buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Jesus”

Tick Tock

The prophetic clock is ticking. Have you ever wondered why such a little city causes so much fuss? Jerusalem. The city on a hill. This little city has always caused such unrest throughout history. Ever wonder why? Or do you not think about it? After all, who really cares about such a little place? Why fight over it? Is there really any value to it?

Trump’s words yesterday about Jerusalem will be a stumbling block for most nations. As of last night, the news stated eight nations so far had come out against Trump’s moving the embassy to Jerusalem. He declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Many are saying that this will disrupt the two-state solution for the peace of Palestine and Israel.

Watch and see.

When Trump was elected, I thought it was because of Israel and God’s prophetic clock. I don’t like to comment on political stuff. I don’t care who voted for who. I don’t really care that Trump is causing havoc in the world. All I know is God placed Trump on this “throne” for such a time as this. After all, how do you explain how Trump became president? Russia? No. People are trying to blame other factors, but I say it was all God. The twists and turns were too much to comprehend, but God. God is doing something prophetic.

Watch and see.

The trouble with prophecy is that we don’t recognize it in the day-to-day events. It’s always a hindsight thing. Take the book of Esther for example. I love the story. All the events in that book seem so minor, but what came to be was extremely important to saving the nation of Israel. God has always been faithful to His nation. Yes, they have been destroyed before – actually many times – but He has always saved a remnant, so that the nation would rise again in time.

Why should we really care about all this? It’s just one nation in a world full of other nations? It’s just a little spit of land, about the size of New Jersey. We should care because God cares. He told Abraham, the forefather of Israel, that anyone who blesses your people will be blessed; anyone who curses your people will be cursed. However, when we see this play out in history, we don’t see these dots connect. Nations have risen and fallen throughout history. But can dots be connected to how they treated Israel and the fall of their nations? It would be an interesting study.

There are some connections in recent years – the British rule and its vast empire fell soon after they sent the Jews from their lands. Spain threw the Jews out as well, and they too have not been significant in the world since that time. Look at Germany and their fall from strength after World War II, yes, they were destroyed in the war… but is it just coincidence that it was because of the war on Jews that these things have taken place? What will happen to these countries that come out against the Jews today? It’s all speculation, I know.

Watch and see.

We don’t really know what God is up to in this day and time. We are told to be watchful in these days. We are to keep looking up because the time is near. This is not a dooms day time. This is an exciting time. God is still on His throne, and He is still watching over His people. We will see His glory.

Watch and see.

We celebrate this time of the year with Jesus’ birth. The manager of the department where I work wanted to stay neutral on the whole holiday theme. Seems to me there is no neutrality when it comes to Christmas. It’s pretty much all about Him. Oh, through the years, it’s become more about Santa and the little children. But if we really step back and get back to the heart of Christmas, we need to focus on Jesus. Maybe this would be a significant time to talk about Jesus and tell others what He has done for us. If we truly are in a prophetic time, then it’s time to be about the Lord’s business.

I know. My message seems always seems to be about one thing – tell others what we know. The Body of Christ needs a spark to fan into flame a passion worth sharing. It’s a struggle to share something we do not believe in. But when it takes hold of us in such a way, nothing can stop us when we have a passion motivating us to share. Football fans can testify to this. Anytime there is a passion, there is a willingness to share – it’s the way we are made. I can talk about food and healthy lifestyles all day long with the right audience. The message of Jesus should also be that kind of passion in us.

It’s time to let the people nearest you in on the secret. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The nation of Israel is the living testimony to the faithful God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Because of their ancestral line, we have the gift of Christmas. The remnant was saved for Jesus. The Jewish nation now is a testimony of what is to come.

Watch and see.

“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:34-36 (ESV)

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Buy the Field

On Sunday, the Pastor brought a great message. I even told him so after one of the gatherings. Since I was serving on Sunday, I heard the message three times. But I confess today, I don’t really remember the whole message. I remember a couple of things though that leaves me feeling a bit convicted.

One thing he said, and I have heard it before, the statistics of us sharing our faith or leading others to Jesus is shameful. Less than ten percent share their faith with others outside of our faith and less than one percent has led others to Jesus Christ. I do share my faith – much more on the web than I do in person, but I have in person as well. But I have failed to lead anyone to Christ. Planted seeds, yes. Harvested, no.

