God has a destiny and a plan for your life…

God has a destiny and a plan for your life!

And the Lord says, regarding you and your destiny:

Ps 139:16

16 You (God) saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!

So what is the Kingdom of Heaven like?

Matt 22:1-14

1 Jesus also told them other parables. He said:

2 “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. 3 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!

4 “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’

5 But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. 6 Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.

7 “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. 8 And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor.

9 Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding.

12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply.

13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Our part is to trust Him and to obey…

  1. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5)
  2. Thus says the Lord, Your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17)
  3. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way should go; I will guide you with My eye.” (Psalm 32:8)
  4. “For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.” (Psalm 48:14)
  5. The Lord will guide you continually …” (Isaiah 58:11)

It has been said that all of life is but a stage, and I think as we examine the above Bible verses, and other scriptures in the Bible as well, I think that statement has more truth in it than most would recognize.

The truth is, as we understand the Bible, the script of ALL our lives has already been purposed in the mind of our Creator, as God because He is the creator of time and space, and all things in it, He dwells and exists outside of our time and space continuum (which is the dimension that we live in).

God dwells in a place called eternity; and consequently having wound the universe up and set it all in motion, infinitely more precise than any Swiss Watch, and owed to the fact that God, in Yeshua (Jesus) is both the Alpha and Omega (the beginning and end) of His creation, He (God) has started literally at the end of time, and from there He backed up to the beginning, and has predestined and purposed every detail that was to exist in between, from start to finish; and for each of us, who are of the seed of Adam, to us God has given a perfect destiny, that we can either choose to follow or not!

Here is where it all began, when the eternal God and Creator of all things first created and then entered into time and space:

Gen 1:1

1 In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth.

So what exactly was God’s purpose in all of this, that even the Bible says the angels in Heaven bend over in amazement and in awe at what God is doing with the sons and daughters of Adam.

Rom 8:29-30

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Eph 1:3-6

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

Eph 1:9-14

9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both* which are in heaven and which are on earth — in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who* is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

The only caveat, or self imposed limitation, as it were, that God required in His immense and grand plan was to give free will to the crowning jewel of all His creation (Adam), whom again the Bible says was created in the image of God, and after His likeness; and it goes on to say that we even are His “offspring.”

God gave to Adam a free will to choose for himself, whether to follow, to obey, and to cooperate and work with his Creator, in partnership with Him, as his Abba Father and God; or whether to follow His own path, which is what the nature of sin is, as it is defined in the Bible!

In Hebrew the word for sin is:

OT:2403 – ha*F*j^ ‎chatta’ah (khat-taw-aw’); or chatta’th (khat-tawth’); from OT:2398; an offence (sometimes habitual sinfulness), and its penalty, occasion, sacrifice, or expiation; also (concretely) an offender, coming from (OT:2398) af*j* ‎chata’ (khaw-taw’); a primitive root; properly, to miss; hence (figuratively and generally) to sin; by inference, to forfeit, lack, expiate, repent, (causatively) lead astray, condemn.

In Creek the word is:

NT:266 – a(marti/a ‎hamartia (ham-ar-tee’-ah); from NT:264; a sin (properly abstract), which comes from
NT:264) a(marta/nw ‎hamartano (ham-ar-tan’-o); perhaps from NT:1 (as a negative particle) and the base of NT:3313; properly, to miss the mark (and so not share in the prize), i.e. (figuratively) to err, especially (morally) to sin.

In both Hebrew and Greek the word basically means to miss the mark (of God’s requirements).

God the Father did not want tom-a-ton robots as His offspring, who had no choice but to follow and obey Him, so He gave to Adam and to his descendants the ability to choose; but mind you, we also can learn from the Bible that it was always in the purpose of God to ultimately become one with His creation, with these sons and daughters of Adam; and the way He would do this was through the life, earthly ministry, and propitious work and sacrifice (on Calvary’s cross) of His only begotten Son, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (Jesus, the Christ—Anointed One), who is the Jewish Messiah.

It is this same Yeshua (Jesus—Saviour), who was the Seed of Abraham that God promised would be a blessing to all the nations of the world, who is Himself God incarnate (meaning God in the flesh)!

Gen 18:18

18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

Gen 22:15-18

15 Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, 16 and said:”By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son —
17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your Seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

Who is this Seed of Abraham that was promised to be a blessing to ALL the world?

Isa 9:6

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

As it happened, our original parents (Adam and Eve) blew it, when they failed to heed the command of God and disobeyed Him; that happened when they eat of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (a fruit called “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil), after which He promised that they would surely die.

The first death was spiritually, and it happened immediately, in that the moment Adam and Eve choose to go their own way and disobey God, what God promised happened, as they were instantly cut off from the Source of their life, in that the connection between God and man was now broken.

Physical death was also a consequence of this estrangement and separation from God, howbeit the physical death, for Adam and Eve and for their children, did not happen for many years later, and that was because God had barred Adam and Eve from eating from the Tree of Life;” and so eventually the tent of their human (physical) bodies, minus being able to eat from this Tree of Life,” eventually it wore out and died… and went back to the dust of the earth, from whence it came… but their spirits lived on!

This was all a part of God’s plan, for He in His foreknowledge already knew that this would happen, and that Adam and Eve would disobey Him; and so God, in His great love for His offspring (His lost children), He had already ordained and had provided for them a way back home; that they may have their sins forgiven; and that the penalty for their sin of disobedience (which was death) would be paid by the One (the only One) who knew no sin, who is Jesus Christ; in order that Adam and his descendents might be restored back into fellowship and relationship with God, who is now our Abba Father once again, as we who are born-again are now become members of His eternal family.

The way this was to happen was through faith in Jesus Christ, through something called “The Gospel” (Good News) message, which is spelled out in the following verses of scripture:

John 3:16-21

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Here is the story of Yeshua (Jesus), and His propose for coming to earth, as it was explained to us in the Old Testament, by the Prophet Isaiah:

Isa 53:1-6

53 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground.

He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.

3 He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

and by His stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

So the choice is really very simple, simple enough in fact that a child can understand it.

For those who will heed the call of God on their lives, who of their own free will and volition will surrender their own will, who will die to self, and will pick up their cross (which is a symbol of our death to self); who by faith obey and follow the teachings of Jesus, as found in His Word (the Holy Bible); who receive Him (Jesus) not only as Saviour, but also who make Him Lord over their lives; who also by faith surrender and obey the leading of the Holy Spirit; to those chosen few, to them God has ordained that they, those who are called Born-again Christians, that we should live with Him and rein (rule) with Him forever!

