Monday, September 28, 2020

Does God Have Your Attention!?


Greetings friends – welcome to the Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministries located in Spring Hill, Florida not but 4.5 miles from Weeki Wachee Springs. I’m your servant Leonard V. Johnson.

Is God trying to tell us something from all these terrible and major wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington!? Or, the brushfires in Australia!? Or, the flash floods in Indonesia!? Or, the earthquakes in China, India, Iran, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey, and the Caribbean!? The swarms of locusts in Asia, East Africa, India, and the Middle East!? Cyclone Amphan in Bangladesh and India!? The forest fires in Uttarakhand!? The Assam floods in India!? The green snow of Antarctica!? And friends – this was all in the year 2020! What about the 8.2 magnitude earthquake which struck off southern Mexico in 2017!? Now that is an earthquake that will get your attention! They felt the vibration from that and the reoccurring shock waves - some of them well over 7.0 on the Richter scale – all the way up to Mexico City. Just a monster of an earthquake that killed an estimated 98 people and injuring over 300. 

Is God trying to tell us something by all of these events which befall our nations, countries, and provinces!?

Now, I don’t believe that Almighty God intentionally wants to see harm come to individuals, to wreck homes, families, or to destroy human lives and lay waste to the landscape. None of that is in God’s mind. But on the other hand – has God allowed these catastrophes to happen!?

And, before I go any further – the people who have the same mindset as Sir James George Frazer, who wrote the book The Illustrated Golden Bough, in which is written in the introduction, “He described man as progressing from a belief in magic as a means of controlling his environment to religious belief, which propitiated gods and spirits.” In other words, like the majority of the native Hawaiians believe that the eruptions of Kilauea are from the volcano deity Pelehonuamea. Well, this article may not be your cup of tea.

But, it is our belief that Almighty God – the very Creator of all life, material and spiritual – has allowed these terrible natural disasters to occur as a result of mankind’s unwillingness to submit to His will, to obey His commandments, and His statutes.

God established a way of life – a code of living – that brings about all kinds of wonderful benefits. Just like He would treat His own family, He instructs His people in a way that will be for their best interest. These Laws bring about harmony, peace, long life, prosperity, protection – without war, pestilences, without internal strife, happy marriages, obedient and happy children. And, of course, when you lay down at night, peaceful and restful sleep. There’s a lot of people who can’t sleep at night because of all the anxieties and worries they have. However, mankind has decided to go it their own way. To plot their own course without God.

Has God allowed what is happening in this world today to happen!? And, of course, God hasn’t stopped mankind from making their own course or choosing the lifestyle that they choose to live. But are there consequences to these decisions!? You know, like Sir Isaac Newton’s – “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” And, of course, these two forces are called action and reaction forces and are the subject of Newton's third law of motion, yet, I believe every action we do has a corresponding reaction. I believe there are consequences – and not only to individuals but for a nation, a country, and a province, as well.

Last month I was blessed by Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ to have been a final witness, to an individual, concerning the gospel of Christ – of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, of eternal salvation through Him, of the principles of the New Covenant, and of the soon-coming kingdom of God and of God’s ultimate plan of redemption for mankind. I was asked by my sister-in-law why I didn’t believe in “the rapture.” And I began to slowly explain what God’s living word truly says and does not say concerning a “rapture” – along with the truth about death and what happens after death – of the fact that I didn’t want her to “be ignorant, … concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest [she] sorrow as others who have no hope.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13 NKJV. Though she believes in going off to Heaven – cf. John 3:13. I explained “the mystery [the hope of the gospel] which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints” – Colossians 1:26-27 NKJV. Within that short discussion, I told her about the glorious hope of the gospel – the good news of the potentiality of eternal life, the great hope of the resurrection, and into the family of God. My sister-in-law’s best friend, who was visiting with her – and who had indulged in a lifestyle which God finds abominable - cf. Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:24-32 – just rolled her eyes and laughed. My wife yelled out, “No one came here to talk about God or religion!” Sadly, my sister-in-law’s best friend died 21 days later, possibly from complications involving diabetes. Like Mr. Michael Garrett, who has mentioned having a “list,” I too have a list of the names of special people that have passed in my life – whom I would be so blessed by God, His will be done, to have the honor and privilege to be standing there to help comfort them when they are resurrected, and to mentor them in His Word, His Truth, and in His ultimate Plan of redemption. Her name has been added to my list - if I am so blessed by Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, in speaking of - has God allowed what is happening in this world today to happen? – I would like to read an example of this in the Book of Judges, the 6th chapter

Now, this is during the time when the nation of Israel was without a king. And there was a lineage of judges who ruled over Israel – and that, of course, is the subject of the Book of Judges. These judges who were wise would stand up, and God would inspire them to give the nation good advice about which way they should go. This chapter has to do with a man who believed that he didn’t have any power to make any changes in the nation of Israel – but God inspired him to do so.

Verse 1 – “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. …” – how many times have you read that in your Bible!? How many times has that happened in the history of the nation of Israel – and even today!?

“ … So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, …” – so they were in subjection to their enemies.

So we see here in the very first verse an interesting aspect of the LORD God’s character. He not only allowed them to fall into the hands of the Midian’s – their enemies – but it appears that He may even have had a role in them being in subjection to their enemies.

Sometimes we tend to forget how good things are until we lose it. And, I’ll give you an example – when the Internet goes out! We hate it when the Internet goes out – don’t we!? We’re so used to all the modern conveniences – and when your computer goes down, it feels like the end of the world! It can be quite miserable. We are truly spoiled here in the United States of America, and in most of the nations of Israel because we have enjoyed such great bounty. When we compare our situation to someone else – like a vagabond standing on a street corner; and you know that all he has is what he has on, or what he pushes around in a shopping cart – and we look at our own lives and we begin to realize just how good we actually have it! And I think this is what the LORD God is trying to impress upon His people – here.

Verse 2 – “and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains.” – so the Midianites have absolutely driven the children of Israel up into the mountains into these caves, and they couldn’t just be on the plains farming and raising their own crops.

Verse 3 – “So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East …” – these are descendants of Esau. An ancient hatred that goes back many decades and centuries between the children of Israel and the descendants of Esau – the story of those two brothers. Even though they themselves were reunited with one another – the families continued to carry some sort of resentment toward one another. And this resentment continues even today.

Verse 4 – “Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor [ass].” – so these people would come in like a plague, camp in the countryside, eat all of their crops, take their animals, pillage and take what they wanted.

Verse 5 – “For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it.” – they came up TO DESTROY THE LAND! Not to build it up, to help out, to farm it – but to purposely destroy the land.

Verse 6 – “So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.” – the same old story. When we get in trouble then it’s, “O, Lord! Save me!” “O, God! Can you help me, I’m in a terrible fix, now I want you to listen to my prayer!” Like in the movie The End, where Burt Reynolds was negotiating with God – “Oh, God! Let me live, and I promise to obey every one of the Ten Commandments. I shall not kill... I shall not commit adultery... I shall not... I... uh... I'll learn the Ten Commandments, and then I'll obey every … one of them!” But before then – ignore God, “Ho-hum, we don’t need God! Everything’s good, my wallet is full of money, I have food in my refrigerator, plenty of gasoline in my car!” However, you take away a few things, and then all of a sudden, people turn to God. It’s truly shameful.

Verse 7 – “And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the LORD because of the Midianites, 8) that the LORD sent a prophet …” – now we don’t know who this prophet was – a nameless prophet here in this passage of Scripture. But he came and WARNED the nation, saying –

“ … ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage: 9) and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10) Also I said to you, ‘I AM the LORD your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed My voice.’”

