buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Restoration”

From Here to Eternity

The question asked in our small group on Tuesday night was “Do you think about eternity?” Actually, I have to say “yes” especially this week. This is the twenty-third anniversary of a friend’s death. On that morning, she woke up in good spirits with excitement to do something she enjoyed doing. She loved to parachute and on that day she jumped into eternity. Her tragedy became one of my turning points in my life. Because of my friend’s death, I began the journey to find Jesus and make my life secure in Him.

About fifteen years ago, I struggled with thoughts of my death. When I would lie down at night, I would wrestle with the thoughts of heaven and hell. Well, more like be terrified with the thoughts of hell. I don’t remember what else was going on in my life at that time. I don’t know why Satan was tormenting me about those things. Eventually, I was reassured of my security in Jesus and hell was not going to be my eternal dwelling place. Jesus said He was going to make a place for me where He is (John 14:1-2), and I believed His Word to be true.

As I was contemplating this topic this week, a conversation with a college friend came to mind. Back on that day, I was questioning her involvement in church. She went to church but she was not a Christian. She said she knew she was going to hell, and she had already bought her air conditioner. Her comment unnerved me. How could she joke about something like that? I knew that was the place I didn’t want to spend my eternity. I had heard enough about hell that I didn’t want to end up there.

A study was quoted on Sunday in my pastor’s message that around 75% of the (American) population believes there is a heaven, but only 40% believes there is a hell. My pastor said that what you believe about eternity shows how you will live your life. If you believe there is no hell, then there are no consequences to your wrongdoing (sins). However, the default for everyone’s eternity is hell. Since Adam and Eve made the mistake of believing Satan’s word over God’s, hell has been our destiny. Because of the original sin, from that point on our fellowship with God was broken; and we have no right to be in His presence.

I have heard it said “How can a loving God send people to hell?” However, it should be said “How can a loving God not provide a way out of hell!” He provided a way out by sending His Son Jesus to restore our relationship with God. Jesus exchanged our cloak of sinfulness for His cloak of righteousness. And by His righteousness, we are allowed into the presence of God Almighty – Holy and Righteous One. It’s not by our goodness, because we don’t have any; but the goodness of Jesus.

I know lots of “good” people in this world that say they are going to heaven because of their good deeds. But it’s not about being good but being holy. Why would a holy God allow unholy people in His presence? He wouldn’t. Through His grace and mercy, Jesus shows us a different standard. Yes, Jesus is good, but He is also holy and righteous and a perfect representation of God the Father. Through Jesus, we become holy and righteous and are given the right to join Him in the Kingdom of God.

One of the stories written in the Gospels (found in Matthew 8, Mark 5 and Luke 8) tells of Jesus healing a man (or two) from a legion of demons. The demons knew Jesus and they knew their fate. Yet, the demons begged Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs instead of going into their eternal torment (“Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”). In James 2:19, the passage mentions that the demons believe in the one true God and they shudder. We are told in Luke 12:5 Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell.

Our loving God wants us to spend eternity with Him. His desire is for all of us to be with Him in His Kingdom. Hell is total separation from Him. His desire is for all of us to walk with Him today – from here to eternity. Like He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden, He has made a way for us to have that kind of relationship today. But this is our choice. While we are on this earth, we decide about eternity now. We will not be given an option after we die.

From what I understand, the death rate of all people is 100%. We are so concerned with our few years here on earth, but we should really be concerned with our eternity; and the eternity of our family and friends. There maybe someone you know that needs to know the Good News today because tomorrow they may be jumping straight into eternity. Do you think about eternity?

“The time promised by God has come at last!” (Jesus) announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” Mark 1:15 (NLT)

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

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 Church Body

I have listened for the last couple of years to the teaching offered by Mark Driscoll. I have learned from his teaching through the books of the Bible. I am saddened by the fact that not all is well with his ministry. I understand that he made some mistakes. I understand it because I have made my share. The difference being that I am not in the public eye like Pastor Mark. I hear that others have really hurled insults and injury to an already tense situation. I feel for his family – both his loved ones as well as the church body that he once shepherded. He spoke at a conference recently about the situation that his family is now in. They have moved several times because of the hatred shown them. I don’t know if these who are coming against him and his family are from the church family or just outsiders looking in. Nevertheless, we are a broken bunch of people –inside and outside the church. Unfortunately, hurt people hurt people.

