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Archive for the tag “Repentance”

In the Gap

We are just days away from another catastrophe, at least that’s what is projected. A hurricane has its sights on Florida or the east coast. I sit in my little home in a safe distance from the coast of North Carolina, but that didn’t matter for Hurricane Fran. I didn’t live here at the time, but heard of its destructive path. What will Irma hold for us? Part of North Carolina was under flood waters last year due to Hurricane Matthew so it could happen again. We just never know which way it will turn and what will be the destructive path.

I watched a video on YouTube yesterday afternoon from a prophet from India. His message was delivered in 2015. During a prophetic conference in Houston, the Lord gave him a message for the people of Houston that devastation would be coming by flood. The prophet reminded the audience that we are here for such a time as this. This is our time to stand in the gap just as Esther stood in the gap for her people.

Houston is known for floods so maybe it was brushed off as just another flood. I remember a time when I went to Houston in the midst of a tropical storm. I remember how deep the waters flooded the streets and the underground area beneath the large buildings. It doesn’t take much for streets to flood. So I can see the people who heard the message thinking we’ve survived thus far, it couldn’t be any worse than what we’ve already seen.

So from the message in 2015 to the hurricane that brought the devastation in 2017, the gap could have been filled to keep this prophetic word from coming to pass. Even as the hurricane was forming, people could have dropped to their knees and cried out to God to keep this from them. Maybe some did. But maybe it was too little, too late. Houston was not spared from devastation. Maybe God needed to send the warning. Maybe He is still sending a warning to us with this next storm.

The prophet said that devastation is to wake us up. It’s a shaking to drop us to our knees. Devastation always comes before destruction. God always warns us before He destroys. He sent the prophet Jonah to the city of Nineveh and gave them forty days to repent before the destruction would come. The people dropped to their knees and repented. God delayed the judgment for a couple more centuries because of their repented hearts.

The prophet also stated that he has seen the US divided in two. Politically, we are already there. Physically, could be an earthquake that divides the nation. However, he said we could be captured and this would divide America. North Korea, Iran, and Russia all have an agenda for America. All eyes are on North Korea, but it could come from any direction, if God allows it. The prophet said that with Trump as President, we have been given a grace period. If his tenure ends early, captivity will come early.

The message I received from the prophet was to stand in the gap and plead with God to keep these destructive things from coming to pass. The prophet made a comment that we are good to hear the word and just walk away. It might not really affect us so we let it go. Or we just don’t care or believe it could happen to us. I am just as guilty to hear these things and do nothing with it, but maybe write about it. Or pray half-heartedly.

Last week, Pastor James MacDonald spoke a word about Jesus’ return. He said that God’s justice is coming. Pastor Tony Evans had a series based on the churches in Revelation. Every church was told to repent. And every church was told to have ears to hear. We are not to get comfortable with the status quo. We are not to compromise on God’s principles. I know this won’t be popular, but we are not to tolerate sin – especially in the church. We need to repent, now more than ever.

On the Jewish calendar, we are in the month of Elul which is the month of preparation. From August 21 (the solar eclipse day) until the Day of Atonement on September 30 is the time of preparation – a time of repentance. Forty days. I think we are in a very significant time. Not one but two historic hurricanes in this one month – maybe even one more before the Day of Atonement. Wouldn’t that be significant? It’s time to get on our knees and cry out to God to keep this from coming to pass. This is our time.

Oh Lord, have mercy on us; please keep this hour of destruction from us. You are the Lord Almighty – Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. You speak and storms cease. You are the only One who can save us from this hour. Please forgive our apathy and our complacency. Please help the church be cleansed and made pure. Help us to see ourselves as you see us and let us repent of our sins. Oh Lord, keep Hurricane Irma from touching our shores, drive it out to sea by Your mighty hand. Lord, let Your will be done as You see fit for this time. Whatever we need to get us where You want us to be; let Your will be done. For this we ask in the mighty name of Jesus – our Lord and Savior, Amen.

Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief. Revelation 3:2-3 (NLT)

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Season of Preparation

For the last two years, I have been working with a natural, functional practitioner. She began her practice as a chiropractor, but her practice has evolved over the years. I am just fascinated at all she has learned over the years, and I am so encouraged by the way she helps others to better health. For the last thirteen year, I also have benefited from her practice. She is the one who diagnosed me with an autoimmune disease, and the one who pointed me to a healthier lifestyle that I still practice today. She has been instrumental in my healing journey.