Friends, our nation has been bent on absolutely rejecting God’s Law from every angle imaginable! For thirty-nine years I have spent watching our nation destroy God’s Law! They have rejected it, hated it, covered it up, and even boarded it over! In 2013, the Ten Commandments monument in Washington, D.C. was toppled by vandals, in 2017 a major blow to the Ten Commandments came from the Supreme Court of the land! A complaint brought forth by a Wiccan group stated that the presence of a statue bearing the Ten Commandments in Bloomfield, NM. on the lawn of the city hall building was offensive. Judge Parker, of the U.S District Court, ruled, “In view of the circumstances surrounding the context, history, and purpose of the Ten Commandments monument, it is clear that the city of Bloomfield has violated the Establishment Clause because its conduct in authorizing the continued display of the monument on city property has had the primary or principal effect of endorsing religion.” And when the case was appealed through the courts, finally making it to the Supreme Court – they didn’t want to hear the case. And in June of this year, a man was arrested for toppling a Ten Commandments monument in Kalispell with a chain and a pickup! They have painted over them! They have kicked His Ten Commandments out of every school, every national monument. And even the great seal of the United States of America – go back and look at the history of the seal of the US, the first committee (consisting of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams) proposed the motto around the edges to state, “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.” And they wanted to place an allegorical scene from Exodus – with Moses standing on the Shore, and extending his Hand over the Sea. But, of course, in 1782 Congress turned to its Secretary Charles Thomson, who came up with a new design which provided the basis for the final seal – an American bald eagle with its talons holding thirteen arrows and olive branches. And you go back and look, asking yourself – where did those symbols come from!? Did we – as a nation – just dream those symbols up out of thin air!? Or, did they come from our history, which goes back to the days when the prophet Moses walked the earth!?

Verse 11 – “Now the [a]ngel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, …” – now that little town, Ophrah – just to give you a reference – remember when the nation of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, they wandered in the wilderness forty years, eventually coming to the Jordan River on the eastside. And they crossed over into the promised land. The first city they came across was Jericho – and the walls of Jericho came down because of God’s power. Roughly 16 miles northwest was the little town of Ophrah. So that should give you some idea of where they are at – here. The angel of the LORD was under a terebinth tree – I remember growing up in a two-story white farmhouse in Oregon which had a seventy-five or one-hundred-year-old twisted Garry oak tree in front. Its branches touched the ground, making it very climbable. That old Garry oak is still standing there on that piece of property!

“ … which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites.”

So, the Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary of the Whole Bible tells us here, “this incident tells emphatically the tale of public distress. The small quantity of grain he was threshing indicated by his using a flail instead of the customary treading of cattle – the unusual place, near a wine press, under a tree, and on the bare ground, not a wooden floor, for the prevention of noise – all these circumstances reveal the extreme dread in which the people were living.” 1

Verse 12 – “And the [a]ngel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, ‘The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!’” – that must have floored Gideon! For God to have an angel appear unto you and say, ‘You mighty man of valor!’ I wonder about some of the men in history – like Sir Winston Churchill who had discovered why he had been born. He had said once of his extraordinary luck in surviving World War I – that he could hear the sound of invisible wings beating over him. He was driven by a strong sense of destiny. He believed from the age of sixteen, that there would be great upheavals and terrible troubles for the British people – and that he would be called upon to save England and London. 2 There have been great men who have made that statement – “I understand the purpose of my life now.” Because they understood that God had had a hand in their life. Mr. Churchill became the leader of Great Britain at the point when they needed him the most. And I believe absolutely this saved that nation from the invasion of Nazi Germany at that time! And here he tells him, “You mighty man of valor!”

Verse 13 – “Gideon said to [h]im, ‘O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? …” – ‘Why God!? Where have You been!? Why is this happening to our nation!?’ You know – men ask that question.

Did they ever ask the question – that God’s hand might be in the fact that they are in bondage!? We read in verse one that it is because the children of Israel ‘did evil in the sight of the LORD’ that they were in bondage. God was the One that brought this upon them. Why!? So that they would turn to Him, and cry out to Him! That’s the reason that they are in the predicament that they are in. And he’s asking, ‘Where have You been, God?’ And God is saying, ‘I’ve been here all along. I’m just trying to get you to PAY ATTENTION!

“ … And where are all His miracles … ’” – why aren’t all these wonderful miracles which we hear about in prophet Moses’ day aren’t happening today!? Well, we understand from His living word that it is because of sin which stands in the way. “ … which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.’” – God probably chuckled at this remark.

Verse 14 – “Then the LORD turned to him and said [through His angelic messenger], ‘Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?’”

Verse 15 – “So he said to Him [speaking to the LORD through this angelic messenger], ‘O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’” – indeed, Saul said that in his day. And David was the youngest of eight sons of Jesse and was a shepherd of sheep. So, seemingly, the person who appears, to man, to be the weakest and the poorest is the very one which God will choose – 1 Corinthians 1:27.

Verse 16 – “And the LORD said to him, ‘Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.’”

Verse 17 – “The he said to Him [again, speaking to the LORD through this angelic messenger], ‘If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me.’”

So, here is an angel which has appeared unto Gideon – and, of course, this angel has taken on the likeness of a man, cf. Hebrews 13:1-2. He didn’t really know that this “man” was an angel of God at first. But, what is it within man that needs an inner reassurance that God is with us!? Even the prophet Moses said to the LORD God, “’ If I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this is Your people.’” – Exodus 33:13 NKJV. And, even another time, he said to the LORD, “’ Suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’” So the LORD said to him, “What is in your hand?” He said, “A rod.” And, the LORD told him, “Cast it on the ground” – and it became a serpent. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now put your hand in your bosom.” And when he took it out it was all leprous, like snow. And when he put it in his bosom again and pulled it out it was restored like his other flesh. You know – the prophet Isaiah had said to King Hezekiah, “’ This is the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing which He has spoken: shall the shadow [on a sundial] go forward ten degrees or go backward ten degrees?’” And King Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; no, but let the shadow go backward ten degrees.’” – ‘Now that would be something! I would believe you – then!’ – 2 Kings 20:8-11.

There is this idea that the revelation of Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ is a rarity today – isn’t it? And it was in Gideon’s day as well.

So, Gideon wanted to see a sign, and he continued –

Verse 18 – “Do not depart from here, I pray, until I come to You [still speaking to the LORD through this angelic messenger] and bring out my offering and set it before You.”

Verse 20 – “The [a]ngel of God said to him, ‘Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.’ And he did so.”

Verse 21 – “Then the [a]ngel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in [h]is hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the [a]ngel of the LORD departed out of his sight.”

Verse 22 – “Now Gideon perceived that [h]e was [an] [a]ngel of the LORD. So Gideon said, ‘Alas, O Lord GOD! For I have seen [an] [a]ngel of the LORD face to face.’”

And, I have a story – Back a few years ago now, when I was driving a tractor-trailer over the road heading for California, I had pulled into a truck stop for the night as it was just getting dusk, and I saw this old woman walking across the parking lot. She appeared to be wearing nothing but a filthy ragged blanket. She passed all the other trucks, and just as I pulled the airbrakes – she was standing next to my truck looking up at me with very kind eyes. As I slowly rolled down the driver's side window, she asked very calmly, “Do you have a blanket?” And I thought to myself – she already has a blanket. I quickly replied, “No, I don’t have a blanket!” Without saying another word, she turned and walked out into the desert and out of sight. But, in fact, I had an extra blanket – in fact, I had two extra blankets that I always brought with me. And, the thought then struck me – I had just failed the test. And I said to the LORD, “O’ Lord GOD! I have failed!” So, I, like Gideon here, saw an angel – albeit in the likeness of an old woman? – ‘face to face!’

So, continuing here –

Verse 25 – “Now it came to pass the same night that the LORD said to him, ‘Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it.”

