buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

One Day

God’s Word is an amazing mixture of stories. It is fascinating to me. Some of it I don’t understand – why God allowed certain things and in others, He judged harshly. There are reasons that we may never understand why God allows suffering and pain. There are reasons too that God will judge at the appropriate time. Some things have a season that has to be endured so that the time is right for God to intervene.

In the beginning, He formed a perfect place. He set the stars in their places and gave light to the darkness; separated the waters to form the sky. He set earth in a perfect place for life. He created boundaries for the water on the earth and the land to be fruitful. He made earth possibly to be a place for mankind to exist. Then on the last day, God made man. He made man with a free will so that humankind would have the choice to worship and honor God. It was a perfect place. Then sin entered the world. And what was perfect became corrupt.

Throughout the Old Testament, the stories seem dark and desperate. God allowed wickedness for a time then would intervene to stop the atrocities. He did it dramatically in Noah’s time with a flood that cleared the earth of such wickedness that it would not have been sustainable for the future of humankind. However, the flood didn’t kill wickedness.

Humankind was spared by one family unit. The family of Noah still had the seed of wickedness in their hearts. Noah’s son Ham dishonored his father and his father cursed Ham’s family line. The land of Canaan is from Ham’s family line – the land that would eventually be captured by the family line from Noah’s other son Shem.

Noah blessed his son Shem because he honored his father: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem” (Genesis 9:26). And God blessed Shem’s family line through Abraham – separated from the rest to be set aside for greater purpose. Abraham was the father of Isaac who fathered Jacob who was also known as Israel. Israel would become the nation hated throughout history. Why? What did they do wrong?

Well, they did everything wrong from the beginning, but so did everyone else around them. Wickedness still ruled in the hearts of humankind. One of the saddest lines in the Bible is found throughout the Book of Judges – “they did evil in the sight of the Lord.”

God had a plan from the very beginning – yes, sin entered the world – but God would intervene at the right time in history to bring about a way out of the sin problem through the son of Israel. The family line of Israel would one day produce an heir to the throne. Not just any throne, but the throne of God. Israel was set aside for this special purpose. The heir would be the greatest enemy of wickedness and wickedness could not let Israel succeed in bringing this heir to life. So from the day that God set Israel apart, wickedness has been trying to take this family line out of the picture. And many times, it looked like the enemy would win unless God intervened.

The Old Testament sets the stage for the New Testament. When Jesus came on the scene, wickedness was still reigning throughout the earth. However, Jesus changes the outcome of wickedness. Wickedness has a time frame. One day it will be put to death forever because of what Jesus did on the cross. He defeated it forever. Yes, it’s still here reigning strong. But one day, it will end. God will intervene once again and stop wickedness forever. Praise the Lord!

Yet, wickedness still reigns today. We still have to deal with all that is wicked in the world. Shootings will still happen – girls will still be enslaved for sex – young boys will still be radicalized for wickedness’ purpose to destroy God’s perfect plan. But one day, God will intervene.

There is a timetable. God’s still setting the stage for what’s to come. I just trust Him to intervene at the right time. I also trust God’s character. He is good and righteous and loving. What He does is right and good. It may not look to loving to let wickedness reign, suffering is still felt by all – we can’t escape it. God has a plan and it’s still in motion. The Books of the Bible tells us so. We are still living it out. But one day, God’s clock will tick the last second off and things will be different from then on. One day. The darkness will be gone forever and wickedness will be put to death forever. I trust God’s Word. And I love how the story ends. One day.

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.”

“Look, I am coming soon!” Revelation 22:3-7a

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Time is Coming

There have been certain Scriptures that have been on my mind recently. Because of the turmoil in the Middle East these days, these verses are on my mind. The first Scripture that comes to mind is from Isaiah 17:1:

“See, Damascus will no longer be a city
but will become a heap of ruins.”

I don’t want to wish people harm nor do I want to see destruction come; however, God’s Word said it will happen. The city of Damascus has been continuous; never seen destruction – ever. If you watch the news of late, things seem to be coming together where this prophecy could come true at any time. One of the prophecy guys that I listen to fairly frequently said his father said years ago to watch Syria for end time prophecies to begin to unfold. When things start to unravel in Syria, look up for the end is very near. Seems like that time is at hand.

Another Scripture on my mind comes from Psalm 83:

“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

With one mind they plot together;
they form an alliance against you—
the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
of Moab and the Hagrites,
Byblos, Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia, with the people of Tyre. (verses 4-7)

Prophecy experts tell us this war from Psalm 83 has not taken place in history either. This could be a war that is referenced in Ezekiel 38 with Gog and Magog. I don’t know which war – if it’s the same war- when all these things take place; however, again, everything seems to be lining up for these things to happen. From what I understand, meetings are beginning to taking place with several Arab nations coming together to discuss the future of the Middle East.

