We are All Here! Acts 16:22

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But Paul cried out with a loud voice,
saying, “Do yourself no harm,
for we are all here!”
Acts 16:28

“Do yourself no harm, for we are all here…” Paul cried out to the guard of the prison, whom woke from his slumber to discover that the gates to the prison were wide open, and the shackles on the feet were all loosened.  He looked around and not only had reason to fear the prisoners, but even greater was the Magistrate who had given him strict orders to secure the Paul and Silas.loudvoice

The Guard woke up from his sleep and realized the dangerous situation he was in and determined that it was best to take his life, and to suffer at the hands of the prisoners and or the Roman authorities.

He grabbed his sword, but before he could take his life, a loud cry reached him before he could finish the action.  “Do yourself no harm,”  Paul starts!   I love this portion of the statement, because it is what I am thinking when I speak to those who are living outside of Christ, and to those living in Christ but not submitted to Him.  Its hard to believe for many, but the wages and the reward of sin is not just the physical death, but the suffering that extends beyond one taking their last breaths!shutterstock_82835449

Millions reject Christ, running from truth, and while this is sad, the shame found is the many people running the opposite direction, refusing to take responsibility for Kingdom.  Many once free, hoist the blood stained banner over their house, and their public declaration of Lord and King stop once they emerge from the water.

But Paul and Silas were different.  Once free, they understood their purpose was to lead as many people to freedom as they could.  They saw those unsaved as an opportunity and those newly saved as a responsibility.  Though free to leave, Paul and Silas were arrested in place by the knowledge what others were listening, and though physically freed, they were spiritually in bondage.  In addition, the Jailer was a lost soul, and though sleep through praise and worship, was the one God had identified as ready to be freed.

falling-on-your-sword1Paul says, “Do yourself no harm,” and then continues, “for we are all here”.  You don’t have to continue on the path that you are on.  There is no need to harm yourself from this point on.  “We are all here.”  What I heard resonating in my Spirit was the need for those lost, struggling and suffering to know that they have not been abandoned.  Despite their prior encounter, Paul and Silas, put his needs before their own.  As opposed to judging him for his prior actions, they remained in place so he would not face the eternal judge without a righteous covering.

What would happen is we had a “We are all here” approach?

Wonderful File Cabinet Folder Tabs Inspirative Cabinet Decoration Filing Cabinet Divider TabsWe are living in a time where everyone is placed in to categories.  Sin serves like folder dividers, placing us into groups, and the world organizes us in such a way, that we find ourselves saying to those no free, “we are over here, and you are over there”.  And while it is our goal to bring them to freedom, is the judgement and separation that works against the affirming and convicting love of Christ.

Paul and Silas understood that the spotlight of righteousness cast by Christ is more than enough to handle and accept without the judgement and condemnation of man who is imperfect, but just filed differently.  And while our invoice has been paid, we recognize that the sins of all have been paid for with the same death, but that the lack of confession hasn’t allowed their invoice to be reconciled.

Paul could have said to the Jailer, ‘”…we are all here” for you’, and the statement would have been just as accurate.  

Who are you there for?
Who is your assignment?
Who is following you?

slavesI love the urgency and emotion displayed by Paul, as he “cried out.”  Though we don’t know if Paul could physically see the Jailer, we do know that he knew that he was getting ready to take drastic measures.  Maybe he sensed it in the Spirit, maybe God spoke to him in a voice, maybe the inmates spread the word to the center of the jail, or maybe he just had a birds eye view.  What we do know is that before the end of the story could be written, Paul lifted up his voice with a loud cry.  I believe this cry came not just in response to what he saw, but in response to what he believed.

Are you driven to speak out about what you believe?
Would you watch someone solidify their fate as opposed to helping someone solidify their faith?  

 

#PastorJDO3

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In Pursuit; Despite the Circumstances Judges 8:4

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Gideon and his three hundred men,
exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit,
came to the Jordan and crossed it.
Judges 8:4

 

In the 8th Chapter of Judges, we find the Man of God in pursuit of enemies from the east.  Their numbers, according to the passage are upwards of 15 thousand men; soldiers to be more specific, yet Gideon is leading a band of men to capture them and destroy them. soldiearmor

Here we take our first pause.  Gideon displays the power and position those of us who walk in Spiritual authority should have.   He trims the fat (as God instructs), and takes those with faith forward to battle the enemy.  Looking past the numbers and the past battle history, Gideon guides his men on their trail, determined to carry out the Lords directions in His life.

