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Archive for the tag “Holy Spirit”

In the Valley

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the
Lord
forever.
Psalm 23

When King David walked through the valley, he said it all. He knew tragedy. He knew loss. He also knew the strength from His God. We can know the strength that comes from the Lord. It’s available to all.

I have avoided writing about the devastation over the last six weeks (is that as long it has been?). We have seen three major hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, fires on the west coast, Mexico has had two large earthquakes, and now the tragedy of the terrorist attack on the music festival (did I miss anything?). What in the world is going on?

Jesus said that the labor pains would get more frequent as time grows closer to His coming back. Evil will continue to have rule of the day until He returns. We are to press through it with our eyes focused on Jesus. His love pursues us. He comforts us when tragedy strikes. But we have to turn to Him. He can pursue us all day long, but until we turn to Him we will never find Him as long as we keep going as we have been going.

The slogan “Make America Great Again” is not possible. It never has been great – I’m not dissin’ America. I love it. This is my home. My family has been here since the 1700/1800’s. I’ve checked. Our greatness came from God for His purpose. However, we have chosen to remove God from about everything that is public. Prayer is a thing of the past when it comes to certain venues. The Ten Commandments are gone from the courtrooms. If people would have it, Scripture would be erased from the governmental buildings throughout this land. The engravings would be removed.

If America wants to remove God, He will let us. And I am not saying all these tragedies are God’s judgment; but we have removed Him from our public lives, so He will remove His hand of protection from us. He will allow tragedies to happen so that we will once again come back to Him. We saw it with 9/11 and the turning back to God that happened for the next couple of weeks (maybe month), but it didn’t last. Things will continue to happen.

Isaiah (55:6) said it best:  Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. One day, He will no longer be found. One day, all hell is literally going to be released, and He will not stop it. Matter of fact, Scripture says in that time, people will curse God. It’s going to happen like we have never experienced it before.

We might not like to hear this, because we believe God is good and loving; and He would never allow it to happen. But we fail to realize that God is a righteous judge, and He will not let sin continue as it does. Read the Scripture. There was always a point when God would send judgment on Israel for her sins. Over and over again. They would sin, time would pass and then judgment would come. Again, I am not saying God is judging us – He could be – but I am not saying this is judgment. But it is His pattern of warnings then judgment to get people to turn to Him. He always warns before the judgment – and He will tell us when its judgment – there will be “writing on the wall” to let us know this is it. It will be obvious.

I know, this isn’t a “feel good” blog posting. I believe we need to examine our hearts. I think the church should examine the Body. We need some movement to get this Body going again. We are in desperate times and the people of the times need a strong Body. The Holy Spirit needs to breathe life into us again. There are things that need to be cleaned up and cleaned out so that the Body will thrive again. The Body of Christ needs fire in the belly. The Holy Spirit has been absent too long. The breath of God has to be in the Body to bring fire back into the church.

Dr. Tony Evans spoke a couple of weeks ago on giving the Holy Spirit free reign to worship. We need the Holy Spirit to be unleashed. We need the “awe” back in our worship, to focus solely on God. When the people in the Book of Acts came together, Jesus was their focus. When the disciples of Jesus focused on Him, it drew the crowds. There was something different about these people. They were committed to following Jesus in such a way that it could not be mistaken. We need that again. This is my prayer for us in this time.

We need the Holy Spirit back in our lives in such a way that it would draw others to Jesus. We have to point others to Jesus. He is our only hope. Pray with me for His Spirit to make a difference in the church; pray for the people who have been affected by these tragedies. Pray for their hope and salvation to be found in Him, and they will be comforted by His loving embrace. Pray that God would return to our public lives before it’s too late and hearts will be turned to Him again like never before. Let His Spirit be poured out!

We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. 1 John 5:19-20

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Revival is Now!

I like to listen to prophecy experts. I’m not sure if they are prophets or just teachers who pay attention to what’s going on in the world. Either way, I find it very interesting. One of the things I hear from a variety of sources is a possibility of a great revival happening here in the US. There are many who believe Jesus will be returning for His church in the near future. There are many who think there will be a revival before that day of Jesus’ return. Someone mentioned that the revival will come as a result of this political craziness that we are experiencing. Many talk about martial law going into effect and there will be no “changing of the guard” for the presidential seat. Many visions have been seen revealing devastating earthquakes, tsunamis happening on both coasts, and even a great divide splitting the US at the Mississippi. Only God knows what’s really coming. I do believe judgment is coming one day.

