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Reading of the Will (Think Red Ink Ministries)
I see the old moon waning and growing ever closer to the sunrise and I am amazed how quickly time passes. How much have we left? What remains undone in our lives?
Are folks unforgiven? Are tasks left undone? Are there projects abandoned in dusty heaps around us? Do we continue to hold our life’s abundance close, in fear of the unknown and uncertain times ahead - money, lands, items that will be given to who knows who, by uncaring and, perhaps even ungodly persons, when they could be disbursed today to our children and families who struggle without them.
Our present and living will, or First Will (the one we live by every day) disappears when we are no longer able to say or do what we wish. Thus the term ‘Last Will and Testament’ is printed on the top of the paper many reach for when we breathe our last.
There is more to your will than the piece of paper that records the disbursement of your goods after your death. You live by your will every day. Do you know how to read your will? I assure you that everyone who knows you, can clearly read the driving will in your life, for it shows through every word and action in your daily living.
My mother has the most wholesome and well-balanced view of this concept of anyone I have known. She taught me by example all her life. It will never be said after her death that she wanted someone to have any particular possession of hers. If it is her will, she lives it out every day. I’ve seen her give her most precious possessions to those she wanted to have them, even while she had many years left to enjoy them herself. In doing so, her ‘will’ is read every day of her life. Thanks, Mom.
Today, I know of a couple who watch with indifference, as the modern banking system takes a horrible toll on their son’s and daughter’s new little families. Possessing more than they will ever need, and obviously having enough money to take the burden of interest off all of their children as they struggle under the load of debt ... their parents do nothing to assist.
Undue, unnecessary marital stress, doing without, mom having to work out of the home to help pay the present-day exorbitant cost of living, unattended children ... but they will never see a dime of relief until the death of their tight-fisted parents. Are we to believe that it is their ‘will’ that their children are provided for? I am sure the will read that day will say so, but their lives and actions today say differently.
It occurs to me that a person’s will is indeed readable before their death, yea rather more so while they live, than after they die.  Most wills are rife with selfishness, both in those who receive, as in those who give. What genuine pleasure or comfort is there to be found in a willed gift that reeks of this selfish notion, “Now that I can use this no longer, now that I am permanently removed from the benefit of this money, this land, this trinket ... I want you to have it”?
I think also of those who forgive on deathbeds. Sorry friend, we read your will, all of your life. It cannot be your will to forgive now, it never being your will to do so while you had life enough to personally consume upon yourself any benefit of mercy you now feel toward your malefactor.
Those who confess to wrongdoing on deathbeds are no better. Sorry, we all read your will before today. Not sorry then - not sorry now.
While those who cry out to God in anguish for their misspent life are to be pitied, we cannot read this sorrow as repentance, nor is it any sign that it is now their will to honor and fear their Creator. Sorry friend.
We have all read your will before today.
Your will, to give, to help, to ease burdens, to honor God, to love your children, to forgive, to get involved in something of eternal value - you can write it in your will, give it to your lawyer, have it read over national television if you want, but there is no need to publish it. We have all read it.
You should evaluate your ‘will’ in the light of how you are now living. After all, everyone around you is doing it now. Platitudes, good works, noble character is not something we do after death; it is something we live now. A kind word, a financial help, time spent with those you love are done as an act of your will. Not probated by law in your Last Will and Testament.

