Wednesday, July 28, 2010
" And therefore will the LORD wait,
that He may be gracious to you,
and therefore will He be exalted,
that He may have mercy upon you;
for the LORD is a God of judgment:
blesses are all they that wait for Him. "
I am learning from experience that God, most of the time, is in no great hurry to answer all of my requests. There are important lessons for me to learn in the processes I go through. I love the prayer of King Jehoshaphat in II Chronicles where he says whether because of judgment for sins, pestilence, famine or other perils, when we come to His temple, He hears our cries and requests. The reason does not matter; He always hears.
God is a God of judgment; judgment in favor and judgment against. King David said that he would much rather fall into the hands of God to be judged, rather than into the hands of man, because God is merciful and full of compassion.
Regarding Isaiah 30:18, I love the commentary Matthew Henry gives ~
" God will be gracious to us and will have mercy upon us. This is the foundation of all good. If we find favor with God, (and we will because we are His children) and if He have mercy upon us, we shall have comfort according to the time we have been afflicted."
" He will wait, that He may do it in the best and fittest time, when it will be most for His glory, when it will come to you with the most pleasing surprise. He will continually follow you with His favors, and not let slip any opportunity of being gracious to you."
Such beautiful thoughts! What a thing to meditate upon! God is our Father and He has promised to give us the desire of our hearts. As we learn to grow ever so close in communion with Him, and while we wait in His presence, we will find that our ultimate desire is to be One with Him; to please only Him and to bring glory to Him, not to ourselves.
We change in the process. The ways of God are beyond human comprehension. His thoughts, ways and means of comfort are a thing of awe. Those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength, they shall ( not might, but shall) mount up with wings as eagles. The will run and not be weary and walk and not faint.
He is worth the wait!
Friday, July 23, 2010
FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010
GOVERNED BY THE WORD OF GOD
If Christ reigns as the supreme authority over his kingdom, and we are his subjects, then our lives must be governed by him. What does it mean, exactly,to be governed by Jesus?According to the dictionary, to govern means "to guide, to direct, to control all actions and behavior of those under authority."
In short, Jesus must be allowed to control all of our actions and behavior, including our every thought, word and deed. Jesus also rules the nations of the world. The Bible tells us, "He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves" (Psalm 66:7).
"The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all" (Psalm 103:19). Don't be fooled—our country is not ruled by Republicans, Democrats or any human authority. It is not controlled by Wall Street or big business entities. No power, earthly or supernatural, rules America or any other nation. God alone is in control. He sits as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, ruling and reigning over all creation from his heavenly throne.
All across America we're seeing awful moral decay, the rise of the occult, rampant sexual deviations, raging "in your face" atheism. Some Christians fear that the hordes of hell are slowly taking over our nation, establishing Satan's kingdom of darkness. We need not worry. Isaiah assures us, "The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the scepter of the rulers…. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! …Thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms" (Isaiah 14:5, 12, 15–16).
Beloved, our God is not one bit anxious about Satan. He isn't fretting over what we see as an evil takeover of our nation. With just one word from our Lord's mouth, Satan will be gone forever, tormented for eternity. Therefore, we are to fear no evil. In no other kingdom does God rule as supremely and as powerfully as in his own kingdom—the one he has established in the hearts of his people. Jesus said, "Behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). And it is within this kingdom—the realm of our hearts—that Christ rules supreme over his people, guiding us, healing us, governing our actions and behavior."Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end" (Isaiah9:7).
This verse speaks of Jesus' endless rule throughout eternity. Yet it also has another significant meaning: We must always increase our submission to ourKing's rule. Can you honestly say that day after day, Jesus' government over you is increasing? Are you bringing your behavior more and more under his authority?
You may wonder—If Jesus is in heaven, ruling in all authority at the right hand of the Father, how does he go about governing his kingdom here on earth? We find the answer in the book of Hebrews. The author tells us that in the Old Testament, God spoke to his people through the prophets. But today the Lord has chosen to speak through his Son (see Hebrews 1:1–2). Jesus is God's explicit message to us—the divine Word made flesh. In turn,the Father has sent the Holy Ghost to us today to remind us of the words Jesus spoke while on earth. Thus, Jesus governs us by the written, revealed Word ofGod.
The Bible is our ruler's scepter, by which he makes his Word known to us.If you want to hear the testimony of a man who was governed by God's writtenWord, you can find it in Psalm 119:11, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (also see verses 105, 123, 133, 162).
Read this devotion online: http://www.worldchallenge.org/en/devotions/2010/governed-by-the-word-of-godPulpit Series
Newsletters================================================================================Peace of Mind in These Troubled Times, 07.19.10http://www.worldchallenge.org/en/coverletter/2010/peace-of-mind-in-these-troubled-timesSatan Is Out to Destroy Your Faith!,
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06.28.10http://www.worldchallenge.org/en/coverletter/2010/waiting-on-god-to-actSermons By David Wilkerson================================================================================Raised from the Dead, 08.02.09http://www.worldchallenge.org/en/sermons/david_wilkerson/raised_from_the_deadThe
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Thursday, July 22, 2010
I would like to give several of Matthew Henry's comments on just one or two sentences Christ said in His prayer ~
Christ keeps us in God's Name. This implies that we are weak and cannot keep ourselves. Our own hands are not sufficient for us. We are each, in God's account valuable and worth keeping! We are precious in the sight of the Father; His treasures, His jewels.
Our salvation has been designed by Him - for this reason we are kept. 1 Peter 1:5 says, " Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
Just as the wicked are reserved for the day of evil - so the righteous are preserved for the day of bliss. We are the charge of the LORD Jesus Christ, His responsibility, as it were; He keeps us, He protects and shelters us, He has secured our salvation and has exposed Himself to us as the Good Shepherd for the preservation of the sheep.
