lord said, “It’s going to take you about five (5) months to get back to normal.” That’s what God said to me following a divine visitation that I experienced in December of 1991. And, after you read this brief account of that visitation, you’ll understand why. Before now, I have never shared this experience with anyone other than my immediate family members. But, the Lord said to me, “Now is the time!!!”

I awakened to consciousness and self-awareness in a very dark place, like waking out of sleep in the middle of the night, in a room with no windows. I was alone. I was aware of being surrounded by heat. The heat was pervasive, but it did not make me feel uncomfortable. Then, in front of me, at a distance, light began slowly to emerge. It first appeared as a brilliant, narrow, horizontal strip, spanning my field of vision. It began to expand, downwards and upwards. As the lighted area increased, I could see the heat in it. It was being manifest as dancing waves, like sunshine rising from hot pavement, making the light appear to be fluid. The light also had a kind of thickness to it, which reminded me of the concept of plasma that I learned about in college physics — pure electromagnetic energy, like white lightning.

Then, I looked. And suddenly, I saw across the threshold of the darkness into the light, a person. It was the Lord Jesus Christ. He was standing upon a luminous orb of this plasma. His feet were resting firmly on it. The radius of the orb was about one-third of His height. And, He appeared to be the size of a normal man.

We fixed eyes on each other.  Turning His head, He directed my attention over and away to see the wonder of what He had just created. It was the pristine planet earth — oceans blue and beautiful — spinning in place, and suspended in a sea of the darkness of space. As I beheld, I realized that somehow I was in orbit far above the planet, watching it rotating beneath me. It was spinning in my direction, in a counter-clockwise fashion. I saw all the oceans and land masses. I recognized all the continents in their places. It was so beautiful.

I just watched the breathtaking sight for a minute or two, before realizing that I had started feeling intense heat. Only then, did I discover that I was in orbit without any vehicle to carry and cover me. I was enclosed in nothing but my body of flesh, gliding on the wings of the Holy Spirit. I was now feeling the friction of the earth’s atmosphere. And boy, was the heat ever getting to me !  So, I cried out to the Lord, “The heat!  I can’t stand it! I can’t stand it any more!!”

Suddenly, I was transported from flight, and found myself back in my room, lying on my back on my bed. At that instant, I realized that I had been in a visitation with the Lord God of creation, and had seen a vision of the Most High. It was a waking visitation, not a mere dream. And, for a reason unexplained, I lifted up my voice to the Lord then and said, “But, I still want to see Jesus !”  Instantly, I was beamed back into my orbit above the earth, and saw it spinning again towards me. This second time, there was an additional feature to my vision. One by one, I saw the famous, historical, covenant sons of God.

First, I saw Adam emerge from the left, from the darkness of space, descending to the earth, and landing in his time and place in history. Next, I saw Noah. He descended to his time and place in history. Then, I saw Abraham. After him, I saw Moses, then David, then John the Baptist, then Jesus. After Jesus, I also saw the apostle Peter. Each man in turn had emerged from the darkness of space, and landed in his own time and place in history. I was a bit puzzled, though. I had expressly asked to see Jesus, but I was also shown, apparently without any differentiation, the seven other Biblical personalities, as well.

Again, I started feeling the heat. It got so hot, that I complained once again, “It’s too hot! I can’t stand it !!” Once again, I found myself instantly back in my flesh-and-blood body in my bedroom. I felt seriously dazed and disoriented by the experience. Though I was back now in my body, I was experientially in some kind of twilight zone — as it were, floating between two worlds. In this place, somehow, somewhere along the way, I felt that I had been abandoned by God — forsaken. I felt absolutely friendless. Looking out through the sliding-glass door across the room, all I could see was nameless faces of people sneering at me. They peered in at me with disdain. I was being utterly ostracized, humiliated, and rejected. They held me in contempt. I felt like dung. My Bible was lying next to me on the bed. I took it in hand, and tossed it toward the foot of the bed, hoping that it landed on the floor. Then, I said, “That Bible got me in this mess!”

As I lay there, I could feel the after-effects of the great heat. I felt the very fluids inside my head boiling. I could see and smell the gases from that boiling coming out of my nostrils. I could tell that my state of mind and emotions also had been negatively affected, inasmuch as my normal self-expression was exaggerated. I felt slightly off — call it “manic.” I wondered how long this would last. Then, the Lord spoke to me and said, “It’s going to take about five months for you to get back to normal.”

After subsequent consideration, I realized that the dark place in which I originally awakened was the mouth of God Almighty. I had been allowed to be a witness to the beginning — the very Genesis 1:1 beginning — when God first opened His mouth and spoke the world into existence. The luminous, heat-filled plasma that I had seen was the Word of God. The orb underneath Jesus’ feet also was the Word, out of which He created the universe, including planet earth. The intense heat was God’s very person. The scriptures tell us, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Deut 4:24; Heb 12:29). Thus, my visitation with Him involved the experience of that sweltering, hot environment. The heat that I experienced in the atmosphere above the earth bespeaks the trial, tribulation, and persecution that we must experience in the world as we grow in the Lord and sojourn through this life. The word tells us, “Through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). And, “All who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2Tim 3:12). The anointed men of God I had seen were the pillars and axes upon which the very dispensations of history and divine purpose had been established.

There is much more to be expounded from this visitation, which will perhaps be unfolded later. Sufficient for now, is what is contained in this first rendition of that account.

Are you ready for the Lord’s coming?  The Bible says, “For our God is a consuming fire”  (Heb 12:29; Deut 4:24, 9:3). Every single soul must pass through the fire. Will you be refined and saved, or will you be burned and lost???  (Heb 12:18-29). Now is the time for you to make sure. It only takes a humble heart’s prayer to make that eternal difference, my friend. So, if you want to be ready, then take a moment to pray the following, simple suggested prayer.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

5-4-21-2016

The Man in the Mirror; or, Spiritual Anthropology for Dummies

By Joseph Diop

Copyright © 2015 by Joseph Diop

Sometimes, the Bible can seem a very challenging and complex book. And, it is a ready admission of that fact, when one apostle, Peter, describes the works of another apostle, Paul, by saying, “…in [his writings] are some things hard to be understood” (2Pet 3:16). But, one concept is so fundamentally important, that I am going to attempt to break it down to such simple and familiar terms, that even a child can understand it. That concept is something that each and every one of us deals with on a daily basis. And that is, our own human nature.

For if any one is a hearer of the word… he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror.   James 1:23 ASV

The word of God is like a looking glass. It will allow us to see two things very clearly. It will give us a view of the glory of God, and it will also show us ourselves. In this way, it is like a crystal clear lens for seeing straight through to the Lord. And, it is also like a mirror which shows us exactly what we are like. In other words, it allows us to discover our own human nature.

