Saturday, January 16, 2021

5 Testimonies of the End Times: Visions & Dreams of the Last Days

"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams." -Acts 2:17

One thing those of us who love truth and strong doctrine and apologetics and philosophy is that we tend to sneer like a non-believer at legitimate spiritual gifts like prophecy, and those things associated with it, dreams, visions and prophetic utterances.  Yet biblical truth they are. They do of course messy the waters of biblical doctrine don't they?  But that is no excuse to reject them all as hackery.  To do so would be the ultimate expression of hypocrisy, to love the word of God so diligently, and then reject a teaching of the word of God because it upsets our own preferred view of it.  That would make no sense.

To that end I submit for your consideration these testimonies of heaven and hell. Don't allow these testimonies to be a stumbling block to you, but an open door of consideration, and reflection on who God is and how God reveals himself.  

The end times are a reality of the scriptures.  How will it come about?  What will happen?  It's all in the book of Revelation.  And apparently, God teaches about these times as well through the testimonies of those of the five-fold ministry who are called "prophets."  Don't despise the prophets my friends. Do discern the false from the true prophets. But don't reject them all.  Enjoy these testimonies of the end times.  God bless you. 

"Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good." -1st Thessalonians 5:20-21 NIV

1. Maurice Sklar's Vision


2. Kenneth Peter's Vision of the End Times


3. Tomi Arayomi's word from the Lord for the future


4. Jeremy's Vision of the End Times


5. Colonel James Durham's Vision of the Destruction of the Power Grid

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Your Spiritual Check-Up List

[Feel free to print this post]

Real Christians put all their hope, faith, trust, and future upon the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Do you believe and trust for your full salvation from Jesus Christ alone?

Real Christians forgive those who hurt them and have hurt them. Take a moment to pray, and forgive those you are holding grudges against.

Did the Bible live in me today? Am I living with a Bible mindset or am I living worldly? Real Christians live out the Bible.

Real Christians pray everyday. What is state of my prayer life? Am I praying everyday? And do I enjoy it?

Prayer is oxygen to the Christian. Learn techniques to pray effectively and develop a pattern of practice. As you mature, add in weekly times of fasting.

Real Christians read the Bible everyday.Am I reading the word & feasting on it?

The Bible is our daily bread, we need the words of God to strengthen us in this broken world. Set aside time each day to read a chapter or several, and study them carefully.

Real Christians tithe 10% and give offerings regularly. Do I tithe, or am I stealing from God?

Tithing as a general principle is that you give 10% of your income back to God. 10% is the minimum, but the New Testament standard is to give all, so begin to give more as you are led by God to do so. Give where you are fed, give to your church. Also give offerings as you feel led, for other ministries and for world missions.

Real Christians evangelize the lost. When is the last time you shared the gospel? Share the gospel with someone new today.

Evangelize to the lost - this means to share the gospel, your testimony, and encouragement with others throughout the week. Find ways to make it happen! The souls of lost humanity hang in the balance.

Real Christians practice sabbath. Are you spending the Lord’s day resting and seeking the Lord? Rest is a gift from God.

We are no longer under the Old Testament law of Moses. But the sabbath rest is still an important teaching from God.  We should be taking one day a week to rest, seek God, and abstain from work.

Real Christians practice purity of life. Are there sins in my life? Am I in need of repentance? Pray for the Lord’s help to be free from sin. Begin a fast if you are trapped and cry out to God for deliverance.

Real Christians meet the needs of fellow Christians. Are you providing food for the hungry, water for the thirsty, visiting the sick and prisoner, and befriending those who have no friends?

There are various ways to care for the poor. Food pantries, soup kitchens, visiting shut-ins, giving out clothing, visiting those in jail, homeless shelters, and giving out water to those on the streets. These are express commands in scripture from Matthew 25:31-46.

Real Christians do not forsake gathering together. Are you gathering with the church regularly? Are you attending church every Sunday?

Real Christians serve in various church ministries. Are you serving actively in your church? Talk to your pastor about serving in a ministry.

Serving in the church is an effective way to minister to those of the body of Christ.  Don't be part of the dreaded "80-20 rule" which says "20% of the people do 80% of the work."  Don't be a martyr either, but please do serve.  Ask to speak to your pastor or a lay-leader one on one and ask about how to get involved or how to start a new ministry. 

