Jeff and Connie have moved in with us for about a month before they leave for Okinawa, Japan Jeff is one of those real American heroes a U.S. Marine. With their luggage, excess food and “stuff” from their home here in Jacksonville they also brought a five month old boxer puppy name Heidi. We (really like her) call her Heidi Ho because she is consistently on the move. Youthfulness is always exciting, full of life and motion, but if you are a seven year Boxer who enjoys his long naps and leisure moments, well life may not be so enjoyable. Often we ask God to reveal the mysteries of life and His ways to us (and complain to Him when He does not), but if we have an open heart for the truth and an eye for understanding we quickly will discover God’s ways and truthfulness are right before us in the clouds (flow with Him in whatsoever He brings into our lives), in a babbling brook (make no resistance to things in our way, become as water and move around them), or in an old dog that puts up with the impetuousness, zealousness, and youthfulness of a young dogs actions and antics. Karen and I too have a boxer, Grimme, the seven year boxer that enjoys his long naps and leisure moments. Grimme will be laying there on the floor enjoying the life of a sleeping dog and Heidi will come and jump on Grimme (without being invited) and start playing with him. I must say Grimme (in Karen’s words) is, “a good ole slob.” He will lay there for awhile on his back and play with Heidi this usually increases Heidi’s zealousness and desire for more action and energy out of Grimme. At times he rewards Heidi’s youthfulness by getting up to his feet and takes her on (the way an old dog teaches a new dog how to behave) by putting her down, but most often he just lays there and engages half-heartedly. You know I can see a parallel to how God deals with His children in all of this. When we first come to the Lord we are like Heidi full of ourselves, sure of our abilities, zealous, quick to run, quick to speak and slow to think and understand what God wants in our relationship and character. God is like Grimme, understanding, longsuffering, patient, does not mind getting batted around and jumped on, able to endure the exuberance of childish children, but now here is my point there is a time when Grimme says enough. There is a point in the tussle between Grimme and Heidi when Grimme has had enough and Grimme lets Heidi know enough is enough, a time when Grimme puts Heidi in her place. The sound of Grimme’s voice is un-mistakable as is the reaction of Heidi’s quick and complete submission. Well, God is the same way with us and expects the same reaction from us. We can play fast and loose with God for only so long then God will say enough and puts us in our place. There is a time when God expects us to grow up and stop being a baby, a time after our schooling and lessons from preachers, teachers, and tutors in life to grow up and come to certain levels of maturity in Him. As Grimme handles Heidi so too God will handle man in all the earth.

Now there is no mistaking God does love man very much and is very longsuffering towards our waywardness, but my friend we often confuse God’s grace with His longsuffering. God’s grace and love will never come to an end, they are new every morning like His faithfulness, but not so with God’s longsuffering. There is a point where God’s longsuffering come to an end. The Bible is full of examples where God lets a man, a nation, even mankind itself continue in their self-indulgence and selfishness up to a certain point then God brings them into judgment. God is a holy and righteousness God and He expects us to be holy and righteous too. In the very end God will not put up with man’s continued evil and perversion as we see today nor will He put up with the continued drifting away of the church from His standards and holiness. For God to be a holy God He had to judge Sodom and Gomorrah and other people and nations for their continued sinfulness waywardness, why do we think God will not judge America and the world? Just six short chapters from the creation of man, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7) In other words God said He was sorry He made man. Yet He made a way through Noah to continue His longsuffering for man’s total redemption. This is another reason God gave man the Bible for us to cheat and read the back of the book to learn those who are dedicated and committed to Him win in the end. Time and time again in the Old Testament God’s children turn their backs on God, God draws them back, they repent for awhile only to turn their backs on God again. This is not the process God has in mind for His children. We are to be learning (in school under a school master) and ever learning, not what we seem to have today in the lives of most Christians and churches; learning, but never learning. Paul told this to Timothy, This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:1-7) This sounds like what was going on in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah and in the church and the world of Paul and Timothy. This is why Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, again context is important. Paul knew his execution was imminent and knew he would never see Timothy again so he wrote letters to Timothy to encourage him to be faithful in the face of hardships, desertions, and error. At the time of the writing of this letter only Luke (2 Timothy 4:11) was left of the disciples (and others) had deserted him for various reason. Yet God’s longsuffering towards man continues even unto today. Still that does not change God’s intention for us to stop all of this foolishness and turn whole-hearted to Him. Even the man Job who God said of him, “was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed (turned or depart from) evil” had to snap him up by the short hairs on his neck after complaining about how God dealt with him and his family. God’s longsuffering with Job came to an end and God had to put Job in his place, “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 2Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? 3Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. 4Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?” (Job 38:1-5) Here God had to only speak to Job to bring correction this reveals Job’s openness to God and Job’s soft heart that is easily turned back in the way God would have for him to walk. But, never the less, even Job had to have a Grimme moment. If God cannot get through to us with words then He will raise the ante. There is a progression in God’s dealing with us and if we do not knuckle under to Him then He will, in His time, move on to the next level. All throughout the Bible we see how God uses conviction in our lives (a most precious Spirit of God) and if this does not work then He moves on into open rebuke, (you can ask King David how Nathan’s words felt) next are chastisement and judgment, and lastly if these do not work in our lives to move us back into the way we are to walk then God moves us into reprobation where our salvation can be lost. What a terrible thought. Many denominations teach once saved always saved, but if we read the Bible with a honest heart and allow the Holy Spirit to minister the word of God to us we will see our salvation can be in jeopardy of being lost if we willfully walk away from God. Please do not believe the “once saved always saved” doctrine that will strand many people before God. Still through all of this, God’s longsuffering is still in place with His love, mercy, and grace to draw us to repentance and to lead us into salvation. With a soft heart God can get through to us with His words (conviction and open rebuke), but after that there is hell to pay.

I am amazed at how the people in the Bible knew the prophets were men of God and spoke for God, but the people did not listen to what the prophets said. So too today, we read the Bible and see what happened to the Children of Israel and the Christians in the New Testament Church, yet we continue to follow after and fall to the same things that got them off track. Paul writes to the church in Corinth,

“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 11Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:5-6 and 11-12) We are to read and understand how the Children of Israel missed it in God so that we do not follow after their example. Yet we (I include myself at times) presume on God’s longsuffering time and time again instead of doing the right thing the first time. Oh Lord helps us! In the 28th Chapter of Deuteronomy we find 14 blessings (verses 1-14) and 28 curses (verses 15-68) all rewards for either their obedience or disobedience. I find it amazing there are twice as many curses as blessing. Maybe God would rather curse us twice as much as bless us because God knows a good cursing will carry us much further along in Him than a good blessing. We can see this same line of thought with regards to blessings and curses in Leviticus 26:1-13 (blessings) and 14-28 (curses) read them (and ones in Deuteronomy) mark them, know them well, because unless the Church in America and in the world returns back to the conservative Godly standards of holiness in the Bible she will be led away into captivity by her enemies as in the past. Yes God is longsuffering, but make no mistake my friend there comes a time in our lives and in the life of a nation when God takes His hand of protection off and we are on our own. This always happens out from disobedience. As I was reading these verses and writing this article the verses from Deuteronomy really stuck in my spirit, “Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity. 42All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume. 43The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. 44He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail. 45Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:” (Deuteronomy 28:41-45) “America take heed less ye fall. My hand is against thee. Repent, turn from your evil ways if not I will come quickly, remove your candle stick from the world forever, and my intentions for you shall be no more, thus saith the Lord.”