buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Jesus’ Return”

Increasing Potential

In 2009, I went to an integrative nutrition school where the instructor said writing was a good way to influence my “tribe.” I had no idea that this is what I would be doing nine years later, but here I am writing to my “tribe” – that’s you if you are reading this! The writing thing was completely new to me at that time. If for nothing else from my time at that school, I believe this was God’s way to get me to do this thing that I had no clue I could do. Every time I have a blog posting or a newsletter, I ask God if this is still something He wants me to do. And here I am typing out another post. So I assume He still has something to say through me. And if I have heard correctly, the words will reach someone who needs to read it for their benefit and for God’s glory.

On Tuesday, I listened to James MacDonald teaching on the parable of the talents. He said we will be accountable to Jesus on what we have done for Him. Pastor James mentioned that the talents in this passage refer to the capacity to serve God. As Jesus taught in this passage from Matthew 25:15-30, talent will be increased for those who use what they have been given. The one who received five talents immediately went to work to gain five more. They maximized the potential they had been given.

Pastor James said this: “Not everyone is a multiplier, but everyone should show an increase.” If we are in the Body of Christ, we should be increasing our potential for the Kingdom. We are to increase in our fruit bearing potential. We are told in this passage too that we will have a face-to-face meeting with our Master. He has given us resources to manage for Him while He has been away. There will be an accounting for our management skills. We have opportunities to use what we have for a greater Kingdom impact. Jesus expects an increase on His investment. He invested in us when He redeemed us by the way of the cross.

Jesus invested in His disciples. He taught them well. We are the product of their fruitfulness. But we have been given their burden as well. Through Scripture, we are taught just as the disciples were taught. We have Jesus’ words and His Spirit to instruct us. We have the same instructions as the disciples – go and make disciples – spread the Good News about God and His Kingdom. We are to tell others the power of the cross. Jesus died for us so that we could live with God for eternity. He paid the penalty for our sin. He took on our rags of filthiness and gave us His cloak of righteousness. That was a pretty sweet deal for us and a really bad deal for Him; but He took it on anyway. He thought we were worth it.

Since we have His Spirit, we have the capability to be like Him. The Spirit gives us the capacity to be fruitful like Jesus. We are given His Spirit to be His hands and feet while He is away. When He returns, He expects us to have been good managers and that His Kingdom has increased while He was away. For those who are gifted in certain gifts, it’s easier to share the Gospel; but we are all commissioned to do it. This was not His suggestion, but His commandment. Go and make disciples. There was never a “but clause” at the end. “I don’t have the gifting to evangelize, so I can’t speak to others about Jesus.” We all have that circle of influence that God places around us to communicate His Good News. We all have different gifts to get it done.

On Tuesday night at small group, we took a spiritual gift assessment. One of the ladies mentioned her gift of hospitality didn’t seem like a big deal. She also had the gift of mercy. The group responded about how big a deal that really was. Me, those were my two lowest gifts. I have the gifting of helps and faith. But we are all capable of meeting the needs of others in any way that the Holy Spirit leads us. We have a capacity that can be increased as we use our gifts. And when we do, we are rewarded either here or in heaven. But it’s not about the rewards but the Master. We are to always look to the giver and not the gifts.

My writing may not be much, but it is something I can use for God’s glory. God has something special for each of us to do, and He has enabled us with the gifts He has chosen for us to accomplish the goal. The Master will return one day, and we will have to give an account of what we’ve done with what He’s given us. Our lives are a reflection of Him. He invested a lot of blood in us. With that investment, He expects a greater return. We can do even greater things because of the Holy Spirit in us. And our capacity has exponential growth opportunities. We just have to be willing to use them for His glory. Let’s do our part before His return. He is coming soon!

“After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’

“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ Matthew 25:1-21 (NLT)

Preparing the Way

As we contemplate Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, I want to draw your attention to the waiting time. Have you ever noticed when God gives a promise, it usually doesn’t happen right away? Abraham and Sarah waited twenty-five years before the promised child arrived. Noah had to wait 120 years before the first raindrop fell. The Israelites lived in the land of Egypt for over 400 years before they got sick and tired of being oppressed by their slave masters and cried out to God for deliverance. God waited forty years for Moses to be ready to lead the people out of Egypt. Once they were led out, it took forty years before they took possession of the Promised Land.