Do you really love God & people genuinely? Take time today to love.

So those are some simple basics for Christians to understand how to live.  But I want to now direct your attention to some questions put together by one of my heroes of the faith, John Wesley.  He really pioneered what we now today call the small group.  And in his small groups they would help hold each other accountable, by asking one another these questions.  They are printed on the back of your spiritual check up list.  Let’s take a look at some of these.

John Wesley’s 21 Questions

1.Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?

2.Am I honest in all my acts & words, or do I exaggerate?

3.Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?

4.Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?

5.Am I self‐conscious, self‐pitying, or self‐justifying?

6.Did the Bible live in me today?

7.Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?

8.Am I enjoying prayer?

9.When did I last speak to someone about my faith?

10. Do I pray about the money I spend?

11. Do I get to bed on time & get up on time?

12. Do I disobey God in anything?

13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?

14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?

15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?

16. How do I spend my spare time?

17. Am I proud?

18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?

19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward, or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?

20. Do I grumble & complain constantly?

21. Is Christ real to me?

How to Grow as a Christian in 2021

I debated a great deal in my mind what I ought to share at the beginning of a new year. Do I share a lollypop message about living your best life now and how great everything is? Do I share one of those sour messages, about how bad everything is in the world, and how to stand? I almost went that route.  But I thought to myself, what do my people need to hear? Well, they need to hear the word of God.  And it seems like right now we’re in a season growth and change.  We’re starting the new year the right way by focusing on God and focusing in on growth and breakthrough in our lives. So we’re looking at the topic of growth and change in the word of God.

1.    Continued, Steady Growth

From the book of 2nd  Peter 3:18 ESV, hear the word of the Lord, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

The challenge is continued growth. It’s easy to get off track, to start to kind of lose your fire, and settle into a routine that you become bored with. But the word of God refreshes us saying, continue to grow. And grow in something.  Grow in Christ. Grow in the grace that Christ provides.  He covers our mistakes, our sins, our foul-ups, where we have a safe arena, in our daily lives to grow.  And it says grow in knowledge, of our Lord and savior Jesus.  As we develop spiritually, our knowledge of the world and the sins and the spiritual battles grows. We begin to get wise to the tactics of the enemy we face.

2.    Moving into Maturity: Deepening our walk with God

Again, Hebrews, chapter 5 verses 12-14 says this, “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,”

This is very interesting, the writer of Hebrews tells us that we should be caught in a repeating loop, of repentance from sin, and faith towards God.  Like where we’re constantly having to start over because we’re always tripping ourselves up.  It says instead go on into this state of maturity.  Where we’re soldiers for christ, mature troopers, seasoned and constantly at work for the kingdom.

3.    Immerse yourself in Biblical Christianity

So we see God commanding us to this ethic of growth and maturity.  How do we do that?  I think we get a clue to that from 1st Timothy 4:15-16, which says ,”Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.” 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

This is the apostle Paul writing to his apprentice Timothy.  He tells Timothy to practice these things, practice makes perfect.  That’s why we read our Bible everyday. That’s why we gather together for life group, discipleship, and Sunday morning and Sunday evening.  We need to hear this message over and over until it becomes an active part of our minds.  There’s this word here “immerse.” Which pictures wading into water, until youi’re completely in it.  Immerse yourself in the Christian message.  Listen to Christian podcasts. Listen to sermons on youtube. Read the Bible. Read Christian books. Listen to Christian radio. Immerse yourself daily in the Christian message. Keep a close watch on yourself 1st of all, and 2ndly, on what your teaching.  Why is that?  It’s easy to get off track in our personal life, where we start to slip off into trouble.  That’s why we hold each other accountable.  Secondly, on what we teach.  You see how many false teachers are in the world, we’ve gotta make sure we’re teaching a pure gospel, with love and truth.

4.    Train yourself in Discernment: Understand Good and Evil

Hebrews 6:1 ESV “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

We’ve all heard this scripture many times I’m sure, but I want to draw your attention to the final sentence here, solid food is for the mature, which is about the training of discernment to distinguish good from evil.  Many Christians today are blind and have no discernment. They can’t tell good from evil.  And so we see more and more evil ideologies manifesting themselves in the church.  Train yourself to discern good from evil in the world, in ideas, in current events, and in teachings going around.  This isn’t as easy as you might think. But train yourself to discern, to understand the times we are in. 

