Monday, March 25, 2024

And Others

“AND OTHERS had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:)” —Hebrews 11:36-38

We often hear preachers and Bible teachers make reference to Hebrews 11, which is sometimes referred to as “The Hall of Faith.” We read in verse 7 about Noah, who moved with fear at the command of God, and built an ark for 120 years BY FAITH. We read in verse 17 about Abraham who, offered up his only begotten son Isaac BY FAITH. We read about the faith of Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Samson, Samuel, David, and other great heroes of the faith. But little do we hear about verses 36-38 tucked away in Hebrews chapter 11. “...AND OTHERS.”

The truth I am about to teach you will transform your thinking forever if you'll let it. We read in the Bible about great men and women of God, who did great things for God BY FAITH. But sometimes it is God's will for us to suffer. Noah built an ark BY FAITH, but the apostle James was beheaded by Herod BY FAITH! David fought Goliath BY FAITH, but Stephen was stoned to death for preaching the Gospel BY FAITH. Rahab hid the Hebrew spies BY FAITH, but Jeremiah was thrown into a miry pit of clay and left for dead BY FAITH. You see my friend, it may actually be God's will for you to be tormented, sawn asunder, fed to the lions or burned alive. “...AND OTHERS.”

Beware of Anyone Who Associates Prosperity With Righteousness

We've got a bunch of health, wealth and prosperity garbage being taught in our churches today in the United States. It's usually the Satanic Charismatic movement (i.e., T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, Peter Popoff, Bill Hamon, Don Stewart, Mike Murdock, Oral Roberts, et cetera). The speaking-in-Tongues heresy has crept into many religious camps. Beware of the Devil's Charismatic and Pentecostal groups who practice healing meetings, speaking-in-tongues and teach that salvation can be lost. I wouldn't give you a dime for the whole caboodle of Charismatic churches!

These shady groups teach the heresy that it is always God's will for Christians to be healthy, wealthy and prosperous, and if you're not, it's only because they say you haven't been giving enough money to support their so-called “ministries”!!! The truth is that Christians who are 100% right with God suffer with most of the very same health problems, afflictions and burdens that unsaved people do. Being a Christian doesn't make life any easier, but it makes life better, because you have the promises of God in the Bible to comfort your soul. James 5:10, “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” Suffering is a part of our human existence.

Suffering is part of being a faithful Christian. 2nd Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Don't ever let anyone tell you that you're not right with God because you're broke, sick and suffering. Lazarus had all of these, and he was right with God (Luke 16:19-31). And please don't gauge God's goodness or blessings upon your circumstances, because that's not how the Lord works. The greatest things in life are not things. God is good is you've got money in the bank, and God is good if you're in debt and broke.

It may be God's will for you or me to suffer in a wheelchair the rest of our life. Who are we to question our Creator... why made me thus? That's not to say that God causes accidents that cause you to lose your legs, but everything that happens, good and bad alike, happens within the permissive will of God. Most people refer to people with bodily impairments as “crippled” or “disabled,” but the Bible teaches that God sometimes makes men disabled. Exodus 4:11, “And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?” I love that Bible verse! John 9:1-3, “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” “...AND OTHERS.”

John the Baptist is one of the “OTHERS,” who was martyred for his uncompromising stand against Herod's adultery. The newly elected church Deacon, Stephen, is one of the “OTHERS,” who was literally gnashed upon by the teeth of an angry mob, and then they slew him with stones. The Apostle James was one of the “OTHERS,” who was beheaded in Acts 12:2 by Herod for his Gospel preaching... AND OTHERS. Revelation 20:4, “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus...” “...AND OTHERS.”

According to the writings of secular history by Josephus, Philip, the first ever to be called a disciple, was scourged with a whip (likely a cat-o-nine tails type of whip). Matthew, the tax-collector, was slain with a halberd (a two-sided ax made for military purposes). Matthew's head was split open with a razor-sharp sledgehammer. James, who wrote the book of James, at the age of 94 was beaten, stoned, and his brains beaten out with a fuller's club (a blacksmith's tool used to smash iron). Matthias was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded. Andrew, the brother of Peter, was crucified on a cross. They laid his cross on its side, face down, after he was crucified. Mark, a convert of Peter, was dragged to pieces by an angry mob in the city of Alexandria. “...AND OTHERS.”