So here is the very first act that the Lord GOD gives to Gideon. He was to destroy the altar to Baal and cut down the wooden image of Asherah – a Canaanite goddess of erotic love – which his own father had set up. Baal being the chief deity of the Canaanites. And they worshiped under green trees – recall the LORD God says in His living word, “You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.” – Deuteronomy 12:2 NKJV; see also Jer. 2:12. And they had these celebrations in which they danced around in a frenzy, along with temple prostitution. And, the Canaanites practiced child sacrifice! This is what was going on in Israel.

Verse 26 – “’ and build an altar to the LORD your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.’”

Friends, when you begin to attack and try and destroy the false religion of some of these people you better be careful! Because it can cost you your life! As Mr. Michael C. Garrett was attacked by YouTube when he mentions in his five-part series “Toxic Philosophy” - that the toxic philosophy of liberalism and socialism is to those proponents a type of religion.

Verse 27 – “So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the LORD had said to him. … 28) And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, there was the altar of Baal, torn down; and the wooden image that was beside it was cut down, …”

Look at what happens –

Verse 29 – “So they said to one another, ‘Who has done this thing?’ And when they had inquired and asked, they said, ‘Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.’ 30) Then the men of the city said to Joash, ‘Bring out your son, that he may die, …” – they are ready to kill Gideon and his servants. And on that very day, his own father began calling his son – Jerubbaal, which means ‘Let Baal plead against him.’

Verse 34 – “But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon; then he blew the trumpet, and the Abiezrites gathered behind him. 35) And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, who also gathered behind him. He also sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.” – so here all these leaders of the tribes of Israel which gathered together.

Verse 36 – So Gideon said to God, ‘If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said – 37) look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; …” – so, here again, comes a reassurance to Gideon. He wanted to reassure himself again that the LORD God was truly with him! So, he places a fleece of wool out, and when the dew came along there was no dew on the fleece, and then he did again, backward, …. Now you can read through this. But, both ways Almighty God performed a great miracle to show Gideon that He was truly with him.

Now, down in chapter 7 of the Book of Judges

Verse 1 – “Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the well of Harod, so that the camp of the Midianites was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley. 2) And the LORD said to Gideon, ‘The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’”

You know Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ has come to our rescue on a number of occasions – haven’t They!? Friends, in my own life I can certainly attest to this! Indeed, God could have built a mighty army of the Israelites and just completely annihilated these 135,000 Midianites!

Verse 3 – “’ Now therefore, proclaim in the haring of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.’ …” – so here we have the Israelites under Gideon – 32,000 strong. Against an army of 135,000! When He said, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart.’ If you turn back in the Book of Deuteronomy there are some instructions for going to war that God gave to Moses. And God says, “The officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.’” – Deuteronomy 20:8 NKJV. It was actually a law for going to war. “ … And twenty-two thousand of the people returned and ten thousand remained.”

Verse 4 – “But the LORD said to Gideon, ‘The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. …” – and they had this little exercise to see who was going to kneel down and lap up the water like a dog, or which ones would get on their knees and cup their hands to their mouth to drink. And through this process –

Verse 6 – “And the number of those who lapped putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water.”

Verse 7 – “Then the LORD said to Gideon, ‘By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. … 8) So the people took provisions and their trumpets in their hands. And he sent away all the rest of Israel, every man to his tent, and retained these three hundred men. Now the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.” – so, how would you like to be one of those three-hundred men in Israel’s army, and you’re looking down at 135,000 Midianite soldiers!? Nowhere in any realm of possibility would a military general take that few of soldiers and go to battle with 135,000!

There was a brilliant man back in the early 1900s, Frederick Lanchester, who made important contributions to automobile engineering – long before Henry Ford ever created his first automobile. He was an English polymath and engineer and he worked out all kinds of designs for engines that we continue to use today which are contributed to him. In 1914, before the start of World War I, he published his ideas on aerial warfare in a series of articles in Engineering, which included a description of a series of differential equations on how two forces would attrit each other in combat, and demonstrated that the ability of modern weapons to operate at long ranges dramatically changed the nature of combat. And, that a force which was twice as large had been twice as powerful in the past, but now it was four times, the square of the quotient. 3 Lanchester’s laws, the formulae for calculating the relative strengths of military forces, called the Lanchester’s Linear and Square Law’s. A forces ratio. But it tells you how you can divide your forces – and the fact that you divide your forces into two armies facing one army it increases your odds some four times. Now, if Mr. Lanchester had only these three hundred men he would have said, “Go home!” Because there is no way that they could face an army of this magnitude!

Verse 9 – “It happened on the same night that the LORD said to him, ‘Arise, go down against the camp, for I have delivered it into your hand.’”

And, Gideon was allowed to go down there and creep up to the very edge of the enemy who was as “numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude.”

Verse 13 – “And when Gideon had come, there was a man [a Midianite] telling a dream to his companion. He said, ‘I have had a dream: To my surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian; it came to a tent and struck it so that it fall and overturned, and the tent collapsed.’” – when Gideon had overheard this dream he realized God had actually placed that army into his hands.

Verse 14 – “Then his companion answered and said, “This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel! …’”

Verse 15 – “And so it was, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, that he worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel, and said, ‘Arise, for the LORD has delivered the camp of Midian into your hand.’”

Verse 16 – “Then he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet into every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and torches inside the pitchers.” – so, they took a lamp and placed an earthen vessel over it to shield the light.

Verse 17 – “And he said to them, ‘Look at me and do likewise; watch, and when I come to the edge of the camp you shall do as I do: 18) When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then you also blow the trumpets on every side of the whole camp, and say, ‘The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!’”

Verse 19 – “So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outpost of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just as they had posted the watch; and they blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers that were in the hands. 20) Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers – they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing – and they cried, ‘The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!’” – notice they don’t have a sword in their hand! They have a trumpet in one hand and a torch in the other!

So in the quiet stillness of the night, while the enemy was rolled up in their beds, suddenly there was blasts from trumpets and shouting which startled them from their sleep, half-dressed they stumbled out of their tents only to be surrounded by these torches of their enemy – the armies of Israel. They couldn’t tell who was friend or foe, so they began slashing at each other with their own swords.

Verse 21 – “And every man stood in his place all around the camp; and the whole army ran and cried out and fled. 22) When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the LORD set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled to Beth Acacia, toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath.”

Verse 23 – “And the men of Israel gathered together from Naphtali, Asher, and all Manasseh, and pursued the Midianites.”

And, of course, they went on to pursue them and kill their kings.

Down in chapter 8 of the Book of Judges

Verse 10 – “ …. About fifteen thousand, all who were left of all the army of the people of the East; for one hundred and twenty thousand men who drew the sword had fallen.”

Now, going on down to the end of this chapter –

Verse 28 – “Thus Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted their heads no more. And the country was quiet for forty years in the days of Gideon.”

They tried to get Gideon to be their king over all Israel after this, and he wouldn’t have anything of it.


Friends, turn with me if you will over into the New Testament now, to the Book of Hebrews, the 11th chapter

Gideon is mentioned. And we know that this is called the “faith” chapter – all of these examples which are given are men and women of faith throughout the nation of Israel.

Verse 32 – “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon …” – well, I took the time to tell you today of Gideon. “ … and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33) who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, …” – recall, Daniel. Verse 34 – “quenched the violence of fire, …” – recall, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. “ … escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” – as Gideon’s men here. And the armies of king Hezekiah when the Assyrians came down and surrounded Jerusalem, and how he went in and prayed to Almighty God and the very same thing happened to those Assyrians!

Verse 35 – “Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36) Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.” – the prime example being our Lord Jesus Christ!

Verse 37 – “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – 38) of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.”

Verse 39 – “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40) God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”

And, of course, we will all be joined together at the blowing of the SEVENTH TRUMP!