People come back to church when their world has been shaken. But as it was with 9/11 with only a few weeks of returning, will it be a true revival or just a stepping back to family traditions? What will it take for a true revival?

Many times, Jesus spoke of persecution happening because of Him. In John 15, He said that if He was persecuted, then His disciples would be as well. As we have seen in the Book of Acts, the church body grew with persecution. Today, there are many who are being persecuted in different parts of the world. They ask us not to pray for the persecution to end, but for them to be bold and strengthened during persecution; to stand firm in their commitment to Jesus.

Recently, I read a couple of books concerning the persecution of the church. It’s difficult to read about what people have experienced, but what faith they exhibit in the face of persecution. As one who has never experienced such a trial, I cannot imagine how they endured it all. If persecution grows the church, then this could explain why the American branch of the church is showing signs of decline. Our population is increasing exponentially, but our churches are not seeing the same increase. In other parts of the world, the church is increasing even in the midst of great persecution. At the beginning of the church age, found in the Book of Acts – persecution brought the scattering of the church. As persecution continued throughout the next couple of centuries, the growth of the church exploded.

From 120 to 3000 to 5000, then persecution began. My pastor said recently that by the end of the first century there were approximately 25,000 believers. By the time that the Roman Empire “legalized” Christianity around the middle of the third century, 33 million were believed to have been Jesus followers.

So what would it take for us to have a revival today that would show this kind of increase? Do I dare say it? One of the speakers I listen to fairly regularly is a pastor in Hawaii. He gives a prophecy update every Sunday. This past Sunday, he spoke of a revival as well. He said on Sunday that we may have to face persecution like we’ve never experienced it here in the US. The revival may come not of the natural disasters or the man-made disaster from the political fallout; it may come at the expense of what we believe. Because of Jesus and His teaching, we may find ourselves in a position to either stand up for Him or deny Him.

At times, I have wondered if my faith is strong enough. Could I withstand persecution? Would I deny Christ as Peter did at his first persecution? Of course, that was before the Holy Spirit took hold of him and radically changed him. The Holy Spirit gave him such boldness that nothing deterred him from proclaiming the name of Jesus. That’s what the ones who are facing persecution are asking for today. Boldness. Maybe that’s what we all need to be asking for regardless if we are under persecution or trying to reach our friends and neighbors.

Suffering for the sake of the message of Jesus is considered a joy to those who experience it. Suffering helps us identify with Christ. He suffered for us. Jesus said the greatest gift of friendship is dying for one’s friends. If we consider ourselves a friend of Jesus, then we should be willing to die for Him – physically as well as just die to ourselves; losing those things that we hold on to that have no eternal value. So whatever happens in the future, my revival begins now. It starts with me ready to face whatever is in store, with boldness and with the strength God gives me through the Holy Spirit living in me. My revival is now – how about yours? Are you ready?

“I’ve told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead. They are going to throw you out of the meeting places. There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he’s doing God a favor. They will do these things because they never really understood the Father. I’ve told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you’ll be well-warned and ready for them.” John 16:1-4 (MSG)

Fan the Flame

I think I’m in a rut. My routine is pretty set day in and day out. Even spiritually speaking, I think I’m in a rut. I haven’t felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit in a while. Did I move off the mark? Did my anchor slip? I think I just lost focus. I took my eyes off of Jesus. My fascination has been on the signs and wonders of what’s going on in the world. I do believe we are seeing the signs of the last days. This is not to say that Jesus is coming back in the next year or ten. That time is set by God. But I do believe He is coming soon. Maybe I’ll see it in my lifetime, maybe not.

But I am struggling with what to do. I should be focused on Jesus’ business – making the Kingdom known on earth before He parts the skies. At that point, the decision is made on who will be joining Him in the clouds. The rest will deal with the judgment that will come. (I’m a pre-trib girl.)

