Thursday, February 21, 2013


The end of the world will not be today.   Some people who claim to be a Christian will condemn me for making such a statement.  The end of your life may come before this day ends.  But, the end of the world will come when all the prophecies of the Word of God have been fulfilled.  Not all of the prophecies of the Word of God have been fulfilled.  Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”  That has not yet happened.  The gospel of Jesus Christ has not been preached to every nation of people. 

Six years ago, when I was excommunicated from the Lakeland/Knoxville Fellowship, one of their ministers stated to me that if I did not believe that Jesus Christ could come back that very night, then I was a false prophet and a Babylonian preacher.  I replied that I did not believe that all the prophecies of the Bible had been fulfilled; therefore, I could not believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ could be eminent that very night.  His conclusion was, “Jim Storts is a false prophet.”  About two thousand nights have passed since he separated himself from me and rejected my testimony of salvation, but Jesus has not come back yet. 

It is imperative that every person live each day as if it could be the very last day.  The counsel of God is “Be ye ready.”   Jesus said in Matthew 25:13, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”  I do not know when Jesus will return, but we are given certain prophecies in the Holy Scriptures which must come to pass before Jesus returns.  Jesus said in John 7:6, “Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready.”  Our time is always “TODAY”.  Today is the day of salvation.  To postpone your obedience to God because you think Jesus is not coming today, is pure rebellion.

I submit the following reasons for my position that the end of the world is not today:

First reason:  I do not believe that this gospel has been preached to every nation in the whole world.  Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

Second reason:  I do not believe that the church has awakened out of the silence and lukewarmness which came upon the church at the opening of the Seventh Seal.  Revelation 8:1, “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.”

Third:  I do not believe that the glory and power of God has been restored to the church as stated in the prophecies concerning the Third Earthquake.  Revelation 11:14-19, “The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.  And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.  And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God.  Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.  And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.  And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament; and there were lightening, and voices, and thundering, and an earthquake, and great hail.”    And also in Revelation 16:17,18, “And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, it is done.  And there were voices, and thunders, and lightening; and there was a great earthquake such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty and earthquake, and so great.”

Matthew 24:1-14
1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Matthew 9:37-38
37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

2 Chronicles 7:13-14
13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

I do believe that the United States of America will be punished for her great sins.  Our nation has become exceedingly sinful, covetous, haughty, immoral, perverted and violent.  Her leaders have destroyed the integrity of marriage, turning back to the ways of sodomy.  Their religion is vain and full of hypocrisy.  They are governed by the wicked who oppress the people for their own profit. 

Jesus said that this gospel will be preached to all nations and then shall the end come.  Any group of people who have a common Lineage, who speak a distinct Language, who have common Laws (written or oral) and who live in a prescribed area of Land, are a Nation in the sight of God. This definition of a Nation is derived from the biblical account of the nation of Israel. Israel became a Nation after the development of an extensive Lineage (descendants of Abraham), a distinct Language (Hebrew), a set of Laws (Mosaic) and finally entered the Land (Promised to Abraham by God).

How many nations have not heard the gospel of Jesus Christ?  By some learned men’s estimate, there are at least 3000 nations in the world who number over 380 million people who do not have a Bible in their language.  Many more have a small part of the Bible, but most Bibles are poorly translated and contain doctrinal error.

Revelation 7:9-17
9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

In chapter seven, verse one, we have this statement: “...that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.”  During this great period of spiritual darkness in the wilderness of religious oppression, “the wind should not blow”, i.e. the Holy Spirit was not given to perform His divine anointing or provide His divine leadership. 

A symbol may be general in nature and its specific application is determined by the context in which it appears.  A tree may be a good tree or a bad tree.  The sea may be the Sea of Glass or the “troubled sea” of the wicked.  Likewise, the earth may be an earthen vessel which has been consecrated to God or one which is corrupted with wickedness. 

The word “hurt” found in this passage means to be actively unjust or to do wrong morally, socially or physically.  It implies a destructive work contrary to the will of God.  It does not carry the same connotation as the destruction of Babylon.  The angel of God counsels the ministers of God to not hurt the people who have limited light and understanding in the dark and cloudy day which encompassed the days of these four angels. 