So, continuing, chapter 12 of the Book of Hebrews

Verse 1 – “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, …” - I contend that getting yourself involved in politics is a major distraction – a major ‘weight.’ Put away from you every ‘care of this life’ as Jesus would say.

Friends, these terrible hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, and wildfires which are raging around the world – some of them we will experience ourselves, like our brethren in California, Oregon, and Washington. Now, they may be occurring only by chance – after all, there have always been hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, and wildfires – with one of the worst having been the Lydia earthquake of AD 17, which destroyed (according to Tacitus and Pliny the Elder) 13 cities in Asia Minor! But there is coming a time when people will see most phenomenal events – a WARNING from Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ – the purpose being to GET OUR ATTENTION! Let us friends, on this holy Day of Atonement humble ourselves before Him and call unto His salvation. □


1 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A.R., Brown, D., Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary of the Whole Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, 1982, pp. 189.
2 Roberts, A., Life Liberty & Levin Transcript. The life and legacy of Winston Churchill, Fox News, 5 January 2020. Retrieved 24 September 2020.
3 Lanchester F.W., Mathematics in Warfare in The World of Mathematics, Vol. 4 (1956) Ed. Newman, J.R., Simon and Schuster.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Day of Atonement - a day to humble yourself before God!

Greetings Friends around the world! Greetings to Ethiopia, Egypt, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and, of course, all our friends in the United States of America. Welcome to the Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministries on God’s annual holy day – the Day of Atonement. I’m your servant Leonard V. Johnson.

If you would turn in your Bible to the Book of Leviticus, chapter 23 – the only chapter in the whole of the Holy Bible which gives us all the LORD God’s holy days in order, giving us a thumbnail sketch about them. The greater majority of people who attend nominal Christianity type churches has never heard these concepts – because they are not taught. And that’s terrible on the leaders part who haven’t properly been feeding their people the Word of God, the Truth of God, and the Plan of God.

Verse 2 – “’Speak to the children of Israel [including the New Covenant Church of God – cf. Galatians 3:29], and say to them: ‘The feasts of the LORD, …’” – these are not Jewish feasts! “ … ‘ which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations [gatherings], these are My feasts.’” – FEASTS OF THE LORD! They belong to God! And He’s sharing the information with us – those of us who have ears to hear and eyes to see and a willingness to accept the truth of God as being our teacher!

Verse 3 – the Sabbath day. The SEVENTH DAY OF THE WEEK! Not the first day – Sunday.

Verse 4 – “’These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations [holy gatherings] which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.’”

Verse 5 – talks about the Passover. Now, if you would like more information on the Passover, please read our articles entitled “Passover Message – 2013” and “Passover Service – 2017.”

Verse 6 – talks about the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And again, if you would like more information on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, be sure to read “Christ In You (Unleavened Bread) – 2017 a seven-part series.” How the true understanding of the Days of Unleavened Bread is so much different than what most churches of God continues to teach.

Verse 9 through to verse 22 – talks about the Day of Pentecost. A phrase which means “count fifty.” So, fifty days after the Sabbath day in the middle of the Days of Unleavened Bread – always landing on a Sunday. So, seven weeks plus one day is the Feast of Pentecost. Again, we have a wonderful article “Pentecost – a seven-part series (Part I)” which has valuable information.

Verses 23 & 24 – the phrase, “ … ‘a memorial of blowing of trumpets, …’” And, just a few days ago was the Feast of Trumpets – 2020 – which truly represents the soon-coming kingdom of God!

Friends, the spring holy days have a specific meaning – the overall arching premise. And, of course, the fall holy days also have a specific meaning. Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost – are an outline to how a single individual becomes confirmed and to have his or her name added to the Book of Life. An outline for personal salvation.

Verse 26 – “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 27) ‘Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation [gathering] for you; you shall afflict your souls [your life], …’” – that word afflict is poorly translated. There are other translations that nail the proper translation perfectly. The Hebrew word is ‘ānâ, meaning “to be concerned about, to be worried; to be humbled.” 1 The New American Standard Bible (NAS) translates this verse – “’On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls …’” – sadly, many ministers today continue to threaten the congregation with a very serious maniacal undertone – “You shall afflict your souls!”

As Mr. Michael C. Garrett has pointed out – get out your concordance, get out your word studies, get out your different translations, and you too will discover that that phrase is supposed to say – “You shall HUMBLE yourself before the LORD.” It is the same thing that our Lord Jesus Christ teaches in the Book of Matthew, chapter 5

Verse 3 – “’Blessed are the poor in spirit, …’ – ‘poor in spirit’ means humility. To be humble before God.

Verse 5 – “’Blessed are the meek, …’ – the same idea. Humility before God and Jesus Christ. It’s willing to know and believe in your mind that you are more impressed with what Almighty God and Jesus Christ says than what any human being says – including yourself.

Now, if you would turn to 1st Peter, chapter 5

This is a Scripture which had a huge and profound influence on my life. And understanding these concepts has truly helped me to mature in my thinking and to gain much understanding.

Verse 5 – “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with HUMILITY, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’” – the apostle Peter is saying, ‘all of you be submissive to one another.’ It’s a cooperative enterprise. Everyone should be able to sit down at a table and – if their hearts and spirits are right – be able to offer information or suggest a change.

That’s the meaning of the Day of Atonement - internally speaking! To “be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, …”

Verse 6 – “Therefore HUMBLE yourselves under the mighty hand of God, …”– Humility.

What does that mean!? Does it mean joining a monastery and taking a vow of silence, walking around in a robe and looking all pious!? Is this what God is talking about!?

No, humility is not what people can see – humility is what God sees. Truly becoming submissive to God, and His will, and the will of Jesus Christ.

“ … that He may exalt you in due time.” – at the blowing of the SEVENTH TRUMP – at the resurrection of the saints! That’s when you will receive your glory.

Verse 7 – “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” – this verse is so very important to all of us.

Verse 8 – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” – Satan the devil is real, his demons are real. And, if you let down your guard, and the Spirit of God within you begins to drain – and you do not have that protective covering – Satan and his demons will find ways to mess up your life. And if they can, they will totally take you off the path of salvation. And, it’s happened to people that I know – tragically. And there’s nothing I can do about it, but ask God to have mercy on them.

Verse 9 – “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced [or has happened] by your brotherhood [your church members] in the world. 10) But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while …” – after you have gone through this human life with its ups and downs and sufferings –

He will make you “ … perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”

Verse 11 – “To Him [Jesus Christ] be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Let’s turn to the Book of James, chapter 4. It’s very similar to what we just read.

Verse 6 – “But He gives more grace. …” – we read that phrase over in 1st Peter, chapter 5. Now, as for me, “Dear Father, dear Brother, pour out all the grace You can manage on me! Because I need Your grace, Your forgiveness, Your help, Your love, Your kindness, Your support!” “ … Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ – again, we should humble ourselves before God.

Verse 7 – “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” – recall the apostle John in his first letter writes, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God.” – 1 John 4:1 NKJV. Also, resist the distorted truth - and God’s living truth will surface in your understanding!

Verse 8 – “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

This is the TRUE MEANING of the Day of Atonement – on a personal level!

“ … Cleanse your hands you sinners; …”

Now, in Revelation 2 & 3: Messages to the Churches, Mr. Garrett spoke about how often God uses the phrase repent. And all repent means is to CHANGE – to ‘cleanse your hands you sinners.’ To go a different direction.

“ … and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” – and truly the only way that you can purify your heart is to ‘with all your heart, mind, and soul’ seek the Word of God, the Truth of God, and the Plan of God.

Verse 9 – “Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10) HUMBLE yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Now friends – that’s the meaning of the Day of Atonement! That’s the spiritual personal meaning of the Day of Atonement!