On Sunday, the pastor said that we should be living each day like it’s our last. Whether it’s because Jesus will come that day or we’ll be called to our heavenly home. To live like that, we’ll do everything necessary to live a fulfilled life. We’ll do what matters most and let the trivial things go. We’ll reach out to those on our path who needs something that we can fulfill.

Louie Giglio said in his Sunday message that we are to have an outward focus. We are the solution to the world. Jesus is the Savior of the world, and He uses us to be the solution. It’s a reminder that we are the light. We are not to keep Jesus a secret. His is not a secret kingdom with a secret password to enter. The door is open to anyone who comes and knocks.

Over the last couple of nights, I have been listening to Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live “Audacious” message from last year’s simulcast – it’s now on TBN and on demand. The message is about being audacious – having boldness beyond normal. We are called to be mighty for the Lord. We are not supposed to keep it to ourselves. The story is meant to be shared.

Jesus was a storyteller. Crowds followed Him to hear the stories and to be healed. They came to see Him do miracles. He taught them about the Kingdom of God through stories. Most didn’t get it. Their religiosity got in the way. They were being entertained not enlightened. But the children came, and it had nothing to do with what Jesus could do for them. The children felt the love Jesus had for them. They instinctively knew Jesus loved them. I think as adults we have become cynical to love. We don’t naturally feel the love and want to give it to others. I guess that’s why we need the Holy Spirit to help us in this regard. It doesn’t come natural to us; it’s a supernatural act.

In Beth’s book Audacious she wrote about falling in love with Jesus. Something has to compel us to do something. The love of Jesus in us will compel us to be bold in His name and for His glory. I made a note from the simulcast – we need to look for this one thing that will drive us for the rest of our lives. I think it’s the love that will drive us. Beth wrote about Peter’s encounter with Jesus on the beach after His resurrection. She asked the reader – Do you love Jesus? I mean, do you really love Jesus? Really, do you love Jesus? It’s not an automatic reply. It’s a think about it moment. Do we long to be in His word? Are we excited to spend time with Him? Do we bounce out of bed in the morning and rush to set down with Him for a morning chat? I can’t say that this is always my response.

When we think about loving someone, it’s a feeling but also an action. I have never known the love of a husband/wife scenario. I can imagine though the “swept off the feet” moments of romance that led to the marriage proposal. The thrill of the chase. The moments when passion over takes you, and you would do anything for your future mate. I can’t say that is the case with my relationship with Jesus. But it should be.

We should look for the romance with Jesus – we should ask for it. It should make a big difference in our lives. Religiosity should not get in our way to love Jesus and live for Jesus. There is too much at stake; time is short. We need the boldness for our lights to shine in this dark world. Ask the Holy Spirit to fan the flame of what has been entrusted in us. Let’s do it now and keep asking until boredom is replaced with passion to compel us to live each day to the fullest for His glory! Amen!

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:6-7

The Adventurous Spirit

I have a confession to make – I’m bored. I have been bored for years. I don’t know when boredom set in, but it’s been years since I’ve had a sense of adventure. I used to enjoy new challenges and loved change – change of scenery was especially welcomed. I changed jobs every two or three years. When I changed jobs, I moved to a new city. I liked the change of place and new opportunities. Packing up the household meant I cleaned out the clutter which was especially beneficial.

After my sister became single again, we began traveling together. About once a year, we planned a trip to New York or some other destination. We traveled as far as Alaska and Hawaii; and then even went as far as London. It was fabulous to experience new places. I loved it. When my travel partner got married again, I decided to keep on traveling even if it meant going alone. I went to Vermont and Maine. I even went to New Zealand and Australia. Of course, my Mom was not too crazy about the trips alone. She especially wasn’t happy about the time away in NZ and Australia. But oh the things I got to experience in those places!

It would have been nice to have someone travel with me. But the things I experienced while alone put me in a place of vulnerability. Most would think that was a bad thing, but as a Christian I need to be in a place of vulnerability. It means I have to rely upon Jesus to help me through some tight spots. And I had a few while traveling.