We expect more from church people, don’t we? We expect them to behavior in a godly manner. We expect them to rise above the fray and love those who fall from grace. But sometimes the ones we should love and support are the ones that hurt us, and we lash out at them. I have witnessed this from friends in the church body. I have seen friends walk away from each other because of words spoken or actions that went against what was expected. Sometimes it was over words that were spoken out of love, but was not received in the right way. Right motives, wrong approach. It’s difficult to know when to say something and when to stay silent. It’s only through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know when to speak the truth to those who are in the wrong. And hopefully the ones who receive the word, will take it for what it is – accountability of living godly lives. We all have degrees of brokenness. And only Jesus can do the mending of our brokenness.

I don’t think I am any different from any other person in the church body. We all have brokenness that has to be healed. Every leader, everyone in the seats listening, every person serving in a ministry; we all need to be healed by the great Physician. We all have different areas of brokenness. We all have been scarred. But it is a deliberate act to submit to the Healer. We have to be willing to grow up under His care. We can do no good if we continue to hurt people because of our lack of healing and wholeness. The Body of Christ should be the place where we should feel safe to confess our brokenness. We should be able to love those who are not perfect. (And nobody is perfect!) We are all a work in progress. Going to church is not the thing to do on a Sunday morning, just so we can check a box. It’s a place where we come together to support one another. It’s the place where we are to love one another and show the ones outside the church that we are a different people.

Going to church is more than listening to a message but not being changed by it. It’s taking a word from God to the heart for a change of heart. Church is where we grow in our understanding in the Word. It’s learning about who Jesus is and who we are in Jesus. We have to develop our relationship with Jesus so that He can minister to us in those hurt places. We need to be intentional about our relationship with Him. We have to spend time with Him. Jesus is the answer to the hurting church. As a church body, it’s time for healing to begin. The world needs to see a change in the Body of Christ. We can no longer afford to be complacent with our brokenness. Jesus is counting on us to move His church forward. We have to be surrendered to God’s loving touch to heal the hurts and make us whole. It’s time to move forward church! Let the healing begin with me. Revive me, Lord for your glory!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

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)

It’s Free!

When I do mundane chores like mowing the grass, my mind tends to wander. Usually, I will start to think about spiritual things. Okay, most of the time it’s just meaningless stuff. One time while I was mowing, I started thinking about my perfect yard. Well, my dream of a perfect yard. As I was mowing, I was looking at mostly weeds with a little grass mixed in. When I first moved into my house fifteen years ago, I really worked to maintain the grass and keep the flower beds weed free. But I got sick and couldn’t maintain my yard as I should have done. I just didn’t have the desire to keep it up. Now that I am feeling good, the weeds are just too overwhelming. It would cost big bucks to get the yard looking good again. Now, I am just not willing to pay the price of a beautiful yard.

While I was pushing the mower – no riding mower for me – I was thinking about the cost to live these days. We like free stuff, don’t we. But everything has a price; nothing is really free. Except the freedom we find in Jesus. Jesus said He came to set the prisoners free (Luke 4:18). Our sins keep us bound and unable to live free. Jesus sets us free from our sin nature – our prison; our bodies of death and decay. Jesus paid the price for everyone. The cost of our freedom came through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Nothing we can do in ourselves will pay the price. The price has to be a perfect sacrifice. God says a lamb of perfection must be slaughtered in order to pay the price of sin.