However, clearly as the Bible teaches, the only time and the only chance for any of us to get right with God, to be forgiven of our sins, and be restored back into His eternal family, is sometime in the period between when we are first born into this world, at our physical birth, and when we depart it, in our death.

Just know that as per what the Bible says on this subject, there are no exception to this rule; as there are also no opportunities for anyone to get right with God after they die!

So that means that the window of opportunity, for each person that is still alive, grows narrower and narrower with the passing of each day… and since no man or woman knows the day of their own death, it behooves all of us to pay attention to this message that God is trying to communicate with us!

This is what God, through Jesus Christ, requires of ALL men and women; and being that He is both Creator and God, as certainly we did not create ourselves, He certainly has every right to demand and require of us whatever He wants… we just need to pay attention and obey.

Mark 8:34-38

34 Then (Jesus), calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said:

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.

35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.

36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?*

37 Is anything worth more than your soul?

38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Mind you that this of which I am speaking here is without a doubt the most important decision any of us will ever make in our lifetime, in whether we will follow and obey what Jesus says, and be Born-again (as per Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, as we just read in John chapter 3—see above); or whether we will choose to go out into eternity, after we die, without the benefit of a Saviour, having rejected God’s grace; and then each person will be responsible and have to answer to God for their our own sins, after having rejected the only name under heaven, whereby they could be saved… and that is through faith in Jesus Christ!

This is an illustration that God once showed me, in how the stage of this world has been positioned, as though all of mankind were sitting in a room; and someone came into that room and constructed a door, and then they placed over that door a sign stating, In Case of Fire, this is the ONLY EXIT!

There were others that came into that same room later, and they posted other signs, saying This one is the only EXIT,” but unbeknownst to the people, save for the first EXIT that was posted, all the others were only dead ends; and yet since most who were in the room smelled no smoke and saw no fire, the majority of people in the room paid no attention whatsoever to any of the signs that were posted, nor to their message (the warnings) that was given; and truly that is the condition of most people in the world today.

It is God who gave us our life, and with it He also gave to us the right and will to choose how we would spend it.

The Bible tells us that it is God’s desire that we would choose of our own free will and volition to spend our lives on Him, in His service; but He does not force that decision on any man!

Consequently, for those who live their lives only for themselves (to please only themselves), according to what they think is right, by earthly standards; of men and women who have also chosen to go their own path apart from God, just as the Prophet Isaiah said, living their lives their way, without consideration for God, in what He wants and expects of us (as we can read in His Word), these are people who live their lives as Frank Sinatra once sang in a song, as he said I did it my way;” to these people who pursue only mammon (the world system) and what it offers, in the way of fame, glory, earthly riches and power, to these people, this is what the Bible says that their destiny will be:

Luke 12:16-21

16 Then he (Jesus) told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’

18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods.

19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”‘

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

You know these things of which I speak, regarding our eternal destiny and our eternal salvation, they are very serious indeed; and yet so many there are today and also in the past, in fact the majority of the world’s population (past, present, and future—even as it has been predicted in the Bible), having already been deceived by Satan and the lure of earthly riches (including the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life), most of these people who are living today are completely oblivious to God’s warning and they could even care less about His offer for reconciliation.

How sad that is, but it is only for a time; as eventually ALL men and women will one day be faced with this truth, of who Jesus Christ is; having either responded and obeyed the calling of God on their life, or having rejected it.

And this is what Jesus told us about what happens after death, in this account that He gave to His disciples, where He actual described an actual account, that happened prior to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; where there were two compartments in the bowels of the earth; one was called Abraham’s Bosom,” which was a place where the Old Testament saints went to await the coming Messiah and His sacrifice; and the other was called Hades,” which was the place of the dead, also called the Lake of Fire,” and still is until this day.

Luke 16:19-31

19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. 20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores.

21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.

22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham.* The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and his soul went to the place of the dead.* There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.

24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’

25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’

27 Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’

29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’

30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’

31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.'”

These verses of scripture prove that we ALL become Believers in God’s plan for salvation eventually, even those who are in Hades (in flames of torment), at least that was true of this man, as he obviously was still concerned for his five brothers, who were still alive!

The Old Testament saints, after the resurrection, the Bible says that their spirits were taken to Heaven with Jesus, as the Bible says that He led captivity captive.”

Eph 4:8

8 Wherefore he said, When he (Jesus) ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

And the report of the Bible goes on to say, regarding some other things that happened on that day, after the crucifixion of Christ had taken place, just after He died:

Matt 27:50-53

50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Imagine that, I bet you that got people’s attention, not to mention the earthquake, along with the wind, storm, and thunder; and also the solar eclipse that just happened to happen at that very same time, that caused it to become dark in the middle of the day!

Another very important point can be learned from the Bible, and that is God can take an ordinary flesh and blood man, who is totally surrendered to Him, and do some amazing things.

Jesus our older brother, who is called in the Bible “The Last Adam” is our model for all of mankind, as He walked with God as a mere man, in flesh and blood, as Adam did before the fall, with the only difference being He (Jesus) did not have our sin nature; and thus that is why He had to be born of a virgin; or else he would also have the blood of Adam in his veins, and therefore would have had that same nature.

As the Bible says of Jesus, in that though He was tempted in all manners and ways, as any other man, He was nevertheless without sin.

The Bible also says of Jesus that He ONLY did what He sees the Father do; and that He ONLY spoke what He heard the Father speak; and so in other words, Jesus never took any rabbit trails on His own, to do His own thing, but He was in perfect sync and harmony with the will and purposes of God from day one… and to do otherwise (as I have pointed out before) is what sin is all about!

As we study the lives of the characters in the Bible we can also learn some very important things; for instance God took a simple man, a humble man by the name of Saul, and He made him the first king of Israel.

While Saul remained humble in his own eyes, God could use him; but when he became puffed up in pride, as he made the mistake of believing he was somehow more important, becoming cocky in his own thinking, he began to stray away from the commands of God, and he got himself in trouble; and the Bible says that God sent to Saul a tormenting spirit, as a result; and then God removed his kingship and gave it to another… King David!

Again God takes a simple flesh and blood human being, who was the least of his father’s other sons, and the youngest; and when the Prophet was looking for the next King of Israel and asked to see all of Jesse’s sons, David wasn’t even considered, and was left out in the fields.

So God took one little boy, whom the world and even his own family considered of little importance, and David became God’s choice for the next King of Israel.

Now David was also not without his faults, but whereas King Saul would make excuses and would seek to defend his disobedience before God, David on the other hand would pan cake before God, and bowed himself in repentance.