The other thing I recall from Sunday is a story he shared about his brother-in-law. It was a story about transformation. His brother-in-law had a casual relationship with Jesus. It wasn’t until he lost everything and hit rock bottom before he looked up and truly found Jesus. He had risen in his company and was making great money, but then the stress caused him to turn to drugs and drugs never lead anywhere good. He lost his job, lost his wealth and almost cost him his life. But in rehab, everything changed. He came out a different man.

I think one of the reasons we don’t share our faith or lead others to Jesus is that we aren’t convinced that Jesus is everything we need. My story isn’t like the Pastor’s brother-in-law. I grew up in church. I have known about Jesus all my life. Yes, there was a time when I walked into a dark valley of my own free will. But I recall that time as being very painful and lonely. I discovered a few years later, that I would rather have Jesus as my Lord than me as my lord. My story is one of slowly turning everything over to His control. One part of my heart at a time. As I was led throughout the years, every part was revealed to me and I submitted it to His Lordship. It has taken years to get to where I am today.

When I hear of others say they don’t need Jesus, I get it. I mean, my life has been easy. I had a good home life growing up. I have had good jobs over the years. I had everything I needed. A little bit of Jesus maybe good enough for that kind of life. But I know there can be so much more. I read stories in the Bible that tell me there is so much more to this surrendered life. However, I want that kind of story without the hardship!

I listened to an interview yesterday between Jonathan Otto and Dani Johnson. Dani shared her story of deliverance and healing. But there was a statement that was said by one of them, not sure which one, that has hung in the air ever since. “The poor know Him more.”

It reminds me of the story that Jesus shared about a rich young man (Matthew 19) who asked Him what he should do to enter heaven. Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor, then come follow him. The young man left very sad because he had great wealth. Jesus said that it was difficult for the rich to enter heaven and that floored the disciples. They assumed richness was a sign of God’s favor on a person’s life. But if the possessions possess us, what good is to have the richness of the world and have nothing of Jesus? Emptiness. Loneliness. Spiritually bankrupt. Maybe that’s okay for some if they don’t know anything different. They just don’t know all that they could have.

We are told in Matthew 13 that heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When we find the treasure, we will sell everything in order to buy the field. How many of us would sell everything for that kind of possession of heaven? Maybe that’s why most Christians only have a little bit of Jesus. Maybe we’re so afraid Jesus is going to ask us to sell it all and give it all to the poor that we fail to have the best treasure of all. If we bought that field, we would rejoice and share the news with everyone. It’s a matter of conviction that we would know we have just bought the greatest thing ever.

People were (and are) willing to die for that richness of heaven. Every disciple laid his life down to share the Good News of Jesus. They were convinced because they knew Jesus in the flesh; watched Him die a painful death. But what changed for them was when they saw Him resurrected. They touched the wounds. They ate with Him. They were empowered by His Spirit. The same Spirit we have in us when we believe in this Jesus. We can have a deeper conviction too. Maybe we need a different encounter that would change everything for us.

Are you willing to risk everything to follow Him? Or will you walk away sad because of your great wealth? Don’t let possessions possess you. It’s not worth it. Go, buy the field. It’s worth every penny!

Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.” Matthew 19:28-30 (MSG)

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

Payment Needed

Last night, I listened to a preacher who spoke about North Korea. It was a random video I ran across, but it stayed with me. He spoke of the people of North Korea. He spoke specifically about the brothers and sisters in Christ there who wonder if anyone sees their plight. They look up and wonder if God hears their cries.

I can’t imagine what my brothers and sisters in Christ are experiencing today. I can’t imagine their hardships; the persecution they face. Theirs will be a greater reward for what they have endured while here on this earth. I am sure they would love to see God’s glory in the land of the living though. I am sure they would love to see Jesus high and lifted up in this time and in that place. Ultimately, suffering is a temporary thing; but it could take forever to be relieved.

The time is coming when all evil will be vanquished to hell, but we still have to live with it for a while longer. Many are saying the end is near. Many think Jesus will return in the next few years, if not sooner. The evilness that is exhibited in North Korea will be destroyed as well as every area where evil rules. The brothers and sisters in Christ will be avenged. Jesus is coming back as a lion, not a lamb. The Lion of Judah will roar. This is not good news for those who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Matter of fact, the majority on this earth will perish when Jesus returns.