I wonder how many of us would have the courage to pursuit 15 thousand with 300?

They were outnumbered times 50, but at God’s Word, were willing to face whomever God placed in their path.  Numbers are not always reflective of power, nor do they always predict victory.  Normally numbers project fear upon the opposition, but Gideon projected faith on his fears.

What could we accomplish if we looked at the “lack of” in our life and “enough”?   What would happen if we changed our perspective on our situations and circumstances, and counted God’s Word enough, despite what is in our hands, or even the fear that is in our hearts?  How much could we accomplish if we focused on utilizing the tools in our hand as opposed to being paralyzed with fear as to the things we would like to have for the task.  With God Word and the power of His Spirit, we are conquerors!

outnumberedAs we find, they are not just outnumbered, but they are lacking resources.  As usual, the story for us all, life seems to have many layers, and the to be saturated with challenges!  They have already expended their resources on the journey, but pressed on through their faith and with strong dedicated leadership.    The text lets us know that the men were exhausted from the journey, and their bodies ached, craving fuel to continue.  One could imagine further that they were struggling to stay focused.  Now the question is not whether they can beat the Midionites once they face them, but whether they will survive to even take up the task!

Exhausted and Focused don’t go together!

One of the first things to go when one is exhausted is their focus on the task at hand.  One can find themselves moving from faith to doubt, as they begin questioning not just God, but the leader as to when and where the next provision was coming from.  This issue plagued Moses as he lead God’s people. The hunger brought questions, causing them to loose sight of God’s Word, and doubt the Man of God because of the present lack of provisions.  They wanted to turn back.  They started questioning Moses as a leader.  They questioned God’s plan for their lives, and decided that bondage would be better than freedom.

Lack will make Suffering seem like Serenity!

Never the less, the text says they remained in pursuit.  As opposed to coming a part at the seams, they remembered the Word of God, and stayed focused on the leadership of Gideon and approached the Jordan.

matrix-revolutions-43This is important, because they are not just tasked with crossing the Jordan, they are tasked with crossing the Jordan, and fighting the Midionites who number 15 thousand.  I imagine that many doubted they could overcome this number with a full night of rest and a hearty breakfast, let alone, use their remaining energy to cross a river and then take on their numbers times 50.

But something amazing happens when you are on a mission for the Lord.  God had spoken through the man of God, revealing himself in miracles, letting the people know that God was with Gideon, and in that, was leading them.  Because they knew this, they were not only counting on their strength, and obviously were finding safety in their numbers, but were solely leaning upon God do bring them to and through they battle.  Truly they believed that the battle was not theirs, but that it was the Lords.

What would happen if we truly believed?

Neo_stops_bulletsHow many times have you stood at the bank of the river, and determined that crossing it was more than you could handle?  How many victories? How much stronger?  What would be accomplished?  What has been left un-done?

I have determined in my life, Jordan wont be an issue!  Exhaustion wont be an issue!  Soldiers won’t be an issue!  Midionites won’t be an issue!  Truly if God be for me!  I can do all things through Christ!  It is never more than I can bare!  I will remain in pursuit!  I will capture!  I will conquer!  I will have dominion!  It’s inevitable!

 

#PastorJDO3

Don’t Provoke the Bear!

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He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood. Ezekiel 8:3

Don’t poke the bear” a common saying used to warn those being careless, fearless, ignorant or foolish,about the dangers of making a bear angry. While the bear slumbers or is in hibernation or a state of peace and happiness, can project an image that mask reality. Though they might be cute, and seem harmless, even the youngest bear has enough powers to alter ones course of existence.

Time and time again, people took for granted the bears power, even thinking that it could beaten by those of us who were strong or either studied and knowledgable about his habits and behavior that they overlooked two important factors:

  • 1. Not knowing his mind
  • 2. Not understanding the his complete nature.

In this passage we encounter Gods’ prophet hosting the elders in His home. Without a word, God shows Ezekiel the conditions of those in his midst without a confession. He allows Ezekiel in these visions to see through His eyes. He peers down and immediately encounters an idol.