Since the beginning of Israel’s history – when Abraham bore his first two sons, Ishmael (from Hagar) and Isaac (from Sarah), there has been a war brewing between these people. There has never been a peace between these two sons. God promised to bless both of these men with great numbers. Isaac is the son of promise though. It’s through Isaac that God made the covenant with Abraham. Genesis 17:19 “I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”

However, God blessed Abraham’s son, Ishmael as well. Hagar was told “Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” The blessing this son received was nothing like the covenant that Isaac received. There is one sentence that summarizes the history of Ishmael’s family line found in Genesis 25:18 “And they lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them.” Do you see how history has played out and is still playing out?

There will never be peace between Isaac and Ishmael’s descendants. It just will not happen. After Sarah died, Abraham married Keturah and had six other sons (Genesis 25:1-3). I wonder if these nations that are prophesied in Psalm 83 that come against Israel descendants of Abraham’s other sons? Maybe. It looks like the time is coming when it will happen sooner rather than later.

When Isaac fathered twins, there was another prophecy set in motion. Genesis 25:23
The Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”

Again, these two sons were at odds with each other from the beginning – Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, and Esau. Jacob was given God’s covenant with Abraham. He was the son of the covenant. Israel’s people are still protected under God’s covenant today. They are still God’s people and they still bless all nations – whether the other nations realize it or not. God’s Word does not change. It’s still relevant for this day. It’s still being fulfilled in this day.

I guess what I am trying to point out here is that events are still unfolding in this story. God has a plan and it’s still moving forward toward the end. Peace will not happen no matter if there is a peace treaty signed. The sons of Abraham will never get along. When Jesus Christ returns, then peace will come upon this earth. But not until then. There will be wars and rumor of wars. Keep your eyes on Damascus. When it happens, do not be surprised by it.

There is so much more that I could write about what’s occurring in this day and time. Events are unfolding fast – Scripture says like a woman in labor – the birth pains are frequent and getting closer together and cannot be stopped once the labor has started. Remember who we are in Christ Jesus. We are people of the light and in Him we have nothing to fear. But also in Him we need to pray for others around us who do not know Him so they will not meet the future darkness that will descend. Let Paul’s word encourage you and wake up to what’s happening in this day and time. Times coming fast!

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6, 8-9

Our Lifeline

Faith is the hinge to God’s promises. Without it, we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6).Without faith we will not see the miraculous happen. Without faith, we won’t see God’s hand at work; we won’t experience all God has for us. There will be no hope because faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).

Faith is one of my highest spiritual gifts on the gifts assessments tool. I don’t know if that means I have more faith than most or that I just take God at His word with greater frequency than most. I do believe God is who He says He is. I do believe God will do what He says He will do. At times, I need to be reminded. My faith starts to diminish and it needs a boost. I got that this week. I didn’t see anything happen that I have been praying for, but I read a book on Fresh Faith by Jim Cymbala that put some air under my wings.

In the last chapter of the book, Jim mentioned that the battle of the Christian life is not only to believe but to keep on believing. It’s a struggle in this day and age to keep believing when society tells us otherwise. Society is a fickle thing. It changes constantly. What was fashionable yesterday may not be fashionable today. But God’s Word is a constant thing. You can stand on it with assurance that what God said is the Truth because God does not lie. Lies do not come from God but from the enemy of God – Satan – it’s Satan’s native tongue.

According to Jim, Satan’s target is to break down our faith – we are the righteous who live by faith. If Satan can cut that life line, then he has us right where he wants us. When we believe the Satan’s lies over the promises of God, we have committed the original sin. It’s what drove Adam and Eve out of fellowship with God. They believe Satan’s lie that they would not die when they ate of the forbidden fruit. Satan didn’t know everything, but he knew enough to drive a wedge between God and man. The wedge was doubt.

Faith is about the future. It’s the things we hope for and the things we do not yet see. The future is about God’s promises to us. It’s something we cannot prove, but we know it will come to pass just because God says so. Jim mentioned that the greatest tragedy of our lives is not the things that have happened to us, but “it’s the missed opportunities to see God help them, due to their unbelief.”