 

5.    Suffering produces Endurance, which produces character

From the book of Romans, Romans 5:2-6 ESV “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”

That scripture speaks for itself. Amen.

6.    Love is central to growth

I want to share this one as well, because we have to remember that growth should involve growth of our love, that our love bank, that we pour out to others is always growing larger and larger, from Philippians 1:9 ESV “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,” Notice how God adds knowledge and discernment to the love though, he doesn’t want us to have that worldly love that is “just be nice” and don’t make waves and don’t say anything that might convict someone.  It’s a sacrificial love built on knowledge and discerning the times. 

7.    Grow in the Spirit, not in the flesh

And as we consider growth, there is a trap we can fall into and it’s articulated in the scriptures this way: Galatians 3:3 ESV “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”  This is a great reminder. God’s work in us has been by the Holy Spirit. But now are we going to jump in and finish that work through the flesh? No. Don’t fall into that trap.  Test and see what God is doing. Don’t try to forage ahead in your own strength. Cooperate with what God is doing in your growth and change.

8.    Self Examination is Key to Growth

But we do see in the scriptures, the important of Spirit-filled self examination.

2 Corinthians 13:5-7a ESV says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong”

Test yourself, to see that you are in Christ Jesus.  You can do this in prayer, ask God, to testify in the Spirit with your spirit that you are indeed a child of God. Examine your life, are you living rightly? Are you discerning the times? Are you walking in love? Watch your own conduct carefully. The word of God says “Give careful thought to your ways.”

So I hope we’re beginning to see the various parts of this process of growth and change in Christ. We see the need for steady growth, the goal being maturity, This takes deep immersion into biblical Christianity. This also involves training yourself in discerning the times. We understand that this growth process involves suffering, which produces positive growth in us. We don’t lose sight of the fact that love is central to growth. We also remember to grow in the Spirit, not by self effort. And as we continue toward maturity, we grow through self examination.  So in conclusion today, I think this scripture from Ephesians 4:13-16 ESV really sums everything up well. It says, “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

So finally we understand that our persona growth meshes into the growth of the whole body of Christ worldwide, to maturity, that we’re steady, firm, no longer tossed about. But instead we have love and truth together. Growing up into Christ. You see this constant closeness of Christ, where we’re literally growing up into Christ-likeness. And Jesus holds the church, the body of Christ together, as we all work together to grow in maturity, live free from sin, and share the gospel with the world. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Speculations about Heaven: What will Heaven be like according to NDE/Visions/Testimonies?

This is not a typical post I’d make, as we won’t be addressing the scriptures directly, so please take these considerations as speculations, or suppositions, but not as rock-solid scriptural truths.  We’ll be speculating about heaven, in particular the new city of God on the New Earth.

We’ll be making use of sources I’ve studied from those who have claimed to have been shown heaven by God in visions, or near death experiences.  The word of God says we should not despise prophecies. I find little value in doctrinally rigid types who disregard all prophecy as lies. To me, they seem to be having a form of righteousness but are denying it’s power.  Prophecy is a reality of the Christian church. Yes, it’s messy. And we should always test it against the scriptures for accuracy.  But we can’t deny it outright either.  That is pride, and rejecting the spiritual nature of our faith. The word of God says, "Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. (1st Thessalonians 5:20-21)

Rant over, let’s get into speculations about heaven.

Apparently, heaven seems to be a rather solid place, some of us envision clouds and harps and wonder if we’ll even have bodies.  That is not a biblical position. These accounts tell us that we will certainly have bodies, perfected bodies, holy renewed bodies, but bodies they remain. 

Cross-referenced accounts of heavenly visitations indicate that there is a great deal of foliage, trees, flowers, and plants of various kinds. But apparently the entire environment vibrates with life. Everything is alive and vibrantly so, from trees to flowers, to doors and walls. They all vibrate with life.  Some have indicated that as you walk by flowers will sing to you.  

