Watch “Battle in The Heavens [Daniel, an Overcomer]” on YouTube: Open and Listen

Investigative Report A Small Victory for the Unborn: By Delana Forsyth Abortion “Defending the Unborn.”

https://delanaforsyth.blogspot.com/2022/08/investigative-report-small-victory-for.html

Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s, Doing His Job by Getting Human Traffickers of the Street!

I wish Josh Shapiro was around when I was trapped in human trafficking in Scranton Pennsylvania the was 1992 when my life was turned upside down. I did go to the Scranton Police Department and the Lackawanna Sheiffs Department. At that time i was told by both departments it was my fault. For 30 years I was caught in this horrable crime without help for any government. I have true stories to tell and I will be writing more about the unlawful government of Lackawanna County Pennsylvania. There are also a few judges I can write about as well. I am Praising the Lord for saving my life and never leaving me. My faith in Jesus has helped me as well. God bless everyone who reads this post, in Jesus name Amen. HARRISBURG — Two men who coerced six victims into prostitution with the false promise of easy money and then used drugs, violence and threats to control them have been arrested for human trafficking. Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office worked closely with the Pennsylvania State Police and other law enforcement agencies to build the prostitution and trafficking case. Crowell was taken into custody by authorities outside Chicago over the holiday weekend, and Schiff, currently incarcerated in York County, was arrested as well.  The men are charged with trafficking in individuals, corrupt organizations, involuntary servitude, conspiracy, possession with intent to deliver, prostitution and related offenses. Kenneth Crowell, 34, and Barry “Bear” Schiff, 50, coerced six women into a forced servitude as prostitutes in a human trafficking ring that operated in Lancaster, Montgomery, Philadelphia and York counties and southern New Jersey from 2014 until October 2017. “This is a horrible case where women were lured into prostitution by the false promise of easy money,” Attorney General Shapiro said.  “When the victims tried to leave, these criminals used violence and threats of violence to keep them working as prostitutes against their will. Law enforcement collaboration and the use of a statewide investigating grand jury built this case.  We will use every tool at our disposal to prosecute these kinds of human trafficking cases.” Click here for a video of Attorney General Josh Shapiro. The arrests mark the second human trafficking case brought by the Office of Attorney General and Pennsylvania State Police in recent weeks. Earlier this month, two defendants were held for trial on human trafficking charges in Montgomery County in a case broken open with the help of an Uber driver who alerted police to the existence of a trafficking victim. The charges against Crowell and Schiff stem from a joint investigation by the Office of Attorney General and Pennsylvania State Police, with assistance from Northern York County Regional Police, Dallas TX police, Millville NJ police, the North Star Initiative of Lancaster, and the Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia Anti-Human Trafficking Program. The ring was uncovered when a woman reported to police that she was a victim of human trafficking during an undercover prostitution sting. “The Pennsylvania State Police are committed to investigating individuals and criminal organizations involved in the trafficking of humans for financial gain,” said Cpl. Gregg J. Kravitsky. “This investigation shows that by working cooperatively with law enforcement and other partners, we can bring those who commit these heinous acts to justice.” On April 4, 2017 two undercover Pennsylvania State troopers responded to a prostitution advertisement on the website Backpage. Using the listed phone number – later linked to a second number tied to nearly 350 similar ads over two months – the troopers arranged a meeting with the victim at a Lancaster hotel. After the troopers identified themselves, the victim told police she did not feel safe and wanted to “get out.” She said she was recruited by Crowell and Schiff as an escort while she was working at a York gentlemen’s club. The victim told the troopers Schiff bragged about selling opioid pills and heroin to the women working for him as a means of control. When she told Schiff she didn’t like him buying and supplying heroin in the hotel room where she worked, Schiff threatened her with a knife. A second victim testified before the grand jury that she needed money to fuel her addiction and began working for Crowell and Schiff believing they ran an escort service, not a prostitution ring. She testified she rarely slept and was sent in an Uber to buy large amounts of heroin for Schiff multiple times. According to the grand jury presentment, a third victim testified Schiff told the women his name was “Frank Luchese” and impersonated a mobster to intimidate them. She said she joined what she believed was an escort service run by Crowell and Schiff to pay off a drug debt to Schiff. When she tried to leave, Schiff told her he would “chop her up into little pieces and throw her in the river.” Victim four worked for Crowell and Schiff at various times between 2014 and 2016 as a way to obtain heroin and support her addiction. She testified Crowell tried to strangle her on several occasions, causing her to lose consciousness during one confrontation. A fifth victim who began working for Crowell and Schiff in 2015 testified that Schiff controlled her with prescription opioids and heroin. This victim testified that one time, after she refused Schiff’s demand for sex, Schiff slammed her head into a bucket of dirty water containing shards of broken glass. The victim suffered severe cuts and scarring on her knees and legs. After that incident, the victim sought help during a “date” from an undercover police officer and gave a full statement to police before being taken to the hospital for treatment. Because of the complexity of trafficking cases and the importance placed on them by Attorney General Shapiro, the office has specially designated Senior Deputy Attorney General Heather Castellino to prosecute human trafficking cases.