God gave His people the of sacrifice thousands of years ago. But they had to do it annually. There was no way the sacrifice could do the work once and keep them from sinning. It was impossible. With Jesus all things are possible! He fulfilled the role of the perfect Lamb for once and for all. Nothing else has to be done. Jesus said on the cross with His last breath – “It is finished!” So with those words, I received a free gift when I said I believe Jesus died for my sins. He took the payment that was due for me and paid the price by His blood. But not just that, He defeated death by walking out of the grave. He didn’t stay dead! So not only do I have payment for my sins, I have the free gift of living with Jesus in heaven for eternity. It just keeps getting better. We live with the expectation that there is something more after we die. We have a hope that comes by the way of Jesus and His sacrifice.

My grass will wither and die – especially if it’s not raining. We too can be seen as grass to eternal beings. We too will wither and die one day. But with the promise that Jesus gives us, death for us who believe is just another transition to eternity with Jesus. One breath expelled here and a new breath taken in heaven. It’s not the end of us, but the true beginning. What a blessing to understand that Jesus sets us free from death, and it didn’t cost us anything to receive this gift. It’s free for anyone who will believe in His life and resurrection!

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he (Jesus) rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:18-21

Liar, Liar

Have you ever told a lie? Has someone ever told you a lie? You might have answer yes to both of those. I know I did. But what’s worse is we believe the lies we tell ourselves. Last week, I mentioned the movie Frozen and the famous song. The icy queen tells a big fat lie in that song – well, I think it was a lie she told to her own heart. She sang that she was going to “let it go” and she sang she liked the cold anyway. Personally, I get it; we make excuses that we can believe so that we can live with the decisions we make. She was hurt, lost and alone. The decision seemed like a good one at the time. And she believed it was for the best. But was it really?

I am leading a group of women through the Daniel Plan (by Rick Warren). In session four, Dr. Daniel Amen speaks about how the thoughts we have affect our health (physical, spiritual and emotionally). His point was to capture those thoughts and ask – “Is this the truth?” If it’s not the truth, then let it go. (I know; I am carrying this song way too far.) The thoughts we have can harm us. Dr. Amen is a brain specialist. He says there are chemical reactions to our thought life. When we have positive thoughts, the chemical release is a feeling of pleasure. The negative thoughts are toxic. How true is that? Negativity kills our good moods!

How many times do we hear something over and over and start to believe it’s the truth? Scripture tells us that Satan is the father of lies. He is speaking his native tongue. Why do we let him speak to us in his own language? Why do we believe him? I think it’s because we don’t recognize the truth of God’s word to be The Truth. We are to think of the things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8). These are the things we are supposed to capture, not the things that keep us bound up in that negative place. The verse before this one, says that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds for those of us who are in Christ. I love the picture of putting on the helmet of salvation – part of the armor that God gives us to protect our thoughts.

I don’t know who coined the term, but we need to get rid of our stickin’ thinkin’! We need to dismiss those lies that we hear in our hearts. Our own hearts will lead us astray. Our hearts will deceive us. That’s just hard to believe, but it’s true. I can look back over my past and see where heart has told me something that I believed for years. I didn’t reconcile it to the word of God. God said He made us in His image. However, we can believe aren’t worthy. We can believe we are bad people because of all the things we have done and said. There maybe things in our past that is bad. But the truth is: that God sent His Son for us even when we were so far from Him. God said He loved us, even when we don’t love Him.

I remember being in a bar (in my drinking days) and a total stranger came up to me and told me how beautiful I was. I laughed and everyone around me laughed at the drunken woman. A few days later, I was in another bar in another town, and a man did the same thing. This time, I was the only one who heard it. I was taken aback. I don’t remember what else was going on at that time in my life, but I was far away from God. I think that was God using them to tell me He loved me even when I was far from Him. He saw me as beautiful even when I couldn’t have been further from the truth of it. He never moved; I did. And when I turned around, He was right there waiting on me.

