Unseen Things Can Be Dangerous

imagesFor we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

When I glanced down at the water rushing past our fishing trawler in the wrong direction, I knew something was wrong. The net my father and I were towing along the bottom of the seabed was caught on something heavy. We put our winches in gear and slowly pulled the boat back against the tide, toward the object that was stuck in our net. Inch by inch, we heaved the net up, while our two-ton winch strained at the weight. Our fishing boat, the Why Worry, heavily leaned as she creaked and groaned, the derrick and mast taking the strain. When the net had been pulled to the surface, we found in the Cod End, the largest of the Second World War German magnetic mines. A whopping 12-foot-long mine still in pristine condition, with 1,500 pounds of high explosives. Designed to blow ships completely in half, it was now swinging inches above our deck as the waves made us roll. With a heavy clunk, we rested the mine on deck. Made of stainless steel, it looked as though it had just been placed on the bottom of the seabed. It had been buried beneath the mud in a very familiar piece of fishing ground, a place we had fished over and over again. The chains at the front of the net must have just caught it perfectly. Once we cut the mine from our net, we had to get it over the side again without incident. A delicate task, considering that it was still in such good condition, and was possible that it could still explode. Fishermen had heard of such things happening, boats just disappearing and not accounted for. With the whole boat leaning, we gently lowered it back into the sea and carefully cut through the rope strop, releasing it from our boat. Then, to our amazement, the mine stood up in the water, the top part of it still showing! We had not realized how shallow the water was and how little water was under our boat. We called the Coastguard to come and detonate the mine, so that it would not be a danger to any other boats. On the next high tide, they tied it to a long rope, towed it out to deeper water, and blew it up.

Seeing Beyond the Physical Realm

Like trawling a net in waters where two world wars have been fought, there are some things in life that can be unseen, but deadly. Just because you may be unaware of something dangerous, it doesn’t mean it cannot affect you. Electricity in a light plug is unseen, but stick your finger in a live socket, and you will soon realize there are powerful things that are unseen, but dangerous. Natural gas is odorless, but if there is a lot in your house, it can totally destroy your home. So, gas companies added a horrible smell, so that if we have a leak, we’ll smell it. The unexploded mine shed light on the truth: even though we had gone over that familiar fishing ground again and again without problem; there are some things in life that cannot be seen, but still affect our lives in ways we don’t realize.

The Bible is very clear that there is more to this world than can be seen with the naked eye. There is a spiritual realm that is just as real as the world we live in; I believe it to be more real than what is seen. This world is temporary and passing, a shadow of things to come. There are things unseen that are happening around us all the time which are of a spiritual nature, and have eternal value. The majority of Christians have no room for the supernatural; for the most part, they are oblivious to angelic beings and demonic spirits. How many times do we miss seeing God’s power displayed and Satan’s kingdom displaced because we don’t reach out to God in prayer for supernatural resources and His intervention?

If you would like to study the topic of spiritual warfare, demons and angels, scroll down the middle column until you get to the series called, “If God is For Us…” click the first study called The Unseen Realm, the PDF or the doc.

Keith Thomas

Waiting For God

waiting_for_godEverything that Jesus did was one of modeling to us about how to live a Christ-centered life, even His waiting on the Lord’s timing. He lived a life of dependence on the Father. Sometimes it is hard to wait for God to move. We can be so eager to go and do God’s work that we can go without God. Moses, for instance, acted outside of God’s timing to help the Israelites in Egypt before he was ready, and had to spend forty years as a shepherd in the Desert of Midian before the Lord called him to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt (Act 7:23-30). There are things that God wants to do in us before He can use us. A.W. Tozer once said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.” I think that is so for nations too. The Chinese people have had to go through many trials and persecution until the kairos time, the defining moment has arrived for them to now send many missionaries to other nations, such as the Back to Jerusalem vision of going with the gospel to all the nations to the south and west of China bringing the gospel back to Jerusalem. Sometimes, just waiting on God’s timing can be painful. The worst thing that can happen to a man or woman of God is to be sent out in ministry before they are ready and prepared by God. There are many that have shipwrecked their faith because of going before God’s work had been done in them. We are to take the beam out of our own eye, before we can take the sliver out of someone else’s eye (Matthew 7:5). We have a picture of the making of a man or woman of God found in Isaiah 49:

1Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. 2He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. 3He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor” (Isaiah 49:1-3).