Teaching God (Sabbath Meditations)I don’t usually get excited about children’s piano recitals. It’s one thing to endure your own children struggle to find the right note night after night for weeks on end, but sitting through two hours of other people’s kids doing the same thing is downright painful.
But this recital was different. Why? Because every note was played on key? No. There were plenty of ‘G’ sharps that should have been ‘B’ flats. It wasn’t any less painful to endure.
This recital was special because my son actually participated - but three years previously he had announced to us that he’d had enough. He no longer wanted to play the piano. This was devastating to me. One gift I’ve been determined to impart to my children is a gift that I personally was never given: the gift of music. I had hoped that both of my children would at least advance to a level where their ability to produce beautiful music could bring a lifetime of enjoyment. My hopes, it seemed, were being derailed.
I couldn’t blame him, though, for wanting to quit. The fun had gone out of it for him. Only a year earlier, you couldn’t drag him away from the piano. Now it took an act of congress to get him to practice for even ten minutes. Some of his loss of enthusiasm I attributed to adolescence; lacking the discipline and maturity to do what it takes to learn. But the lion share of his dying enthusiasm I blamed on his teacher. This well meaning lady's style of instruction consisted of methodically working through principles of music theory and technique by practicing lifeless, outdated music. She also put a great deal of pressure on the kids to participate in local piano competitions and recitals. I suspected she was concerned less with what the children gained from the experience than with promoting her piano lesson business in the local community. Neither of these approaches worked well with my son.
So after his adamant announcement, we decided to switch tracks. After a brief hiatus we found another piano instructor, with a decidedly different approach to music instruction. What a refreshing change it was. The first thing this teacher asked when the kids walked into her house was what kind of music they enjoyed. “That’s the music,” she said with a smile, “you're going to play.”
Over the next several months of lessons we were impressed that this instructor seemed less concerned that our kids master the mechanics of the music they played than that they be sufficiently motivated by their enjoyment in playing it. Her reasoning was simple. If you teach the love of music, interest will be maintained over time, and the rest, the method, correct technique, will come naturally. If you teach method first, the love will die, and eventually, so will the learning. I believe there is a lot of wisdom in that approach. I immediately saw the fruits of it in my children, particularly my son. They couldn’t wait to get to the music store to pick out their music and get to the piano.
I think it would pay for our churches to apply this approach in its efforts to teach its members’ children about God. I’ve seen too many Bible school curriculums that jump immediately into the mechanics; the ‘what’ of our faith; without first teaching the ‘why’. Absent that context; absent an active relationship to build on; the ‘what’ just becomes information.
How much greater would be our success if we strived first to instill in our children a loving relationship with God before funneling lists of memory scriptures and doctrinal statements into their heads. If our children develop a love for God, interest in a relationship with Him will be maintained, and the rest will come naturally. They will want to read His book. They will want to be where other members of His family are. They will want to please Him. It’s that simple.
My son did a great job at this recital. Oh yes, he hit a wrong note a few times ... but it was all music to my ears.

A Prayer of Rage (Morning Companion)
“When I get angry with God, I say a Prayer of Rage,” she said to me. And I found this comment quite gratifying.
For some time now I have felt that, if there is one thing God wants from us in prayer, it’s transparency. I sometimes refer to it as ‘standing naked before God’. Put in an earthy sort of way, He knows what you got. Why not bare it all before Him? I am reminded of this scene from Oh, God!, the 1997 John Denver/George Burns theologically interesting comedy. Jeff (played by John Denver) is complaining that God isn’t working things out the way Jeff thinks He should. Guess who shows up to set the record straight.
Still, raging before God might strike some as almost blasphemous, and indeed it can be. Consider this account of Joseph Stalin’s death as recalled by his daughter, from the website History in an Hour:
Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, described, in almost religious terms, the last moments: “He suddenly opened his eyes and looked at everyone in the room. It was a terrible gaze, mad or maybe furious and full of fear of death ... Then something incomprehensible and frightening happened ... He suddenly lifted his left hand as though he were pointing to something above and bringing down a curse on us all ... The next moment, after a final effort, the spirit wrenched itself free of the flesh.”
Some have characterized this final gesture as a rage against God, an echo of the duplicity contained in the atheist’s confession: “There is no God -- and I hate him.”
But also look at Psalms and see a number of instances where the Psalmist questions God, albeit without rebellion and with the expectation of an answer:
Psalm 10: 1 “Why do you stand afar off, O Lord?”
Psalm 13:1-2 “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me, forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?”
Psalm 42:9 “I will say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of my enemy?’.”
Psalm 44:17-19 “All this has come upon us, but we have not forgotten you, nor have we dealt falsely with your covenant. Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way, but you have severely broken us in the place of the jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death.”
We see it even more so in the Book of Job. Quoting from The Message paraphrase:
Job 27:2 “God-Alive! He’s denied me justice! God Almighty! He’s ruined my life!”
Job 30:20-24 “I shout for help, God, and get nothing, no answer!  I stand to face you in protest, and you give me a blank stare! You’ve turned into my tormentor - you slap me around, knock me about. You raised me up so I was riding high and then dropped me, and I crashed. I know you’re determined to kill me, to put me six feet under. What did I do to deserve this? Did I ever hit anyone who was calling for help?”
Job 31:1-4,35-37 “I made a solemn pact with myself never to undress a girl with my eyes. So what can I expect from God? What do I deserve from God Almighty above? Isn’t calamity reserved for the wicked? Isn’t disaster supposed to strike those who do wrong? Isn’t God looking, observing how I live? Doesn’t he mark every step I take? ... Oh, if only someone would give me a hearing! I’ve signed my name to my defense - let the Almighty One answer! I want to see my indictment in writing. Anyone’s welcome to read my defense; I’ll write it on a poster and carry it around town. I’m prepared to account for every move I’ve ever made- to anyone and everyone, prince or pauper.”
Read all of Job’s complaint and you’ll see quite a tirade - quite a Prayer of Rage, if you will.
And God answers Job. He answers him in a straightforward way, cutting him down to size, so to speak (Chapters 38-41), and it’s true that God essentially asks him, “Who do you think you are? You do remember who I am, don’t you, and I know what I am doing.”
And it’s also true what God tells Job’s three friends about Job.
After God had finished addressing Job, he turned to Eliphaz the Temanite and said, “I’ve had it with you and your two friends. I’m fed up! You haven’t been honest either with me or about me, not the way my friend Job has. So here’s what you must do. Take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my friend Job. Sacrifice a burnt offering on your own behalf. My friend Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer. He will ask me not to treat you as you deserve for talking nonsense about me, and for not being honest with me, as he has.” (Job 42:7-8, The Message)
So maybe my friend is on to something. God appreciates honesty. We’re not going to snow him with feigned bliss and reverence.