He loves us; He never lies to us. We just need to believe in His love. And He will never lead us to wrong thinking. Capture any thought that does not reflect His truth and dismiss it as a lie from our enemy.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Perspective

I started reading a biography of Winston Churchill a few weeks ago (it’s a hefty book!). This book is a history book of the World War II. I might have studied these things in high school, but I don’t remember too much of what those times. Also, I am reading in the Old Testament. When I see both of these histories together, I see God’s hand in everything. My eyes are being opened to a different perspective. We might think of insignificant things going on in our day and time. However, God is setting the stage in a major way for the ultimate climax that is prophesied in the Bible. From my understanding, everything that needs to happen in order for Jesus to return has taken place. We are just waiting now for His return.

A couple of days ago, I listened to a conference on the end times. Now, I know we don’t know the day or hour of Jesus’ return, but we are told to be watchful. A couple of the speakers mentioned several places in Scripture that tell us to watch for the signs in the heavens. Even in Genesis 1:14 we are told that the lights in the sky serve as signs (signals) to mark seasons (feasts or divine appointments in Hebrew). This year is one of those times we need to look to the heavens. I have been fascinated to learn about the Blood Moons that will occur over the next year. It began on Passover this year and will continue until the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall of 2015.

What’s significant about this? There have been seven Blood Moons that occurred on the Jewish Feasts in the last 2000 years. One hundred percent of the time, these events have been a sign after something significant pertaining to Israel. After World War II, Israel had one brief moment where they had the sympathy of the world, and the nation was reformed in a day. That was 1948. In 1949, the Blood Moons took place on the four Feasts. In 1967, there was a six-day war in Israel where Israel took the significant holy places in east Jerusalem. In 1968, the four Blood Moons again took place on the Feasts. But what about this time? I don’t think anything of significance has happened this past year.

I was reading yesterday morning in Acts 2 about the Holy Spirit being poured out on the disciples at Pentecost. Peter addresses the crowd and delivers his first sermon. He points to Joel for his reference of what was occurring. In that passage there is a mention of the Blood Moons and a solar eclipse that will happen before the glorious day of the Lord. Over this next year, not only will there be the four Blood Moons, but there will be a solar eclipse right in the middle of this time. The moon is considered the signal for Israel and the Sun represents the world. The trouble with prophecy – we don’t know the significance until after the event then we know God has spoken through the prophet.

What does this have to do with perspective? When we look at the events happening right now in the world we need to look at the events with a different perspective. God is setting the stage for the great tribulation that will take place according to the Book of Revelation. This gives us a different perspective on the urgency we need as the Body of Christ to be ready. We still have a lot of work to do with those around us who need the gift of salvation. Time is closer now than ever before. We need to be watchful to the times we live in and look at them with a different perspective. Jesus’ feet are on the threshold of heaven. Are you ready to meet Him? Are your family and friends ready?

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:37-39

Daybreak

I love sunrises, but I don’t see them much. I am not up at the crack of dawn on most mornings. Occasionally I will see the breaking of the day. However, my morning usually begins long after the sun has made its appearing. The breaking of the day is seen as a new beginning, but I was struck recently by a couple of sermons that pointed out that daybreak was the end of the night; not the beginning of something, but the end of something.

The first passage was taught from John 21:1-13. It was the end of the time when Jesus walked the earth, but before the Holy Spirit descended. This is the passage where Peter decided to go fishing and some of the other disciples followed him. After Jesus rose again but had yet to ascend back to heaven, Peter went back to what he knew to do. Jesus was not with the disciples on a constant basis anymore. There was uncertainty of the future now. I assume Peter had no clue what he should do next. So he went back to what he knew to do. Peter was unsuccessful in that night’s fishing expedition though. They caught nothing. Now what?

Scripture says it was early in the morning when Jesus showed up on the shore (verse 4). The disciples were not in the place where they were supposed to be. Jesus found them doing what they knew to do at that time. Jesus directed them to fish the other side of the boat. All night long they had been fishing their favorite spots and caught nothing. The blessing happened at the end of the night after they struggled with those nets all night long. One word from Jesus redirected their efforts, and they were surprised by the abundance; so surprised that they counted the number of fish and recorded it!