The New Jerusalem is the city in which we will inhabit in the new heavens and new Earth. This city is cube-shaped, 1500 miles long and wide and high (Revelation 21:16-18)

It's been indicated that in heaven they keep very good records. There are apparently books where everything you do on the Earth is written. And before you have Jesus as your savior, your sins are recorded in that book. But once you receive Christ, those recordings are washed away and no longer written at all. Quite amazing. This tends to line up with scripture with makes mentions to book being opened, and the book of lives. (Revelation 20:11-15)

 The grass in heaven is said to be like diamonds, shining and beautiful. The flowers open their buds and sing to those who pass. Music apparently comes from various places throughout heaven, described like chimes or bells at times.  There are various fruit trees throughout heaven, and when they are picked by the saints they eat and no juice squirts onto their faces. As if the fruit doesn't create a mess at all. Very interesting.

There is apparently no law of death in heaven. This certainly lines up with scripture when it says "there will be no death or crying or pain" from Revelation.  If you pick a flower and drop it, it simply reattaches to the ground where it lands.  Animals don't grow old and die. Obviously people there, the saints, don't grow old and die. Everyone has the appearance of being about 25-28 years old, right around the time when we stop growing on the Earth. Everything is alive in heaven. This makes a certain amount of sense, given that on the Earth if you are walking through a garden or a forest, everything is alive. The trees, the plants, the insects among the plants, the animals, even the grass and dirt is alive in a sense.  It would make sense then that this "life" function goes even further in heaven to extend to everything, with no death or decay.

There are numerous rewards in heaven, as we know from the word of God. Colossians 3:23-24, Luke 12:33-34). And the servants of God have houses and/or mansions in heaven, given in proportion to their good works they did on the Earth. Some have indicated that many will have very small rewards, unfortunately they didn't do a lot for God on the Earth, so they have very small places to live in heaven. Others have huge mansions, which were built and decorated based on the good works they did for God on the Earth. And Jesus is the builder, he personally creates each home. Apparently Jesus is excited for each of us to see our mansions in heaven, he watches closely to see how we react to the house when we arrive. This fits with the word of God that says God delights in giving good gifts to his people (Matthew 7:11).

 There are babies in heaven. Apparently God doesn't send babies or children to hell, not at all. I've also read reports that indicate God does not send severely mentally ill individuals to hell either. Unborn babies who die in miscarriages, or by intended abortion, their soul is collected by angels, and taken to heaven. God then gives the baby a new heavenly body.  And they are raised in heaven. They are even taught to forgive those who killed them in abortions, and ask God to forgive those who aborted them.  Another interesting tidbit, apparently unborn babies that die and go to heaven, they are given the name "beloved." But if the parent on the Earth wants to name the child, they still can, and when they do, the named is changed from beloved to what name they were given by the parent. So if you've lost a child, you can name them and they'll have that name when you come to heaven to meet them. They are apparently cared for by angels, and by the redeemed who desire to help care for them, and they are taught in heavenly schools, and raised until they reach full maturity.  Very cool if you ask me.  

There are of course many, many angels in heaven. They look somewhat like humans, but they have no apparent gender, since they don't reproduce as humans do. They seem to conduct the various business activities of heaven, from escorting the redeemed to God's presence, to recording and documenting events, to going from heaven to Earth and back again doing various work for God.  This lines up with scripture, since we see that angels are God's servants, conducting various "messenger" activities of God. They also apparently fight on behalf of God in the heavenly realms and on Earth, particularly we hear about the arch-angel Michael fighting for Israel in the book of Daniel.  We also hear of an angel headed to Sodom and Gomorrah to fight against it in Genesis. 

The throne of God is in heaven, a place where we see various creatures worshiping God, angels praising and shouting glory to God, and there is a great bright cloud, and a rainbow over the throne.  I won't try to describe anymore of it to you. Obviously, beyond our comprehension.


Sources:

A Message from God by Retha & Aldo Mcpherson

Vision of the End Times by Maurice Sklar

A Divine Revelation of Heaven by Mary K. Baxter

Heaven is so Real by Choo Thomas

Divine Visitation of Heaven by Sarah Boyanga

Testimony of Heaven: Inside of the Holy City by Oden Hetrick

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

Beautiful Near Death Experience by John Calvert

Howard Pittman's Testimony by Howard Pittman

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