Joshua is a powerful example of a man with incredible faith. He was one of twelve who scouted out the Promised Land. He believed the Israelites could take the land because God said it was there’s already. God promised it. However, ten of the spies led the majority to believe the land was too hard to capture because the occupants of the land were too big and too strong. Everything the ten said about the land was true. However, they didn’t take into fact that God said it was a done deal already. They didn’t believe God. These same people went through the Dead Sea on dry land. They witnessed the miracles to get them to the edge of the Promised Land. And yet, they still didn’t believe God.

How many times do we also come to the edge of a promise when Satan whispers in our ears – it can’t be done? How many times do we believe the lies instead of the promise and the Promise Giver? I am reminded of the story of the man with the demon-possessed son who came to Jesus to ask if Jesus could drive this spirit out of his son. Jesus took exception to the phrase “if you can” and said everything is possible for one who believes. Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24)

What seems impossible to us is nothing in comparison to all that God can do. It says in the very first line of the Bible – In the beginning God created… if we do not believe these first five words then we do not believe in a big God. We have brought Him down to our size and He can do nothing for us. It’s impossible for a small god to take care of our big problems. But if you believe those first words, then everything changes. We don’t have to rely upon society to dictate what we believe. We can stand on the promises of God. We can have a greater faith because before time began, God is the Creator God. Everything we see today is because of that first line… In the beginning God created. Then He breathed and the story began.

We are a part of the story. We are God’s workmanship and He completes all that He starts. Count on it. Stop the unbelief and believe God’s Word over Satan’s lies. Have discernment over what you hear – test it against God’s Word, does it hold up or fall apart? Faith is our lifeline especially in these trying times. Keep it fresh… keep it strong. And remember that God’s love is central to His character. Look to the cross for the evidence of that love for you. It’s there that all things come together and promises are fulfilled. Jesus said, “It is finished.” Victory has been won in every regard. Believe it.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36

The Sabbath Rest

According to God’s Word, the Sabbath was to be observed by the Jewish community wherever they lived. No matter the circumstances, there were rules they were commanded to keep on the Sabbath. It was a day of rest. They couldn’t work; they couldn’t walk but a short distance. They were to keep the day holy. God set the time of the Sabbath on the seventh day – evening to evening – not when the sun rises but when it sets to the time of the next setting is a day. God created nothing on the seventh day. He rested and commanded His people to rest as well – to set it aside as a holy day.

God created humanity and everything we would need for food on the sixth day. I think it is quite fitting that Jesus would die on the sixth day; the day humanity was created. It just seems symbolic, doesn’t it? Jesus died for humanity on humanity’s day of creation. It all goes back to the very beginning when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God. They believed the lie from God’s enemy over God’s word. The first sin. And Jesus died for that first sin and every sin thereafter.

But the Sabbath rest came at sundown. They wanted Jesus’ body down from the cross before the Sabbath came. They rushed to put Him in the grave before sundown. Then they rested. I bet it really wasn’t much of a rest. The disciples gathered in an upper room mourning the loss of their leader – the one who was supposed to save them from the Romans, or at least that was their expectation. They were disillusioned, disappointed, and grieving such a devastating loss. Yet, it was the Sabbath, a day set aside for holiness – contemplation and rest. I am sure they discussed what took place. I am sure they wondered what’s next – who’s next? They weren’t just up in a room contemplating; they were in that room hiding from the ones who would come after them.

Their sorrow was great; but Peter’s sorrow was greater. He denied Jesus. He let Jesus down or at least, he let himself down. Jesus knew what was going to happen. Jesus wasn’t disappointed in Peter; he expected Peter to act that way. I would think that Jesus was sad that Peter denied Him, but not disappointed. Jesus also knew who all these things would be resolved. Jesus would return. Jesus would reinstate Peter as the leader of the movement in a few days time. But in the meantime, Peter and the others didn’t know all this would be resolved.

On this Sabbath rest, they saw nothing of the future even though Jesus told them the future. Jesus taught them all that would occur. Jesus said He would rise again. Jesus said that Peter was the rock that would build His church. They had a future, but they couldn’t see it on that Sabbath. They thought it was the end when it was truly the beginning. Something far greater was going to occur in just a few hours time when everything would change again. Victory would rise up. Sin was defeated by the blood of the Lamb.

We look back in ancient times when the Jewish people had to sacrifice a lamb to take away their sins to find that Jesus was that Lamb. God spoke to the prophets to record these things so that we could see the thread throughout history. Passover was an observance of killing the lamb, placing the blood on the doorposts of the house so that the death angel would pass over that house. It was in the land of Egypt before the deliverance of God’s people. The Passover lamb was slaughtered; the blood was shed to cover the people in that house. They didn’t have to fear death, because the blood covered them. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice – the Lamb that was slain to defeat death so that we would no longer fear death. He would save us from our sins through His sacrifice and His blood offering.