Barry Charles Schiff
Kenneth Crowell

Lord Jesus, redeemer of my sins, I am humbly Your servant for all of my days. I repent for my sins, and apologize for humans’ behavior to You. I wish that I can know You better, and it is nobody’s fault but mine own that I do not. Redouble my efforts, Lord Jesus, for You are all that I want to know. I shall follow directly in your footsteps, and aim to join You and Your Father in heaven someday soon. In Your name I pray, Amen.

Intercession: the action of Intervening on Behalf of Others: Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

When we try to rush ahead of God’s timing and His guidance, we will end up making a lot of mistakes. We need to humble ourselves under God’s guidance, realizing that He truly knows best. When we do so, we will reach the right points in our life at the right time. It’s all about trusting Him.

Doubt is normal. It was there in Paul’s time and it exists today. Maybe it is more prevalent today than it was in Paul’s time because there are so many people trying to discourage people from belief in God. The pagans of Paul’s time believed in gods, they just didn’t all know God. Today many claim that there is no God. They believe that scientists will soon be able to explain everything about how the world was created and answer any other question we might have. See, no need for God! And if there is no God then no heaven and no resurrection. If this is true then why bother depriving ourselves of all the pleasures we can get just because Christianity says love of God and of others should come first. But, there were too many people who witnessed Jesus after his resurrection. Too many people who were willing to die for the sake of Jesus and his teaching. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t die for a lie. And I doubt that they would either. So, as Paul says, since Jesus rose from the dead, we need to pay attention to what he said and to the promise that one day we too would rise if only we remain faithful. Doubt? Okay, but in the end, trust and belief.

According to Lionel Swain, of St. Edmund’s College, Ware, St. Paul believed intercession to be one of the most important aspects of faith and praying life, as praying for others is a recurring theme in his works. Prayer acts as a way for St. Paul to acknowledge God’s power. Intercessory prayer also acts as a way for the Apostle to “share in … the Father’s redemptive love”. Paul believed that prayer transformed the person doing the praying, as much as the one being prayed for, which creates a stronger bond between him and God.

Prof. Dr Johannes van Oort, Professor Extraordinarius in the Department of Church History and Church Polity of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, adds that, in addition to praying for wisdom, the early church was very much involved with different charismas, one of which being healing. Praying for other people’s illnesses was another way that intercessory prayer was important in the early church, as healing was a sign of “the power of God’s Kingdom”. This gift of healing is specifically mentioned, among the other charismata, as a sign of being a true Christian by Irenaeus of Lyons in his text, Against Heresies.

Saints[edit source]

Intercession of the saints is a doctrine held by the Eastern OrthodoxOriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches that saints may be asked to intercede (or pray) for others. The doctrine of requesting intercession from saints can be found in Christian writings from the 3rd century AD, such as from Origen and Clement of Alexandria.