There are consequences of sin that will have to be paid in full. Scripture tells us in Romans 6:23 the wages for sin is death. No one can be good enough to get to heaven. I was told that good people don’t go to heaven – forgiven people do. The people who recognize their sin and recognize the holiness of Jesus and realize they can’t meet Jesus’ standards; these people humble themselves before Jesus and ask Him to forgive them, ask Him to take away their sins and seek His righteousness and holiness. These people will be in heaven. Thanks to Jesus, He paid the price of our sin. He received our death. Jesus said at His last breath – it is finished or it could be translated as paid in full.

When Jesus comes back, He is looking for payment. When He comes back, He will look for those who are His. He will gather them together and give them entry into heaven. There will be some who come to Him, but He will tell them He does not know them. They thought they had done everything right – they had been good enough. However, they never gave their hearts to Jesus; they never sought His forgiveness; they never humbled themselves before Him. I can’t imagine the pain they will experience in that moment when they realize they have missed their chance of eternal life and will receive an eternal death. The rest of Romans 6:23 states the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. We can’t earn it – it’s a gift.

I listen to several speakers concerning many things, especially on health topics. The other day, I listened to a secular speaker who normally speaks about health, but this time he spoke on a topic concerning end time events. Someone had given him a movie or documentary to watch on events occurring right now and how it aligns with Bible prophecy. He marveled that what we are experiencing today was prophesied (my word, not his) in the Bible. He spoke of Israel becoming a nation and how it was foretold in ancient times.

It was sad to hear him say that his great-grandfather was a minister. His grandfather actually instructed him to read the Bible, but his grandfather died early in this man’s life and the influence was broken. He said that as a child he had been baptized as a Christian. It just makes me sad to think that there are many like him. They may believe they are Christian because their parents sprinkled them when they were infants or may have been baptized as a child. As my pastor said many times, all this did was make them wet.

It’s a conscious decision to follow Jesus that makes a person a Christian. It’s a heart change. It is recognizing sin as sin, turning away from it and turning toward Jesus. That’s what makes us Christian. That’s what makes us followers of Jesus. We’ll never be good enough, but just turning to Jesus, putting faith in what He did for us on the cross, believing that Jesus died and rose again for the sins of mankind – my sin and your sin, that’s the payment that will get us into heaven.

Thank you, Jesus for your sacrifice as the Lamb of God for dying for us in our place and paying the price for our sin. May all come to know you as Lord and Savior before you return. Amen.

“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.” John 3:19-21 (MSG)

Pursuing the best life

I got a notice a couple of weeks ago that AT&T will be coming through my neighborhood to install a fiber optic line. A couple of days later, there were multiple colored lines spray painted in my yard and on the street. Then the real work began yesterday. Men were digging and drilling holes across the front of my yard. As I was watching them (for at least a few minutes at a time), I noticed there was a particular hard place for them to dig and drill. The place was near another hard place that I found a year or two after I moved into my house. The hard place was really a very large rock that extends from the front of my house to the back of the house; I assume the same rock. I didn’t know though that the rock extended to where they were digging. And apparently under my driveway. They were having a tough time making a trench under the driveway. They had to stop and readjust multiple times. They eventually got around the obstacle, but it took a couple of hours in the hot sun to get the job done.

All this was happening while I was preparing to write this blog. Before the men showed up, I had all the best intentions to write all day. I had several things to get done, but I got very distracted. I get easily distracted when it comes to my writing times. Over the last few months, it’s been a real struggle to sit down and write. It’s been very discouraging. Usually the words would flow before I sat down to write, but it’s not like that right now. However, when I sit down to write and focus on what God puts before me, the words come. The trouble isn’t writing, it’s sitting down to write.

My pastor spoke about focus this past Sunday. We are bombarded with distractions all around us. Everything can get us off track. The enemy uses the world to get our attention. The worldly things draw us away from God. Dr. Tony Evans said in a message last month that God doesn’t want us to love the world because it’s run by Satan. The world leaves God out. God will not compete with Satan. When we focus on worldly things, we worry. We place too much emphasis on things that do not matter; they are temporary and unimportant in the long run. We should look at things through an eternal lens. Will this thing matter to us in 100 years? We are after all eternal beings and will be somewhere in 100 years.

It reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha when Jesus came to visit. Martha was upset that Mary wasn’t helping in the kitchen. Mary had chosen to sit at the feet of Jesus, but Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was needed in the kitchen. But Jesus said, My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 NLT) Mary was focused on the most important thing in that moment – Jesus. Martha was distracted by her work, and she failed to see the things that truly mattered.