I realized the other day I haven’t had an opportunity to travel in the last six years. I also realized I love staying in hotels and living out of a suitcase. I loved going. But something has changed. I don’t have a sense of adventure as I once did. I have had plenty of time to go, but the financial means isn’t there. I don’t feel like I can “waste” the money on unnecessary travel. I have settled into this sameness mentality that is draining me. My sense of adventure has to come back. I can’t settle for mediocrity. By the very definition of Jesus follower means going where Jesus goes and His path is never boring. So why have I settled for boredom?

When I traveled to New Zealand, I didn’t go on a mission trip. I went for the adventure. I moved off the beaten path so to speak. Buses carried me from one point to the other. I loved seeing the countryside. I love visiting cities, but the country is where the beauty lies. From the mountain peaks to the green valleys, nature is painted with God’s glory. When I was in Christchurch, I visited the famous church in the downtown square. I walked in wanting to experience the awe of the place. I snapped a picture of one of the panels of stained glass. As soon as I did, I was reprimanded by one of the officials. I hadn’t paid for the right to take a picture. I immediately deleted it, and left the building.

I realized at that moment, that building was a business not a holy place. And I really couldn’t contain His beauty in a picture anyway. God didn’t fill that place with His glory. His glory has to be experienced by the eye – spiritual or physical. I went to the lakes and the mountaintops; and caught a glimpse of His grandeur and majesty. I had a sense of awe at the beauty I found in those places. God isn’t contained in a building.

God is experienced in the movement of the Holy Spirit. We settle in the comfort place and forget to be led by the Spirit to experience God’s presence in those places. We all need our sense of wonder back. We all need a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one experiencing the boredom of my comfortable place. Boredom shouldn’t be the feeling of any Jesus follower. If it is, then we’re not doing it right. It’s time to get back to where we experience God’s presence again. We don’t have to travel to distant lands to see God’s glory. We just have to open our spiritual eyes to see it once again. We have to be open to His voice to move in obedience to what we hear.

Something has to change. I am asking for a fresh perspective. Will you join me in the adventure God has for each of us? Don’t settle in that comfortable place. Let’s be Jesus followers in every sense of what that entails. Lord, lead your people out of boredom and into the great adventure You have for us. Amen!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

Athirst for God

On the first day of the New Year, I opened the book “Pursuit of God” by AW Tozer to renew my focus for this year. As I read the words, I realized he penned them in 1948. He begins his preface “in this hour of all-but-universal darkness.” How much more are these words relevant to this day and time? He wrote of those who are growing hungrier for God. The people “are athirst for God and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water.” In his day and time, he felt there was a revival happening but realized it may be the “cloud the size of a man’s hand.” Oh how I wish this to be true now!

Tozer wrote about how evangelicalism needs to change in light of the conditions around us. He reflected most were no longer seeking to build an altar for sacrifice, but were more comfortable “to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel.” He referenced 1 Kings 18 for the imagery. For those who truly desire God, they cannot “reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire. They desire God above all. They are athirst to taste for themselves the ‘piercing sweetness’ of the love of Christ about Whom all the holy prophets did write and the psalmists did sing.” Is that not poetry? Are his words not true to this day and time?

We need teachers like this who inspire us to have this desire for ourselves. But is it really the inspiration of the teachers or is it not by the hand of God drawing us to Him if only we would respond? We should all long for nourishment to satisfy our souls. “For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience, they are not the better for having heard the truth.” Ouch. Okay, that stepped on my toes a bit. How long do I sit in a chair drinking in the Word, but fail to let it draw me closer? In one ear and out the other without really thought provoking change coming from it.

“The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.” Yes, let it be as he says. Let this be my heart’s desire for this new year. I no longer want just an occupation of the seat, but an occupation of my heart. For far too long, Satan has snatched the Word right out of my heart because I didn’t pay close attention to the application. I leave the gathering every Sunday and have an agenda for the day. But did the agenda have time to reflect on what was heard? Does my soul feel quench by the Living Word?

One of the sentences speaks the loudest to me right now was this: “It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table.” Tozer closes saying God’s hungry children need to find Him. If his (Tozer’s) “fire is not large it is real and there may be those who can light their candle by its flame.” The Holy Spirit can fan into flame even the smallest of sparks. We need sparks in the Body of Christ for this day. I don’t know if the revival happened in Tozer’s day. I didn’t research it. We are in desperate need of one today. Think of the difference we could make if we all were athirst for God!