Main article: Prayer for the dead

The dead

In addition to praying for each other in life, early Christians would pray for those who had died. There is no unequivocal evidence that Christians began to pray for the dead before the third century AD. G. F. Hamilton argues that the earliest example of Church prayer on behalf of dead Christians are found in the Sacramentary of Serapion of Thmuis (350 AD). Rather than pray for the departed in regular church services on Sunday, these early Christians would hold special commemorative occasions during the week. There was a sharp distinction drawn between remembering and praying on behalf of the dead, and those who were the “‘faithfully’ departed”, where Christians would only pray for those who had died as believers. The First Epistle of Clement (95 AD) contains a prayer which, while mainly for protection for the living, also includes the dead. Even quite early, a distinction was drawn between those who had died as Christians, and those who had died as unbelievers. In the Martyrdom of Polycarp (155 AD), Polycarp is killed and his bones are taken by fellow Christians and a shrine is set up to him, where they may remember his martyrdom. In contrast, the “Apology of Aristides” shows how those who were not Christians were grieved for, while the dead faithful were rejoiced over.  

Theological perspective: In an article in Theological Studies, Catholic theologian Patricia A. Sullivan warns that saints should not be built up in a way that brings down God. Saint Augustine had famously said that we pray not to instruct God but to get our will in line with God’s. Sullivan warns away from the dictionary meanings of “intercession” as “intervention, mediation, arbitration, negotiation”, all of which sound like we are dealing with a hostile or unfriendly God, whom we need to manipulate to get what we need. Such is not the meaning of the hapax legomenon in the New Testament of the word for intercession. Sullivan goes on:

When we ask a saint to intercede for us, what is happening at a deeper level is that we are taking refuge in the all-enfolding community of the redeemed, approaching God thru saintly symbols of Christ’s victory and of our hope. Saints want always what God wants, what is best for us whether we pray for it or not. They are in a perpetual attitude of praise for God’s love and care, to which we join ourselves, praying, more precisely, with them rather than to them. The value of our petitions is that they turn us in confidence toward the God who loves us, allowing God’s work to be more effective in us, and thru us in others.

It would be anathema to ask God to try any harder to do good. By invocation of a saint “we take refuge in faith in the all-enfolding community of all the redeemed,” where “each is responsible for all”. They are “creative models of holiness”.

Islam

Main articles: Shafa’ah and Tawassul

Although the idea of intercession or mediation (Arabic: s̲h̲afāʿa) has historically played a very prominent role in Islamic thought, it is not universally accepted by all Muslims in the present day.

The Quran says that the pre-Islamic Arab pagan gods will not be able to intercede with God on behalf of humankind, and that “the guilty” (al-mujrimīn,) will not benefit from any intercession on the Day of Judgment. Other passages that deny the efficacy intercession include. Still others say that God is the only intercessor.

However, “intercession is mentioned in the Qurʾān with respect to angels praying for the believers and the Prophet praying for erring but repentant Muslims.” Furthermore, it became an orthodox Islamic doctrine or “cardinal belief” that “Muḥammad will intercede for all Muslims on the Day of Resurrection.” While this particular tenet practically remained unchallenged throughout Islamic history, the widespread Sunni and Shia practice of asking deceased prophets and saints for intercession by praying at their tombs have become contentious issues in the modern Islamic world, with all these different types of intercession often being labelled by Salafi/Wahhabi Muslims as a type of polytheism, in a manner akin to the attitude of many Protestants towards the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox practice of saint-intercession. In prophetic sayings there is intercession of martyrs for “seventy relatives” in the Hereafter.

Some religions claim that praying for somebody who is sick can have positive effects on the health of the person being prayed for.

Meta-studies of the literature in the field have been performed showing evidence only for no effect or a potentially small effect. For instance, a 2006 meta analysis on 14 studies concluded that there is “no discernible effect” while a 2007 systemic review of intercessory prayer reported inconclusive results, noting that 7 of 17 studies had “small, but significant, effect sizes” but the review noted that the most methodologically rigorous studies failed to produce significant findings.

