Saturday, August 13, 2016, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Fear Not, Little Flock.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 4:13-5:11 (ESV). We Do Not Know (4:13-17) Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. Sometimes I think that we, as humans, and perhaps in particular humans in America, think that life will always go on as it has and that tomorrow will be just another day like today. So, we make plans as though we somehow have control over all that, and with the notion in mind that what we plan we will be able to carry out to completion. Yet, not one of us knows what is going to happen in the next second or the next minute, let alone the next day or even the days after that. We should always make our plans prayerfully, and with the full acknowledgement that our lives are in God’s hands, and that only he knows the future. More than that, though, we should not consider that our lives are our own to be lived how we want. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, he bought us back for God with his blood shed on the cross for our sins. We are not our own. Jesus is now our Lord (owner-master) and we are his bond-slaves (servants). We should seek what his will is for our lives, and we should do it in the power of his Spirit living within us. We ought to be letting him direct our future and our plans, so that they are his plans being worked out through our lives. Only he knows what tomorrow holds for us, so we should yield to his will and purposes for our lives. I find, as I talk with many people who profess to know Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives, that they don’t think their lives, as they have chosen to live them, are really going to be drastically altered ever. They live and act as though life will always go on for them as it has, and as though the prophecies of scripture concerning the future will not happen in their lifetime. They believe everything they see and hear on TV, and will not even acknowledge that they could be duped, lied to, deceived or manipulated by master liars and deceivers. They have their eyes focused on this world, as they believe it to be, and they will not allow themselves to see that maybe things are not really what they believe they are. Cries of the Harvesters (5:1-6) Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you. Truly there are rich and powerful people today who are oppressing those weaker than them, and these are they who are also deceiving naïve minds into believing that they are the “good guys,” and that their intentions are honorable. Why is it that so many people who call themselves Christians never question what they see and hear? Why is it, even when confronted with the truth that what they are believing may be lies, that they close their ears and will not even listen to reason? They call everything which is contrary to their belief system a conspiracy, without even checking out the validity of it, and without even praying about it, inquiring of God as to its truth. I believe they do this because they live in a bubble and they don’t want anyone to burst it. They want to believe life, as they believe it to exist, will go on forever, and that their future will not be much different from their present. So many who call themselves Christians here in America live not much different from those who make no profession of faith in Christ whatsoever. They live primarily for themselves and their own plans and pleasure without even thought as to what God has planned for their lives, and what he wants them to be doing. They have been caught up in the culture of the day, much of which has an entitlement mindset, which thinks that all should be done for them or provided for them but that nothing is required of them or that they have no obligations to fulfill. I am not saying that all people are like this, but many are. They spend much of their time entertaining and being entertained, without thought for why God has placed them on this earth and what purpose they are to fulfill. Yet, God did not place us on this earth so we might live in a self-contained bubble, i.e. in a self-made world which is “isolated from reality or unlikely to last” (Google definition). We can’t close our eyes to all that is going on all around us or to prophecies of scripture being fulfilled in our day, thinking that we will not be affected by them, or that they will not touch our lives. And, we can’t live for self and for pleasure and ignore the needs of others and their or our own spiritual conditions. In other words, we need to wake up America! And, we need to wake up world! The beast of Revelation is rising right before our eyes, and life is not “normal.” Our elections are not “normal.” Many are deceiving and are being deceived within nations, and by their own national leaders, and within the church, and by their own pastors and spiritual leaders. The US government, for instance, in concert with their political and religious allies in the New World Order, is going throughout the world killing innocents, taking over other lands not their own, confiscating other people’s possessions and goods, and all in the name of liberty and freedom, or in the name of Christianity. They are ISIS, the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the like. They are the terrorists of the world. They pretend as though they are the rescuers and the “do gooders” who are trying to help the poor and the innocent, but they are liars. First they knock the squirrels out of the tree, and then they “rescue” them, i.e. then they come in to other nations uninvited and they take over. Their goal, and the goal of the pope, and that of many rich, powerful and/or religious leaders in the world is world domination and a one-world government and one-world religion (See: Rev. 13). So, when we blindly support our political leaders, or when we blindly support and follow our religious leaders, and we don’t question whether or not what they are telling us is the truth, and we don’t pray for ears to hear and eyes to see, but we are dumbed down by television and all the drama in the news being passed off as reality, then we may be guilty of killing innocents and of condemning and murdering those who are righteous, i.e. those who are true followers of Christ. The institutional church has been persecuting serious followers of Christ for many years, casting them aside, because they fear they might influence the people and might convince them of the truth. They don’t want them because they might offend the world with the truth of the gospel. So if we blindly support these leaders, we may be participating in the persecution of Christians. The same applies when we blindly support our political leaders, believing their lies. They are not going after ISIS because they are ISIS. They are going after Christians. Just listen to the pope’s and Obama’s speeches. Christians – those who are true followers of Jesus Christ – are on the chopping block. What these leaders want is to bring all people into unity, and to do away with all that divides us as the people of the world. What divides us? The Gospel of Jesus Christ divides us into sheep and goats, i.e. the saved and the unsaved – the righteous and the unrighteous. So, these leaders are working together to develop a plan for doing away with the gospel and for bringing us all together under a one-world religion and government. But, God hears the cries of the oppressed, and he will come to the rescue one day, and these who are liars and murderers will meet their doom. Be Patient (5:7-11) Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. It is hard to be patient, sometimes, when we see so much misery going on in the world, especially when we have eyes to see all the manipulation and deception which is going on world-wide in the name of honor and truth. It is not that we wish for judgment and that we long to see people punished, though. The opposite is true. We long for the salvation of souls and the revival of the church, and to see blinded eyes opened and people turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so they can receive forgiveness of sins and can be restored to fellowship with their God. Yet, we also long to see the oppressed set free and the persecuted delivered and for people to no longer suffer such pain. We long for the lies to cease and for the truth to be revealed, too. And, we long for the day when we will no longer face such persecution and suffering, when we will be forever with our Lord. Yet, while we wait, we continue to persevere, even in suffering, believing that God will bring fruit for our labor and that lives will be changed, and all for his glory and honor. Fear Not, Little Flock / An Original Work Based off Luke 12 / February 10, 2016 Fear not, little flock, Your Lord’s always near. Jesus will come and Wipe every tear. Trust in His mercy, Rest in His love. He’ll give you comfort From heaven above. Our precious Redeemer, Jesus, our friend, He will be with us, True to the end. He will not leave you, Faithful He’ll be. Believe His promises, Rest on His knee. Our God, and provider, He knows our need. He’ll not forsake you. Follow His lead. He’ll love and comfort you To the end. Know, on His Word, You can always depend.