Love

This is my 100th teaching I’m placing on this website.  It may or may not be the last teaching I’ll place on the website.

Let me explain…  A couple of years ago, I had already placed about 60 teachings of my teachings on this website.  At that time, God spoke to me and said something like this (not an exact quote):  “Bill, before I call you Home on your last numbered day, I want you to have placed 100 teachings on your website.”  I understood that to mean that God wanted me to place a minimum of 100 teachings on the website, and that any time after that I might die; I didn’t understand that to mean that immediately after my 100th teaching I would die. 

[Note:  The concept of God apportioning each of us a finite number of days is found in Psalm 90: 12 and Exodus 23: 26 in the Old Testament portion of the Bible.]

When I’ve shared with some people about what God told me a couple of year ago, they have mistakenly understood that God meant that immediately after I place the 100th teaching on my website I would die.  Who knows?  Maybe that’s what God meant.  I don’t know.  I’m ready to continue this mortal life here for many more years until my last numbered day…or I’m ready to die and go Home.  We’ll see what happens!  Maybe as you’re reading this I will have died and gone Home.  Maybe not…  As of this writing, I’m now 83 years young and still going pretty strong for my age.  My wife, Anne, calls me “The Energizer Bunny” from the television commercials about Energizer batteries.

The title says this teaching is about love:  both God’s love and human love.  God’s love is complete and perfect.  Human love—because of human sin—is incomplete and imperfect.  Love is not only a feeling, it is also an action.  Love is not me-centered, it is other-centered.  Love acts.  Love gives.  Love serves.  Love is a verb!

One basic principle of Bible study is to study all the occurrences of a certain word, topic, or subject before arriving at a conclusion; that way, one avoids picking out “proof texts” to prove what one has already concluded ahead of time.  That’s not only an important principle of Bible study; it’s an important principle for studying any literature. 

It has been said that when reading the Bible, believe what you read, not read what you believe!

Another principle of Bible study is that there is usually a certain text, chapter, or book that sort of summarizes or encapsulates whatever subject one is studying.  For example, to study the subject of “love” in the Bible, 1 Corinthians chapter 13 summarizes that subject.  To study how God “speaks” to humans is summarized in John chapter 10, and so on for every subject or topic throughout the Bible.

For the most part, this teaching will be directly quoting from the Bible the main points it makes about love, and I make a few comments or offer a few explanations about the Bible references I’ll quote.

Let’s begin…  For purposes of this study, there are 3 main words used for “love” in the Bible in the original Greek, one of the 3 languages in which the Bible was written:  1.  Agape.  This is God’s own love.  The Bible states unequivocally that “God is love.”  (1 John 4: 8)   God’s very Person, nature, and character is love.  Everything God does originates with love and flows from his love to the entire creation, including all humanity.  God is only love; there is nothing about God that is not love.  God cannot not love and be loving.  God transfuses,  infuses, and literally pours his own love into humans by the direct action of Holy Spirit.  (Romans 5: 5).  Without God’s agape poured into us, we humans as a species are very unloving most of the time.

The 2nd word for love is phileo.  This is brotherly love, family love, generalized love that we humans experience and share with one another as part of our created nature and personalities.  As an example, the City of Philadelphia means city of brotherly love. We humans do not always display phileo, but I thank God for those who do.  Otherwise, because of the downward pull of human sin, we would be very unloving at times.

For example, I dearly love my wife…and my children…and my grandchildren…and my great-grandchildren…and my brother…and my friends…and my dog and cat…but my love is very flawed and incomplete, and I do not act very loving at times.  I wish that were not the case, but it is what it is…

The 3rd type of love is eros.  This is were we get the term erotic love, romantic love, sexual love.  Again, sometimes we humans do not always display and practice eros properly—as evidenced by fornication, adultery, prostitution, sexual abuse, and so on.

Actually, there are more than those 3 words used for love in the original languages of the Bible, but the 3 I mentioned include and incorporate—in a manner of speaking—the other words used for love.

Now having defined those three types of love, I’m going to focus on some of what the Bible teaches about agape, God’s love, God’s own Self-created love He pours into and shares with us humans as I mentioned above.  We have already seen that the Bible teaches about God’s type of love that He shares with humans.  Some humans use it properly, some use it improperly, some ignore it, some fight against it, but it’s there for us if we choose to exercise and display it in a godly manner.

The first significant use of the word love in the Bible is Deuteronomy 6: 5:  Attention, Israel!  God, our God!  God the one and only!  Love God, your God with all your heart, soul, and strength:  love Him with all that’s in you, love Him with all you’ve got!”  This is an early statement in the Bible that discloses the tri-une nature of humans:  “Heart” = our human spirit, “soul” = equals the human mind, and “strength” = the human body:  body, soul, and spirit:  three yet one, one yet three.

Now let’s examine from various biblical references just some random smatterings of what love is like and what it does.  The following 5 paragraphs are generalized statements from the Bible about what love is and how it acts toward others.

Want peace?  Psalm 119: 165 proclaims “Those who love God’s law (his revealed, written word, the Bible), shall have great peace.”  Want true biblical prosperity?  “Pray for peace for the city of Jerusalem; if you do, you will prosper.”  (Psalm 122: 6)That’s God’s promise to you, not mine!  Want your sins covered over (actually taken away—removed from you totally):  “[God’s] love covers all your offenses and sins.”  (Proverbs 10: 12)  Want genuine, rock-solid love that can’t be diminished?  “Many waters cannot quench love; it is invincible; flood waters can’t drown love, neither can torrents of rain put it out.”  (Song of Solomon 8: 7) 

Want everlasting love?  “God told his people that He would never quit loving them; expect from God love, love, and more love to continually draw you to Himself.”  (Jeremiah 31: 3)  Want God’s leading in your life?  “I lead my people along with unbreakable bands of love.”  (Hosea 11: 2)  Want to really and truly love God…and other people?  ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your spirit, with all your mind, and with all your strength…and love others as well as you love  yourself.”  (Matthew 22: 37)  Note this does not say to love your neighbor instead of yourself, but love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself.  How do you genuinely love yourself?  With God’s love infused into you!

Jesus tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us.  Pray for the happiness of those who curse us.  Do unto others as we want them to do to and for us.  (Matthew 22: 37)  How in the world can we do that?!  Only with God’s agape love Holy Spirit pours into us.  Want to honestly love other people without religious hypocrisy?  “Love each other; that’s the only way ‘outsiders’ are going to know we are Jesus’ followers.”  (John 13: 34 and 35)  Want to remain absolutely bonded solidly to God’s love?  “Can anything in all creation ever separate us from Jesus’ love?  No!”  (Romans 8: 35)

Want to have wonderful qualities in your life that just won’t go away?  “But when Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce wonderful fruit from within us, much the same way that fruit grows in an orchard:  love for God and others, exuberance about life, serenity, patience, unfeigned kindness, goodness that serves others, loyal commitments, no need to force our way through life, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such, there is not law on earth that can bring charges!”  (Galatians 5: 22 and 23)

Want to be fearless and have a healthy mind and think positive thoughts?  “God has not given us spirits of fear, but Holy Spirit power and boldness, and love, and a healthy and positive mind.”  (2 Timothy 1: 7)

As stated earlier, the 5 paragraphs immediately above this one are just a relatively few smatterings about love found throughout the Bible; there are literally hundreds more references about love.

But now I want to take you to the main section of the Bible that summarizes and encapsulates what love is all about:  the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, I will amplify, paraphrase, and personalize what that chapter says in modern, readable English.  Here we go:

“If I could speak with power and eloquence any human or heavenly language, but don’t display and express myself with love, I’m only making meaningless, nonsense noises.  If I’m a power-full, gifted teacher of the Bible, speaking God’s words with his inner power, and revealing all the mysteries and hidden secrets of God—making everything as plain as day, and if I could move mountains with my faith, but I don’t love God and others, I’m nothing. 

If I were to give away to the poor everything I own, and even become a martyr for Jesus, but I don’t love God or others, I’ve gotten nowhere.  So…no matter what I say, no matter what I believe, no matter what I do—even if I boast about all my so-called sacrifices, I live a totally bankrupt life if I don’t love God and others.

[Note:  in the remainder of 1 Corinthians 13, you’ll notice I have written “God/love,”  That’s because God is love, and all other love flows from God’s love; in a sense, “God” and “love” are interchangeable.]

God/love never gives up.  God/love cares more for others than for self.  God/love doesn’t greedily want what others have—and be jealous and envious of what others have.  God/love isn’t proud and arrogant.  God/love isn’t rude and doesn’t force itself on others.  God/love  isn’t always “me first.”  God/love doesn’t fly off the handle.  God/love doesn’t “keep score” about the sins of other people. 

God/love is never happy about human injustice.  God/love rejoices when truth “wins.”  God/love puts up with everything—never gives up.  Love always trusts God and is full of hope in God.  God/love always looks for the best, and never looks longingly back at the past.  God/love never gives up on anybody or anything.

God/love lasts for all time and eternity.  Until God makes right every wrong, we need to trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.  The best of everything is love.”

Chapter 13 of 1st Corinthians is not only about God, Who is perfect love, it’s also about those people in whom God lives and through whom He displays his love for others.

There you have somewhat of a condensed version of what the Bible teaches about love.  Love never fails.  We will continue to experience God’s love outpoured upon all humanity throughout all the remaining ages of time and thereafter in the coming Eternal State. God’s love will never be diminished but will always continue to grow and be poured out to his entire creation.

Early in the 20th century, here’s what one songwriter, Frederick M Lehman, wrote about the love of God:

“The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell…

…O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—the saints’ and angels’ song!”

At about the same time, another writer, Charles H Gabriel, wrote these words about the love of God:

“When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
‘Twill be my joy thro’ the ages
To sing of His love for me.

How marvelous, How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous, How wonderful!
Is my Saviors love for me! 

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
leservices38@yahoo.com
Posted May 2021

Success and Prosperity

These days, ask almost anyone to define “success,” and they will answer something like this:  “Success is getting rich, success is achieving a good position in business, success is to gain popularity or fame, success is to be the best you can be in your chosen field, success is to raise my children properly, success is to get good grades in school, success is to live in a big home in a nice part of my community, success is to own and drive a BMW vehicle, success is to belong to the country club…ad infinitum.

Yes, when asked to define success, very seldom will anyone define success in terms of God, religion, church, spirituality, or the Bible.  The same is often true when most people are asked to define “prosperity.”  Most people will answer that question in terms of money.

Although this teaching is about success and prosperity in relation to God and the Bible, frankly, the Bible doesn’t have much to say about what we generally think of as Success and Prosperity by this world’s standards.  Thus, this teaching will be one of the shortest teachings on this website. 

God views both of those concepts much, much differently than we humans do.  In contrast with other subjects in the Bible that may contain hundreds of references about those subjects or topics, the Bible mentions “Success” (and its derivatives, such as successful and successfully) only 7 times.  It mentions “Prosper” (and its derivatives such as prosperity, and prosperous) only 83 times.

In a very real sense, God sort of lumps together his perception of both success and prosperity by the English words Bless and Blessings in the Bible.  We’ll consider those words word later in this teaching.

A basic principle of Bible study is to study all the occurrences of a certain word, topic, or subject before arriving at a conclusion; that way, one avoids picking out “proof texts” to prove what one has already concluded.  That’s not only an important principle of Bible study; it’s an important principle for studying any literature. 

Someone has wisely said that when reading the Bible, we must be careful to believe what we read, not read what we believe!

A second principle of Bible study is that there is usually a certain text, chapter, or book that sort of summarizes whatever subject one is studying.  For example, to study the subject of “love” in the Bible, 1 Corinthians chapter 13 summarizes that subject.  To study how God “speaks” to humans is summarized in John chapter 10, The Book of Proverbs encapsulates the Bible’s concept of wisdom, the first chapter of the Book of Joshua in the Old Testament summarizes and encapsulates both Success and Prosperity, and so on for every subject or topic throughout the Bible.

Let’s take a quick look at what God says in the first chapter of the Book of Joshua about both Success and Prosperity; God was speaking to the young man, Joshua, whom He selected after Moses to lead the people of Israel; these words are found in Joshua 1: 7 – 9:

“[Joshua], be strong and very courageous.  Spend much of your time reading, meditating upon, and obeying my Word, and then you will be successful and prosperous in everything you do.  Study my Word continually.  Think about it day and night and be sure to obey all you read.

Only then will you achieve success and prosperity.  Yes, be strong and courageous, not afraid nor discouraged.  For I am the LORD your God, and I will be with you at all times wherever you  travel on your journey through life so that you don’t get off track!”

That reference in Joshua is the first mention of both success and prosperity in the Bible.  The last mention of prosperity is found in the little book of 3 John near the end of the Bible:

“Well-loved friend, I pray that above everything else you are prospering in every way and that you continually enjoy whole-person good health, just as your inner being is prospering.”

The Greek word for prosper in this reference is eudoomai, meaning “to be brought along on a smooth and prosperous journey, with God supplying all your needs as you travel.”

Now let me furnish you the English definition/translation of both success and prosperity as taken from the Hebrew and Greek languages in which the Bible was originally written:

Success is to always be regularly and consistently traveling toward accomplishing God’s purposes for my life—according to my potential.*  The journey is important, not the destination.”   * Potential consists of 3 attributes: 1. My God-given desires, 2.  My training and education, and 3. My God-given skills, gifts, and abilities.

Prosperity is for God to meet all my needs during my life’s journey.

Notice how success and prosperity are closely linked.  Also, notice that they have nothing to do with what most of humanity generally considers success and prosperity to be.  In a very real sense, authentic success and prosperity have nothing to do with money or the accumulation of material wealth and goods, but money as it relates to both success and prosperity cannot be overlooked.  By definition, money is “a medium of exchange.”

In such references as Philippians 4: 19 in the New Testament we find one (among many) of God’s promises that He “will fully satisfy every need we have according to his abundant riches in glory through Jesus.”  

I wrote earlier that what the Bible terms success can almost be considered as how “money” and “bless” are often linked; to illustrate that, this is Malachi 3: 8 – 11:

“How do I rob and cheat God?  I cheat Him by not giving Him my tithes and offerings.  God says, ‘Test Me; I will open the windows of heaven for you and pour out upon you blessings beyond your wildest dreams—such blessings that there won’t be enough room for them.”

Note that “tithe” means “ten percent” of a person’s income.”

Some people may argue that reference is from the Old Testament, and doesn’t apply to people living since then—that we are not told by God to give Him tithes anymore, because the New Testament doesn’t say much about tithing to God.  That thinking is faulty;  Why?  Because most (not all) of the people featured in the New Testament were Jewish or were familiar with Jewish life and practices; they had spent a lifetime understanding that to give a tithe to God was simply expected throughout a person’s normal lifetime.  For example, when Jesus mentioned tithing, it is clear that He understood tithing to be a normal part of Jewish life and practice.

In fact, a number of scholars of the New Testament have written that the people in the New Testament era believed that giving God a tenth of one’s income was normal and expected; moreover, many considered that giving God 10% of one’s income was just the starting point for giving money to God. 

That point is arguable; my own view is that 10% of my income is the least that God desires for me to give Him, but it is certainly not my intention to impose my own view upon any of my readers or students.  Tithing has been a controversial issue for centuries—one about which people have to make up their own minds.

Okay, we’ve looked at the concepts of success and prosperity, and we’ve briefly touched upon the subject of giving money to God.  Now I want to examine the matter of God’s blessings.  A number of different Hebrew and Greek words are used in the Bible for our English words Bless, Blessed, Blessings, and Blessedness. 

Various experts in the Hebrew and Greek languages in which the Bible was originally written inform us that those words all mean essentially the same thing:  “To flourish, to be whole, to be delighted, to be satisfied, to be blissful, to be content—because all our natural needs are met by God.  In more detail, those words have even more nuances:   “enriched, joyful, fortunate, delighted, blissful, content, abundant, goodness, the capacity to have union and communion with God.”  Finally, those scholars inform us that “to be blessed is the doorway to the Kingdom of God.”  

Note:  We must always be aware of the differences between our needs and our wants; they are often quite different, although in some cases they are one and the same.