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Does Jesus really want us to believe that our enemies are our parents, children, family or friends? Somehow, I don’t think so! It is really about priorities. Have you ever chosen to watch a sports program when your child wanted to talk to you? What about not sitting at the table for meals because a special game is on? We are called on to make choices all the time. We can choose God, or we can choose other. Is that late night party worth missing church? We can talk all we want about being too busy, but the truth is that we find the time for what we want to do. I love to read, knit, spend time with my friends and I hate doing the laundry, dishes, vacuuming, but it all needs to be done. I would rather pick up a good book than exercise. I can say that I am “too busy” to do the things I don’t enjoy doing, but the truth is, I choose to spend my time in other ways. The same is true about putting God first. A friend that is always put last doesn’t remain a friend for long. When it comes to God, we know he will never desert us, but what about our turning our backs on him? We know what we must do – put God first and then everything else falls into place. Even carrying the crosses each of us must bear in life is easier because we know we don’t have to do it alone. Sometimes we may have to disappoint a child or friend because we choose to do the right thing, but that is the price of being a disciple of Jesus.

We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour His Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour Him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.”

Do Catholics worship Mary?

No, Catholics only worship the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It would, in fact, be sinful to worship Mary. Theologians call divine worship latria, or the adoration due only to God.

However, in English the word worship is equivocal. In Britain it is often used of high personages, with the meaning of revering or honoring them due to the dignity of their office. David gave such honor to Saul, for example, because God had placed him as king over Israel. Such “worship” is derivative, sourced in the Father, as St. Paul taught (Eph. 3:14-15), analogous to that which the Decalogue commanded for parents (Ex. 12:20; Dt. 5:16).

Unfortunately, the English word “worship” doesn’t convey the subtlety of the Latin used by the Church, and in the United States is reserved for God. The Church’s theological term is dulia, from the Latin word for service. It is the reverence and respect owed to all the faithful servants of God (Mt. 24:21-23), the angels and saints whom God Himself honors with crowns of glory (Prov. 16:31; 1 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet 5:4; Rev 4:4). We honor them and, in turn, join with them in honoring God, the source of all holiness (Rev. 4:9-11).

Yet, Mary is not just any other saint. She is the Theotokos, the God-bearer, or Mother of God (Luke 1:43; Council of Ephesus, “Against Nestorius”). She is the true Ark of the Covenant who carried the Word Himself, the Bread of Heaven, and the Good Shepherd (Heb. 9:3-5; Rev. 11:19-12:1). The Archangel told her that she was “full of grace” (Luke 1:28), and Elizabeth, moved by the Holy Spirit, called her “blessed among women” (Luke 1:42).

For all these reasons and more, the Church renders to Mary an honor that is greater than is given to all the saints and angels, termed hyperdulia, or the greatest honor. Yet, it is not still that adoration, latria, which we give to God alone, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Text of Magna Carta;

JOHN, by the greace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and court of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, Greeting.

KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry archbishop of Bublin, William Marshal bishop of Bath and Glastonbury,

Will Freedom Survive?
by James Robison

Several recent decisions by the Supreme Court have helped restore the foundational freedoms that made the United States, though far from perfect, the greatest nation on earth. Yet we must realize that there is no real freedom apart from God and the acceptance of personal responsibility. There can be no effective government without responsible citizens living under moral order. If we do not live under control with the freedom Jesus offered to all captives, we can never hope for our society to support and maintain the principles that enable freedom. 

With an understanding of the importance of personal freedom, we may rightly ask the question, “What about national freedom?” It is my firm opinion we are in danger of losing it, along with the opportunity it offers. It is my prayer that all believers will learn that we must live to protect what others died to provide

We are in the process of forfeiting the freedom our founders established – a freedom built on moral absolutes and a strong, but limited, government. Enemies of faith and true freedom don’t even want to acknowledge the supernatural power that influenced America’s birth or the importance of God, faith, family, and the principles necessary for freedom. They stand hell-bent in opposition to undeniable, absolute, transforming truth.