Jesus said, " And I give unto them eternal life (it is His to give) and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. (John 10:28) He also said, "And this is My Father's will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing but should raise it up again at the last day.
Furthermore, Christ said "of them which Thou hast given Me, I have lost none!"
* Where on earth can we find such safety, such security, such comfort! We are truly children of the Living God!
THURSDAY, JULY 22, 2010
HINDRANCES TO GROWING IN GRACE
In Ephesians 4:31, Paul lists things we must remove from our lives if we are to grow in the grace of Christ: "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice."We dare not skip over these issues on Paul's list.
The apostle says we absolutely must face these things if we are to grow in grace. If you ignore the heart issues Paul mentions here, you will grieve the Holy Spirit. Your growth will be stunted, and you'll end up a spiritual zombie. The first three items on Paul's list—bitterness, wrath and anger—are self-explanatory. Bitterness is a refusal to let go of an old wound or forgive a past wrong. Wrath is a stronghold of resentment coupled with a hope to gain revenge.
Anger is exasperation—either a quick explosive outburst or a slowburn of indignation toward someone. Evil speaking are words that tear down—it is the opposite of edifying someone or speaking words of edification; evil speaking is malicious, hurtful. Clamor is a sudden outburst over nothing—an unnecessary hubbub, a loud noise made for no purpose. We cause a clamor when we make a big issue out of something insignificant, or cause a scene rather than trying to help or heal.
The final item on Paul's list is malice. Malice is the desire to see some one else suffer. For many Christians malice means hoping God will punish some one who wounded them. It's a devilish spirit, and it's usually hidden deep within the heart.When Paul says "Put away all these evils from you," he's not talking about a quick fix. He's describing a process—a matter of growth that takes time. At times, we may fail at ridding ourselves of these evils. But if we will quickly repent, and commit to making things right with the person, over time these issues will fade away.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
(This article has been excerpted from Nancy Missler's book The Way Of Agape, which explores the love that God has for us and the love that God can give us for each other.)
It is critical to know God loves us, not just in our heads, but in our every day life experience. We need to know God loves us "experientially" so that no matter what happens to us circumstantially, emotionally or physically, the security of His Love is always there.
We also need to have the assurance of His Love in order to move ahead in our Christian walk. Not knowing if He loves us or not, will hinder our being able to-moment-by-moment-surrender our wills and our lives to Him and love others as He desires. "Okay, Nancy," you might say, "Prove it to me that God loves me personally. I don't feel it. I don't see it. I don't hear Him. So, how can I know and believe it's true? What proof do I have?" One person even said to me years ago, "Nancy, God's Love is a gift that only some people receive, not all of us are that lucky." Well, I believe she's wrong. I believe we are all that lucky, and I believe, with the Holy Spirit's help, I can prove it!
In this short article, I would like to focus on four major reasons why we can "know" that God loves us personally: God's Word:1) The first reason we can know that God loves us individually, is because He says so in His Word. Listen:
"Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn thee." - Jeremiah 31:3
"Since you are precious in my sight...and I have loved thee...Fear not: for I am with you." Isaiah 43:4-5
"As the Father has loved Me (Jesus), so have I loved you." John 15:9
"Behold what manner of Love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." 1 John 3:1
These are just a few of the many Scriptures that tells us that God loves us personally. At the end of this article, I have listed some further Scriptures on His Love. Since God's Word is the Truth, we need to believe and trust in what He says . An Example: Discovering God's Love:Let me share a beautiful example of someone who learned not only how much God loved her, but also went on to experiencing God loving others through her.
Linda was brought up in a church that taught that God was a God of Righteousness, Justice and Judgment - not a God of Love, but One to be feared. (The truth is, of course, that God is a God not only of Righteousness, Justice and Judgment, but also of Love, Mercy and Compassion.) Therefore, when Linda's personal life began to fall apart, she found no consolation from a God of Justice and Holiness. She needed Someone who personally loved her and cared for her. Finally, one of her friends (from another church) showed her from Scripture, that God is a God not only of Holiness, Justice and Righteousness, but also a God of Love, Compassion, Forgiveness and Mercy.
He told her that God not only loved her and would forgive her for all her transgressions, but that He also wanted to heal her and fill her with His Love so that she could pass it on to others. Linda could hardly believe what she was hearing; it was too wonderful to even comprehend. Was God really like this? Did He really love her like that? Could she really learn to love others with His Love? The first few weeks after that conversation, Linda tried to believe in a God who unconditionally loved her.
Each time she chose to step out in faith, however, the old nagging doubts came rushing back in and the overwhelming fear of condemnation and guilt consumed her. She finally ended up - out of pure desperation - writing down all of God's promises of Love in the Bible (like the list at the end of this article) on 3x5 index cards, and carrying these cards with her wherever she went (in her pocket, in her purse or in her car). When the doubts, unbelief, and the enemy's taunts came in, she quickly confessed and repented of them, whipped out those cards, and read out loud how much God loved her.
Finally, she chose to step out in faith and believe what God's Word said. Even though she didn't "feel" anything yet, she persevered by faith and God honored her obedience by eventually aligning her feelings with her choice. In His timing and way, she began to have "living experience" that God did, indeed, love her. And, upon that solid foundation, she was able to continue her walk with God and learn to love others. Linda, to me, is a perfect example of a Christian who believed in God, but didn't have living experience that He loved her. Therefore, she was not able to move forward in her Christian walk.
The Christian walk is a faith walk, not a feeling walk. Can't Move Forward: It doesn't matter how long you have been a Christian, how many people you have led to the Lord, how many Scriptures you have memorized, or how many Bible studies you have taught. If you don't know that God loves you personally, you're not going to be able to grow. If you have difficulty really believing and intimately experiencing this in your own life (just like Linda did), then see the Scriptures on Knowing God Loves Me at the end of this article. Make up 3x5 cards, just like Linda did. Keep these cards with you at all times-in your car, in your purse, on the mirror in the bathroom, etc.