We have briefly examined what the Bible teaches about Success and Prosperity, both of them being words and concepts from the Bible that don’t necessarily equate in any way with what multitudes of people mistakenly think they mean.  We have also looked tangentially at Bless and how money can be part of  success and prosperity, but money is not really what they are about.

Success, Prosperity, Bless, and Money are all touchy subjects, but I hope this teaching has given you just a little insight into the use of all four of those words in the Bible. 

I invite you to obtain a copy of one of my books, LIFEgiving, that covers the meanings of  those four words in much more detail. My book is available from amazon.com.  I am not “pushing” my book; I don’t receive royalties from any of my books; all royalties from my books go into our ministry account to purchase more books and literature that we usually give away for free.

I also invite you to read a companion teaching on this website titled Acres of Diamonds.

The great World War II civilian hero from England, Winston Churchill, pretty well summed up the matter of our journeys through this mortal life with this short statement:  

“I make a living by what I get.  I make a life by what I give!”

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
leservices38@yahoo.com
Posted May 2021

Get Wisdom!

About 1,000 years before the time of Jesus, the writer of the Old Testament Book of Proverbs in the Bible wrote:  “Get Wisdom!” (Proverb 4: 5)  In fact, the Book of Proverbs is nicknamed  by many people “The Book of Wisdom.”  The word ”wisdom” and its derivatives (such as wise, wisely, etc.) occurs over 500 times throughout the Bible, making it an important biblical subject.  Of course, we know that it’s also an important attribute for any person to possess, regardless whether or not they believe the Bible.

The writer of most of the Proverbs in the biblical Book of Proverbs was a King of the ancient Israelites named Solomon.  Solomon became known for his proverbs about wisdom.  In fact, the Bible says King Solomon wrote 1500 proverbs, but we have only a relatively few of those 1500 written in the Book of Proverbs.  Near the beginning of Solomon’s reign, God asked Solomon “What shall I give you?”  Solomon’s response was to ask God to give him wisdom and knowledge.  (1 Chronicles 1: 10)  Later, Solomon wrote “Get Wisdom!” as we noted in the first paragraph above.

Sadly, toward the end of his life, Solomon was seduced into forsaking the One True and Living God who had given him wisdom—and began to worship dead idols and non-God gods; in a manner of speaking Solomon “lost” much of the wisdom God had given him and late in life wrote that life had become empty, meaningless, and futile.  You can find those thoughts by Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament portion of the Bible. That book’s rather curious title means “a teacher writing to his assembled students.”

One basic principle of Bible study is to study all the occurrences of a certain word, topic, or subject before arriving at a conclusion; that way, one avoids picking out “proof texts” to prove what one has already concluded.  That’s not only an important principle of Bible study; it’s an important principle for studying any literature.

Someone once quipped that when reading the Bible one should believe what one reads, rather than read what one already believes.

Another principle of Bible study is that there is usually a certain text, chapter, or book that sort of summarizes or encapsulates whatever subject one is studying.  For example, to study the subject of “love” in the Bible, 1 Corinthians chapter 13 summarizes that subject.  To study how God “speaks” to humans is summarized in John chapter 10, The Book of Proverbs encapsulates the Bible’s concept of wisdom, and so on for every subject or topic throughout the Bible.

Here’s the Bible’s definition of wisdom:  “Comprehensive insight into God’s purposes for the entire creation—including all humanity…AND making correct decisions and choices based on that comprehensive insight.”  The second part of that definition is very important in terms of our daily living and interacting with other peopleOf course, being human and finite, we can never get a complete grasp of all God’s infinite wisdom…and being human, all of our choices and decisions will never be totally correct.

That reference in Proverbs also states, “Get understanding.”  What is “understanding”?  It is similar to “knowledge” that is defined as “to acquire facts, data, and information and put them together into a meaningful whole.”  We all possess knowledge even if it’s limited in some way or even if we don’t put it together so it makes sense.  We begin to accumulate knowledge from the moment of conception, and continue to amass it until our final breath when our spirit leaves our body at the moment of death.  “Understanding” is also similar to wisdom; it means “to comprehend and make sense of one’s knowledge.”

Someone has quipped: “Knowledge is knowing what to do; wisdom is knowing whether or not to do it.  Knowledge is knowing what to say; wisdom is knowing whether or not to say it.”

Okay, we’ve given you basic, working definitions of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.  Now let’s begin to examine more closely the concept of wisdom, and attempt to learn why God wants us to get wisdom. First, I urge you to understand that wisdom isn’t some ethereal concept that only philosophers and other “Ivory Tower” people need.  Wisdom is needed by virtually everyone so as to make at least partial sense of God’s creation…AND to at least attempt to make correct decisions and choices in one’s daily life based on that knowledge and understanding.

An amplified and paraphrased reading of Ecclesiastes 3: 11 sheds some light on how all our understanding and knowledge is only partial in this life:  “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time.  He also has planted the long ages of time in the hearts of all people.  However,  humans can never have more than partial insight and understanding of all that God does because of our finite limitations.”

Here’s an important, often overlooked fact about wisdom:  Wisdom is actually a Person, Jesus, God the Son!  Yes, Jesus is the personal embodiment of wisdom.  That is found in 1 Corinthians 1: 30.  Moreover, wisdom is not simply a philosophical concept; in the Book of Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a “she,” not an “it.”  Wisdom is characterized as a communicating person, not as a cold abstraction.  “She” is a caring personality, even though her tone sometimes implies scolding, while at the same time being encouraging. This personalized, communicating concept of wisdom is taught primarily in Proverbs 1: 20 – 33 (and in various other places throughout the Book of Proverbs).

For example, throughout the Book of Proverbs concepts like these in this paragraph and in the following three paragraphs are written about wisdom:  a person who finds wisdom is happy;  wisdom instructs people in right living; wisdom gives brilliant strategies for leadership; wisdom is something to be praised and celebrated; wisdom can be found in the hustle and bustle of daily living; God gives us wisdom as a generous gift from his hidden storehouse; wisdom brings true pleasure to one’s thinking and attitudes; God formed all creation from wisdom’s blueprints; to gain true wisdom is greater than gaining all the wealth of this world.

Continuing on in Proverbs, we find even more about the value of wisdom;  wisdom empowers people to live a good and godly life; wisdom reveals the true meaning of life; wisdom serves to protect us during our lifetimes; wisdom helps us live our mortal lives with integrity; after we receive God’s correction, wisdom snaps us back to reality; wisdom gives us the correct words to speak in various situations…and helps us know when to speak and whether or not to speak.

Yes, throughout Proverbs the writer tells us that wisdom will change our inner being for the good; wisdom is so priceless that it exceeds the value of any jewels; wisdom provides purpose and direction for our lives, giving us a sense of destiny; wisdom leads to true and authentic success; we can feast upon wisdom and build solid lives on a foundation of wisdom; wisdom causes us to be humble and teachable, not proud, arrogant know-it-alls; true wisdom properly applied is soothing and peaceful; wisdom softens our anger.

Words of wisdom spoken are like a fresh, flowing brook—like deep waters that spring from within us, bubbling up and quenching the thirst of others; we can learn to actually love wisdom so that our lives are vital and flourishing; wisdom gives us bright futures with authentic hope; wisdom gives us a more full, satisfying, and intimate relationship with God.           

The four paragraphs immediately above this one are just a smattering of truths about wisdom contained in the Book of Proverbs.  There is much, much more!  As already noted, wisdom is personified throughout the Book of Proverbs.  “Lady Wisdom” is a figure of speech for God the Father.  Wisdom invites us to live abundant lives of purpose, meaning, and destiny.  Also, as noted earlier, Jesus, God the Son, is wisdom personified:  1 Corinthians 1: 30, Colossians 2: 3, and Isaiah 11: 1 and 2.

Thus far, I have taught about how we need to get wisdom, defined wisdom, and written about some of the good things true wisdom can do for us in our daily lives as followers of Jesus.  The questions now arise, “How do we get wisdom?  Where does wisdom come from?  Of course, if you’ve been “reading between the lines,” so to speak, you already know that true wisdom originates with God; God gives true wisdom to people, but the question still remains about how to get wisdom.

In the New Testament portion of the Bible—near the end—there is a short book of only five chapters written by James, the half-brother of Jesus; James is actually his anglicized name; his Hebrew name was Jacob.  James’/Jacob’s book contains some very profound truths about wisdom, just as the Old Testament Book of Proverbs summarized the entire concept of wisdom.

Jacob says in chapter 1, verse 5 that if anyone lacks wisdom, simply ask God for it.  When asked, God will give the wisdom asked for…and He won’t make anyone feel stupid or dumb because they asked God for wisdom.  Have you ever asked another human a question, and they made you feel stupid for asking a “dumb question”?  God will never do such a thing, especially if we ask Him for wisdom.

However that text goes on to say that we must ask for wisdom with faith and confidence that God will answer, without doubting that we will receive wisdom.  If we don’t ask from that position of faith and confidence, Jacob says we will be ambivalent and unstable about the wisdom for which we ask; he says being undecided makes us become like rough seas driven every which way by the winds, causing us to waver about that for which we ask.

“If you feel you have God’s wisdom, understanding the ways He works throughout his creation, advertise it with a beautiful, steady, fruitful life guided by wisdom’s innate gentleness.  Build a good life based on wisdom’s firm foundation. Never brag or boast about what you’ve said or done and you’ll prove thereby that you truly do have God’s wisdom.  However, if you don’t truly have God’s wisdom about a matter, it will cause jealousy and bitter competition in your life, and you’ll try to deny it and compensate for it by boasting and being phony. 

Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom.  Twisting the truth to make yourself sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom.  For that has nothing to do with God’s authentic wisdom, but can best be described as the wisdom of this world, both self-centered and devilishly conniving. So wherever jealousy and self-centeredness are uncovered, you will find many troubles and every kind of meanness. 

God’s wisdom from above is always pure, filled with peace, is considerate, and teachable…as well as just plain polite.  It is filled with love and never displays prejudice or hypocrisy in any form, and it always bears the beautiful harvest of sincere right living!  Good seeds of wisdom’s fruit will be planted with peaceful acts by those who cherish making peace, resulting in harvests of goodness.”      (Various texts throughout the Book Of James, amplified and paraphrased)

There is another aspect of God’s wisdom that must not be overlooked.  It’s found in 1 Corinthians 12, a chapter in the New Testament that is largely about supernatural “gifts” that God dispenses to his church, the Body of Jesus—to help build up and “grow” the Body of Jesus and reach out to others who have not yet become followers of Jesus.  It is one of the so-called gifts of Holy Spirit:  the “word of wisdom.” 

A footnote in The Passion Translation of the Bible says this about the word of wisdom mentioned in verse 8 of chapter 12:  “It is a revelation gift of Holy Spirit to impart an understanding of insight and strategy that only God can give in specific situations.  This is more than simply learned wisdom, but the clearly crafted ‘word of wisdom’ from God to unlock the hearts of people and free the corporate Body of Jesus to move forward under God’s direction. 

This gift will express the direct wisdom of Holy Spirit, not that learned by the person exercising the gift. The best examples of this gift were [1] when Jesus saw Nathanael under the fig tree and knew his true character as a man without guile (John 1), and [2] when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well and unlocked her heart with words He could not have known solely by human wisdom.” (John 4)                (I have modified the footnote in a couple of places)

An example of God’s use of the word of wisdom in my own life occured a number of years ago when I was counseling a young married couple; she was in the early stages of a pregnancy, but before this pregnancy, she had a number of miscarriages, and the young couple were worried that they might lose this baby too.  They asked me to pray for a good delivery and a healthy baby.  Just as I started to pray for them, I perceived that God was speaking a “word of wisdom” to me to share with them. 

Here is what God said to me:  “Bill, tell them to return to their ob/gyn physican and ask him to investigate the trophoblastic cells of the placenta.”  I had never before heard of that condition.  They quickly made an appointment with the physician and told him those exact words.  He responded, “Frankly, I had never thought of that possibility.”  The condition was corrected with medication and they had a healthy baby some months later.

Now I need to write a little bit about how God speaks to people, including their requests for wisdom. It goes without saying that a person querying God must believe that God speaks to people; if you don’t believe that, then this entire teaching has been of no value to you.  However, it is clear from the Bible and from thousands of years of human experience that God does speak to people.

On four occasions in the tenth chapter of John’s Gospel in the Bible, Jesus stated that those of us who are his “sheep” (his followers) hear his voice.  God does, indeed, speak to us; He is speaking to us all the time, far more clearly and distinctly than we imagine.  We “hear” his voice within the spirit component of our three-part beings (body, soul, spirit) by means of our inner “faith-sense.”  He generally speaks to us in a quiet, soft whisper within our spirits. 

The question is not, “Does God speak to me?”  Rather, the real question should be, “When is God not speaking to me?”  Do not be surprised at the Good Shepherd’s tender voice constantly whispering into your thoughts . . . from within you where He abides permanently in your spirit.      Keep in mind, however, it’s difficult for us to hear God if we’re doing all the talking!  But God is not limited to communicating with us only in a quiet, soft whisper; He can communicate with us in any manner He chooses. 

 However, He generally speaks to us from within in five distinct and clear ways:  1.  From the Bible, God’s written, LIFEgiving, transforming Word for all humanity.  2.  By inserting and imbedding his thoughts and creative ideas into our thoughts.  3.  By means of visions, images, pictures, our creative imaginations, and dreams He “broadcasts” to the “viewing screen” of our spirits.  4.  By means of strong but gentle, inner impressions, nudging, and urgings.  5.  By means of speaking in tongues with the interpretation.

Again, I don’t want to limit God speaking to us in only those five ways; He cannot be limited to our finite comprehension; we cannot “put Him in a box” and limit Him in any manner, but He does Self-limit his means of communication in order for us mortal humans to understand Him.

A prime biblical example of listening to God is found in the life of Samuel, an Old Testament prophet, when he was a boy.  Samuel was staying with a local priest.  In the night, Samuel heard a voice calling his name.  Thinking it was the priest calling him, Samuel ran to the priest’s bedroom to ask what the priest wanted.  The priest informed Samuel that it was God who had called Samuel’s name.  When Samuel heard the voice next time, he responded:  “Speak, God, for I’m listening.”  That was the beginning of a long lifetime relationship with God in which Samuel heard God speak to him many times.  The simple lesson to be learned from Samuel’s experience is:  God speaks.  Are we listening?

I want to encourage you:  Please do not be afraid to ask God for wisdom—either on-the-spot for specific situations or for general daily living.  God will give you wisdom!

Get wisdom!

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
leservices38@yahoo.com
Posted May 2021

Afraid of God?

May 15, 2021: This teaching has been removed and is being completely revised; it will be posted back to this website as soon as the revision is complete.

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
leservices38@yahoo.com
Posted May 2021

Did God forsake Jesus?

Here’s something most of my my readers and students have never known about me until now… 

For many years I harbored a secret fear that if God forsook or abandoned Jesus while He was dying on the cross, would God also abandon me some time…for some reason?  I’ve suffered three episodes of depression during my adult life.  During two of those episodes I mistakenly felt God had, indeed, abandoned me…and I felt that I had lost all hope!  It was a horrible feeling that God had abandoned me forever.  I couldn’t even begin to imagine what Jesus must have felt when He believed that God had abandoned Him during his hour of greatest need.

When Jesus was dying a torturous, agonizing death by crucifixion on a cruel Roman cross, just moments before He deliberately ended his mortal life by releasing his spirit back to God, He cried out, My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”  In Matthew 27: 46 and Mark 15: 34, that’s how in reads in English.

Let me give a little background to what was happening that fateful day of Jesus’ crucifixion. 

In the Old Testament portion of the Bible, there are some Psalms known as the Messianic Psalms.  A Messianic Psalm is a Psalm written about Jesus—the anticipated Jewish Messiah—hundreds of years before He was born as a human being.  Such Psalms are considered by followers of Jesus as “prophetic;”  that is, they were fulfilled by the birth, life, and death of Jesus hundreds of years after they were written—some of them even having been quoted by Jesus as specifically applying to his life and death. 

Psalm 22 is one of those Messianic Psalms, quoted in part by Jesus as noted above in Matthew 27 and Mark 15.  Most Jewish people today feel such Psalms are still waiting future fulfillment because their Messiah has not yet come—not believing that Jesus was their Messiah, whereas followers of Jesus believe such Psalms were fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth, the true Messiah who was to come.