If you are hungry; if you are thirsty, Jesus says “come.” First things first. We cannot do anything of any importance until we get right with God, and we are clothed in His righteousness. I don’t remember where I heard this prayer, but I am claiming it for 2016. “God, work boldly in me that You can be clearly seen working through me.” For God’s glory in this New Year! Come on Sparky! Let’s do this!

At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 1 Kings 18:36-38

This post inspired by The Preface found on Page 8 of the “Pursuit of God” © Moody Bible Institute of Chicago 1948, 1983, 1999, 2006.

The Love of His Story

If you would have asked me a few years ago if I loved history, I would have looked at you as if you were crazy! But for the last few years, I have been fascinated by events of past and present. When I look at the past, I can see God’s hand moving things into place. I need a bit of help to see so I read all that I can read. History is a bit fickle though as it is determined by a point of view. Some of the time, the point of view is accurate enough to get a glimpse into the world at that time.

Jesus’ life is written down for us by four men who give us a slight variation in the details. Each man tells the story of Jesus from the point of view in which the writer can relate, and for the audience who will eventually read it. Matthew took his writings to the Jewish community. Mark did a quick overview of Jesus, hitting the high points. John was the longest living disciple and wrote his version near the end of his life. His view point took a higher view of Jesus. He saw Jesus as the Eternal One – from the beginning of time until the end of Jesus’ life to the eternal life to come. Luke on the other hand, was not a disciple. He was an investigator. He went to the ones who witnessed the events of Jesus’ life and reported on those things.

John should have been the one who told of the birth of Jesus. Ancient writings (or traditions) teach us that John took care of Mary until her death. He probably heard so many stories of Jesus’ birth, the family running from Herod, what they did, where they went, Jesus’ childhood; yet, John mentions none of these things. Luke, however, gives us the birth narrative. Luke gives us the stories Jesus taught; he gives us the healing encounters; everything that we could possibly want to know about the living Savior of the world.

I think we forget the Gospels are books written just a few years after Jesus’ life. These books could have easily been destroyed as nonsense by those who would have known the truth of these accounts. Yet, the Bible is still being validated each and every year. The Book still survives the test of time. There is no other book in history that has the number of manuscripts that validate it than this Good Book. Nothing can compare.

When I first started reading the Bible, I was fascinated by the stories. Originally, I thought this was the complete book of history. I thought it accounted for the Chinese, the Incas, the ancient societies that were talked about in my history classes. It wasn’t until I understood the Bible isn’t the Book of History, but the Book of His Story that things started to make sense. God’s handy work was evident by the events recorded in those ancient manuscripts.

When I consider the events of today, I imagine it’s a bit like those times in ancient culture. At the time of the writings, they probably didn’t understand the significance of the events. It’s with hindsight that gives the greatest view point. In a few years time, we will probably look back to 2015 as a pivotal year. The year gay marriage was upheld in the highest court. The year ISIS took over a vast land. The year Iran was allowed to maneuver their agenda to the signing table with the world watching. The year terror hit the west once again. On and on, we could mark the year of significance.

What fascinates me even more is the prophecies that are coming true as things align to bring events to the ultimate completion. I don’t know what the future holds for us in this next year. I suppose even more events will rock our world. There will be more natural disasters that will devastate us. There will be more death and destruction as Satan realizes his time is growing even shorter. He is becoming angrier with each passing year. But I don’t find any of this distressful. I have more hope than I have ever had. I find God working His plan exciting and hopeful; that people will see His glory and respond in greater ways. I see a revival of the Body of Christ. I see a vast army standing up in one accord – with one faith, one hope and one Head – Jesus Christ.

It’s going to get very real. It’s going to cycle around once again; for history to repeat itself. The Book of Acts will come back to life. The Body of Christ will once again learn how to make disciples and share the Good News to all who are ready to hear. I believe the Holy Spirit will be poured out in dry places, and the Body will have new life and new power. 2016 will be a year of significance like we’ve never seen before. Get ready; hold on for the ride of your life! Watch God work in amazing ways. And remember, we are here for such a time as this!