There is ample evidence that God works in ways which we may not understand.  God is not required to reveal to us the reason or justification for His actions.  We are not His judge, counselor or the persons to whom He must give account.  God’s mercy endures for ever and throughout all generations.  He will save all who walk in humble obedience to the light which is personally revealed to them.  God’s requirements are always in accordance with His gifts. 

God did not require these four angels who ministered from 270—1880 to publicly pour out all the judgments of God against false prophets and false doctrines.  God called all His people out of Babylon before He forsook it.  Verse three of our present passage lets us know that there will come a time when the earth, sea and trees will be hurt.  But “till we have sealed the servants of God in their foreheads” the wrath of God’s full judgment, against false prophets and false religions, is withheld.  The Three Woes were withheld until the 5th, 6th and 7th Seal times.  The Seven Vials were not poured out upon the earth, sea and trees until the 6th and 7th Seal times.  

I am inclined to believe that the Seventh Vial is yet reserved for our future.  Ministers have believed that the Seventh Vial has been already poured out on Babylon, when in fact it may yet be poured out on a sleepy, lukewarm people who claim to be the church of God and having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.  There are many congregations which know the truth, they know the doctrines, they preach the word of God; but, there is little evidence of the power of God, the love of God, the humility of godly people or the precious fruit of the Holy Spirit. 

Titus 1:15-16
15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

Can we recognize those persons who “profess that they know God; but in works they deny him”?  What do they look like?  How do they act? 

2 Timothy 3:1-5
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

There are people who commit these sins and yet they have a “form of godliness.” 

In what way do they have a form of godliness? 

They read their Bibles, they pray, they go to church.

They call themselves Christians and claim to have salvation.

And yet, they commit the sins which Paul listed for Timothy. 

Each person may not commit all 18 of these sins, but they do these evils:

·        lovers of their own selves…selfish, self centered

·        covetous…they want what belongs to someone else, jealous, envy

·        boasters…braggart, conceited, exaggerating their achievements

·        proud…haughty, thinking themselves to be better than others

·        blasphemers…speaking evil of good

·        disobedient to parents…rebellious, selfwilled

·        unthankful…ungrateful, not thankful for their blessings

·        unholy…sinful, wicked, against God

·        Without natural affection…perverted affections

·        Trucebreakers…liars, intentionally breaking their promises

·        false accusers…intentionally giving a false report and accusation

·        incontinent…without any self-control or self-restraint

·        fierce…violent, hurtful, mean

·        despisers of those that are good…disrespectful, hateful

·        Traitors…betraying friendships, breaking relationships

·        Heady…rash, hasty, without forethought or reason

·        Highminded…self exalted in pride

·        lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…satisfying the flesh

If you are guilty of any of these sins and you claim to be a part of the church of God, then the Seventh Vial needs to be poured out on your attitude and beliefs. 

Here is an example of how I think the ministry has erred in the Silence and Lukewarmness of the Seventh Seal period of time.  

As I consider the methods of discipleship, which I and other ministers have employed in the past, I have come to the place where I believe the Holy Spirit would have me re-examine the difference between: bringing a person to accept and conform to a particular doctrine; and, bringing that person to an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit so that they can bring him into the faith and belief of that doctrine. I believe that many ministers have used inappropriate pressure to cause a person to conform instead of helping the person become more in-tune with the voice of the Holy Spirit. Now, some would say that I am opening the door to compromise and an independent spirit which will bring confusion into the congregation. I say nay! Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit to teach us all things. If we would concentrate more on the spirituality of the person and less on their immediate conformance; I believe we would produce disciples whose faith is made stronger by their personal enlightenment from the Holy Ghost.

When all of the Word of God has been fulfilled, the end will come when the Father tells His Son to go bring the church home to Heaven.  Let us watch and pray.  Let us be ready.  He may come for us, individually, today.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Abortion Testimony, Alveda King

This is the published testimony of the horrors of abortion by Alveda King (niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr).