Fake Gods where in the house of God!!!

The idol was in the inner court, where the priest were to reside and offer up sacrifices to atone for the sins of the people. They had taken some of the gods from other cultures, and had included them in worship along with the true and living God.

God had a roommate!!!!

After all God had done for Israel and Judah, He was given a roommate, and forced to share a space with one who hadn’t any power, or the capability to love, protect and provide. They worshiped and attributed to these idols things that were given by Him. They sought them for life, protection and provision and in doing so, they provoked the bear!

I wondered to myself, “

How many temples, homes and hearts are God forced to be a roommate in?”

How often do we move God into a living condition, where he is treated like a renter, and given a lease on that which He owns? How often is God asked to entertain new tenants, leasing out space to those who don’t belong?

He shares His temple with paintings and statues, when His temple was designed to paint His image upon the people and to teach them his statutes. Sadly, I believe He sees more of the same today. While our God has upheld His covenant and remained consistent, our behavior all along has caused us to experience earthly judgement and or punishment, which to many was unbearable. Sadly, this did not lead to a correction of their actions and has not lead to the correction of ours either.

They continued down the path, in some cases unaware that the bear had been provoked. They continued in the error of their ways, and the prophets, priest and elders had not corrected it, partly because they were living in error too.

We find out via the visions of God, that the elders who sat in Ezekiel’s home has lives they lived in the dark. They committed atrocities against God in the dark in hopelessness, not believing that correcting the error of their ways would lead to God changing their circumstances.

Each Elder, God revealed to Ezekiel, had their own personal shrine in their room (Yes, the room that God provided.). After service, they went to their rooms and worshipped a god that didn’t provide. Sadly, we do the same. They served in the temple, advised the people and then gave their most intimate self to inanimate object.

Much like then, God watched the sin through eyes of love through shades of jealousy. Though He loved His people, He was and is still jealous of where we place our love and adoration.

So what is your practice?

I imagine that God knows the difficulty many of us face watching second to second updates of those we loved and lost or are envious of living out life with an insufficient replacement. How sad it must be for Him to see us chasing temporary fulfillment, while complete provision is just a prayer away.

What’s in your gateway?

Is there something preventing God from seeing and receiving your sacrifice?

What in your life is provoking Gods wrath?

#PastorJDO3

I Keep My Word!

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And they will know that I am the Lord;
I did not threaten in vain
to bring calamity on them.
Ezekiel 6:10

As of late, we have listened to prognosticators justify their position to remain defiant to the Lord.  Many have, in their own foolishness, rationalized that our God, the creator, who is filled with love, willing to forgive, willing to apply grace, and eager to administer justice1mercy, will not punish those who have not accepted His sacrificial offering.  Before, we listened to those who would argue that there is no God, and while there are still those who ignore the obvious, we are seeing more and more who acknowledge His existence, but are not willing to accept His provision.  We find ourselves reaching out to a spiritual generation, who have found peace with a variety of practices, all of which bare teachings that they omit from study and application.

Our Congregations are being Contaminated by Confused Congregants

Worse, these teachings are creeping into the pews, creating those who worship you with a portion of their hearts, making Sunday for many simply idol worship.  As your prophets speak forth truth, the devil works through the congregation, removing that which has not and will not take root, because something has already been planted and is in need of being uprooted.

The Promised Land came with Deed Restrictions

God freed the Israelite; and planted them in a place of wealth.  Broke the walls down via a uniformed shout, and placed into the hands of those who experienced a wealth deed-restrictions-273x300transfer before it was thought to be possible.  God enabled them to own and possess, that which was formerly inhabited by others, and issued a Divine Deed, which came with Divine Deed Restrictions.  Yes, this concept of Deed Restrictions can be traced back to our Lord :).  He allowed each to take residence, and to build and have dominion, but required them to remain pure, and no matter what, to have No other God! Worship no other God!  Don’t take on the practices of those God has placed under your feet!

Despite the Deed Restriction…

And yep, you guessed it; before their bags were good an unpacked, they began to accept and adopt the practices of the former inhabitants, building idols, and placing them in the house of the Lord to be worshiped.  The admired and acted about their cultural practices, merging them with their culture and making them into a defiled nation in the land which God provided for them!  And yep, after many chances to change, God found himself at this point.  Much like He stood before bringing the Flood, and again with Sodom, He watched His creation sin before Him as though He wouldn’t take action.