I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. Psalm 118:17

Not Ashamed

“They” say it is easier at this time of year to share the Gospel message. There are signs all around us to point others to the message of Jesus’ Good News. I had an occasion over the weekend to speak the truth to two women who came to my door. They were going to persuade me that the Bible was difficult to understand and hand me information about the Bible. I stopped their speech and told them I knew the truth of the Bible. However, I didn’t tell them the reason I knew the Truth. I didn’t tell them the Holy Spirit lives in me to help me understand the Bible. I thought of it after they were gone. I failed miserably in sharing the Good News. I was disappointed in my lack of courage to speak boldly to those two women. After the encounter, I prayed for someone else to be better about sharing the Good News with them.

I was reading 2 Timothy yesterday morning. It reminded me of my encounter over the weekend. Paul was always ready to share the Gospel with everyone he encountered. He had a passion to share, no matter the cost to him personally. Even in jail, he proclaimed the Good News to all in ear shot. As I read, I followed the Timothy passage with Acts 28:31: He (Paul) proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance! Paul was never ashamed. Paul understood the responsibility of sharing the message.

We are all entrusted with the same message. We all have the responsibility to share with a desperate world. If this is the best time to share with ones who are more willingly to hear, then we need to be better at it. They say practice makes perfect. I want a “do over” with those women! I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I just need boldness to do it, like Paul.

When we receive the gift of salvation, we are not immediately taken to heaven. We are left here for a greater purpose. We are not here to keep the status quo but to advance the cause – take new ground from the enemy. We are in a battle that is furiously fought over our family and friends. We have a responsibility where we are – God planted us in this place and time with His full armor and His Spirit. We are told we are not to be afraid, but to be courageous.

I pray I will do better next time. I need to be working out of the Holy Spirit’s power. Normally, I don’t think of things very quickly. I need to learn to wait on the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I must be prepared to do battle. My quiet time needs to be intentionally minded with the things God wants and not my wants. I don’t need any more training. I don’t need to study anymore – although I will never stop reading God’s word. I need to be more in tuned with the Holy Spirit. That takes practice.

Book knowledge is good, but living it out is where God’s truth is magnified to a lost world. We are Jesus’ body. We are to represent Him in this world. I may have good qualities but that is nothing compared to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. When we, as His Body, represent Jesus well; it will change our world around us. This is nothing like an encounter with Jesus. There is no greater testimony than the one has been transformed by His grace and mercy.

James Robertson (Life Today) said on his Monday broadcast, we don’t have to see the signs and wonders God is presenting to us today. We know we are closer to the end than the beginning. Jesus is coming back one day. Like John the Baptizer before us, we are called to prepare the way. There isn’t much time remaining before all hell will literally be poured out. It’s time to take some more ground.

As Paul as my mentor, I am asking for his level of commitment to share the news of Jesus Christ. Today, the signs point to His first coming – the manger scenes, the gift giving and such. But as the signs continue to point to the second coming of Jesus Christ, I must be intentional about doing God’s work. The work is not finished and will not be done until we see Jesus face to face. Lord, help us! Holy Spirit, work boldly in us so that You can work gloriously through us! Amen.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:9-12

Wiped Away

The end of the seven-year cycle passed with a whimper. God has used this seven-year pattern throughout much of modern history to raise nations up or bring them down. He has used it to wipe away debt. Over the previous seven-year cycles, debt has been wiped out by dramatic swings of the stock market. When the last few weeks were showing the same signs of a likely crash, I thought God was going to do it again. But the time has passed and to my knowledge, nothing has happened. Did God forget about this timetable thing? Didn’t He know we were anticipating something to occur? It’s almost a disappointment. Until I come to my senses and realize this is something we don’t want to see happen!

It just shows us: God’s ways are not our ways; God’s time is not our time. It also occurs to me; there is something always going on behind the scenes that we are not privy to. There is an ongoing war, which is unseen to our naked eye. It is a spiritual war; which if seen, would cause us to faint dead away. God has a plan we do not see. We are not privy to His thoughts. We can seek His guidance and ask for wisdom. God gives us His Spirit to communicate His desires to us. We have to be paying attention to His promptings.

I was listening to the evening news last night when I heard this comment by the anchor: the fires raging in California are wiping away houses and whole towns. California has seen disastrous fires over the last few months. Fires are destroying millions of acres of forests, homes and towns. Flooding is also going on in part of the western states. Both are extreme natural occurrences. They are historic in measure. What in the world is going on?

