Free Will

Is Free Will an Illusion?

Fork in the Road 2 – image pixabay.com

We go about our lives thinking we are deciding what to do, where and when to go; what to eat; who to marry; what job to take. Yet when any of these decisions turn out negative our minds may go into overdrive attempting to figure out what happened (a consequence of free will?). Philosophers have wrestled with this question for a long time and I myself confronted baffling outcomes to my choices. First, GOD blessed us with free will and had also blessed the angles with free will resulting in some rebelling introducing evil to creation.  

2 Peter 2:4 ESV

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

God does not allow Satan (a fallen angel) free reign:

Job 2:3 ESV

Satan
Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. “Then Los & Enitharmon knew that Satan: is Urizen.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 26, 2019. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47db-b5e1-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”

If you read Job you will see a great struggle because with permission Satan tormented Job and still he held up to the onslaught.  

Job:
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Job Conversing with His Friends” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 26, 2019. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c26b7a20-64a3-0133-111b-00505686a51c


 



 

 

 

 

 


I Surrender – Hillsong Worship

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7jXASBWwwI


Job 42:16 ESV

And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations.

Bottom line: GOD gave free will because when we choose GOD it is on our own accord not a forced choice.

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Why Character Matters

Why Character Matters

Mutual Faith – image pixabay.com

In some places in the world trust is a rare commodity. It is difficult to trust leaders, police, military, neighbors or even friends. When you need something people in these palaces are never sure they are getting what they are paying for or, they expect that in order to receive the correct goods or services they often must be prepared to bribe someone.    

Philippians 4:8 ESV

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Our Society Honors Success Often Above All Else

Honored – image pixabay.com

We often value people with more material success more than others. This can lead to tolerance of sin, evil and abuse of less privileged people.

1 Timothy 6:10 ESV

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Trust in Prayer – image pixabay.com
As Christians we know our salvation does not depend on earthly things so we should focus on our future in heaven

 

Luke 12:33 ESV

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.

Strong Bond – image pixabay.com

Song: My Reward video by Ronald Nard feat vocalist, the awesome Jermia Cannon. This video put’s a visual perspective to the song. “My Reward” is in Heaven. Lead by Jermia Cannon and background vocals by Kacy Harvey & Sound Of Praise. 

https://youtu.be/i6I2m-Djn0s


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Passover aka The Last Supper

We Christians Must Understand Jesus as a Hebrew

The Last Supper – image from pixabay.com

Exodus 12:21-28 ESV

Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. …


The Passover meal was the last supper we recognize: The lamb sacrificed at the Passover foreseen Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice for all sin.

SONG: He Let the People Go by James Halifko

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ql9HaPJmzxo  


Moses
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Moses Fountain,Washington Park, Albany, N. Y.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 24, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-a305-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

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Palm Sunday

Hosanna on the Highest

Palm Sunday – image pixabay.com

The Hebrews welcomed Jesus on Palm Sunday because they thought He was about to become a conquer and a king in a way that would throw off the rule of Rome. The people hoped for this although Jesus arrived as a Prince of Peace.

John 12:12-19 ESV

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. …


Hosanna (Praise Is Rising) – Paul Baloche (Best Worship Song with Lyrics)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAaQ5EEXidc


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Always Do Not Grow Weary Doing Good

Work Together – images from pixabay.com

The Bible in Your Language: https://www.twr360.org/

Support Christians under persecution: https://www.persecution.com/

Galatians 6:9 ESV

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Ravaged Places – images from pixabay.com

You may grow very tired saving people, feeding people or attending to those who are ill but this “weary” is not about our need to get physical rest. This “weariness” a mental (or even spiritual) tiring that may lead one to abandon the “good work”. No we are not collecting points to enter heaven we have eternity with GOD by what Jesus has accomplished when he shed His blood and paid for sin by dying on The Cross.

Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Assist – images from pixabay.com

The good works demonstrate the love of god and our gratitude for our salvation.

Medical – images from pixabay.com

James 2:14-17 ESV

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Loneliness – images from pixabay.com

SONG:He who began a good work in you – Steve Green (With Lyrics) Philippians 1:6 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNjZlHARnEk

 


Go now and show the Love of GOD minister to those in need and when the ask why say,”Because God Loved Me When I was Yet Lost.”