Peter was crucified upside down because he said, “I am not worthy to die the same way my Savior died.” 16 times in the Book of 1st Peter, he mentions suffering. Nero took Christians, tarred them, and then hung them above his flower garden, setting them on fire as human torches to light his garden (while his drunken whoremongers had their parties and wanted to examine the beautiful flowers). Paul had his throat cut with a sword. Jude was crucified. Bartholomew was cruelly beaten and crucified. Thomas was thrust through with a spear by pagan priests. Luke was hanged on an olive tree. Simon was crucified. “...AND OTHERS.”

John, the beloved disciple, was exiled to the island of Patmos, and left for dead, where he wrote the Book of Revelation under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Timothy rebuked some people for celebrating a pagan feast and they beat him with clubs, he died two days later from internal hemorrhaging. Ignatius, a bishop at Antioch who followed Paul, was thrown to wild beasts. “...AND OTHERS.”

Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh for good reason, the Assyrians were known for their cruel torturing methods. They commonly would drive a spear into the ground, then impale their victim upon the spear. Next, they would take glass or metal and make incisions, each a few inches long, throughout the body. Then they'd take pliers are mercilessly peel off all the flesh from head to toe. I don't blame Jonah for fleeing Nineveh! It is believed that Isaiah was SAWN ASUNDER (Hebrews 11:37) by wicked king Manasseh.

Sawing limbs off of victims, or completely in half, was an effective form of psychological warfare in the Old Testament, and still is today. The U.S. led coalition killed Saddam Hussein's two sons, gut them like pigs from head to toe, and then stapled them back together with hundreds of staples. They took photos and released them for the world to see. Wonderful people, huh? War is a result of man's wickedness and greed, and all rules are broken on the battle field. The saying “All is fair in love and war” is a malicious lie, because there's nothing fair in life.

Alexander was beaten with staves, torn with hooks, and burned with fire. Romanius, a deacon at the church of Caesarea, was scourged and put on a rack. His body was pulled with hooks. They cut him with knives and took tools to scrape all the skin, a little at a time, from his face. They decided to torment him as much as they could, and they beat his teeth from their sockets, one at a time. After pulling out all his hair by the roots, they strangled him to death. “...AND OTHERS.”
1st Timothy 6:3-5, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”
God's Perfect Will For Us May Be Cancer, Blindness Or A Wheelchair

The health, wealth and prosperity crowd have it all wrong. In John 9:1-3 Jesus and His disciples saw a blind man. The disciples asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” Jesus replied that neither had sinned to cause the man's disability—the man had been born blind so that the works of God could be made manifest in him. Ecclesiastes 3:11 teaches that God has made everything beautiful in HIS TIME. Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” That word “world” is the fascinating Hebrew word olam olam and means “concealed, that is, the vanishing point.” Literally, God has hidden His divine times from mankind so it will always remain a mystery in this earthly life. God wants us to trust Him.

Hebrews 11:36-38 plainly teaches that it is God's will sometimes for His children to suffer. In John 16:33 Jesus said that we shall suffer tribulations in this world. Yet the Lord said in John 17:15, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” So the Lord knows that we're suffering, and that's the way He wants it for now. God has a purpose. Amongst many reasons, suffering teaches us to trust upon the Lord.

There's an amazing truth to be gleaned from Deuteronomy 8:3, which I've written an article on titled, MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE. God deliberately led the Israelites into a desert Wilderness of hunger, thirst, stinging scorpions, biting serpents, peril and danger so that He could test them, to see whether or not the Jews would obey His Commandments. They failed the test. They complained every step of the way, even contemplating returning to slavery in Egypt where they least had fish, garlic and lemons (Numbers 11:5). Can you imagine? After 430 years of slavery and hard bondage, God finally heard their cries and freed them; but now they're upset because God gave them new burdens to carry and it wasn't Walt Disney World as they had expected. Every Christian must carry a cross, because the servant is not greater than his Lord.

Malachi 3:6 says that God never changes. The Lord Who wanted to test His people 3,500 years ago still desires to test His children today. A faith must be tested. It was God who planted the tree of knowledge, which provided the only opportunity for Adam and Eve to sin. Within God's perfect will, God tested them and gave them a way to commit sin. So the next time that you think the Devil is out to get you, remember that God allows and plans the trial of our faith. Nothing occurs to God. The Lord doesn't need to recount the number of hairs on our head. He is omniscient and knows all. God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man; but God can allow us the freewill and opportunity to decide to do right or wrong.

