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Archive for the tag “Signs of the Times”

Headline News

Do you watch the evening news or still read newspapers? The last time I picked up a newspaper, I noticed it was very thin. Yesterday’s news just seems irrelevant for this fast-paced society now. We like instant news feeds. When an event happens, we want to know about it immediately. And we can. We have instant access. News alerts and weather alerts come directly to our phones. But what do we do with all the alerts? Do we shrug it off or get anxious about it? What do we discern from the events that are taking place today?

This next week is significant in many ways. First, Israel turns 70. Many nations have fumed about it and threatened disaster upon that tiny nation, but Israel is still here and celebrating a significant milestone. The second thing that is significant about next week is that the US is moving its embassy to Jerusalem. Life in Israel and Jerusalem may be difficult in the next few weeks or months. Time will tell how these events will shape the Middle East.

Then we have our own issues going on. Hawaii’s volcano is changing the landscape of the Big Island once again. There may be a significant explosion this week that could send boulders flying through the skies. Or ash clouds that disrupt air travel, not to mention covering the landscape and cause breathing problems for those who live nearby. It’s like a physical expression of an angry world that is just about to erupt and cause chaos in the world. I think we may have reached a boiling point – the spiritual battle has blown up in the heavenly realms and it’s going to get real very soon.

Our instant news feed may not mention these events in the coming days unless it’s a significant event – something spectacular happens. But I know with all that goes on, God is still in control no matter what. God has been setting the stage for many years and it all comes together just as He plans. We don’t know the time of all events, but God does. Do we get anxious about these things? I hope not.

We may not understand all the events taking place and their significance. However, we can know God is at work through these events. God has an agenda. Maybe we don’t like to think like that, but it’s true. God’s agenda is for the lost to be saved and for His glory to be revealed. We can be a part of this agenda. Actually, we are a major part of His agenda. We didn’t get saved just for ourselves. We get saved so that others will be saved through us when we go tell them our stories.

It seems really difficult to tell them our stories in this day and age. Many think we’re foolish. They are not ready to hear it. However, there will come a day when they are ready. When their world is in chaos and they have nowhere else to turn, they will look to us and the peace that we have. Then they will be ready.

In our age of instant access, we have about three minutes to share our story. When I was in my health coaching school, the instructor told us we needed an “elevator speech” to tell others what we do in three minutes or less. It’s the only way we can communicate these days. Sound bite news – sound bite stories. Just hit the highlights and if they are interested in our stories, they will ask us for more. If we just give them a sip of living water, they may want the whole fountain. The woman at the well did.

The story is found in John 4 tells of a woman who needed to hear the Good News. Jesus just happened to stop for a drink of water at a well while the disciples went into town for food. Jesus asked the woman who came to the well to give Him a drink of water. The woman was surprised that a man – a Jewish man – would ask her for a drink. But Jesus persisted with this woman to show her that she needed more than this physical water that doesn’t satisfy the soul. He gave her just enough information to want more. He engaged her in a way that no one ever had before and she was intrigued.

The trouble with our day and time is that we don’t stop long enough to engage others in conversation. The people around us are so thirsty and they don’t even realize it until we engage with them. The headline news may keep us from having those engaging conversations if we are anxious about our own lives. It’s when we find ourselves in a peaceful place that we notice our access to others who need our own “sound bite” good news that is worth sharing. Let’s not be anxious about anything that takes place on the world’s stage because the world is looking for peace that we have to offer through our Good News of Jesus. Let’s share it soon before the world implodes before our very eyes. The news is too good not to share!

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” John 4:34-35

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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)

Imitation Game

Last week, I was reading in Genesis 37 about Joseph’s dreams. God gave him a couple of dreams in his teenage years that were not fulfilled until much later in his life. God gave Joseph a sign of how he would be used in the future. It was a promise that was eventually fulfilled. Dreams and visions are powerful tools that God uses to get us in the right frame of mind so that we will fulfill His work. God uses dreams and visions to introduce Jesus to others of different faiths. There have been a couple of times in my past when God has used a dream to move me in the right direction.

I had another dream over the weekend. I don’t yet know the implication of the dream. I was left with two impressions. The dream showcased God’s glory in the sky. I was watching the sky fill up with shooting stars. They were streaking across the sky in a most spectacular way. At the same time, in the opposite direction, fireworks started to go off. The attention was drawn to the man-made attraction instead of the God-made glorious display. We are told in Scripture that God puts signs and wonders in the sky to give us warnings and announce His big events. He chose a new star to announce the birth of His Son.

The first impression that I had when I first woke up from the dream was that Satan always tries to draw our attention away from God. He uses imitation man-made attractions to get our attention away from God’s calling in our lives. He cannot create so he imitates. It’s a far more inferior appeal than the original glorious design. Is it not the case that we chose the thing that gives us the short term gain, instead of waiting on the long term increase? We choose the imitation when we should wait for the great thing that God has promised us. We lose our focus.

I read an article the other day that the Inuit people (who look to the sky for their guidance) noticed the stars were no longer in the same place. The article mentioned that it could have been due to a large earthquake that recently happened that changed the position of the earth. I too have noticed something a little different about the placement of the sun. I thought it was rising a little differently over the last couple of months, but I thought it must have been the winter season placement. I just couldn’t remember if this was the same place in the past. Maybe it truly is different.

If this is the case that the earth has moved slightly, then does that explain the unusual weather patterns that we have experienced lately? Is God announcing a big event in the skies? I know this is also the four blood moons year as well as the solar eclipse happening in just a couple of days from now. We are to pay attention to the signs of the times; to be ready for whatever God is doing in the world around us. Also, I am looking to see the imitation that will surely come to draw us away from our intended God-given focus. Distractions are Satan’s best tool.

The other impression from my dream was that not everybody was ready to see God’s glory. There were a few people in my life that would not focus on God’s glory; they ran toward the imitation and missed what God had intended for them. Let not that be the case in the real world. Let my dream remind us that we are to be ready for what God is going to do. We are to make sure those around us know of God’s glorious work that has already taken place and what is to come. We are to stay alert for what is happening in the world. And stay alert for the imitations so that we will not be drawn away from God’s purpose and plan for each of us.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” Mark 13:32-37

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