Notice the work of God in shaping the man or woman of God. First of all, there is a calling on his life. From the womb God has been at work, calling him [or her] by name. One of the most important things that has to be shaped by God is a man’s word. A man’s tongue is to become a sharp sword that is to be Spirit led and empowered of God. There is no room for coarse language or deceitful lips. Old habits of speech are put behind us now that we walk with the Lord. The picture that is used is that of the making of an arrow. It has to be made pliable in the hands of the arrow maker, and straightened on a rack. The process requires being polished which speaks of being rubbed the wrong way, and heat applied to the character before it can ever be used. Then the hardest part of the transformative work of God is to be placed in the quiver (A quiver is a leather bag used for carrying arrows on the back of the archer). The hardest part of being shaped and made effective is the period of time of waiting for the Master to put you into His bow to be fired at the time of His choosing. God wants to use all of His people, but more fruit comes from a life that is disciplined and brought under the control of the Holy Spirit. We are to walk in step with Him and not do our own thing, going out under our own power. Take the time to wait upon the Lord:

Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see [it] (Psalm 37:34).

Keith Thomas

Does the Bible teach Soul Sleep?

imagesSome believe that when a Christian dies, his soul sleeps and that he is unconscious until Jesus comes for him at the end of this evil age that we are in. The Bible does have a few passages where Jesus talked about death for a Christian as “sleep.” When Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, for instance, He deliberately waited another two days before He even left for the tomb (John 11:6). Have you ever wondered why Jesus waited before starting the journey to Jerusalem to raise Lazarus? The Jews had a tradition that the soul of a person could hang around the body anything up to three days afterward. Jesus deliberately waited so that He could prove to the skeptics that He had authority over death, Lazarus was not sleeping in the tomb, he was dead. John the apostle explained this to us:

11After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep (John 11:11-13).

Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

The Lord also talked about death as sleeping when He brought back Jairus’ daughter from the dead:

49While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher any more.” 50Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” 51When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.” 53They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened (Luke 8:49-56, Emphasis mine).

The believer in Christ is never dead; he is separated from his body, a state that Jesus calls ‘sleep.’ When Jesus took the little girl’s hand and told her to get up, her spirit returned. Where had the little girl been? Her body was dead and laying on the bed, but the real person, her spirit, was somewhere else. Wouldn’t you like to have known what she experienced before Jesus called her back into the earthly home of her body? A person is only dead, according to the scriptures, when he is spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1, 5). In the Old Testament, 1 Kings 17:17, we find another story about a little boy who was also raised from the dead. He was the son of a woman who had helped the prophet Elijah. She was a widow, and this was her only son. Her son had been getting worse and worse, and finally, stopped breathing. (NIV translation). In the Hebrew, it literally says that his soul (Heb “nephesh”) had left. In verse 22 of the same passage we are told that the boy’s life returned to him after Elijah prayed for the boy. The Hebrew word used here is “nephesh,” which literally means that the boy’s soul returned!

We are told that at this moment, in heaven, are the spirits of just men made perfect (Hebrews 12:23), and in another place, that when Christ returns for His church: “God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Their bodies were in the grave but they themselves, the unseen part of our nature, our spirit and soul, were with the Lord. They are very much alive, but in a different realm, a different life. Paul the apostle wrote: “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). He also writes to the church at Philippi about his desire to die and be with Christ:

22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body (Philippians 1:22-24).

Note that Paul is not expecting to be unconscious in sleep when he dies; he fully expects to be very much alive. He calls it better by far! The word, “depart” in verse 23 above is translated from the Greek word that was used for the loosing of an anchor. A.T. Robertson translates it, “To weigh anchor and put out to sea.” What a beautiful picture! It reminds me of the scene in the movie “Lord of The Rings,” when Bilbo Baggins departs the Grey Havens and puts out to sea to start a new adventure! It is a wonderful analogy of what some perceive as an end, is really a new beginning. If Paul was readying himself to go to sleep for two thousand years, I don’t see how that could be called “better by far.” No, Paul was getting ready to go to another place, a place that was “better by far!” A place where; “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him!” (1 Corinthians 2:14.)

Just imagine if a butterfly were to try to explain to a caterpillar what his new life would become! The caterpillar would have no frame of reference to comprehend what it would be like to fly, in a glorious new body, not bound to the earth. If the caterpillar were able to comprehend this, would it choose not to go into its pupa state and be transformed? During our time out of our body, we will have fellowship with the Lord in a spiritual place. The only reason that spiritual things are not as real to us now, is that we are bound to this earth, and only able to function on one level, one realm. But a day is coming when we will experience full life. Jesus calls it abundant, eternal life. Our purpose in this life, is to be prepared for this most excellent adventure into a realm which is described as: BETTER BY FAR!

Taken from the series called Insights into Eternity which you can find in the middle column. Scroll down the middle column and click on the first study called “What Lies Beyond Death’s Door?”

Keith Thomas

Nothing is Hidden from God

1cor3_13-210By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames (1 Corinthians 3:10-14).