Jesus is the solution for our worry. When we focus on Him, He gives us a different perspective on our circumstances. Only Jesus is bigger than our worries. We should focus on the One who can fix our circumstances; who controls all things.

Jesus told us through Scripture that the most important commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength (Deut 6:5). In other words, seek Him first and everything else falls into place. The Israelites were instructed to repeat this commandment over and over; to tell their children, to tie this commandment to their wrists and foreheads, and to write the commandment on their doorposts. This commandment was essential to keep God’s people focused on what mattered. When Israel forgot, they were lost and exiled. There were removed from their Promised Land because they chose idols instead of God. They lost their focus on what really mattered.

When our lives are centered on Jesus, He will lead us to the Promised Land; the best place. He doesn’t remove our circumstances, but He gives us peace in it. Jesus is our Shepherd who protects us against the enemy. He leads us to the green pastures and the cool living water to refresh our souls. Jesus said there’s only one thing worth being concerned about. Like Mary, have you found it? Sit with Jesus for a while before you do anything else and let Him be your guiding light. Find eternal value that will matter in the long run.

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Colossians 3:1-2 (MSG)

Reflections

This past weekend was my Mom’s birthday; the day she came into this world. However, she had a greater birthday, the day she was born into the Kingdom of God – her spiritual birth. I don’t know when that day was. I don’t think I ever heard her say. Maybe she didn’t even know it. She grew up in church. Her father was a minister of the Word so she grew up knowing about Jesus. But there has to be one day when we all put our faith and trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior and commit to Him only. I don’t know that day for her, but I know she was committed in her relationship with Him. I know that on her birthday this past weekend, she was celebrating in heaven with Jesus – not because of her birthday but because of Jesus.

In the last days of Mom’s life, she spent them in a hospital room surrounded by her family. There were a few times when I found myself alone with her. Those times were precious. We had good conversations. But there is one conversation I wish I had with her. When she went into the hospital, she was in an emergency situation. We could see she was drifting towards heaven. The doctor would remind her to stay with us, and she would come back. The doctor told us she would be leaving soon to call everyone in that needed to be there. So we did. However, God gave us more time with her.

After she was admitted to the hospital, the next day I was alone with her for a couple of hours. I told her what a close call she had. At that moment she started thanking Jesus. I had never heard her say the things I heard her say in those moments. She was praising Jesus for something but I don’t really know why. I always assumed she was thanking Him for letting her stay here – that she was afraid to die. But I will never know because I didn’t ask her what she meant by her thanks. I never had that conversation.

We asked her pastor to have the conversation with her about her readiness for heaven to make sure she was okay before God called her home. After that conversation, the pastor reassured us that Mom knew her Savior and Lord and had trusted Him for her salvation. She was ready. My Mom’s sister told us later that Mom told the pastor that God gave her a glimpse of heaven when she was drifting in and out that first day in the hospital. I don’t know if this is true or not, but maybe that’s what she was praising Jesus for. Again, I’ll never know because I didn’t have the conversation with her.

During Mom’s life, she tried to instill in her daughters love – she showed us love in different ways. She modeled Jesus for us. She was not perfect. But she gave us an understanding of what God’s love looked like in human form – because she loved us deeply. I don’t think I returned as much love as she gave out. I asked her during one of those last conversations, if she knew how much I loved her and she said yes. So somehow in my fumbling attempts to love, she knew it. She also wanted to know if I would go back to my old way of life when she was gone (you’ll have to read my story in my book Mirror, Mirror to get the full context of my old life). The answer was no. I told her my faith and my life was in Jesus. There was no going back for me.

When Mom left us in the end, she was at peace. All the conversations were done. We gave her the release to go. And with one final breath, she was gone; at least from this present life. We know where she is right now. And for that fact, we rejoice and celebrate the coming reunion that one day we will have with her and the rest of our loved ones who know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Jesus said the way is narrow and not everyone will find it. He alone is the only way to find the door to heaven. He is the gate. He is the light. He is the truth. Only Jesus’ death and resurrection, gives us the key to heaven. We are told that when we believe this and receive that key, we will have entry into heaven. One day, every knee will bow to Jesus. Jesus said though, only the ones who know Him as Lord and Savior will be allowed in. That seems a bit narrow, doesn’t it? People scoff at that narrow-mindedness. But the only way to know you are secure in your relationship with God is through Jesus.