In the early 1970’s, even though some Black voices were protesting against forced sterilization, artificial chemical birth control methods and abortion, there were many who were fooled and misled by propaganda that promoted such strategies. I was among those who were duped. As a result, I suffered one involuntary and one voluntary “legal” abortion.
My involuntary abortion was performed just prior to the passage of Roe v. Wade by my private pro-abortion physician without my consent. I had gone to the doctor to ask why my cycle had not resumed after the birth of my son. I did not ask for and did not want an abortion. The doctor said, “You don’t need to be pregnant, let’s see.” He proceeded to perform a painful examination which resulted in a gush of blood and tissue emanating from my womb. He explained that he had performed an abortion called a “local D and C.”
Soon after the Roe v. Wade decision, I became pregnant again. There was adverse pressure and threat of violence from the baby’s father. The ease and convenience provided through Roe v. Wade made it too easy for me to make the fateful and fatal decision to abort our child. I went to a Planned Parenthood sanctioned doctor and was advised that the procedure would hurt no more than “having a tooth removed.”
The next day, I was admitted to the hospital, and our baby was aborted. My medical insurance paid for the procedure. As soon as I woke up, I knew that something was very wrong. I felt very ill, and very empty. I tried to talk to the doctor and nurses about it. They assured me that “it will all go away in a few days. You will be fine.” They lied.
Over the next few years, I experienced medical problems. I had trouble bonding with my son, and his five siblings who were born after the abortions. I began to suffer from eating disorders, depression, nightmares, sexual dysfunctions and a host of other issues related to the abortions. I felt angry about both the involuntary and voluntary abortions, and very guilty about the abortion I chose to have. The guilt made me very ill.
I pray often for deliverance from the pain caused by my decision to abort my baby. I suffered the threat of cervical and breast cancer, and experienced the pain of empty arms after the baby was gone. Truly, for me, and countless abortive mothers, nothing on earth can fully restore what has been lost.
My children have all suffered from knowing that they have a brother or sister that their mother chose to abort. Often they ask if I ever thought about aborting them, and they have said, “You killed our baby.”
This is very painful for all of us. My mother and grandparents were very sad to know about the loss of the baby. The aborted child’s father also regrets the abortions. If it had not been for Roe v. Wade, I would never have had that second abortion.
My birthday is January 22, and each year this special day is marred by the fact that it is also the anniversary of Roe v. Wade — and the anniversary of death for millions of babies. I and my deceased children are victims of abortion. The Roe v. Wade decision has adversely affected the lives of my entire family.
My grandfather, Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr., twice said, “No one is going to kill a child of mine.” The first time Daddy King said this was to my mother, who was facing an “inconvenient pregnancy” with me. The next time, I was facing a pregnancy, and told him about it. In both instances, Daddy King said no.
Tragically, two of his grandchildren had already been aborted when he saved the life of his next great-grandson with this statement. His son, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for immediate personal comfort and safety. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
How can the “Dream” survive if we murder our children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. In the hands of the mother is the fate of that child — whether the child lives or dies — a decision given to the mother by Roe v. Wade. That choice, the final choice of whether the child lives or dies, should be left to God, Who ultimately says “choose life!”

Like my Uncle Martin, I too have a dream. I still have a dream that someday the men and women of our nation, the boys and girls of America will come to our senses, humble ourselves before God Almighty and receive His healing grace. I pray that this is the day and the hour of our deliverance. I pray that we will regain a covenant of life and finally obtain the promised liberty, justice and pursuit of happiness for all.
Let us end injustice anywhere by championing justice everywhere, including in the womb.
Alveda King is the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Alveda King is a leading pro-life voice who formerly had two abortions before having a faith conversion.

Monday, February 11, 2013


It is very important that we have our priorities right.

Where is Jesus in your evaluation of the most important things in your life?

Do you seek the Kingdom of God?  How important is it?

What things come first in your life?

·        family, children, grandchildren

·        vocation, education, career

·        entertainment, hobbies, pleasing the flesh

·        physical health

·        security, money in the bank

The problem with our world is that men and women have failed to put God first in their decisions and in their desires.  Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God must hold first priority in your life, if you are to be happy, blessed and have eternal life.

Remember the adage, “All that glitters is not gold.”

Sorrow, sadness, destruction and death are the wages of sin.