How many Restricted Deeds have you performed?

confused personAnd for those keeping track, He once again decides to punish the ones He loves.  His punishment would not just keep them from prosperity, but would allow them to suffer physically, mentally and spiritually.  This is important because this age has convinced not just non-believers, but believers that God will withhold punishment just because He loves us!  This is a lie!  Even under the new covenant, the God that never changes stands firmly with the Word He has spoken, and upholds His promise by allowing the children of Israel to reap the fruits of their covenant with false gods!

God’s Word is Sustained by Him

You think I’m playing, God is probably thinking!  He speaks through Ezekiel and says, in addition to my Word not return void, but It’s also not spoken “in vain.”   See, with God, there is no “idle threat”.  God’s Word is life people, thus much like speaking the heavens, the earth, every plant, and life form into existence, God’s covenant is a product of His Word, which means it is alive, and His promise of punishment and calamity are factual not possible or even probably!

We read God’s word as though is has not been through final edits.  The reality is that God’s Word has already been proofed, and its verbalization is publication.  His Word to us seems possible and probably, but its actual.  God’s Word give new meaning to the coined phrase “taking a life of its own.”  Because God can not lie, His Words are life and truth, and can be counted as dependable.  And not just dependable when it benefits your situation, but when it works against your own circumstances.  propheticroar

When you need God, He is there, standing by His Word, honoring His covenant, protecting truth, upholding the standard of righteousness, carrying out justice, while balanced with love, mercy and grace.  It is amazing to me to me that as earthly parents, we chastise and punish our children, and administer judgement with those we are in relationship with, with a measure of mercy and grace, but somehow can not fathom that God can carry out the same.  God is more balanced than we are.  He is truly fair and just, and carries out judgement not as a respecter of persons, but as one who hold the standard across the ages.    Moses looked but didn’t enter, David collected but didn’t build, Saul met the end of a sword, Solomon had the Kingdoms ripped from his hands…..Etc. 

What more do you need to hear?  God honors His Word.  He stands bye His covenant.  He sends Angles and Prophets in addition to providing us His Word to show us how to warn us, and remind us how to honor and live within the covenant with us, and yes, when we fail to live up to His standard, punishment is given to those loves.

throneHe will Keep His Word!  He promised them that calamity is coming.  It is coming to those who refuse to Keep His Word and or accepts His covenant.  The great news is that God gives us a choice.  You can choose Him, or you can reject Him.  It’s your choice.  And though you are not forced to accept Him as Savior and Lord, you can not reject Him as judge!  One day He will divide the sheep from the goats, and He will Keep His Word!

 

#PastorJDO3

 

 

Dialogue with a Seventh Day Adventist.

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I just finished a great conversation with a Seventh Day Adventist brother about the history or the Sabbath.

According to him, Constantine aligned the Sabbath with His Calendar which made Sunday the day of rest for all workers and professionals. I think he thought I would enter into a discourse about the Sabbath, but I redirected his attention to how the example of Constantine caused a long term shift in the faith.

While the leadership at the time might have thought
it an easy answer to stop persecution
and to make the faith popular,
it led to a change in the practice of the faith.

I then took the time to talk to our brother about the dangerous game our evangelical leaders are playing with our president and his companions. While they are working their way into power by renting out their pulpits, they are allowing a man who considers capitalism righteousness, and considers the Bible leverage to manipulate people to serve as an example to all as a standard of righteousness.

While this seems innocent and harmless, like Constantine, this can  lead the practice and understanding of the the faith and Christ long beyond an up and coming election.

 

#pastorJDO3

Another Name?

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Like a lion that has come up from its lair
the one who destroys nations has set out
from his home base.
He is coming out to lay your land waste.
Your cities will be left in ruins and
lie uninhabited.  Jeremiah 4:7

 

As we continue our journey through Jeremiah, I am inspired to continue writing about the dialogue from our Lord through Jeremiah.  What is captured in these words is both the love, and faithfulness of our Lord and the serious nature of our God when it comes to covenant.