Then, when doubts, fears, unbelief, insecurities, etc., come over you, whip out those cards, confess and repent of the things that are not of faith and give them to God. Then choose by faith - not by feelings - to believe what God says and in His timing, He will align your feelings to match your choices.
Additional Scriptures on God's Love:
He loves us so much that, "He bowed the heavens also, and came down." (Psalm 18:9) And, "He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters." (Psalm 18:16)
He loves us so much that, He has engraved us upon the palms of His hand. (Isaiah 49:16) He loves us so much that, He will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) "For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed; but my (Love)* shall not depart from thee, neither shall my covenant of peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." (Isaiah 54:10)
"As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His (Love)* towards them that fear Him." (Psalm 103:11) "Many are the afflictions of the righteous. But the Lord delivers them out of them all. He keepeth all his bones; not a one of them is broken." (Psalm 34:19-20)
"When you pass through the waters (trouble) I will be with you; and through the rivers, they won't overflow you; when you walk through the fire, you won't be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord...You are precious in My sight and I LOVE YOU..." (Isaiah 43:2-4) "God commendeth His Love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son." (John 3:16) "...having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." (John 13:1) "What shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord." (Romans 8:35, 38-39)
* The Hebrew word here is chesed which can be translated, "mercy", "kindness", "lovingkindness", "goodness", and "favor".
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010
While praying this prayer in John 17 He knew exactly what He was going to go through. He said at other times that this is the reason He came. Yet, He speaks of joy?
Nehemiah speaks of a joy that God commanded of a people who had run from the Law of God, broken everyone, probably, and yet God demands of them to, " Go your way, eat the fat and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy unto the LORD; neither be ye sorry, for THE JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH.
As Believers we have also repented of our sins and quite often the enemy of our souls throws something at us to remind us of how much farther we have to go to live a life of true godliness. What he says is true, we will always need improvement as long as we live in a world where sin is increasing by the day. But, we must still attain to the joy of the LORD in our lives. Like Christ, who is our example, He suffered the shame of the cross for the joy that was set before Him. We also have a joy that is set before us! We have been given eternal life, a new glorified body, heaven is our home! Of all people we should pray for the joy of the LORD to fall upon us.
Notice how these scriptures are worded. It does not say that we have to work up a fake joy on our own; it says it is the joy OF THE LORD! It is His joy we must pray for. I need to get into His mindset to attain such a thing.
God has promised to appoint unto those who mourn to give us beauty for ashes, and a lot of our lives do turn to ashes. He has promised to give the oil of joy for mourning; and it is real, genuine mourning we do. He promises a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; and it gets very heavy at times. As we fight for this joy we will be called trees of righteousness; a planting of the LORD, not of we ourselves. It is His work! (Isaiah 61:3)
King David in all of his battles prayed, "Restore unto me the joy of my salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit. (Psalm 51:12) And in Psalm 51:8 he asked of God that He make him to hear joy and gladness. This Psalm was composed after David had committed one of the most heinous crimes of his life. It is titled the Psalm of Repentance. Does this sound like a man who had convinced himself that he had sinned beyond repentance; that it was too late to again be full of the joy of the LORD? A million times NO!
The joy of the LORD IS OUR STRENGTH!
Ask for it; no matter the circumstance. He inhabits the praise of His people. Do we desire His presence? Start praising Him; He who has promised cannot help but appear on our behalf. He is faithful and true.
Are You Known in Hell?1
I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you? (Acts 19:15)
Paul’s ministry in Ephesus was truly remarkable. I love reading about it in Acts 19. It always inspires me with what God can do through men filled with the Spirit who consecrate themselves to Christ, willing to live for him and die for him. Ephesus was notorious for pagan worship. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world was there, the Temple of Diana, and people came from far and wide to engage in pagan ritual. The city was large, having a population of around 330,000, and its sports stadium, built by Nero, could seat twenty-five thousand.
We know, from both secular history and the biblical account in Acts 19, that Ephesus was overrun with demonic possession. Her sorcerers, as Shakespeare wrote were 'dark-working sorcerers that change the mind, soul-killing witches that deform the body.'2 In fact pagan and Jewish exorcists regularly plied their trade, seeking to deliver people from the terror of demons. Exorcists had developed a book of incantations they chanted when exorcizing demons, known in antiquity as the Ephesian writings. When the Holy Spirit began to convert large numbers of the people, some who were engaged in black magic, brought their books and burned them publicly. Luke tells us that the books were worth fifty thousand pieces of silver (Acts 19:19). Today that would mean $25 million.
3 Talk about a mighty societal impact!Luke also tells us that Paul’s ministry was so powerful, accompanied by extraordinary miracles, that handkerchiefs and aprons were taken from Paul’s body and carried to the sick. Diseases and demons left the people. Apparently some of the Jewish exorcists were watching Paul and mimicked his words as he cast out demons. They thought they could do the same thing and said to the demons, 'I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches' (Acts 19:12-13). Then Luke reports that a Jewish chief priest (probably an apostate Jewish priest) named Sceva had seven sons who sought to cast out demons, invoking the name of Jesus and Paul. The chief demon spoke derisively to them, 'I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?' The man in whom the evil spirits resided jumped on the sons of Sceva, subduing and overpowering them, driving them from the house, both naked and wounded (Acts 19:15-16).It is clear that Jesus and Paul are known in hell. The sons of Sceva were not.
Are you known in hell? In other words — are you a threat to the devil’s status quo?
Is Satan concerned about your prayers that move the Spirit to action, your holiness that upgrades your family and church community, your evangelistic work that depopulates hell, your preaching or teaching that humbles and debases men while exalting and praising Jesus?
Elijah is known in hell.