My prayer is that you will not wait for your final moments to know if you are secure. Get right today. Know Jesus today as Lord and Savior. Walk with the assurance that Jesus is your Lord and Savior and find peace today. My Mom’s life was a good reflection, and I hope mine will be for someone else to see Jesus in me. That’s the purpose for all of us – to honor and glorify Him every day of our lives. Let it be said of me – and you. Thank you, Jesus! I praise Your Holy Name today! Amen.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” John 3:16-18 (MSG)

The Bridge

I had a strange dream last night. I was on a rocky shore looking inland. I needed to get inland; I couldn’t stay where I was. I started to make my way around a jetty, but it was too hard to cross. Someone came along in a boat and helped me get around it. As I looked inland, I noticed a bridge in the distance. I knew I needed to make my way to the bridge, but I didn’t know how I was going to do it. From the shore, I found a path up the rocks to a door. I crossed through the door and found myself on a high ledge overlooking a rapidly flowing river. Someone behind me wanted me to go up this ledge but the way was scary. There were rock footholds along the ledge that allowed movement upward. The rocks were not stable; one fell as I grabbed hold of it. The person behind me kept telling me to go faster but I couldn’t. I was making my way to the bridge when I woke up.

Don’t you hate it when you wake up before the dream is finished? As I was in that in between state of full wakefulness, I contemplated why I needed to cross the bridge. I think it represented safety. The river was too rapid and would be my sure demise. The place where I started wasn’t any safer either. I had to keep moving toward my goal.

The dream reminded me of a way to present the Gospel message. I was told to draw a picture of two cliffs. One side is where we stand. The other side is where God stands. There is a wide crevice between us with no way to cross to God on our own. God gave us Jesus to be the bridge between us and Him. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). It’s only through Him that we can cross to God. There are many along our path that will point us to Jesus – the bridge. But we all have to choose to follow the narrow path to His door. He is the door we go through to eternal life. The way is always narrow, and the way is always fought with obstacles to make us want to turn back. The bridge though is what we truly want – peace is just on the other side.

I have known about Jesus all my life. I grew up in church. I had a Bible on my nightstand since I was old enough to read – even though I didn’t really read it unless prompted to do so. My Mom and Dad pointed the way to Jesus, but it was my own choice to follow Him. I haven’t always followed the path perfectly. I have strayed far and wide from it at certain times of my life. Jesus, though, always came looking for me. He never let me stay off the path for long.

I know many would say that there are more ways to heaven than going through Jesus. Many think that their good works will get them there. However, good works will be burned upon entry. If the good we do stands it will be like silver or gold; the dross will rise out of the fire and what remains will be purified. The good that stands are eternal good works – done for the “least of these.” The good we attempt on our own is like straw or hay which will be burned up upon entry. It will amount to nothing. Jesus taught that if we do good works with impure motives or acknowledge our works to others, it will not stand. The ones who do the will of God are the ones whose work will be purified through the fire.

God sent His Son to us as a babe in swaddling clothes. He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:32). At the time of His anointing, He began to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recover sight to the blind and to release the oppressed. He showed us the way to eternal life. Jesus calls us to follow Him. We are told to fix our eyes upon Him. When the way is rocky and the storms of life come, it’s only by His presence we will have peace to endure and finish well. Let’s not forget the reason for this season. Let’s keep our eyes focused on Jesus, our bridge to eternal life.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18 (NLT)

It’s Inevitable

Can it get more bizarre? We have less than a week now to one of the biggest elections in my lifetime. I remember Watergate. I remember Carter’s presidency. I remember Bush/Gore election and waking up the next morning to find out who actually won. We’ve had a few twists and turns throughout our history, but really can it get any worse? But God is in control of all of it, and He is never surprised. He knows exactly what’s happening here and knows how it’s all going to turn out. I know God’s hand is in this election process. I mean, really. God has been all over this election period from day one when each candidate chose to run; and when each and every one of them dropped out until we’re left with these two.

And here we are with six days to go. On Wednesday next week, life as we know it will go on. Change will happen regardless of who is behind that desk in the oval office. Change is inevitable. We either go with it or fight it, but it’s going to happen regardless. After all, God’s Word has already told us things are going to spiral out of control in the last days. Yes, the last days have been since Jesus returned to heaven. But He told us it’s going to be like a woman in labor. The pains will come closer and closer together until that moment of birth.