During the life and times of Jesus (and still today in many Jewish circles), Jewish boys memorized large portions of the Old Testament Scriptures.  During his life, it was apparent by his speech and behavior that Jesus had memorized large portions of the Old Testament, applying many of them to his personal life and mission to redeem, restore, and reconcile all humanity to Himself.

When Jesus cried out asking God why God had forsaken Him, Jesus was quoting from Psalm 22, which He had doubtless memorized as a boy.  He knew that Messianic Psalm was about Him, the Jewish Messiah who was to come (even though the Jewish people of his day did not believe He was the promised Messiah).  In fact, one of the reasons the Jewish leaders of his day constantly sought to have Jesus put to death was because He boldly claimed to be the Messiah, often quoting the Jewish Old Testament Scriptures to prove that He was.

 Okay, that’s the background of why Jesus cried out to God that fateful day when He was dying an excruciating death on a Roman cross; He was quoting from Messianic Psalm 22: 1 which reads this way in English in many standard Bibles:  “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?  Why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?” 

If one reads the New Testament carefully, one will clearly see that sometimes Jesus and some of the writers of the New Testament did not always quote the Old Testament word-for-word; sometimes they would add to, detract, paraphrase, or otherwise slightly change the wording of the Old Testament reference they were quoting.  This was the case with Psalm 22 which Jesus quoted as referring to Himself as the Jewish Messiah.

One modern Bible translation of Psalm 22: 1 reads this way:  God, God…my God!  Why did you dump me miles from nowhere?”  (The Message Bible).  Another modern translation reads this way:  “My God, my God!  Why have you forsaken me?  Why do you remain so distant?”   (The New Living Translation)  Finally, another modern translation states it in these words:  “God, my God!  Why would You abandon me now?  Why do You remain distant, refusing to answer my tearful cries…”  (The Passion Translation).  

I am emphasizing the words “in English” because it’s very possible those words in both the Old and New Testaments do not have the same meaning in the original language in which they were written:  Aramaic.  In fact, the words were first translated from Aramaic into Greek, and then from Greek into English—rather than having been translated directly from Aramaic into English.  There is some reliable and reputable scholarship indicating that the words Jesus cried out in the Aramaic language did not mean what they say in English.

The Aramaic language is not spoken today except by a very few, small isolated groups of people in the Middle East.  Aramaic was an ancient Semitic language that was the lingua franca (the common language used between various groups of people) spoken throughout the Middle East from approximately 350 B.C. to 650 A.D. Eventually, it replaced Hebrew as the language of the Jews.  Aramaic was the dialect spoken by Jesus.

Now let’s take a brief look at some mistaken, human-contrived “theology” about those words Jesus cried out to God.

There’s a very prevalent, mistaken “theological” view that God did, in fact, forsake, abandon, or turn away from Jesus on the cross because God could not bear to look upon the awful, weighty burden of the sins of all humanity which Jesus was carrying and for which He was dying; such theology teaches that God had no choice but to turn his “face” away from Jesus because He could not view those sins carried by Jesus:  human sin was just too repugnant for God to view; He was compelled to forsake Jesus and look the other way because our sins were so repulsive to Him. 

Along with that view is the contention that God had no choice but to forsake Jesus; otherwise He would in effect be helping Jesus carry our sins, when it was necessary that Jesus bear them alone, all by Himself as God the Son; it is mistakenly said that Jesus was not only bearing humanity’s judgment of death as a result of sin, but also the judgment of humanity’s separation from God. 

One thing that makes such theological views questionable is the teaching that it is possible for humanity to be separated from God.  Can that be true?  If God really is God—all-knowing, all-powerful, all-where, all-when…then nothing in the entire creation—including humans—can ever really be separated from God.  If God is really God, then He is everywhere, everywhen, and in everything down to the smallest, infinitesimal particle of creation.  As God, He cannot be anywhere that separates Him from anything and anyone in all creation. 

An 11th century writer, Hilbert of Lavardin, wrote these words:

“God, You are within all things, but not enclosed.
Outside all things, but not excluded.
You are above all things, sustaining them.
Wholly beneath, the firm Foundation of all.
You are wholly outside, embracing all things.
|Wholly within, filling all things.”

That somehow humans have separated themselves from God by their sin is a myth—or that our sin caused God to separate Himself from us. Yes, it is true that there are a few biblical references stating that (Isaiah 59: 2, for example), but in the light of the Bible’s overall teachings, it is clearly understood that nothing can separate us humans from God, even our worst sin.

During roughly the past 100 years or so to our present day there have been a few notable biblical language scholars who have challenged what Jesus really said in the Aramaic language translated into English when He cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”

One of those notable biblical language scholars was Kenneth Wuest (1893-1962).  He felt those references in Matthew 27 and Mark 15 should have been translated something like this in English:  “My God, my God, why have You left me helpless, failing me at this time of need?”

Another notable scholar was George Lamsa (1892 – 1975), who grew up in present-day rural Turkey speaking Aramaic very similar to that which Jesus and his disciples spoke 2,000 years previously. Lamsa translated those references directly from Aramaic into English:  “My God, my God, for this I was spared.”

Dr Brian Simmons, still living, published his translation (The Passion Translation) of the New Testament portion of the Bible (along with a few of the books of the Old Testament) in 2018.  Simmons translates Matthew 27: 46 and Mark 15: 32 this way:  “My God, my God, for this purpose You have spared me.”

Like Simmons, another scholar of biblical languages, Jonathan Mitchell, is still living, and published his translation of the New Testament in 2013.  He translates Jesus’ cry to God with  multiple possibilities.  Most consistent with Wuest, Lamsa, and Simmons is this suggested translation by Mitchell:  “My God, my God, this was my destiny.”

Obviously, the translations of these four scholars are vastly different from the typical, generally accepted English language translations of the two references we are examining.  These four scholars indicate that in some way Jesus understood that God had spared Him from premature death until the specific, destined time and moment in salvific history when Jesus was dying on the cross.  

When had God previously spared Jesus from death?  One example was when Jesus was preaching in his hometown of Nazareth, and the people there sought to kill Him by pushing him off a nearby cliff (Luke 4: 28 – 30); that attempt to kill Jesus was premature:  it wasn’t yet the specific time God pre-planned for Jesus to die.

Another attempt on Jesus’ life was when Satan told Jesus if Jesus would jump off a high parapet angels would catch Him (Luke 4: 9 – 12); Satan—being the consummate liar and the “father of lies”—was lying and knew full well that Jesus would die if He had jumped at Satan’s challenge.

In the Garden of Gethsemane the night before Jesus’ death, it was clear that Jesus could have died (or been killed) that night…but it was not the time God had pre-planned for Jesus to die (Matthew 26: 38 and elsewhere).

Those are merely three instances when it would not have been part of God’s plan for Jesus to die prematurely.  Doubtless there may have been other instances not recorded in the New Testament (John 21: 25).  Jesus was hated by many of the “religionists” of his day who constantly sought ways to take his life, but it was never God’s pre-planned time for Jesus to die until that fateful, pre-planned day when He died by crucifixion on a Roman cross.

There are a number of other biblical references that relate to this matter.  Here is a small sampling of some of those pertinent references.

First, Colossians 2: 9 and 10 need to be considered.  “Just as the fullness of God dwells permanently in Jesus, in the same manner God dwells fully in us.”   If God’s fullness dwelled in Jesus, could God’s fullness decrease or somehow be emptied out of Jesus?

Then consider Psalm 139: 7 and 8:  “Where could I go that your Spirit is not present?  Where is there a place I can run to get away from You, God?  If I go up to heaven, You are there!  If I go down to the realm of the dead, You’re there too!  If I were able to fly to any place on earth, You are there also.”  Doesn’t that reference sound like God’s presence is always everywhere and everywhen?

Consider Hebrews 13: 5 where God is speaking about Jesus’ followers:   I will never leave you alone, never, never, never!  And I will never loosen my grip on your life.”  If God promised that to us who are Jesus’ followers, could He have ever left Jesus alone?

“My own sheep will hear my voice and I know each one, and they will follow me.  I give to them the gift of my own eternal LIFE and they will never be lost and no one has the power to snatch them out of my hands.  My Father who has given them to me as his gift, is the mightiest of all, and no one has the power to snatch them from my Father’s care.  The Father and I are one.”  (John 10: 27 – 30)  If Jesus and his Father God were one in every aspect and in every respect, could they ever be separated?

Those are just four references out of many others in the Bible that teach God is fully present at all times with Jesus’ followers. 

Think about some logical assumptions that can be made based upon just those four references alone.  First, there is no place where God is not fully present at all times.  Second, there can be no “anywhere else” besides everywhere.  Third, there is no place where—even for an atomic second—God cannot be.  Fourth, if God is fully present at all times in Jesus’ followers, how could He not be fully present at all times in Jesus?  Fifth, it is inconceivable that Jesus and his Father’s “oneness” could be “split apart” in any manner.

 Having written all of the above, now let me attempt to offer an amplified, paraphrased English language version of Jesus’ cry to God from the cross:  “My God, My God, you have spared me from premature death until now.  This is my time of destiny, but why are You remaining distant, leaving me feeling helpless, and failing to help Me at this time of my greatest need?”

I realize what I have briefly written in this teaching is controversial and perhaps raises many questions and issues about exactly what Jesus cried out to God while He was dying on the cross.  For me, I do not believe it was possible for God—being God—to forsake or abandon Jesus—to be ever separated from full, equal union with Jesus in any manner; that view is called the hypostatic union—Jesus was fully God and fully human equally.  Jesus and God had always been one, were one when Jesus was dying on the cross, and will always be one. 

The alternative views presented here have put to rest long-standing fears and questions I have had; these views seem more logical and rational to my mind (and also resonate deep within my spirit) because I believe that God cannot forsake, abandon or be separated from anything or anyone in creation—especially from his own Beloved Son!

I invite you to study a companion teaching on this website, 72 Hours of History, that gives a timeline of the so-called “Holy Week” in which Jesus died.  It may be of interest to you to know that some reliable biblical scholars believe Jesus died on Wednesday, not on “Good Friday,” and was raised from the dead by God on Saturday of Holy Week, not on Sunday, the first day of the following week.

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
Leservices38@yahoo.com
Revised and Updated May 2021

The Wilderness

Wilderness:  n.  A dry, hot place;   a wild, isolated, barren, place;  an obscure or unknown place; a deserted, desolate place.

The word, “wilderness,” appears over 300 times in the Bible, making it an important subject therein simply by sheer volume of references.  Bible scholars and students have often focused on the “Wilderness experience” of Jesus (Luke 4: 1 – 13), and have often neglected teaching about the similar wilderness experiences of Jesus’ followers.  This study will be mostly about our wilderness experiences as followers of Jesus, but we will first look at Jesus’ wilderness experience to sort of set the stage for the remainder of our teaching. 

When studying any subject or topic in the Bible, the honest Bible student will first look at all the references in the Bible about that subject before arriving at a conclusion.  In addition, all subjects or topics found in the Bible will always have one reference, chapter, book, etc., that serves as a summary of the Bible’s teachings on that particular subject.  For example, the chapter that summarizes the subject of “resurrection” is 1 Corinthians 15; the chapter that summarizes the subject of “love” is 1 Corinthians 13. 

Jesus’ Wilderness Experience—Our Pattern

                I have examined all 300+ references in the Bible about “wilderness” before arriving at the conclusions I will set forth in this study.  The main biblical reference summarizing the subject is Luke 4: 1 – 13, Jesus’ wilderness experience.   I won’t go into any depth about his experience, but I want to touch upon a few points before moving on to the subject of our wilderness experiences.

First, I want to point out what should be rather obvious:  Jesus didn’t end up in the wilderness by accident, or because He was “outside” the will of God for his life, because he had sinned and was being punished, because he had mistakenly wandered into the wrong place.  NO!  Jesus was in the wilderness because God the Holy Spirit led him there.  

I’m not certain if I can “prove” the point, but it seems to me from the biblical record that we are also led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness experiences of our mortal lives.  Yes, we may end up in the wilderness because of sin or wrongdoing, or by prideful rebellion, or by turning our back on God, or for some similar reason.  But it seems that we are actually in our wildernesses because God the Holy Spirit leads us there.  Oh, He may be orchestrating our wilderness experiences from behind the scenes, so to speak—not leading us directly—but leading us there, nonetheless.   

Second, we must understand that—just as Jesus did—we will always encounter Satan in our own wilderness experiences.  But, please remember that Satan is merely a limited tool, an instrument, in the overall plans and purposes of God for his children.  Satan does not appear by accident in our wilderness experiences; He shows up only because God has “sent” him there so he can be used as an instrument by God to test and try us just as he did Jesus. 

And, we must deal with Satan in exactly the same way Jesus did.  We combat Satan’s conniving, scheming strategies by quoting to Him ALOUD the Scriptures, the Living, Written Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit!  (For a full, detailed expose about Satan and his strategies in our lives, I urge you to read two other teachings:  Satan:  From Beginning to End and Soldiers Training Manual).

                Third, our wilderness experiences are so that we will be tempted, tested, and tried at the weak points in our character and nature so we can emerge on the other side of the wilderness stronger at those weak points.  In His sovereign, overarching plans and purposes for our lives God always allows us to tested, and then broken, at our weakest points—so that afterwards we are strong at the broken places! 

Although there’s much more that we can learn from Jesus’ wilderness experience in Luke 4: 1 – 13, those 3 points are all I want us to look at for now.

Obviously in this brief study, we are not going to examine every one of those 300+ references to “wilderness” in the Bible.  Instead, we will examine only a few that seem germaine to this study or those encapsulating or summarizing the Bible’s teachings about our experiences in the wilderness.

The very first significant wilderness experience in the Bible was that of the Hebrews (Israelites) in the Sinai Desert after having been led out of Egypt by Moses, God’s servant.  

 Let’s examine the wilderness experiences of the 12 tribes of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness of Sinai for 40 years.  What were those 40 years all about?  God summarizes their experience in Deuteronomy 8: 2:  God Himself led them into that wilderness to humble them and to test them.  They weren’t there because they had sinned, or by accident, or because they couldn’t reach their destination by some other route (they could have!, but that’s another story–);  no, they spent 40 years in the wilderness because God led them there and kept them there until they were humbled and until they had “passed” their test.

     “Remember all the ways God led you during 40 years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would obey Him or not.”                                                                                                       –Deuteronomy 8: 2

                            There’s a fundamental truth about wildernesses:  On the other side of the wildernesses of our lives is the Promised Land!

In the very next chapter, Deuteronomy 9: 3, God says of Himself that He is a consuming fire!  Wow, I could write a lot about that aspect of God’s nature in his dealing with his people, but—wait a minute—I’ve already written about that in another teaching on this web site, where I invite you to read all about the subject of fire in the Bible; that teaching is entitled Fire!  If you read that teaching, you’ll gain some more insight about how God tests us with fire in the wildernesses of our lives.   

How does the Bible define “humble”?  In its basic essence, it means to “bow one’s knee voluntarily.”  God leads us into and through our wilderness experiences so we will voluntarily “bow our knees” to his absolute sovereignty in our lives.  So that we willingly proclaim in our proud, stubborn hearts that He is in all, through all, and at the end of all.  So that we will acknowledge that He is in absolute control of our lives.  No, “Yes, buts….”   He is Lord of all my life, or He is Lord of none of my life!  And it often takes a wilderness experience for us to honestly humble ourselves before his absolute sovereignty.

To “test” us means that God puts us through the fires of cleansing and purifying so that the “gold, silver, and precious stones” He is working into our characters—into the very essence of our newly created beings—rises to the surface, and the “wood, hay, and stubble” of our old, pre-Jesus natures is burned up completely.  You may read about that process in 1 Corinthians 3.  I could teach much more about that process of cleansing and purifying, but my teaching about fire covers that in much more detail. 

The ancient Patriarch, Job’s, exclamation in Job 23: 10 – 12 furnishes more insight into God’s testing us by fire.  Isaiah 48:  10 speaks to the matter of testing by fire, also.