From religious scholars we are told that it was 400 years of silence from the last Old Testament Prophet until the voice of the Lord spoke to Zechariah to announce the birth of John the Baptist. A baby would be born to Zechariah and Elizabeth to prepare the way for the Lord fulfilling prophecy concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus. The Old Testament prophets prophesied the birth of Jesus and the anticipation grew year after year. But when He arrived on the scene, only a few recognized Him as God’s promised One. It was foretold about His death and His resurrection, but again, no one understood what this would represent to all of humanity. The promise was fulfilled and the sting of death would be removed for all who believe. Promise after promise – and it all came true.

God is faithful in His promises. The silence though is unnerving to us. It erodes our confidence. It causes doubt to arise in us. Did we really hear from God? Noah built a boat on dry land! Abraham and Sarah decided God meant something else; after all she was in her sixties when the promise of a son was given to them. So they took matters into their own hands to fulfill God’s promise to them. But that was not the promised child. God said what He meant. Elizabeth too had a promise of a birth in her old age. Really? This makes no sense to us; yet, God is faithful to fulfill His promises in His time for His reason and in His way.

Then there’s the birth, life, ministry of Jesus written for all of us to read and believe. Prophecies are meant to be fulfilled in God’s will, in God’s way and in God’s time. And we still wait on the fulfillment of more prophecies to come. The Bible is full of promise. It’s full of hope. We are told that Jesus will return one day and receive the church – His bride. And we wait. Like the people of old who didn’t recognize their Messiah, will we lose sight of the promise? After such a long wait, generation after generation; complacency and doubt sets in. God has taken forever to send the promise, maybe He’s forgotten. But we know that’s not true. To God, a thousand years is like a day. His timetable is not ours.

Every time we are waiting for fulfillment, God is still at work. God continues to move things in place in order for everything to be right for the promise to be fulfilled. During the 400 years of silence, the language had to be common throughout the known world; roads had to be built for easier travel; military peace was given throughout the land to make the way for the Word to travel when the time came. God was busy preparing the way. I believe He is still preparing the way for the next event in His eternal plan.

It may seem God is slow in fulfilling His promises. We may have to build a large boat. Or we may have to live in the desert to grow to our potential for God’s purpose. Or there maybe roads that need to be built or nations that need to be lined up to God’s plan. God is always working, even when we hear nothing but silence. Maybe the silence is for us too. Maybe He is preparing our hearts for the promise to be received. Maybe there’s a reason that we cannot fathom right now, but we can be confident in our God – He always comes through – no matter what. His will, His ways and in His time. Just look to the cross of Jesus as proof. He is faithful and He loves you beyond any reason. Count on it and trust Him to fulfill His Word to you. No matter what you’re waiting on; if you have a promise from God, He will fulfill it. And we can count on Jesus coming back. Are you prepared to meet Him?

And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. 2 Peter 3:14-15a (NLT)

Family Talk

A few weeks ago, I submitted a test to determine my genetic makeup, and I received the results last week. It was not a surprise that the majority of my genetic code comes from Northern Europe – mostly British and Irish origin. I knew my father’s family tree as far back as the 1800’s when they arrived on American soil from the British homeland. I don’t really know my Mother’s people and their history, but now I know some of it since the majority of my DNA is Northern European. At some point, my Mom’s family had to have come from that region as well. I have a touch of culture from a couple of other regions as well. Nice.

Along with the ancestry portion, there is a health component to the test results. I have a few holes in my genetic makeup that needs to be filled with supplementation. If Jesus comes back soon, it’s irrelevant. But if He is delayed, then I need to work on my health plan. I don’t want my health to be an obstacle to completing the work God has given me to do. I am sure there will be many obstacles; however, I don’t want something that I could avoid to be one of them.

Like everyone else who has answered the call from Jesus, the work I am called to do is to be witnesses to those around me; telling the story of Jesus – His birth, His death and His resurrection and His redeeming plan for us. Those who answer the call are told we are to love each other because we are family. We will be known for our love for one another.

I also have a passion to help my Family get healthy. The Body of Christ is hurting, and there are a few holes that need to be filled. I look across our gathering times on Sundays and see a sick Body. Not judging here, but being observant to the people around me. I heard a few weeks ago about a dream someone had that Jesus spoke about His bride not being ready for Him.

Jesus told parables about the time of His second coming. One as a groom coming back for His bride – He went back home to prepare a room for His bride and would come back when the room was ready (as was the custom of that time). One about ten virgins preparing for the arrival of the groom – five virgins trimmed their oil lamps and had enough oil to last; five virgins were not prepared and ran out of oil before the return. Jesus also spoke about a thief coming in the night. If the homeowner had known the time of the thief’s coming, the homeowner would have been prepared.