The God we find in the word is ever increasing in glory. The discoveries we make about ourselves are also ever increasing in clarity. The God that we see through the word can only be described as ‘Awesome’ — glorious in holiness. But, what we are focusing on here today is the reflection of mankind that shows us ourselves.

What we uncover there about ourselves will not be flattering. As we see God’s unspeakable and wondrous perfections, we also see our human wretchedness. We begin to see ourselves in all of the faults, failures, foibles, foolishness, and faithlessness of the disciples of Jesus. We find ourselves being reproved with them at Capernaum for our petty ambitions (Mark 9:33-37; Luke 22:24-27).  We get checked in the Garden of Gethsemene with Peter for our presumptuousness (Matt 26:51-54). We get rebuked with them in Galilee for our unbelief (Matt 17:14-20). And again, we get blasted with them on the sea at the calming of the storm, for our fearfulness and faithlessness (Mark 4:40).

In fact, if we have an honest and good heart, we will discover that we are just like them in every way. We are all human beings, and we all share the common denominator of human nature. And, it is only human nature to be weak and to trend towards sin. We spiral downward, until we get caught in and sucked under by a whirlpool of iniquity (i.e., corrupt motives). But, thank God, “where sin abounds, grace does much more abound”  (Rom 5:20).

But, it is needful and good to be informed by this truth about ourselves.  This makes so much more of the gospel to make sense and become clear; such as, why our “old man” (our human nature) cannot be reformed or simply enrolled in a self-improvement program. It makes us understand why no mere, earthly “religion” alone can resolve our ills. No !!  Human nature itself must be totally annihilated, eradicated, and utterly destroyed. It is totally depraved — completely unsalvageable in and of itself. If we read God’s word with due meekness and honesty, then we must acknowledge that mankind is characterized only by vanity, lies, contrariness, nothingness, futility, weakness, foolishness, misery, delusion, and self destructiveness.

That is why, in the protocol of the gospel, God wisely and mercifully had our human nature crucified in the first place. And, we must learn to let that old man rest in peace (RIP) in the grave of our salvation, so that the new man (divine nature) can live in peace. We are often tempted to try to raise him again, and try to rehabilitate our self-image, but it is absolutely spiritually counterproductive to do so. Trying to resurrect that old man and dress him up is a quicksand proposition. That’s proverbially, like trying to make “a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” It’s just is not possible.  Instead, through the cross, God promises to expunge our old human nature, and make us “partakers of the divine nature” (2Pet 1.4). Although, in the beginning, our new “divine nature” may seem as small and tender as “newborn babes” (1Pet 2.2).

Paul said, “For I know that in me that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18). What Paul calls “the flesh,” and “our old man,” we simply call today our “human nature.” “The flesh” equals our “old man” equals “human nature” equals, in effect, “self-image.”

Here are a few common names — Biblical and otherwise — by which we refer to our fallen humanity:

our “SELVES” (2Cor 1:9);

our “old man” (Rom 6:6);

the  “body of sin” (Rom 6:6);

our “flesh” (Rom 7:18);

our “carnal mind” (Rom 8:5-7);

the “bondage of corruption” (Rom 8:21);

the “fleshly mind,” or, “mind of the flesh”  (Col 2:18);

our “SELF conscience”;

our “id/ ego/ superego”;

our  “SELF  IMAGE”;

and my favorite, our “human nature” (Rom 7:25 AMP, GNT, ISV);

That fallen human nature was born at the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. As a matter of fact, it was conceived just before, when Eve decided to use her “free will” to try life on her own terms. The flesh — our very human nature — then, was conceived in rebellion, and is by nature strictly and essentially a creature of rebellion. As such, it is  constitutionally incapable of acting in a manner other than that which is diametrically opposed to the express will of God (Romans 7: 14-20). Scripture says,

“For the mind-set of the flesh [i.e., human nature] is hostile to God, because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so” (Rom 8:7 HCSB, brackets mine).

Like the anecdotal story about grade school kids and the teacher who draws a line on the ground and tells them, “Now class, don’t come across this line.” They just can’t help themselves. They’ll inch up to that line, and put their toes right on it. And then, they’ll scoot forward till their feet triumphantly breaks the plane of that forbidden zone. They just can’t be happy until they’ve defied her commandment. This is human nature at its finest.

At the fall, Eve had wrongly imagined that she had some wisdom and goodness within herself, and needed not to submit to nor rely on God. This is what was intimated by her choice to opt for the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Whether she realized it then or not, that was a choice to try to live without God.

When the serpent had promised “your eyes shall be opened” (Gen 3:5), those were the eyes of our “SELF-consciousness” (that’s why they immediately discovered their own nakedness). Self-consciousness is NOT a good thing. That self-consciousness, or “the flesh” is that person in the mirror staring back at you, when you get dressed every day. That is the perfect external manifestation of the internal problem — our mind’s eyes are fixed on our selves.  And that self-image, which we cherish and obsess over so intently, is the very crux of all that is wrong with us.

We are like people trying to drive a car in reverse, steering by looking in the rear-view mirror. You would not expect to make it very far that way. We don’t look too good to ourselves. That’s why Adam and Eve clothed themselves with fig leaves.  So, we try to compensate by telling ourselves how great we are. We put on a delusional attitude – a very egotistical, conceited, and narcissistic state of mind. We imagine that all our success should be credited to us. We call ourselves, “a self-made man.” I heard a great man of God say one day, “Whenever you hear that, you can say to yourself, ‘Ahh! So, that explains the poor workmanship!’ ” Or, we become downright discouraged with ourselves and think less of ourselves than everybody else. This is a clinically depressed, self-denigrating, and low-self-esteem frame of mind. So, we look out among others to try to pattern ourselves after them. And, that’s also futile.  As the Word says, “But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2Cor 10:12).

You see, before Eve ate that fruit, we had perfect God consciousness. Now we are blind to God, and instead are left to make our way through life with only our self conciousness. Our minds are now literally screwed on backwards. And, man’s first awareness in that regard is that we are completely naked, which is another way of saying that we are in big trouble, because we don’t have any natural glory, virtue, power, or wisdom of our own.

That “naked” man that they discovered is the self-centered, self-serving, self-absorbed, self-conscious, and occasionally self-righteousness person we normally refer to as ‘I.’  I like the way the character, Morpheus, explained it to the central character, Neo, in the movie, “The Matrix.” He called it “residual self-image.” I like that. That’s how we see ourselves in this matrix of a world. But, it’s not real. The world is indeed a matrix. It is a web, a network, a stage, a set-up, and an illusory environment that molds and shapes our perceptions with its falsehoods. Morpheus also described the matrix as, “…a prison for your mind.” These lines were not just entertainment. I believe they were divinely inspired, bespeaking truth about the human condition and this fallen world we live in. This world is indeed that matrix that holds us captive to the sinful fleshly nature, binds our way to wrongdoing, funnels our lifestyle towards ever-increasing corruption, and blinds our minds to real truth. And, it paints a false picture of self — a bloated, air-brushed, pride-worthy, and praiseworthy person — leaving us with an imaginary self that is grandiose and far from reality. It is that residual self-image, forged in sin, that we describe as ‘me,’ ‘I’, or ‘self.’