Four Major Areas of Testing

So…God leads us into our own wilderness experiences to humble us and to test us.  My own observations and my own experiences based on the biblical record lead me to believe that the major areas of our lives where God seeks to humble us and test us are areas of disobedience, pride, rebellion, and where we have “hardened our hearts” over some issue in our lives.  I’m sure there are other areas of our lives that God deals with in our wildernesses, but those are the 4 major areas I’ve seen over and over in my own life and in the lives of others.  God will always “custom tailor” our humbling and testing experiences to areas of our own lives (often ones we attempt to keep hidden from others) needing such humbling and testing.  He sees all and knows all; nothing in our lives is ever hidden from God!

Okay, now I want us to take a look at the actual processes in which God leads us into the wilderness, takes us through it, and then takes us out of the wilderness.

     “Pay attention!  I will do a new thing in you…  I will make a road through the wilderness and rivers in the wastelands…  I provide waters in the wilderness and rivers in the wastelands, to quench your thirst so you may proclaim my praise.  I will allure you into the wilderness, and there I will speak tenderly to your heart.  There I will cause you to bear new fruit.  The Valley of Achor—the valley of trouble and testing—will turn out to be a Door of Hope for you.  [When your testing has been completed] you will sing and rejoice!” 

                                                                                                        Isaiah 43:  19 – 21, and Hosea 2: 14 & 15, paraphrased and personalized

One of the first reasons God leads us into the wilderness experiences of our lives is so that He can get us aside from the distracting routines and busyness of our lives and speak to us.  Of course, God is always speaking to us through the Bible and by means of the Holy Spirit Who lives inside us in our spirits, but He often leads us into the wilderness so He can speak more “loudly” to us, in a sense, during a time when we are more apt to be listening more intently.

You’ve heard the old expression (or something similar) :  “He had to hit him with a 2 x 4 to get his attention!”  Well, the wilderness experiences of our lives are often “2 x 4” experiences when God needs to really get our attention so we will focus our listening to what He’s attempting to say to us.  So, that’s one of the first things that happens when He leads us into the wilderness:  He speaks to us.   

                Next,  generally (but not always) God leads us into the wilderness so He can do a new thing in our lives.  A new thing that will spring forth in the wilderness itself, often a new thing in our lives that we don’t even consciously know we need to have happen, a hidden area of our lives that needs exposed and brought out to the light so that God’s “laser light” can “burn” it out of us, to be replaced by a new thing. Something new and amazing often stands at the other side of our wilderness experiences . . .

Let me mention a recent experience I was involved in that might illustrate this point.  I was counseling a young man who was an habitual liar, but he either didn’t know that was the case, or he might have felt he was hiding that part of his character.  When I prayed in person for him, the Holy Spirit exposed his propensity to lie hidden deep in his character. 

The young man confessed it, let it come out into The Light of God, and that LIGHT burned it out of his character just as the rising sun burns off the morning mist!  That young man instantly became a “new creation” in that area of his life; that occurred a number of months ago and he is still “lie-free”!   That was his own wilderness experience to humble him in that regard and burn out that aspect of his character.

Custom-Tailored For You

Each wilderness experience God leads us into is custom-tailored by God for us so we can humble ourselves, learn from the experience, be tested, purged, cleansed, and “broken,” so the Potter can re-form, re-mold, re-shape, and re-store us more and more into the image of Jesus, so, in turn, He becomes more “fully formed” in our new natures.

Isaiah 43: 19 goes on to say (in some versions of the Bible) that God not only leads us into the wilderness, but He also leads us through the experience.  God-led wilderness experiences are always transitional experiences in our lives to take us from and old level of our relationship with God to a new, higher/deeper level of relationship.  If…we allow Him to take us through the wilderness. 

At any point in time, we can choose to run away from any wilderness experience and leave incomplete the changes God wants to work out in our character and nature.  God will not force us to stay in the wilderness experience until it is complete on his terms; at any point, to our own harm and detriment, we can stubbornly and pridefully interrupt the testing, humbling, purifying, cleansing process. 

Next in Isaiah 43: 19 note that the end result of our wilderness experience is not only that God does a new thing in us, but He also gives us rivers in the wilderness.  The rivers God creates in our wilderness experiences are those rivers Jesus spoke of in John 7: 37 – 39.  As you emerge from any wilderness experience, look for a new “Pentecostal” experience (however you define that experience based upon your own current state of awareness and level of understanding) with the Holy Spirit to come out of your experience—where rivers of Living Water will begin to flow anew from your innermost being to quench your own thirst and the thirst of others in new, creative, and power-full ways.  

The reference in Hosea promises us that even though there will be a Valley of Achor in the wildernesses we find ourselves in, beyond the Valley of Achor there will always be a Door of Hope.  In the Bible, “hope” is defined as “confident expectation of upcoming good based upon the sure and certain promises of God.”  Dear readers, that’s the type of hope we can find in our wilderness experiences.  You might want to look up Jeremiah 29: 11 in that regard.  For the Jesus-believer there is always hope—culminating in what the Bible calls The Blessed Hope we have that Jesus will return and begin to set all things right!

Now I want you to turn to Song of Solomon 8: 5.  I want to make this important point:  The only way up and out of  your wilderness experience is by leaning on your Beloved!  Of course, Jesus is not only God’s Beloved, but He is also the one Beloved by all Jesus-believers!

I want to encourage you:  you will get through and up and out of your wilderness experience by trusting God’s absolute sovereignty of leading you into your wilderness, by “bending your knee” to God, by letting his fires test you, purify you, and cleanse you, and by leaning on your Beloved to come up and out of your wilderness!

Comfort Beyond Human Comfort

Another thing God will do in our lives while we are in the wilderness is that He will comfort us.  If I understand anything at all about such references as John 14: 6, 16, and 27, the Holy Spirit is The Comforter in a unique manner.  Most of our wilderness experiences will lead us into a new, more vital and personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, The Comforter.  One important characteristic of The Comforter is that He not only comforts us with a comfort He alone can give us (2 Corinthians 1: 3 and 4), but He also empowers us for work and service to God just as He did for Jesus after He emerged from his wilderness experience. 

When you emerge from your wilderness experience, you will not only have been comforted in a special way by God, but you will be newly empowered with “Pentecostal Power” (Acts 1: 8) for work, service, witness, and ministry . . . and to comfort others with the same comfort with which you have been comforted.

Don’t miss out on all God has in store for you in your wilderness experience by stubbornly and pridefully resisting what God wants to do in you, through you, and as you.

God will bring you out of your wilderness experience in his perfect timing.  God is never late.  He is never early.  He is on time every time!  Hosea 2: 14 claims that God allures or entices or draws us into our wilderness experiences.  One feeling that most people often have while they are in the wilderness is hopelessness.  God always provides a “door of hope” while we are in our wildernesses. 

“Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  By His boundless mercy we have been born from above to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead!”  (1 Peter 1: 3)  While you are in your wilderness, I want to encourage you:  please do not despair, do not feel isolated, do not feel deserted by God, do not lose hope! 

God Disciplines Those Whom He Loves

Since our relationship with God is by our inner faith-sense rather than with our “outer” five senses and objective reality, do you ever have those occasional moments when you honestly question whether you truly are a child of God?  I do!  Here I am, one mere mortal among 7 billion other mere mortals living on a tiny planet near the edge of an obscure galaxy in this vast, boundless universe and I have the audacity to believe I am a child of the Great God of the Universe.

Well, one of the reasons (among many other reasons) I know I am a child of God is because God tests, purifies, and disciplines those mortal humans who are his children!  (Hebrews 12).  If I—a mere mortal human—am often led by God to the wilderness in order for Him to humble, test, purify, and discipline me, that means I am a well-loved child of God.  He wouldn’t discipline me if He didn’t regard me as his well-loved son.  That’s one way I “know in my knower” that I am child of the Living, Almighty God!  I know that’s a strange way of knowing I am his child, but He wouldn’t bother disciplining me if I weren’t his well-loved child.  Think about it–

Our hope is as eternal as God is, and comes to us because we follow a risen, Living Savior Who leads us into, takes us through, and brings us out of our wilderness experiences.  Lean hard on your Living, Loving, Returning Savior during your wilderness experiences!

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand!”             

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
leservices38@yahoo.com
Revised and Updated March 2021

Who Are You Fighting?

Among most evangelical believers in Jesus in the western world’s church of Jesus (as contrasted with the Eastern Orthodox churches) there is a common misunderstanding about a phenomenon labeled “spiritual warfare.”  I’m going to come right out and say something first…and then try to support my statement in the remainder of this teaching;  here’s my statement:  There ain’t no such thing as spiritual warfare as it’s commonly considered and taught by most evangelical believers in Jesus!

I know, I know: who do I think I am to make such a statement contrary to what most ardent western world evangelicals believe? Here’s why…I was born again in 1956 and have been a follower of Jesus for 65 years; for the first 10 years of my new life in Jesus I spent much time engaging in what I considered to be spiritual warfare.  I later learned I was doing nothing more than Don Quixote was doing in that famous Spanish novel written and published in 1605:  In his delusional state of mind, Quixote mistakenly jousted with windmills (thinking they were fierce giants) instead of with real opponents—mistakenly thinking the windmills were his enemies.   

Let’s think together for a few minutes about what most Bible-believing people think about so-called spiritual warfare.  Oh, a lot of people picture and envision a lot of different scenarios, but if we could lump together all those differing scenarios, the following three paragraphs are sort of a summary of what many people mistakenly believe…

Way back somewhere in the dim, distant past before humans were created on planet earth, Satan somehow outfoxed God and gained complete power and authority over the earth to carry out whatever evil schemes he chooses in an attempt to thwart God’s purposes for all creation, for the earth, and for all humanity.  Somehow God was powerless to do anything about it at the time. Satan sneakily tempted and deceived Adam and Eve, and ever since then he has essentially controlled all humanity—tempting them, accusing them, and causing them  to commit all sorts of evil and nefarious activities…such as the holocaust and great international wars.

Meanwhile—as many people mistakenly believe—there’s a great cosmic war going on somewhere in the “heavenlies” between God and Satan…and the winner has yet to be determined.  While most people won’t come right out and say it in so many words, it’s somewhat questionable to them whether or not God will win.  Why?  Well, if Satan ends up taking the vast majority of humanity to an ever-burning hell with him, the question is who really wins!  If God gets to take only a relatively few people to heaven with Him, but Satan gets the rest, who’s actually the winner of that great cosmic war between Satan and God?

A portion of that great cosmic war between God and Satan is taking place here on earth as some people engage in battle with Satan and his minions for “the souls of men.”  Again, to many people it seems that Satan is winning historically and worldwide.  They feel more and more people are being captured and enslaved by Satan as the world gets darker and darker…and relatively fewer and fewer people are being frantically snatched by God from the clutches of Satan.  Only a special few people chosen by God will make it to heaven while the bulk of humanity will burn in hell, tortured forever in its never-ending flames.

The three paragraphs immediately preceding this one are a summary of the mistaken views that far too many people believe about so-called spiritual warfare.

Okay, having looked at those mistaken views now let me begin to explain why I believe that believers in Jesus are not engaged in spiritual warfare…

In the mid-twentieth century there was a famous comic strip about the antics and adventures of “Pogo Possum” who lived somewhere in the southern North American swamplands.  One day when Pogo returned from an adventure all battered, bruised, and weary, he explained to his waiting friends:  “We have met the enemy, and they is us!”   

The primary battles we are engaged in are battles in and for our minds, not against powerful, unseen, spiritual enemies!  Yes, we are engaged in after-battle “mopping up operations” against dark, spiritual forces, but we are engaged in those battles in our own minds.  The all-out war with dark, unseen, spiritual forces are over.  We’re engaged in other, lesser battles now—mopping up operations after the main war was won, with Jesus triumphant over Satan, sin, and death.

I’m trying to make a point very clear right here at the beginning of this teaching.  Yes, we are engaged in (sometimes) fierce armed conflicts against powerful, unseen beings (Ephesians 6: 10 – 18), but—No—we are not engaged in all-out warfare—great military conflicts such as D-Day—against those unseen forces.  The great warfare, the great battles, are ended; we are engaged only in mopping up operations against those unseen beings and forces that were summarily defeated by Jesus!  Yes, such mopping up operations certainly include casting demons out of people when necessary; we who have the power-full Spirit of God living in us have authority to do that.

When (and where) was Satan and his minions defeated?  The Bible is not completely clear, but there are hints here and there about when and where.  For example, in Luke 10: 18 and 19, Jesus declared:  “While you were ministering, I watched Satan topple until he fell suddenly from heaven as swiftly and suddenly as lightning strikes the ground.  Now you must understand that I have imparted to you all my authority to trample over his kingdom.  You will trample over every demon that opposes you and overcome every power Satan possesses.” 

Colossians 2: 15 states much the same:  “Then Jesus made a public spectacle of all the powers and principalities of darkness, stripping away from them every weapon and all their spiritual authority and power to accuse us.  And by the power of the cross, Jesus led them around as prisoners of war  in a procession of triumph.  He was not their prisoner; they were his.”

There are other, similar references that teach that Satan and his minions are defeated foes; most biblical evidence suggests their defeat occurred when Jesus was on the cross, but we cannot be dogmatic about that.  It appears that Satan has been bound—and limited—since Jesus’ death, resurrection, and return to heaven.  His “final end” is found in Revelation 20: 9 and 10 when he will be cast into a lake of fire for ages-long cleansing and purification.  The lake of fire does not last “forever and ever” as most translations read; instead, the lake of fire lasts for eons and eons of time—not unending time; it does have an end; it does not burn on unendingly.  When those fires finally are quenched or die out for lack of “fuel,” well, beyond that, who knows what will happen..?  Only God knows!

Thus far, I have simply wanted to make clear that, yes, Satan and his minions were defeated in some manner by Jesus, but they still have limited power to fight against humans.  We fight against them with the “weapons” noted in the sixth chapter of Ephesians.  But that’s only a mopping up operation as previously noted.  We are not engaged in all-out spiritual warfare against him and his minions.  We already know who wins in the end:  God!

Here are some other biblical references that teach about Jesus’ victory over Satan and his supreme authority over all subordinate and lesser powers throughout all creation.

“So now we live with the absolute confidence that there is nothing in all creation with the power to separate us from God’s love.  I’m convinced that his love has triumphed over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, and dark rulers in the heavens.”                                –Romans 8: 38

“God raised Jesus from the dead and exalted Him to the place of highest honor and supreme authority in the heavenly realms!  And Jesus is now exalted as first above every ruler, authority, government, and realm of power in existence in all creation. He is gloriously enthroned over everything, not only throughout all the rolling ages of time, but also in Eternal Realms.”
                  –Ephesians 1: 21

“Jesus created all that is seen and all that is unseen.  Every seat of power, realm of government, principality, and authority—it was all created by Him and exists for his purposes.” 
 –Colossians 1: 16

“Jesus is now in heaven at the place of supreme authority next to God.  The very powers of heaven, including every angel and authority, now yield in submission to Him.”           –1 Peter 3: 22

The war is over!  We are no longer principally engaged in spiritual warfare.  Since Jesus’ death, resurrection, and return to heaven, Jesus’ followers have been principally engaged in soul warfare:  the great battlefield in which we now fight great battles is in our souls:  in our minds, our thoughts, our wills, our emotions! 

As Bible teacher Joyce Meyer puts it in her well-known book, The Battlefield of the Mind, the principal battles we fight are in our minds; As Pogo Possum once declared to his friends in the comic strip:  “We have met the enemy, and they is us!”  If you haven’t read Joyce Meyer’s book, I strongly encourage you to obtain a copy and read it over and over:  memorize parts of it, meditate upon what you read…and put into practice in your daily living the eternal, life-changing, life-transforming principles she teaches in the book.

It’s important as we progress through the remainder of this teaching that you have fixed in your mind how very important is your mind…and how extremely important are your thoughts.  Proverbs 23: 7 states in a simple manner an extremely important concept:  “Whatever a person thinks in that person’s heart, that’s who they are; that’s what they do as a result of those thoughts.  One’s thoughts control and dictate one’s behavior. First the thought, then the behavior follows.”  I hope you understand that simple concept.  All that we say, all that we do, originates with our thinking.