The Bible is full of threads that Jesus will one day fulfill completely. He is the Word of God come to life. In Him all things will be complete. God said it. We are to believe it. And Jesus will bring it to completion because He always fulfills what He started. It is done when He says it’s done. Today is the day we contemplate all that Jesus has done and will do.

This is the day set aside for holiness and the anticipation of things to come. Victory has been won. The blood of the Lamb says so. It is finished; rise up in victory and praise the Lord! We might not see everything right now. Like the disciples, we are still wondering what will happen next; but we haven’t seen the end yet. It’s still only the beginning of greater things to come!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-5, 14

Golden Opportunity

Jesus stopped and called them, “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. This question is found in Matthew 20:32 and Mark 10:51. Jesus was walking out of the city of Jericho when he passed by two blind men who were begging by the side of the road. Mark names one of the men as Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46). The blind men called out to Jesus asking for His mercy. Everyone around the two men rebuked them, but they called out even louder. Then Jesus stopped. He wanted to know what these men really wanted from Him. Was it a few coins? Did they have a pressing need greater than the obvious? They had to verbalize their need to Him. They wanted to see.

Matthew tells us that Jesus had compassion on them. He recognized their faith and touched their eyes. Matthew records the healing as immediately they received their sight. Immediately. Isn’t that one of the best words you could read? Wouldn’t it be great to have an immediate answer? I’m sure the blind men had been begging for years. But the minute that Jesus crossed their path, they saw their opportunity to act on His mercy. And they asked Him for their greatest need to be met. They knew what they wanted from Him. Immediately.

They must have heard stories about Jesus before this day because when He was coming their way, they shouted out “Son of David.” They recognized Jesus for who He was. This wasn’t just any one. This was the Promised One. They may have been physically blind, but they were more able to see than the Pharisees who never recognized Jesus for who He was. Immediately, they were healed because of their faith in the Promised One.

Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem when He came upon these blind beggars. It would be the final time He would travel that way. There would be no more opportunities for these men if they hadn’t acted when they did. Jesus was on the way to the cross. By the end of the week, everything would be different. No more opportunities for Jesus to touch these men or any other. This was it. Did the men know this was their golden opportunity? No. None of the people in the crowd that day knew what waited just a few days away. This was the last week in the life of Jesus – in the flesh.

We just never know when we have that last opportunity or our own golden opportunity; when we should have acted but didn’t. Maybe we don’t know what we really want and failed to see the opportunity when it came along. If Jesus asked us the same question, how would we answer? Do we really understand the implications of not knowing our greatest need? Probably not. It could be the greatest need that could have the greatest impact on this generation for the glory of God.

God often does more than we request – greater than we can imagine – when our hearts are aligned with His. Psalm 37:4 says delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Alignment comes first. If God hasn’t answered our prayers yet, maybe it’s a heart problem that is being corrected before the answer comes. Maybe we have the wrong motivation or the wrong request, or maybe things just haven’t lined up on God’s timetable.

The blind men might have been on that roadside for years, but one day they were at the right place at the right time for a Jesus encounter that changed their lives. They were ready when Jesus came to that place. We need to be ready too. We too will have divine encounters. We need to know what we really want. We need to know it within our souls that this is an encounter we cannot afford to miss. Grab it and let God do something amazing in it. Don’t miss the opportunity. It could be a one shot deal. We may never pass this way again.

Have you heard about this Jesus? Do you know Him for who He really is? The blind men knew Him and received their healing. Once healed, they praised Him; but they also joined Him on the journey. Whatever God is leading you to, don’t waste the opportunity – it could have an immediate effect on you and your world. This is our time to meet Jesus on the road to where He is going. Join Him on the journey. Delight in Him and you will be amazed by what you finally see.

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall. 2 Peter 1:8-10a

Rubber Meets the Road

For the last couple of years, I have been contemplating making a move. It’s on my radar once again, but this time I think I’m ready to go. It’s not an easy decision; one that I do not take lightly. I have been in this place for over seventeen years. It’s the longest time I have lived in one place. However, I have always said this was the house God gave me. When it’s time to transfer managers, I would wait on Him for the right time. So the decision is based on His direction.

The offer is on the table through a new start-up company who buys houses at a fair market value. It was so much more than I had anticipated that it has me a little startled. I don’t want to chase the money; but if this is God’s blessing, I don’t want to miss the chance either. This is where faith becomes an action plan. It’s where the rubber meets the road and becomes very real in moving out in faith.