Virtual Reality (Children of God)

What is real and what is make believe? Those things that we see about us in the physical realm can seem to be very real. However, the Bible reveals that the things of heaven are in fact real, actual and authentic, but because they are unseen, most people relegate them to the mysterious and mystifying realm. The world believes only in what it can see, but we know that eye has not seen neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him (1Corinthians 2:9).  God tells His people where they must place their focus.
Colossians 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
There is a new technological trend that is sweeping the digital world, and it is the realm of Virtual Reality. Literally billions of dollars have been spent on this trend in the last few years – and it is growing wildly. For some it is entertainment and games, while for others it is a new way to escape reality. The developers of virtual reality wish to sell it as a means of education and exotic travel experiences – while staying right at home.  But what is to keep this latest craze from exploding into the unknown? What are the unintended consequences of a powerful new way of creating fantasy and make-believe? There is a big danger lurking on the horizon that is brought about by the unscrupulous and the greedy. The one thing virtual reality is about is immersing a person in an entirely fictitious world void of reality.
Virtual reality takes its name from the fact that what a person sees does not physically exist as such, but is made by software to appear to do so. The developers’ goal is to perfect the technology so that virtual reality and reality are – essentially the same.  Anyone will be able to go anywhere and do anything; go where no man has gone before; fly a space ship; dive to the deepest parts of the ocean; go deep inside a surgical operation; navigate the inside of a bee hive; you name it - all in the comfort of their living room.
Genesis 11:6 The Lord said ‘...and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do’.
God divided and brought Babel to a halt because it was a Godless society. Virtual reality has its roots in a Godless society – and who knows where the irresponsible entrepreneurs will take it?  As Christians, our primary defense is to know and stay close to Reality – the Reality that is in heaven. For those of us in God’s Church it is incumbent that we stay close to the trunk of the tree. Jesus said, “Pray, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That is because God’s will is done in heaven. It behooves us to know what is in heaven and what the will of God is. Jesus said:
John 3:12 “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?”
What we see in the Scriptures are the spiritual things in heaven, which are reality – way more so than the physical things of this earth – which everyone considers being REAL.  The eternal spiritual sanctuary in heaven is REAL. The spiritual things of God are eternally real, and physical things of our world are temporary.
Psalm 11:4  The Lord is in His Holy Temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven.
Solomon’s magnificent Temple in Jerusalem, dripping with gold, was a mere replica of the heavenly Temple. The real eternal spiritual Temple is in heaven and God showed it to Moses and later to David in writing. God gave them explicit instructions to follow every detail of the heavenly pattern or blueprint when building the earthly tabernacle and temple at Jerusalem.
God said to Moses:
Exodus 25:8-9 “Let them make me a sanctuary [Heb. ‘kodesh’ – holy place – and it is holy because of God’s presence]; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.”
Exodus 26:30 “You shall raise up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was showed thee in the mount” [Sinai].
It was God’s intention that not only the earthly tabernacle and Temple at Jerusalem be constructed according to every minute detail, but also that all the instruments and accoutrements also be of a perfect heavenly design. Every element of every object of temple service pointed to the reality of the heavenly.
2Chronicles 8:16 Now all the work of Solomon was prepared unto the day of the foundation of the House of the Lord, and until it was finished. So the House [the Temple] of the Lord was perfected.
Brethren, this world is careening uncontrollably off course in every segment of society.  In the difficult days ahead we must look to heaven – where God’s throne is – for direction, instruction and the will of God.