This is what makes the difference, and this is also what God is looking for in each of His born-again children; does doesn’t need our perfection and we don’t have to be perfect, as Jesus was, His propitious sacrifice on the cross took care of that; but what God does expect is sincere and honest heartfelt effort, that is evident in a heart that is all about pleasing and following after God, in love. King David had such a heart after God.

The alternative is to be brushed aside, and considered of no more use to God, as happened with King Saul. There are also other people in secular history, as well as other characters in the Bible, whose lives we can study, where I believe we find this to be true.

All good things comes from God in Heaven above, and regardless of who we are looking at, God can take any person, even those who don’t know Him and have rejected Him, and God can nevertheless use them for His purposes and for His glory; but I would wager to say only those who have never known God, who have never tasted of His goodness, only these sorts of people would ever do such a thing!

For me, to my way of thinking (knowing myself as I do), being the absolute worst person I know (as even the Apostle Paul said of himself, I’m just very thankful and glad that I have the promise of God (given in Philippines 1:6) that God will never give up on me, and that He will complete the work that He has begun in me… and also in you too, if you will surrender and follow Him.

So what are we to do, as we all will inevitably do, sooner or later, when we blow it and we take our little rabbit trails, going contra wise against God’s pattern?

It is important for me to say here that Christians are NOT perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, we are just forgiven, and we are forgiven ONLY because we have a Saviour who took to Himself the punishment that was owed to us; and the truth is, everyone who is on this pilgrimage, called life, will many times make mistakes along the way, from time to time (and I am sure I do more than most); but this is God’s answer to that problem… Jesus Christ.

The difference between Christians and those who are not, Christians know that they are not worthy, and that they are only saved by grace (the unmerited favor of God); whereas there are many in the world, who as yet have yet to meet God, who would argue that there isn’t any such thing as sin; and if they do admit such a thing, then there are many who don’t consider themselves to be one of them.

Consequently there are basically two conditions of man in the world… the Saved and the Unsaved!

Here is what the Bible has to say about that condition, and the provision He has proved for us, who are Saved, to be forgiven and lose our position with Him… not ever!

1 John 1:6-10

6 If we claim that we experience a shared life with him (Jesus) and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth — we’re not living what we claim.

7 But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.

8 If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense.

9 On the other hand, if we admit our sins — make a clean breast of them — he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself.

He’ll forgive us of our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.

10 If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God — make a liar out of him.

A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God. (from THE MESSAGE Bible)

Saint Augustine once put it this way, folks, and I agree with him totally that, It is impossible for any man or woman to truly know God and not love Him; and it is equally impossible for anyone to love Him and not want to serve Him.”

And Jesus Himself said that He came that we may have life, and have it more abundantly!

This abundant life is something for which ALL of mankind is searching for, though most are looking in all the wrong places; and the truth is nothing but Jesus (who made us and is our Creator) will fill the heart of man, and satisfy us… houses won’t satisfy us, relationships with people (even our family) won’t satisfy, money won’t, and power won’t… ONLY Jesus Christ!

Check it out:

John 1:1-5

1 Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God. He has always been alive and is himself God.

3 He (Christ) created everything there is—and nothing exists that he didn’t make.

4 Eternal life is in him, and this life gives light to all mankind. 5 His life is the light that shines through the darkness-and the darkness can never extinguish it.

The fact is, God has seen to it that nothing will ever truly satisfy the heart of man, except for the one who created him; and so if you really and truly want to find the abundant life, and if you want to find out what your destiny and purpose in life is, then you will of necessity have to go to the manufacturer, your Creator, Jesus Christ, because He is the one who made you, and who gave you your life!

No person in their right mind would ever turn away and reject this gift of salvation and reconciliation, that is being offered by God; but the Bible says that the enemy of man’s soul, who is the Devil, has blinded the eyes of many of Adam’s children, who are in the world; and this will remain true until the light is turned on for them to see.

Therein is our mission, as Christians, to reach out and bring as many as we can, along with us, as though snatched from the very fires of hell, and therefore see this message of the Kingdom of Heaven spread throughout the world!

All who would reject that message, the Bible says they will die without the benefit of a Saviour; and so it is my prayer, if you are reading this and you have yet to make that decision to follow Christ, and to accept Him as your personal Lord and Saviour, that you will do so in this moment… for the next moment is promised to no man!!!



Skip Barland

Battle tactics, when life goes sideways, as we are learning to fly by Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)…

Count it all joy when various trials occur, time for us

to get our Instrument Flight Rating as Christians!


James 1:2-8

2 Dear brothers and sisters,
when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

As Christians, who have been set on this course of life, in this pilgrimage (if you will) that is leading us all towards our eternal destiny, it is inevitable that we will from time to time pass through deep valleys, deep waters, and fiery furnaces (through that shadow of the valley of death, that David talked about in Psalms 23).

These are times of testing for us, that may have happened for any number of reasons. It could be due to wrong and/or unwise decisions we have made; sometimes they happen as God’s way of chastening us and correcting us; but often there is no rhyme or reason as to why, sometimes bad things happen to good people (to quote the title of a popular book), and we haven’t a clue why.

James tells us in the above verse of scripture, as he is only speaking to Christians, that whatever the reason we are passing through these rough and deep valleys, and mind you we are told to continue passing through and not to camp out, but nevertheless we are to count it all joy… in the experience of having our faith exercised and tested!

Well how does one do that?

How did Horatio Spafford deal first with the death of his only infant son; then the loss of all his lake front properties (during the Chicago fire), properties that he was building to be used for the Lord, in Dwight L. Moody’s Ministries; and then finally to lose his remaining three daughters to an accident at sea… after which he received a telegram from his beloved wife stating, “All lost save for me.”

It was this last tragedy that caused him to write a poem that later became a popular hymn, a classic even, entitled: It is well with my Soul!”

Is it also well with your soul?

How are you faring in your difficulties, in the trials and tribulations of your life?

Are you counting it ALL joy?

It is obviously that these things are much easier to talk about, than they are to experience and actually do.

If you are a Believer, who loves the Lord and are called according to His purposes for your life (as per Romans 8:28) we are told (both here and also in other scriptures that can be found in other parts of the Bible), that regarding God’s covenant children, when they are being tested, that God is very much involved with every aspect of their life; and in Romans, we are told specifically that God promises to enter into every situation, and every trial of that person’s life, including the good, the bad, and the ugly, and even when we make mistakes and are in the wrong and are at fault, to work these situations and those circumstances out for our good!

For those Christians who have been around the church for a while and have studied their Bibles, most would say, “Yeah, I believe that and I even know that to be true;” but have they actually experienced it in their lives?

Even though we all may readily acknowledge, and even some would fight to the death defending and arguing (if challenged) that these promises of scripture (and others like it) are true, until we have actually been in the fire and put it to the test, how can we know this for sure?