He was a troubler in Israel to the hardhearted and worldly Jews who refused to repent and return to Yahweh. He was a troubler to Baal worshippers who persisted in leading Israel away into idolatry and sexual immorality. He was a troubler to Ahab and Jezebel who refused to repent and met horrible deaths.
Elisha is known in hell.
The young boys, driven by wickedness, mocked him, and were eaten by bears, exposing Satan’s scheme to mock the messengers of God. The demons which sought to keep Naaman in the darkness of leprosy could not stand against him.
Jeremiah is known in hell.
He constantly warned Judah to repent, and their hatred against him cost him freedom and brought untold sorrow. He did not quit preaching, even though Satan had blinded the eyes of the unbelieving.
Daniel is known in hell.
He refused to keep the status quo when realizing the utter depravity of the exiles and poured out his heart in confession, contrition, and supplication for another mighty movement of God.
Isaiah is known in hell.
His vision of the thrice holy God humbled him to the dust, moving him to say, 'Here I am. Send me.'
Ezekiel is known in hell.
He warns Judah of impending doom, calling them to repentance, declaring to them that their failure to speak out means the blood of the damned is on their hands. He would not relent in the face of Satanic deception.
Habakkuk is known in hell.
His perplexity over Nebuchadnezzar’s impending invasion of Judah, while devastating to him, nonetheless moved him to praise the Lord no matter what may happen. No self-pity there!And Zechariah is known in hell. He constantly prophesied of a better day for Israel, working against Satan’s chief tools of discouragement and accusation.
They all preached fearlessly, calling the people to repentance, suffering the rejection, ridicule, and degradation thrown at them by the prince of darkness.
Are you known in hell? Is Satan upset with you?
Does he have his target painted on your mind, heart, and will? Is hell being adversely affected by your life and ministry? These are the questions that ought to be periodically addressed by each of us, but especially by those of us who earn our living by preaching.What characterizes those known in hell? First, they know they are called by God to preach the gospel (Acts 26:16-20, Rom. 1:16, 1 Cor. 9:16, 2 Tim. 4:1ff). Consequently a mantle of power and authority rests on them. They speak and live with a godly swagger, proclaiming the Word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31, Eph. 6:19-20). They are willing to be fools for Jesus sake.
They do not count their lives as belonging to themselves. They spend and are spent for the sake of the gospel. They know they are to labour to the very end of their days, giving all they have — body, mind, spirit, money, time, and energy. They are successful in their preaching and evangelistic ministry. That is, they see converts and people follow their lead (>i>Phil. 3:17). When they leave this world there are more Christians than when they came in, and it is because of their gospel labours. They speak the truth in love. They don’t water down application when preaching. They make soul-searching, man-debasing, hope-building application, moving people to Christ for salvation and sanctification.
Their ministries begin to erode and undermine the societal depravity that characterizes every community on earth. On the university campus, the gospel of Jesus becomes a point of discussion. The ethics of Jesus are taken seriously and people begin to jettison ungodliness. They inspire people to imitate Jesus, if not fully to live for him. Their ministries experience serious opposition and attack from the world, and often from the church. They weep for the lost. They grieve over their own sin. They are humble, contrite, and tremble at God’s Word. They always are rejoicing, all the time, in every circumstance. They never give up. They live with heaven in full view. Their lives are rich with joy inexpressible and full of glory.Are you known in hell? Seek God earnestly until the devil knows and fears you. Nothing else matters.
Notes:1. I got the idea for this message from Leonard Ravenhill’s classic Why Revival Tarries2. See Comedy of Errors (Act I, Scene ii), a quote from Syracusan Antipholus.3. Acts: An Expositional Commentary, James Boice, page 326.Rev. Allen M Baker is Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in West Hartford, Connecticut.www.christcpc.orgAl Baker's sermons are now available on www.sermonaudio.com.Contact the author directly at email@example.com
MONDAY, JULY 19, 2010
GOD’S SPECIAL FORCES
You've heard of the U.S. Army's Special Forces—a highly trained army-within-an-army, an elite unit of dedicated soldiers. Special Forces are made up completely of volunteers, fighters who have been noticed and called out by their superiors. Before the war in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden had said American soldiers were weak, cowardly, not trained for mountain warfare. He predicted the Taliban would send U.S. troops home in shame, but he hadn't counted on America'sSpecial Forces.
This fearless unit invaded Afghanistan with a mere 2,000 soldiers. Within days, it had located all the enemy's strongholds.I believe God is doing something similar in the spiritual realm. While in prayer, I was impressed by the Holy Spirit with the concept—God has been at work in the heavenlies on a covert operation. He's raising up an army-within-an-army, searching his regular troops to form an elite unit of volunteers. This special force is made up of warriors he can touch and stir, to do battle with the enemy.
We see a picture of this in the Bible, with Saul's special militia. The Word tells us, "There went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched" (I Samuel 10:26). God's special forces today include the young, the middle-aged, even the elderly. They've been training in their secret closets of prayer. Their intimacy with Jesus has taught them how to fight. Now they know how to do battle on any spiritual plane, whether in the mountains or in valleys.
God's army-within-an-army is in place in every nation. Its activity may be covert now, but soon we'll see it doing exploits in the name and power ofChrist. God's Word is coming forth, and the famine is ending. The Lord will prevail. His Word shall conquer all. "The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits" (Daniel11:32).
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
Saturday, July 17, 2010
P.O. BOX 8355 - JAFFA 61082, ISRAEL
* This is written in context of the advertisements in Western Religious broadcasting and newsletters regarding being known as a "Prophet or Apostle"....from the Apostle Paul to those wanting to be known as Prophets of God -
My dear son, after reviewing the advertisement copy you intend to place in the Jerusalem Post, I feel a few corrections are in order. While yes, God is certainly looking for a few good men and women to serve as Apostles, your job description is a bit misleading. Allow me to bring some apostolic correction.