On another occasion, Jesus gave a parable of a Manager who put others in charge of his money while he was away on a journey. Upon the Manager’s return, the ones who were put in charge were judged by the amount of growth that had occurred with his resources while he was away. I believe we are in a time when we act more like the unfaithful servant who hide the money instead of investing it for the future. We are staying within the walls of our building instead of going out and growing the Kingdom. I am guilty of this – it’s easier to stay in my comfort zone than take a step outside in the scary world.

We are told in Scripture to be watchful to the times we’re in so that we would not be caught unaware. I think we’ve forgotten that time is short. We are told our lives are just a vapor; but it’s hard to keep this in perspective. The early church believed Jesus was coming back quickly so they were all about spreading the word. I think we have grown used to the wait and really don’t consider it an issue. However, there are more signs today of the pieces of the puzzle falling into place than ever before.

Things are coming together, and one day a trumpet will sound. Jesus said He would return for us. We need to believe it and watch for it. And remember Jesus is looking for His bride to be ready. Many believe we are the generation that will see this come to pass. My heart grieves for the ones who think they are ready when they are not.

From one Family member to another, we need to be ready to meet Jesus. We each have to evaluate our hearts. Seek forgiveness. Embrace God’s mercy on your life. You are His child. Embrace His love for you. Because of Jesus, He has made you worthy. Accept it and live out of it. You never know when Jesus will come for you. Today may be the day. If not today, then we have one more day to live with a pure heart and a steadfast spirit and do the work we’re called to do. Go, love well.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Psalm 51:10-13

Two Minute Warning

As we wake up on this Wednesday morning, things have changed for us as a nation. When this blog posts, we will know who will be our next president. Half of the nation will not be happy about the outcome. There may be quite a bit of anger involved. My hope is that we can move forward regardless of the outcome and become united again. But I am afraid unity isn’t going to happen. There just seems to be something different “in the air” with this election cycle.

I don’t put my faith in the political process. God is still on the throne this morning. Nothing has changed in His plan. Everything is going along as He has seen it from the beginning. Our world may be rocked, but His isn’t. He has had His hand on the process from the beginning. Things may change for us, but God still works out good for those who are called according to His purpose. We will still have opportunities to do good in this day and in this time – may be even more so now than ever before.

My heart is burdened this day because of something I heard Monday night. I like to check in every few days with a YouTuber who gives a prophetic word or two. Of course, I don’t know if it’s true or not until it comes to pass. But just in case it is true, and I feel strongly about the word; I would like to share my thoughts this morning.

I believe the Word of the Lord tells us we are in the Last Hour. Since the beginning of time, we have come to this point on God’s clock. Since Jesus returned to heaven over two thousand years ago, the last hour has been ticking. I might even hesitate to say that we may even be in the last quarter of that hour. I believe since Israel has become a nation again; the people of God living in land God gave her; I believe the clock has been racing toward the final stroke of the clock. Things seem to be coming together at a rapid speed.

I think we all get this to some degree. However, I don’t think we truly get that Jesus stands at the door waiting for the word “go” from His Father. People have been waiting for Jesus to return for two thousand years; and we have gotten used to His delay. We don’t really think about the ramifications of how close we may be to the end.

The message I heard on Monday evening has given me much to contemplate. The message was brought forth from a man who coded and came back to tell the message he heard from Jesus. Jesus told him to share this message. The man is a big football fan. In his “in-between” state, he was shown an empty football stadium with the clock standing at 2:13 and was told this is the two-minute warning. Jesus told him that the church is not ready; because if the church was ready, then we wouldn’t be living the way we’re living. (Jesus instructed the man to read Titus 2:13.)

Over the last couple of weeks, I have posted my own thoughts on this matter (Letters to the Churches; It’s Inevitable). I do believe something is about to change for us as the Body of Christ. There was a quote I heard on Sunday from the Pastor in Hawaii who said “it takes a shake up to wake up.” We may not want to hear this, but I think we need to heed these warnings. There are “watchers on the wall” who see things that we may not see. Jesus tells us that those who have ears to hear let them hear. The watchers see, but we are to hear the warning they issue and take action.

We may not like to hear; it may be hard to hear; and it may not be the end in our lifetime; but regardless we are to live as if it is. Who knows when Jesus may come for us as the church or as individuals whose time has come? Someone will take their last breath today. We just never know when that day will happen.