What is concerning to me is the current views of our God.  Its the presentation that our God is so filled with Love, Mercy and Grace, that He would somehow be in capable of carrying out Vengeance and Wrath on those who reject Him or refuse to follow and obey.  While we do understand that each man will be held accountable for his own actions, we have a view of judgement day that is more like “Shark Tank”, “The Voice” or maybe “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?.”

tinder1The Word informs us that He will divide sheep from goat, almost like the lawless swipe their way through Tinder.  Yep, either covered or uncovered!  Our God swept through Egypt looking at the doorpost, laying to rest the first born of those who were not covered, swallowed up almost all of humanity in a flood, rained down fire on an unrighteous town, allowed famines to come, and allowed His people to be held in captivity (among many other events).  This God, my friends, has been labeled so loving and so forgiving, that He will not honor His Word.

Let me take the time today to point out a name that is not given to our Lord by His people, but a description of our Lord from His own lips to Jeremiahs ears and heart.  God says He is “the one who destroys nations.”  HelloDestorysWe forget that our God’s Word hold back the four corners of the earth, and that one Word from Him can flood the earth, can open up the ground and swallow up rebellious followers.  How quickly we forget that 40 years passed before entering the promised land, laying to rest generations of His chosen ones because the grumbled and complained, and that His chosen vessel died before entering the land promised to him because of disobedience.  This same God gave the man after His own heart the plans for the temple, allowed him to collect all the resources and then wouldn’t let him build!  This God people is the same God, now and forever more.  And despite our teaching and characterization of God, all the interpretive face lifts and implants will not change who He is, just who we believe Him to be.

God has suffered many advertising campaigns that have painted an vague picture of a God; who, has a high concern for righteousness, obedience and covenant.  God reminds His people through His servant, I am “the one who destroys nations.”  Many times the children prayed to God, were outnumbered, not as well equipped, not strategically placed, and the children advanced into foreign territory and dominated because God has either gone before them, or the opposing nations had headed about God to such the capacity that their heart were gone before the children lifted their swords.

throneThis same God allowed His children to lay waste to enemy territory, putting to death women, children and even the animals.  He reminds them that He is capable of not only parting seas, and providing clouds and fire to guide them, but is able to curse the very ground the labored on and remove the hedges that formerly protected them.

They have been fooled into believing that the worst is over.  They think that being in exile was the harshest punishment or that being under the ruler ship of a foreign leader who lacked morals and worshiped a foreign God was the worst that could happen to them, but Jeremiah brings to them a word of warning.

Listen to the Words of our Lord, who is describing Himself.  He says, “Like a lion that has come up from its lair…”  It’s as though He has been in His lair, ignoring the sounds from the entrance of His cave.  propheticroarThe people outside play, taunt and keep up drama and noise in His presence, ignoring the sheer danger of the lion, and playfully beacon from Him to emerge from His throne.  I can see people throwing rocks down the entrance, waving fresh flesh at the caves entrance, yelling into the caves empty threats, growing bolder and louder by the moment before He appears.

Then, like a thief in the night, God (much like He left from eternity) stands up from His throne and makes His entrance.  While God came in the form of man to free and not to judge, here we find God telling the people that He is going to “set out from his home base” and “lay your lands waste…in ruins and lie uninhabited.”  Just when they thought they had experienced the worst, God determines that their actions have called for judgement.  What they had experienced before is punishment, and now they would experience His judgement.

There is a difference between punishment and judgement. 

This bothered me.  I hear person after person talking about our earthly inhabitants being hell on earth.  This is particularly hard to hear us spoiled Americans recite.   Its as though we believe this earthly dwelling is the hardest life could ever be.  We say this knowing that a different level of struggle exist in other countries, and recall this knowing what has been revealed to God’s Prophets.  How foolish we are!  

God presents to Him a plans to take action on  and from the thing that was a blessing to them, but became a stumbling block to them.  JehovahNissiThe place where He purposed to meet them was eventually shared by false Gods, and became a place of manipulation and disobedience.  The law He created for mankind to abide by, because a tool to chastise and prosper those in power with positions.  And it is this bold, public rejection of God that causes God to put into works a public judgement.

In conclusions, He is El Shaddai, Jehovah Jireh, Jehova Rapha & Jehovah Nissi, but He is also “The one who Destroys Nations!”