I think we can all agree that the pains have grown closer and closer over the last several years. God’s word tells of the prophecies in the end, and we’re seeing a good bit of these things today. He tells us to be watchful and anticipate the end. I have struggled with the concept that all this (picture hands waving in the air) will come to an end one day. I have read Revelation – I know what it says about the end of time. But to believe that one day I could actually see it come to fruition seems a bit far-fetched. Why did He choose us to go through this period (if it truly is the end)? We could have all been born in a different century.

I don’t know when we can anticipate the rapture; before the tribulation period or after or maybe right in the middle; who knows? I do believe we’ll have to go through some times of suffering. Pruning will have to happen – to each of us personally and to the Church Body. Branches have to be pruned in order to be fruitful. These last days will be fruitful and persecution of the Church is inevitable – every branch of the church no matter where it is located needs some pruning. The American branch has been sitting pretty for a couple of centuries, but things are going to change. It has to. God foretold it in His Word. If God said it, then it will happen just as He said. Persecution is coming; it’s just a matter of time.

The thing about persecution, we are told to count it as joy when we experience suffering (James 1:2). In the early days of the church, the apostles rejoiced after being flogged because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name (Acts 5:41). In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul “boasts” about all the suffering he endured for the sake of the Gospel message. Of course, that was back in the day; surely we won’t have to endure such things, right? I cry over a stubbed toe!

I have noticed that we don’t get out of this life without some kind of suffering. If we are doing God’s work, then we will suffer in some way. Satan hates God and because of his hatred of God, he hates us. Anything Satan can do to thwart the plans of God, he’ll do it. Satan will try to take us out, but nothing can get to us unless it comes through God. God will only allow suffering for His purpose. Suffering will purify our faith. Count on it. And count it as joy because we have been counted worthy to suffer for His Name. Let it be as He said. And let us be found faithful to the tasks in this time and place for we are here for such a time as this!

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:12-14

The Letters to the Churches

I don’t know if you are as sick of this election cycle as I am, but I will be so glad when it’s all over. If I hear one more commercial about what he said or what she did – that goes for national and state too – I think I’ll just scream. I keep waiting for the truth to come out; after all, what’s done in darkness will come to light one day. Satan loves to reveal his work especially when it comes to God’s people.

There’s been too many occasions lately when I have heard of moral failures in the leadership of churches. It’s pretty common place to have moral failures in the membership; even though that shouldn’t be, but it is. But leadership has a different standard which they should be held accountable. The dark deeds always come to light. God will not let us “get away” with anything that is done in darkness when we are supposed to be of the light. He pursues us in those pig sty locations! He will set us up to get caught. Been there, done that; didn’t enjoy the consequences of my actions.

In my Bible, the chapter heading for the fifth chapter in 1 Corinthians says to “Expel the Immoral Brother!” That seems pretty harsh. Paul wrote that the Corinthian church body was not to associate with sexually immoral people (vs 9). The letter was written to the church for the church body. Paul had sharp words for those allowing such sins to remain in the church body. Paul wrote that a little yeast will work through a whole batch of dough. Sins left unchecked in the Body will have consequences and bring harm to the church’s influence.

In Galatians, we read how Paul offers the hand of reconciliation to those who are caught in sin (Galatians 6:1-5). We are told to help carry the burdens of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus tells us not to cast stones at those caught in sin. We can also fall into the same trap and need to be watchful for Satan’s attempts to harm the church through us. Paul wrote to the church body in Ephesus about living as children of the light. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” (Ephesians 5:3).

Paul’s writings were for a different time, right? This doesn’t apply now, does it? I believe these truths still stand, and I believe the church body will be sifted for any “weeds that have grown up in our wheat field.” If Jesus is getting ready to come back to get His bride (the church) like I hear from prophecy experts, then the church has to be ready. The church needs to be clean. And the leadership needs to be held to the certain standards set for overseers and deacons as stated by Paul in 1 Timothy 3. Paul reminds us that all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

We go to the letters to the church found in Revelation, and Jesus warns these churches of the coming wrath. To the church in Ephesus, He said to repent and do the things they did at first; they had forsaken their first love – Him. He warns them if they do not repent, their lampstand will be removed (Revelation 2:4-5). To the church in Smyrna, He reminded them of the coming persecution; to stand strong in the face of it (Revelation 2:10). To the church in Pergamum, He called them to repentance because of the teaching that was allowed to entice the believers to sin. To the church of Thyatira, again this church was misled into sexual immorality. He reminded the hearers of His word that He searches hearts and minds; “hold on to what you have until I come” (Revelation 2:25).