Happiness, joy, peace and eternal life are the wages of holiness.

Both the sinner and the saint will suffer some things in this life.  But the right way and the best way is to keep the commandments of God. 

Matthew 6:25-34
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Jesus is not teaching us that it is wrong or sinful to prepare for the future.  There are many scriptures which teach us that God wants us to be good stewards and make provisions for the future.  However, never should our provisions for comfort and safety take priority over doing the will of God. 

Colossians 3:1-4
1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Our affections, our love for the good and right things, must be centered on Jesus Christ and not some other person or thing.

Matthew 19:27-30
27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

Listen to how this same conversation is recorded in the gospel according to Mark.

Mark 10:29-30
29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,
30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

If we put God first, He has promised to take care of us. 

God can take care of you better than you can take care of you.

God can supply you with all that you need better than you can accumulate the means to purchase what you need. 

Job 23:10-12
10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
11 My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.
12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

What would our world be like if everyone would “esteem the words of God’s mouth more than their necessary food.”  How important is the word of God in your life?  Is it more important than your necessary food?  Is it more important than your comfort and security. 

Deuteronomy 26:1-13

1 And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein;
The statements which God made through Moses were intended for the people of God only.  The life and the provisions for life, as it is set forth here, is not for a society of sinners and rebellious people. 
2 That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name there.
3 And thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the Lord thy God, that I am come unto the country which the Lord sware unto our fathers for to give us.
4 And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of the Lord thy God.
5 And thou shalt speak and say before the Lord thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous:
6 And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage:
7 And when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression:
8 And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders:
9 And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey.
10 And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O Lord, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God:
11 And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.
12 When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;
13 Then thou shalt say before the Lord thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them:

God has often instructed us in His Word that we should put Him first in our life.  Giving a tithe of all of our increase is one of the ways which God has instructed us to remember to put Him first. 

Matthew 23:23
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

If everyone would obey God and bring 10% of all their increase into God’s storehouse, then all those who have legitimate needs could be taken care of.  We would not need the federal government or a welfare system because God’s way would work for everyone. 

All of mankind’s problems and sorrows are because of sin.  The only solution and cure is for everyone to put God first in all their decisions.

I challenge you to pray and understand what the will of the Lord is for you and then consecrate yourself to do it with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.  Let Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God be first in all your decisions and desires. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Painful Truth

The preparation of this lesson began with the joy of enlightenment as the Holy Spirit witnessed to me concerning the divine concept of physical suffering for spiritual gain.  However, it became painful as I studied to apply it to my daily life.  As is often the case, truth comes by way of a sacrifice of the flesh.  Spiritual life comes to those who are willing to crucify the flesh.  This spiritual truth is given by our Lord Jesus Christ with these words:

John 12:24-25, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.  He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”

We live in a time when the majority of the people live by the advice, “If it feels good, do it.”  This flesh pleasing advice is contrary to the Holy Scriptures which teach us that the way of truth is the crucifixion of the flesh.  We are exhorted by the Word of God to bring our flesh into sacrificial obedience to the counsel of the Holy Spirit. 

This is the peculiar but precious truth we are taught by the exhortations of King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes. 

Ecclesiastes 7:1-8
1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.

7 Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.

8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

When we speak of “the flesh” we are referring to the natural man with all of his physical senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing and feeling.  God has given to man these natural senses which serve to both our enjoyment and our probation. 

We enjoy natural pleasure when we taste good food, hear harmonious sounds, feel comfortable, etc.  In the absence of sin, all these natural senses could be satisfied by the abundant provisions of God without any experience of guilt or sorrow.  However, sin has entered the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve and all mankind is faced with the knowledge that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

God has designed a plan for life.  He has set in order certain laws which govern every aspect of life.  He has given to each individual person the liberty to choose between good and evil.  It is the perfect will of God that we prove our love and devotion to Him by choosing to obey His good laws and refusing to yield to the temptations of Satan to do evil.  Evil is intentional and willful disobedience to the commandment of God. 