Apostasy Today—Living for Self

In sharp contrast to today's contemporary believer, Christians throughout history often suffered, even to the point of death for their faith. And might I add, some of them were forced to watch their loved one's be raped, tortured, and killed for their faith. Truly, this was a fate worse than death for many. Today, professed Christians are following religious IMPOSTERS like The Pope, Peter Popoff, Don Stewart, Mike Murdock, Melissa Scott, Joel Osteen, Pat Robertson, Rick Warren, John MacArthur, Creflo Dollar, Paul and Jan Crouch, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, Ravi Zacharias, James Robertson, and hundreds more. All of these questionable men and women are personally raking in TENS-OF-MILLIONS OF DOLLARS! Pat Robertson is worth an estimated $200,000,000!

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 5, 2000 says this about shady Pastor Creflo DOLLAR...
The Rev. Creflo Dollar Jr. has unabashedly embraced his name by building a religious empire on the message that his brand of piety leads to prosperity. He drives a black Rolls-Royce, flies to speaking engagements across the nation and Europe in a $5 million private jet and lives in a $1 million home behind iron gates in an upscale Atlanta neighborhood... The World Changers campus sits on a slight hill... Inside the church is a lobby befitting a five-star hotel. Chairs are scattered about on baby blue carpet thick enough to muffle the sound of the stadium-size crowd arriving for a Sunday service... There are no visible traditional Christian symbols - no cross, no image of Jesus, no stained-glass windows...Dollar lives in a $1 million home owned by the church in the Guilford Forest subdivision in southwest Atlanta. World Changers purchased another $1 million home on 27 acres in Fayette County in December. The church has amassed a fortune in real estate, mostly in College Park... As World Changers grew, so did Dollar's emphasis on prosperity. Dollar has no degree in theology. Much of his prosperity message, according to church and his family members, is based on the teachings of friend and spiritual mentor Kenneth Copeland... And a frequent criticism - that the church refuses to help non-tithers - isn't true either, Lett said. Tithers simply "have priority," she said. People are not allowed to touch Dollar during services, she said, simply because "the anointing is flowing at that point." She said the church purchased a Rolls-Royce for Dollar's use because "he deserves the best."
2nd Timothy 3:12 teaches that Christians who live godly in Christ Jesus WILL suffer persecution. Do you know why? It's because preaching THE TRUTH always causes either revival or riot. People will either love you or hate you for speaking THE TRUTH (John 15:19). The Christian life is not a playground, it is a battleground. We are at war with the Devil, the world, and the flesh (1st John 2:15-17; Ephesians 6:12).

Don't Underestimate All the Hardships and Failures in Your Life

It may be God's will for you to be killed by an angry mob. In fact, Jesus said exactly that in John 16:2, “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” Killing Christians who proclaim the truth for God is nothing knew, it's been happening since Cain killed his brother Abel in Genesis. Don't underestimate the hardships, failures, and sorrows throughout your life, for God has PROMISED to make “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

It was David's very sins of adultery and murder that enabled God to use him to pen the 51st Psalm and others. Before God ever spoke the universe into existence, the Word of God was already settled in Heaven (Psalm 119:89). David's sins were already recorded in Heaven before the world began, and his repentance, and entire life. God knew what horrible sins David would commit as king of Israel, even before God told Samuel the prophet to anoint David, a man after God's own heart. What, an adulterer and murderer, a man after God's own heart? You see, God doesn't judge as men do, by a few events in a person's life; but rather, God looks at the whole picture, from one's birth until death (2nd Corinthians 5:10). I speak to Christians. If you are unsaved, then you are without hope if you die in your sins, and nothing good you have ever done will be rewarded in Hell. This is what Ezekiel 18:24 means.

It was the very act of betrayal by Joseph's 10 half-brothers, selling him into slavery, that would one day enable God to raise up Joseph as governor over all of Egypt. There is no doubt that Joseph was very sad while in prison for many years, having been falsely accused and wrongly judged. Joseph couldn't see God's hand of divine providence. Joseph no doubt thought God had abandoned him and didn't understand why so much evil had come upon him. But Joseph kept his faith, praising His God anyhow, and decades later was able to look back in hindsight and see how God was working behind the scenes in his life the entire time.

God hasn't changed my friend. He is still the same wonderful God today, Who reigns supreme over the lives of men. Our part is not to figure God out, nor even to attempt to understand life; but rather, to obey the precious words of Proverb 3:5-7, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” Jesus is precious!

So wherever you're at in life, whatever your burdens and hardships may be, whatever heartaches you may have, whatever failures you have made, whatever your financial situation may be, whatever health problems you may suffer and endure... God has PROMISED to make it all work out for good if you are His child. Every Christian is called according to God's purpose. If you have a pulse you have a purpose. Everything happens for a reason.