It’s time for people who understand the value of faith and freedom and its foundation to stand together like a mighty army – an undeniable spiritual force. We must reclaim the land of promise birthed through faith, prayer, and personal sacrifice to bless the American people and the nations of the world. Our freedom can only be preserved with the same determination, diligence, and supernatural unity Jesus prayed for and freedom’s champions understand.

The framers of the Constitution knew that the true liberty they offered demanded responsible citizens. Benjamin Franklin was asked if the meeting in Philadelphia had created a monarchy or a republic. Franklin answered, “A republic – if you can keep it.” Franklin, along with the other founders, knew that in order for liberty to be maintained, it would have to be supported by principled statesmen who were actively engaged in the task of governing themselves, encouraging all citizens to hold fast to truths espoused in the Declaration of Independence.

John Adams, our second president, said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

We are on the verge of losing freedom’s blessings as morality is under assault. Sadly, the church has not fully understood the importance of living under the control of God with the powerful spirit of God providing the strength for us to not only enjoy the privileges and possibilities of freedom, but also to protect them.

Jesus commissioned His followers to share the truth that sets people free and keeps them free. He said, “When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.”

Ronald Reagan observed, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on to them to do the same or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States when men were free.”

I do not want to be found among those who will be asked what we were doing when freedom died. By the grace of God, with His help and the help of those who share common concerns and with Christians of conviction, I will not be indifferent and allow freedom to die on my watch. I will continue to pray, preach, and openly call for a return to God-given principles.

America’s founders believed they were on a journey similar to that of Israel’s exodus from Egypt to God’s Promised Land. Moses was their hero. His farewell address delivered on Mount Nebo references the choices God offers those desiring true freedom. Martin Luther King, Jr. invoked these words the night before he was assassinated in 1968, and Ronald Reagan repeated them while standing at the base of the Statue of Liberty celebrating our nation’s birthday in 1986:

“See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and adversity. For I command you this day to love the Lord your God to walk in His ways and to keep his commandments. But if you turn away, you will certainly perish. You shall not long endure on the soil that you are crossing the Jordan to enter. I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse, choose life that you and your offspring shall live.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-19)

The life being offered was a life of freedom, fullness and fruitfulness. God has granted us both the privilege and responsibility of being overseers, good stewards of all that He had entrusted to our care. You can be the guardians, the gate keepers, the restorers of the foundation and the wall builders maintaining our precious liberty. Let not your hearts be troubled. Keep the faith. Fight the fight as a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ with the whole armor of God and the sword of the Spirit, don’t bend and don’t bow before the godless influences of this world and you will not be crushed and enslaved by the powers in this present world!

When God rules in individual lives, sound principles will prevail in our land.  Leaders will no longer be chosen because of personality, party affiliation, or skillful communication. They will be chosen because of their commitment to God-given principles necessary for the survival of true freedom.

I am praying to God and appealing to caring people to help restore America and freedom. It will not be easy, but together, and with God’s help, it can be done. This is the greatest hour for people of faith to become a guiding light.

Become a Professional Gardener with this free online Alison course

https://alison.com/course/diploma-in-garden-design-and-maintenance

Open it!

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

It is amazing how selfish we can be sometimes. A line of traffic on a busy street. We’ve been waiting for what seems like forever at a traffic light. Out of the corner of our eye, we see a car trying to pull out of a parking lot, the driver desperately looking for an opening. We avert our eyes and grip the steering wheel, determined not to give an inch. Someone else can make that sacrifice. Selfish, our selfish nature makes it very difficult to understand the great sacrifice Christ made for us. When we were useless sinners, when we were absolutely powerless, He chose to die for us. Sinners….who hated God, who delighted in the very things God hates. He died for us. It’s hard to get our selfish brains wrapped around that notion. We were on the verge of perishing and He gave Himself away to save us. Who does that? What a great friend Christ is to us! That He would lay down His life to save such selfish, sinful beings.That is what is most amazing about His sacrifice. If we had all been good, righteous people–then perhaps it is understandable that He would be willing to die for us. But we were ungodly. And He STILL died for us. The depth of His love was such that, even in our sin, He loved us and died for us. He took our sin upon Himself. He knew about everything we ever did or ever would do. It didn’t matter. He did it anyway. His unwavering love for us sent him to the cross.