Nothing catches God by surprise. He doesn’t pace in His throne room looking for an answer to the world’s problems. He already knows the circumstances. Our job in the meantime is to believe in His Sovereignty and in His goodness. Fire burns away the perishable things, but leaves the imperishable. Floods leave behind a new landscape. We are to believe God is who He says He is, and He will do what He says He will do. We are to trust in Him and live according to His perfect will and pleasure. Through the Holy Spirit, we are given eyes that see and ears that hear. We are given a greater understanding into God’s perfect plan by His Holy Word.

Beth Moore spoke on Saturday about being audacious. She said we are built for fire. It’s the passion that burns in our bones. The fire of the Holy Spirit does not consume us but fuels us. In the last days, we will be given greater audacity to have more “guts for God’s glory.” We are not given a spirit of fear. We are given the power of the Holy Spirit! In future events, Beth mentioned fear will go viral. We cannot be swept into the wildfire of fear. And we cannot be lulled into complacency. We need to be awake to the world around us. What is unseen can be made known to those who are aware. God says He will pour out His Spirit on His sons and daughters in these last days. The Holy Spirit is our guide and our teacher.

Whatever suffering we must endure here is nothing in comparison to the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). Jesus is worth the sacrifice we must endure. Jesus asks us to count the cost of following Him. Do we have what it takes when everything is wiped away? Can we say with certainty, Jesus is everything to me? In God’s economy, up is down. In humility, we seek the all-knowing God who does not leave us in times of trouble. We will have trouble in the days ahead, but we are given a greater hope in the future. God is who He says He is. And He delivers on His promises!

For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) Romans 8:22-25 (NLT)

Still the Message

Repent! For the Kingdom of God is near!” John the Baptist was given this message before the ministry of Jesus began. He was the one who called from the wilderness to bring about the change of heart for those who would hear and heed the word. Jesus had the same message. It might have been stated a bit differently. He spoke of forgiveness of sin to those who came for healing. The sick and hurting came in large groups for healing. But Jesus always looked to their hearts first to find their true sickness. He offered forgiveness and told those who came to Him “Go and sin no more!” The same message of repentance – turn away from your sins, and you will receive the Kingdom of God. Overcome that thing that holds you back. For the one who overcame, many promises were given. When Jesus taught the large crowds He ended His teachings with this phrase: “For those who have ears to hear, let them hear.”

In Jesus’ time, the message was verbal. No one had ten copies of scrolls that they kept on their nightstand or coffee table to show those who entered their dwelling how “spiritual” they were. They went to the Temple to learn from the scholars. No one carried a scroll around to read while waiting for the next caravan to come around to take them to the mall to shop. It was all by the word of mouth that people were taught. So when Jesus said, “for those who have ears” He meant everyone that was listening to the sound of His voice. Pay attention – this is important to grasp the understanding you will need to enter the Kingdom. He said the way to the Kingdom is narrow and only a few would enter by the narrow gate.

I was listening to someone speak about the seven churches in Revelation on Sunday morning. I had a few thoughts that came to mind as they were speaking that I took note of and wrote them down. The first thought was: these letters were sent to churches – believers. I know it’s pretty obvious. Jesus wasn’t pointing out flaws or giving encouragement to non-believers. He had a message to give His followers. He had to get them back on track if there were going to fulfill His mission. Jesus gave every church a directive and a promise. Every church was called to repent of their deeds and for those who overcame their “issues” a promise was given. I have a red-letter Bible (meaning that the words that Jesus spoke are printed in red). Every word in this section of Revelation chapters two and three are in read letters. John wrote down what Jesus instructed to the seven churches. After Jesus gave the direction to each church, Jesus ended each letter “for those who have ears, let them hear.”

The message reminded me also when Peter, James and John went up the mountain with Jesus. Jesus was transfigured before them and they were overwhelmed with His glory. Peter being Peter started talking nonsense about building shelters for Moses and Elijah. God interrupted Peter telling them to listen to His Son (Matthew 17:5). Pay attention, boys! Jesus’ words were important to record. If they were important to write then they must be important to remember and obey. Listen! For the Kingdom of God is near.

