Friday, December 31, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them along the road to the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearby; for God said, "The people will change their minds and return to Egypt if they face war."
Sometimes the most commonly accepted realities are proven to be deceptions. General William Tecumseh Sherman is credited with the first utterance of the phrase “War is Hell” in 1879. That assessment has been accepted as truth, really without contradiction. President Harry Truman did contradict it in 1945 when he said “Peace is Hell.”
Frankly, I hate to agree with President Truman instead of a famous Civil War general, but if you dwell in Hell you will not be at war. There will be no possibility of victory, no overcoming the situation. In Hell the torment and suffering will have no solution or resolution.
Spiritual Warfare is the struggle against Hell and that can only be waged by those who are still alive here on this earth.
As in any war there are those on the winning side who become casualties. The fact that you have read the end of the Book and we win does not mean that you cannot become a casualty of the war! Yes, Satan and his hordes of Hell will not win the war. Jesus sealed the fate of Satan when He died on the Cross. But there are battles yet to be waged. In fact, there is a battle to be waged in your life today. Satan wants you to let down your guard and give in, even a little to his call to turn stones in to bread!
If you know the plane will make it safely through the storm, you still fasten your seat belt. Truthfully, all wars on this earth are shadows of the cosmic war that still rages throughout the expanse. When you accepted Jesus and made Him Lord of your life you also enlisted in the Lord’s Army.
When God led the Children of Israel out of Egypt into the wilderness He kept them from going to war too soon. So it is with you and me. God keeps us from the intense battles until we have walked with Him, sometimes for years.
But the battles do come and the fight is fierce. Remember that when the war begins to rage around you as a follower of Jesus, God has decided that you are ready for the fight. Pick up your Sword of the Spirit and engage the Enemy!
Sunday, December 19, 2010
We have missed a fundamental principle when it comes to becoming a spiritual man. When a baby learns the language of his parents all he does is to repeat back to his parents the words he hears. Everything else is jibberish and must be abandoned in the process of language learning.
When you learn the language of God you must speak only what you hear from Him. Everything else you say is spiritual jibberish. It means nothing and it of no use in your Christian journey.
Listen to what God says and say that back to Him and to others. You will not only learn to walk in His light but you will truly become a man or woman of God.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Death is separation from God. We were separated from God by our sins. When Jesus was raised from the dead He brought us to life as well. Until you know Jesus you are dead. When you come to know Him you are alive even as He is alive.
Since you are alive, don’t act like someone who is dead. If you are alive in Christ Jesus everything is possible.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
"I still have many things to tell you, but you can't bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.”
The Holy Spirit will declare to Christians “what is to come.” Preparation is the natural result of prophecy. When you know something is going to happen you prepare for it. It is as simple as knowing the bridge is out so that if you go down that road you will not drive into the river.
The Holy Spirit not only declares to us “what is” but also “what will be.” It is an incredible advantage. Knowing history is important, but knowing the Holy Spirit is the ultimate preparation for the future. If you know history you know what will happen if history repeats itself. If you know the Holy Spirit you will know what is to come even if it has never happened before.
Listen for His voice!
Monday, November 29, 2010
“The secret of the seven stars you saw in My right hand and of the seven gold lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”
Does your church have an angel? If it is like one of the churches in the book of revelation it does. Is the angel symbolic or literal? The lampstands represent literal churches, so why would the stars not represent literal angels? The Holy Spirit through John goes on to address seven churches by addressing each letter to “the Angel” of that church. Incidentally, it is not just the churches that are doing well who have an angel.
Since specifics of what the angel of your church does besides receiving letters from Jesus about the status of the church are not detailed, it is good not to speculate. But the bottom line is simple. There is much more going on spiritually and even cosmically than we have ever imagined. As you move through this day recognize that there is an eternal reality that is focused on your day, your every thought and every action even as your prayers enter the throne room scene of Almighty God!
Sunday, November 28, 2010
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it.”
If you lose your life for Jesus then you are a winner. This is one of the paradoxes in the Bible. If you lose your life you will save it, but if we want to save your life you will lose it.
How can that be? It is simple. We were born to eternity. Our existence will go on past this life, but the state and condition of that existence is the question. Without Jesus our life will be one of eternal death. It is unthinkable and truthfully unimaginable. With Jesus our life will be one that is eternally lived in the presence of Jesus. We will be filled with the joy of the Lord at every turn.
You cannot save yourself no matter how hard you try. And you cannot lose your life if you lose it for Jesus.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
“For this reason I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. [I pray] that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. [I pray] that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth [of God's love], and to know the Messiah's love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.”