To the church in Sardis, He tells them to wake up! He tells them to obey what they have heard and repent (Revelation 3:3). To the church in Philadelphia, He tells them to hold on as well. He said He is coming soon; how much more so now than then. And to the last church letter to Laodicea, He warned them about being lukewarm (Revelation 3:16). Being lukewarm is repulsive to Him. But He said to those whom He loves, He would rebuke and discipline. He stands at the door waiting. If we have ears, we need to hear and be obedient to His teachings.

Church, it’s time to wake up; it’s time to clean up our act. It’s time to turn away from the darkness and live as children of the light. Leaders of the church, you set the example we must follow. Teach the truth even if we don’t want to hear it. It’s time to thrive again. Politicians and government cannot do what the church is equipped to do – love one another and be the light to our communities. Jesus is counting on us. For those with ears, let them hear.

Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Luke 13:23-25

Three Billion

As I tended to the plants in my yard yesterday, I started reminiscing. When I was in high school, I studied horticulture in my junior and senior years. I don’t remember what began the fascination with plant life, but I do remember taking care of my Mom’s house plants after we moved into our new house back in the mid 70’s. The new house had lots of windows, and plants were positioned all around. Dad and I did the majority of the landscaping at that house, and the houses that came after it.

I once thought I would go into that field once I graduated from high school and college. However, I applied for a part-time job at a local nursery for a summer job and got turned down. And the door slammed shut on that particular interest. I didn’t consider it any further as a career.

During my life, I turned from one passion to the next. Before plants, my passion was golf. I just knew I would grow up to be a professional golfer; until we moved to that new house in the new city – far away from a golf course. I still love golf and play every chance I get.

I followed college basketball and professional football for years on end. Certain teams at different times depending on the “star” at the time. It was NC State while Coach Jimmy V was there. Miami Dolphins were my team during the mid 70’s. Washington Redskins because my Dad followed the team. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype and jump on the bandwagon when seasons are going well. I used to get so worked up about winning or losing. I stopped watching a few years ago when I was convicted about all the time I wasted watching television.

Recently, I listened to David Jeremiah talked about the signs of the times. In one of his messages, he talked about apathy. He explained the Greek for the word apathy – pathos is passion and an “a” in front means it’s “anti” whatever. So for apathy, it’s a lack of passion. To me, I don’t believe we have a “lack of passion” in the world today. Just look to the sports arenas throughout the world; there’s plenty of passion. I think it’s just the wrong passion or wrongly placed passion which is the problem today.

I see Facebook posts all the time about animals in trouble and people get stirred up about abuses. Or people get worked up about injustices. I’m not saying these are a bad thing. Are we stirred up for the right reason? Or are we stirred up for the right thing? Persecution. Abortion. How about the lost people of this world who will never hear about Jesus because they are in a place that is not open to the Gospel message?

David Platt recently had a message at Passion City Church where he spoke about the three billion unreached people who will never know or hear the name Jesus in their lifetime. Spiritually speaking, we all stand condemned unless we know the Savior who sets us free from our sins. If they do not know and will never hear, then they stay condemned and will be forever apart from God. Levi Lesko said recently that “good people don’t go to heaven, forgiven people do.” That can be quite shocking if someone is banking on the “good people” heaven theory (all good people will go to heaven). Or I have heard it said that all religions are the path to heaven. Well if that were the case, then Jesus didn’t have to die such a cruel death.

My pastor reminded us on Sunday, Christianity is the only religion where there is an empty grave. All the other religions, the founder has a grave where worshippers can go to pay homage to their prophet or god. But not so with Christianity; there is only an empty grave in Israel marked with a plaque. The resurrection happened and eyewitnesses wrote about the encounters with the risen Jesus. Throughout the centuries, people have died because of their passion for the risen Lord. All the disciples, except for John, were executed because of their testimony of the risen Lord.

The idea of a risen Lord should change any apathy we may have to one of complete joy and a willingness to go to the ends of the earth to tell others before it is too late. It begins with prayer for hearts to be softened for the Good News. David Platt quoted Carl Henry, an old theologian, “the Gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.”

This message has been one to check my heart: passion or apathy? My passion has been misplaced throughout the years. I followed many things that were not worth my attention. Let the right passion fuel my life with the right focus on what matters to God. Three billion people separated for eternity should matter to me because it matters to God.

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15 (NLT)

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