Romans 5:8 ESV

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Loneliness – images from pixabay.com

 

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Helping others Shows the Love of GOD

The Bible in Your Language: https://www.twr360.org/

Support Christians under persecution: https://www.persecution.com/

Hungry Person – images from pixabay.com

You do not have to travel far to find hungry people

People living on the edges of society, homeless and hungry, permeate just about every corner of our land – urban areas and isolated rural areas also. As Christians we can help them; as we do, we demonstrate the Love of GOD and can explain the Gospel to them. We should not make our help conditional nor try to force our belief on them. In The Word of God it says:

1 Peter 3:15 ESV

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,


SONG: Todd Schreiner – Help and Serve the Poor and Needy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-QnTxcqxv4


Churches offer meals to the degree they can, as often as they can:

https://ethicsdaily.com/dinner-churches-reaching-isolated-people-for-christ-cms-24868/


Jesus Feeds the Many *

*Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library. “‘Îsâ (Jesus) receives food from heaven and is able to feed his followers.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 25, 2019. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/d304a860-a153-0135-63e1-05dec81b5a8f

Mark 8:1-9 ESV

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” …

 

Sometimes in the aftermath of disasters too.

Bread and Soup Line **
Soup and Bread at the Tables ***

** The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Jim Forrest and his supply camp on Laguna St., San Francisco disaster, April 18, 1906.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 25, 2019. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-60b8-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

*** The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Los Angeles relief camp in Golden Gate Park. 10,000 people were fed there every day.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 25, 2019. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-609a-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99


Philippians 2:4 ESV

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.


 

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Do Not Hold a Grudge

unfortunately religion often is at the root of human conflict (wars and the violation of human rights)

The Bible in Your Language: https://www.twr360.org/

Support Christians under persecution: https://www.persecution.com/

No Borders Visible Here– images from pixabay.com
How can these believers in religions that worship a loving God allow this to happen? Take the Balkan Peninsula of Southeastern Europe for example:

” The places of lowest religious concentration were Slovenia 65.4%, Serbia with 63.7% and Croatia with 63.6%. Religious differences between Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, Muslim Bosniaks and Albanians alongside the rise of nationalism contributed to the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991.” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yugoslavia

Countless peoples around the world have scores to settle with neighbors, some hundreds of years old. Sad to say even Christians can be found in this group.

Old Scores – images from pixabay.com

One of these conflicts became bloody several times within my lifetime: The Northern Ireland Conflict 1968-1998 – An Overview “… Another angle of the conflict was sectarian or communal violence between the majority unionist or loyalist Protestant population and the minority Catholic or nationalist one. …”http://www.theirishstory.com/2015/02/09/the-northern-ireland-conflict-1968-1998-an-overview/#.XJFDNoUnbno

Still Fighting – images from pixabay.com
Before you start judging who is more just, I want you to see how even the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ can bring a peaceful time even in the most dire of circumstances: Global war

“During World War I, on and around Christmas Day 1914, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies.” https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/christmas-truce-of-1914


CLIP: Christmas Truce of 1914, World War I – For Sharing, For Peace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KHoVBK2EVE


John 16:33 ESV

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Victim – images from pixabay.com

Matthew 5:9 ESV

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Forgive and Forget; Extent your hand in peace.

Go in the world and avoid conflict as much as it is possible. Let ancient grudges fade away – who living today even was witness to many of these happenings. Take care they are not the children of mythology causing harm to the innocent. You my fellow believer are the Representative of Christ and the expression of The Love of GOD.


SONG:Matthew West – Forgiveness (Lyrics) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KHoVBK2EVE


Dove – images from pixabay.com

No matter what the outcome and when the deadly evidence has vanished future generations may completely forget the great suffering the conflicts of the past had inflicted on humanity.

After the Great Wars – images from pixabay.com

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Martyrs and Isolated Churches

The Bible in Your Language: https://www.twr360.org/

Support Christians under persecution: https://www.persecution.com/

– images from pixabay.com

2 Timothy 3:12 ESV / 153 helpful votes

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Most dangerous places for Christians: North Korea, Afganistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Erithria, Yemen, Iran, India . . .Read:https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/10-dangerous-places-christian-world-watch-list/

Acts 7:59 ESV (the first martyr)

And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

– images from pixabay.com

Yes there are Christians being martyred even today and Isolated Churches can have difficulties

“China Closes Megachurches Before Christmas “

Christian Martyr – A: see cite below *

“Sri Lanka: Attacks on minority faiths keep increasing in the majority-Buddhist island nation.”

“Church leaders and toddlers arrested after singing in public: Communist country proves it is serious about newest religious restrictions.”