When I meet someone with a unique last name I am always tempted to ask where their name came from. I suppose my interest stems from the fact that my name has Norwegian roots and if I ask someone about their name then I may get an opportunity to declare the origin of “Steensland.” Pride is a very subtle vice isn’t it?
According to Ephesians 3 every family on earth has a name that comes from God Himself. I can’t explain how that works, but I can trust that it is true. There are no questions about who I am in the mind of God. He made me, named me and has orchestrated life itself to draw me to Him. God does not force Himself on me, but woos me with tender love that makes the greatest love story on earth seem small indeed.
Here is a miracle. We are to know the Messiah’s love even though it surpasses knowledge. Stepping into the realm of eternity is to know the unknowable, see the unseen, and hear the sounds that no one else can even perceive and touch the face of God in the mirror of eternity. Then we are only seeing the shadow of Heaven as we wait for His Glorious Return! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
Friday, November 26, 2010
“When the Lord first spoke to Hosea, He said this to him:
‘Go and marry a promiscuous wife
and [have] children of promiscuity,
for the land is committing blatant acts of promiscuity
by abandoning the Lord.’
So he went and married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.”
I have always felt sorry for Hosea. Here was a man who obviously wanted to be a faithful man of God. God told him to marry a woman who would bring him great heart ache. Why would God want to ruin the life of Hosea for the sake of making a point? It is difficult enough to be married to someone who has a serious moral flaw, so why would God instruct Hosea to seek out such a wife? The reason can only be understood when you look at it through the eyes of the Lord.
The suffering of Hosea was a reflection of the suffering of God Himself. God was calling Hosea to be an image of Him. The desire of a righteousness man is to be like Jesus in His purity and holiness, but what about His suffering? Sin is the mother of all suffering, and my sin brings pain and suffering to God Himself. When the bride of Christ is unfaithful, oh the pain that shoots through the vast expanse of the cosmos!
My obedience brings great joy to God even as my sin brings grief. So when I am tempted to sin I must think about Hosea and his wife going out for another of her promiscuous encounters. I must not ignore the suffering of God when I sin.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
“Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won't be tempted. Carry one another's burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each person should examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in respect to someone else. For each person will have to carry his own load.”
These verses present what appears to be a paradox. They tell us to carry one another’s burdens and to carry our own load. Which is it? We fulfill the law of Christ when we carry another’s burdens, especially when they are caught in wrongdoing and need to be gently and carefully helped out. But there is also a warning about carrying our own load. When you are the recipient of help from a brother there is the “welfare mentality trap” that tempts us to rely on others rather than be responsible for ourselves.
A good father may gently pick up a child who has fallen, but he does not give the child crutches so that he will never stumble again. A good father expects his child to learn to walk on the two legs God gave him!
When you help a brother be sure and give a hand not a crutch!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
I the book of 1 Corinthians Paul declares that the greatest of faith, hope and love is love. In Galatians 5:6 he tells us that faith expresses itself through love.
Some years ago I decided not to carry a card in my pocket that would give a doctor permission to “pull the plug” on me if he thought I was too far gone to recover. The reason I don’t carry such a card is love. I know such a decision may need to be made, but I want the person who decides that to be someone who loves me! If you love me, I can trust you to do the right thing. You see it is not competence but love that must rule in life. Without love even faith and hope are flawed and incomplete.
Perhaps the most mystifying statement in the entire Bible is “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Whenever you see the word “Love” as you read the Bible mentally replace it with “God.” It will help you step into the deeper water of knowing Him. So when you love you are swimming in the ocean of God Himself!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
1 Peter 2:1-3
When you taste that the Lord is good you simply whet your appetite for more of Him! Milk is just the beginning of your spiritual appetite fulfillment. There is fruit and bread and meat and there are all kinds of unimaginable delights in craving to know Him. Some folks only eat spiritual appetizers. They never get down to a full portion of the main dish. They sample, taste and nibble on the things of the Lord, but never imbibe deeply of the blessings that are in Him.
I really believe that every physical eating disorder is a mirror of a spiritual eating disorder that keeps us from being healthy as followers of Jesus. We are thin and emaciated and yet believe that we are fat! We eat a big meal and then regurgitate so that we lose any benefit from the food.
Set your mind and heart to feed on Jesus and let His Word be the food that sustains you and gives you strength for every moment of this day.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
It was almost thirty years ago, but I am still embarrassed when I remember it. Our family had been invited to dinner by some folks at our church and we simply forgot to go. It was no small thing because there were seven of us in our family at the time and since it was before the days of cell phones they had no way to contact us to see why we didn’t make it!
