Just One Sin

John 524

Can just one sin keep a person out of Heaven and to face eternal torment in hell? The answer is undoubtedly yes.  Some would immediately say God is much too harsh in this, but then again they are not God.  If God was truly harsh, He would of just ended the world as we know many thousands of years ago and give no hope to fallen sinners.  Those who believe God is harsh or vindictive also do not believe God is Holy or really understand what true Holiness is, and at the same token would NOT be attributing holiness to any human being as is commonly blasphemously done.

Take a minute and contemplate who God is. He is the Creator of the Universe and everything and everyone in it. He is eternal, no beginning or end and in this eternal sense has been utterly perfect.  Not a sinful thought, deed, or action.  It is much too hard from a human perspective to understand this in its totality, thus enters human way of thinking when it comes to God’s disdain and judgment on sin which has defiled His holiness, and yes, every sin, not some sins, but any sin committed.  This standard of holiness is bar set so very high that no human being could even come close to it.

The books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus which are often used wrongly by the “God is harsh” crowd, are rather an example of God’s demand and standards for perfection and that bar which is set.

God’s holiness demands justice on sin. The Great Flood is evidence of this when all but 8 were destroyed based on their sins. So it is an innate question all human beings have been ingrained with, how do we make things right with God. From this question sprang up world religion. Even though God sent a Savior Jesus Christ to satisfy this demand from God, and through His one time once and for all atonement where He alone made a propitiation for sin, a TOTAL and complete satisfaction, world religions through ideology will say this is not sufficient. That although they may teach in some form Jesus was a prophet, a good teacher, that His death was admirable, it just wasn’t enough.

And because they do not believe Jesus’ propitiation for sins was enough, rituals such as water baptism, transubstantiation and the Eucharist, were all put in by twisting Scripture as additional works for the sinner to in effect make up where Jesus left off, not as resultant effects and behavior of salvation, but false precursor requirements to make things right with God. Some will also teach that good works work somehow as a merit point that helps sin removal. Some will teach vain impersonal repetition prayers as a form of restitution to help sin removal. Some teach Godly sorrow or being really sad over your sins will help sin removal. All leaving the question with the sinner “have I done enough in the end”.

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Whatever the motive, the good try, the great effort and exertion, nothing can satisfy any sin removal by God other than the perfect work of Jesus Christ which He completed on the Cross 2000 years ago, and exclaimed this by saying “IT IS FINISHED”. God given faith in this is the only key to salvation. The narrow road of faith is to remove yourself completely in the equation and place your entire eternal future into the hands of Jesus Christ who nailed each of your sins on the Cross by nothing you did or anything of yourself to deserve this grace and mercy.

World religions essentially by their superficial striving have one motive, and that is to say perfection can be perfected. So ask yourself today, can something perfect be in anyway perfected? Sounds pretty ridiculous when it comes down to it. The lack of faith in the perfect work of Jesus Christ will always tell the sinner “yes, it can be perfected”.  It is by self-righteousness alone of which God hates by the way, that a sinner through their religion believes they can add something to achieved perfection from Jesus Christ as a way of showing God they are “worthy”.  But the only One who truly is Worthy, is Jesus Christ!

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So today, if you have not done so, place your faith in Jesus Christ who has the only key to your salvation. Judgment Day is coming as sure as the sun rose this morning, and on the glorious Day by placing your faith in Jesus Christ’s obedience, His perfection, His righteousness and not your own, He will be your Mediator. He alone will be seen by God and what He did, not all your failings, not your sins, but Jesus Christ. With this realization, repent (turn away) from your sins in thanksgiving for this gift, the most amazing gift which surpasses anything you will ever receive.

Justice is getting what you deserve, mercy and grace from God is getting what you DON’T deserve. Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God laid down His life for your sins and make no mistake, if you sinned just once, Jesus still would of died in your place. There is NO greater love!

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What Prevents Greatness

Matthew 20:26 “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant”

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When I played high school football I could have been considered a good player.  Not a great player, but one who very rarely made mistakes.  I played every down on the field both offensive and defensive and special teams all except for the kick return.

I prided myself in this. But after high school when a friend of mine and I reflected on our career, we both concluded that we could have been great but didn’t take that step to greatness. We often would talk about “if we had only done this or that”, meaning if we would instead just taken risks outside of our fear of making a mistake.  We learned this by playing intramural football in college where we excelled, but it was too late, we missed our chance.

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Fearing the outcome will always prevent greatness.  To my football example, I was more worried about letting my coaches and teammates down in making a mistake than I was trying to make a play.  Sure I did make some plays, but greatness was not to be had because of that fear which encompassed my performance.