That self is an incurable sinner. It is he who haunts us and complicates our lives, even after we’ve repented and been born again. It literally causes a world of trouble, and must be washed away by the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5) — that is, by the processes of spiritual growth and development.

We must make distinction between the simple “human condition” (the state of Adam & Eve at creation) and the fallen human nature (their messed-up state after the fall).  And, there is an eternal difference between the imperfect, immature, and innocent members of “the new man” of the divine nature, and between the corruption-filled, dead-in-trespasses-and-sin individual of “the old man” of the common, rotten human nature. The former (new man), God through the cross was made “holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight…” (Col 1:22 NKJV).  Even after being born again, the latter (old man) still lives in and permeates the members of our inner being (soul) like black smoke from a raging forest fire. And oftentimes, the latter short-circuits and hamstrings the performance of the former, to our utter frustration. That’s why Paul said, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:17 NKJV). “O wretched man that I am,” he laments. “Who shall deliver me?” he asks. Thank God he immediately comes back with the one and only answer, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” But concerning our old pesky human nature, he is immediately reminded once again, “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh [i.e., my human nature], the law of sin” (Rom 7:24,25; brackets mine).

Our self-image is the carry-over from the first transgression (“original sin”). It is the product and the very essence of sin. God gave us self-awareness. Simple self-awareness is pure and innocent. However, original sin gave us self-image, self-centeredness, and self-consciousness. At the new birth, the Holy Spirit gives us the mind of Christ, and begins restoring our Christ-image, our God-consciousness, and our God-centeredness. Faithful, diligent, and constant adherence to the processes of spiritual growth and development is what brings the restored mind to maturity and completeness.

After the universal fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, the self is still futilely and hopelessly seeking its own glory and goodness. You see, Eve was convinced that she could cheat death by finding within herself some measure of goodness equal to that described by the ‘law’ (that code of goodness availed by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil).

For the first time, Eve was looking to her SELF and depending upon her SELF for that life-sustaining goodness. What she did not know was that the life she had experienced was never based on any customizable code of goodness, but simply on her connectedness to God. For God’s proper name, I AM (Exod 3:13,14), literally means (among other things) “VERY LIFE ITSELF.”  So, the very moment Eve opted to use her free will to make herself separate, independent, and apart from God, she disconnected herself from LIFE ITSELF.  God cannot lie. He had already told them, “…in the day you eat thereof, you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17).

And, quite literally, the rest is history. Since then, the story of man has been one abysmal tragedy of sin and divine judgment after another, with the one great light being the gospel story of Jesus Christ. In fact, the story of man became so completely bleak at one point, that the Bible says,

When the Lord saw that man’s wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time, the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. Then the Lord said, “I will wipe off from the face of the earth mankind, whom I created, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I REGRET that I made them.”   Gen 6:5-7

Is it just me, or have we not ALL universally proved that we just don’t get it?   The truth about mankind is indeed unsavory and nauseating — without question. But, we must embrace this as truth preferred.

The scriptures tell us repeatedly that we (that is, our human nature), were crucified to death, and buried with Christ when we became born-again. Thus, God declared our human nature garbage. Having been trashed,  we are not to look to it nor lean to it any more.

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”  Romans 6:6

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” Galatians 2:20

Take the time to read the entire passages of Romans 6:1-7, Gal 2:20, Col 3:3, and Romans 3:10-19. There, you will see that God has judged human nature, declared it a lost cause, and has instead supplanted it, completely subsuming it with his son, Jesus Christ, the new man.

But the modern media worships the old man. It continually boosts the old man and promotes it. It will never let you forget about you — no, not for one second. Everything in the media glorifies and glamorizes the self-image. It will never let you forget that you should be working on YOU — serving you, securing you, blessing you, beautifying you, enriching you, promoting you, and enhancing you in every conceivable way. Thereby, they keep your mind enmeshed in sin.

Now then, our hearts and minds need to be renewed, because they often leave us thinking wrongful and delusional thoughts. We are, so to speak, stuck on stupid concerning this. We are always looking for some positive, redeeming qualities within OURSELVES; that is, within our individual human nature. We look for things to commend, to honor, and to prop up the flesh. We seek out reasons to keep the old man around. We stare, so to speak, in the mirror.

And, we are insulted to the hilt when others don’t commend us for what we see as our good and positive qualities, not realizing that God has judged and sentenced to death the whole package of rotten humanity. Here, we show that we yet fail to comprehend and appreciate the doctrine of the gospel — the crucifixion, death, and burial of the old man. If we did understand it, we would shout a thousand Hallelujahs.  If we only understood, then we would realize that we don’t need to find any good within ourselves. We only need to find God, and stay humbly connected to Him. As the scripture says,

“And this IS life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”  John 17:3

The scripture tells us that our whole capacity to rightly assess our ‘selves’ is ruined. You see, that person in the mirror, with the eyes that are looking back at self, seeking for some glory, goodness, or strength within self, has spiritually blind eyes. Self seeking eyes, by nature, are always blind to spiritual reality. That’s because they are looking in the wrong direction — away from the light. They are looking back at self, when they should only be looking up and away to God and Christ, “The Light of the World” (John 8:12).

We need only get our eyes fixed on Jesus. We need to seek after the only good person in the universe, our Heavenly Father God. But failing to comprehend this, our hearts become subject to a myriad of delusions about ourselves. The word says,

“The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”   Jeremiah 17:9

And, our unregenerate hearts always misinterpret the grace of God within us for the goodness and greatness of self. When commenting on some compliment of character offered to us by others, we say things like, “That’s just me,” or, “I’m just like that.” Thereby, we lie, and usurp the credit for God’s gracious moves within us. But, when confronted with flattery (praise to our flesh), we ought to respond like Jesus.

“And Jesus said unto him, Why  callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.”   (Mark 10:18, Matt 19:17, Luke 18:19)

But the flesh masquerades for that which is actually only attributable to Christ Jesus himself in us. The scripture tells us, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

Not realizing this, unwittingly our fogged-up hearts become puffed up with spiritual pride and lead us to intercept and arrogate to ourselves praises which belong to God alone.

If you can’t say ‘Amen,’ then say ‘Ouch !!’ But, if you are saying, “What in the world are you talking about?” Then, you’re amongst those of us who still just don’t get it; because, we are talking about me here and about you — Y-O-U. Make no mistake, we are talking about EVERYONE in flesh and blood, without exception. It’s just the predicament of mankind. It’s just human nature. The whole kit and kabootle of the human race is messed up like this — male and female, rich and poor, black and white, educated and illiterate, and infidel as well as Christian. As Paul declared at least two times, “…for there is no difference.” (Rom 3:22; 10:17)

Coming to acknowledge, accept, and admit this truth is very liberating and healing. This is chicken soup that the soul can really feast on, benefit from, and grow by. Thus, Paul said, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2).  We Christians too suffer with human nature, but at least we do have an out — an alternative and divine nature that we can and must learn to live by.