If we live as if this is our last day, it should change how we view this day. We would love differently. We would offer kindness instead of anger. We would be more generous with our resources. We would be more intentional with our time. When we do live differently, we will be ready to meet Jesus. The church will be ready for Jesus to come and take His bride home. What a glorious day that will be! But in the meantime, pray for the nation; for the leaders in the nation, state and communities; and for your family to be right with Jesus. When we’re right with Jesus, we’ll be a better witness in this dark world. For those with ears, this is your two-minute warning.

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. Titus 2:11-14 (NLT)

Preach It!

Over the last few days, I have been listening to the Code Orange Revival from Elevation church in Charlotte, NC. There have been some great speakers with an inspired word given. However, it doesn’t remind me of the old revivals I went to as a child. The preaching I remember in those old revivals got into my business. It stirred up in me a great confession and a cleansing spirit. There were many times the altar would be filled with people coming before the Lord confessing their sins; asking for the cleansing spirit to wash them white as snow. At least, that was my prayer back in those days. Different time; different message.

On some Sunday’s, my pastor will speak a message that will mess with my heart. When he gets into that meddlin’ mood, we have a man in our midst that will shout out “Preach It!” and that just encourages the pastor to go deeper into my mess. When this happens, I know it’s time for confession and cleansing. It’s good to have an inspiring word to encourage, but we should also have a word that meddles in our business. We need to have our toes stepped on every once in a while.

One comment that was made last night that has left me a bit unsettled. The two pastors were kidding one another about their text messages back and forth to each other. The comment was that if their congregations saw their messages, the members would leave their churches. And they chuckled as well as the audience. It reminded me of a saying I have heard too many times lately “boys will be boys.” That too leaves me unsettled. It’s an excuse for anything that is done that would not be done before the Lord. And that’s what it’s all about.

Everything that we do as Christ followers should hold up in front of the Lord. I am reminded over and over Christ could be here at any time. If we are doing anything that would not be good when Christ returns, then we have some things to get right before that Day. If a text message is sent and Christ showed up right after we hit “send” would we face Him ashamed or confident that we were right before Him at that moment? Is our language God honoring or is it something that needs to be changed to reflect our true nature in Him? What about our actions? Are we doing anything that would not be good when Jesus shows up in His glory to take us home? Will we shrink back in that moment? We may not have time to confess those sinful actions when Jesus calls to us in those clouds.

James MacDonald is preaching about prayer breakthrough in his current series. One of the reasons we may not be experiencing breakthrough prayers is because of our hearts. The story is from Luke 18:9-14 about the Pharisee and the tax collector offering prayers in the temple courts. Pastor James points out two things that the Pharisee was showing that the tax collector wasn’t. The Pharisee was self-righteous and self-important. Pharisees were all about keeping the rules but their hearts weren’t right before God. Whereas the tax collector, knew his heart wasn’t right and had true heartfelt confession. He beat his breast showing his sorrow before the Lord. Pastor James point was that “True contrition results in a change of direction, which proves a change of heart – that person is ready for a breakthrough.”

When we have a true heartfelt change, that’s when revival begins. The rah-rah of revival will only get us so far. Once the revival is over and we’re back into the rhythm of life, the only thing that holds true is the word that made us beat our breasts and drop to our knees in confession before the Lord. We are to be committed to become who we are meant to be in Christ. Alive. Forgiven. Righteous. Holy. Living with the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to do what is right in God’s eyes. No shrinking back for His people. And the breakthrough happens when confession is real.

But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. Ephesians 4:20-24 (MSG)

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)

Whole Lot of Shaking

Have you looked at your retirement fund or stock portfolio lately? I haven’t. I have been scared to even peek at it. A couple of nights ago, I was listening to an alternative financial guru (alternative – meaning not the mainstream media folks). He is forecasting this year to be the collapse of the almighty dollar. The dollar hasn’t been backed by gold since the 70’s; and I have often wondered how currency floats without anything but paper to hold it up. I am not an economist and have no clue how the economy actually works. To me, it just doesn’t seem too stable. No wonder God tells us not to trust in money – it’s not very reliable to hold anything up for long!

Are you aware of all the earthquakes and volcano activity over the last year or so? There’s a YouTube channel that posts updates on all the activity around the world. It’s amazing the number of earthquakes that occur every week. The “ring of fire” is definitely on fire. The activity travels around the plates as they all move and shift under our feet. Can’t rely on the earth being a firm foundation either! It could shift right from under us. Not to mention the incredible storms we have had in the past few years. What in the world is going on?