First, you have written:
Be an Apostle of God, see the world!
Certainly this is true. Apostles have international ministries and do travel. I seldom stayed anywhere for more than six months during my ministry. The arrest warrants were great motivators to help me keep moving! However, you neglected to mention that most of this world tour will be as a prisoner in chains, seen through the peepholes of slave ships, often spent in royal prisons, waste deep in human excrement, fighting the rats for scraps of food. Describing the perks of the job as exotic, while technically true, is disingenuous.
Next, you wrote:
Have God's power! Do miracles! The marks of an Apostle can be yours!
Again, this is all true. However, you neglect to mention that the crowds you wow today with divine authority will flog you, stone you, and often crucify you the next day. remember that Jesus is the Chief of all Apostles and for heaven's sake, look what happened to Him!
While the marks of an Apostle are, according to 2 Corinthians 12:12, "Signs and wonders and mighty deeds, wonders, and miracles," you deftly failed to mention that the marks of an Apostle are also on his back.
I wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:9-13, "For I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death;
because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate, we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even unto now."
I don't know where anyone gets the idea we are supposed to be hopping about in private jets, taking royal cruises with the latest musical flavor of the month, and meeting with celebrities. I was facing beasts at Ephesus, the perils of robbers, the sword, stoning, false brethren, shipwrecks, and the always present danger of the heresies of self-appointed Super Apostles!
Where do these people get off with this? The call to Apostleship is a non-commutable death decree! Remember the cross?
Please rework your Apostolic ad copy to include these words:
"condemned to death, spectacles, fools for Christ, weak, dishonored, hungry and thirsty, poorly clothed, beaten, homeless, reviled, persecuted, defamed, filth of the world, and don't forget the tag line from my ministry business card, "scum of the world". These are the terms you've left out of your Apostolic Ministry Ad.
You might consider rewording the Retirement Plan as well. While the eternal aspects of ruling and reigning with Christ are truly beyond description, still, that bit about touring the Coliseum in Rome hurt. Many of my friends were martyred there, mauled to death by beasts, used as lambs for the slaughter in the gladiator games, sometimes being tied to posts, set on fire, and used as human torches while they died worshipping in the flames.
The call to be an Apostle of the Lord Jesus is a clarion call to service, hardship and death. While the truth might not sell well in today's congregations, it will certainly separate the wolves from the Shepherds.
Love to all from your favorite ambassador in chains -
The Apostle Paul
Filed under The Kingdom of God on July 17th, 2010 by Bryan Purtle
“Just as the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Abide in My love.” -Jn. 15.9
Some years ago, I was in the home of a beloved servant of God by the name of Art Katz. We were discussing the need for a kind of preaching and proclamation that would not merely inform the people of God, but lift them into a greater inner-awareness of His love. He made a comment that struck my heart, and I am feeling it’s reverberations especially today. This is what he said:
The Church is suffering from a chronic sense of inferiority, and they need to be built up in the reality of His love. We need to come into the realization that we’ve been “accepted in the Beloved.”
So many believers are “suffering from a chronic sense of inferiority,” and the opportunities for insecurity, self-consciousness, and anxiety are around every corner, particularly in a Western culture that is so status-driven. The powers of darkness have always worked overtime to keep the saints from a sustained and abiding experience of the favor and love of God. They have worked thousands of years at mastering the art of destroying the lives of men, and nowhere have they been more successful than in their plan to bind men in strife after worldly acceptance, while robbing them of the awareness of God’s desire to secure them in His love.
Billboards and magazines pin women into the corner of striving for external beauty, commercials and other media venues trap men in the pursuit after bigger trucks and better homes, and the options are voluminous for all types of searching after acceptance from others. Even in the religious world, many are jockeying for a position in ministry that would feed their ’spiritual’ egos, and so many leaders are eaten up by a desire for numerical growth in their congregations and the popularity of their ministries. Individual strife for a spiritual reputation is also common in the Body, with jealousy and envy dominating so many souls who are wanting to establish a “form of godliness” without the reality of His power and love.
We are comparing ourselves to others, living in an earthbound manner, and our vision of Jesus Christ is suffering as a result of it. We want approval from men, and it is that fallen desire that robs us from experiencing the heavenly approval that the Father longs to give.
“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” (Jn. 5.44)
Across the board, we humans are being consumed by a sense of inferiority to someone or something, and it all stems back to the fact that we have not adequately received and abided in the love of God Himself.
Can we fathom that He does not regret having brought us into the Kingdom? That we are not a part of some “inferior” segment of the Body of Christ? That we have nothing to prove to Him, nothing to perform in the aim of earning His love, and that He is kind and compassionate toward us not because of our spiritual performance, but because that is who He is?
We need to commit the rest of our days to pursuing a greater understanding and awareness of His love toward us. He has declared that He loves us “just as” the Father loves Him. Hear Him, dear saint! His affections are no less profound toward you than they were toward Moses, Paul, Brainerd, Whitefield, or any other great soul. Oh, that we would be awakened to the reality of His constant and unfading love, and that it would be more for us that a theological category; rather, an abiding experience as our hearts are more and more surrendered to His.
The more I study the New Testament and live the Christian life, the more convinced I am that our fundamental difficulty, our fundamental lack, is the lack of seeing the love of God. It is not so much our knowledge that is defective but our vision of the love of God. Thus our greatest object and endeavor should be to know Him better, and thus we will love Him more truly. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, as quoted in God’s True Love by David Harwood; 2008, p. 22)
The pursuit after acceptance from men is a deathly roller-coaster ride, and it will not end until you still your heart before the Lord, and learn to receive the love of God Himself. Jesus Christ has already declared that He loves you just as the Father has loved Him, but your reception of that love is not automatic. You must push your way past the multitudinous voices that press for your attention, “be still and know” that a much profounder love is being poured from heaven. All other voices lead to the fading glory of self, but the voice of the Lord is “above the waters,” and it leads to His eternal glory, which is “life forevermore.”