Realizing the truth about human nature is very enlightening. This makes all of Biblical history totally understandable. The story of Israel in the Old Testament is really just a chronicle of God’s dealings with human nature universal. Israel simply represents and stands proxy for the whole, messed-up human race. Their regular and cyclical forays into sin and idolatry just shows the natural course and inevitable end of all humanity. The history of the Jews is really nothing other than a reflection of the history of the entire human race attempting to have a relationship with holy Jehovah God.

And, we all just trend toward sin. Left to ourselves, we head straight for the bottomless pit of sin and depravity every time. We must thoroughly become familiar with our nature and our evil ways, and subscribe to our sore dependence upon God’s mercy and grace every second of every day.

When we look into the lens and mirror of the Word of God, ultimately we will all say as Isaiah said, “Woe is me. For I am undone… for I am… unclean” (Isaiah 6:5).    Or, we will react just like Daniel, fall to our knees, and report, “So I …saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me; for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength” (Daniel 10:8).    Or, perhaps like John, our experience will be:  “His countenance was as the sun shining in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead”   (Revelation 1:16-17).     Or perhaps, we will cry out like Job, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes”  (Job 42:5-6).

These are the experiences of men beholding the glory of God. And, this is the experience of all human nature discovering itself in the presence of the glory of the Lord. This is what happens when the sinfulness and wretchedness of man meets the glory and unspeakable holiness of Jehovah God. This is the estate of all mankind — me, and you, and everybody else you know. This is the neediness of every human soul. And, herein lies the truth, the blessing, the provision, and the universal appeal of the gospel.

So, I urge you in the name of Jesus, and for the truth of the gospel’s sake, stop looking for and expecting to find some goodness in that “man in the mirror” — in that self-image. You’ll never find in him any righteousness, strength, faith, wisdom, or any virtue at all. If you think you’ve found some, it’s truly only a mirage, a delusion, and a lie.  As the word says,

“For if a man thinks himself to be something, when he is NOTHING, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:3

And,

“Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a LIE: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.”  Psalm 62:9

Instead, be instructed by the doctrine of the gospel, and let the old man rest in peace, so that the new man can live in peace.  As Paul cried out,

“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Romans 7:24-25

So, stop gazing at that self-image in the mirror. Stop looking for answers from your SELF in the looking glass in your mind. Leave the old man alone. Forget the “rep” (reputation) you’ve been trying to build all these years. Learn once and for all that when you gaze at that reflection, all you will find is an habitual sinner — one who is already crucified, dead, and buried. So, give up on him.  Or, as the Lord told me in a vision many years ago, “I WANT YOU TO SMASH EVERY MIRROR IN THE HOUSE.”

I know that we live in an image obsessed generation. And, that is precisely the problem. The image that we love is spiritually beastly, as in, “the image of the beast” (Rev 13:14-15; 14:11). As the scripture says, “A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, is like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:20). Gazing at that image brings doom. Hoping to find some good in one’s own self is a futile endeavor that renders an individual as ludicrous as the proverbial dog chasing it’s own tail. What’s he going to do with it once he catches it? What will that have solved?? And, like the old saying goes, “Repeating the same action over and over again, yet expecting a different result, is the express definition of ‘insanity.'” You need to break out with a breakthrough with the truth of the gospel.

Do however, keep looking through the lens of God’s word unto the glory of the Lord. There, you will behold God in all HIS glory and HIS goodness, and you will be transformed into HIS image by the power and operation of the Holy Spirit. As the word says,

“But we all, with uncovered face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”   2 Corinthians 3:18,  KJ21

And,

“Beloved… it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for WE SHALL SEE HIM as he is.”  1 John 3:2

So then, don’t look back at your own image any more. Instead, keep looking up and away to the Lord through the lens of God’s Word and of His Spirit. Seek the face of God, and not your own face.   As it says, “When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.'” (Psalm 27:8 NASB).  Through Christ Jesus, “the new man” (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10), we may now know God, live with Him, and walk with Him in love, in peace, in joy, and in all the glory of eternal life. Hallelujah. Amen.

Have you been looking to that man in the mirror for help that you need — for strength, or wisdom, or goodness, or righteousness, or answers? Have you been admiring him, knowing way down deep inside that he and you both are in big trouble? Well, look to him no more. But instead, do like Pilate commanded, “Behold, the man [Jesus Christ]!” (John 19:5). If you are ready to put your trust in Him now, instead of in yourself, then please pray the following prayer.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now to receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you meant for me to be. Amen. 


Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulation! And welcome to the family. 


For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000 


If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

3.10.13.15. 0941hrs  CT

Calling all our LGBT loved ones and friends.

Tired Cowboy

Copyright © 2014 by Joseph Diop

LGBT, or not to be. That is the question. Does that little boy in our opening photo have a decision to make about his sexual orientation? Does he really have a choice in the matter? Ever take a look under the hood of a fine, new automobile – check out its horsepower? See what makes it run?   Well, as promised, its time for us to do that on the LGBT matters of our present day. I promised a treatment of the subject, which is not your typical “homophobic rank.” With all the love I can muster therefore, here’s my effort.

For all who are not initiated, LGBT is the politically correct way of referring to all whose sexual orientation is not ‘straight’ heterosexual. With all the hub-bub surrounding the current Winter Olympic games in Russia, I’ve  even heard there’s a class of LGBT known as the ‘Intersexual.’ In all honesty, I have no idea whatsoever what that means. But, LGBT addresses all who are not considered straight.

I know off the top that my treatment and views on the subject will not be acceptable to all. With such a hotly contested and controversial subject to address, I’ll be doomed if I do, and doomed if I don’t. I could just play it safe and sidestep the issue altogether. For several reasons, I have chosen not to do that. The first of which is that it would be a cowardly thing to do. This issue touches a nerve that goes throughout the entire warp and woof of America — of the whole world. I would immediately consign myself to the ranks of the irrelevant if I said nothing about the subject. If I claimed to be an ambassador of Jesus Christ and of God Almighty — a representative voice of Absolute Truth, and I do — simple professional integrity demands that I weigh in on the subject. And, if people want to know, “What about that?;” and they do, then I am compelled by duty to speak out on the subject.

Secondly, matters of sexual orientation are indeed replete throughout the Bible. And either directly or indirectly, Jesus DID comment on it. If anybody tells you otherwise, they are either outright lying to you, or are grossly misinformed, or are simply woefully ignorant to the facts. So, unless I planned to leave a gaping-wide hole in my Biblical commentary, I have to speak about it.