It was Saul's very hatred and zeal for murdering Christians that one day would enable God to raise him up as Paul, becoming an aggressive soul-winner and missionary. Paul never thought for a moment that his strict upbringing as an unsaved religious Pharisee would one day enable God to use him to pen 14 books of the New Testament. God can truly take the lemons in your life and use them to make lemonade.

Tortured and Killed for Their Faith

It was by faith that Noah built an ark. It was by faith that Rahab the harlot hid the Jewish spies. It was by faith that Abraham left his home and journey afar into another country. It was by faith that David went out to fight Goliath. It was by faith that Isaiah said to God, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8). It was by faith that Abraham offered up Isaac as a sacrifice. It was by faith that Daniel prayed, thus breaking the law made by tyrants. It was by faith that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego resisted the tyranny of king Nebuchadnezzar, refusing to bow and worship His golden image. These were all done by faith.

But James was beheaded by faith. It was by faith that John the Baptist was slain by the sword. It was by faith that Moses led millions of Jews into the desert with few provisions. It was by faith that Stephen was martyred. It was by faith that Paul was imprisoned, stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked, and despaired even of life (2nd Corinthians 1:8). It was by faith that John was exiled to the island of Patmos. It was by faith that Jeremiah was cast into a miry pit of clay and left for dead. It was by faith that Daniel was cast into a den of hungry lions. 

It was by faith that Esther risked her life to stand before her king and beg the lives of her people. Esther said, “If I perish I perish” (Esther 4:16). Brother, we need some of that kind of faith again in our churches! Esther was willing to die for a cause. 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego by faith refused to bow to king Nebuchadnezzar's image. They said, “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. BUT IF NOT, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:17-18). Those three lads were cast into a raging fiery furnace, and their God did deliver them. They said, we'd rather die than disobey our God. That my friend is the attitude and resolution that we all should have as born-again believers in Christ. Jesus was willing to die for us, and we should be willing to die for Him. 

Our faith in the Lord may lead us to a wheelchair, or martyrdom, or hiding in the catacombs... all in according with God's perfect will for our life. God wanted the man born blind in John 9:1-5, so that God might be glorified. It may be God's will for you to end up crippled in a wheelchair for His glory and purpose. Faith in God doesn't mean that health, wealth, and prosperity will come your way. That kind of thinking of heathendom, demonic in origin.

The Devil offered Jesus something for something in Matthew 4:9. That is the way of the world. Satan offered all the glory of this world in exchange for worship. Why do you think so many rich and elite men and women today are flashing Satanic hand signs all over the place? They have sold their souls to Satan for worldly fame, fortune and prosperity. But Judgment Day is coming (Hebrews 9:27). I'd rather be poor and on the Lord's side; than rich and serving the Devil.

The Blight Of Homelessness In America

I heard a local Baptist pastor recently say something foolish (surprised, huh?). Preachers say the darndest He said that the homeless people on the street are there because they failed to obey God's Word. He cited Psalms 37:25, “
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. But there was a man that David and that pastor never saw, whose name was Lazarus. Luke 16:20-21, And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. Lazarus was the saved man in the true story of The Rich Man And Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.

So, we do see biblically that you can be saved and poor. We have no reason to believe from the Bible that Lazarus was poor because of his own sins or bad decisions. We simply do not know the circumstances and it would be wrong to speculate. I humbly disagree that all homeless people are there on the street because they didn't follow the Bible. No doubt some of them are guilty of disobeying the Bible. Many of them have broken minds. They are stuck in a self-destructive rut. Some of them are drug addicts, alcoholics and have ruined their lives with substance abuse. Some have criminal records. Some have schizophrenia, anger issues and other mental illnesses.

And to be clear, many people need help but some of them don't want help. When I lived on Guam, I felt compassion for a homeless man who lived in the park. He smelled so bad that I could hardly breathe. His clothes were tattered and he looked disheveled. So, with my own money I drove to K-mart and bought him a big bag of items to help himself. I bought him shaving crème, razors, shampoo, soap, new shoes, a nice shirt to wear and a bunch of other stuff to make his day. I really thought he would love me like a brother for showing Christ's love to him, a guy who owned nothing and lived in a beach park. The park had running free showers 24 hours a day. There was a public restroom with a mirror for him to shave.