Indeed, in the Old Covenant on the Day of Atonement the high priest would go into the temple and sprinkle blood for the sins of the people. And, he was the only one who was allowed to go into the Holy of Holies – the inner sanctuary of the temple. Now, if you want to continue to live in that system with its symbolism – you the individual – will never have access to God Almighty or Jesus Christ! However, in the New Covenant ANYONE ANYTIME ANYWHERE has access to Jesus Christ if they will only humble themselves before the mighty throne of God Most High! And seek in changing their lives and submit to God!

Also friends, there are some prophetic meanings of the Day of Atonement – that many church leaders have never considered. And I’d be willing to say that probably most do not have a clear understanding of what prophetically the Day of Atonement – the DAY TO HUMBLE YOURSELF BEFORE GOD – symbolizes. On a personal level it truly means getting ever-closer to God, repenting, and humbling yourself before God – but on a prophetic level it is directly linked to the end-time trauma, what our Lord Jesus calls the end-time ‘tribulation.’ – Matthew 24:21-22.

And certainly the Day of Atonement is a somber day.

But the Day of Atonement is a somber day because it looks forward to a time when on this earth hundreds of millions of people are going to die by the hand of the returning Jesus Christ! It looks forward to a time when we’re told that the blood in and around the streets of Jerusalem will be up to a horses’ bridle – allegorically speaking.

It’s also a day that looks forward to a time where all of the individuals throughout history who had been called by God the Father and Jesus Christ, and had come to a level of knowledge and repentance and had their names written in the Book of Life – at some point their life turned sour, turned bitter, they turned their backs on God – and thereby they have had their names removed from the Book of Life. And sometime in the not-so-distant future on the return of Jesus Christ, those people will be brought back to life again, and then executed in the lake of fire. That’s why it’s a somber day.

These people once had the truth of God, the spark of God, and His knowledge, and then they allowed Satan to get into their mind, or little petty differences, or bitterness - and their lives will never attain the potential that could have been theirs. They were potentially eternal sons or daughters to God the Father. They were potentially eternal brothers or sisters to Jesus Christ. They potentially had eternal life in their game plan. And only to have all that fall short, because of their contrariness, their lack of faith, their lack of pursuing the truth of God.

If you would turn in your Bible to the Book of Revelation, chapter 1

Verse 1 – “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, [not ‘the revelation of John’], which God gave Him to show His servants – things which must shortly take place. …” – and I pray that’s you. Indeed, if you are reading this – God the Father is certainly calling you through Jesus Christ! “ … And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.”

Now, the Book of Revelation was not relevant in the first century. It was probably written by the apostle John on Patmos – a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea – around 95 AD. It wasn’t relevant in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th centuries. It wasn’t even relevant when Stanley Horton, in 1991, wrote his exposé of the Book of Revelation in his book The Ultimate Victory! But now that we’re living in the time our Lord Jesus called ‘this generation’ and are getting ever-closer to the end-time trauma – now much of the revelation of the Book of Revelation can be understood. Now, there are still some dark and fuzzy edges where we don’t quite know what it means – but someday we will. Like what the apostle Paul wrote, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12 NKJV.

Verse 2 – “who bore witness to the Word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.”

Just as Jesus Christ – ‘One like the Son of Man’ – says in verse 19 – “’Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.’ – ‘things which must shortly take place.’ In the last book of the Holy Bible – “’These words are faithful and true.’” – Revelation 22:6 NKJV.

So, the Book of Revelation contains an outline.

Let’s turn now in our Bibles to chapter 6 of the Book of Revelation.

Remember He said, “things which must shortly take place.”

Verse 1 – “Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures [an archangel] saying with a voice like thunder, ‘Come and see.’” – almost like an invitation.

Verse 2 – “And I looked, and behold, a white horse. …” – this is the famed ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.’ The word apocalypse is a Greek word meaning “unveiling.” It doesn’t mean death and destruction. “ … He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.” - Now, I think this has a DOUBLE MEANING. I think it may be partially referring to Jesus Christ in unleashing the end-time ‘great tribulation’ upon the people of the world. But, it’s also talking about FALSE RELIGION. You could possibly say that this is false religion in the guise of the Mother Church of Europe plunging the world into another world war! And as a side note – last night I was watching Mega Disaster: It Happened Before, It Will Happen Again – Volcanoes and I had never realized that Mt. Stromboli was only 311 miles from Rome - a volcano which has been in almost continuous eruption for the past 2,000–5,000 years! Friends, do not buy a condo in Rome! Bad investment! Or, if you do, know when to sale and get out! That city will become dust! And, it’s just my own personal thought, what if the place of Satan’s Abyss, is under the ocean, under the ruins of Rome! Right down with all the dead bones of all the dead popes down through all the ages! Maybe it’s a perfect place to put them!? And all of his demonic beings!

Verse 3 – “When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’” – again, a type of invitation of coming attractions.

Verse 4 - “Another horse, fiery red, went out. …” – and I don’t think there’s any question what this represents. It’s talking about war! The shedding of massive amounts of blood, pain, and suffering! “ … And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.”

It is certainly a scary time in which we live – and I’m willing to accept the possibility that this is Jesus Christ suggesting about the prophecy of Daniel 11. A direct reference to the final holy-war between the end-time ‘king of the South’ and the ‘king of the North’ (cf. Daniel 11:40; Revelation 9:13-16).

Verse 5 – “When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come and see.’ So I looked, and behold, a black horse, …” – referring to famine. “ … and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.”

Verse 6 – “And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.’” – of course these are major food items. Items which we need to live.

Verse 7 – “When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’ 8) So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. …” – emblematic of disease, death. “ … And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades [the grave] followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.” – just a massive amount of death!

So, this fourth horsemen’s ride begins just prior to the Day of the LORD – what the prophet Jeremiah called ‘Jacob’s trouble’ - Jeremiah 30:7. The majority of the Anglo-Saxon nations – the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada will be effected.

Verse 9 – “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls [the lives] of those who had been slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held.” – throughout history many people were martyred doing God’s true work. In the future there will be more. Yet, there are people out there who have a little of God’s Spirit, but are not doing much with it – it’s just sort of sitting there, spoiling. And they’re probably going to be thrust into some severe tribulations in this end-time. A group of end-time prophets (and this is not a biblical phrase) – the New Testament Church began with twelve apostles, will the end of this age end with twelve end-time prophets!? Individuals hand-picked by Jesus Christ to go into ‘all the world as a witness to all nations and preach this gospel – the kingdom of God’ – cf. Matthew 24:14 NKJV. Taking the gospel message before legislative branches, world leaders, presidents, and even before a European civil leader and a religious leader. So, the fifth seal talks about the martyrdom of God’s true servants.

Verse 10 – and this is allegorical language – “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’”

And, in verse 11 – the very near future – “Then a white robe [will be] given to each of them; …” – meaning signs of immortality and eternal life. “ … and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, …” – to wait, be quiet, be easy for a little season. “ … until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.” – and this is talking about the end-time prophets (cf. Revelation 11).

Verse 12 – “I [the apostle John] looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.” – logically, the moon appears ‘like blood’ or reddish – when it appears in an atmosphere full of dust, smoke, or smog! The atmosphere will be thick with volcanic ash towers from a great number of volcanoes erupting around the globe, possibly caused by the massive ‘great earthquake.’ The prophet Jo-El speaks of this same event – cf. Joel 2:31.

Verse 13 – “And the stars [Satan and his demons] of heaven [the atmosphere] fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.”this is talking about the removal of Satan and his demons from the atmosphere. It’s the same thing talked about in Revelation 12, where Michael the archangel is to – as it says, “And war broke out in heaven.” And Satan and his demons were cast out of the atmosphere onto the earth. What’s happening here is the atmosphere of the earth is being prepared for the soon arrival of Jesus Christ and God the Father and the portable throne of God! And this is going to be quite a light show.