Satan and his minions know that.  They lie to us, deceive us, and tempt us…in an attempt to control what we think, say, and do.  Our thought processes continually need detoxified; that is done when we read, study, heed, and apply the Bible to our thoughts.  Yes, in addition to the other weapons God gives us with which to do battle, applying the Bible daily to our thoughts, washes, cleanses, and displaces what some authors call our “stinkin’ thinkin.’”  Modern neuroscience is even beginning to show that meditating on the Bible actually rewires healthy new circuits in our brains.  Yes, the Bible is a power-full weapon God wants us to employ in our soul-warfare.

Of course, for you to meditate upon your Bible, you must dust it off…and actually read, study, and obey it.  How long has it been since you…?  Are you interested to know that some recent studies disclose that the average Jesus Believer who claims to believe in the Bible’s importance…directly reads their Bible in snatches for only approximately ½ hour each week! 

Hebrews 4: 12 puts it this way:   “For we have the living Word of God, which is actually full of God’s power.”  God speaks his Word to us, we agree with it and apply it to our thinking and behavior, and it becomes a two-edged sword—actually, a two-mouthed soldier’s sword sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel—with which we engage in battle against Satan and his minions.  Nothing can stand against God’s sword when we deftly wield it in soul-warfare.  

If you happen to be discouraged because you “lose” many battles with Satan and his minions, do you see the disconnect with not daily reading, studying, and applying the Bible to your life? 

Now, so that we cover this entire matter of soul-warfare completely, let’s look at some of the dark, spiritual forces with which we are doing battle.  Let’s study the entire concept of “soul warfare,” the battlefield of the mind.  Keep in mind, that Satan and his minions have already been summarily defeated—in the heavenlies, in the earth’s atmosphere, on the earth, and in the spirits of humans.  We’ll also take a quick look at Satan’s weapons, and the weapons God gives us to do battle with Satan and his minions.

Here’s a little side note to consider as we begin this portion of this teaching.  Yes, Satan is called the “prince of the power of the air,” “prince of this world,” and “prince of darkness.”  (See Matthew 9: 34 and 12: 24, Mark 3: 22, John 12: 31, 14: 30, and 16: 11).  Keep in mind, however, that we who are followers of Jesus are called “kings and priests” of God. (Revelation 1: 6 and elsewhere).   Here’s a basic fact:  kings have authority over princes!  You, as a lesser king serving under the supreme authority of the King of kings and Lord of lords have derivative  authority and power over Satan, a mere prince.

In various places in the Bible, Satan is called the “accuser” of people, the tempter, the deceiver, a masquerader, a liar and the father of lies, a roaring lion, Beelzebub (“lord of the flies”), and other similar names and titles.  He and his minions are also known variously as “principalities and powers,” “rulers of the darkness of this age,” and “spiritual hosts of wickedness.”  (See Ephesians 6, for example)

These various names and titles tell us what Satan and his minions do, what behaviors they  exhibit.  For example, as a liar and father of lies, Satan cannot not lie.  Another example:  although he goes about as a roaring lion, he is a toothless and declawed lion; he simply imitates the true Lion, Jesus, the victorious Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  As a masquerader, he and his minions pose, for example, as angels of light.

Do not be fooled:  Satan and his minions—defeated foes—have no power and authority in your life except that which God permits and that you yield to them by default!  In and through Jesus, Lord of lords and King of kings, you have victory over Satan and his minions!  Don’t yield an inch of ground to them!  Don’t believe their lies!  See through their masquerade costumes!  Don’t believe their accusations!  Don’t give in to their temptations!  God has given you the inner power of Holy Spirit to overcome and defeat anything Satan and his minions can bombard you with!

For example, if Satan is indeed a liar and the father of lies and cannot not lie, then why believe anything he whispers to you…about yourself or about others…or about God’s all-loving character and nature.  Or even about the world and the cosmos in general.  Accept it:  Satan is a liar.  He cannot tell the truth.  Don’t believe a word or thought he whispers to you!

In fact, Revelation 12: 11, tells us that we overcome Satan by the blood of Jesus and our testimony to the Word (the Bible).  Some Bible translators have mistranslated that reference to read that we overcome Satan…by the word of our testimony.  No!  It is by our testimony to the Word.  We cannot give testimony to the Word if we do not read it, meditate upon it, and memorize it, so we can utilize it as one of our weapons when we are assaulted by Satan and his minions.

I ask again:  if you are not reading, studying, and applying God’s LIFE-giving Bible to your life daily—and are daily feeling defeated by Satan—do you not see the disconnect?

Ephesians 6 tells us plainly that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood; our enemies are not other humans; our enemies are non-corporeal, immaterial spirit-beings.  Elsewhere, the Bible says “the weapons of our warfare are not flesh and blood.”  (2 Corinthians 10: 4.)  I hope it goes without saying that no attempts for us to “bulk up” physically by strength training does any good in soul-warfare.  We cannot combat Satan and his minions by learning and practicing martial arts, nor do we physically box or wrestle against them.  No!  Our weapons are in our minds, our thoughts, our imaginations, our wills, and our emotions.

Let’s look at our principal weapons/armor enumerated in Ephesians 6.  “Take your stand as already being victorious and triumphant with the inner power of Holy Spirit who dwells in your spirits—his power flowing in and through you as you engage in battle.  Put on God’s complete set of armor as you engage in warfare with the evil strategies of Satan and his minions.  Your combat is not with other humans, but with principalities and powers in heavenly realms…Put on truth [Jesus is THE Truth!] as a belt to empower you to stand in triumph. 

\Put on holiness [wholeness of body, soul, and spirit in harmony with one another] to protect your heart. Stand alert to exhibit peace at all times.  Faith is your wrap-around bodily shield that extinguishes the blazing arrows Satan and his minions shoot at you.  Your salvation [provided by Jesus] is a helmet to protect your thoughts, attitudes, and imagination from the lies of the enemy.  Your razor-sharp Spirit-sword is the Bible.  Finally, prayer is the mightiest weapon you can wield against Satan and his minions.” 
  (Paraphrased and adapted from The Passion Translation of the Bible)

A careful reading—sort of between the lines, so to speak—of Ephesians 6 and other, similar and related passages in the New Testament about warfare in the “heavenlies” could almost be considered to be teaching that the heavenlies are our minds.  I am not necessarily teaching that or making that a point of dogma, but there is some indication by a number of reputable Bible scholars and teachers that the heavenlies (in specific references—not all) are our minds, our thoughts, our attitudes, our imaginations, our wills, and our emotions.  That concept is questionable based on our understanding of the original Greek and Hebrew words for “heavenlies,” but, nevertheless, some scholars and teachers seem to be able to make somewhat of a case for that viewpoint.

At the very least, it’s a concept worth considering.  Why might we humans who are presently earthbound engage in mopping up operations somewhere up in the earth’s atmosphere or in the faraway cosmos/heavens beyond our atmosphere?  What if the true battlefield is our minds?  It’s worth considering at some level of understanding and some state of awareness…

There’s another reference we’ve already noted:  portions of the tenth chapter of Second Corinthians bring to mind some other thoughts about the battlefield of the mind.  Here’s what it says:  “For although we live in the natural realm, we don’t wage a military campaign employing human weapons [and tactics], using logic, reason, craftiness, or strategies of religion, to achieve our victories.  Instead, our Spirit-empowered weapons are energized with divine power to [disarm] and dismantle our enemy’s defenses—mental strongholds, mindsets, and perceptions that hold people captive. 

“We use our powerful God-tools to smash warped philosophies and worldviews. We are able to demolish every deceptive argument and fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defense of the true knowledge of God.  We capture like prisoners of war, every loose thought, emotion, imagination, and impulse and insist that they bow in obedience to Jesus.”

For additional teaching about Satan and his minions we invite you to read some companion teachings on this website:  Satan From Beginning to End, Soldiers Training Manual, Whole In One, and Speak The Word.

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
Leservices38@yahoo.com
Revised and Updated April 2021

Develop A God’s-eye View

“You have in fact been raised from the dead with Jesus—into Heaven, right next to God’s throne!  Start changing your thinking about all that means for you.  Relocate yourself mentally and spiritually from being earthbound to the fact that you are bi-locational and are now in Heaven also. Act like you’re in Heaven!  See things here on earth from your new heavenly perspective.  Feast on the fact that you can now experience heavenly realities, and not be so distracted with everything occurring on earth.  Quit shuffling along in earth’s darkness and begin seeing things from the bright heights of Heaven.”          –Colossians 3: 1, amplified and paraphrased

The lower you are, the less clearly you can see.  The higher you are, the more clearly you can see.  Believe this truth:  YOU are seated “high” in the heavenlies with Jesus!

Here are only two among many similar biblical references about Jesus’ authority and control over absolutely everything that occurs on this earth:  “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything on it, the entire world and all who dwell therein.”   –Psalm 24: 1  “The kingdoms (nations) of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of Jesus, and He shall reign for the ages of the ages!”  –Revelation 11: 15

Okay, as a follower of Jesus and believer of the Bible, do you or do you not believe the truth of those references?

I have asked that simple question for this reason:  the more people I talk with these days, the more I find so many of them are living in abject fear about all that’s taking place on planet earth.  The more they are worried about events around them, the more they are confused, the more they are distracted from what the Bible teaches…the less they are seeing from Heaven’s perspective.       

In person and in ZOOM meetings, I meet together during most weeks with a number of other believers in Jesus (and some pre-believers), and it seems that for the most part many of those I meet with in person as individuals or groups often choose to whine, moan, and complain about all the bad and negative things happening around them in this nation and throughout the earth.  Sometimes it seems that’s all they can think about or talk about.

Their focus is on corrupt government, political ineptness and weakness, rampant immigration from one nation to the next, businesses going bankrupt, people out of work, trillion dollar “bail out” programs, armed conflicts between people groups and nations, radicalism, pandemics, global warming (or not), rising racism, big business taking over our lives, all that’s wrong with the next generation, sin among church-going people, earthquakes, the negative influence of the media, widespread corruption, arming themselves with deadly weapons to protect their families, terrorism, drones and security cameras watching every aspect of our lives, mind control…and on and on and on, ad nauseum. 

Here’s the reality of what you’re seeing all around you on planet earth:  “God has implanted in every human a portion and foretaste of eternity.  Yet finite humans can never get a complete grasp of what the infinite God is doing.  Being finite, what we comprehend of God’s working throughout human history [including current events] is always partial and distorted.”
–Ecclesiastes 3: 17, amplified and paraphrased

Even with 24/7 media coverage of just about everything occurring on our planet, generally speaking, if you’re a normal, average citizen of any nation, you don’t have a clue about all that’s really going on in your nation or in the world!  Why then are you so fearful and uptight about what’s going on in your world?  Your life in this small present world in which you live and move and have your being is only the tiniest fragment on the edge of eternal realities.

Constantly harping, complaining, and whining about all that’s wrong in the world and with other people isn’t wise…or witty…or clever…or insightful…or intellectual…or “cool”…or astute…or resourceful…or keen.  It’s LAZY…and inconsistent with the Bible and with God’s character and nature He’s attempting to instill in his children!

I grow very weary of constantly hearing such negativism, whining, moaning, and complaining!  Especially from followers of  Jesus—of all people who ought to know better!—and believers in the Bible.  The reality is they do not really believe such Biblical references as I cited in my opening paragraphs above…and they are believing negativism and lies foisted upon them by Satan (a liar and the father of lies) and his minions, rather than believing God’s truth as revealed in the Bible.

A dear friend of mine—a good and godly follower of Jesus—told me just two days ago that he feels he’s slowly losing his mind by seeing everything around him as bad and evil and negative and corrupt and dark.  He knows God has a solution for his plight, but just doesn’t seem to know how to tap into God’s solution.  He feels what is currently happening all around him is new, unprecedented, and unique in human history, likely signaling the rise of an evil one-world government under control of the “antichrist.”  My friend’s remarks are primarily what prompted me to write this teaching you are now reading.

Here’s yet another way to look at what type of harm you’re doing to yourself and those close to you if you’re constantly see the bad in the world and in others.  The Bible states “For your fleeting life is but a warm breath of air that is visible in the cold for a brief moment and then vanishes.”                                                                         –James 4: 14

With our lives here on earth—no matter where we live, no matter our circumstances—being so very brief, why spend valuable time and effort focusing on all the bad things in the world?  Instead, Psalm 27: 13 states:  “I remain confident that I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.”   In effect, if you’re not seeing God’s goodness, then by default you are seeing nothing but human badness!  You can’t have it both ways;  The Bible teaches in James 1: 8 that “A double-minded person is unstable in all his or her ways!”  Are you experiencing instability in your daily life—as if you’re on a roller coaster?  Any idea why that might be happening?

I’m going to attempt to focus this teaching primarily on what the Bible teaches, and not on my own thoughts; I hope I can simply share what the Bible teaches with only some comments about that teaching—not self-generated thoughts of mine that might prove to be distracting from the Bible’s teaching.  To do that, I’m going to share for the most part some pertinent references directly from the Bible in addition to the reference from Colossians in my first paragraph above.

But before I start sharing such biblical references, I want to mention a related reference:  Revelation 4: 1:   God said to the writer of the Book of Revelation, John, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place…”  The remainder of the Book of Revelation is what John wrote from that high-up, heavenly vantage  point.  He saw all the horrible and tragic events taking place on the earth at that time from Heaven’s perspective…and was able to praise God and see God’s providence and sovereignty throughout the remainder of the book. That’s how we ought to be responding to all current events on earth.

There was a popular song a generation ago containing these words:  “On a clear day you can see forever.”  We need to be seeing forever instead of being fearful and anxious about present events occurring here on our lovely planet that is under God’s complete control!

Now let’s read and examine those references directrly from the Bible…

“Jesus spoke up and said that since you are from the earth, you think like that; you’re tied down to the mundane of this world.  You think only about what you perceive with your five senses instead of what you perceive with your spiritual senses.  I am from above; I am not really from the earth as you are. I live on other terms; I’m in touch with what is beyond your limited earth-thinking. I am from Heaven, a different dimension, a realm which doesn’t rely on human senses, thinking, and values.  I perceive and think differently from you about reality, and I want you to learn to perceive and think differently as I do.”
–John 8: 23, amplified and paraphrased

“Your thoughts are dominated by the flesh (defined as relying on your senses, logic, and reason without the input of Holy Spirit).  But those who live by impulses of Holy Spirit rise above such fleshly thinking. Obsession by what you perceive only by the flesh is a dead end.  You must learn to be motivated to pursue and see spiritual realities given you by God. The mind-set of fleshly thinking kills people, but the mind-set controlled by Holy Spirit brings true LIFE and peace.”
–Romans 8: 5 and 6, amplified and paraphrased

“God reveals profound realities to us by Holy Spirit.  Yes, God has revealed to us his innermost heart, thoughts, and deepest mysteries through Holy Spirit, who constantly explores and examines all things God perceives and thinks about, and decodes them for us. God’s thoughts and secrets are only fully understood by God’s Spirit.  So-called religious experts that see things only in the flesh have no clue about what God is revealing to people.  When we live on an entirely human, fleshly level we, in effect, are rejecting what God’s Spirit reveals to us, and they make no sense to us.  What God perceives and thinks about from his heavenly vantage point can only be known as Holy Spirit reveals them to us.
               -–1 Corinthians 2: 10 – 14, amplified and paraphrased

“I pray that the light of God will brightly illuminate your eyes–your thoughts, your imaginations–flooding you with light to help you think more clearly, until you experience the full revelation He wants you to receive in order to experience your new LIFE. Go’s great power is fully available to you through faith. Let your lives be walking billboards advertising God’s power at work in you as He changes your thoughts and imaginations. This is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, set Him on a throne in deep Heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power in existence–in the entire cosmos and on earth–exempt from his rule! He is gloriously enthroned over everything in existence, not only now, but in the Kingdom age to come. And…guess what? You are raised up with Him and seated beside Him right next to the throne of God in heavenly places!”
–Ephesians 1: 18 – 22, amplified and paraphrased

“God’s eternal LIFE in all its fulness fills you to overflowing even though you were once like corpses, dead in your sins and offenses. It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin and ‘stinkin thinkin.’ No, it wasn’t that long ago that you lived in the dead religion, customs, and values of this world; don’t you dare go back to thinking and behaving that way! Don’t give in to your old self-life; instead dive fully into God’s new LIFE. Don’t be rebellious like you used to be. God loves us so much that even when we were doomed in our many sins, He invited is into the very LIFE of Jesus and saved us by his marvelous grace! God picked us up from where we were mired in sin and raised us up with Jesus the exalted One, and we ascended with Him into the glorious perfection and authority of heavenly realms, for we are now co-seated as one with Jesus.” –Ephesians 2: 1 – 6, amplified and paraphrased

“We are actually a colony of Heaven on earth, while at the same time we remain citizens of high Heaven as we cling tightly to our LIFE-giver, Jesus who is in the process of transforming our minds, thoughts, and our bodies, transfiguring them into the identical likeness of his glorified new Spirit-body. He’s in the process of making us beautiful and whole—body, soul, and spirit—with the same powerful skill by which He is transforming and restoring the entire universe, including the earth, and all humanity as it should be; He is continually redeeming, restoring, and reconciling—fully subduing—everything to Himself.”
  –Philippians 3: 20, amplified and paraphrased

“For we have the living Word of God that is full of God’s power to transform us and reshape our bodies, minds, and spirits; it’s sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel—a two-edged  sword that penetrates to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet, and reveals what’s really in our hearts and thoughts. God’s Word ends the dominance of our flesh nature that in the past has used this world’s logic, reason, thinking patterns, and values to dictate what we say and how we behave.”     –Hebrews 4: 12, amplified and paraphrased 

Okay, I think those references from the Bible make it quite clear that we are bi-locational, meaning that we are equally in Heaven as we are here on earth.  I can’t explain how that is, but the Bible simply states that as fact.  And only God has the power to make that a present reality in our lives. 