Dear believer, you need not to be jerked and pulled by the opinions, compliments, and criticisms of men. You need not to be plagued with a sense of inferiority and a burning desire to be accepted by others. The undying and unwavering love of God Himself is available to you, for the cross of Jesus Christ has torn the veil of separation on your behalf. Turn from sin and strife for acceptance, and let your heart be stilled in the place of prayer. There you will hear His voice and receive from the well of His love, and your joy will be made full. And from that holy place, He will give you grace to live amongst men with a whole new consciousness, abiding in the love of God Himself, “accepted in the Beloved One.”
My natural parents who gave birth to me and raised, nurtured and cared for me as a child have passed on to their eternal reward. At times, as I walk through our home and look at some pictures of them on the wall and in photo albums I feel as if I am an orphan. A 56 year old orphan whose parents, guardians are no longer here. According to the words of Christ, He did not leave us as orphans!
We have a Father in the heavens who hears every prayer, answers every request and is very, intimately involved with our lives; daily, hourly. In John 17 Christ prayed for us. The Chapter brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. The pathos, the pity, the description of our condition here in this evil world. But, Christ did not pray that we would be taken out of this world; He prayed that the Father be with us during our journeys here. Why? So that we could be witnesses of His faithfulness to those who serve Him.
He instructed His followers in that day, all twelve of them (so much for numerical superiority!) to go into all of the world and preach the gospel. Our lives are an open book for everyone we encounter. Friends, family and acquaintances watch us and read us like a book. As children of God we go through many of the same trials, tests and temptations as they. But, we are of a different sort. We do not try to build our own dynasty or legacy; our building is a spiritual one; as Abraham we also seek a city that is not built with human hands but a city whose builder and maker is God Himself.
In John 17 Christ prays to the Father on our behalf. He is still doing so today, even at this hour. There is great confidence to know that the One who loved us so much that He came down to this planet under the influence of the evil one to live, eat, breath and die on our behalf. He showed us the way. We are all in the process of becoming One with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. We are tempted to start believing in what the Chinese call the ying and the yang. There needs to be a balance between good and evil. It all works out in the end, so to speak. This is one of the biggest lies in the universe!
There is only One who is righteous and He is coming soon to sit up His kingdom of righteousness. There will be no evil in His equation; it is forbidden. Not even a touch of evil. Like the orthodox Jewish families sweep their houses clean to make sure there is no unclean thing in the home before the Holy Day celebrations, the planet earth will be swept clean of all ungodliness. As He prepares for the final battles to be fought, what is our mindset? Do we fear what is coming upon the earth? Are His judgments and plans being thwarted by our actions, hopes and prayers?
As the wars and rumors of wars increase and as earthquakes begin to occur in various places do we cower in fear of the things that are coming upon the earth? Do I fear that my retirement will disappear like smoke on a windy day if their is a total economic collapse? Am I to fear and cower before what some call the new world order, total control or the mark of the beast? Does our heavenly Father run around to and fro throughout the earth playing catch up with the devil? NO! It is all according to His plan. God has a time table that was written before the foundation of the world. Before the cornerstone of the earth was laid He knew the beginning from the end.
As evil reaches its climax He WILL have a people that know Him for who He really is. He will have a people that know how to pray, fast and intercede for a lost world. As everything spins out of control we have to remember who is really behind the events. The devil sends fear and intimidation to us because he knows he has already lost the battle of eternity. He knows where he is going; he knows his end. He is so evil, I believe, that he is blinded himself and he is the one out of control; not the children of God.
There is great confidence in the knowledge that we have One who is praying for us. He is our Advocate; our lawyer in the court of heaven. The devil may accuse and he may be correct in some of his accusations against us. But we have One whose blood washes away every sin. The Father has an ocean where He casts all of our iniquities. He calls it the sea of forgetfulness. As far as the east is from the west our sins are washed clean in the blood of the One who gave Himself for us. He died so that He could bring many sons to glory. He is not going to lose anyone that the Father has given Him.
We are in the palm of His hands; signets and precious jewels in His ring. He has carved us in the palm of His hands. We are not orphans! Our Father is with us; living in us and directing our every move and hearing our prayers and requests. As things continue to fall apart on planet earth Christ said to lift up our eyes for our redemption draws neigh. Hold lightly the things we have on this earth. In Isaiah 30 God says that in repentance and rest we will be saved; in quietness and trust is our strength. He longs to be gracious to us.
He waits on high to have compassion on us. He is a God of justice and blessed are those who wait upon Him. What of the world? Be prepared and do not be surprised or fear - The name of the LORD comes from a remote place. His anger burns and dense is His smoke. His lips are filled with indignation and His tongue is like a consuming fire; His breath is like an overflowing torrent which reaches unto the neck to shake the nations back and forth like a sieve and to put the jaws of the peoples into a bridle which leads to ruin.
Compared to the rest of the nations, we in the United States have only tasted a little of the evil that is prevalent in the world. In my employment with the US Government I had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the nations of Africa and the Mideast. I have seen the total decay of cities where people are living no better than animals. Teeming masses without clean water, bathrooms or food. Our abundance here in this country is nothing short of a blessing from heaven. How long will this last given these facts regarding the social and moral condition of America? Tens of millions of babies have been torn from their mother's womb and thrown in a trash can.
Moral and sexual perversion run rampant throughout or society. I experience this firsthand because I work at the second largest high school in the state of WV. I see girls and boys groping each other in the hallways; girls making out with girls and the same with boys. Clothes so tight it is as if the children have two sets of skin. This atmosphere as teachers and administrators look on, clueless to do anything because the parents will sue if anything is said. At night as I drive home in this little community in WV I see adults wondering the streets, sitting on their porches and standing on the streets in a drunken, drug induced stupor. Little children running up and down the street at times, just before midnight. Where are the parents? Who are the parents? Where are the police and authorities? Who is left to restore us back to godliness and tranquility?