There are any number of promises in the Bible like this; and most everyone, who has been raised in the church, have been taught these truths all their life, since Sunday School, and some have even committed them to memory; but the truth is, it is not until we find ourselves in the fire, threatened and challenged on all sides, facing whatever… bankruptcy; a deadly disease in our body or a family member’s body; the loss of a child or loved one, or maybe even the loss of a mate… or you name it, as the list goes on and on of bad things that often happen to God’s children!

The truth is, even through many Christians will fight and argue for things that they believe are true, the reality is (in so many cases) that there are many who have not personally experienced these truths in their lives; and Christianity should not be about memorizing a bunch of doctrinal principals and theories, in scriptures verses, so that we can impress people with how much we know; but rather it is should be about our learning the practicality of our faith, by having to apply real promises, that are given by God in His Word, to real life situations; and thereby learning to stand on those promises, come rain, shine, or even death, and remain there in faith until the answer come, and is manifested… casting the whole of all that we are and all that we have on the trustworthiness of God and His Word!

As an example, some Christians may say, I believe that God can heal,” howbeit when faced with sickness they often may preface their prayers with, “Lord, if it be your will, please heal?”

Well it seems clear to me that the way they phrased that prayer they actually are showing that they don’t really expect that He will heal… and faith without HOPE or confidence is dead.

The point is, God never tells us, in the Bible, to ask Him for things that He doesn’t want us to have; and the truth is our HEALING (whether it be physical, psychological, or emotional) was ALL paid for IN FULL at Calvary’s cross, just as our salvation was paid for in full; and no Christian would ever pray, “Lord, if it be your will save this person.”

Isa 53:4-6

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

And lest you think verse 5 is talking about something other than physical healing, let’s read the fulfillment of this scripture in the New Testament:

Matt 8:16-17

When evening had come, they brought to Him (Jesus) many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed ALL who were sick, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

He Himself took our infirmities

And bore our sicknesses.”

Hebrews chapter 11 tells us that, FAITH is the substance of things that we are HOPING for; things which have not yet manifested in the natural, and which cannot yet be seen nor felt through our natural senses.

From these verses of scripture we know that faith is based on HOPE, and also that it is sustained by our confidence in the trustworthiness of God and His Word, that truly what God has promised in His Word, He is well able to perform… and further He will perform it if we remain in faith!

I like this scripture, because I believe it reveals God’s heart on this subject:

2 Chron 16:9

9 For the eyes of the Lord search back and forth across the whole earth, looking for people whose hearts are perfect toward him, so that he can show his great power in helping them.

There is also another scripture that I would like to reference here, that was given by Jesus, that I believe should be read and memorized, but also it should be applied by every Believer when we are in troubled waters.

This is where I believe faith begins for all of us, in the attitude of our heart:

Matt 18:2-4

2 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. 3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

For God it’s all about the attitude of our heart, and a child when raised in a loving and nurturing environment (home), never questions where his or her next meal is coming from or whether mommy and daddy have enough money to provide for their needs; or if dad promises to take his son fishing the next weekend, the son isn’t doing anything put anxiously waiting for Saturday to come, and when it does, he’s already packed and ready to go!

Well, I guess most all of us where that way once, that is until life happened, and we became hardened in our hearts.

Well, if we are going to experience the Kingdom of God in this lifetime, then we are going to have to change that attitude, and go back to the trust and reliance of a child, sitting upon the lap of his or her loving heavenly Father.

Now this is true, whatever our situation was as children, and whether we had a loving earthly father or not; and whatever our earthly fathers were like, just know this, God is always loving and nurturing towards His children; and He can always be relied upon and trusted to have our best interest at heart, in whatever happens.

In fact, not only does God want to perform for us, as we are told in 2nd Chronicles (above), but He most definitely will perform, if we are willing to hang the total of our circumstances, and yes even our very lives on the reliability and trustworthiness of His Word.

Again, this is something, I might add, that is much easier for us to confess and talk about, as Christians do as I have acknowledged, than it is for them to actually do and perform, when they are facing a crisis, and are passing through the fire… in those circumstances, when you are feeling the flames and feeling the pressure, subjective theories become very real!

So what is the reason for our HOPE, and why can we be confident and know ALWAYS that if we can find a promise in God’s Word telling us what His will is on a certain matter, then we can be confident, as Abraham and Sarah were confident, that even though Sarah was well past child bearing age, that God was well able do a miracle and fulfill the promise He had made to them, that Sarah, that same time in the following year, would bear a son in her old age.

What follows is the reason for our confidence:

1 John 5:14-15

14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him (Jesus), that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

If we will number the times given in scripture, in the New Testament, where Jesus healed the sick, we will find that in most of those instances the people that were healed went through great effort and personal inconvenience in order to get their healing; and each time Jesus said words to the effect that, “Their faith has made them whole!”

The evidence of that said faith can be found in the great effort that was put forth, on their part of these people, in order to reach Jesus and receive their miracle.

It didn’t just happen, and many there were in those days, as it is even today, who were dying and were sick who were not healed.

Could it be that some of these people, who are not being healed today, are the sort who would say, in the face of God’s promise to do something, “If it be your will Lord?”

That actually is a cop out to say that, because if it doesn’t happen, all we have to say is,It wasn’t God’s will!”

I believe, as per God’s Word on the subject, that it is ALWAYS His will to heal; though sometimes there may be intervening factors that may hinder or prevent such a healing; and in those cases I believe a Word of Knowledge or Wisdom would be useful to show what is lacking or needed, in order to receive that needed healing.

Sometimes it could be that a person needs to repent of a certain attitude they are holding on to, such as possibly harboring bitterness and unforgiveness against another is always a big hindrance when it comes to these matters; or if a person is being disobedient to something God has told them to do in the past; or if they are battling lung cancer and are still smoking… all of these are things that may interfere with one receiving their healing.

By the way, smoking won’t keep a person out of heaven, as some denominations teach… but it may mean that they go there faster; and when you think about it, why should God heal you if you are just going to go right back to the same behavior and/or habit that caused your illness to begin with?

On issues such as these, and others, that’s where we need additional information; and that’s where we need to rely on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as the Word of Knowledge and/or of Wisdom.

Now I also have to say this, because we all have experienced this (myself included), where we have had friends and/or family members who we were desperately praying and believing for a healing for, who died in spite of everyone’s prayer? Why is that?

Yes, it could very well be that there were unknown intervening factors present that hindered their healing, and just maybe a Word of Knowledge or of Wisdom would have pointed out what that hindrance was, and what to do about it; but I have to say also that sometimes things happen and we don’t know the answer as to why? In such cases we just have to trust God!