In addition, God wants us to see and perceive events here on earth in real-time and real-space as He sees and perceives them from eternity’s perspective.  He wants us to see events occurring on earth through his eyes.  He wants us “to put on the mind of Jesus,” and think (and talk! and behave!) like Jesus.  As born-again followers of Jesus, He wants us to think and behave differently from those who are pre-believers in Jesus. He does not want us to whine, moan, and complain about events occurring on earth.  In Jesus, He has raised us up above all events on earth so we can clearly see them from his vantage point in High Heaven.

Where do we get the information we need to see, think, talk, and live like Jesus?  From the Bible!  No Bible, no heavenly perspective.  No Bible, we are just like the masses that are not having their minds, thoughts, speech, and behavior transformed by the inner power of Holy Spirit. If you’re not reading, studying, meditating upon, obeying, and putting the Bible into daily practice, why do you claim to believe the Bible is the Word of God?  It’s pure hypocrisy…and you don’t want to be one of those hypocrites that people talk about, do you?  You must begin to see life on planet earth from God’s heavenly perspective, or—as Paul the Apostle once stated it—you are of all people most miserable!

Let me illustrate just two scenarios that bring to bear on this matter of “putting on the mind of Jesus” and beginning to see (and talk about) all of life differently. 

First, let me mention music.  As you well know, music—of all types and genres—has a tremendously powerful effect on we humans.  What type of music to you listen to?  What type of music do you sing?  I’m just asking, not judging.  How about listening to and singing more biblically based music?  If you’re thinking the USA (or whatever your nation of residence) is “going to hell in a handbasket,” how about listening to and singing some patriotic music.  For example of the latter, I have a number of CD’s of patriotic music of the USA; many of the songs have reference to God:  how He was present during the founding of our nation and how He continues to preserve our nation.

Does that sound rather “hokey” to think about listening to and singing different music?  It really boils down to choices and decisions about what type of music you want to fill your mind, thoughts, and emotions with day after day after day…

Second, let me mention the current immigration crisis at the southern borders of the USA.  Would it surprise you to learn that it’s nothing new in our nation’s history?  Let me explain… During the early years of our nation, most people (not all) who came here were white, Caucasian Protestants from western Europe.  It wasn’t long into our history that Slavic people from eastern Europe and Roman Catholics began to come here.  Those who were already here tried in many nefarious ways to keep out the Catholics and Slavic peoples. 

They wanted to turn them back, they felt they would undermine our racial purity, they felt they would take jobs away from “God-fearing,” white Protestant Americans, etc.  After all—they claimed—Catholics worshipped Mary and idols!  Many of the Protestants who were already here in the New England Colonies wanted to send the incoming Catholic immigrants to some of the southern colonies to be with those dark-skinned Spanish-speaking Catholics who were already in the southern areas of our nation..to keep them with others of their own kind; the white Protestants feared the Catholic newcomers would give allegiance to the Pope and could therefore never be trusted citizens who would give their allegiance to the fledgling government of the United States of America.

Then from approximately 1880 to the early years of the 1900’s many Immigrants began to come here from Ireland.  Many of the Irish were Catholic and were considered by those already here to be dirty, criminally-minded, ignorant people who would takes jobs away from “decent people,” and so they wouldn’t take food away from the mouths of God-fearing Americans already here.  There were riots, clashes with police, and all sorts of trouble and confusion caused by people trying to keep out the incoming Irish immigrants.  Many of the Irish were actually forced into ghettoes in some of our larger cities on the eastern seaboard.

Does any of what I’ve described in the three preceding paragraphs seem remotely familiar to you?  Does it sound like some of the things happening on our southern borders right now in 2021 as I write these words?  Dear reader, there is not much “under the sun” that’s new! 

Approximately 1,500 years ago King Solomon wrote, “Nothing really new happens on this earth.  History merely keeps repeating itself.  What can you point to in human life and behavior that is new?  Year after year, decade after decade, century after century it’s the same old thing.  Does someone think, ‘Hey, this has never happened before?’  Don’t get excited—it’s the same old story.  Nobody remembers what happened yesterday, much less decades or centuries ago.  And the things that’ll happen tomorrow?  Nobody will remember them either after they happen.  [The only event that will alter this seemingly ceaseless trend is for Jesus to return to earth to usher in his Kingdom!]”             –Ecclesiastes 1: 9, amplified and paraphrased

In dealing with all this I’ve mentioned, the following is my personal, bottom line response; this is just me:  I’m not attempting to impose my response on you.

I want to learn to see myself, my environment, my circumstances, my milieu, people with whom I interact—everything!—around me as Jesus sees them…because He and I are one in spirit.  Some of such matters are not visible to my physical eyes, nor with my 5 senses.  In brief, I want a “God’s-eye” view of all life.  I want to perceive everything with my “spirit senses” from within me where Jesus abides eternally.  I want this to become my default view, my normal view, my new perspective, my new perception of everything:  my Kingdomview, because I am a citizen of Jesus’ Kingdom, not of any of this world’s kingdoms.  Again, “The higher I am, the more clearly I can see.”

Finally, I want you to consider two matters.  First, our main emphasis in this life is proclaimed in 2 Corinthians 5: 19:  God has reconciled humanity to Himself and our main responsibility in this life is to tell others about that.  Second, 1 Corinthians 15: 57 and 58 tells us that we are victors in this life in an absolute sense;  victors rejoice about their victories; they do not whine, complain, moan, and live with fear and anxiety.

I hope this brief teaching has helped you to think deeply and seriously about what you are thinking, saying, and doing about events on planet earth!

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
leservices38@yahoo.com
Revised and Updated May 2021

Dead or Alive?

The Bible states in Psalm 90: 12 and Exodus 23: 26 that God has allotted to each human a certain number of days (that number known only to God) in which He wants us to learn wisdom.  Wisdom is defined as “learning comprehensive insight into God’s person, character, and nature, and the way He works throughout all creation, including his altogether good purposes for earth, and especially how He lovingly relates to and works among all humanity.”

When God brings any human to his or her last numbered day, that is when the person will die—not sooner, not later.  Hopefully, that person will have learned true wisdom by the time that final numbered day arrives.

Even if a person dies in the womb or in infancy or childhood, or by suicide, that is still when their last numbered day arrives; who but God knows what wisdom they might have learned even before they die what we call a premature death?  If God is God—absolutely sovereign over the life spans and affairs of all humanity, then there are no premature deaths as viewed from his eternal vantage point.

This teaching is about human death.

I hope you understand that we humans consist of three components of our one being:  body, soul, and spirit—just as God has three components to his One Being:  Father, Son, Spirit.  The Bible is very clear and unequivocal about our tri-une human makeup, patterned after God’s tri-une makeup.  1 Thessalonians 5: 23 in the New Testament portion of the Bible is a key reference in that regard.

I assume it goes without saying that you know what your body is—the physical part of who your are:  skin, tissue, organs, cells, blood, brain, etc.

Your soul is essentially your mind, your thoughts, your will, your emotions—that part of you that is studied by psychiatrists and psychologists.  “Soul” comes from the Greek word, “psuche,” from where we get the English word, “psyche” from where we get the root word for psychiatrist and psychologist.  The soul (psyche) is “seated” or “housed” in the brain, but the brain itself is not the soul; the soul is actually part of every cell of our body. 

One cannot really separate the soul and body, but the soul is that part of our human makeup that is non-corporeal or “non body,” or immaterial.  We can see, feel, and touch our bodies, but the soul is an invisible part of who we are as humans.  It’s actually more than our mind, our thoughts, our wills, and our emotions; our soul also includes our personality, our character, our nature—all the other invisible components or who we are.

Your human spirit is also invisible; it’s that part of your tri-une being that is God-conscious, that part of you where God dwells and from within your spirit connects and interacts with your souls and bodies.  God has created the spirit within every human being (Zechariah 12: 2), and the spirit of humans is the “candle” or light of God.  (Proverbs 20: 27)  God comes to permanently reside in humans when they are born again:  The Spirit of God and the human spirit are joined, welded, fused, and combined into one spirit, forever inseparable.  (1 Corinthians 6: 17)

There’s a misunderstanding by millions of people that the human soul and spirit are one and the same—that they are identical.  Mistaken understanding about human makeup in general—and human death specifically—has arisen because people mistakenly feel soul and spirit are identical.

The only entity in all God’s creation that can help us correctly understand the differences between our souls and spirits is the Bible, the Word of God:  “For we have the living Word of God, which is full of effective energy, like a two-mouthed sword.  It will penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet..!”  As one writer has stated it:  “Soul and Spirit are the immaterial parts of every person that make us who we are, joint and bone marrow are the physical aspects of our existence.  God’s Word [alone] has the ability to uncover the hidden aspects of our personhood and make them known to us.”                                                                                                   –Hebrews 4: 12 and footnote, paraphrased

I’ve written all of the above to introduce the concept of human death.  What is death?  What occurs when a human dies?  Where do they go (if anywhere) when they die? 

First, let’s briefly consider what medical science informs us about death.  Without much exception, medical science tells us that human death occurs when our brains cease to function; the term most commonly used is “brain dead.”  If a person is alive (or being kept alive by artificial means) physically, but their brain has ceased functioning, a person is considered dead by medical science.

But that’s not what the Bible teaches about when death occurs.  The key Bible reference about human death is John 19: 30 where Jesus “released his spirit” to God and died.  When Stephen, the first follower of Jesus killed for his faith, died, Stephen cried out:  “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  (Acts 7: 59)  The Bible is full of many other references that support the view that when the human spirit is released to return to God, that is considered to be the moment of death.  On one occasion many years ago at the bedside of a dear friend, I actually saw his spirit exit his body at the moment of his death. 

So…death occurs when the human spirit is released to return to God.  The Bible does not teach much at all about what happens to the spirit after a person dies and returns to God—only that the spirit returns to God.  I expect that after we die and enter Jesus’ Kingdom we will learn much more about all that has happened to our spirits after we died! 

If the spirit returns to God when a person dies, what happens to the body and soul when a human dies?  They are simply buried in the ground, cremated, buried at sea, placed in a tomb, mummified, or otherwise disposed of.   The Bible claims that both body and soul “sleep” until they are resurrected when Jesus returns to earth.  At that time, body, soul, and spirit are reunited in a new, immortal spirit-body patterned after the mortal human body they had in this life.  (the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians tells us much about that)

In summary:  upon death, the human spirit returns to God, and body and soul sleep in death until Jesus returns to earth and resurrects them, reuniting body, soul, and spirit in a new spirit-body.

For me to teach all the Bible says about death would be pretty boring, I think.  There are many references about death, lots of different words and terms in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages, some complex matters that would need to be considered, etc.  So…rather than bore you with a lengthy explanatory teaching about death, I’m simply going to furnish you with various thoughts about death that I and many others have entertained through the years. 

Some of the thoughts are my own, some I have learned from others in person, some I have read here and there through the years; whenever possible, I have attempted to furnish the names of people and authors who have shared their thoughts. 

I will write this very candidly right here near the beginning of this teaching:  there is ample evidence throughout the Bible that when some people die, they do not immediately go to hell to be punished forever in fiery, eternal conscious torment.  All people eventually go to heaven after they die. 

Yes, for some people there may be a period of cleansing in a “place” called the lake of fire” before they eventually go to heaven, but no human remains in that lake of fire being punished eternally without any hope.  (Revelation 20 and 21 and many related references, too numerous to mention)  In brief, God will eventually redeem, restore, and reconcile every human to Himself!

If that last sentence in the above paragraph, bothers you or you do not agree with it, then you probably won’t find any benefit from reading and studying the remainder of this teaching.

The remainder of this teaching will simply be a “listing” of many thoughts about aging, dying, and death.

–What is dying?  I am standing on the seashore.  A ship is sailing away from where I stand.  I watch her until she sails over the horizon.  She is not gone—only from my sight.  At the very moment when the ship seems gone from me, on another shore, there are others who are watching her coming.  That is dying!

–For many people the process of dying leading to one’s death is painful; for some, the pain might simply be uncomfortable; for others, the pain might be agonizing, leading one to wish for death to occur soon, and—in some cases—causing people to take their own lives, giving their lives back to God prematurely because the physical or emotional pain is unbearable.   Whatever the intensity of the pain and however long it lasts, the Bible teaches that the pain is like “labor pains” resulting in one’s “birth” into Jesus’ Kingdom.  Jesus implied that during his famous conversation with Nicodemus in the third chapter of John’s Gospel:  “[Nicodemus], I speak an eternal truth:  unless you are born of water and Spirit-wind [born again or born from above], you will never enter God’s Kingdom realm.”

–In John 16: 21, Jesus said, Just like a woman giving birth experiences intense labor pains in delivering her baby, yet after the child is born she quickly forgets what she went through because of the overwhelming joy of knowing that a new baby has been born into the world.”  The pain experienced before some people die is quickly forgotten split seconds after death when they awaken to overwhelming, inexpressible joy in Jesus’ Kingdom.  The pain preceding their death was the labor  pains  birthing   them into that Kingdom where they shall never again experience pain!

–Most of us lack the imagination to envision a life beyond death.  Instead, we cling tenaciously to this mortal existence, to sweet familiarity, fearful that immortal life in heaven will somehow prove wanting by comparison.

“They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass through the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses;
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.”               –Ernest Dawson

–There are so many wonder-full things beyond description ahead of us in the life to come after our death, yet we keep looking back and longing for the lesser things we must leave behind for a while.

–Major questions asked by many people:  “Is death a comma or a period?  A simple, brief pause in our eternal existence?  Or the end of everything?”  The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus answers all three questions.  He said to Martha, the sister of his dear friend, Lazarus, who had recently died:  “I am the Resurrection, and I am Life Eternal.  Anyone who places their trust in me, even though that person dies physically, will live with me in eternity.  And the one who lives his mortal life believing in me will really never die.”  (John 11: 25 and 26)

“Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”           –Mark Twain

–I don’t get to choose how I’m going to die.  Or when.  I can decide only how I’m going to live.  Now. –Adapted from Joan Baez                                                                   

–Old age and dying to the person who doesn’t believe in Jesus is winter.  To the believer in Jesus, it is harvest time!

–I am not waiting for the undertaker; I am waiting for the “Upper Taker!”

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real!  Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art; to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.”                     –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

–“Within a split second after I die, I will know exactly how I should have lived this mortal life!”
                                                                                            –adapted from Randy Alcorn

–God, I ask You to please make my death as painless as possible—and peaceful, with the confidence that at long last I will be going Home.  Permit me, please, to joyfully relinquish this life in order to fully embrace the real LIFE of eternity.

–The only way for me to overcome the lifelong fear of death, our last enemy, is to live my life in such a way that its meaning cannot be taken away by death.  It means being ready to “die” again and again—to myself and to every self-seeking opinion or agenda.