The second passage was taught from Genesis 32:22-31. This passage finds Jacob about to encounter his brother whom he had deceived. He sent all his possessions and family across the stream so that he could be alone. That night, a man from God wrestled with Jacob; all night long they struggled against one another. Day was breaking and the man wanted to be released, but Jacob would not let the man go until he received a blessing. Jacob was touched by the man and received an injury that caused him to limp. But in that interaction, Jacob received a new name. No longer was he going to be called Jacob which means “deceiver” but Israel which means “he struggles with God.” The man blessed Jacob there, at the end of the night or daybreak. It was the end of the old and the beginning of the new.

The thing that has been suggested through these passages is that God has His own timetable. He is never late; He is never early, but He is always there at the time we need Him. He always is there when we are at the end of ourselves. When we finally come to the end of ourselves, God will meet us there. Sometimes we find ourselves like Peter wondering “now what?” Jesus came to him to redirect Peter’s path. The next section in John talks about that redirection. Peter was no longer going to fish at the lake, but fish for men. Peter was going to catch them, and Jesus was going to clean them.

I think that’s what we’re all called to do. We have to get rid of all our baggage; the things that keep us from experiencing a greater presence of His Spirit. When the Holy Spirit came to Peter, the fire of the Spirit changed the landscape of the face of discipleship. The Holy Spirit changed everything. We have to quit wrestling with God over keeping our lives separate from Him. That’s not who we are supposed to be. We are to be set apart, but it’s with the Holy Spirit’s help that we do these things. Personally, I am tired of fighting. I am ready for daybreak, aren’t you?

And he (Jesus) said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Luke 9:23-24 (ESV)

My Identity Crisis

It’s been almost eight years ago when I found out my medical identity was stolen. It didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time. The insurance denied the claims and everything seemed to be fine. Until the day I went to get my driver’s license renewed and found out it was suspended because of my failure to complete the rehabilitation issued by the courts. Uh? I was floored and stumbled out to the parking lot wondering what had gone so wrong? The lady’s identity became wrapped up in mine. Since then, I have dealt with her problems on my credit report, and the report that goes to auto insurance companies, which is separate – who knew? For years I have been dealing with higher and higher auto insurance premiums and wondered if insurance could go up that fast. When I switched insurance companies, the insurance man pointed to the wrecks in unknown cars that were linked to my account. It just never ends.

This woman has major problems; drugs and/or alcohol, medical issues, and just major sin issues. For some reason this woman is tied to me. What’s the purpose behind it? I don’t know yet. I don’t know how this story will end. Good hasn’t come of it yet, but it will. God says He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called to His purpose (my paraphrase Romans 8:28). I believe those words so I know there is a greater purpose than these little irritants that keep popping up over and over. Satan likes to use these little irritants to keep me off-balance or to distract me from my purpose. Every time I take a step of faith, the credit report will come back with issues or the renewal of policies/licenses, something tied to this woman will impact in a negative way. All I can do right now, is clean up the mess and pray for the woman. Satan will one day quit using this woman, and she will be healed and saved from the destruction Satan planned for her. Jesus’ plans are much greater for her, and I am praying she one day understands this truth.

I am not writing this to show my prayer fortitude or raise a righteous flag. I am far from perfect. At one point in my life, I could have been in a complete mess like this woman. But God saved me from the destructive path of Satan. Satan planned to kill me, but Jesus came to give me a new life. My character is being built through the trials so that I can grow into the woman of God I am meant to be. It’s the little irritants that help me to have the right perspective. It’s by God’s grace I have been set free. I no longer have an identity crisis. I know who I am and whose I am. Yes, I still suffer from someone else’s sin. But it’s with grace that I take her suffering to the cross and ask for her suffering to end. God has this under control. I need not worry about what could be in my circumstances. I am securely in the palm of His hands. Whatever is allowed, I will endure it for His glory. My character is being renewed day by day. One day, I will see the goodness that the Lord has in store. My character witness will be Jesus Himself standing up for me either here on earth or in heaven one day. Good will come out of this! One day.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Post Navigation