“When you think, you are dead”

Fighter pilots often say this in dog fighting with other planes, if they think they are dead.  What they mean is they are relying not on deep thought to figure out a way to defeat the enemy, it is out of training and reaction they rely on.  If they do think at all, it is too late, they are dead.

In other words they remove fearing the outcome from the equation.  They don’t ponder many different scenarios, and then react, because it would be too late, the enemy gains the advantage.

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Want to be great instead of just adequate? Step out of your comfort zone, trust in your ability and God given talent.  Don’t fear the outcome!  Will you fail? Maybe, but again if you try to think your way out of failing, you are striving not for greatness but plain old status quo mediocrity.  You will not stand out!

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So what if you fail? Look to many who have but still were considered great.  The Apostle Paul comes to mind.  He garnered the status quo for years in the word of Judaism.  He knew the Scripture, rarely made what were considered mistakes as he was loyal to the Jewish temple. But he never stood out.

After Christ resurrected, his followers were gaining steam and the Jews like Paul were concerned with this movement.  So Paul as did others persecuted Jesus’ followers, beat them, put them in prison, and put them to death.  Paul by doing this failed by God and in his writings Paul confessed to these sins many times, with the remembrance as to who he was.

On the road to Damascus, Paul was called out for greatness by Jesus, the same Jesus he was persecuting.  After this point Paul no longer sought the status quo, he ruffled the feathers of those who already were teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ by his conviction.  He did not fear any outcome!  He trusted in God to see him through and no matter what as Romans 8:38-39 he declared that nothing could EVER separate him from the love he had in Jesus Christ.

God does not want His children to conform, He is great, He commands greatness

When God justifies a sinner in His Son Jesus Christ, He has set this sinner apart from other sinners. Being set apart in the process of sanctification, where the sinner is now being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, the ultimate greatness!

Too often in a church setting, the ones in the pews believe they are like myself when I played football, more fearful to make any mistakes, thus nothing really results except for the plain old status quo oh hum Christian.  When fear comes, God must be magnified!

You may have thought about witnessing the gospel to a family member, to a co-worker, to a neighbor, to a facebook friend for many months, sometimes years because of this fear.  Preventing you from greatness if that one step outside of that fear!  Trust in God, He is the one you serve.  If you are rejected, passed off, shunned, so be it!  You are still great!

When you are blessed with greatness in Jesus Christ, do not take this for granted!  Show the church and the world around you that God is working in you and never be afraid of what may happen, nor think, just be a doer!  As Jesus said, if you want to be great, serve others for Him without excuse or apology.

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Exposing Satan’s Counterfeits

1 Thessalonians 5:21 “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

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Counterfeit religions have been around since the beginning of time. It is utter foolishness to believe different.  Many have this idea since they were born into a particular faith and grew up with it, it is settled, there is no testing needed.  The “everyone is doing it so it must be correct” logic is used.

They are primed to believe the counterfeit.  One needs to understand God allowed Satan to roam about. Satan knows he has a short period of time so ever since the Garden of Eden when he first tempted Eve by saying “Did God really say that?” he has been using, believe it or not, large worldly religious institutions to do his work.  Doctrines will never really line up with Scripture, and usually the quick appeal will be to “tradition” or an overt attack on the Bible. Again with that same temptation premise of “Did God really say that?”.

Make no mistake, Satan is not out there working on the utterly evil, he is not omnipresent or omniscient, his ways are the ways of a counterfeit religion. The one which looks just like a Christian church but when discernment comes through the word of God, the marks of a counterfeit are clearly seen.

A counterfeit religion can ONLY be detected by Scripture as the Measuring Standard.

The problem comes when one is shown the marks of Satan’s counterfeit, and by pride the sinner refuses to see them. Rather many rationalizations come instead.  An appeal to worldly things is generally seen.  “We have 1.3 billion members”, “look at our church’s history”, “so and so believed this 1700 years ago”, etc. etc.  I confess it took me 3 years to admit to the counterfeit I was indoctrinated into. The analogy being is having a treasured $100 bill, the hard part is to admit you were and are holding counterfeit money all along which is challenged and rejected by the bank because you didn’t see the false marks or empty marks of the bill.

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But when doctrines are pressed through the word of God, the counterfeit marks still remain.  There is no way to cover them up.  Twisting and turning and rationalizing are the only ways to justify those marks. And the appeal cannot be to Scripture because Scripture is like a bleach, it will clean those marks and by cleaning those marks the sinner then needs to admit they have been deceived.  A battle between the will of God and sinner’s will, and God always wins.