In verse 10, Paul says that each one of us is building something with our lives. He reminds each of us to build with care. All labor in the Kingdom of God is built on the foundation of an intimate relationship with Christ. All other good works are just wood, hay and stubble. The quality of the building materials depends on the motives of the deeds done. There are a number of things that are significant about it, the first being that before Christ, every motive and every act will be brought out into the open:

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open (Luke 8:17).
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:13).

John Bevere writes:

“Many have the erroneous idea that all future judgment is eradicated by their salvation. Indeed, Jesus’ blood cleanses us from the sins that would have kept us from the kingdom, however, it does not exempt us from the judgment of how we conducted ourselves as believers, whether good or bad.”[1]

At last all will be made known. All things will be uncovered. We will find out the great mysteries of this life. Nothing will be hidden. We shouldn’t take this just in the negative, for there are acts of kindness that many of us have done in secret before men, but God has seen the desire and motive of our hearts and will reward us openly. There will be others who have had no notoriety, but have been laboring quietly in the backwaters of some jungle someplace where their labor has been sweet to our God. Some of you have given generously and sacrificially to care for the poor and have done it to God alone in that you have kept it a secret from men. “…your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:18).

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42).

The Lord sees everything we have ever done for Him and nothing escapes His attention. The Day will come when we will gain our inheritance, given to us in Christ before time began.

34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’ (Matthew 25:34-40).

I find it interesting that the believers had forgotten the acts of kindness that they had done, but God hadn’t. He recorded every act of kindness and He will reward us openly at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Who was He referring to in calling some the least of His brothers? I think it would be those around us who are little noticed. Perhaps those who cannot help themselves, those sick or in prison. He is ever close to those who are poor in things of this world, those that are strangers to us, those who are in bondage to a religion of works. He wants to use each of us to set them free, to visit, to feed them not only bread and water but the Bread of Life too (John 6:35).

Keith Thomas

[1] John Bevere, Driven by Eternity, Warner Faith Publishers, Page 186.

For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways (Psalm 91:11).

8714Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14).

The writer of the Book of Hebrews in the Bible states that God knows ahead of time just who will take up God’s free offer of the gift of Salvation, and that He assigns an Angel to us, even before we actually commit ourselves to Christ. The creator God, the Lord of all the Earth, lives outside of time and acts inside of time on the basis of what He knows you will do with the gift of God—the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. If you are a believer, or will be in the future, an angel of God has been assigned to you. You might have noticed that the passage above says that the angels are sent to those who will inherit salvation—future tense. This angel sent to you is a ministering (serving) spirit sent to serve you. The Bible has many instances of Angels serving God and His people down through the ages. We don’t talk to the angels or reach out to them—we talk to God about whatever we are going through, and He instructs His angels as to what to do. Of course, there are evil angels as well, Satan is an evil angel that heads up an army of evil angels that are opposing God and seeking to corrupt and destroy God’s greatest creation—Man. Most of the time the angelic beings are not seen, but occasionally God has let men see just how many are on our side

In the Old Testament book of 2 Kings there is a story of a king reigning in Aram who was angry because his actions and intentions were somehow being made known to the armies of Israel. He could not understand how Israel knew everything he was doing, and everything he plotted (2 Kings 6:8-10). He thought that he had a spy among his leaders. His problem was that Israel had a man of God, Elisha, who lived his life in such a way that he was able, by the Spirit of God, to know the very words that the King of Aram spoke in secret to his generals (2 Kings 6:11-12). God was revealing these things to Elisha, who was very aware of the unseen realm, and who had an intimate and powerful prayer life, which gave him this special insight.  When the King of Aram found out about Elisha’s gift, he was so enraged that he sent his army to the town where Elisha lived, hoping to kill or capture him:

14Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. 16“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” 17And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked (2 Kings 6:14-18).

When Elisha’s servant looked at the size of the army of Aram around and about the city, he began to lose heart. Things looked hopeless when seen only from an earthly perspective. But all was not as it seemed. There were spiritual forces around Elisha and Gehazi, his servant, which the young novice to the things of God was unaware of. Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened to the unseen angels in the spiritual realm around them. All of a sudden, at the prayer of Elisha, he saw beyond this physical world to the reality of the spiritual forces of God that were previously hidden from him, angelic beings that were much more powerful than the army of Aram. He saw the armies of heaven protecting and surrounding the prophet of God, available to serve him in whatever way the prophet prayed. The enemies of Israel were defeated with one display of God’s power at the prayer of Elisha. We too, as servants of the Living God, have angelic hosts that protect us. It’s about time you called upon the Lord to help you in what you are going through. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (delivered) (Joel 2:32).

Keith Thomas