Verse 14 – “Then the sky [the atmosphere] receded as a scroll …” – the earth will be covered in a large amount of pollution from the earthquakes, the volcanoes, the fires. One time I had watched a time-lapse film. And it was a camera set up in one of the hills overlooking Los Angeles, and the ocean breeze came in and the smog cloud was being rolled up – and it looked just like you were taking a giant carpet and rolling it up as the wind blew in from the ocean it just pushed the smog out of the area. “ … and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.” – a lot of earthquake activity!

Verse 15 – “And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every [bond man] and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16) and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him …” – with all the dust and pollution swept out of the area, human beings will literally be able to look up and see the returning God the Father and Jesus Christ! And the image is so frightening to them, they will initially think it’s some invasion from outer space – they start crying out “fall on us mountains and rocks! Kill us!” “ … hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!” – Again, that even makes two allusions. One more indication that God the Father and Jesus Christ are indeed returning at the same time.

Verse 17 – “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

Again, the first four seals is often called the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” Then the fifth seal talking about the martyrdom of God’s true servants. The sixth seal talking about earthquakes, volcanoes, massive pollution in the atmosphere, and Satan the devil and his demons being thrown down to earth.


Now, we go over to Revelation 8 – and it picks up this outline again.

Verse 1 – ““When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2) And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.” - So the seventh seal is equivalent to the beginning of the SEVEN TRUMPETS.

So, the true meaning of the Day of Atonement isn’t about God wanting you to hurt. It’s about God wanting you to HUMBLE yourself before Him, His will, and His word. But, it’s also talking about end-time events of the most dramatic effect that the earth will ever experience. Remember Jesus said, ‘except these days should be shortened, no flesh would be saved.’ – Matthew 24:21-22 NKJV.

Friends, this is the overarching premise of the Day of Atonement! □ 

Monday, September 21, 2020

'Be Not Ashamed of the Testimony of our Lord!'

What a glorious Morning here in Spring Hill, Florida today! I welcome you to the Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministries. I’m your host Leonard V. Johnson. Already a year has gone by since I was ordained a minister by Mr. Michael C. Garrett of the Owensboro Church of Jesus Christ! And I’ve loved and enjoyed every moment! I never imagined in my youth that I would become a minister, I never dreamed that would happen to me! But here we are – and I am so grateful to Almighty God that I get to speak to all of you. Indeed, the Sabbath day is an absolute retreat for me. And it is a day to truly relax and enjoy every week, and to enjoy all of you – God’s people – and realize that we’re doing something in this world that is a true sign between God and us – the keeping of God’s holy Sabbath. And that makes me feel wonderful! And I feel very relaxed on Sabbath morning – I feel a great deal of hope and a great deal of pure happiness about doing this great work of God.

Now - why would you ever want to be a Christian!?

After all – wouldn’t it be much easier to not keep God’s holy Sabbath day –just to stay at home and do what you want!? Why go through the routine of getting up, getting dressed in some of your best clothes, just to go to church every week to worship and praise GOD and study His living word!?

Isn’t being a true Christian difficult!? Isn’t it against the grain of society!? Isn’t it restrictive and difficult to follow!? Wouldn’t it be much easier to just go with the flow and be undetected by the world and go about pursuing this world’s pleasures!? And there are certainly plenty of worldly pleasures dangling behind every window!

Isn’t our goal in life – to get more!? More money, to find security, and to have enough to be arrogant!? And I say that because there are a few people that I know that came into money - and it truly changed their character – and are now arrogant.

Well, isn’t Christianity just another form of self-denial with all its rules and regulations, its discipline, and restrictions on “having fun” – which most young people believe that’s what religion is all about. Why have all of these rules!? Who needs more rules – anyway!?

Friends, what can true Christianity do for you!?

First – what is Christianity anyway!?

In the Book of Acts, the 11th chapter is the very first use of the word “Christian.” And most of you are familiar with this passage –

Verse 25 – “Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26) And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. …” – now, Antioch – called Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient Greek city on the eastern side of the Orontes River with a population of upwards of 500,000 people during the Roman-Seleucid times. The city was founded near the end of the fourth century BC. It was the 3rd largest city in the Roman Empire – a very predominant city along a main route to Asia Minor. Also, recall, Antioch was the city from which the apostle Paul departed from on all of his missionary journeys. “ … So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”

Now, some of the bible commentators will say that that might have been a derogatory name. Such as the Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary of the Whole Bible which says, “This name originated not within, but without, the Church; not with their Jewish enemies, by whom they were styled “Nazarenes” (Ch. 24:5), but with the heathen in Antioch, and (as the form of the word shows) with the Romans, not the Greeks there.” 1 ‘Those weirdos – those people that are different!’ The Jews certainly didn’t give them the name Christians – because they would’ve had to acknowledge that Jesus was the Messiah. And they certainly wouldn’t do that!

The name Christian – refers to the people of Christ or the followers of Christ.

And, who was Christ!?

If we go back to the very first verse of the Book of Matthew, the apostle Matthew calls Him – Jesus Christ. The name Jesus is Greek - Ο ιησούς (Iēsous) – and is translated into English as Jesus. It is a translation of a Hebrew word - Y'shua, and is etymologically related to the name Joshua. And that name actually means savior.

Now, the word Christ – is not Jesus’ last name. It is actually a Greek term – Χριστού (Christos) – which means Messiah or the Anointed One. And, you’ll recognize that that name is mentioned throughout all of the Book of Daniel and all of the Jews in the 1st century there would have recognized that name Messiah – because it’s mentioned in the Book of Daniel, actually telling them when the Messiah was going to come. Messiah also means the Deliverer.

So, where did Jesus originate – where did He come from anyway!?

Turn with me in your Bible to the Book of John, the 1st chapter

I’ll never forget when I first read this to one of my best friends up in Oregon – we were both about 14-years-old at the time. I was spending the night with him at his house, and we had decided to study the Holy Bible. His mother and father went to church every Sunday and would drag their “heathen” child along – kickin’ and screamin’. And, he was asking me about Jesus Christ, talking, and having a discussion. And I turned to this Scripture – even though I was 14-years-old – our Lord Jesus Christ had revealed to me what this passage truly means. And, it says –

Verse 1 – “In the beginning was the Word [the Logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2) He was in the beginning with God. 3) All things were made through Him, …”

Who was the Word!? Well, let’s see if it tells us –

“ … and without Him nothing was made that was made.” – are we talking about the distant galaxies, our solar system –this blue jewel, planet Earth, suspended in space – what the solar physicists call the ‘Goldilocks planet’!? Certainly nearly every astronaut – having looked at the Earth from a distance of 248 miles above the surface of the planet for the first time – has reported having a “spiritual” experience – as Apollo 8 astronaut Jim Lovell remarked, “the vast loneliness up here … makes you realize just what you have back there on earth.” Realizing that all of humanity exists – 7.8 billion people – on this one planet!

Verse 4 – “In Him was life [He created life], and the life was the light of men. 5) And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” – and we know that when God’s light shined on this Earth – it didn’t register to them who He truly was.

Verse 10 – “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.”

And my friend – when I read and explained this passage to him – I said, “He was there in the beginning with God. He created all things. Who was the apostle John describing here!? No one can have the credentials of the Word except Jesus Christ of Nazareth.”

And his response was, “Well, where’s the Holy Spirit?”

“What!?” I asked.

“Well, isn’t God a Trinity?”

And, from that question, I proceeded to show him a few reference Scriptures – like John 17:3 and 1 Corinthians 8:6 – which lists only God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Well, what about 1 John 5:7?” he queried.

Surely, he would have heard this Scripture preached and taught at Sunday church as proof of the Trinity. When I turned to that Scripture in my Bible, he noticed that I had marked through that verse.