It is quite sad to me that some sinners will never test or prove all things.  They would rather believe the counterfeit.  That is the easy way out with Jesus Himself saying “narrow is the way, few find it”.   Yet if that same sinner needed a heart transplant, they would not blindly trust any old hospital, they would most likely discern the doctor’s capability, the hospital’s record, the worldly appeals would vanish, but this is not so when it comes to their spiritual health.

My appeal is to Scripture. A Christian by working out their salvation with fear and trembling must ALWAYS test!  And this test MUST have Scripture being the FINAL authority as it is the very infallible word of God which does not change, does not deceive, does not conflict, does not use relativism where the truth is subjective.

Test ALL things, meaning a person’s teaching, a doctrine, a fellowship, a church.  Jesus and the Apostles warned repeatedly that many wolves (false teachers) would infect the church.  Their goal is to plant tares among the wheat.  The tares being counterfeit Christians, and the wolves promoting the counterfeit by using just enough Scripture to make it SEEM as a Christian fellowship, but there are always counterfeit marks.  Again Satan is very deceptive, he has had thousands of years to perfect his counterfeiting and fakes which will resemble Christianity very closely to the naive eye, with even the media and public at large validating the counterfeit.

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And be aware when Satan discovers you are sounding the warning horn to his counterfeit religions, folks who have been captivated by him will attack, they will malign, they will chastise with full might and vigor. They do not want exposure so they will ridicule but really have no defense.  Also remember if God is with you, who can be against you.  They cannot overcome His will, no matter what type of desperate attack they employ. Do not be deterred, the power of the Gospel overcomes the enemy, boldly declare it with full truth and conviction and watch the enemy shudder and run, they are expecting by their attack that you will run. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord!

So do not settle on another sinner’s faith, hold to the truth, and that is the word of God.  ALL believers of Jesus Christ are given the Holy Spirit who will always guide a sinner to the fullness of the truth.  Trust only in Him!  Place your entire heart into God’s hands and watch a new world open up to you. The Holy Spirit is a home run hitter who hits a home run so to speak each time at the plate. He indwells you, so just let go of your fear and pride and give Him the reigns.

In these sinful times, one must ALWAYS be on guard for the counterfeit, there is a VAST amount of wolves among the sheep who are telling the sheep “you are a goat”.  Discern always the truth from error by the oh so powerful word of God!  Your eternal future is at stake.

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Enthusiasm for the King!

Matthew 14:28-31 “Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”


Every night my 3 year old Gordon Setter Leo and I do an exercise. After a long walk while frisbee retrieving and fun, we end up on a hill near a large soccer and baseball field. I tell Leo to sit and stay while I walk around 100 or more yards from him. Leo focuses very intently where I am walking out to and waits patiently. It doesn’t matter if several baseball teams are practicing or what is happening, Leo stays focused. And with a call to him, Leo jumps up and sprints at a cheetah’s pace to me with full zeal and enthusiasm he approaches me. His ears pinned back and his eyes are a glow as he runs with full might.

I can almost see a giant smile from him as he gets closer. Every single night, Leo never wavers, his enthusiasm is always with the same heart and vigor. It can be 90 degrees and he is dead tired from our walk or 10 below zero and a sharp wind, Leo’s enthusiasm has amazingly been the same in the 3 years we have started doing this exercise.

I thought about how enthusiastic he is, and how focused he was in this, and how we as Christians should be to our own Master, Jesus Christ. Do we get up each day with a focus on Him and enthusiastically follow Him or do we half-heartedly get up and approach Him or some days not at all.

It would be highly odd to me if Leo stopped running to me with that excitement and vigor each day. I would think he would be ill, hurt, or something terribly wrong with him. Now view your heavenly Father looking at you the same way. He knows your heart, He knows your vigor, so those days you are not showing that heart, it is not sickness, it is not illness, but it is sin in your life which deters enthusiasm.

Sin impedes any wish to approach God with vigor, rather it tells you to run the other way or stay in place. So repentance in our daily life of sin is very important. God forgives your sin, but we must always strive in repentance to maintain that enthusiasm.

Paul says we are the examine ourselves if we are in the faith. Genuine enthusiasm for the King and His word is one of those measuring weights. Imagine others viewing your walk, some days you are so focused on the King, and other days you are not so much, they can discern your faith.

I say genuine enthusiasm because some can play the part really well externally. By genuine enthusiasm it does not mean singing in the choir on Sunday and then the rest of the week you live your life as a heathen. As Leo running towards me and viewing his genuine unabated enthusiasm, know that your King Jesus Christ is filled with the same type of joy when you are focused on Him and Him alone and running towards Him with all your might.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” So instead of dragging along and being ensnared with the world and its desires, rather focus on the eternal promises of Jesus Christ. And with that share the gospel, the Good News of your salvation with passion, vigor, and conviction!