In this scripture, Jesus explains to His disciples (including us), that He chose us. Traditionally, in Jewish culture, a person would choose his own Teacher. In this case, Jesus makes it clear that these disciples were chosen by the Teacher, instead. This applies to us today as well. Christ has chosen us; we didn’t choose Him first. Not only has He chosen us, He has ordained us to be fruitful, meaning that we are to be productive and successful in spreading the Gospel. We were set apart for this purpose by Christ. Christ expects this fruit to “remain” or be permanent. Whatever good work we do for the Kingdom should be lasting and eternal. When we bear good fruit in this way, the consequences are that our prayers will be answered by God. Christ tells us that whatever we ask in His name will be done. This is an encouraging promise, that both gives us validation and shows us our purpose in this life.

Lord, I thank You for choosing me and ordaining me. Help me to spread the Gospel far and wide in such a way that it makes an eternal impact on people’s lives. I thank You that You will hear and answer my prayers as I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

I am sharing ‘The God’s Testament with you: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

God’s miraculous deliverance of Daniel from the lions in the lions’ den where he had been cast for worshipping the true God opened Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes to whose God was God. And he even issued a decree that all men in his vast kingdom give homage to the God of Daniel. Daniel’s faith and refusal to cease his regular daily devotions had resulted in the knowledge of God being spread throughout the land.

This verse tells us that “all things work together for the good of those who love God.” If we love God, then we live in obedience. The “all things” refers to the providence of God and all the things that relate to Him: His Holy Spirit, His love and mercy, His truths, etc. All of these things come together for our good if we love God and show that we do by our behavior. But it’s not only required that we love God, but that we are called according to His purpose. This refers to the purpose that God has set before us. He calls us to a specific purpose in this life. As long as we are obedient to this purpose, to His call, then all of His resources come together for our good. This is a very encouraging scripture to let us know that, if we follow the will of God, everything will be okay with us. More than okay, actually. They will be “good,” because God is on our side.

Jesus tells us that the golden rule sums up the law and the prophets. Jesus is also telling us that we shouldn’t try to take the easy way out. From the time a two or three year old figures out that disobeying mom or dad brings punishment, he also figures out ways of trying to get away with it. The child will lie or hide or blame a sibling or the family pet! Unless this behavior is caught and the children learn that they can’t get away with it, they will continue this pattern. It can be very tempting to take the easy way out. This is not what we are called to do. We are called to take the narrow path, doing the right thing. We all get upset when we hear about hit and run accidents, but it’s hard to own up to something if you think you won’t be caught, especially when it could be expensive We choose the easy or the narrow path just about every day. Some decisions are easy, some are not. Do you waste time on the phone or on a computer searching websites or playing games when you should be working? See, what I mean? Students today are told they need computers for research that will enhance their learning, but some take advantage and their research trying to find papers that they can claim as their own. Jesus knew us well, and has given us fair warning. We should listen.

We need to be on the lookout for those who would lead people away from God by pretending that they are leading them to God. We have seen this happen several times in very public and tragic ways, but it can happen in less public ways as well. The world was horrified when they learned of the mass murder/suicide of over 900 people, one third of them minors in Guyana in 1978, and again of the destruction of the compound in Waco, Texas where over 70 people died. Both of these tragedies occurred because the leaders of the cult claimed to either be a god or be God’s messenger or Messiah. There have been many other cults operating with less destructive results. Preying on loners or immigrants, the leaders promise security here and eternal life if only you follow them. They don’t say that you are following God, but you are following them because they are the only ones who know the way! By their fruits you will know them. These people ask blind obedience, work to separate people from their families and friends, and often demand a certain percentage of income. This doesn’t sound like Jesus to me. Paul never demanded obedience to himself, in fact, he said just the opposite to the Corinthians. John the Baptist said that he wasn’t the one and pointed to Jesus. We have been warned by Jesus to look at those who claim to be prophets carefully and judge by their fruits. If they are more interested in leading us to themselves instead of to Jesus, we must beware.