I really expected when I returned a week later to see a whole new man. Sadly, he smelled just as bad. His hair was still in knots and matted up. He was wearing the same tattered clothes with holes in them. He had the same torn up shoes on. He smelled atrocious! But I quickly noticed that he had a few packs of cigarettes in his pockets. I was so naïve that I hadn't figured it out yet, what was going in.

In frustration, I later went and told my x-wife what had happened. She opened my eyes when she told me that he sold everything I gave him for money to go buy booze and cigarettes. She was absolute right! I felt like a fool for helping that fool. In hindsight, I now realize that I was blinded by my desire to be a Good Samaritan, to help someone in Jesus' name. I learned the hard way that some people just like being homeless, having nothing, being nothing and being a problem for society. They simply don't care! They have no dreams. They don't think ahead where they'd like to be in 5, 10 or 20 years. Like rats, they scurry from one garbage pail to the next, looking for something else to eat or sell. Since that unfortunate day I have a different attitude toward the homeless. I literally spent about $150 at Kmart for that one man! Never again! The old adage is very true: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!

I am glad that the state of Florida just outlawed squatting in tents in public places. The law goes into affect in October 2024. People will be arrested and put in jail for squatting, and I think it is a good thing. No one has a right to become a menace and a nuisance to the public. If homeless people refuse to accept the free help from rescue missions and social services that is offered to them, then they have no one to blame but themselves. People must be held responsible for their own behavior. No society can function otherwise! So, in the case of the man I just mentioned on Guam, he definitely is violating Scriptural principles, by being lazy and not working to sustain himself. He is a leech on society, a recluse and a problem.

Sadly, since I have moved from the island of Guam to Pensacola, Florida, in July of 2021, I have seen ten times more homeless people here in Pensacola. Panhandlers are everywhere! When I first moved here I felt compassion toward them. I used to give out $20 bills on Guam, but my x-wife suggested I only give $5, so I took her good advice. My big heart gets the best of me oftentimes, and I am too kind and generous toward people. But giving them money only enables them not to get a job and get their life together.

I learned last year online that it is actually illegal in Pensacola to give somebody money from a car window in traffic. So I don't give money away anymore while driving, which is where 99% of the panhandlers stand, by traffic lights. The penalty is a $500 fine in Pensacola if the police catch you. So I don't give money while driving anymore, even though it is hard not to because I love people. Sometimes problematic people need tough love, which is something that I need to work on. It's hard for me to not to give, but doing so only makes the overall problem worse for society.

There are literally THOUSANDS of businesses now hiring throughout Pensacola (but the jobs all pay minimum wage). The lack of affordable housing is the big problem. You cannot sanely expect people to work 16 hours a day! The average rent price in Pensacola is $1,300 a month. You won't be able to afford that (and other basic essentials needed to survive) if you are working full-time for $13 an hour at Burger King. No one can survive who is taking home $1,600 a month, when your rent is $1,300. Who can live on $300 a week? Your utility bills alone with take that away! Now you need a phone, transportation, food, personal grooming items, clothes, shoes, et cetera. So, not everyone who is homeless on the street is to blame for their situation, as that local Baptist pastor foolishly stated in his sermon.

The root of the problem is our crooked federal government. Three great evils are the root cause of homelessness in the United States:
  1. Deindustrialization (sending tens of millions of American jobs to foreign soil)
  2. Illegal immigration (60,000,000 people have illegally entered into the U.S.)
  3. Federal Reserve Banks (a massive Ponzi Scheme since 1913 that has bankrupt the American people through fraud and theft of our honest labors)
Sometimes We Suffer In God's Perfect Will

May we all resolve in our heart to acknowledge God in all our ways, trusting upon the Lord; and let us not lean upon our own flawed and limited understanding of the things of God, for He has PROMISED to “never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). No matter what happens in this life, good or evil, we know that it will all work together for good for every born-again believer who loves God. 1st Peter 2:7 says that Jesus is precious to every believer.

So keep in mind and heart Hebrews 11:36-38, teaching us that not all believers build an ark, fight a Goliath, or journey into a far land by faith; sometimes you get sawn in half, afflicted, tormented, or burned at the stake for Christ. It may be God's perfect will for you to be blind (as was true of the blind man in John 9:1-5). It may be God's will for you to end up in a wheelchair to glorify the Lord. It may be God's will for you to suffer, bleed and die! The important thing is to never place God on trial. We must exclaim with faithful Job in the Old Testament, who said in Job 13:15, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” Have faith in God (Mark 11:22b).

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