As Peter was so excited and enthusiastically left the boat to walk on water to Jesus, do the same! But as the story goes, do not doubt, stay focused on Jesus and you will not sink. If you are enthusiastic about your King, your walk with Him will be of much of much joy as the person you are running to is the very Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who will never cast you aside. Peter started to sink as soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus.  Sometimes in our human condition this happens, we may fall, we may doubt, just know Jesus is always there to lend you His hand, just let go of the world and your fear and trust Him!

Just as Leo on the hill, for those of you have yet to come to Jesus Christ, when you hear His call, run to Him with all your might, He will always receive you with much joy!

Remember enthusiasm is contagious!

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

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God’s Beloved Son

Mark 1:11 “And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

A Grand Ole Opry legend named Jan Howard had a 19 year old son whom she told a story about in a song called “My Son”.  Her son Jimmy was a recent graduate and drafted by the U.S. Army to be sent to Vietnam in a rather whirlwind motion.  The story was very emotional as this saddened mother described what happened almost 50 years ago in vivid recollection. Dates and times almost to the second she recalled with perfect memory.  Jimmy did not survive Vietnam, less than 6 months after his deployment Jimmy was killed.

The story Ms. Howard told, now in her late 90’s, indicated that she could sense the last phone call she received from Jimmy her son would be the last.  Although she hoped for a different outcome, her innate view said Jimmy most likely would never come home.  She lost her son, and not a day goes by where she doesn’t grieve this loss.  But she does know Jimmy died not in vain, but that he died so that others wouldn’t have to.

I relate this story to share how God the Father must have viewed the death of His own Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus, the perfect spotless sinless Lamb of God, His beloved Son would suffer and die a cruel death to redeem hopeless sinners.  Jesus suffered and died so that you wouldn’t have to.  The excruciating feeling God the Father must have felt to see His very own beloved Son tortured, spit upon, mocked, and scoffed at by the very sinners He came to redeem.

Too often we can only relate to others pain, but we don’t address God’s pain, the God who loves us. The pain of sin which sent His Beloved Son to the Cross.

Last week an immoral decision was made by the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage.  Jimmy didn’t die in Vietnam for this, nor did Jesus die on the Cross for it either.  Sin is sin.  And the part Americans who celebrate immorality do not understand is that the angst is not the fact that Jesus forgives all sin, but to call sin not a sin.

Just as the abortion decision was made, the U.S. Supreme Court now has called sin no longer sin.  This pains God, but it is also His judgment on a sinful society.  Romans 1 says several times that “God gave them up” to sinful desires and passions, and that is exactly what has happened.

Why would God do this?  Because He does not take lightly the death of His own Beloved Son nor should His children. For far too long, America while claiming Christianity and several churches claiming Christianity do not behave in any way as Christians.  The abuse and murder of children, the hypocrisy of those who take Jesus’ name has all rendered judgment.

What can we do as Christians?  Do not be deterred but also start calling out the tares among the wheat and discern the false churches who say one thing and behave another.  And by the way Supreme Court Justice who wrote the majority opinion for same-sex marriage would say he is a “Christian” (Catholic).  Discernment says he was led to the wide gate by his religion.  The word of God is sharper than a two edged sword, it never fails!  Take on the full armor of God and His word.  It might be the Cross we all now have to carry, but narrow is the gate.  God never loses, His promises are solid as rock, so do not fear or ever be dismayed. Now is the time for discernment!

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Forgiveness – South Carolina Murders

Character of the New Man

Colossians 3:12-15, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

This week we saw an unspeakable and horrendous crime committed in South Carolina, where 9 families lost their loved ones at the hands of an immature cowardly evil murderer.  What we witnessed in the next couple of days was forgiveness by those families to this senseless murderer.

Some in the media questioned why or how could they forgive this mass-murderer so quickly.  This was not done for show, it was not done because they wanted to appear to be Christian nor were they trying to gain any points with God.

They forgave this killer because THEY have been forgiven by God.  The only way one could forgive this so quickly is to realize the tremendous horrendous sin debt they themselves have been forgiven by the perfect spotless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ on the Cross.

If forgiveness is withheld, it is telling God that your justice is better than His.  That you seek your own brand of justice and that your forgiveness trumps His.  In this circumstance these folks were put to the ultimate test of faith by God.  Were they going to with-hold forgiveness and unmask their unbelief, or were they going to show the world their faith in Jesus Christ.

They showed their faith!