–“It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our last day.”                            –Matthew Henry  

–Right now my mortal life is but the root waiting to blossom into the beautiful, lovely flower to come.

–God, help me add life to my years, not necessarily years to my life.

–Statistically, since the dawn of human history the worldwide death rate for humans has remained exactly the same:  one death per person!  And…something everyone who is alive on the planet—no exceptions—is experiencing at the same time is growing older.

–All people begin dying at the moment of their conception.  As we grow and mature, most live in denial of death, until late in life and deep in sickness, death comes to their bedside.

–“Death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”             –Rossiter Raymond

–“Everyone knows they are going to die, but relatively few really believe it and prepare for it.”                                                                                             

–“The boundaries which divide life from death are at best shadowy and vague.  Who shall say where one ends and the other begins?”                                                                                                                  –Edgar Allen Poe

–I do not fear death, what the Bible calls our “last enemy.”  It’s not the end.  It is merely a threshold where my true self, my spirit, exits my mortal body and steps into Eternal Realms.

–What’s the first thing one must do in order to enter Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven?         Die!

–Aging is a physical process, but age is a state of mind.  I don’t mind getting older; I just don’t plan to get old.

–I should not expect to have all the blessings of this life and none of its trials.  It would make this world and this life too delightful, and I might not want to leave them behind.  Only by allowing to be removed from me some of those people and things to which my heart so closely clings does God endeavor in his love and grace to draw me inexorably from this world and life to one of greater Joy and Delight.

–“Keep a clear eye toward life’s end.  Do not forget your purpose and destiny as God’s creature.  What you are in his sight is what you are and nothing more.  Remember when you leave this life, you can take with you nothing you have received…but only what you have given!”                      –St Francis of Assisi

–There is in this mortal life much good.  There is also a great deal of that which is bad.  The worst of that which is bad is having to say goodbye to family and friends because of death.  [Note:  As I’m writing these very words, I learned just a few minutes ago that a dear friend of many years died yesterday; I am weeping as I write these words; yes death is such a loss…]

–Our mortality is one of humankind’s most devouring disappointments; having only a brief lifetime to make a difference, one forever feels the pressure of not enough time.

–Human history didn’t begin with my birth and won’t end with my death.  I am only a small part of something infinitely bigger and more vast than myself—yes, only a miniscule part, but an absolutely essential and necessary part.

–The entire universe is creation in all its ravishing beauty, with wonders beyond imagining.  Yet, we tend to cling tenaciously to our existence here, not daring to believe that after this life are even more wonders and beauty beyond imagining, beyond description.

–Most people mistakenly feel we are in the land of the living journeying toward the land of the dying.  Not so!  We are in the land of the dying journeying toward the Land of the Living!

–Suicide is merely when one makes a decision to prematurely give one’s life back to God by one’s own hand.

–We must not resent growing older.  Many are denied the privilege!

–He who dies with the most toys…still dies!  And he cannot take any of his toys with him.

–As I approach nearer and nearer the end of my years, I am not counting my years.  I am making my years count!  When it comes time for me to die, the only thing I want to have left to do is die!

–Birthdays are good for me.  Research has shown the more I have, the longer I will live before I die.

There you have them:  some snippets of thoughts and sayings about aging, dying, and death I have collected throughout the brief years of my mortal pilgrimage here.  Much more could be said.  Some of these thoughts are profound. Some are just plain common sense.  Some are a little humorous.  But they’re all mostly true.  I will die when God decides that I have reached my last numbered day.  You will die on your last numbered day.  A simple question I have for you is:  “Are you ready and prepared to die on your last numbered day?”

These are some words from one of my favorite old Christian songs:

“When my days shall know their number,
And in death I sweetly slumber—
When my King commands my spirit to be free—
Nevermore with burdens laden,
I shall reach that lovely Eden,
When they ring those golden bells for you and me.            –Words to song by Daniel de Marbelle, 1887

For every major subject, topic, concept, or teaching in the Bible, there is always a specific chapter, passage, or reference that encapsulates or summarizes that subject.  For example, the subject of God’s love is summarized in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians in the New Testament; the chapter about how God “speaks” to humans is the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John…and so on.  For this teaching, the chapter that summarizes what the Bible teaches about death is the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians; the following paragraphs are some paraphrased excerpts from that chapter:

“If people who have died aren’t raised from the dead, that means that Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead either.  And if Jesus isn’t alive, we are still lost in our sins and our faith is simply a fantasy.  If the only benefit of our hope in Jesus is limited to this mortal life on earth, we are more pitiable than anyone—we’re just being deceived with smoke and mirrors.  But the truth is, Jesus was raised from death, as the firstfruit of a great resurrection harvest of those who have died. I’m not telling you pious religious teachings; this is God’s truth!

“The final state of that harvest for all humankind will come when Jesus will bring to a final end every other rulership, power, and authority in all creation and on earth, and He will then hand over his Kingdom to God the Father.  The last enemy to be subdued and eliminated will be death itself.  When the Father then places all things in subjection to Jesus, then Jesus Himself will subject Himself to the Father, so that Father God will BE ALL in ALL, Everything to everyone. It will be the grand consummation of all things!

“I can almost hear people asking how can the dead be brought back to life and what kind of body will they have when they are brought back to life?  They ask me to show them what will happen; they ask me to please draw them a clear word-picture…  My answer is a gardening illustration:  If you sow a seed in the ground, it won’t germinate unless it dies. But when it dies and springs forth to new life, God gives it a new form; you can’t tell merely by looking at a seed what the fully grown fruit will be; the fruit doesn’t even resemble the seed in any way:  in the case of humans who have died, their corpse is no beauty and doesn’t look anything like the new body they will receive; they will receive a beautiful new, spiritual body patterned after their old physical, mortal, pre-death body.

“Our human bodies are planted in the earth [or cremated, or mummified, or buried at sea, etc.] and decay, but will be raised to immortality. If we’ve had physical bodies, we are guaranteed to receive new, spiritual bodies.  Physical flesh and blood will not inherit God’s Kingdom.  When the last loud trumpet blast is blown—loud enough to wake the dead!—those who have died will spring up to new life in Jesus’ Great Kingdom.  This will happen in a nano-second, in less than an atomic moment.  We will be indestructible, and transformed from physical to spiritual.  When we die, we simply discard our mortal bodies as we might take off our clothing, and slip into new clothing:    unimaginable new spiritual bodies that will never decay again, that are imperishable, ever new.

“It’s a mystery of sorts.  No dead person will sleep forever.  There will come a time when Jesus returns to establish his Kingdom on earth when what is now mortal will be exchanged for immortality, and what now decays is exchanged for what will never decay:  The Great Change!  Then what the Bible has claimed all along (In Isaiah 25: 8) will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up by a triumphant victory!
So death, tell me, who gets the last word, where is your victory?
Tell me, death, where is your frightening sting that kills all humanity?

“We continually thank God for making us conquering victors over death and the grave because of all that Jesus has magnanimously done for us.  It’s not a maybe; it’s a done deal; it’s a given; it will happen!”     

I realize that some of you who have read or studied this teaching, may have felt it’s a little somber or morbid to write so openly about dying and death.  So…let me conclude this teaching about dying and death on a somewhat humorous note; I read the following words on a T-shirt recently…and ordered one for myself:  “Just before I die I’m going to eat a whole bag of popcorn kernels.  My cremation is going to be epic!”

For some additional teaching about the matter of human death, I invite you to read two companion teachings on this website titled Death Tied Today and Anastasia.

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
Leservices.org
Revised and Updated April 2021

Our Long Journey Home

For eight wonderful, fruitful years, God asked me to write and publish an electronic magazine (e-zine) that ended up being read by about 10,000 people around the world each month before God asked me to cease writing and publishing it a few years ago.  Through the years of its publication, I received many positive and encouraging comments about how helpful the e-zine was to numerous people around the world.

The very first issue of the e-zine, titled The Traveler, featured these two statements: 

Each of us is a traveler through the eons of time and beyond—into our final, eternal state of being. 

As I journey along the King’s High Way, it is the King Himself in Whom, with Whom, and to Whom I travel.  He was the Beginning of my journey, will be the end of my Journey, and is the Journey itself.

Yes, all of us—you, me, everyone, all humanity—are on a lifelong journey back to where we originated in the heart of God Who deeply loves all his vast creation—especially all humanity!  This is a very brief teaching about that amazing journey each of us is on all the way back to where each of our journeys began. 

Believe it or not (some people do believe me, some don’t), a few years ago I was actually invited by God to make a brief visit to our final destination, our heavenly Homeland; I wrote about my observations and experiences during my visit there in a book you can purchase from Amazon in three formats:  as an e-reader, softcover, or hardcover, titled Heaven:  Our Home Sweet Homeland.  (I receive no personal income from my book, so I’m not trying to sell you something for my personal financial gain.)

Yes, we’re all on an amazing lifelong journey, and I’m going to make an attempt in this teaching to describe only a few aspects of that journey.  So…come walk alongside me as we journey together to our True Homeland.

Let’s begin by me inviting you to view and listen to four of my favorite all-time songs on YouTube.com, all four songs are by the contemporary Irish musical group, Celtic Woman, and are about our long journeys Home:  This is My Homeland, Long Journey Home, The Parting Glass, and Going Home.  They’re not all necessarily spiritual or religious songs, but I view and listen to all four songs often…and sometimes weep tears of joy because they cause me to become very homesick for my True Homeland.  It’s strange for me to experience such strong feelings of homesickness for a Home where I’ve never lived, but only visited briefly.

The Bible (God’s written revelation of Himself to all humanity) has much to teach us about us travelers—and our journeys.  From Genesis to Revelation we read about many travelers—people just like you and me who traveled through their own time and space…and God deliberately left us with written accounts of many of their journeys.  Many of those travelers of long ago trod journeys in their lifetimes that relate to our own journeys thousands of years later.  They were people like Noah, Moses, Abraham, King David, the prophet Isaiah, Jesus, his mother Mary, Paul, Peter, and many others.

Some of you reading this have been traveling with me almost from the very beginning of my own journey beginning many years ago.  Some of you joined me half way or three-fourths of the way on my journey.  Some of you have only recently become my fellow travelers.  We’re all at different stages of each of our journeys, but we’re all journeying the same “route” from conception to death…and beyond.

Here’s how it all began—long before humanity was created, and long before you and I were born.  A reference from the Bible states that before there was anything—except God—He chose each person to be his very own special treasure, joining us to Himself even before He created the universe.  (Ephesians 1: 4)  Don’t ask me to explain that; God is God, and He can do that sort of thing.

Think of it, before anything existed except God, before the universe was created, God looked down from Eternal Realms through the long ages of time and deliberately chose all humanity—including you and me—to go on a special journey with Him through this life.  That’s amazing, beyond belief, but that’s what God did.  That tells me that all humanity, including you and me:  we’re all very important to God and greatly loved and highly valued by Him.

So, at the moment of conception our journey began.  We didn’t know it, of course, during our infancy and early childhood, but, nevertheless, we were at the beginning stages of our long journey through this life.  Perhaps later in childhood, or in your early teens, or in young adulthood or later, you were born again (John 3: 5 – 8), and you began to understand more clearly that you are on a lifelong journey to your eternal Home. 

Or, perhaps you still didn’t know until right now that you are on that journey, but you are…you are.  And, it’s a lifelong journey—and beyond—to our True Home in Jesus’ eternal Kingdom.  In fact, for thousands of years millions of people around the world have prayed “Thy Kingdom come…”  That’s where we’re headed on our journeys:  to Jesus’ coming Kingdom.

If we are followers of Jesus, we must always remember that our journeys are taking place in a world in which for the most part, we are aliens, pilgrims, wayfarers, and strangers simply because of our relationship with Him.  This present world is not our True Home!  Our True Home is in a new world, a freshly restored world ruled by King Jesus—a loving and benevolent King—after He returns to earth to usher in his Kingdom.  There’s a stanza in an old Gospel song that states:  “This world is not my home, I’m just a’passing through…”  Always keep that in mind as you travel:  you’re just passing through this very short life on your way to your True Home.

At this point, I want to take a few moments to write about a widely held myth about God.  It’s not only a myth—it’s a lie.  An evil being well-known as a liar and “the father of lies” has spread that lie worldwide for centuries—especially in the western world.  The lie has been around for centuries, but it was sort of “popularized” by the teachings a few centuries ago of a man named John Calvin.  Since then, many thousands of people in the western world have believed the lie.  Here’s the myth, the lie:  Humans start out from conception separated from God and forever remain that way unless at some point they say some magic words to invite Jesus into their lives, thus connecting with God, no longer separated from Him.

If God is really Who He says He is (with all the attributes of God), it is not possible for anything or anyone in God’s entire creation to be separated from God!  If God is allwhere and allwhen, then everything in all creation down to the smallest known particle has never been separated from God.  It is true that we humans can feel we are separated from God, but that’s a myth, an illusion, a lie.  True, there are biblical references such as Isaiah 59: 2 that seem to indicate that our human sin separates us from God, but that reference must be understood in light of many other biblical references that teach otherwise. 

Even if it were possible for our sins to separate us from God, He—the Great Shepherd—will move heaven, earth, and hell to seek out and find his separated, lost sheep!  So…as we journey on, please travel your lifelong journey knowing that from the moment of your conception, you have never been separated from God.  He is with and in each of us before our journeys, is with us during our journeys, and will be with us at the end of our journeys—and beyond!

On what path or road do we begin our journey and continue on to our True Home?  In the Old Testament Book of Isaiah we learn of a Road called the King’s High Way.  It’s a Highway of Holiness (wholeness); it’s a Highway built up from the surrounding morass, the world as a whole. It’s a narrow Highway and uphill most of the way, but it’s not beyond you or me to travel on it.  The “starting point” to get on that Highway is from a Hill called Golgotha, the Hill of Calvary outside old Jerusalem, upon which Jesus bled and died to attain and seal our forever relationship with God.

Let’s say you step on the Highway at that starting point; that Royal Road stretches out before you into the unseen distance.  Fortunately, the Road is bathed in light, the Light of God, Jesus–and that Light illumines every step of our way toward our True Home, the Heavenly City, New Jerusalem.  However, on either side of that Highway, there is darkness, creeping right up to the edge of the Road.  Sometimes we can slip off the Road into the darkness (generally caused by our self-centered sin). 

If and when we slip off the Road, Jesus is always there to pick us up and help us get back on the Highway; He is there to bind up our wounds caused by our slip off the Highway and to slake our thirst with the Water of Life.  He even comes alongside and supports us while we are still weak and recovering from the wounds we have inflicted upon ourselves while stumbling around in the dark trying to find our way back to the Highway. 

You are not the only one who has ever slipped, fallen, and even died alongside the Royal Road.  In the New Testament portion of the Bible, the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews is about some fellow travelers of long ago who died during their journey, never having reached the end, nor having yet received all that had been promised them.  They had journeyed during their mortal lives as ones who belonged to another “world” they had not yet reached.  They died longing for their True Home, a Heavenly City prepared by them for God.  Also, there’s the familiar Psalm 23 in the Old Testament about King David longing to ultimately reach that Heavenly City to dwell in the “house of God” forever.

During our long journey, at various times we will all experience detours, switchbacks, obstacles, and delays.  Mostly, there will be sunny days to travel, but there will also be some dark, gloomy days shrouded in mystery and fog when we might not even be sure we are still on the right Road.

It is important that we surround ourselves with other warm, friendly traveling companions, but there will be times when the journey will seem very lonely when we might feel we are the only ones on the Road.

If you don’t know this already, God doesn’t “…promise you a rose garden,” as a country and western song puts it.  Even if your journey is through a rose garden, keep in mind that roses have thorns!  However, into whatever type of garden you find yourself in, God will be with you in that garden.  A popular religious song of a few generations ago puts it this way:  [In the garden, Jesus]…walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am his own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.” 

Also, right here near the beginning of my thoughts about our journeys, I need to tell you plainly that you will suffer many losses during your journey:  loss of youth and vitality, loss of family and friends by death, loss of income, loss of prestige, loss of hair, loss of success, loss of bodily functions as you age, loss of strength, loss of personal control over your life, loss of home, perhaps, and—finally—loss of your own mortal life.  But that final loss is merely the gateway entrance into your brand-new, immortal, eternal LIFE toward which you have been journeying.