The fact that healing didn’t happen, and a person dies, doesn’t at all mean that God’s promises are not true, and that they shouldn’t be counted on!

Sometimes the answer for why people die, in spite of our prayers, is because they wanted to; they had possibly had enough with their sickness and they wanted to go home (to Heaven), and God answered their prayer.

Other times, as I just mentioned, there may be any number of other extenuating circumstances or reasons why?

My point is, we shouldn’t be bent out of shape, that this happened; but rather we should view it as an object lesson to learn from, so that maybe next time we will be better equipped and prepared… and as I’ve already said, really when it comes down to it, some things we just won’t ever know this side of heaven.

As Christians there is never any excuse for us to give up, or for us not to have hope; and this is true in any and every situation/problem we may face.

After having done ALL we know to do in the natural, and after having been obedient to God’s Word, in order to deal with the situation at hand (whatever it is), regardless of what happens, if we need to tie a knot and hang on, then that is what we should do; and we should always be willing to place 100% of our confidence in the promises of God’s Word, and willingly hang our bodies and our circumstances on that Word, standing there with our feet shod in God’s shalom (peace), until the answer comes, and remain there whether the answer comes in this life, on this side of heaven, or in the next… in eternity!

Again, if a person happens to be one of those who are of a mind that says, God knows where I am, and if He wants to heal me He can.”

Folks, there is no faith in those words; there’s also no hope and there’s no expectation either!

Think about the examples of scripture, and how in most every one of the examples that are listed in the Gospels (New Testament), where Jesus healed the sick, in most every example given the healing was the result of that person going through great effort and inconvenience in order to get to Jesus!

Sure we have examples, even today, where people in large meetings are healed, but these occurrences are a sign to unbelievers; and whatever we may think… God can NEVER be put in a box!

I’m also sure that there were plenty of others around, in Jesus’ time (during His ministry on earth) who were also of a similar blaze’ mindset, and they weren’t healed either.

God is sovereign and in his mercy and grace, as I have already mentioned (above), He often reaches out in meetings and heals even unbelievers; and again, as I said… this is a sign of His love and care for them… to draw them to salvation.

But for Christians, often (again, as per the example of scripture and the lessons taught there) we have to contend for our healing, in faith!

Folks, these things (the miraculous) don’t just happen automatically, they still require a measure of faith!

If you don’t believe me, that what I’m saying is true and scriptural, then check it out for yourself:

Matt 9:27-30

27 And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.

28 And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.

29 Then touched he (Jesus) their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.

30 And their eyes were opened;

Mark 2:1-12

2 And again he entered into Capernaum, after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.

2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.

3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.

4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.

5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.

6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,

7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?

8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?

9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?

10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)

11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.

12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

Mark 5:25-34

25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”

29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”

31 But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?'”

32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

Mark 10:46-52

46 Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

48 Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

49 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.

Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.”

50 And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.

51 So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”

52 Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”
And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.

Some people get offended if it is even suggested that their faith may not be where it should be, and yet just count how many times (in the above scriptures) did Jesus reference the person’s FAITH as being the reason why they were healed.

We also need to understand that the Bible says that God has given to every man a measure of faith, for we cannot even come to the Lord and be saved without it (without faith that is); but with that said, it is NOT about how much faith we have, in why our prayers are not answered, it is never a question of the quantity of faith; for we are told in scripture that if our faith is but the size of a Mustard Seed (which is almost microscopic) we can cast mountains into the sea (and really these mountains that are being referenced here are in effect the obstacles which the enemy has placed in our path, that often seem to us as mountains).

No faith is as a muscle, and if it is not exercised it will atrophy, meaning it will decrease in size and become useless.

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about, and please bear with me if you have heard this story before, as there are others who are reading this who haven’t.

My dad was a Tuskegee Airman (a P-51 Fighter Pilot) in WW II, and he saw action over in Italy during the war. Anyway he told me once that the hardest thing he can remember about his flight training was having to learn to fly by instruments (IFR).

He would tell me that when you are unable to determine where the horizon is, which happens if you are flying in inclement weather or in a fog bank, where all visual reference points are blocked, in those conditions he said that your feelings will scream at you, and all the time they are lying to you, telling you that you need to pull up or push down, or turn this way or that.

In that sort of situation, under those conditions, with the amount of Gs that are being brought to bear on your body, and with no visible point of reference to count on, if you want to survive you will have to force yourself to disengage yourself from what your feelings are telling you, and you are forced to put 100% of your confidence in those little dials on the instrument panel in front of you, because if you don’t you will die… and it is as simple as that!

Now for the person who has had some prior flight time, in either an airplane or flight simulator, in order to practice flying by instruments, under actual real time or simulated conditions, for that person their experience will cause them to have gained the necessary confidence to trust in those instruments; but for those who are lacking in any real time flight experience, for those people, most likely, they would be very hesitant to trust in those dials; but if they trust in their feelings and try to fly by the seat of their pants, they won’t make it.

Now mind you that these sort of conditions, and again with all the Gs that are being exerted on your body, a person could actually be flying upside down and not even know it.

Now the same thing applies to us, as Christians too; because if we haven’t learned to deal with the minor (everyday) sort of problems, and trust God’s Word to get us through those minor problems, and do so in spite of what we feel or see in our circumstances, that contradicts God’s Word; then how can we expect to survive the weightier problems that may come our way in the future, where our life, or that of a loved one may hang in the balance; or maybe we are facing some other sort of ruin or loss.

All things are possible, and I’m sure there are exceptions, where there will be some who, when faced with an emergency, they may experience God’s intervention, have a miracle and will survive, but I dare say that those incidents will be the exception and not the rule.

And even fewer there may be who when faced with an emergency, will have super natural guidance and know supernaturally what to do; but again these cases are few and far between.

Having a crash course, in the midst of a serious problem, is not advisable either, that is not the time to break out the instruction manual; and nor is it in our best interest to try and wing it through either, in an emergency, and hope for the best… and yet I dare say this is the way most Christians live.

In such situations, the chances are (as with the untrained and inexperienced pilot) the person won’t make it; because as is the case with all of us, unless we have been trained otherwise to live by faith, most all of us have been conditioned by life, through our education and our culture (here in the West), to trust only in our understanding (our reasoning abilities), and also in our feelings and in what we can see.

Whereas the Bible teaches us that FAITH always looks at the unseen in HOPE and TRUST in God’s Word, and sees what can’t yet be seen or felt in the natural.

How much better is it to already have our IFR rating, and know how to fly by our instruments… which in the analogy that I am giving here, with the lessons my dad taught me.