This life is a time of probation wherein we prove whether we love God or rebel against God and please our flesh.  Probation is the subjection of an individual to a period of testing and trial to ascertain fitness for a certain privilege.  God has designed a period of testing and trial to prove the heart of men.  Will they love God and keep His commandments; or, will they refuse and rebel?   

We can recognize the certitude of this lesson by admitting that the flesh recoils from the discipline of fasting and praying.  The flesh does not like fasting and praying.  The Holy Spirit tells us that fasting and praying is the avenue to possessing the power of God.

We like pleasure.  We like pleasant experiences.  God has provided many good things for our pleasure.  We do not need to go outside of His will to find pleasure.  However, our enjoyment of pleasure allows us to be tempted to satisfy our flesh with that which is forbidden.  It is in this experience of testing and trial that we find that God’s pleasure is found in the denial of the flesh and in our choice to say no to certain pleasures of the flesh which have been forbidden by God. 

Here is the divine paradox:  The pleasures of God are found in the suffering of the flesh.  Having said these things, let us read again and comment on the words of King Solomon. 

Ecclesiastes 7:1-8
1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.
A good reputation is more valuable than the price of precious ointment.  Obedience and faithfulness is better than money.
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
Feasting is not conducive to meditation and wise consideration.   But death brings us to the abrupt reality of our mortality.  We are forced to consider the consequences of our decisions.  Knowing that an end is coming should cause us to prepare for that end.  A day of reckoning and judgment is coming. 
3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
Laughter is good but it does not teach us the lesson of discipline.  Laughter is the expression of liberty and pleasure.  Sorrow is the realization that actions and attitudes have serious consequences.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
A wise man will consider the meaning of life and death.  A merry heart full of pleasure and mirth does not think about death.
5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.
A friend will love you enough to reprove you when you are wrong.  A fool will disregard the evil and give praise when a reproof is needed.
6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.
7 Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.
8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Our condition at the time of death is more important than our social position at the time of birth.

So, we see that if we would enjoy the beauty of holiness, we must be willing to suffer the crucifixion of the flesh.  If we would know the valuable counsel of God, we must overcome the selfishness of the flesh.

Daniel 9:3-6
3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplication, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
4 And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

Daniel tells us that he sought after understanding and godly counsel by prayer and fasting.  Daniel knew that God would have mercy and bless those who love Him and keep His commandments.  Daniel knew that the reason Israel was in Babylonian captivity was because of their sins wherein they had rebelled against the precepts and judgments of God. 

People who seek after pleasure, do not like judgment.  When Satan comes to tempt them with those things which please the flesh, they do not want to say “No” to their flesh.  Just like Eve in the Garden of Eden, people yield to Satan’s temptation because just like Eve when she, “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.”

Eve did not need that fruit.  She had access to all the fruit of the other trees in the garden.  There was no good reason for her to eat that fruit which God had forbidden.  She did not need to disobey to help her understand the goodness and mercy of God.  She disobeyed God because she wanted to please the flesh.  She did not want to tell herself “No.”   God gave her the liberty to choose to obey or disobey.  The proof of love and devotion can only be found in the liberty to choose. 

The “painful truth” is that if we will choose to say no to the pleasures of the flesh, we can have joyful and peaceful fellowship with God.  If we choose to please the flesh and disobey the commandments of God, we will experience fleshly pleasure followed by guilt and sadness.    

If you want to have the approval, the blessings and the power of God in your life, you must say no to the sinful pleasures of the flesh.  You must be willing to discipline yourself with prayer and fasting to prove your consecration to God.  Why?  Because God requires you to fast and pray.  You must be willing to meet God’s requirements. 

Matthew 17:18-21
18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Can we disregard the command to pray and fast?  Yes, we have the liberty to disregard the commandment of God.  If we disregard His requirements, then we forfeit our inheritance to His blessings and promises. 

If we give place to the devil to satisfy the senses of our flesh, then we will have also chosen to forfeit the goodness of God.  We can not choose to commit sin and at the same time enjoy the blessings of eternal life.

Salvation with all of its joys and privileges are reserved for those who keep and obey the commandments of God.  You must be willing and able to suffer with the Savior. 

In conclusion, let us hear the succinct words of the apostle Paul:

Romans 8:13, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”