Thirdly, and most compellingly, I have personal loved ones and friends who are LGBT. You gotta love your own blood, and your own dear friends. You’d have to be a really cold, callous, misfited, and crude son-of-a-gun not to love them. People who have shared your life, love, affections, and upbringing have got to play a key role and have a big influence on your cultural mindset and your points of view. And so, an heroic approach to living demands that I take a stand on these issues, for better or worse.

I foresee addressing these LGBT issues in at least three (3) separate but related articles. So, stay tuned. In this post, let me begin with the story of one of my dearest relatives. All the names in these posts will be fictional. For anonymity’s sake, I’ll change their names, but otherwise leave their stories intact — true, faithful, and as accurate as possible.

Let’s begin with Kevin. Kevin and I are about the same age. Growing up, on visits to one another’s homes, Kevin was not only a playmate, but also my first cousin. As we were coming up, early on Kevin showed signs of being different. He was not much into ‘boy’ things. He hung closely to our other female cousins, and didn’t usually bother playing touch football, or baseball, or any other masculine things with us boys. Later in life, I found out that I should not have expected him to. Indeed, a key member of our family had provided us with an insightful prognosis on Kevin very early in his childhood development. Let me tell you about that.

When Kevin was only about three (3) years old, he was visiting at our grandparent’s house. My grandmother, being an extremely wise, perceptive, and spiritual woman, did not let much, if anything,  pass her unnoticed. It was during that visit that she gave my mother, Bernice, a call on the phone. “Bernice, Bernice,” she said, “Kevin broke his wrist!” Now, my mother was a Registered Nurse. So, naturally supposing that grandmother was calling for some medical advice, mom responded: “Mama, that’s terrible! Did you take him to the doctor yet to get a cast put on it?” To which grandmother replied, “Ahh, Bernice, that’s not what I’m talking about. Kevin is [LGBT] !”  

I remind you, Kevin at this point was no more than about three years of age. He was only a stone’s throw from the womb. He hadn’t had a chance to make a choice in the matter. So, exercising but a little common sense, that tells me that SOME individuals are indeed born that way.

I realize fully that there are some conservative and evangelical camps in the Christian faith that will deny that point of view to their dying breath. Simply because, the Bible quite apparently holds that the LGBT lifestyle is a ‘sin.’ God could not have possibly therefore ‘created’ them in that condition from birth. They deduce, “The LGBT lifestyle is a mortal sin — an offense leading unto eternal death and damnation.  Holding God responsible is simply unthinkable!” If I didn’t know better, if Kevin was not my own dear proof to the contrary, then because I too believe God’s word, I might be willing to believe that. But, for me, Kevin helps me see that there is a built-in fallacy to that argument.

Admittedly, this is just one perspective belonging to a born-again Christian, who is a lover and promoter of gospel truth. So, please excuse me here, my LGBT friends, while I address my fellows in the Bible-believing camp. You know, kids are born with all other kinds of mortal, life-threatening, morbid, and ‘abnormal’ conditions. There’s spina bifida, heart diseases and malformations, cleft lip or cleft palate, mental retardation, and all kinds of behavioral disorders. There’s Asperger Syndrome, convulsions, and movement troubles. Some examples of “birth defects” that affect the nervous system include Autism, Down syndrome, and muscular dystrophy. And then there’s blindness, deafness, cycle cell anemia, and on and on and on. A child can enter this world with any variant or number or these afflictions. Do we say, “God created them with way?” Does not this discussion rightly begin with the universal and primeordial fall out and collateral damage of sin itself?  Is it not true that if sin had never entered human existence, then man would have continued to live in a disease-free, paradisiacal state?  But sin in general, entering the realm of human life, opened the door for all kinds of misery, destruction, sickness, disease, and even pre-mature death, which can and do indeed grip some young souls o’er ever they exit the womb.

Now, I fully realize that most of you who are LGBT do not consider your orientaion abnormal. You’ve come to accept your orientation as normal as any other. But, bear with me here for a moment. I am addressing all those who do not. I’ll get back to you LGBT readers later.

Dare I say here; yes, dare I say that even various forms and expressions of  LGBT lay hold on infants before they are ever born? Furthermore I say, that it is incumbent on those of us who are born-again Christians to fulfill our roles and duties as priests for them, in order to lay hold on God’s power and His infinite mercies; and so, to deliver them. We cannot be content to merely rail away at them and to watch as indifferent bystanders, whilst any of them perish.

But, let’s get back to Kevin’s story for a moment. When we reached high school, a female cousin of ours had a birthday party. All the kids were dancing and having fun. A mutual aunt, Estelle, noticed Kevin dancing the night away. She became outraged when she observed that he was “dancing like a girl.” She immediately grabbed Kevin and pulled him to the side, telling him to “Stop that immediately!” Of course, I can’t imagine the shame Kevin must have experienced at that moment. Even for the most experienced of us, some things are just beyond the pale of our personal experience and comprehension.

Still fuming, Aunt Estelle immediately got on the phone and reported the matter to Kevin’s mom, Aunt Queen. On hearing the report, she broke down into a spell of crying, sobbing, and grief that lasted for the balance of the evening. During that time, Aunt Queen, who is a Christian, reported that God himself spoke very clearly to her heart, and told her not to judge Kevin. In ministering to her grief, God consoled her heart. Furthermore, He breathed life onto some words of the Bible that shed light and confirmation that she was in no way to accuse him. God assured her that He knew all about Kevin’s condition. Now, when I asked her recently if she recalled that passage of scripture, she said that she no longer remembered it. And, its just as well. You know how easily we take scripture passages and enshrine them as proof texts for all kinds of things. But like the apostle Paul’s mysterious and unidentified “thorn in the flesh,” God will minister grace and consolation to our hearts in many different ways and with many different passages from the Bible, regardless of what our ‘thorn’ may be.

Eventually, as this biographical sketch goes, Kevin “came out” of the closet. That as you might expect, caused even more trauma for the family. Kevin had come home from college that year, when he dropped the bomb on his parents. Then he proceeded to go up and down the block, announcing the news to all the neighbors from house to house.  This floored, stunned,  and saddened his father, Uncle Horace, beyond all measure. But being the true dad that he was, his grief was only exceeded by his undying love for his only son. Years later, Kevin moved to San Francisco. And when he wanted to bring his gay lover home for a holiday visit, his father suffered him to do so.  He did this over the objections of other family members. Even though his father held classic Christian beliefs, his father’s heart could not bear to turn his son away, even with his gay lover in tow. He loved his son. Home was still home. Love, love, love. The things we do for love. The things we endure for love. Who can argue with love? The Bible does say, “the greatest of these is love” (1Cor 13:13).