Obviously the instruments that we are flying by, as Christians, are found in the promises of God’s Word.

For the pilot, his confidence to trust in his instruments, and not his feelings, is gained only through the experience of having gone through a simulator or in an airplane with a flight instructor under real time conditions, so that when he has an actual test, an actual emergency as it were, these things are not new to him.

However try as you may, you cannot ever get this sort of confidence any other way, and most certainly not by reading a book or attending a class! You have to have the experience!

Well this is also how we learn spiritual truths too, and how we grow our faith… it is by our having to exercise it… after having put it to the test!

It is through our trials and tests, where the metal of our faith is tested (in the heat of the fire) that it has the opportunity to grow, as does our confidence and also our hope too; so that next time we have a test facing us, we not only have increased confidence and hope, but we also have perseverance.

It is for this reason that James is telling us to count it ALL joy!!!

What you are experiencing and going through now, in whatever you are facing, the Bible says is common to the experience of all men and women in the Bible (that we can read about) and also in the world today where we live, and all of it is a part of our preparation and training for eternity.

The Bible and the stories we read there are our example… our instruction manual for life!

1 Cor 10:11-13

11 These things (that we read in the Bible) happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.

12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.

13 The temptations (trials and tests) in your life are no different from what others have experienced. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation (you are going through) to be more than you can stand.

When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

We should never allow ourselves to become grieved or upset when our way becomes fraught with difficulties, for God has promised never to leave us, or forsake us.

Nor are we to suppose that we are in anyway lacking in the presence of God; thinking that possibly He has left us; or that He doesn’t love us anymore.

God’s promises can ALWAYS be counted on and He has promised us always to love us and not ever to leave us:

Rom 8:37-39

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Heb 13:5-6

5 Let your vcharacter or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] wHimself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor xgive you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor zlet [you] down (arelax My hold on you)! [bAssuredly not!] [Josh 1:5.]

6 So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? [Ps 27:1; 118:6.]

The best that we can do when we are faced with crushing difficulties, which as I already noted, the Bible says are common to ALL men (and are part of the trip), is to find a promise (or promises) in God’s Word, and meditate on that promise (or promises), supplicate and pray, along with the offering of thanksgiving, until we experience what is promised in Philippines 4; which is that peace that passes ALL understanding, where we know that we know that we know that our prayer request, our petition, has been heard, and we then experience the peace that passes ALL understanding.

And really this is where we should strive to live our lives all the times (24/7), in the shalom (peace) of the Lord!

I pray God’s shalom in your battles,

Skip Barland

God’s intimacy and nearness to each of us, who are the apple of His eye, among those who are the sons and daughters of Adam…

The Good Shepherd watching over His sheep!

The thought occurred to me today, as I was studying my Bible, and as I began to think about the age old debate, regarding the Sovereignty of God, versus the free will of man, that God already knows it all… and that is why He is God and we are not!

As God, He is both the author and creator of time and space (and all that is in it), and because of the fact (as the Bible indicates) that He dwells outside of time and space (in eternity), He already knows what we are going to do and choose, before we choose it.

God always knows and sees all things in advance of their occurrence, regarding every detail of our life, and that includes everything that happens here in our time and space continuum; and even in the Psalms we learn that this is true, and that truly God knows it all:

Ps 139:1-6

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart

and know everything about me.

2 You know when I sit down or stand up.

You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

3 You see me when I travel

and when I rest at home.

You know everything I do.

4 You know what I am going to say

even before I say it, Lord.

5 You go before me and follow me.

You place your hand of blessing on my head.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too great for me to understand!

And as you see it goes on to say in verses 7-18:

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!

I can never get away from your presence!

8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;

if I go down to the grave,* you are there.

9 If I ride the wings of the morning,

if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

and your strength will support me.

11 I could ask the darkness to hide me

and the light around me to become night—

12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.

Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

16 You saw me before I was born.

Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out

before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me,* O God.

They cannot be numbered!

18 I can’t even count them;

they outnumber the grains of sand!

And when I wake up,

you are still with me!

Did you see that, did you notice it?

This verse of scripture actually says that God has a book, written in heaven, with each of our names on it; and we are told here (in verse 16) that he has actually scheduled (recorded) each day of our lives in that book… in other words God has a PLAN, a PURPOSE, and a DESTINIY for each of us, who are a part of Adam’s seed, and as such are His offspring (made in God’s image and after His likeness)… but we have to first choose to forsake our plan and follow God’s plan!

Jer 29:11-13

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord , thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

We are told in the Bible that the path to destruction (meaning eternal separation from God, for all eternity) is wide, and many there be that are following it; but the path to eternal life is narrow, and few there be that are following it… and ALL of this is our individual choice, which path in life we are on.

You see the problem is, something called “sin” has entered into the human race that has separated us from God; and this is true for ALL of us, who have descended from Adam and Eve.

God made our original parents (Adam and Eve) the masters of this world, and gave to them and to us all authority (meaning dominion) to rule in this earth; but as God often does, He also left a test for them, in one command that said they were free to partake of every tree in the garden (Eden) save for one; and they were not to eat from the fruit of that one tree, called the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,” because that tree God said belonged to Him.

This sort of test (or temptation), as it was for them, and it is also true for us, is often set in place, even in our life, to test our resolve and loyalty to always put God first, and see whether we will trust Him and obey Him!

We don’t do this perfectly, for sure, none of us do, as it is not in our nature to do so. We have unavoidably inherited this obstinate nature, that opposes God in every way, a nature that is common to ALL of mankind by the way, from our original parents; but that very fact is why we ALL need a Saviour!

The decisions we make during these tests will determine what sort of people we are, and what sort of character we have.

As it happened, Adam and Eve failed their test, and they and consequently we too, have been doing our own thing ever sense… which is what “sin” is.

Sin happens anytime we do ANYTHING that goes crosswise against God’s original plan and purpose for our lives, which you and I both do everyday… and that’s several times a day for myself, I can tell you!

Sin brings disorder and disharmony to God’s perfect order; and that is why it (sin) cannot be tolerated in God’s presence, no more than a rouge musician, who is playing his own tune apart from the rest of the orchestra, can be tolerated… because it messes up the whole concert!

The one thing that makes Heaven a paradise is that there is no disharmony nor disunity found in it; and sin, this disharmony that we bring to the table by our earthly nature, cannot be tolerated there, in the presences of God.

In God’s system of Justice there is no impartiality, as we find in man’s system of justice; and for God the books always have to balance in the end!

With that said, however, with people being as they are, there are always those who don’t want to be pinned down to the God that Jesus reveals (in the Bible); nor do they want to obey God’s commandment, regarding LOVE, as Jesus exemplified through the example of His life and ministry in the earth. All of these things we can read and study in the Bible.