Then there’s the war on terror happening around the globe. Extremists are trying to blow up anyone that doesn’t agree with their religious views. I read Joel Rosenberg’s the Twelve Imam series a few weeks ago. It was pretty eye-opening as a fictional account of radicalism that hits pretty close to home. His books are too eerily close to reality for peace of mind in this crazy world we live in. When I read his fictional accounts, I have to remind myself “this is fiction; not reality!”

We have hardly even started the political campaigning, and I am already tired of hearing about it. The candidates think they are the answer to the country’s woes. Why would anyone in their right mind want to take on this enormous task to straighten out this country? With the debt, with the immigration issues, with the possible terrorists camping out in plain sight; everything seems about ready to implode! Yet, people want to be the head of this mess. I just say “good luck, you’re going to need it!” The leader of this country is not going to get us out of this mess. The government cannot be our savior.

Nothing but doom and gloom on the horizon. The picture is not too bright (if you listen to the nightly news). However, if you look at the news through the biblical lens, I see God’s hand at work. The stage is being set. The earth is groaning and waiting for that Day. What if this is the year Jesus comes back for His church?! Scripture tells us it will be just like in the days of Noah. There was no sign of rain when the boat was sealed. People laughed and thought he was so foolish. Scripture tells us Jesus will come like a thief in the night. No one will suspect His coming.

There is nothing in this world we can count on, but the promises of God. God is the Promise Keeper. He is the only One who can fix our woes – nationally and personally. He is the only One we can rely upon. He is our firm foundation. God doesn’t change. He is trustworthy. When all else fails, the great I AM will never fail. Provider, protector, comforter, all His attributes are surrounded by love for us. God tells us to have courage. Andy Stanley said in his message this weekend, “We should not grow weary and lose heart. We are scaring the children!” People are watching Christians to see how we react to the circumstances. Scripture tells us to fix our eyes upon Jesus. Stand firm on His promises. Let nothing move us. Stanley says “We’re not to be sissy Christians!” We have a trustworthy God – believe Him! He keeps His promises.

Now I know that the Lord rescues his anointed king. He will answer him from his holy heaven and rescue him by his great power. Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God. Those nations will fall down and collapse, but we will rise up and stand firm. Psalm 20:6-8 (NLT)

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

The Vision

Do you have a vision of the future? Do you dream about what your life will look like in five or ten years? I can’t really say I have a great vision of the future. Sometimes, it feels like the future is very dark. Just look around and see all the things happening. It can be nothing but doom and gloom. I believe we are meant to dream though. God places in us a passion for something. It’s a matter of discovering what drives us to fulfill our purpose. We all have a unique calling. I believe there is a beautiful future ahead for each of us. Even in the presence of such oppression and darkness. God has something amazing for us. We are in the times before Jesus returns. God chose us for this hour. It’s no accident that we are here for this hour. We are here for something greater than what we could ever ask or imagine! Just imagine that!

There is a vision of the future that I get excited about every time I think about it. Every single day, we are getting closer to seeing Jesus. Even if I do not see Him coming in the sky – I will see Him when it’s my time to leave this earth. We are closer to seeing Him, but are we ready? We are told that Jesus will come when we least expect it. Beth Moore told her simulcast audience a couple of weeks ago to stop saying Jesus is coming on this particular day. She said that it’s delaying the time because we are expecting Him on that day! (She gave a humorous account of our predicting something that no one can predict).

Last week I wrote about The Day. Jesus sang the song as He was leaving for the Garden of Gethsemane – this is the day that the Lord has made. Finishing my thoughts about The Day, there is another day in which we are to rejoice. God set a day when Jesus will come once again for His bride. I think Jesus is at the threshold of heaven waiting for the word from God to “Go!” God is patiently waiting on the fullness of time. We are to be watchmen on the wall. We are to be about God’s work. We are not to be caught unaware. We are not to be in situations that we would be embarrassed if Jesus came for us. We are to have our conflicts resolved; forgiveness should be offered. We are given tasks to fulfill. We should not delay doing them. It’s time to get it done. We are to run our race until the end.