Again we have a prophet spreading God’s message of love, begging the people to admit their wrongdoing, and sincerely repent and turn back to him. When you read the Old Testament, you start to wonder if they will ever learn. I wonder what historians one hundred years from now will say about us and our behavior. Will they read the New Testament and find remnants of Christian groups and compare their behavior with the Bible, and find us worthy of the name? I’m not so sure. Not only is there a lot of what I consider very un-Christian behavior by individuals but also by Christian groups towards one another. Perhaps we should reread Joel and the messages given by some of the other prophets and take these messages to heart. God wants us to turn to him. He wants us to take responsibility for our actions, and ask forgiveness so that he can forgive and renew us. God isn’t looking for grandiose exhibitions of repentance, but a sincerity of heart. It’s how much we are willing to change our behavior. It’s how welcoming we will be to the stranger, how much we are willing to help others to grow in their faith as well as how willing we are to grow in our own.

Let us not, O Lord, underestimate what you can do in us and through us. We do not know all of your purposes for us, but we know that nothing is too hard for you to do. We pray for the steadfastness of soul to continue to pursue knowing you even in the face of resistance and the faith to believe that your Word planted deep in us can strengthen us for even the most difficult tasks. Amen.

And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. Ezekiel!

In this passage, we see a God who is not too happy with His chosen people. Because of their disobedience, they have blackened the name of the Lord. His reputation has been smeared among the heathen people of the area. He tells Isaiah to give His people a message: that He plans to restore His own name. He will ensure that these people know that He is God. Wow! Wouldn’t it be an awful thing to let God down in this way? To “profane” His name among His enemies? Sadly, we do the same thing when we don’t give Him the honor that is due Him while we are among his enemies in the world. When we allow people to speak against Him, or when we fail to lift Him up in their presence, we blacken His name. We cause Him to have to “vindicate the Holiness” of His own name, because we have refused to make His name holy. What a dreadful and treacherous decision! To put ourselves is such a position is a foolish thing indeed.

The entire book of Romans 8 about the assurance of salvation. Every Christian wants to be assured that he is actually saved. Many people wander around “in the flesh” believing that they’re saved, but if they read this chapter, it becomes the actual measure of salvation. It is a really good chapter to read if you want the assurance that you are indeed saved. This particular verse says that those who are walking in the spirit of God are the sons of God. If we’re led by the Spirit of God, what does that mean? What Paul is trying to tell us here is that if we are walking in the spirit of God, then we are actually going to kill the sin in our lives. We’re going to want it dead in order to please God, to glorify Him. You see, people who are not in the spirit, who were still walking in the flesh don’t really want to kill their sin. People who lie don’t want to stop lying; people who gossip don’t want to stop gossiping. If they do put on some semblance of killing their sin, it’s just so they’ll look better– not because they want to please God, Paul tells us here that if we truly want to be the sons of God, the children of God, then we are going to be led by the spirit. So one assurance of our salvation is this: we ask ourselves the question, “Am I trying to kill my own sin because I want to please God?” If the answer to that question is “yes,” then you are the child of God. That is evidence that the spirit lives in You because only the spirit in You would want to put an end to the sin in Your life. If you want assurance of salvation, look within to see what your motivations are for ending your own sin.

Father, I want to make Your name Holy. I want to be Your champion and tell the world of Your goodness and righteousness. Help me not to cower in the face of Your enemies, but to stand up and defend Your honor. Help me to be strong, even when I am afraid of the adversaries around me. With Your help and with Your power, You will never have to clean up a mess I have made of Your name. Amen.

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