Because of the death of Jesus Christ every man, woman and child is invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb. Many people never put on the Robe of Righteousness that Jesus provided by His death. They may have heard the Gospel, but because of so many distractions in this world they never show up before Him to become a disciple of Jesus.
The invitation to the wedding supper of the Lamb is beyond amazing. Never forget that each day is another day of preparation for that feast. Live every day so that when that day comes for the wedding feast of the Lamb you will be there!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
1 If I speak human or angelic languages
but do not have love,
I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have [the gift of] prophecy
and understand all mysteries
and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith
so that I can move mountains
but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor,
and if I give my body in order to boast
but do not have love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
The greatest thing about my mother was this: My mother loved me more than I could ever know. I was convinced of this as a kid and now as an old man I still know it was true. I never questioned her love for me. Every day as a child I experienced evidences of her love for me. Was she perfect? Of course not, but she was perfect in her love for me.
The greatest thing about God is this: God loves me more than I could ever know. I was first convinced of this as a child and now as an old man I still know it is true. I really have never questioned His love for me. Every day I experience evidences of His love for me. Is He perfect? Of course He is and He is also perfect in His love for me.
These verses simply say that if you “have it all” but don’t have love then you have nothing. But if you have love then you truly “have it all.”
Remember Jesus did not say “Keep God’s commandments.” He said “Love God and keep His commandments.” Never remove love from obedience!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Though all the people who came out were circumcised, none of the people born in the wilderness along the way were circumcised after they had come out of Egypt.
Did you come out of the slavery of Egypt or were you born in the wilderness? Even though the people in Egypt were enslaved they were able to circumcise their sons. Even though the people in the wilderness were free they were either not able or simply did not circumcise them.
Freedom can cause you to neglect the commands of God. The constraints of God’s will often slip off when we experience deliverance from the slavery of sin.
Before they could enter the land they had to once again become completely obedient to the Lord. I must examine my life before today’s battle starts and be sure I am an obedient follower of Jesus!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
"Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.
Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”
My mother always told me that it is important to “eat right.” By that she meant that you must not only eat regularly, but you must also eat the right thing. This may sound a bit silly, but my mother’s sugar cookies and her spaghetti were my favorites.
The beginning and end of mankind’s time on this earth involved eating the wrong thing and eating the right thing. When Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they set in motion the forces Hell to drag us all away from fellowship with God. When Jesus said that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood He was saying that to sustain us in this world and bring us safely home to Heaven we must eat the right thing. Jesus is the right thing!
Eternal life in Heaven will be supported by eating from the Tree of Life! It was in the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve lost the right to eat of it. It will be in Heaven and because Jesus has washed our robes in His blood we will be able to eat of the Tree of Life and live forever!
The next time you pray before a meal remember the eternal significance of eating the right thing!
Monday, November 15, 2010
“Rejoice over her, heaven,
and you saints, apostles, and prophets,
because God has executed your judgment on her!”
You can rejoice when God judges the wicked. Never forget though that the judgment of God comes against those He created and those for whom Jesus died on the Cross. That is a very difficult reality. It is the heart of the controversy surrounding the free will of man. Free will seems only appropriate for God Himself. How can created beings be endowed by their Creator with the ability to rebel and reject the one who formed them in the first place? Indeed that is a mystery.
But this is where even rebellion against God reveals His Majestic Glory. God has placed us in a window of choice in the timeline of eternity. We give Him glory and show His majesty even when we sin! It is only by God’s Sovereign choice that we can choose to obey or rebel. Remember that darkness always bears witness to the glory of the light.
God will be glorified by your life. You will either glorify Him because of your obedience or by demonstrating His reality in your rebellion. Either way, He will be glorified!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
“None of the good promises the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed. Everything was fulfilled.”
An utterly sold out follower of Jesus who lives in a third world country made a statement that keeps reverberating in my head. He said “Every time I pray, my prayer is answered!”
The truth of Almighty God is simple. God keeps all of His promises and answers all of my prayers. Sometimes I find it hard to perceive that what I am seeing is the fulfillment of His promise and sometimes the answer to my prayer is “no” or even “not now.” But the living God always keeps His promises and always answers prayer.
We have defined “answered prayer” by saying it is when God does what I want Him to do. The Bible does say that He will give us what we need, but what loving father gives his child something that is hurtful or even deadly. If the answer to your prayers is always “yes” when you ask God for something, then you are not fellowshipping with Him enough and you are not seeking to know His mind about enough matters in your life.
A number of years ago I was involved in an organization that recognized the value of “brainstorming.” We would meet to discuss an issue and agree that everything was “on the table.” No idea was “stupid.” If we were not rejecting even most of the ideas, then we were not really brainstorming. Out of those sessions came some really important concepts.