It feels somewhat like an Abraham move. God told Abram (before the name change) to “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). I don’t think God is calling me to the mission field, but I am leaving my home of seventeen years. It’s a separation that is real. At this point, I don’t know if I am leaving my community and my church family too.

My small group is going through the Priscilla Shirer study about hearing God’s voice. So relevant for this time. The point that came across to me is about hearing God’s word through a sense of peace in the decision. I have heard God’s voice a few times in my life, but this one is different – as they all were. It’s a matter of discerning the right thing and the “almost” right thing; the good versus the best. That’s where it gets hard. No one knows the future but God.

A few years back, I knew God was asking me to sell my car. It was an almost “dream” car for me. I loved it, but it was costly to maintain. It was a struggle in my spirit to let go. It took me a month to finally put the car up for sell. Once I released it, I found the next car that was so much more economical and have had no expense except for maintenance. It was a complete blessing, especially in my financial lean time.

At Beth Moore’s conference last weekend, the first thing I wrote down in my notes was the faster we obey the easier it is the next time. Yes, I am struggling with the letting go process. However, the struggle isn’t much about letting go, but discerning if it’s God’s will to let go. Letting go is easier when we know God is on the move. I want to go where He is going. Don’t you?

In Priscilla’s video for the study this week, she talked about knowing what you’re called to do. She mentioned that we need to be on the front lines in God’s plan – we have to know our own “front line.” What is our individual assignment? Jesus had His own front line. He did everything His Father asked of Him and nothing else. We are to be single-minded as well. We are to work on our own “God-thing.” Do you know your God-thing? Is your time divided into things that are not yours to do?

My God-thing is to help people get healthy. I found my passion a few years ago; however, I am still working through what that really looks like when the rubber meets the road. How do I walk it out consistently? Right now, I work for a natural healthcare doctor. When I went to school to get a certification in health coaching, the instructor said to “find your voice” and use it to help others. Finding my voice was the key to writing. At the time, I had no idea that was the next thing God wanted to do through me to help others. Here I am years later, still typing away.

I don’t know what the next thing will be when I finally make the decision to move. I don’t know what’s in store for the next few months or years either. But so far, peace has settled over me. A couple of weeks ago, God whispered “trust me” and I am. God always knows when we have had enough. He will never keep us longer in a place than we need to be. The time is always right when His hand is moving us.

The last thing I wrote down in my notes from Priscilla’s message was obedience brings freedom. The Scripture associated with her last point was directed at Galatians 5 about self-discipline. As I looked that over, I noticed in verse 25 “since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Wherever He leads, I’ll go. Will you?

“I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:9-10

The Word for Today

Have you ever noticed after a major event – whether it’s unprecedented weather, the solar events of late or even the death of Billy Graham – people voice their belief that Jesus is coming very soon? Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter, spoke at her Daddy’s funeral about Jesus returning very soon. She talked about the day of Billy’s death related to the death of Moses. The actual day is significant in Jewish history as the day when Moses was taken to heaven (7th of Adar). Moses was taken to heaven before he was allowed to enter the Promised Land. However, he led God’s people to the very edge. Joshua was chosen to lead Israel into the Promised Land after the people mourned for Moses.

It’s interesting to hear Anne’s take on this. If Billy’s death is significant and reflects Moses’ death, then who would bring God’s people into the Promised Land? Who is the modern-day Joshua? It’s interesting to consider the name of Jesus – it’s the Greek form for Joshua. Well then, maybe we are really close to that time. Great! But if we still have to go through the desert for a few more years, then we need to buckle up and be ready to ride the roller coaster that will happen over the next few years.

I don’t know when the Church will be removed from this earth. I do believe it will happen one day, whether I see it from this side of heaven or not. Jesus said it would happen. He said it. I believe it. However, I have been wavering over the whole “pre-Trib/post-Trib” event. I have concluded it really doesn’t matter when it will be. What does matter is the fact we are to be ready regardless of the time of His appearing. We have to be able to endure the hardships until it’s time to meet Jesus face-to-face, whether in death or in the clouds. Only God knows the timing of events, we’re just told to be ready for them. We are told to endure through them so that we will receive our crown of life (James 1:12).

It’s hard not to know the future, what life will bring over these next few years. We might have a vision of how life is supposed to look. I have found though, it’s not always like the vision. Actually, it never looks the same. It’s a matter of trust in God to sort through our desires and refine them to match His desires for us and for His Kingdom. Unfortunately, our plans may have to burn in the fire of God’s refinement before we see anything come to fruition. Just be prepared for it. Trust Him to refine our vision because His plans are the best for us. It will be greater than we could ever ask or imagine.