Over the weekend, my sister asked me what I plan to do with the knowledge that I am learning from the doctor. I really don’t know what I am going to do with all that I learn. I just know this is preparation for something to come. It has to be since I want to benefit others by what I know. My doctor gave me a seed of knowledge that has grown into a full passion for the health and well-being of building up the body of Christ. I want the body of Christ to be healthy and whole. I can’t say that we are right now, but I hope that one day we will be a picture of true health. I want to be a part of that journey.

So the eclipse happened on Monday. I saw glimpses of the path of totality but my location only gave 93% totality. I started noticing the change in light about 1:45 pm. I noticed an eerie light and had to see what was going on. My colleague had a pair of glasses so I was able to actually see the moon crossing the sun. However, the 93% still gave enough light to drive out the darkness. Isn’t that amazing?

As the body of Christ, we can bring just a sliver of light to drive out the darkness around us. We’re actually supposed to be more than a sliver, but it really doesn’t take much to make a difference. Monday evening was also the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul. I don’t know much about the festivals of the Jewish calendar, but I have learned a few things over the last few years. The month of Elul is the last month of the Jewish year. This is considered the month of preparation before the Day of Atonement which happens forty days later.

As I listened to different speakers concerning this eclipse, I learned a couple of interesting facts about the time of Jonah. Before Jonah found his way to Nineveh, they had already experienced several signs of destruction. They had already experienced a couple of plagues and a civil disturbance. But most notably, they had experienced their own total eclipse that was just a couple of months before Jonah showed up preaching repentance.

If you remember the story, Jonah began to tell the people “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” The Word says that Nineveh believed God (Jonah 3:4-5). Everyone in that city humbled themselves – from the least to the greatest. The king made a decree for all people to fast and pray urgently for God to relent and have compassion on them. And God did. God saw they had repented and turned from their evil ways. God spared that generation from the destruction that would eventually come.

So this month of Elul, the month of preparation before the Day of Atonement (begins at sundown on September 29), the people of God repent of their sins and do what is necessary to become clean so they will be ready for that Day. It’s a season of calling out to God that He would forgive them and cleanse them. Maybe we as the Body of Christ should do this as well. Maybe we should be on our knees before God asking for forgiveness for ourselves and our nation. Maybe God would hear our prayers and would spare this generation from the destruction that will eventually come. Maybe judgment will be delayed if we humble ourselves before Him.

Maybe it starts with me. And you. We need to come into agreement as all of Nineveh did that we need forgiveness and plead with God to send the Holy Spirit flowing boldly through this land. We need Him desperately. He is the only One who can bring a revival to His Body that would change this nation. But it takes us getting on our knees – humbly – before Him. This is the season of preparation. Are you willing to prepare for that Day?

“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)

Pandora’s Box

On Sunday night, I listened to a minister who spoke on the end times. I usually listen to his weekly prophecy update. He has an interesting take on what’s going on around us; especially since he reads sources that are not main stream media. When the national media focuses so much on the political news, we never hear what’s going on around the world – especially if it relates to Israel. This minister is located in Hawaii but comes from an Arabic background. He has knowledge of the Middle East and gives great insight into that world.

One thing he said on Sunday night that has me pondering on a few issues. He referred to a passage in the Old Testament (I think Jeremiah) where God told the prophet to quit praying; judgment was coming. God is not quick to rush to judgment. He always gives the people time to repent before He gives judgment. Most notably was Nineveh during the days of Jonah. Even Sodom and Gomorrah had time before judgment came. God gives the people of those nations time to repent and get right before Him. Some do – Nineveh did or at least they were given additional years because of their repentance; some don’t – Sodom and Gomorrah were no more. There is a time when God’s patience runs out.

It’s curious to me that when a nation’s “greatness” ends, it’s a time when the people indulge in their pleasures and forsake the moral good. At the end of Judges (21:25), we are left with this text “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” Sad words indeed. I wonder if the Romans had a sign of “handwriting on the wall” or the Greeks. I know God used that for the Babylonians. But what will be the sign for us as a nation? Will we see the sign of demise?

