April 13 "To him men shall come, and all shall be ashamed who are angry against him." Isaiah 45:24 Life is painful. There isn't a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ who wouldn't agree. Walking with the Lord could aptly be called boot camp and any soldier will tell you that many don't make it through boot camp. And many of those who do, make it through with scars to prove it. Why does it have to be this way? Of course man in his limited wisdom could never really give the right answer to this question because he simply has only a one-sided perspective; when we go through things, we do not see the work being done that is out of our range of vision. For many, God is a god made in their own image. They expect God to think the way they do. They feel they know what's right, what's fair, what's good, and they construct a god that will conform to their idea of what God SHOULD be. But it doesn't work that way. And when it doesn't, that's when many fall away. Let's take God out of the box and consider a few things about him that go beyond our ability to comprehend. First of all, he is the creator and sustainer of all that exists. He breathes out galaxies. He keeps the solar systems in right order, each in its correct orbit, defying what the most intelligent scientists could even come near to understanding. Indeed, doesn't the Word of God say exactly that? "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, AND OPPOSITIONS OF SCIENCE FALSELY SO CALLED which some professing have erred concerning the faith." 1 Timothy 6:20-21 (KJV) When science opposes the Word of God it becomes "science FALSELY so-called." That should tell you the worth of the sciences - which actually deny God as the creator. The Scriptures call them fools. " For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." 1 Corinthians 3:19 The creator has the intelligence, the wisdom, and the power to call every single star by name. I've never known of a scientist who can come close to doing that. They actually don't KNOW how many galaxies are out there, but God maintains each one. "He counts the number of the stars; he calls them all by name." Psalm 147:4 Anyone reading the book of Job would be astounded at the story, as it appears that God is being unfair in Job's life. But does anyone have the RIGHT to call God unfair? He who sent his only Son to die a torturous death hanging bloodied on a cross - so that we might be saved, this is the God who is unfair? He who receives every believer on the merits of his son's atonement - is unfair? Philosophers will argue this issue till the end, but the end of the matter is that if we could see what God sees, we would realize he is the God of love and mercy, and that there is no unfairness in him. When Job questioned God about the calamities that so seemingly unfair fell upon him - God did not answer the question. Many have wondered why God would refuse to answer such a seemingly reasonable question. The greatest explanation I have been able to even nearly approach and which may be sadly lacking, is the memory of my young child at age 5 asking me something that she had no way of being able to understand had I tried to answer her. In all truth, it would be closer to the impossibility of attempting to explain to your dog why he can't run free. Try it if you think you can. We just are too limited to understand the ways of an Almighty Creator. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9 When you can't answer your toddler who asks an unanswerable question, then you will understand that God's answers are unanswerable to us. It's not that he refuses to answer us, it's that he knows we'd not understand. We are incredibly distant from having any way to understand the wisdom of a God who creates and sustains all that exists, when that God seems to be doing something unfair in our lives. We can rest assured that the fault is in our arrogance, not in his wisdom. If you are going through something that makes absolutely no sense to you, the quickest way to get your difficulty resolved is to COOPERATE with God, not to resist him. The heart that is truly surrendered will see the power of God in a way that will be astounding. It will require the necessary pain of the waiting period, and the unshakable strength of trust, but when one's heart is truly surrendered he will see the wisdom of God carried out in his life, and the power, and most of all ...the love of an extremely loving Father.