Maybe this message is just for me. I have trouble enduring any hardship. I typically just quit when it gets too hard. I balk at the first “no” I hear. I turn into the scared little five-year old girl who runs to Mommy or Daddy to take care of the problem. At this time of my life, there is no Mommy or Daddy to run to. Mom died a few years ago and Daddy isn’t able to comprehend my need anymore much less fight for me. However, I have a heavenly Daddy that can take care of any need, any problem, or any fight that I could ever face. Sometimes I forget this though.

Endurance is the key to a greater faith. It’s the purpose of the trial. No matter what we have to get through, we can trust Jesus to lead us to the other side. It’s what He does. We’re called to trust Him in the process. It will always lead us to a better outcome than whatever we expect. No matter if it doesn’t happen as we expect, we are to be faithful in the process. Just do the next thing that Jesus leads us to. Every step has been ordained by God to strengthen us and to make us into who we need to be – who He has envisioned us to be since the foundation of this world. He saw us then and sees us now as that person – complete and fully formed in His image.

So whether or not Jesus is coming back soon, endurance is the word to bring about a greater victory. What a testimony we will have when we finally make it through those pearly gates. I can’t wait to hear yours. It’s going to be epic! The angels are already rejoicing in heaven over the victory Jesus gave us by His blood and we can believe it on this side of heaven. Victory has already been claimed. Endure, my friend. The end is almost here. Wait for it! Don’t quit when it gets tough, it’s just the beginning of something greater. Okay, I needed that; I hope you did too!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

The Simple Message

After nine days of traveling about, Billy Graham was finally laid to rest yesterday. From his mountain home to Charlotte to Washington, DC and back, Billy was planted in the ground in Charlotte, NC. Like a seed planted in the ground, my prayer is that the message that was heard yesterday will reap lots of fruit. It was a simple message that was spoken by his son Franklin, which I hope and pray was clearly heard around the world.

You see, there is only one problem in this world today. It’s called sin. Everything wrong in our world today comes from this sin problem. We don’t talk much about sin anymore. But Billy’s message throughout his ministry pointed to the need in this world – a way out of our sin problem. Billy told young pastors and evangelists to keep the message simple – just preach Jesus. There is no other name that came move the masses to recognize their need of a Savior. It’s Jesus and Jesus only.

The trouble today is that we don’t recognize the problem. We see ourselves as “good enough.” We are better than the neighbor across the street – we don’t do “x” so we must be good enough to get to heaven. Our standards are wrong. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Our standard is God Himself. And it’s impossible for us to meet this standard. There is no “good enough” scale to match Him. There is a huge gap between us and Him.

We have an upside down view running rampant in this world. We have elevated ourselves and lowered God to our level. I was reminded this week through Pastor James MacDonald that God is holy. Not just holy, but holy, holy, holy. His majesty is so great no one who looks upon Him can live. When earth is replaced at the end of time, there will be no sun – God will be our light. We don’t fear Him like the ancients did in their time. They saw the great works and were terrified to be in His presence.

If we look at the passage in Isaiah 6, Isaiah’s response was “woe to me!” He saw God high and lifted up. He recognized his sinful condition and knew he couldn’t see what he saw and live. Peter had a similar reaction when Jesus talked Peter into fishing at the wrong time of the day. This was in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. No one had caught on to who Jesus was at that point. He seemed to be a brilliant teacher. But on that particular day, everything changed. There was such a large catch that Peter knew Jesus was different. This miracle changed Peter’s perception of Jesus. The response from Peter was found in Luke 5:8 – “Go away from me, Lord: I am a sinful man!”

John had an experience that rivals Isaiah’s. John was on the island of Patmos in exile for preaching about this Jesus. When John heard a voice like a trumpet, he turned to find someone “like a son of man” who was described as one brilliantly glorified. John fell at his feet (Revelation 1:10-17).

We have lost sight of this “other world” quality of our Lord Jesus and God the Father. This holiness that cannot be explained in English but in Hebrew it was emphasized by the triple word. It was that significant. Isaiah and John heard the angels singing about this holiness. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

Once we change our perception of the holiness of God, we will recognize our own condition; we are all sinners. No one is righteous. The gap widens even further. We are born into this sinful condition. We all have to be taught what’s right from wrong, because our natural tendency is to do wrong. It’s not what feels right to us. That’s the wrong message because we all have different standards. We have to look beyond ourselves, beyond this world to find the truest measure of what’s right. God’s standard is the key to unlock this whole mystery.