 

#PastorJDO3

Playing Chicken with the Divine

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…If you do not, my anger will leap out
like a flaming fire against you
that no one will be able to put out.
That will happen because of the evil
you have done. Jeremiah 4:4

God speaks powerfully through His Prophet, Jeremiah, to His people who are once again under the rule of another.  In His effort to restore the relationship between He and His people, He must go over the offenses, and remind them of the boundaries and ramifications that come along with breaking the covenant agreement.images

I found verse 4 an issue because God is speaking, and my fear is that the people both now and then were not listening.  As we soak in God’s love, perfume ourselves with His grace, and cloth ourselves with His mercy, we are blind to His wrath, and destined to experience more of it.  God warns the people, it can be the best of times, or the worst of times.  They can align with His Word, or stand in disobedience to it.

We memorize all the scriptures with blessings and promises, and ignore the warning and instruction.  God says, “Dedicate yourselves fully to the Lord…”  God desires for us to be fully dedicated, not partially dedicated.   The people ended up in their current circumstances because they had spiritual affairs on God.  They worshiped false idols and desecrated His temple by giving the living God a non-living roommate.    They sacrificed on His altar, offering that which was intended for the Lord to a false god.  They could not advance or prosper because they were not fully committed to the Lord.

lockeddoorOf course I gasped.   As I look at our current state, I see us suffering and blaming the adversary, binding the work of the devil while the Lord holds back the angels and the hedge placed around us, exposing us and leaving us vulnerable to the enemy.    God was using them to chastise His people in an effort to direct them back into a right relationship with Him, and they adjusted to their new normal, remained in error, and abandoned their pursuit for righteousness.  We don’t have to remain in our current state!  We can restore to us what has been taken by dedicating ourselves fully to the Lord.

God says this, “…get rid of everything that hinders you from being committed to me.”  So I ask you:

What is hindering you?

What bothered me about this statement is that often the things we see as aids are hindrances.  There are things we consider blessings that are weights in the pool of faith.  As we swim from shore to shore, the cares of this world weight us down in such a manner that we find ourselves struggling to get closer to Him.

Which bring us to the end of the verse, “If you do not…”  God warns them there will be a price for not removing the hindrances and fully dedicating themselves to the Lord, that price will be God’s anger.

God warns, “…my anger will leap out like a flaming fire against you…”  God gives us the visual of his anger being like a flaming fire.  It’s the language of leap out that grabs the immediate attention.  bonfire

Much like 3 Hebrew boys, God’s anger can rage so hot that it leaps out and consumes all in it path.  God says a refusal to honor our covenant will place the people whom God has placed His name on in the position of enemy.  Worse, the fire of God is not an out of control and random fire, its a hot and focused fire which has a focal point.  Lord forbid we be the point of His Anger.

It seems today we like to play chicken with the Lord!  The game chicken we played as children seems to be the lifestyle of many believers. 

In this game, two people take a challenge that has the potential to harm both participants, and measures how far each will go before either harming each other or yields.  The aim is to get the other to flinch first. thus showing fearlessness and moxie.

We hear the word, read the word, know the word, but refuse to acknowledge a portion of its promises.  Just as much as the Bible gives promises of blessings, it gives promises of action towards those who refuse to be obedient.  God sends Prophets to us to correct us, but we stop up our ears, and dare the Divine to visit us.  Its as though we believe we can wave His Word in His Face, and use His promise of blessing to nullify the warning through the same Word!

Stop Playing Chicken with God!

faceoffIn the past, the Israelites benefited from the help from others, but God warns them.  No matter the marriages and or the connections they have made with those who are not in relationship with the Lord, “…that no one will be able to put out.”  Everyone can grab a bucket and a hose, and focus all their resources on putting out the inferno God has sent your way.  We can collectively sacrifice all our resources and find ourselves bearing witness as you are reduced to ash and dust.   Why play chicken with the Lord.

I know what you are thinking; how cruel!  Nah, God concludes “That will happen because of the evil you have done.”  Having a merciful God does not mean He is not just and that we do not pay for our actions.  God says it is  imperative that we assess our relationship with Him and look to restore and repair it before He is forced to take action.  He will do this to protect His name, and to display His conviction about righteousness for His creation.

#PastorJDO3