What If Im Wrong? (New Horizons)

Many Bible believers express concerns as to how to interpret the end time prophecies or doctrinal issues. If I get it wrong, they might ask - will that condemn me to ‘the great tribulation’? Even, will I lose out on salvation?

What if, for example, they misplace the time of the resurrection? Will it coincide with the Day of Trumpets? Or, will it take place on the Day of Pentecost? Both scenarios have been proposed.
Then there’s the important issue of the nature of the Godhead - is God, as is generally believed within the Christian faith, a ‘trinity’, a ‘triune  God’? Or have the Unitarians got it right - one God. Or, is God a Family?
Then there’s the interpretation of the prophecies. Who is ‘the Beast’ or the ‘False Prophet’ or the ‘man of sin’? Or, is the ‘King of the South’ an Islamic force, or a secular power? Or other?
What if I’m not sure this truly is ‘the end time’, and it turns out it is? Will I be left behind? And what about Daniel’s much-discussed prophecies?
All genuine concerns! And yes - we should strive for a right understanding of the Scriptures.
Take that ‘trinity’ question. No Christian, however they might understand ‘God’, means any disrespect. It’s how they understand the text - or, more likely, they have never studied the issue, but have thoughtlessly accepted the word from the pulpit rather than God’s revelation in the Scriptures. God remains, whatever we might think or believe, exactly what He is, always was and always will be. No matter what I might think or have been taught.
And prophecy? The interpretations are endless! Given enough time, most human interpretations - that’s what they are - fall by the wayside. I don’t need to know when Jesus will return; but I must just stay in a state of preparedness.
I needn’t know who might become the ‘two witnesses’; God will manifest them for all to see in His good time. I need not be overly concerned about world chaos - just be personally ready for when the end comes.
There is, however, a clear instruction directly from the lips of Jesus: ‘Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them ... and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world’ (Matthew 28:19-20).
Those who are privileged to be part of His divine Family are expected to share the good news of salvation, the Kingdom news, personally and through support of the work of our church affiliation. And by our daily Christlike example. And, in tandem with this directive, we are each to shape our life to that of the image of Jesus Christ, his character, as revealed through the Scriptures and informed by God’s Spirit indwelling us.
Nothing we believe or do will change God’s nature. We can’t change when  Jesus will return. We can’t change God’s choice of the two witnesses. We can’t change the outcome of the prophecies. And, except in my small corner of influence by my example, I can’t help the world’s chaos.
God is compassionate, knows our frailties. He understands our limitations and doesn’t lay anything on us beyond those limitations. We do our best to understand His revelation - but failures of understanding do not affect our living relationship with Him and with our Saviour, Jesus His Messiah.

God Meant It For Good (Early Christian)

Have you ever been through any trials in your life? Sure, we all have. Often times we think the trials we face may be due to something we are doing wrong; that God is trying to show us correction or discipline us. The examples of people and even nations in the Bible having to be brought low before they receive correction are extensive. But the nature of trials is not so cut and dry.

Perhaps the clearest example of this is with Paul. Acts 7:58 - Acts 8:3 shows Paul before his conversion actually holding the cloaks for those who stoned Stephen to martyrdom. Paul was energetically persecuting the Church of God for years after this going from town to down and dragging believers in Messiah back to Jerusalem to be jailed and punished for their faith. Paul had to be stricken blind and visited by the risen Yeshua in order for him to be converted. He had to be brought incredibly low before he, an incredibly educated Jew and Roman citizen, could admit his errors and convert.

However, being brought low was just the beginning. Paul had to publicly and repeatedly repent. He had to prove to the brethren that he was no longer a threat. Surely they must have been scared to be in the same room as the guy who delivered so many to the Jews. Then Paul had to go on to be punished in the same manner that he punished others. Beaten, whipped, stoned and left for dead. But the lesson was not just for Paul! It was for the brethren as well. They had to trust Yahweh and the Spirit to believe that they would be protected and they had to forgive the very man that had persecuted them. This is a very hard thing to do my friends. Forgiving and trusting someone who has a history of violence or destructive behavior is one of the hardest psychological hurdles for people to cross despite Yeshua telling us we must do so 7 x 70 times.