We can’t get there from here, so the key to righteousness isn’t found in ourselves but through the testimony of Jesus. God sent Jesus so that we could have this righteousness through Him. Jesus bridged the gap through His death and resurrection. He exchanged our sinful condition and gave us His righteousness when He died in our place. Sins payment is death. We were told in the very beginning when sin entered the world through a bite of the forbidden fruit that death will be the consequence of sin (Genesis 2:17).

We are told by Jesus Himself that He didn’t come to condemn the world (John 3:17) – it was already condemned by sin. He came to save the world. There is no one else; there is no other way (John 14:6). It’s narrow-minded for sure. But the way is for ANYONE to believe and repent of their sin and be saved for eternal life.

It’s just a very simple message. Billy Graham preached it for sixty years. The simple message can still be preached today, but we will have to get a better view of ourselves than the one we carry now. We are sinners. Own it. Repent from it. And be saved by believing in this Jesus who died for you and for me.

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:21-24

The Passing

Ever since I heard of Billy Graham’s change of address – his words he hasn’t died but changed addresses; I have been moved to tears with many of the testimonies on the wide world web. His impact cannot be denied.

Although he wasn’t instrumental in my “Just as I am” moment (my local pastor was), Dr. Graham (or Billy as he like to be called) did impact me too. He was part of my spiritual journey. When his events were televised, I listened with my parents; sometimes under compulsion, sometimes with great interest. When Billy had an event in my town, I went and sat on the steps – disregarding fire regulations and the ushers. I don’t remember a word that was said. But I remember the feeling of being in something significant. Many lives were being changed in that moment of time.

I think I am most sad today that it is a passing that will most likely never be matched again. World leaders will die and be honored in such a way that will match the magnitude of what we witness next week. However, there is something so much more significant in what we will observe with his passing. One last time, we will witness something significant. We may not understand it in the moment, but I believe when we look back we will recognize this moment – it will be a hinge moment in our history. It will be a significant passing.

God chose this hour for Billy’s passing from this life to his eternal life. I think it is very significant in the greater picture. I think our nation is in that moment when people are seeking something greater. They say Billy reached millions for Jesus Christ. I totally agree with it. But what I have been wondering about the aftermath of the crusades. The ones who received that glorious gift in those events, did they go on to be discipled in the way of Jesus’ teaching? Maybe, maybe not. I can’t say.

My prayer is for the next week, those people who were not discipled will remember the moment they heard Billy’s message will respond once again in his passing. They have to wonder if what they have is real as it was for Billy. And they will start seeking once again.

I am praying for such an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that anyone who has heard the message in their lives, that they will respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting – whatever that prompting maybe. Change of heart; change of lifestyle; removing any obstacle that is breaking the fellowship with Jesus; anything that will hinder the Good News in their lives so that they can live more authentically with Jesus.

They say Billy was a humble man. They say he was authentic at home as he was on stage. He raised good kids who all have championed the call of Jesus Christ. I have read that he prayed continually and kept an open Bible close by so that anytime he passed by he would read a verse or two, a chapter or two or stay in it for an hour or two. He was dedicated to knowing this Jesus whom he proclaimed as Lord and Savior for whosoever – all; no distinction of color, race, gender or nationality.

Many are calling Billy the modern-day Apostle Paul. Paul was greatly used by God to reach the known world for Jesus – in Paul’s time, but also in ours. Billy has been said to have reached millions, more than any other pastor in history. There have been many in generations who led great awakenings and carried the Word to the masses. They didn’t have all the technology advances to do everything that Billy did in his lifetime. I wonder how Billy stacks up to the rest of those who have done great things. But then again, does it really matter? God can use anybody at anytime to do such things – greater things than anyone could imagine; even Billy said he had no idea what God had in store for him.

The difference in these men (and women) of faith who did these things was that they were available. That’s all God is asking of us. Be available to be used. Just say yes. Billy’s passing isn’t the end of the era of those great things. It’s just another opportunity for someone else to step into the void and be the useful tool in God’s hands. Who is it going to be? If there is another great awakening in this land, then someone needs to stand in the gap. Is it you? Is it me? Is it all of us doing our part? Yes, to it all. It’s reaching across the fence to the one on the other side to share what Jesus has done in each of us. People want to know if this Jesus is real. Tell them the story. You have one. Me too. Maybe it’s the time when you were at the Billy Graham crusade and met Jesus there.