The vision for the future is bright. It is not a hopeless situation, but a hopeful expectation. Times are definitely rocking toward a dark day when the heavens will roll up and all hell will break loose. As long as the light is still shining on the people of God, we still have time to act. We still are able to reach those who are walking in darkness. God is still calling people to Himself. God has promised many blessings to those who endure until the end. Let’s run with endurance. Let’s face the giants of oppression with the power we’re given in Jesus Christ! We are not meant to shrink away, but stand in fight with the determination of a champion prize-fighter! We have already won and we need to remember who we are! We are victorious in the battle.

The vision of the future is brighter still. And we will rejoice together with one voice for the glory of the Lord! Jesus had that day in mind when He endured the cross; He endured the cross with joy because He had a vision of the future joy that surrounded the throne of God. As disciples of Jesus, we are the children of light. We are not meant to hide our light. Let it shine before all humankind so on that day, all the nations will be represented in front of the throne – REJOICING! Lord Jesus come! Let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven! For this is the day that You have made; we are rejoicing with heaven for this day! And all God’s people said – AMEN!

Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.” John 12:35-36

The Cornerstone

My church has just finished “The Story” published by Zondervan. It’s the Bible in a story form. From beginning to end – it’s all about the Word of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us – Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone – the perfect point of a foundation. Nothing can be built on an imperfect foundation. It will not stand. The Story walked us through God’s story of redemption through Jesus. The Word is the foundation of our lives. It’s the seed that takes root and becomes a fruitful tree. The root is long and keeps the tree from falling during the most difficult storms. When things get shaken, it’s the only thing that will keep us grounded.

There was a time in my life when I didn’t read the Bible. I didn’t understand that it was living and breathing. I didn’t understand that it was God’s inspired word. I didn’t have a basic understanding of the most foundational aspect of a Christian’s life. They say that when the Bible is falling apart; the life of the one reading it isn’t. It wasn’t until my life was falling apart, when I found the Word was the answer I was seeking. My life was off track and it’s the only thing that brought me back. The more I read the Bible, the more I want to learn.

On Monday, I was listening to James MacDonald speak about the foundations of our faith. He called this sermon “Back to School.” It’s getting back to the basics to truly live a changed life. The Word is the instrument that causes the change. We saturate our minds with God’s truth, and it will develop a foundation that will never be shaken. We have to get back to believing in the Word.

The Word is beautiful in its complexity and its simplicity. It has so many layers that we just don’t get! I listened to a snippet of a messianic rabbi speak about Holy Communion. He opened up the Word and talked about the significance of the wine. The wine has two representations: one through the Passover wine and the other as the betrothal wine given to the woman before the engagement.

In Jewish customs for arrangement marriages (back in biblical times), the dowry was paid by the potential bridegroom for the one that was chosen. After the payment, a cup of wine was brought to the woman to consummate the engagement. If the woman accepted the wine and drank it, then the engagement was set between the pair – they were officially married. The man did not drink the wine. It was only for the future bride. The bridegroom left the woman with her family while the husband went to prepare a place for them to live. Once the bridegroom had made the necessary arrangements, He came back for the bride. When the bridegroom came back, a celebration began. The bridegroom would then be given a cup of wine to drink at the celebration. Jesus gave the illustration of the end of times concerning ten virgins waiting on the bridegroom’s appearance. Five were ready; five were not. Jesus’ words were recorded in Matthew 25:13 saying “keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” of the bridegroom’s arrival. No one knew how long it would take the bridegroom to prepare that special place.

In Jesus’ last Passover supper, He passed the cup of wine to His disciples and told them to drink it. Jesus said the wine represented His blood. In Scripture, we are told that blood contains life. Jesus’ blood is the covenant of everlasting life. When we take that cup, we are agreeing to His proposal of marriage. We are to consider this cup very careful. Jesus told the disciples that He would not drink of it “until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29). Jesus said that He was going away to prepare a place for us, and He would return one day (John 14:2-3)! When He comes back for His bride, there will be a mighty celebration on that day! The marriage will be complete, and we live with Him for eternity!

Jesus paid the dowry for His bride (the Church) by His death on the cross. Jesus said that His body was the bread that was broken for us. Jesus’ declaration was written in John’s Gospel: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). Manna came from heaven while the Israelites were in the wilderness. But the Bread of Life that came down for us; is a life-giving bread that when we eat of it, we will never be hungry again.

Layer upon layer as we take this Word and devour it, it transforms us into a beautiful bride for Jesus our cornerstone – the foundation on which we stand. We will never be unsatisfied with the life given nourishment of this Holy Word. From beginning to end, it is the everlasting covenant that we can trust for eternal life.

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:5-6

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