In the Sudan, in Chad, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan people are blown to pieces just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. And we do not want the Kingdom of righteousness to come because of what has to happen first? Can this go on without God doing something about it? Are we prepared in our spirits for what is about to happen? Can we let go of what we have and walk into the Kingdom and into His presence with no attatchements to this sinful planet? Be prepared! The descending of His arm will be seen in fierce anger; in flames of consuming fire, cloudbursts, downpours and hailstones.
At the voice of the LORD His enemies will be terrified. He will strike the with the rod of His anger and in battles He will fight them. Evil has been made deep and wide and He will stack it up like a wood pile and set it ablaze. The breath of the LORD, like a torrent of brimstone will set it afire.
I had a small taste of this yesterday morning. I did not know what was happening because I was still asleep; but at 05:06 I was awakened from a deep sleep and I got out of bed and walked around the bedroom. I knew something was not right and my wife asked what was wrong. There was a 3.5 earthquake near Washington DC at that exact same time and apparently it awoke me. I went back to bed and fell fast asleep again. Not until I watched the news did I know of the event. When these things strike, and they will with increasing intensity, we have safety and comfort and we can rest assured that our Father is watching over us. He is in control.
What about us? We will have songs in the night! We will have gladness of heart. We will go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel as the LORD causes the voice of His authority to be heard throughout the earth. Fear not, for He is with us. Be not dismayed for He is our God. He will strengthen us, He will uphold us with His mighty arm. Hold the things of this earth loosely for we are going to a place where sin and despair no longer exist. We are NOT ORPHANS! Our Father is in total control of every event.
Friday, July 16, 2010
WE ARE FAMILY
Claiming the power that is in Christ's name is not some complicated, hidden
theological truth. In my library are books written solely on the subject ofJesus' name. The authors wrote them to help believers understand the deep implications hidden in Christ's name. Yet, most of these books are so "deep,"they go right over readers' heads.
I believe the truth we're meant to know about Jesus' name is so simple, a child could understand it. It's simply this: When we make our requests in Jesus' name, we're to be fully persuaded that it's the same as if Jesus himself were asking the Father.
You ask, How could this be true? Let me explain. We know that God loved his Son. He spoke with Jesus and taught him during his time on earth. And God not only heard but answered every request his Son made. Jesus testified to this, saying, "He heareth me always." In short, the Father never denied his Son any request.
Today, all who believe in Jesus are clothed in his Sonship. And the heavenly Father receives us as intimately as he receives his own Son. Why? It's because of our spiritual union with Christ. Through his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus has made us one with the Father. "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…I in them, and thou in me" (John 17:21–23).
Simply put, we are now family—one with the Father, and one with the Son.We've been adopted, with the full rights of inheritance possessed by any child. This means all the power and resources of heaven are made available to us, through Christ. Praying "in the name of Jesus" is not a formula. It is not the phrase that has power in simply speaking it.
The power is in believing that Jesus takes up our cause and brings it to the Father on his own merits. He is the Advocate—he is doing the asking for us. The power is in fully trusting that God never denies his own Son and we are the beneficiary of the Father's utter faithfulness to his Son.
Monday, July 12, 2010
HOW BIG IS YOUR JESUS?
John 14 contains two magnificent promises. In the first, Jesus states, "Verily,verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it" (John14:12–14). Jesus makes it plain and simple in the last verse: "Ask anything in My name, and I'll do it for you."Two verses later, Jesus promises, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you" (John 14:16–18).
Here Christ issaying, "I'm going to give you the Spirit of Truth. And his power will abide in you."These are two incredible promises from Jesus. Yet, notice the one verse that's sandwiched between them: "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).Why does this statement appear here? Christ is telling us, "There is a matter of obedience connected to these promises."
In short, both promises have to do with keeping and obeying God's Word. They were given to be fulfilled, so that nothing would hinder us from claiming the power that is Christ. I'm convinced that asking little or nothing in Jesus' name is a reproach tohim. Year after year, many Christians settle for less and less. Finally, they settle for salvation only. They have no expectations other than making it to heaven someday.I ask you: Have you come to the end of your Christ? Do you expect nothing more than to be saved by his power and grace? Does your Christ end at just enough strength to make it through another day? Does he end for you at a place of occasional peace and joy, in a life lived mostly under Satan's harassment?
All of these passages in God's Word persuade me that "my" Jesus is no bigger than my requests. Yet, sadly, many believers make Christ look insignificant and powerless by their unbelief. Beloved, I don't want my Christ to be limited. Instead, I want every devil in hell to know how big my God is by how big my requests are. I want more out of my Christ. I want him to be bigger than ever in my life.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
He was so discouraged that he asked God to let him die. Elijah thought he was the only one in Israel who heard from God. The Almighty assured this troubled prophet that there were an additional 7000 who had not bowed their knee or kissed the demonic god of Baal.
In the encounter of Elijah with the Angel of the LORD who had prepared a meal for the troubled Prophet, he again fell into a troubled sleep. The Angel awoke Elijah again, fed him and sent him on his way to Mt. Horeb. At the Mount, an interesting event occurred that is still studied by Bible scholars. It can be interpreted in several ways. Here are some thoughts I had today while musing over the event as recorded in Scripture. May God forgive my misinterpretation if there are any:
Elijah was hiding in a cave. The Angel of the LORD again came to him and asked him what he was doing there? He was instructed to go forth and stand upon the mount before the LORD. ( 1 Kings 19) The LORD passed by and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the mountain and rocks; but the LORD was not in the wind.