April 12 As we watch Israel set about to form its new government coalition, it's a good time to review the ancient prophecies which are looming, waiting to fall upon that nation. There are two ancient prophecies of "the last days" great wars against Israel: Psalm 83: The Arab confederation being stopped by God Ezekiel 38: Russia-Iran-Turkey coming to judgment by God himself What stands out about the God of the Bible is the many prophecies he has given. No other "holy" book gives prophecy except in very general terms, because God is the only one who knows the future. The prophecies in the Bible are 100% accurate, a claim no other can make. The prophecy in Ezekiel chapter 38 is one of the most studied prophecies in the Bible. More than 2,600 years ago, Ezekiel foretold the great “last-days” war against Israel led by Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Ezekiel 38 verse 8 determines the time as "in the last years." He names the countries involved, and history has been able to locate the areas named. For example, the land of Meshech (Moscow) and Tubal (Tobolsk) is the area known today as Russia. Persia is today called Iran. Ezekiel says they will come from the far north. If you take a ruler and go directly north from Jerusalem, it will cross Moscow. Some have said that it would also go through Turkey, but the Scripture actually pinpoints "the FAR north," and Russia is farther north than Turkey. Regardless, Turkey IS also included in the same Ezekiel 38 passage. Turkey is what was then called "Togarmah." Isn't it amazing that 2,600 years later Russia, Iran and Turkey are the leading nations involved in the "last days" assaults against Israel! They are in our news daily. Other places named in this coalition will include countries from north Africa, like Ethiopia and Libya. As the last days advance, God sheds more light on what's happening... For centuries, when teachers of the Bible spoke on the great Ezekiel 38 invasion of Israel "in the last days," they didn't notice that not one of the countries that were named in Ezekiel 38 borders on Israel. Among the countries bordering Israel, the so-called "Palestinian" countries, the ones who so have such barbaric hatred of Israel - not one of them is named in the war of Ezekiel 38. So we clearly have two separate entities which will meet their end in these two wars. The prophecy given in Psalm 83, lists those exact "Palestinian" places showing that God will judge them for their hatred of Israel prior to the war of Ezekiel 38. Not only that, but Israel will be given a great part of their lands, and that will bring to pass one of the conditions necessary before Ezekiel 38 can come to pass: it specifically says Israel will be at peace when Russia and Iran come against it in that great war. Israel is certainly not at peace right now, but the solution to that - the Psalm 83 war, will take place first and in fact is forming right now - the Psalm 83 coalition is in the making right before our eyes. It will be a confederation of Arab nations, and all the things happening right now in the Middle East are bringing this loosely-knit coalition to form into a single confederation which will unite in their hatred of Israel and launch the Psalm 83 war against her. "For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy against you..." Psalm 83:5 There is one other element in the story, differentiating the two wars - and that is the purpose of each invasion. The Russian-Persian-Turkish war of Ezekiel 38 shows them coming down in war against Israel "to take plunder and to take booty." Israel has become one of the most prosperous and "modern" nations in the world. They have discovered a huge reservoir of oil and gas off the coast of Haifa, and there's so much oil and gas in this new find that it will keep them prosperous for a very long time. So ...Russia and Iran will come against them to plunder them. The aim of the Psalm 83 "Palestinian" war on the other hand, shows the immediate neighbors of Israel coming against her not to plunder her, but to destroy her, to "wipe her off the face of the earth." "They have said, 'Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.'” Psalm 83:4 Is that not what we're witnessing this very day? Are those not the very words the Muslims so publicly proclaim against Israel? In the map of the Middle East, Israel is so small that it's hardly visible. Why on earth would anyone care about this tiny place? You have to know your Bible to be able to answer that question, because it's all explained there for anyone who wants to know. When you watch the news on tv, be mindful of the fact that you are watching the fulfillment of prophecies given thousands of years ago, prophecies pointing to the time called "the last days." The last days are upon us.

"I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer. Uphold my steps in your paths, that my footsteps may not slip." Psalm 17:4-5

What are "the paths of the destroyer?" There are principles in the spiritual world just as there are principles in the physical world, for it is the same God who established both. In the physical world, men have studied the laws of atoms, and of heat and and of gravity, etc. and with their growing knowledge they have succeeded in decoding DNA on the micro level, all the way to putting men on the moon in the macro level. There are laws, or principles, in the spiritual world as well. One is the law of sowing and reaping. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." Galatians 6:7-8 This principle is what King David, the author of this psalm, had in mind when he says he has kept away from "the paths of the destroyer." When a man sins, there will be a consequence. This is a law as sure as the law of gravity. There is one sin that brings very terrible and very obvious results, and that is the sin of spiritual adultery, commonly known as involvement in the world of the occult and "new age" practices. The consequences of delving into the supernatural world of the occult are particularly severe, usually resulting in mental illness or premature death. And that's not all. The Scriptures tell us that judgment on this particular type of sin goes down to the third and fourth generation of those committing them. Why is this so? There are two sources of supernatural power, the power of God and the power of Satan. When a person is in great need of guidance or consolation, he may seek out a medium or fortune teller hoping to receive a word from a loved one who has departed. Or - a person who is discouraged in life might begin seeking in astrology or "New Age" teachings to find ways to make his life better. All this is spiritual adultery. It's trying to connect with supernatural power that is forbidden in the Scriptures. God wants all of our focus on him, and when one ventures into the occult they are making contact with the enemy of God, the kingdom of darkness. God has made it more than clear throughout his Word that we are to come to him ALONE, for guidance, for help, for anything at all that requires supernatural assistance. He says he is "a jealous God." Why? Because he is the Most High, he is Almighty God, he is your creator, it is he who brought you into the world, and he demands that you revere him ALONE. Any attempt to receive anything from the supernatural world outside of him alone is the sin of spiritual adultery. Adultery says "you're not enough for me." Adultery tempts with intrigue, and aren't all men intrigued by the supernatural world? But if the intrigue leads you to someone other than the Lord himself, that is spiritual adultery. Deuteronomy chapter 18 starting with verse 10, lists several occult practices so that no one will be unclear on this subject. Among those severely warned against are mediums, spiritists, and necromancy (which is trying to make contact with the dead.) Read it, there are many listed there. The passage goes on to say that any PERSON who delves into any of these things, that person is "an abomination to the Lord." That means that if you have delved into any of these practices, no matter how trivial they may seem to you, YOU have become "an abomination to the Lord." The passage goes on to say that this is so serious in God's eyes, that the judgment on these sins will fall onto the children of the perpetrator. The most common judgment on this type of sin is mental illness, premature death, or both. "And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I WILL SET MY FACE AGAINST THAT PERSON..." Leviticus 20:6 If you are a victim of such afflictions, if you see a pattern in your family of premature death or mental illness, then you will need to deal with this before the Lord, confessing these sins and the sins of your parents or grandparents known and unknown. The only way to be set free from this spiritual law is confession and repentance. And it will be a terrible battle. Better not to get involved in these things in the first place. Better to keep your feet AWAY from "the paths of the destroyer."