Jesus, who is Messiah, is the central focus of the entire Bible; and He (Jesus) provides the full and true understanding of God, of who He is and what He requires of us… and again, ALL of this information is readily available for all to read and study in the Bible!

With that said, there are always people who want to make up their own idea of who God is (general made in their image and after their likeness… in the likeness of man); and they also always make up their own rules too, about what God requires of us.

That is especially true when it comes to God’s commandment regarding Agape (Love), in how we are to love God and love one another.

1 Cor 13:1-7

If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy and knew all about what is going to happen in the future, knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would it do? Even if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love. 3 If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever.

4 Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, 5 never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. 6 It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. 7 If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.

Obviously none of us can do this either (love as God loves); and again that is but another reason why we need a Saviour; because as we surrender our will and die to “self,” in favor of what God wants for us; and then as we surrender our bodies (as we are instructed to do in Romans 12), God then causes us to become His conduit in the earth, through which His Spirit flows; and God then enables us to do what we cannot do apart from Him.

The absolute necessity, which is mandated by God (in His Word), is that the ONLY access to the Father is through the Son; and this requirement CANNOT be ignored!

John 3:1-21

There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. 2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”

3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again,* you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.* 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.* 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You* must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

9 “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.

10 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? 11 I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. 12 But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man* has come down from heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.*

16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

Truly there is no other name under heaven whereby man may be saved, as it is explained in the above verses of scripture, except in the Name and through the Person of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ!

Missing the mark of God’s requirements (which is what the word ‘sin’ in the Greek means) is something we ALL do, many times a day even, as it is our nature to do our own thing, and live as we choose; and all of this, this nature that is against God, is what we have inherited from our original parents, that has been passed down to us through the blood of Adam.

God’s requirement is always perfect Justice; and the books ALWAYS have to balance in the end.

So when God said to Adam, “When you sin you die” (see Genesis 2:15), that commandment became the Law, and there are no exceptions to it; and as I have already stated (above), God’s requirement is always “Justice” and the books always have to balance!

So when God says, “You sin you die” there can be no exceptions to that rule; and for God to ignore His requirement (His Law) would mean that the same corruption and biased treatment of the law that we find in man’s system of justice, would be in Heaven… and this cannot be.

Again, the books have to balance!

God’s solution to this problem is found in the verse of scripture I just quoted above (in John chapter 3), and I repeat there can be NO exceptions!

This means that for a Christian (one who has accepted the requirement of God, through faith in Jesus Christ), of those who have made this same Jesus both Lord and Saviour of their lives, when we transgress God’s Law, and miss the mark of what God requires of us all (something for which I can tell you I do every day, even several times a day), our transgressions (as per the Bible) are NOT counted against us, to our record; but rather the Righteousness of Christ (Messiah) is what is imputed to our record instead… and that is how God balances the Books of Heaven.

He (God) paid our penalty in full, Himself, in and through the sacrifice of Jesus (who knew no sin) on Calvary’s cross.

On the other hand, for the person who has failed to come by way of the cross, through Jesus, and have chosen instead to come through the “religion” of man, following the pattern and traditions of man, for them the good things they do CANNOT be credited to their account, as God’s standard of Justice (as I have already said) is always perfection; and since there is ONLY one perfect life, who bore our sin, and that is Jesus Christ, those who reject Him (Jesus), and His offer of salvation through grace (unmerited favor), they have also rejected their only access to the Father (just as Jesus warned Nicodemus, in the above verses of scripture).

Consequently, for everyone who has rejected God’s offer, they will be held accountable for their own sins, without benefit of a Saviour, for they have rejected Him and His offer of grace.

You see God, who has established a perfect order in heaven, cannot tolerate rouge children in heaven, who are living to satisfy only themselves, and therefore are ignoring God and His requirements.

If God were to allow that to happen in heaven, we would have in heaven what we see in the earth today… where each of us, like sheep, have gone astray, each one choosing our own way; but thanks be to God that He has provided us with a way out, as the Bible tells us (see Isaiah 53) that “God has laid on Him (Jesus) the inequity of us ALL!”

This means the penalty for our trespasses (our sins) has already been paid in full, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Messiah) on the cross.

That happened over 2000 years ago, at Calvary; and God has ordained that ONLY those who have accepted, through faith, this forgiveness (which is offered by God) ONLY through faith in Jesus Christ, and what He did on the Calvary’s cross, will be saved and reconciled back into God’s family… and that is what the Gospel message says (that we can read about in the Bible).

This thing called “sin” happened the moment our original parents followed Satan’s lead, when they choose to disobey God and do their own thing, and partook of the forbidden fruit, from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; and being their children, each of us has been doing our own thing ever since! And therefore we are ALL out of sync with God, even diametrically opposed to Him, and are as rouge musicians in God’s orchestra.

God’s mission has always been to set that estrangement right, and to be reunited again with His children.

However, as the Bible says many are called, but few there be that are chosen; meaning most people live their entire lives oblivious to the things of God, and the requirements of God, and so few there be who will choose to put God first place in their life, and will obey Him.

The caveat, as we read above in verse 13 of Jeremiah 29, is that our conforming to God destiny and plan first requires that we put God first place in our life.

This sort of relationship with God can only be had by those who are searching for Him with all their heart, as their one prime necessity in life; and God has required that we do so by faith, meaning that we begin to put our trust daily into the promises of “His Word” (The Holy Bible)!!!

The fact is your life is NOT an accident, and nor does happenstance and “luck” have anything to do with it.

With God there are two things that are ALWAYS important in our relationship with Him… one is COVENANT and the other is FAITH!

Heb 11:6

6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

All the covenants that God has made in the past, starting with the covenant He made with our Father Abraham, and including the covenant He has made with us, through faith in Jesus Christ, can be studied in both the Old and New Testaments… which is the Holy Bible, also known as “The Word of God.”

Again I want to say this, that God in His foreknowledge has ordained that for us to be reconciled back into relationship with Him (something the Bible calls being “Born-again” or being “Saved”), and in order for us to become a part of His heavenly family, He has ordained that we each must come by way of “FAITH,” through our reliance and trust in Messiah Jesus, and His sacrifice on Calvary’s cross, as our Passover Lamb.

When one makes this decision to follow Jesus it truly changes our life forever!

In life we ALL have difficulties (as I am sure we all can attest), and believe me when I say that when you make the decision to follow Jesus, Satan (the Devil) will ramp up his attacks on you because you are now working against him, for the “opposition team,” the winning team!