“How dare you mark through God’s word!” he screamed, tossing his Bible onto the bed and walking out – not giving me a chance to explain.

So, John 1:1-4, 10 tells us that He was the very one that created the world, the earth – who was there in the beginning with God that said, “Let us make man in Our image.” – Genesis 1:26 NKJV.

Verse 11 – “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” – we know that He came to the Jewish society there, and they didn’t recognize Him.

Verse 12 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, …” – what an enormous promise! “ … to those who believe [on] His name.”

That is the Jesus Christ we worship here.

So, as I had asked - who was Christ, and where did He originate!? Well, He was in the beginning. And we realize from this passage here that believing in who He is comes with an amazing and an incredible promise – as is stated, “the right to become children of God”! Wow! Think about the implication!

A Christian then is a follower of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. But, what does that mean!? Well, you listen to Him, you read what He says, you obey His words, you believe His testimony.

And, what was it that He said!?

If you would turn with me to the Book of Matthew, the 5th chapter and read some of the things which He said –

Verse 3 – “’Blessed are the poor in spirit, …’ – what does that mean!? Well, the Greek word for “blessed’ is makarios – meaning happy. Where can you find true happiness? Well, He is about to tell us here. This is what brings true happiness – the believers inner condition if he applies these things to his life. ’Blessed [Happy] are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom [from] heaven.’

Verse 4 – “’Blessed are those who mourn, …’ 
Verse 5 – “’Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.’” 
Verse 6 – “’Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, …’ 
Verse 7 – “’Blessed are the merciful, …’ 
Verse 8 – “’Blessed are the pure in heart, …’ 
Verse 9 – “’Blessed are the peacemakers, …’ – not those who like to stir up trouble, but those who try to get along with everyone.
Verse 10 – “’Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, …’ 
Verse 11 – “’Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.’

And He goes on to tell them that they are the salt of the earth, like a light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. That they are to be humble, to quietly give – not sound a trumpet – ‘look everybody at what good deed I’ve done!’ But to not let your right hand know what your left hand does when you do a good deed. That they were to lay treasures up in heaven, and to not be judgmental, but to let God be the Judge. And in the end of that He says, “’Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’” Because the living word of God tells us, “Vengeance is Mine, and recompense” – Deuteronomy 32:35 NKJV. And friends, what is this whole world about!? Getting vengeance. Suing someone. Making them pay – right now. And of course these were things which Jesus Christ absolutely spoke against.

And, what were His commandments in the Book of Matthew, chapter 5!?

Verse 17 – “’Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.’ – ‘I came to do these Laws.’

Verse 18 – “’For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.’ – and Jesus elevated God’s Law to a spiritual plane. He told those people there in Jerusalem and in that surrounding area of Judea that of course you are not to kill – but He even went on to say that if you have hatred in your heart for your brother, you have already committed the act of murder! Because it’s the same in God’s eyes. It is not just something which you physically do – but is more of a spiritual condition.

Verse 19 – “’Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of Heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.’

Now, over in chapter 6 of the Book of Matthew

Jesus continues to go through a lot of valuable information and commandments which He gave. And be sure to read through those.

Verse 31 – this, of course, is addressing those who worry about where they’re going to live, what they’re going to wear, how they’re going to pay the bills, what they’re going to eat – and how they’re going to get through the day. ’Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32) For after all these things the Gentiles seek. …’ – the rest of the world, that’s what they seek. “ … ‘For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33) But seek [you] first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.’ – that is an amazing passage – isn’t it!? It implies that we put it in God’s hands and do not worry. The worry we put in God’s hands and we let Him worry about our future and how we are going to be provided for. But that we focus our main attention on His kingdom – and doing what is righteous.

And, what was His testimony!?

Turn with me to the 7th chapter of the Book of Matthew

Verse 13 – “’Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.’ – the whole world is like a giant Mississippi River flowing down into the Gulf of Mexico. Practically everyone in the world is going in that direction. They are absolutely buying in to the evil of this world and are being swept downstream! But He is telling us that we are to swim upstream.

Verse 14 – “’Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the Way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.’ – what an amazing thought!

That was His testimony – He wanted people to realize that it is a difficult course to walk in the shoes of a Christian.

In the Book of Matthew, the 21st chapter

He gave a prophecy here.

Verse 28 – “’But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 29) He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 30) Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go.’ – now, this is a parable that Jesus is giving to these Pharisees sitting there.

Verse 31 – “’Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said to Him, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors [publicans] and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 32) For John came to you in the Way of righteousness, …’ – John the Baptist came preaching righteousness. “ … ‘and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors [publicans] and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.’

And, of course, they realized that that parable was talking about them! That these publicans and harlots had actually repented at the preaching of John and they believed on Jesus Christ and they were going to be one of the very first ones to march into God’s kingdom! Yet these self-righteous religious people that were standing with phylacteries strapped to their foreheads and left arms – with long fringes on their garments – were saying, ‘Yes, Lord, we’ll do everything You tell us to do!’ But in their heart they never did it! And when this realization came over them –

Verse 45 – “Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. 46) But when they sought to lay hands on Him, …” – they’re furious, they want to kill Him! “ … they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.” – they were scared of the people, because His popularity had grown by then.

Our Lord Jesus Christ would later say in John, the 14th chapter

And, friends, a lot of people will make the excuse – like my beloved wife – “I don’t want anything to do with religion!” She famously states, “One can believe in God without religion.” When in T R U T H true Christianity brings true happiness. It brings real genuine joy and peace within your heart – about your current situation but also concerning the future.

Verse 6 – “’I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one [no man or woman] comes to the Father except through Me.’ – there is only ONE WAY to eternal life and that’s through Jesus Christ! Sadly, a great many people in this world – and I would hazard to say this includes my wife – believe in an ‘Oprah Winfrey God.’ That there are millions of ways to salvation – which flies in the face of Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ who says very clearly – “’No one comes to the Father except through Me!’” It has to be through Jesus Christ! It has to be a certain way!

Back in the 6th chapter of the Book of John

Verse 44 – “’No one [no man or woman] can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day [on the resurrection day].’

So, Christianity, technically, is not something that you can choose. Christianity is something that chooses you. God the Father reaches out – like I said at the beginning, I can’t believe that it’s already been a year since Mr. Garrett ordained me in Owensboro, Kentucky! But above that – I can’t believe that God the Father reached out and grabbed somebody like me!? What in the world did He want anything to do with me!? Like King David wrote, under divine inspiration of God’s Spirit – “What is man that You are mindful of him.” – Psalm 8:4 NKJV. When you look at God and who He is and His great glory and power which He possesses – the absolute perfection in which the universe was built, like a perfect Swiss watch. This whole Universe revolves and rotates and spins around itself – GOD IS PERFECTION! God is the source of all knowledge, source of all power, the very center of love, absolutely perfect and genuine! Why would He have anything to do with an old ex truck driver like Leonard V. Johnson is beyond me!? But yet He reaches out because of His great Master Plan and purpose for each and every single one of us! Like our Lord promises in John 1 – because He wants sons and daughters to Himself. Friends, He wants that! He desires that! And He’s waiting for that moment to occur. And sadly, most people are completely ignorant of the fact that a great plan is being worked out here below – on this E A R T H! That we have a tremendous purpose in this life – but most people are so busy paying their credit card bill, or mowing the grass, or worrying about what other people think of them, or worrying about what is going on in Washington, D.C. in politics – except our very purpose for being here. And the very purpose for which Jesus Christ came to this earth.

Christianity is a way of life.