I believe we have already opened a “Pandora’s box” with many issues in our land today. There is no way we’re going to stuff everything back into the box. Not just with the current legislation, but issues we have allowed for the last fifty years or maybe it’s been almost seventy years. Interesting, isn’t it? Seventy years since the beginning of Israel’s rebirth (well, in the next couple of years). Could this be relevant to the times we’re in?

It’s odd to hear the political slogans about “making America great again.” My question is – is that God’s plan to make America great again, or is it time for the end of our greatness so that the one world power can emerge? There has always been another nation that rises to become the “world power” when another takes a fall. In the future, prophecies indicate there will be a one world governmental body, one currency, and one world religion. Since World War II, these parts have been falling into place little by little. Is everything in place for it to happen? I think so. But something big has to happen in order for global chaos to warrant a one world order.

Another thing I have been pondering from the message Sunday night was the picture of the Empire State building showcasing the image of a Hindu goddess “Kali.” In the Snopes page found HERE, this image was shown in a display featuring endangered species (August, 2015). What makes this questionable, is the fact this is the goddess associated with “Time, Change, Power, and Destruction.” Relevant? Is this our “handwriting on the wall?” I don’t know, but it does cause me to wonder about the future of our nation. Is this the time that God brings judgment? Again, I don’t know. But I do believe we have done things that will bring judgment at some point. The time is His and His alone. He is the only One who has the final say.

Our job as God’s people is to PRAY until He tells us to stop praying. We can’t put anything back into Pandora’s Box. But we can pray for resolutions, and we can pray for repentance for the things that have already taken place. Our posture should be like that of Nehemiah who was so distraught over the status of his nation that he sat down and wept. Scripture tells us (Nehemiah 1:4) that Nehemiah mourned and fasted and prayed over the brokenness of Israel. Let us pray for our nation as Nehemiah prayed over Israel in humbleness and sincerity. I don’t know if our nation will ever be “great” again, but the people of God can make a difference for the future events that will take place. Maybe we can keep the destruction from coming for just a while longer.

“O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.” Nehemiah 1:5-7

Consider the Source

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to take a little road trip with my sister and brother-in-law. I love road trips because it’s an opportunity for uninterrupted conversations, which seems to be rather rare these days. However, there was a time in my life when road trips were very stressful. When I was alone with my Mom on a road trip, I knew I was going to be in for an interrogation. She spent the time “drilling” me with questions about my life. And my life was not in the best shape at that time. I didn’t want her asking too many questions because at some point, I would only be able to give her a bunch of lies to cover up the truth. Glad those days are over! Glad I survived them!

Yesterday morning when I was in my quiet time, I recalled the conversation with my brother-in-law (BIL). We talked about a series of topics, but one of the discussions came to a standstill. I tried to convince him about something I had heard. No amount of argument could persuade him about the topic. His mind was already made up and nothing would change it. He told me to consider my source. I believed my source was good and believed the facts were true. But nothing I said led him to believe me or my source. So I dropped the subject, and we talked about something else for the rest of the trip.

As I remembered the conversation, I was reminded I need to consider the source of the argument. When I consider spiritual matters, I have to go to the source of Truth. The passage in my quiet time was about spiritual maturity. Maturity comes with walking closely with the Lord; reading God’s Word and applying what is taught. As we grow spiritually mature, we are enabled to grow in our understanding. The more we know, the more we grow. Our minds have to be tuned to the right frequency to hear the Truth. We have to be able to listen and transform our thinking to what the Lord is saying. We have to consider the source.

When I traveled with my Mom, I didn’t want to listen to what she had to say because I knew she was right; and I needed to change. I wasn’t ready to make the necessary changes. As time moved on, I began to listen; and I began to change. I don’t want to live in ignorance any longer. I want to be able to discern the truth and apply it. As I discern the truth, I change my mind from incorrect thinking. This is spiritual maturity. It’s transformation as the Lord leads.

We don’t use the term “repentance” anymore, but this is the term associated with “changed” thinking. We read God’s Word and come into agreement with Him on His Truth. In James 1:22, we are told not to just listen to the Word, but do what it says. It is written that “anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like” (James 1:23-24). Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy, “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

In this same letter, Paul wrote Timothy about the end of times when people will not put up with sound teaching. “They [the people] will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:4). Discernment is the key to understand what we hear and read is truth or myths. And when we are confronted with the truth, we have to be open to change our minds to line up with God’s Truth. When our stinking thinking leads us in the wrong direction, repentance turns us around.