Now, I am not finished with this subject; no, by no means. But, I will put a comma on my comments here until another day. Do not assume that you know where I am coming from, or where I am headed. My cousin, Kevin, even to this day resides in San Francisco and is a member of the LGBT community. But, I have not closed the book on him or what God will do with his life — pitiable ‘homophobe’ that I am.  Kevin’s parents, Aunt Queen and Uncle Horace, still love him and pray quietly for him after all these years. They live with a settled and tangible hope. I still love Kevin just as much as I did when we were kids and he was my playmate. He’s my cousin. Blood is thicker than mud. And, being the concerned family that I am, still today I cannot talk about Kevin without getting a lump in my throat. He’s my cousin. I love him. How can I not?

So, I’ll close here with a humble and needful bow of my knee to the mystery of God at work here. There are in this life a million and one things that we cannot explain. To me, Kevin’s life is one of them. But what supercedes the mystery shrouding things here are those attributes which the apostle Paul said are still abiding; “faith, hope, love; these three…” (1Cor 13:12). And, if you have an LGBT mystery in your life, may these three sustain you too.

Do any of these LGBT issues have you confused?  Don’t be confused about where you are going to spend eternity. Like Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). If you have the slightest doubt at all about your eternity, then right now consciously pray this prayer, and for the first time know for sure that if you died today you would go to heaven. Come now, this is no time to be shy or ashamed. So now, whether you are a rank sinner, or an ardent church-goer who’s not sure about your salvation, or an LGBT individual, pray this prayer and be sure once and for all.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now to receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

 

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

 

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000. 

If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from my all sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

Behold, his mighty hand !

nustar-hand-of-god

Copyright © 2014 by Joseph Diop

The credit for this image, called the “Hand of God,” goes to NASA/JPL-Caltech/McGill. However, the creation of this phenomenon itself, and the sign that it portends, belongs to God Almighty alone. It is the sign given to the prophet Elijah. Let me explain.

Nasa’s NuStar Telescope took this dazzling image, seen for the first time by the public, in January 2014. However, 2,000 years ago, Jesus announced,

“There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and IN THE STARS.” Luke 21:25

This will be our first installment on promised blockbuster prophetic insights. This message is a public service announcement of the kind we are accustomed to hear on TV: “We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this…” This is an authentic sign from God. It forebodes both good news and bad news. How so? Some will be singing “O Happy Day,” while others will tune up with “Highway to Hell.” This sign marks the beginning of exactly polar opposites in experiences for the people of earth. It all depends on whatsoever your works deserve. You are going to get your “just desserts.” Jesus declared, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”  Revelation 22:12

Celebration or lamentation, which shall it be for you? That hand in the celestial clouds is saying, “Behold, it’s either pay day! Hallelujah! Or, “It’s payback time ! Woe is me !!!” Your own karma has now come to catch up with you. I would quote from that old song by the Temptations,

So, fee-fi-fo-fum. Look out baby, ’cause here I come…(Get ready ’cause here I come) I’m on my way. (Get ready ’cause here I come).. So, Fiddle-de-dee, Fiddle-de-dum. Look out baby, ’cause here I come.

But, I won’t quote from that song, because then, I’d have to change the words a bit, to, “Get ready, cause here I AM.”  But, let’s rewind a bit. I’m getting ahead of myself here. I was going to share with you how this is the sign of the prophet Elijah. So, let’s slow our roll and get back to that.

The prophet Elijah was a bit of a Lone Ranger; a kind of “Last Man Standing” among the prophets of his day. Singlehandedly, he had stopped the rain in Israel for 3-1/2 years, and harnessed the attention of a hen-pecked king, named Ahab. He had defied the evil queen, Jezebel, brought down fire from heaven, and faced down four hundred-fifty (450) prophets of Baal. Then, he  executed them. Now, after turning the hearts and minds of the Israelites back to their God, he was in the process of initiating Israel’s rains again. Elijah did the praying, while he had a servant dispatched to check for signs from heaven of the returning rain. That’s when the heavenly omen appeared.

And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, “Behold, there ariseth a… cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand.” And [Elijah] said, “Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down that the rain stop thee not.”  1 Kings 18:44

There you have it. A cloud “like a man’s hand.” Anthropomorphically speaking (speaking of God in human terms), this hand IS God’s hand. And Elijah’s faith said, in so many words, “Here it comes! Tell the king he’d better hurry, or he’ll surely get caught in the rainstorm that’s coming !”

Or, as they used to say on the TV show, “Laugh in,” ”Here come de judge !” This visitation is going to prove to be a perfect dichotomy of fortunes for the people of earth. By this sign, Elijah knew that good news had come for those who had prepared themselves.   As it is written,

“Says the Lord of hosts,… I will… open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it’”  ( Malachi 3:10).  Is that not good news? Does it get any better than that? But then, there’s the reverse.  Indeed, this sign is a coin with two distinct sides.  As the prophet Isaiah said,

10 Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. 11 Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.    Isaiah 3:9-11

 

And again, in Isaiah 65:12-14, the prophet said,

 

12 Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not. 13 Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed: 14 Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.

 

And, in the Apocalypse itself, the book of Revelation, it says:

The people of the world were angry, but now is the time for your anger. Now is the time for the dead to be judged. It is time to reward your servants, the prophets, and to reward your holy people, the people, great and small, who respect you. It is time to destroy those people who destroy the earth!”  Revelation 11:18 (Easy-to-Read Version)

 

So now, this sign says that this is a time for rain. That is a time for rewards, that is for “blessings from heaven” for the children of God who have been faithfully and patiently serving him. But, it is also a time for revenge upon those who have totally been a part of the world’s great problems — for those who through their unrepentant and unrighteous behavior, have helped spread trouble and misery on earth.

 

I have saved the most dramatic declarations until now, the statements clearly outlining what this sign means in the end time. The prophet Isaiah has a saying, which he periodically repeats like a mantra. “His hand is stretched out.” To be more exact, foretelling of calamities, disasters, and tragedies that God is going to inflict on the earth, with retribution for their impenitent and multitudinous sins, the prophet says,

 

For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

 

Read it with your own eyes. He says this in Isaiah 5:25; 9:12; 9:17; 9:21; 10:4; and the grand finale in 14:27. But, the prophet Isaiah is not alone in employing this device. The prophet Amos has a similar such mantra of his own. No less than eight (8) times, spread throughout the book of Amos, he uses this idiom;

“For three transgressions… [of various named peoples] and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof.”  Amos 1:3; 1:6; 1:9; 1:11; 1:13; 2:1; 2:4; 2:6.