I’d like to go now to the Book of Acts, the 16th chapter, and share with you what the apostle Paul experienced when he came to this realization himself –

Now this is the apostle Luke writing here – verse 16 – “Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit for fortune-telling. 17) This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, ‘These men are the servants of the Most High God, …” – did that demon actually recognize who the apostle Paul was!? Well, I have a story – once, as I was walking out of a truck stop, an exquisitely dressed black man began calling after me, “Hey, can I get a ride!?” As I turned around I saw that this well-groomed man was dressed in the finest dark suit I had ever seen, with gold cufflinks, a gold chain, a gold wrist watch, and shiny black dress shoes. A chill ran up my spine. As I kept walking, he began following me and called out again, “Hey, can I get a ride!? I just got off the bus.” I had assumed that he meant a Greyhound Bus, although he didn’t have any bags or luggage – and I had not seen hardly anyone in the truck stop, so I knew he wasn’t telling the truth. “No, I’m not going to give you a ride,” I said sternly, as I continued walking away from him. He began to follow more briskly, “I’m just going down the road.” Then he stopped suddenly and yelled, “You’re not going to give me a ride!” – which was more of a statement than a question. Friends, was this a demon trying to trick me!? Did he recognize me – and know that I would soon belong to Jesus Christ!? Well, they certainly did recognize Jesus Christ when they said, “’What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?’” – Matthew 8:29 NKJV. They recognized who Jesus Christ was! And I believe they recognized who the apostle Paul was. Recall when some of the itinerant Jewish witch doctors took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over some who had evil spirits? And there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish priest which were doing the same – and an evil spirit said to them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” And the evil spirit leaped upon them, overpowered them, causing them to run out of the house naked and wounded!? Here this demonic spirit recognized Paul, and out of her mouth she said, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the Way of salvation.” It is a way of life! It’s not a ceremony, or burning a candle, or lighting a match, it’s not waving a metal thurible around suspended from chains, or holding up a monstrance as an object of how pious you are! Or worshiping before some statue.

In the 19th chapter of the Book of Acts

Verse 1 – “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. …” – now, this is not his first visit there. He’s going to find twelve converts here in Ephesus on this trip.

Verse 2 – “he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’” – they didn’t experience Pentecost. All they had heard about was the preaching of John the Baptist. And they had actually been baptized – but they had never received the Holy Spirit.

Verse 3 – “And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ 4) Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’” – the very One!

Verse 5 – “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6) And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues [languages] and prophesied. 7) Now the men were about twelve in all.” – with tears probably streaming down their faces, the Holy Spirit coming upon them for the very first time. God opening their eyes.

Verse 8 – “And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. 9) But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way …” – it’s interesting how he wrote this term here. “ … before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.”

And of course, Paul, he faced that obstacle everywhere he went.

Over in the 22nd chapter of the Book of Acts

The apostle Paul was nearly beaten to death on a number of occasions. And if it hadn’t been – on this occasion – for the Roman soldiers, they probably would have succeeded. Remember he had went down to Jerusalem and they became so enraged with Paul – they thought he had taken some Greeks into the temple and they went out to beat him half to death, and Roman soldiers came and grabbed him – and we know that ultimately Paul would appeal to Emperor Nero in Rome. But look here on this occasion, as they were taking him up into the castle – he was walking up the steps and he beseeched the Roman soldiers to turn and speak to the priest and to those Pharisees and Sadducees that were there having a melt down throwing dust up in the air and wanting to kill him. And he turned and spoke in the Hebrew language to them, and look what he says –

Verse 1 – “’Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now.’ 2) And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said: 3) ‘I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, …’” – and, of course, Gamaliel was one of the most famous preacher and teacher of the law there in Jerusalem. “ … ‘taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.’” – ‘I was just like you – I was one of you!’

Verse 4 – “’I persecuted this Way …’” – what way!? The Christian Way. “ … ‘to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.” – the apostle Paul had authority from those priests letters that allowed him to go and haul people out of their very homes and even put them to death.

Verse 5 – “’as also the high priest bears me witness, …’” – ‘ask the high priest if I’m telling the truth!’ “ … ‘and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.’” – so, he would go out of the city into other regions and get these people, bind them and bring them to Jerusalem for a trial.

Verse 6 – “’Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven [the atmosphere] shone around me. 7) And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ – do you think that Jesus Christ got Paul’s attention at that moment!? Paul didn’t understand Christianity – until this very moment! I think there will be many people in this world today – called so-called Christians – who will discover that they had been persecuting the true people of God. That there was a begotten child of God who had been there in their presence to help explain the Way all along. But like Saul had been, these so-called Christians think of themselves as religious, and righteous, fighting against the very begotten children of Almighty God! And Jesus had to blind him along the road, knocking him down, to get him to realize that ‘you have actually been fighting against Me – Jesus Christ!’

Verse 9 – “’And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. 10) So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’” – an instant change in attitude! Notice the difference in humility! “ … And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ – and the apostle Paul went on to write fourteen books of the Bible, and became instrumental in the very beginning of the planting of churches all over Asia Minor.

Let’s also look here as the apostle Paul was before Antonius Felix, the Roman procurator of Judea Province 52–60 AD. In chapter 24, of the Book of Acts

Verse 14 – “’But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect [heresy], …’” – these Jews that were placing the apostle Paul on trial and trying to kill him, they thought he was heretical - that he was teaching heresy. “ …’so I worship the God of my fathers, …’” – what a most amazing and bold statement! “ …’believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. 15) I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.’” – friends, what an amazing passage!

The apostle Paul would later go on and say, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew [Israelites or the chosen ones] first and also for the Greek [the Gentiles].” – Romans 1:16 NKJV. He came to the point where he was not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ – he was not ashamed to say the name JESUS CHRIST out in public. And even to profess His name to these leaders, and even eventually to the leaders in Rome.

Turn with me if you would to the Book of Colossians, the 3rd chapter because in my notes I have included this –

This is what Christian behavior is all about, and I think Paul put it really well here writing this letter to the church at Colossae, he said –

Verse 12 – “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, …” – this is the mercy which is deep down inside of your spirit. “ … kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering [patience]; …” – and how long should we be patient!? A day? A week? Is it seven years? How long will you wait for somebody!?

Verse 13 – “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14) But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15) And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17) And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” – a glorious victory will be won at that stage of your journey to eternal salvation.

He goes on to talk about that wives should submit to their husbands and how the husbands should love their wives and that all the children should obey their parents – with all of that in a Christian home. And, of course, there are warnings against disobedience and rebellion –

1st Peter, the 4th chapter

Remember – there’s the question: why would you want to be a Christian!?

Verse 13 – “but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14) If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed [happy] are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15) But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16) Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.”

Verse 17 – “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; …” – think about that! Judgment is going to begin at the house of God! “ … and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” – certainly something to contemplate – isn’t it!?

2nd Peter, chapter 2

Verse 2 – “And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3) By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”

Verse 4 – “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, …” – and here he’s talking about God casting out the demonic spirits from heaven itself. “… but cast them down to [Greek – ταρταρόω, tartaroo, meaning “a place of restraint”] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.” – he gives this as an example of evil – what God thinks of evil – and what He did about it!

Verse 5 – “and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, …” – only one family! Because iniquity had become so great upon the earth God drowned the whole earth except for one family! He is giving us these huge examples of WHAT GOD DOES TO EVIL AND WICKEDNESS!


You need to think about what God is going to do to wickedness, because here are huge pillars of examples of what God thinks about evil – and what He intends to do about it!

Friends, Christianity holds all the answers to the problems of this life, it looks beyond the temporary state – beyond the here-and-now – and focuses on a glorious future! However bleak things may be, however bad things may get, the true Christian always has their sights set on the future glory – the finish line and the great rewards – and eternal life in the family of God.

Do I want to be a Christian and receive honor, and power, and strength, and contentment – like I’ve never felt my entire life – and be a child of God!?

With all my heart do I! □


1 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A.R., Brown, D., Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary of the Whole Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, 1982, pp. 1098.