John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. His message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus said throughout His teachings, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Many in Jesus’ day ignored the message. They did not believe. They counted on their inheritance as sons and daughters of Abraham. Jesus’ message is still the same today. There is only one way to receive the true inheritance of heaven. Jesus Christ is the key to unlock the true riches of heaven. There is no other source for true light and life. Consider the message and change your mind if it’s not firmly established in Truth. If you have ears, please hear the message before it’s too late.

For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. Mark 4:22-24 (NLT)

Athirst for God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mathematical Equation

My pastor started a new sermon series a couple of weeks ago. This past Sunday, he asked a question that has been marinating in my mind ever since. What happens when Jesus is taken out of church? He pointed to Revelation 3:20. Jesus told John to write a letter to the church at Laodicea. The church at Laodicea was considered “lukewarm” – neither hot nor cold toward Jesus. They considered themselves to be “rich; acquired wealth and didn’t need a thing” (Revelation 3:17). However, Jesus said they didn’t realize their true nature – they were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. He asked the church at Laodicea to be earnest and repent! In verse 20, Jesus said He was standing at the door knocking, waiting on them to respond. Consider this: Jesus was outside the church – He was knocking on the church’s door. I find this very disconcerting.

My pastor gave us this mathematical equation: Christianity-Christ=Religion. Religious people are good people. However, Jesus has more in mind for us than being good. When you consider the Pharisees of ancient Judaism, you get a picture of a religious person. They were sincere in their belief system. They were zealous. They gave sacrificially – doing more than the required tithe (tenth of their income). They were scholars of Moses’ Law – they knew it by heart since they had memorized it. They believed in miracles. They kept the traditions alive from generation to generation. They prayed all the time. And they even expected to see their Messiah come at any time. You would think these were the ones Jesus would be hanging out with and teaching. Yet, these are the ones who ultimately killed Him.

Jesus saved the harshest criticisms for the religious ones and turned to uneducated men to spread His Good News. Jesus flipped religion upside down. The Pharisees were upset with Jesus’ teaching. They believed they were right with God. But they didn’t understand the spiritual application of what they were learning. It was all head knowledge. They had no heart change. Revelation 3:20 is the passage many point toward when telling sinners about Jesus waiting for them to open their hearts to Him. But if Jesus is at the church doors waiting to be let in, what does that truly mean?

Over and over, Scripture tells of repentance and forgiveness. True heart change comes through repentance – agreeing with God of our unrighteousness; we don’t measure up to God’s standards. It’s impossible to live a sinless life. But with Jesus all things are possible. We are given His righteousness when we repent of our sins. It’s His clothes we put on every day. Priscilla Shirer says we have to intentionally put on the breastplate of righteousness. It’s His righteousness because there is no one righteous. We don’t have it in us unless Jesus lives in us.

I have the picture in my head of Peter asleep in his jail cell. He was sleeping so soundly, an angel had to strike him to wake him up. The angel escorted him to freedom. I see this image as the church body fast asleep. I believe we are being poked and prodded into wakefulness. The angel told Peter to put on his clothes and sandals. I believe we too need to be clothed in righteousness. We need to be set free from all the chains that are keeping bound to the darkness in this world. Yes, the church body is bound up – we are neither hot nor cold. We hear the word yet it doesn’t change us. We comment that is was a good sermon, but is it applied to our lives? Do we do drive by readings or memorize Scripture for anything other than checking a box?

When people truly encountered Jesus, they were changed. My pastor’s sermon series is Re Jesus. He is going to teach us about the radical Jesus who changed the religiousity of His day. Maybe it will change ours too. If you are interested in learning more, check out the sermons at takeajourney.org. They will be life-changing! The antidote to religion is Jesus. Jesus is knocking. Will the Church open the doors to real change?