“Doom and gloom! Doom and gloom!” you say. But I say, ‘Nay!’ Have you forgotten so quickly that God said he was going to simultaneously bless the righteous overwhelmingly? But, at the same time He affirms that He will punish the wicked. God is going to make it rain abundantly. Upon the righteous, blessings. But, “Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.”   Psalms 11:6

It is going to be a “gay ol’ time” for those whose works merit the positive promises of God. For them, it’s going to be an early, real-life Christmas. Or rather, more accurately I should say, for them it’s nothing less than the celebration of “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9; Matt 22:1-2).  It’s the time when God is going to make the first to become last, and the last first (Matt 19:30; 20:16; Mark 10:31; Luke 13:30). For them, He is going to reverse every curse. For them, He is going to (to use a hip-hop expression), “Flip the script.” So, will you be shouting and rejoicing, or weeping and wailing?  It all depends on the works that you’ve been doing when God suddenly shows up in your life.

I can’t help but close with this little insight from the Psalms. There, in Psalm 77:14. it says,

Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.

In a manner of speaking, that is announcing that God travels incognito. You’ll never see Him coming. You’ll never know which way He is coming, or how He’s traveling. For that matter, you’ll never be able to predict in whom He’ll show up. Do you recall this story? He said that He may show up as those who are “down and out” — as those who are down on their luck. He may appear as the poor and needy, the naked, the outcast, the one who is sick, or the one whose face is splattered all over the evening news — in legal trouble? (Matthew 25:31-46).  And, by the time you recognize him, He’ll suddenly be right in your face. Jesus described the unexpected coming of that suddenly undone effect, “as a snare” (Luke 21:35). Then, it will be too late to change your behavior. It will be too late to ask for forgiveness or pray the Sinner’s Prayer.

That’s why Jesus had his own mantra along these lines, which He repeated frequently. He said over and over in various ways, “Be ye ready also” (Matt 24:44).  And He said, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour [or in what form, for that manner] your Lord doth come” (Matt 24:42; Rev 3:3, brackets mine).

For all this, his hand is stretched out still.

_______________________________________________

 The scripture says quite solemnly, “Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12).  Are YOU prepared? If you were to die today, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? Or, for sure, to hell? Either way, this may be your very last chance to accept Christ’s great offer of amnesty to those who will repent and accept him as their personal Lord and Savior. Perhaps, you are one of those who has been in the Church and actively serving for many years. But, you know, being in the Church no more makes you a Christian than being in the garage makes you a Rolls Royce. Being in Christ, not being in the Church, is what makes all the difference in this world, and in the world to come. Like Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:1-21). So, if you’ve been serving in the choir, on the usher board, or on the deacon or deaconess board for many years, there’s no time like the present to pray this prayer consciously, and for the first time, “make your calling and election sure” (2Peter 1:10). Either way, for heaven’s sake, I now invite you to pray this prayer with me:

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now to receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you meant for me to be. Amen.

 

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

 

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

 

If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from my all sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

Aside

Do You Hear What I Hear? Part II

Copyright © 2013 by Joseph Diop

Yesterday, we showed how that the call to discipleship of Jesus Christ is exactly like the call issued by the armed services of the United States, especially the Marine Corps. There is a call to sonship, salvation, and glory, yes. But there’s equally a call in this mortal life to share in Jesus’ suffering. Don’t believe that? Let’s let the word speak for itself today. It says:

 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;  Having the same conflict…  Phil 1:29-30

 We must through much tribulation (that is, big troubles) enter into the kingdom of God.  Acts 14:22c

If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.   2Tim 2:12

Remember, if we have the right expectations from the beginning, we are much more likely to get right results. But if we don’t have the right expectations, then in crunch time, we are almost certain to wither, and fall into disillusionment.  Listen well, and consider. Here are the words of Jesus Christ. This is his actual call to discipleship.

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me, For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life will save it. For what advantage is it to a man if he gains the whole world and lose his soul” (Luke 9:23-26).   “Try hard [Strive; Exert yourself] to enter through the narrow door, because many people [I tell you] will try to enter there, but they will not be able”   (Luke 13:24 Expanded Bible).  “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. He turned to them and said, ‘If people come to me and are not ready to abandon their fathers, mothers, wives, children, brothers, and sisters, as well as their own lives, they CANNOT be my disciples.  So those who do not carry their crosses and follow me CANNOT be my disciples.’”   (Luke 14:25-27 God’s Word Translation)

Did you catch that Marine Corps recruiting move in that last verse. In Luke 14:25, it says, “Large crowds were traveling with him.” Did he rejoice, and say, “Come on along. The more the merrier.” No !!! He looked back and knew that whole crowd did not have what it takes. And he knew he had to thin out that crowd. So, he laid out to them just how high his bar of service and sacrifice actually was. He spelled out the requirements so clear and plain, so that the many people in that crowd would not waste their time and his. What he said in effect was, “Listen, guys. I’m only looking for a few good men.”

Now, those are the true words of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior, and King. Those are the actual recruitment requirements for our Most High and Holy Commander-in-Chief himself. Where are the words of privilege, self indulgence, social advantage, and easy believism? I tell you, they are nowhere on Jesus’ lips. Jesus calls us to a life of service, sacrifice, struggle, and suffering. And then afterwards comes the crown, the robe, the scepter, and the glory. As one great man of God, John Wimber, once said, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to go there the hard way. But, that’s the only way to get there.”

So now, what does this have to do with our original issue about hearing God’s voice? Everything, and then some. Because, the scripture says, “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Heb 4:7 NKJV)  “For who were the people who turned a deaf ear? Weren’t they the very ones Moses led out of Egypt? And who was God provoked with for forty years? Wasn’t it those who turned a deaf ear and ended up corpses in the wilderness? And when he swore that they’d never get where they were going, wasn’t he talking to the ones who turned a deaf ear? They never got there because they never listened; never believed…”  (Heb 3:15-19, The Message Bible)

Now, why would anyone turn a deaf ear to God? People turn a dear, because they are holding something back from him? They set up a wall in their hearts. They set up boundaries in their hearts to protect their precious idols from the Lord. Anything that is more dear to you than God is an idol. Either a loved one, or money, or possessions, or a comfortable lifestyle, or a career, or a sense of self-preservation can cause people to set up a barrier in their heart.  And that is turning a deaf ear to God. It’s self-imposed deafness. And the heart IS the ear of the soul. And if that describes you, then you are not yet fit to hear from God.  Listen to the Lord’s indictment of men who behaved this way. From Ezekiel 14:1-9, we learn:

1Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Every man of the house of Israel that sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and comes to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourns in Israel, which separates himself from me, and sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and comes to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the Lord will answer him by myself: 8 And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

So, the very first thing that you must do to attain to abundant life, become a laser-guided missile in God’s hand, or to become a junior version of Jesus, and become a manifestation of “the word made flesh” is to get a change of heart. That’s what the Lord means byrepent.’  That’s the first step. And you don’t just decide to give up any old bad habit or vice that you choose. True repentance goes down to the root of your whole scheme of behavior and orientation to life. What you must change is  your determination to serve yourself and decide that you are going to serve God — you are going to do whatever He wants you to from day to day from that point onward. You’ve been your own boss up until now. Like the poem, Invictus, says. “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” Well, true repentance means that you are going to fire yourself, and get Christ at the helm. And, you are going to trust and obey him with everything in your life, holding nothing back. You are going to trust and obey Him, even if it means your death.   A spirit of SELF-PRESERVATION can be one of the most deadly and devastating idols that exist. You must get self off of the throne of your heart.

That’s how you can get the wax out of your ears. That’s how your deaf ears will hear again. So, if you are a believer, you have to come to a change of heart. Change your mind about holding out on God. Ask God to forgive you for holding things back from him, and ask him to give you a whole new start. You can pray a pray like this one:

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for holding [name that idol specifically to God] back from you. I open up my heart, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from my sin of idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again.  Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

And if you are presently not a believer, but want to be, then please pray the following prayer:

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now to receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you meant for me to be.   Amen.

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

This day, is the first day of a sweet but challenging journey. Your training in hearing from God starts today. If you complete the training, you will be one of few who do.  God bless you, and Godspeed on your journey.

 For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000.

Truth & Dare: What’s that ‘About?’

Today, I started to do a follow-up on my appraisal of the condition of church today, from my blog,  “A Fulcrum for Refreshing;” hereafter, called “The Assessment” (published on January 14th).  And I will do that, I promise, just not today. Today, I felt led to lay out before you my blog’s guidelines for commenting on any subject. These are my rules of engagement in the blogosphere; a kind of setting forth of my faith and practice of viewing things. It explains how I come by my points of view, a “What We Believe” statement, of sorts. Hereafter you won’t have to ever ask, “Where’s this guy coming from?” After reading this, you should never have to ask, “Where did THAT idea come from?” I want to be fair and honest here, and lay ALL my cards on the table. These are my rules of blogging, and my expectations for my readers and followers — believers and non-believers alike.

First, I assert that this blog has been commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ. In plain language, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit TOLD me to start this blog. As far as humanly possible then, I will strive to represent God’s point of view faithfully. Secondly, I believe in the Holy Bible, as the only objective source of truth; the only OBJECTIVE source, I say. That’s different from saying, “It is the only source of truth period.” And where necessary and appropriate, I will reference the scriptures (that is, cite chapter and verse)  for my reading public, so that you may objectively evaluate the truth and validity of my points of view.

We are, however, not quite as rigid as some of our conservative Christian brothers. The Bible is not our only source of truth, because we believe in the living, eternal God, who speaks to the hearts of individual people, and who reveals his glory progressively. It’s not that the Bible is not the sole and sufficient guide for human living. It certainly is. But man’s understanding and man’s faculties could never stand the whole load and weight of God’s glory being revealed all at once. (See the Apostle John’s experience, and the prophet Daniel’s, for examples. Revelation 1:12-17; Daniel 10:7-15). So, man’s capacity for accepting the fullness of the knowledge of God, is therefore growing. And it is growing to the point that one day, the Bible says, “the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Does not the scripture exhort us to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?” (2 Peter 3:18)  And, does it not tell us that we have been given the 5-fold band of teachers, 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph 4:13-15).

Some of my conservative brothers would say, “Revelation ended with the apostles. The Bible has a front and back cover now.”  But I say, “That’s absurd.” If by revelation (what was eventually set in writing as the holy scriptures) you mean, the God-breathed, Spirit uttered, and sovereign words of God, then consider.  Does not the Bible say this? “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen” (John 21:25). So we have a God who likes to act on behalf of man so very mutitudinously, John the Apostle said that the whole world could not contain all the books to give an account. And, if his historical acts were so many, then his eternal words are even more so. Does it not say, How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand.” (Psalms 139:17-18)  So, God not only likes to work on our behalf, but according to Psalms 139:17-18, he likes talking to the heart of man even more, comparing his words thereto to be “more in number than the sand.” And of the sand, the Bible says, it is literally “innumerable” (Heb 11:12). Innumerable means absolutely more than can be counted. It means too many to affix a numerical value to.

Now take that figure, innumerable, (we’ll call that “R,” for innumerable) and multiply it by, what? Multiply it by about 7+ billion souls alive today. That’s quite an astronomical figure. And even if we take into account that previous generations were less populous than ours, you still get the picture that this is astronomical. You may say,” But most of those were unbelievers. God doesn’t speak to unbelievers.”  But I say, God indeed speaks even to unbelievers. Even If his only words to them are,” I am God. Jesus is my son. I love you. Jesus died for you.  Therefore, repent. Believe. And be saved.” Now, I can hardly imagine that any Evangelical Christians would doubt that God from time to time does speak those words directly to the heart of the unbeliever. And hey, God’s words ARE God’s word.

Now again, take that astronomical figure we got from above (R7,000,000,000), and multiply that by the number of generations of mankind that have lived these past 2,000 since Christ. Let’s see. Counting a generation, as the Bible does, as forty years, then we come up with about 50 generations. Right? So, now we multiply 50 times (x) the innumerable words of God. That’s R7,000,000,000 x 50. That’s innumerable times 7,000,000,000 times 50. Wow! That number somewhere along the way approaches infinity. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that the product of that multiplication is a few more words than the Bible contains between Genesis and Revelation. As a matter of fact, one online resource puts the number of words in the King James Authorized version as 783,137. §   That’s not even close!!!

My contention then is simply this: without putting artificial limits on God’s word, let’s test and prove all things by the words of scripture. If a view point lines up with scripture, then we know it’s sound. If it doesn’t, then we have solid grounds to reject it. But by all means, don’t dispute it if you’ve not thoroughly checked it out. Like the scripture says, He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” (Prov 18:13)

So, what am I saying? My viewpoints are genuinely from a Christian worldview, but not all of them are the norm. Not all of them are the traditional byline.  God does often talk to me in my heart. The Bible call this RHEMA (Rom 10:7), and imparts thoughts to my mind that He Himself has inspired. And to the best of my ability, being human, I plan to represent those ideas to the world in this forum. And, my invitation to all people is that you simply listen with and open heart and mind. If you be a noble-minded believer, do like the citizens of Berea did, after they heard the apostle Paul. They “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). And if you are presently not a believer, but are on a genuine and zealous search for truth, then simply ply my words to everything else you know to be true and honest. I promise always to strive to true and honest. Truth has a way of proving and confirming itself; that is, to all who really love the truth.

Do my viewpoints come from God? Do they really represent TRUTH? Here’s my DARE.  I don’t care.   Search the scriptures.  Search your heart.    Then, YOU  be the judge.

 § To see this number and other interesting facts of the Bible, go to: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110605132525AAEi5wS

(Hereafter, the bulk of this post will appear in the ‘About’ section of this blog site.)

Preview: Upcoming attractions !! 

My next blog will be entitled,Do you hear what I hear?”  It will be a discussion about Rhema, God’s Word to the individual human heart; absolute truth invested directly in living vessels — into common, flesh and blood carriers like you and me. Don’t miss it!