An earthquake occurred but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. Then, out of no where, a still, small voice. The voice of the LORD! This is the only passage of Scripture where this Hebrew word for "still " is used in the entire Bible. It means, a calm, silent, quite voice. Can you even imagine the contrast of just experiencing a strong wind that tore into a mountain, an earthquake and then a fire? How jarring to the soul of Elijah this voice must have been!
The Hebrew word for "small voice" means a very little thing, very thin. Almost a whisper, it seems. The only other time this word for "small" is used in the Old Testament is found in Leviticus 16:12, on the and this word for small represented the incense of the Priest being full of sweet incense beaten "small", to bring it within the veil of the Holy of Holies once a year. Incense represented the prayers of the saints.
And the other occurrence of the word "small" is found in the Book of Exodus in a description of the manna that fell from heaven for the Children of Israel in their wilderness travels. Exodus 16:14 says, " And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the Wilderness there lay a "small" round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground..." It was manna.
Christ said that He was the manna that fell from the heavens that sustained the children of Israel in their wilderness wanderings. This manna was only as thick as the layer of frost that covers the ground on a chilly morning. The incense of the High Priest was beaten so fine that it was only a layer in his hands as he entered the Holy of Holies.
This still, small voice that Elijah heard is the same voice we hear on a daily basis if we are serious about following Christ and meeting His need to use our arms, legs and body on this earth. We are His representatives on this troubled planet. Matthew Henry, who lived many hundred of years ago and devoted his life to the Hebrew and Greek scriptural interpretations said that this "still, small voice" Christ spoke of is our conscience.
If we stay tuned to the sound of His voice, the voice of the Spirit, we can learn whether to go to the left or go to the right, as Christ said. He did not leave us as orphans; He sent another to take His place to assist us. We must stay tuned to His channel! It is not an easy or casual exercise. Christ said quite often, "He who has an ear to hear, let him hear...." He was serious!
Getting back to Elijah and his bout with feeling he was the only one; God told him to anoint another to take his place. He found Elisha plowing a field with twelve oxen. Elisha was standing behind the twelfth oxen. He was not in front expecting the oxen to follow him; he was overseeing the entire plowing team from the last oxen to the first. To me, this is a sign of humility. He was concerned for the entire team that they operated in unison. And I feel that God was teaching Elijah a very important lesson; you are not the only one!! I can appoint and raise up another at My will.
Still, in an act of intimate kindness and graciousness, on the day of Elijah's departure, God from the heavens sent fiery horses and a chariot to take His prophet home! What a picture of the Rapture for all Believers. No wonder Christ said, Look up! For your redemption is near!
Friday, July 9, 2010
Rabbi Yehuda Amital, age 86, died in Israel today. He was a strong, vibrant and interesting person considering his background as a youth. He was born in Transylvania in the 1920's, was captured by the Nazi's and sent to a work camp.
His father, mother, brothers and sister were murdered by the Nazi's. No family remained. At the end of WW II he moved to Israel and fought in her War of Independence in 1948. Here is a statement he made before his death:
“I took it upon myself to be head of the yeshiva (religious school he established) because I knew I needed to take the place of friends who did not survive,” he explained, “That gave me the power to do something. The fact that I was among the few who remained alive gave me strength to act, otherwise I would not have taken the position.”
After losing all, even those he loved, he used these horrible circumstances of his life to receive strength to act. He took the place of the friends he had lost, those who did not survive, and succeeded in his efforts.
Many would have used Rabbi Yehuda Amital's background to turn to alcohol, drugs or self pity. With the help of Almighty God, those who chose the straight and narrow path always succeed and are triumphant with God by their side. We are more than conquerors through Christ who strengthens us.
Monday, July 5, 2010
David and his men had gone to fight a battle with another king. While they were gone, another enemy came into David's camp and totally destroyed it; even taking the women, wives and children hostage. David's men were ready to stone him! It cannot get any worse than that, can it?
Under direction from God, David was given permission to pursue their enemy and with the help of the Almighty, David's army was victorious in battle. Everything David and his men had lost was recovered and the spoil of the enemy camp was of great magnitude.
Upon returning, many of David's men wanted to keep the spoil of battle for themselves and not share it with the men who had stayed behind to guard their original encampment. David strongly disagreed with this thought. It is recorded in 1 Samuel in this way:
" Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, and of those that were with David, and said, " Because they went not with us, we will not give them aught of the spoil that we have recovered, (notice, they said they recovered the spoil, no mention of God)...
" then said David, ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the LORD hath given us, (notice to whom David gave credit for victory)...the LORD who has preserved us, delivered us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand. For who will hearken unto you in this manner?"
" but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff. And it was that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day..."
Here is to whom David distributed the spoil from the victories:
* to the elders of Judah
* to his friends
* to those in Bethel
* to those in South Ramoth
* to those in Jattir
* to those in Aroer
* to those in Simphmoth
* to those in Eshtemoa
* to those in Rachal
* and to those which were in the cities of the Kenites
* And to them which were in Hormah and those in Chorashan and in Athach
* And to those in Hebron and to all the places David himself and his men were wont to haunt.
Quite an extensive gift of charity! David freely received of the LORD and he freely gave. Should this not also be our mindset, especially in these troubled days?
What is really interesting is the very next chapter, 1 Samuel 31, the wicked King Saul who had pursued David for years was killed in battle. Did David have to come to this place in his character, to freely receive, and then freely give before he was able to ascend to the throne he was anointed to? Do we not talk about ruling and reigning with Christ?
Is this a test we have to pass before we achieve great victory from the ones who pursue us? Do we have the mindset of David that our success in our battle was all the LORD'S doing anyway? Do we give as freely as we receive?
Difficult questions for difficult times. Unlike David, I have not had to flee for my life yet and live in caves! I want to pass this test with flying colors!