It’s also very easy to see other people’s trials as punishment by God. This is a trap that has existed for a very long time. When we see people begging on the side of the road for coins our reflex action is to assume they are charlatans. When we see people who have made bad decisions suffering for their poor judgment, thoughts like “well, that’ll teach ‘em” creep in to even the most compassionate among us. But what does Yeshua say about these things?

As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered,“It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

Do you see the accusatory attitude in the disciples? They assumed because the man was blind that it had to be because of his sin or his parent’s sins. But the man was born blind, perhaps in excess of 30 years prior, for this one moment in time. God had a plan. How many eyes do you think were opened on the day that this man received his sight? Those disciples had their eyes opened much more than the blind man. His disability was put on him so that many would be able to see righteousness working.

This attitude check about those who are less fortunate is part of the judgment of Matthew 25:31-46. In fact, it’s the ENTIRE basis for the judgment! What do we see about the character of the righteous when Yeshua sits on His throne and starts separating the sheep from the goats? The righteous are the one who ministered to those less fortunate. The trials of the infirm, the malnourished, the poor, and the prisoners are a test for those more fortunate.

Yes, brethren, God has a plan for each and every person on planet earth. These plans are intertwined with others and their relationships. When we see someone in a trial, our reactions are recorded in the books. When we are in a trial, we also must give glory to the Most High. Because, like Joseph said so long ago, God meant it for good.

Remembering and Forgetting (Guardian Ministries)
On Memorial Day many Americans went to cemeteries to look at graves and gravestones, place flowers on graves, pausing to remember loved ones who died. I can reflect on my father and mother and be thankful that I was so blessed in this ‘luck of the draw’ as they say in poker. This is because none of us can control the time, place, culture, circumstances, genealogy, or the genetic structure of our birth. If you had good parents, remember them and be thankful. If you didn’t, it is not your fault in any way -- it’s just the ‘luck of the draw’.
God wanted his people to remember certain things. Remembering and forgetting are two very important functions of our minds. I have to control my mind and use these functions to enhance and edify my life. Some people remember the wrong things and forget the right things.
God warned the Israelites to “keep your soul diligently so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen” (Deuteronomy 4:9). Again, “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 8:11). And “Remember, do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 9:7). To remember the lessons of certain mistakes is important to keep from repeating them in the future.
But, despite these warnings, Israel did forget. “Thus the sons of Israel did not remember the LORD their God” (Judges 8:34).
Remembering and forgetting in relation to God are reciprocal. When we remember God, He remembers us. When we forget God, He temporarily forgets us. “Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hosea 4:6).
God told the Israelites to remember what He did for them in leading them through the wilderness and providing the manna for food, so that they would remember that “man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).
To have a form of sympathy for your child, it helps to remember that son or daughter when they were small. God remembered Ephraim so His compassion would extend to him. “Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a delightful child? Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him, I certainly still remember him; Therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him,” declares the LORD (Jeremiah 31:20).
Unlike us humans, when God forgives you He doesn’t remember your sins. Referring to the New Covenant we read: “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD’, for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
Because God wanted His people to remember Him, He established certain memory helps called ‘memorials’. The Passover was such a memorial. “Now this day will be a memorial to you” (Exodus 12:14).
Many often wonder whether their good deeds and their love for God will be forgotten. God has a ‘book of remembrance’ which He keeps (Malachi 3:16). And His remembrance is throughout all generations (Psalm 135:13).
On the night He was betrayed, Jesus took bread and wine and used them as symbols of Himself and the blood of the New Covenant. He asked that His disciples take these “in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
Paul wrote that when we take this bread and wine, “you do show the Lord’s death till He come” (KJV). But the Greek word for “show” literally means “to proclaim” or “to preach, to make known in public, with implication of broad dissemination, proclaim, announce.”
We are to remember several things: that the bread is a symbol of Christ’s body and the wine a symbol of His blood of the New Covenant. We are to remember that God has made this New Covenant with us.
We should remember that we are making a proclamation for all who see and proclaiming the meaningfulness of Christ’s death. But, most of all, we are to remember Jesus Christ and what He did, so that He could bring many sons and daughters to GLORY (Romans 8:29).
And, remember, this coming Sunday, June 4, 2017, is Pentecost.