The Bible tells us that before we enter into covenant relationship with God, and are born-again (saved) through faith in Jesus Christ, that we are all (as members of the human race) being manipulated and controlled (whether we believe it or not, or whether we know it) by Satan’s kingdom.

Consequently the deal is this… either we are in God’s Kingdom by choice, through faith in Jesus Christ, or we are in Satan’s kingdom by default!

We should always seek to do the best that we can, with what we have (problems or no problems); but if we now belong to Christ (Messiah), we now understand that we have a foundation undergirding us, that requires that each day of our life, once we are in convent relationship with God and are born-again, that by faith, we are daily seeking unity and oneness with Him (Jesus), trusting that His hold on us is ALWAYS greater than our hold on Him.

It is because of our faith in God (and in His Word) that we willingly begin to hang both our lives and our circumstances on the promises of His Word, taking life one day at a time… one step at a time.

There is another scripture in the Psalms that I have to read and remind myself of often, and this Psalm is also a prayer of David… and it has also become my prayer too:

Ps 31:14-17

14 But I trust in you, O Lord;

I say, “You are my God.”

15 My times are in your hands;

deliver me from my enemies

and from those who pursue me.

16 Let your face shine on your servant;

save me in your unfailing love.

17 Let me not be put to shame, O Lord,

for I have cried out to you;

My point is this, God started at the end of time and He backed up to the day you and I were born, having preordained a purpose and destiny that has been predetermined for each of our lives; and it is our mission in life to first enter into covenant relationship with Him (through faith in Jesus), and then having been born-again, we then are to find out what that purpose is, and then having done so, we each day begin to plug into God’s plan for us, and mind you this whole process is done by and through faith… one day at a time, one step at a time… with God’s Word being the only “Lamp” unto our feet!

Now none of this that I can see, that I have mentioned here, as it pertains to God’s foreknowledge and sovereignty, in the fact that He knows ahead of time what we are going to choose, and what we are going to do and say (because He sees it all from end to beginning), none of this at all takes anything away from the fact that God has given to each of us each a free will, to choose as we want.

However, that being said, Heaven will only be heaven for those who are in relationship with God in this life on the earth, of those who have been Born-again, who have chosen to serve Jesus, and are being trained by Him, following Him every day, with all their heart, mind and strength. By the way, these are those who have chosen to follow the narrow path

On the other hand, the reason why the path to destruction is so wide, is because most have elected to rejected the forgiveness that is offered by God, through faith in Jesus, and they have chosen this wide path, which the Bible says leads to destruction, and by their own free will they have chosen to live apart from God, which is their choice, and consequently they will be forced to live this way, separated from God, for all eternity!

Listen to this story, that was an actual occurrence that was told to us by Jesus that shows what happens after one dies out of covenant relationship with God:

Luke 16:19-31

19 “There was a certain rich man,” Jesus said, “who was splendidly clothed and lived each day in mirth and luxury.

20 One day Lazarus, a diseased beggar, was laid at his door. 21 As he lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.

22 Finally the beggar died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham in the place of the righteous dead.
The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and his soul went into hell.
There, in torment, he saw Lazarus in the far distance with Abraham.

24 “‘Father Abraham,’ he shouted, ‘have some pity! Send Lazarus over here if only to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in these flames.’

25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us, and anyone wanting to come to you from here is stopped at its edge; and no one over there can cross to us.’

27 “Then the rich man said, ‘O Father Abraham, then please send him to my father’s home- 28 for I have five brothers-to warn them about this place of torment lest they come here when they die.’

29 “But Abraham said, ‘The Scriptures have warned them again and again. Your brothers can read them any time they want to.’

30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham, they won’t bother to read them. But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will turn from their sins.’

31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even though someone rises from the dead.'”

The fact is everyone eventually becomes a believer in God; but it is only those who have accepted God’s gift of grace, which is the Gospel’s message, which is offered only in this lifetime (and is available to each of us only between when we are born into this world and when we die), it is also only available through faith in Jesus Christ; and it is only these people who have accepted this message, the Gospel’s message, and have made Jesus both Lord and Saviour of their lives, only these people will spend eternity with Him.

The rest, again by their own choice, will live for eternity, as they have lived their whole life on earth, separated from God!

The fact is, God knows in advance what all of our choices in life will be, and from His perspective (in eternity), having wound this universe up (including all of time and space), and then having set it all in motion, and having given each of us life, the fact that He knows all of our tomorrows and He knows all of our choices that we will make during our life, none of that takes away from the fact that it is only WE who have exercised our free will to make those choices… God didn’t make us do anything!

Again, none of this that I have mentioned takes away from the fact that we each are given a free will, to choice as we want.

It is for each of us to choose how we will live our lives… either following God’s requirements, as spelled out in the Bible, or following our own.

God gave us each our life, and He also has given us the right to choose how we will spend it.

It is God’s desire that we choose to spend it on Him, and that we live for Him; but for those who have elected to do otherwise, and live for themselves, there eternity (as we just learned in the story of Lazarus and the rich man) has also been predetermined.

So it behooves each of us, if we haven’t already done so, to first find out about the Covenant which God has made available to us, through faith in Jesus Christ, and again we may each learn about this covenant by consulting the Bible.

Then after having done that, having become a Believer and having been Born-again (meaning we have entered into covenant relationship with God), we are each now seeking to follow God, to be married to Him (meaning to become one with Him); and we seek each day, and every day, from now on, to grow in faith, and to grow in the knowledge of Him, who is our Abba Father!


Skip Barland

Do you believe there is a literal hell? Listen to a man’s testimony of his experience of having gone to hell…

The Rich man and Lazarus

Question: Is there really a literal Hell?

Listen to this Bill Wiese interview on It’s Supernatural…

23 Minutes in Hell

Even though there are many people who doubt the existence of a literal hell, nevertheless in the Bible Jesus gives an actual account of what happened to two people after they died. Please note that prior to the resurrection, according to what the Bible says, Old Testament saints went to a place called Abraham’s Bosom.

After the resurrection the Bible says for us to be absent from our physical body is to be present with the Lord in Heaven.

The following Scripture is found in Luke 16:19-31:

Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. 20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.

22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham.[a] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and his soul went to the place of the dead.[b] There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.

24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’

25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’

27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’

29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’

30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’

31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Even though for many people today who when asked this question as to whether they believe in a literal Hell, they quite often will respond in the negative; nevertheless this is a subject that we all will sooner or later have to face, as the Bible most definitely says there is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun.

The question is, how would you answer that question? Do you believe there is life after death?

1 John 5:13

13These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

If you would like to know how to be assured that you have eternal life, right now in this life, based on what the Bible says, then look at this video: