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Archive for the tag “Encourage one another”

Anno Domini

Good riddance A.D. 2018. It’s been a tough year; well, at least since September. I was reminded last night, September was the beginning of the Hebrew year 5779. The teacher described this year as one of weariness. My Dad died soon after the Hebrew year started and it just seems to be more weariness heaped on than I can ever remember.

The teacher referenced Jeremy 12:5 “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” As I contemplated this passage, it reminded me of Jesus’ words of comfort from Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” And also Paul’s encouraging word found in Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

If this is the year where the enemy will try to wear us out, we have to find strength in our Lord Jesus Christ so that we do not give up in the fight. This is about a spiritual battle being fought over us. It plays out in the flesh, but we are truly in a battle for the spiritual health of our families, our communities, our nation and our world. We will be bombarded with everything the enemy can muster against us because time is growing short. If 2019 is just a continuing deluge of weariness, then we have to muster our strength and our courage from our leader – Jesus. We can’t handle it on our own. We need greater resources from our Lord in order to hold this ground.

My pastor’s Christmas message was to choose joy. Even if the world continues to spin out of control, choose joy. Even if the enemy hits us where it hurts most, choose joy. How can this be? Because of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has given us everything we need. Paul encouraged us in Ephesians 6 to put on the full armor of God. My Pastor also reminded us that anything that comes to us has to go through our Father’s hands first. He has designed it or allowed it to happen for our good and His glory.

But how can the bad things in life become good? It’s one of His promises found in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I don’t know how bad things are worked to the good; however, I will believe His word is true. I have seen some bad things in my life turn to good, so I know His word is still relevant for this day.

I heard a message a couple of weeks ago from Passion City about loving enemies. I first thought I didn’t have any enemies, but Pastor Ben Stewart mentioned a few personal grievances that could be seen as our enemies. There was a name that came to mind as he listed the grievances against us. He also mentioned how we are to love those who are against us. First and foremost – pray for them. Pray for their welfare and ask God to help them in whatever area that is problematic for them.

Second, for our part, we are to mend any barrier that is our own fault in the matter. We are to live at peace with one another. If someone has offended us, we need to bring it before the Lord. If we are at fault, then the Lord will correct us and help us mend the situation. If it’s the other person’s fault, we take the first step to open the lines of communication. If they do not respond, that’s not our responsibility. We do what we’re called to do and let God do the rest.

We are told to remember His word and to encourage those on this path. This is the time to do it with greater fervor. Some of us have been on the path longer and we need to encourage those behind us. We are to stay true to His Word during this next year. We are to be His church – His people and to love well.

Choose joy. Choose to do good. Choose to love even if the situation is difficult. I know it’s going to be hard, but it’s who we are. We are still in the year of the Lord’s favor (until His return). Let God bless it according to His will and direct our steps to the most fruitful year yet. Happy New Year 2019 Anno Domini (Latin for in the year of the Lord)!

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19

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

Making a Difference

It’s very encouraging to watch the people in Texas come together and help one another during this disaster. After all the mess we’ve seen on television over the last few months, it’s good to see people banding together – no matter the race, no matter the political preference, no matter the economic status. Everybody was affected by this storm. People were walking away with nothing, but still praising God for saving their lives and their families. One lady looked right at the camera and told everyone “God is good, ya’ll.” Just that small testimony said it all. Even in the midst of the storm, God is still good.

The first part of the month, a family friend died. She was the oldest sister in this family. She was much older than me so I have very few memories of her. I only remember the teenage version of this lady. I never knew her as an adult. However, the son of this family is my age, and he has been the longest sustained friend of my life. We were crib mates in the nursery. There are many good memories of the things we did as children when our families got together. We haven’t been together as a family since we were both teenagers. Thanks to Facebook, we have reconnected. It’s through Facebook that I heard of the sister’s illness and then passing.

Many things were posted about this woman’s life. I went to the memorial service and came away with the feeling that I wish I had known her as an adult. According to the reflections offered by her family and friends, she loved life and lived it out loud and to the fullest. She was an amazing teacher – it wasn’t about the subject with her – she loved shaping these students into their potential. Students that had no hope to succeed became incredible adults. She was an adventurer; she loved to travel. She spent two years in Turkey, and it was mentioned these may have been the best years of her life.

It was said that she never met a stranger. She went back to Turkey a few years ago with her daughter and son-in-law and someone she knew from her time spent living there, spotted her on the street and called out her name. She was that impressive for people to remember her. She made a difference in people’s lives. Cancer cut her life short. The world has lost a friend. But she planted many seeds throughout her time here that will outlive her. She loved well.

We can all be like my friend. I wish I had known her as an adult. I wish a teacher had been there for me like she had been for her students. Maybe I wouldn’t have made the choices I made back then. And maybe I would have found my calling earlier. But it is God’s timing in all things.

We can all make a difference in someone’s life. We can help out our communities even when there is no disaster. We can love well and plant the seeds of hope around us. Wouldn’t that be a better world to live in? We need to realize this life is really short, ya’ll. And God is good all the time, no matter what is going on around us. God loves us so much more than we could ever imagine. We need to believe that in our heart, mind and soul. We need to drive it deep.

When we grieve, He grieves with us. He is personal with us, knows us and loves us anyway. Each member of the human race is an image bearer of God Himself. We need to respect that and respect each human being on this planet. If there is no respect, all hell breaks loose as its doing today. We need to make a difference. We need to plant seeds and love well. This is my prayer today. For the people of the disaster, my prayer for them is to see God’s glory making good out of something so bad.

Trust Him in the process, ya’ll. He is our good, good Father. He will do amazing things, and He’ll let us be involved where He is involved. It’s possible, ya’ll. The Apostle Paul said it well, all things are possible through Christ’s strength, not ours – no matter what. Let’s make a difference today and love someone well.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)

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