A newsman described this forgiveness as “supernatural”.  He was correct!  By the grace of God working through these saddened families was the only way forgiveness like this could happen.  These families didn’t gain a point from God nor were they seeking merit. This was done to His glory and to His glory alone.  Yes, make no mistake, this is how God unconditionally forgives a sinner!

To get to this level of forgiveness was no mere sudden event.  These Christians practiced forgiveness in their daily lives.  They were already in the practice of removing the burden from others, so when this very sudden tragic horrible murder took place they were prepared.

You must always be prepared.  Get into the practice of forgiving others.  It maybe something simple or large, but you never know when a test from God will come.  We must and I repeat must forgive others just as God as forgiven us!

Forgiveness does not mean you don’t mourn, it does not mean you don’t learn either.   It means you have removed the debt from the offender and put it into God’s hands.  You trust that God will repay.  You may remember the circumstance as well, but any ill feeling, any revenge sought, any hurtful behavior in return will not be placed on the offender.

In a horrible tragedy as we witnessed, the trust must immediately go to God.  Remember the sin debt you have been forgiven of.  Trust in your guiding Holy Spirit.  God’s glory is shown like a very bright beacon in this dark circumstance when people witness His forgiveness.

Again, as Christians we must prepare ourselves for these tests in forgiveness. And friends, it is one of the hardest tests you will ever go through.  If you love the forgiveness granted you, if you love Jesus Christ, get into the practice daily of forgiveness.  Is there someone you have not forgiven?  What is stopping you today to forgive them!

Please pray for the families of this tragedy. Pray for their strength.  Pray that you too will forgive as Christ has forgiven.

God’s glory is shown each time you unconditionally forgive another!

Ephesians 4: 32, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

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The Terms are God’s!

What are the terms for God?  In Joshua 5 we read of Joshua learning a very valuable lesson, God does not work on human terms.  On the eve before the battle of Jericho, Joshua saw an awesome and threatening stranger with a drawn sword in the field and asked a simple question of Him in verse 13, “are you for us or are you against us”.

This awesome stranger revealed who He was in Joshua 5:14 with His answer which was a clear “No”, that He was the Commander of the Lord’s Army, God Himself, the 2nd of the Trinity (Jesus Christ) who is often seen as the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament has labeled Himself here as the Commander.

His answer was No to Joshua meaning what?  That God will not bow down to human terms.  He was not saying He wasn’t going to be with Joshua, He already promised Joshua He would when He anointed him to bring the children of Israel into the Promised Land.

So God’s answer to Joshua was “No” meaning the terms of the coming battle for Jericho would not be Joshua’s, they would be the Lord’s, He showed Himself as the Commander.  In Joshua 6 we see what happened, Joshua and the Israelites took direction from the Commander, they marched around Jericho, they blew trumpets, and did exactly what they were told and Jericho fell into their hands, a quick, decisive, and complete victory!

Too often when we face life’s battles, we want to use God as some sort of advisor instead of our Commander.  We call on Him to be with us and consult instead of asking God as Joshua did in Joshua 5:14 “what does my Lord say to His servant”.   Meaning God as the Commander calls the shots through His word, not you telling God your terms which God must conform to.

If you ask God with terms dictated to Him, such as “God I have this all worked out, just sign off on this please and be with me”, your answer from Him will always be NO!  Again, this is readily done without even knowing it sometimes.  We live our lives without a Commander, but view God as always signing off on the terms we are choosing.

God does NOT work that way.  A Commander does not have terms given to Him, He gives the terms. You follow, you don’t lead Him, He leads you.  And sometimes the directions He gives will make you quite uneasy. Maybe it is having to forgive an enemy without a condition. Maybe it having to be patient and see the Lord’s work.  Maybe it is leaving a relationship, a job, a state, with that inner voice being led by God.

Sometimes God will test our faith in order for us to GROW in that faith! Anxiety will quickly leave if you trust in God as your Commander, your Supreme General, your everything!  The Creator of the Universe calling the plays in your life never fails!

This week evaluate your relationship and prayers to God.  Always remember WHO you are speaking to and what you are asking.  Never give terms to God, listen to His terms.  Unsure about His terms?  Immerse yourself in the word of God, seek out other Christians who can guide you.

The terms are God’s!  He does not work in a cooperative political environment as MANY world religions seem to preach, that the terms are always given to Him to be signed off on by Him. Don’t be fooled by these religions, God’s answer is always “No” when He is not seen as or followed as the Sovereign Commander and Ruler.

He alone is the Commander and now He has come!  Trust in Him, allow Him to lead you in your battles, you will always be victorious!

The Commander of the Army of the Lord

Joshua 5:13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” 14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” 15 Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

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