Speaking of the loss of family and friends, for some reason unknown to me, years ago I began keeping a listing of family members and friends whom I’ve lost by death along the way;  I know, I know, that’s kinda morbid, but I’ve been keeping that list for many years now.  As of today that list contains the names of almost 300 (!) family members and friends I have lost along the way during my brief mortal journey.  The two greatest losses on that list are of my firstborn daughter, Heather Lee, who lived only a few moments after her birth, and my best human friend, my sister, Barbara, who was murdered a number of years ago.  Yes, you, too, will experience many losses during your journey!

There will be some pleasant stops along the way too, but also some stops filled with sorrow and pain. At times, each of us might lose our way, wondering if we will ever get back on the right path.  At times, we will encounter robbers and thieves who will try to rob us of God’s provision for our journeys. There will be parts of our journey when we feel strong and well-equipped for the journey, but there will also be seasons of extreme exhaustion and weariness.  We will each experience seasons of extreme heat and extreme cold, but there will also be warm, balmy days of joy and peace as we’ve travel along, singing as we go.

Ah!  For each of us there will be those magic moments during our journeys when God will remind us with startling clarity:  The journey—not the destination—is what it’s all about!  Yes, the destination is important, but since our arrival at our destination has been predetermined by God, let’s joyfully enjoy the journey in getting there! 

Where are we headed?  Where is our journey taking us? What is our destination?  The same place Father Moses and Father Abraham and millions of others—our fellow sojourners and pilgrims—were headed:  our homeland, a heavenly country, a magnificent city, in a freshly restored earth and universe—especially prepared for each of us by the Master Traveler and Builder, Jesus, Who eagerly awaits our arrival in our eternal homeland.  (See Hebrews 11: 14 – 16 and Revelation 21: 1 and 2)

Yes, that’s our destination, but how do we get there?  If we’re all fellow travelers through this life…and beyond, where is that destination located, where are we headed?  To begin to answer such questions, we must start with God.  He is both our beginning and our ending—and the journey itself; God must be our starting point. I’m not going to attempt to prove God’s existence.  According to the Bible, only “foolish” or unwise people believe there is no God. 

Every human ever born starts out with some awareness of the reality of God–that He exists.  Even if at some point in their lives they deny His existence, they’ll believe again at some point in their journey—even if it’s not until after the end of their journey.  I am not writing to the foolish and unwise; I’m writing to those who have chosen to journey along the Way of the Wise. God was at the beginning of each of our journeys.  God will be at the end of each of our journeys.  God is with us each step of our journeys.  Our journeys begin and end with God.

If that’s not true, then the journey is in vain and we are very foolish indeed!  But we are not foolish.  We are wise.  And we are journeying along the King’s High Way.  We walk in the light of God’s eternal day, not in the darkness.  We know the beginning, we see the end, and we understand where the journey is taking us.  We have many “signs” to guide us on our journey and we will look at some of those signs, the foremost being the Bible, God’s written “Traveler’s Guide,” full of detailed travel information.

A man named G. A. Young lived around the turn of the 20th century; in 1903, he wrote a song titled God Leads Us Along.  Mr. Young knew something vital about our journeys, and completed his own journey almost a century ago.  His song is very meaningful to us now, 118 years later; here are the first and last verses and the chorus of Young’s song:

In shady green pastures so rich and so sweet,
God leads his dear children along.
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads his dear children along.

Refrain: Some thro’ the waters,
                Some thro’ the flood,
                Some thro’ the fire,
                But all thro’ the blood,
                Some thro’ great sorrow,
                But God gives a song
                In the night season
                And all the day long.

Away from the mire, and away from the clay,
God leads his dear children along.
Away up in glory, eternity’s day,
God leads his dear children along.

We know He who said “I am the Way” was with us at the beginning of our journey, He is with us and in us throughout the journey, and He will be there to greet us at the end of our journeys.  Yes, we are wise—not foolish; the journey is secure; we are safe; there are unseen Great Ones who guard us and surround us as we journey with joy in our hearts and songs on our lips!  God calls to each of us:  “Come, journey with me; together we are bound for the Promised Land and the Celestial City.  Who will come and go with Me?”

“To the place where I am going, you know the Way:  I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; those who journey to the Father’s House arrive at last only through and with Me.”                                                                                               –Jesus, in John 14: 4 – 6

The Way is the journey itself.  The Truth is Who and what we choose to believe about God and Jesus during our journeys.  The Life is the eternal LIFE of God He implants inside us when we choose to become followers of Jesus during our journeys.

Every human ever born knows instinctively he or she is on a life-journey.  Just as with their knowledge of God, some deny the reality of that journey, but they know…they know.  All who admit their knowledge of the journey hope they are on the “right” journey, but the only right journey is through The Way to the Father’s House.  And therein lies the dilemma for uncounted humans:  there are other ways that seem right to many people, but unfortunately the end of those ways is death.  (Proverbs 12: 15 and 14:  12)

Let’s establish another fact before we proceed any further with this teaching:  God is the only Being Who is not a traveler, sojourner, or pilgrim.  He simply is—the Great I AM.  He doesn’t travel anywhere or go anywhere.  Everything—everywhere and everywhen—is  absolutely simultaneous to God.  He always lives in the eternal present, not restricted in any manner as we are by the limitations of time and space!

Many centuries ago, one of our fellow human sojourners named Hildebert of Lavardin (1055 to 1133 A.D.) wrote these lines about our non-traveling God:

“God, You are within all things,
but not enclosed;
outside all things,
but not excluded.
You are above all things,
sustaining them.
You are wholly outside,
embracing all things;
wholly within,
filling all things.”

For this next portion of this teaching, I want to share with you various “nuggets” of truth about our journey that I’ve either thought of myself or simply picked up along the way during my own journey.

–It’s important to realize we’re on a journey to our New Home in the freshly restored universe and on the freshly renewed earth; we must not stop along the way to “homestead” somewhere before we reach the end of the journey.

–When on my journey, I try to seldom look down before taking my next step.  Instead, I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus’ Kingdom on the far horizon in order to stay headed in the right direction.  It reminds me when as a youth I would walk behind our tractor and plow with a one-bottom plow; the only way to keep the furrows straight was to fix my eyes on a fence post or tree on the horizon and try to plow straight toward that post or tree in order to keep the furrows straight.

–In the Old Testament Book of Daniel, we read about the journeys of three young men; even though they were loyal to God and were serving Him, they still ended up in a fiery furnace of affliction and testing.  Fortunately for them, a fourth Man—Jesus—joined them in the furnace and protected them so that when they emerged alive and unscathed from the fire, there wasn’t even the smell of smoke on them.

–There’s a paradoxical phenomenon that occurs during each of our journeys.  We are already “in Jesus,” but at the end of our mortal journeys Jesus will be fully formed in us!  As we trod our journeys through this mortal life, we are really journeying toward Jesus, our True Destination, yet, in a sense, we are not.  Instead, Jesus is always and ever on the far horizon journeying toward us, and is fully present to meet us at any moment when we need Him.  He meets us for forgiveness, for perpetual cleansing from sin, to fill us with his own joy, to help us carry our burdens—even to support us for a while when we are exhausted.  Yes, He is ever-present during our journeys, yet we are always journeying toward Him! 

–Real belief—real faith—is when we simply make a quality decision to follow Jesus.  Once we make that decision, He then says, “Come walk alongside Me.”  As we journey, He often says “Here’s what I want you to do as we travel.”  Most often what He commands us to do along the way is to serve others in some manner, empowered by Him.  That calls for our obedience.  When we obey (sometimes blindly) what He wants us to do, then understanding what He asks us to do in humble service to Him will follow our obedience.  But first we must obey!

–During my journey, I must have the courage to follow beyond what I can see!

–As I journey, I must not be afraid to “go out on a limb” from time to time:  that’s where the fruit grows!

–During my mortal journey, many voices will call to me, whispering their siren songs;  I must listen to the One whose voice I know rather than to such unknown whisperers.

–Some people seem to spend their entire journeys trying to turn around and run in the opposite direction trying to reach some place they’ve never been.  The fact is they may spend a lifetime trying to flee in the opposite direction—only to find that when they arrive, God has been there all along waiting for their arrival at Home!

–If you’re like me, there are probably times in your life that if you could you would love to return to rest at some treasured place in your past instead of always journeying forward.  The English poet Wordsworth (1770-1850) once felt that way:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The  earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Appareled in celestial light,
The glory and freshness of a dream.
Heaven lies about us in our infancy;
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing child,
But the child beholds the light, and whence it flows,
The child sees it in its joy;
At length the adult perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

–Sometimes I will reach stretches of the Royal Road where the path is extremely narrow, where only one person can walk at a time.  During such times, especially if the day might be dark and overcast, I must understand that the Bible is my GPS locator.

–The Calvary Road upon which I journey—all too often a road of pain, testing, loneliness, sorrow, and lessened hope—doesn’t end, but leads directly to and merges with a beautiful Highway in Eternal Realms:  the King’s Highway leading straight into Jesus’ Kingdom.

–I have a fixed, appointed rendezvous with my loving Heavenly Father at the end of my long journey; I will see Him running towards me to welcome me Home at last!  And what a luscious feast He has prepared for me as I sit down at his eternal dining table!  There has been one vacant chair awaiting me since before my beginning.

–During my journey, when I have those moments of feeling I have no home—as we all do, when I feel homeless, that is exactly what I am not.  Yes, I’m away from my True Home, but I am never homeless.  I am never headed nowhere; I am always headed somewhere—unerringly to my True Home.

–Throughout my mortal life, as I journey along the King’s Highway I will sometimes catch brief glimpses of that City toward which I journey.  It is because God has placed eternity in my heart (Ecclesiastes 3: 11), allowing me to get an occasional glimpse of those Eternal Realms and that Bright City toward which I am bound.

–One thing about the Royal Road upon which I journey:  At the very least, for the time being it’s much less crowded than other roads!

–The New Jerusalem, that capitol City toward which I journey, is the capitol or a Far Country that stretches to the vast boundaries of the universe and beyond—and when at long last I reach that City, God will continue creating a new, unbounded universe that will surpass anything I could ever imagine.

–In addition to being my travel guide for my journey, the Bible is also the mile markers, directional signal, and guard rails to guide and protect me from veering off the Royal Road.

–I have deep joy during my journey, not because I know I won’t die on the Road, but because I know if I do die, the best part of my journey will just be beginning!

–If I don’t know where I’m going on my journey, how will I ever be able to recognize and know when I’ve arrived?

–The King’s Highway isn’t meant to be walked alone.  The Bible says I must stay with a group of other travelers, for us to help and encourage one another, to keep each other headed in the right direction on the King’s Royal Road.  The Bible calls such togetherness “fellowship,” or deep communion with one another spirit to spirit.  Such communion with one another is not optional; it’s necessary and vital to our wellbeing as we journey.  Unless one is alone on a desert isle, there can be no “Lone Ranger” travelers. 

–During my journey, if I want to travel far and unerringly, I must travel light:  get rid of all my envies, jealousies, judgments, unforgiveness, selfishness, doubts, and fears.

–As I journey along the sometimes winding Royal Road, there’s always a way forward if I search for it, but on that Road, there’s never a way back.

–I should never expect too much of swiftly passing time.  When I began my journey I didn’t know how it will end or when.

–Sometimes during my journey I will come to various forks in the Road to test me.  Some of the forks put me just one choice or decision away from turning down a detour that’s very steep and difficult to climb back up from, once I see it’s a dead end.

–I don’t know how it is with you, but sometimes during my journey with Jesus it feels like I’m paddling upstream through thick air in slow motion.  It feels like I’m wading upstream against a strong current or swimming upstream in gelatin.

–My true self must always be journeying, following God:  in motion like music, a flowing river of life, changing, adapting, moving forward, sometimes falling, all too often suffering and wounded, learning, shining from within with God’s inner Light.

–In part V of his poem, “Little Gidding,” the famed poet, T. S. Eliot (1888 to 1965), once addressed the matter of our journeys in these words: 

“We shall not cease from our exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive at where we started and know the place for the first time.”

Eliot wrote another profound thought about our long journey Home:

“I have had a tremor of bliss, a wink of Heaven, a whisper, and I would no longer be denied; all things proceed to a joyful consummation.”

–My mortal journey consists of lifelong daily choices and decisions.  There is one big choice everyone must make; it’s actually a two-part, multiple choice test:

  1.  God is altogether good and is in absolute control of my life.
  2. He is not.          

 I choose “A”

–The Highway of Holiness I journey upon is an infinite figure 8 loop, constantly leading me forward to my ultimate destiny in God, yet also continually leading me back to the cross upon which Jesus died, both the starting and ending point of my journey.  The cross upon which Jesus died stands solidly anchored in eternity, infinitely towering over—and penetrating all time, space, and eternity.

–In some respects, my journey is like a river.  I am born and then begin to move toward a place I cannot see, but know is there.  Along my winding river’s journey, people and events flow into me, and I become a part of everyone and everywhere I pass as the river flows.  Each event, each person changes me in some manner.  Even in times of drought I continue to flow because Living Waters gushes out from within me.  But when the rains come, I grow and expand the most—when water flows from all directions toward me, touching and enriching my river of life.

Now let’s look at just a few poignant biblical references that seem to say something about our journeys; there are numerous similar references throughout the Bible, but I chose these few simply because they seem to encapsulate and summarize what the Bible teaches about our journeys:

“My days [during my journey] are marked by the lengthening shadows of death, but then I remember that you, O Lord, still sit enthroned as King over all.”   (Psalm 102:  11 & 12)

“How fleeting and frail our lives are [during our journeys]!  We’re nothing more than a puff of air.”  (Psalm 39: 12)

The entire first chapter of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament can be summed up in this manner:  There were people that wanted to discourage others during their wilderness journeys.  There were people who wanted to encourage others during their wilderness journeys.  Which are you?

“Yes, this is our God, our great God for all time and eternity.  [During our journeys], He will lead us onward until the end, through all time, beyond death, and into eternity!”     (Psalm 48: 14)

Only a few years after the life and times of Jesus, many of his followers began to write Christian songs and music.  Much of the imagery of those songs came right out of the Old Testament (and later the New Testament, too).  For example, a lot of songs have been written based on the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt 3,500 years ago as a word-picture of our wilderness journeys through life.  When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River to enter the land of Canaan God had promised them, crossing the Jordan River was symbolic of death and dying.  Entering the land of Canaan—the Promised Land—was symbolic of entering Heaven.

With that imagery in mind, I want to share some words from an old Gospel song, the words of which were written in 1787 and the melody in 1895; it’s titled “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks”:

On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wishful eye
to Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.

I am bound for the promised land;
I am bound for the promised land.
O who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.

I invite you to come and go with me on this amazing, joyful journey through this mortal life to our True Home God has promised us in Jesus’ coming kingdom!

To begin to bring to an end this brief introductory teaching about our long journey home, I want to invite you to read another teaching on this website titled City of Mystery; it’s been one of the most widely read, popular teachings on this website.

I will now end this teaching with the words of one of my favorite songs, written by the late Johnny and June Cash; it’s a song sung by someone who is nearing the end of his own mortal journey, is just about to “cross over Jordan,” and is singing to loved ones he is about to leave behind to complete their own journeys; you can view it performed by many musicians on YouTube.com.  It’s titled The Far Side Banks of Jordan:

I feel my steps are growing wearier each day.
Still I’ve got a journey on my mind.
Lures of this old world have ceased to make me wanna stay,
And my one regret is leaving you behind.

Refrain: I’ll be waiting on the far side banks of Jordan.
                I’ll be sitting gazing over that fair land.
                And when I see you coming I will rise up with a shout,
                And come running through the shallow waters reaching for your hand.

If it proves to be his will that I am first to cross,
And somehow I am feeling it may be.
When it comes your time to travel likewise, don’t feel lost,
For I will be the first one that you see.

Refrain

Through this life we’ve labored hard to earn our meager fare;
It’s brought us trembling hands and failing eyes.
I’ll just rest here on this shore awaiting that bright golden day
Until you come; then we’ll see paradise.      (I changed a few words of the song)

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
leservices38@yahoo.com
First posted March 2021