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:19-22

Still the Message

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make Room

My Christmas list wasn’t very long this year. I had a couple of things on there that I really wanted – wanted not needed. In the last couple of days, I have been in the midst of making room for my new stuff. I have had to rethink where I used to have my router to get the best results for my new toy. I had to move a few things around in my kitchen for my latest gadget. It’s a matter of removing as well. Out with the old and in with the new. For many times in my past, I have gotten so much more than I have removed. Over the last few Christmases though, I have learned to let go of things that I no longer need or want. Someone else might like them better, so off they go. I wouldn’t say I was a hoarder by any means, but I always had a problem with letting go because I might need the item again one day. So closets have been full to overflowing, junk draws get more junk, hiding places no longer were hidden.

A few years ago that mentality changed. I like clean spaces with less clutter. I like things in their places. I have found that clutter around my house also flows into my mind and heart. I definitely had a mindset that was not in the clutter free zone. My heart too was full of things that were not honorable or pure. In the last couple of days, I have also been considering this past year – whether I have grown very much in my spiritual life. I realized I didn’t see much in the way of growth. What I see that really happened last year was clearing the space in my heart and mind. Both are less full of the bad stuff and greater room was made for God to work. This past year wasn’t really significant in the amount of work that was done on the outside, but the inside seems to be a bit freer of the junk. I have made room for Jesus by removing the flow of the bad stuff and giving Him more time to input the good stuff.

All this was not possible though unless the Holy Spirit moved in my heart to make the changes. I would not have done it on my own. I like junk. I like junk “food,” junk television, and junk conversations. But none of that honors God. Too much junk really creates a bad environment for growth. And I want to grow. I want to honor Him. I don’t want to come to the end of my life and feel remorse of how I have lived. Life is too precious. Stuff just gets in the way of real growth. I am challenged to grow in the fruit of the Spirit. I need more compassion. I want to be known as a kindhearted, generous person. I want to love others like Jesus commanded us to do. But none of this is possible unless I give Him room to work. This past year, I have seen the movement. I am challenged for 2015 to do more with what He has given me.

I don’t know what 2015 holds, I just know Jesus holds it in the palm of His hand. Nothing comes to me unless the Father allows it for my good – good things and all the bad that will happen next year. I am called to a purpose and He has to get me ready to accomplish all He wants done. That is His purpose in each of us. We have to make room for Him to do His work so that we are ready to finish what has been started. Be prepared this year to be a greater light in the darkness. To Jesus, the glory and honor is His. There is no greater purpose than us serving a loving Savior who is worthy of all our love and sacrifice. My prayer is that all who read this blog will know His love, His sacrifice and His devotion to making us a better light in our communities. May God bless our time here on earth to glorify our Risen Savior! May we all make room for Jesus this next year!

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. Colossians 3:15-17 (The Message)

The Yuck Factor

If you had asked me at some point in the last week or so whether I was a clean person – meaning that I am a neat freak – I would say yes and no. I don’t like clutter. I believe in keeping my house clean, but I am not fanatic about it. I will get into a real cleaning mode at some point within the year and get into those dark places. Recently, I had one of those moods to clean. I started the cleaning spell one Saturday morning when I knew I needed to flip the mattress. I took off the mattress cover and gave it a wash. I even gave the dust ruffle a fluff in the dryer. I was stopped in the middle of the cleaning though to meet a friend for lunch. Like everything else when interrupted, the momentum stopped; the cleaning spell was gone. Until Sunday.

I don’t normally do much on Sunday. But I do cook. The afternoon was sort of overcast, and it was a little dark in the kitchen. With the cooking done and the cleanup now at hand, I started to clean up the dishes that I piled in the sink. I was too lazy to walk over and flip on the overhead kitchen light, so I flipped on the overhead sink light instead. I usually don’t use this light. The overhead kitchen light is usually sufficient and normally on when I am cooking. With this new light shining in the sink, I was shocked to see what is usually hidden by the dimmer kitchen light. There was a “yuck” factor as soon as I looked down. I thought I kept my kitchen sink in good condition. But this light brought out something that was hidden to my eyes. And the cleaning began once again!