Do we get that in this day and time? Are we so far removed from the message that we fail to hear the truth behind it? Would Jesus still give us this message today? The word today should still be repent for the kingdom of God is near. For believers today, the kingdom is already here – the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Even more today, we should pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. For those who have ears to hear: Pay attention! Repent! Set ourselves apart from the worldly pursuits and pursue holiness! This is not a message we like to hear. But we’re all called to do just that. Our lives matter here on earth to bring glory to Jesus. But it takes a pure heart and a willing spirit and a renewed mind. It’s still the same message today. Pay attention to what the Lord is saying today.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:19-20

The Meeting

Do you have favorite Scripture that God has used to move you along your journey? One of mine is the passage found in Acts 10. The passage is about the divine connection made between Peter and Cornelius. One morning during my quiet time, I was contemplating this passage. I wondered about the significance of Peter and Cornelius’ meeting. Peter had to be willing to go where he was forbidden by his law to go. In his vision, God spoke to Peter to eat things that Peter considered as “unclean.” God told Peter He had already made those things clean. By God’s hand, He made all things in heaven and on earth. He declared in Genesis 1:31 all that He had made was very good.

Peter had to remove his old thinking and replace it with a new mindset. Peter was contemplating the meaning of his vision when visitors arrived who would take him to Cornelius. Peter took one step out of his comfort zone into a divine encounter. Peter’s vision was about “unclean” food, but God was giving Peter a new understanding that nothing made by God’s hand is unclean – and that includes all human beings. Jews and Gentiles did not meet. It was against their religion to associate with Gentiles. There was a barrier that God created in the beginning in order to separate the wickedness from His chosen people. And the Jews took that to an extreme. God set aside the Jewish people but that didn’t mean that they were any better than their fellow-man. Their thinking needed to be changed.

Cornelius was already on a path that respected God. He was already worshiping God and giving to the poor. He was already doing the things he knew to do, but it was not complete. He needed further information. I have seen this pattern repeated in Scripture such as the encounter found in Acts 18. Apollos was also in need of further information which was supplied by Priscilla and Aquila. When our understanding isn’t complete, God sends someone to tell the rest of the story. There were divine encounters that furthered the Gospel message. Apollos went on to preach the Gospel throughout his world. Paul mentioned Apollos in 1 Corinthians 1:12 as one of the preachers that believers “followed” along with Paul and Peter. Apollos must have been significant in moving the Gospel forward.

Back to Cornelius. Cornelius was a military man from the Italian regiment, which means he probably went back to Rome at some point. As I am contemplating these divine encounters, I wondered if he was the first messenger to Rome. When Paul wrote to the Romans, there was already a church planted. Who was the first one to take the message to the Romans? Was it Cornelius? Was this his divine connection with Peter that set up the wave of Christians to that part of the world? I would have to believe this is what took place. God gives us a small story that forms the larger context of taking the message throughout the world. I immediately thought of the Ethiopian eunuch that was encountered by Philip in Acts 9. Philip was sent by the Holy Spirit to a specific road for the encounter with a man who would take the Gospel to the continent of Africa. It’s the small stories that take on the larger story of getting the message across – God so loved the world that He sent His Son; not to condemn the world but to save it.

We may feel that we have nothing to share, but God can use us for divine encounters for God’s ultimate glory! Peter heard the voice and was obedient to the task. Philip started out as soon as he heard the voice. As I stated previously, God used this same passage to move me to my current city – it’s now been almost sixteen years ago. Why did God call me here? I do believe I needed further information. I didn’t have the complete story. I haven’t had the divine encounter (that I know of) to take the Gospel message to my world, except through this written word. It’s not much, but if I am faithful to what I am called to do, maybe someone along the way will be changed by it. That’s my prayer anyway.

If I had not made the move, I never would have met the people I was supposed to meet to get me where I needed to be. My old thinking had to be changed. Sometimes it takes a move of God to help us see greater things than we could ever imagine. Never discount what God wants to do through our small obedience in these “little” decisions – it could impact a world! Cornelius, Apollos and Philip are good examples of what a little obedience could do for God’s glory!

The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. Acts 10:22-23, 34-35

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