These and more stories can be found in “Chistianity Today” https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/topics/a/asia/

*Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, The New York Public Library. “Christian martyr, in Madagascar in chains – receiving consolation.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dd-c940-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99


SONG: Christian Martyrs Be prepared to CRY! YouTube by Lerryson Christyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDSMDt4oq6k


Christian Martyr Burned at the Stake – B: See Cite Below**

**Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “And last of all, they burned him to ashes at the stake. Thus came Faithful to his end.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 15, 2019. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/72adcec2-57de-558a-e040-e00a18062a3e

Mark 16:15 ESV

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

List of Some Isolated Churches

Note: please visit the links for photos and a narrative; i do not wish to violate copyright law by re-posting without clearance.

Grytviken Churchhttp://www.sght.org/grytviken-church/

Katskhi Pillar in Georgia https://georgianvoyage.com/katskhi-pillar/

Two Churches, Tristan da Cunha https://www.tristandc.com/churches.php\

Solovetsky Monastery, Russiahttps://orthodoxwiki.org/Solovetsky_Monastery

Svalbard Church, Norwayhttps://www.visitnorway.com/listings/svalbard-church/199335/

Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland. https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g797798-d2435680-i77090546-Kap_Hope-Ittoqqortoormiit_Sermersooq_Municipality.html

Chapel of the Snows, McMurdo Station, Antarcticahttp://www.southpolestation.com/trivia/history/chapel.html

Source for some of these churches: https://www.urbanghostsmedia.com/2014/04/10-most-remote-churches-places-christian-worship/

Hidden Christian sites in Nagasaki and Amakusa region:https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2253.html

ALSO SEE “Open Doors” :https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/7-reasons-why-hotbeds-of-persecution-are-growing-in-central-asia/

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The Appeal of Modern Prophecy

Short Video of what Revelation may be like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyFEJ-Cptr4

Yes it may be a frightening time to be alive
Great Torment – images from pixabay.com

However we are curious: it is in our nature. We also have a tendency to gravitate toward drama. We may seek relief from our fears by knowing somethings others do not know. Or, it could just be entertainment for some people. Rest assure however our eternity is hinged on what we believe about GOD and Jesus. No doubt GOD has a plan; people may disagree on the details but what does scripture say? This blog cannot cover it all so I suggest a long term Bible study with good references and bona-fide teaching.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Lovers of Self – images from pixabay.com

Matthew 24:7 ESV

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

Nation against Nation – images from pixabay.com

Matthew 24:14 ESV

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The Gospel Reached the Whole World– images from pixabay.com


Hillsong-This Kingdom (with lyrics)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUwNY7uEEc8


Kigdom of GOD on Earth – images from pixabay.com

What do I believe? I believe in the per-tribulation rapture: I with other Christians living and dead will be called up to meet Jesus when He returns I believe I will experience the 1000 year reign of GOD before the final judgement.

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Prophecy IV: Last Days

End Times – images from pixabay.com

The Bible in Your Language: https://www.twr360.org/

New Testament Prophecy: Last Days

Many people consider how the Earth will end, even Christians. Christians have a lot of clues and if prophecy is studied it is not such a mystery; the warnings are there in the Bible. Still “end of days”, “last days”, “The end of the World” are mixed in with pre-, mid- and post- Tribulation Raptures, the return of Jesus and the 1000 year reign. What are these ideas? Where to begin?

One thing should be clear: do not let all the different interpretations and opinions concerning “The Last” days and “The Return of Jesus” keep you from becoming more Christ-like every day.

Jesus is thw Way – images from pixabay.com

Some information on the Tribulation: https://thecomingtribulation.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/comparison-of-pre-trib-mid-trib-pre-wrath-and-post-trib-views/

So a close look at The New Testament reveals how to be saved, how we should live and what we may expect. Keep your eyes on Christ and do not let the common human fear of the unknown distort your daily life. Keep away from sin and consider Jesus could return at any moment.

Matthew 24:21 ESV

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.

Song: Jesus Is Coming Soon

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1RHpkF8eLI

Warnings

1 Thessalonians 5:2 ESV

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

Night Thief – images from pixabay.com

Remember GOD’S offer: Salvation through Jesus

1 Thessalonians 5:9 ESV

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Jesus Christ Will Return – images from pixabay.com

Next Week: The Appeal of Prophecy in a Modern World

Revelation 1:1-20 ESV

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood …

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