I say all that to say, that’s what the Bible does for me as well. The Bible to me is a light to show me “the yuck factor” in my life. Sometimes though, I really don’t see the yuck until Jesus shines a light into that dark place which has been hidden from me. I have been praying recently for my spiritual blindness to be revealed. And the light has been shining in those dark places. I love the song “Amazing Grace” but I have always thought that the “wretch” in the song was only the songwriter’s dirtiness. The songwriter knew his sins of selling slaves as one of complete wretchedness. He saw his sins as God saw them. Yet, when I sing that song, I don’t see my own wretchedness. Sure I am a sinner – aren’t we all? But are we wretched? Is my sin as bad as selling slaves? Or even murder? To God, all sins are wretched. We all fall short of God’s glory as Paul wrote in Romans 3. It’s not until we truly see as God sees that we see the sin in our hearts as wretched.

Our deeds are even filthiness in God’s sight. So how in the world can God look upon us in our filthiness? If you are in Christ, you know the answer. Through Jesus. He is the only thing good in us. I may not see the wretchedness, but God sees all things. It’s by His grace and mercy that He covers that sin and shame with the love of Jesus. Jesus died so that we could live a new life of righteousness. Not by our works; not by what we can accomplish, but what was accomplished through Jesus. As I contemplate my blindness and my dirtiness, Jesus says He has made me clean. The dirt in the corners will be brought into the light so that He can provide a good reflection for all to see. If we are living right with Him, His light will shine through us so that God will get all the glory for the new heart and new life that is now present. He will make everything new.

It’s nothing like the shiny reflection of a new kitchen sink! When the scrubbing has to be done to get the sink back to a good reflection, it’s going to take a little elbow grease. It’s going to take a few pangs along the way. But it’s worth the cost when the reflection is back. It’s a constant battle to keep the grime from building up. But with the Word of God shining the light, the pain is worth it to keep the yuck factor away!

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT)

No Matter What

While I was reading last week’s post before I posted it, I thought about something that I need to continue the thought. I mentioned that the dash matters for our eternal life. Do we actually get that fact? What counts is how we live our lives and how much it will affect our eternity. Francis Chan has a video on YouTube showing a long rope with a red tip (Google FC rope video). The red tip is actually the life we live on earth. The rest of the rope is eternity. We concern ourselves with the here and now – the red tip portion. However, we should be concerned about the longer eternity portion. We all will have an eternity somewhere. We actually get to choose where we’ll go, but the choice has to be made here. We can choose to believe Jesus is the way to eternal life or we can choose to reject Jesus; there really isn’t another option.

I have heard the comment how can a loving God send someone to eternal hell (which is the separation from His presence). Louie GIglio said maybe the question should be how could anyone reject the love of God? It’s our choice to choose our destiny. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) – only through Him will we have eternal life with Him forever. Yes, it’s a pretty narrow way. However, the way is open to everyone. Jesus died for the world – no discrimination on race, color, nation, etc. Jesus said though that few will find the way (Matthew 7:13-14). God’s love is so wide, long, high and deep (Ephesians 3:18) that He sent His only Son to give us the eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus was sacrificed for us. God doesn’t want us to choose to be separated from Him for eternity. But if we have nothing to do with Him here, why would we want to be with Him for eternity? We get to start the relationship here, not there! What a privilege to have a relationship with the Almighty God of heaven and earth right here and right now.

The red tip is so short and the rest of the rope so long. Let’s not concern ourselves with the things that do not matter. Eternity will be here before we know it. There’s too much at stake. We have the opportunity to get to know Jesus here and now. We are given His word to read and to gain understanding. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand, but that’s why we are given the Holy Spirit to help us. The Spirit is given to all who call upon Jesus as Lord; who believe He is the Son of God and died for our sins. He redeemed us to be His children. He purchased us so that we would not have to be punished in eternal hell for our sins. He paid the debt that was owed. No matter what we did, He still loved us enough to die for us – even while we were still so far from Him. Now that’s a loving God who wants no one to perish! Religion says we have to seek God; but the relationship with God starts with Him coming down to us in the form of Jesus. None of us who have the desire to know God unless God sought us first. This is the difference in religion versus relationship.

The dash really does matter; it’s here that we consider our eternity. Jesus is the way to eternal life. Choose life. Once the destiny is determined, the life lived here on earth gets infinitely better – maybe not in circumstances, but in the hope and assurance that we serve an awesome God who never leaves us or forsakes us – no matter what! Storms in life will still come, but God will walk through them with us. His peace is given. His hope is secure. Our lives are secure in Him. There is nothing better than having that peace and security in His loving embrace – no matter what!

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us. 1 John 3:18-24 (The Message)

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