Billy’s faith became sight on February 21. And we can have the same confidence that Billy had. We can also discover this Jesus for ourselves in His Word, just like Billy. The difference is – will we take the time to discover these things or just pass them off – save it for later in life? We just never know when life will change in a heartbeat and we discover Jesus is for real when it’s too late to choose. The choice is here and now, not when we get to heaven. Billy left us with a reminder that Jesus is for all “just as I am.”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

Be the Light

Have you ever had a dream that left you feeling unsettled? The last two mornings, I have had that feeling. I don’t know why I dreamed the things I have dreamed, but they were disturbing nonetheless. This last one was about a storm brewing that I could not escape. The winds were picking up and the black clouds were rolling in. I was not at home and I couldn’t make my way there because I couldn’t find my car – actually it was a van which is a bit more unsettling to me as well! Anyway, I woke up in that state of “what am I to do?” “Where am I going to go?” Yuck. I didn’t get to finish the dream. I guess that’s why it’s so unsettling; there’s no conclusion. Did I make it through the storm? Did I ever find the hideous van? (Nothing against vans, but this one was a wreck.)

Maybe this dream was because of the unsettled times we’re in. The storm brewing feels like it’s never going to end. And we are, for sure, not at home in this place. I don’t usually write about the tragedies we are experiencing. But I read some of the comments on Facebook last night about gun control, mental illness and politics that left me feeling a bit unsettled. There is a lot of anger coming from all corners. I don’t have kids so I really don’t think about the things parents think about, but I understand the anger.

I don’t have a problem with guns, although I don’t like them. I feel sorry for those who are dealing with mental illness. And I am sorry that all they are given are drugs instead of helping them with the problem. There has to be a different course of action. Background checks will continue to fail the system. Evil is still a problem that cannot be legislated. Parkland maybe the latest but unfortunately will not be the last. There is always a way for evil to find its way. “Where there is a will there will be a way.” It does feel hopeless and unsettling.

We have been on this slippery slope for quite some time. I can remember the unsettling times we had when I was growing up. Back then it was rioting and knives were the course of action. Guns were not an issue. I don’t remember what set it all off. I was in grade school when the riots happened in the local high school. When the high school kids came onto our school grounds, the principal made them leave – and they did. There was respect for authority back then.

Maybe it was my generation that began this slippery slope. We didn’t like the rules we had growing up and we relaxed them for our kids. Maybe the baby boomers got it wrong and the generations coming from them are experiencing the consequences. We took out spanking the kids when they broke the rules – I know; child abuse and all that – I get it. We have to be politically correct and not allow any mention of God in school life. No prayers; although I don’t remember prayers in my school at the time. But the things I grew up with, seemed to have gone away. School isn’t the same as it once was. I don’t know whose fault it really is but culture will not change any time soon. We’re too far down the slope to turn back now, right?

The real problem we’re facing is a heart problem. Somewhere along the way, the heart problem got more pronounced. It’s the law of sowing and reaping. We haven’t sown into the heart the ideas of right and wrong; of love and kindness; of respect for authority. We have gotten way off track. I think we started chasing the almighty dollar and left the family to fend for itself. The dollar has failed us. The family unit is no longer the same. When the family unit has been destroyed, so will the community as a whole. The threads of life are unraveling at a faster pace than ever before. It’s hard to get the family and the community back together again. And the systems are failing because of it.

So, what is the answer we are seeking? Yes, the correct answer is Jesus. However, the community needs the church to wake up to the problem. We need to stop chasing the dollar and start paying more attention to the family. We need to bring back the heart of Jesus’ message to the church and to the community. Love God and love one another. When we follow those commands, it will change the family and the community. It’s not a simple change. It’s a small ruder to turn this boat around.

The church has quite a bit of accountability for this slippery slope. We have allowed evil to reign in our communities and in our families. The church has to be more proactive instead of reactive. It’s not about our programs that will change this world. It’s about the heart of Jesus and showing it to others outside of our walls.

You do know who the church is, right? It’s you. And me. Anyone who follows Jesus has a part to play in solving this problem. And we need to get more involved – even if we don’t have kids – yes, I am talking to myself now. The light will dispel the darkness. We have to be out there showing the love of Jesus to those who have no idea He will change their lives – He will change their hearts. We can’t just talk about it anymore. We have to demonstrate it. Let others experience this love for themselves. It changes everything.

Maybe we need to experience it again too. Maybe we’re part of the problem. We have forgotten God’s love for us and we feel unloved as a whole. Are you on your knees? It’s time, church. We can make a difference. One child at a time. One family at a time. One community at a time. One state. One nation. One world. It’s our purpose. Let’s get on with it.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

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