When you pray do you agonize to pray exactly the “right thing” so that God will say yes to your prayer? Do you pray as if you are submitting a formal proposal to a foundation from which you are looking for funding? Or do you converse with the Creator of the universe? Do you tell God what you think even when you know He must disagree and do you listen for His input? If you only pray what you know God already believes then why does He need to answer your prayer? Of course, it is a wonderful thing to pray scripture but never be afraid to step into deep water with God. Remember Abraham’s conversation with God about Sodom and Gomorrah and don’t forget when Moses convinced God not to destroy the people in the desert.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
2 Then He replied to them, "Don't you see all these things? I assure you: Not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down!"
The destruction of the temple in Jerusalem is a fact of history. The Romans destroyed the temple in AD 70. But amazingly they did not finish the job. When Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple he said that not one stone would be left on another. Look at the Wailing Wall! All the stones have not yet been thrown down.
If these words of Jesus are true, then there is much more to come in Jerusalem! The destruction of the temple was not completed because there are obviously a number of stones that have not yet been thrown down.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
"We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.5 But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:3-6
I am not good at remembering names. I never forget a face, but names are sometimes a challenge. Repetition is the key to my memory banks. When I see a face over and over it is burned into my memory, but unless I hear or say your name over and over I can sometimes forget what it is.
I know the Name of Jesus and I see His face in the faces of His children, but unless I listen to His Word over and over again I can easily forget what He wants of me. When my wife makes me a list of things to do, I must refer to it frequently or I will forget something on the list. That is the same reason I must go again and again to the Word to find out what is on His list for my life. Repetition is the key to discipleship. Obey Him over and over and even in the smallest things. Then you can truly come to say “I know Jesus!”
Sunday, July 25, 2010
“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”
Traditions are more powerful than laws. Laws can be changed by a vote of the ruling body. Traditions take years to change and even then it is hard. We have an allegiance to traditions that we never develop when it comes to laws. Traditions are the result of powerful relationships that control us with an almost irresistible peer pressure.
It is easy to let go of the commands of God when God’s place in your life is small. The one who has first place in your life is the one whose commands you obey without hesitation. “Your wish is my command” is the essence of discipleship.
The way to repentance when it comes to the traditions of men is simple. Release your heart to be engulfed by the Love of God. Let Him become everything to you, suddenly and today! Make no place for anything in your life that even peripherally diminishes your relationship with God. Ignore it, crucify it and completely remove it from your thinking. Let your Love of God become everything you think about and act upon.
Then you will see that His wish has become your command!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
"Because this people has rejected
the gently flowing waters of Shiloah
and rejoices over Rezin
and the son of Remaliah,
therefore the Lord is about to bring against them
the mighty floodwaters of the River —
the king of Assyria with all his pomp.
It will overflow all its channels,
run over all its banks
and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it,
passing through it and reaching up to the neck.
Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land,
O Immanuel !"
Without water no one can live very long. Without air you die quickly, but without water the path to the end of life is very short as well. Water sustains life, washes away dirt and provides the necessary stuff of every growing plant.
Water can be used to baptize the believer or drown the sinner who is unrepentant. Its spiritual counterpart is called the “water of life” and streams of living water flow out of every child of God. God’s first worldwide judgment came on the world by means of water. The flood washed away the whole population of wicked men allowing humanity to begin again with Noah and his descendants.
When Jesus died on the cross and the soldier pierced His side water and blood came out. The significance of the blood of Jesus is without question, but what about the water? Could it have been the water of life?
As you see the floods of God’s judgment and wrath, and as you see men and women immersed in the Love of God by faith in Jesus, never forget that you cannot live without the water of life that flows from the Throne of God! It is indeed, in the truest sense of the Word, Holy Water! Amen!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Finish your outdoor work
and get your fields ready;
after that, build your house.
When people moved to settle the American west in the 1800’s this verse in Proverbs provided very helpful instruction for those who knew the Bible. If you build your house first and miss the growing season, you may starve in your comfortable, warm bed! The Bible is more than simply theological commentary on spiritually eternal truth. It is that of course, but it is also filled with practical advice about how to live your life and relate to those around you.
When the Bible says “children obey your parents in the Lord” it gives every child the key to a life that avoids great pain and suffering. The fallen nature of man is to rebel against authority and that nature is indeed present even in small children. When a child makes the wise choice to be obedient there is great gain.
The Bible tells us that it is God’s design that marriage should be one man and one woman for life. Look around at those who have ignored that advice and see the complicated consequences. Then look at those who married and stayed together for the balance of their lives. The rewards are immense.
So, when you read the Bible, look for more than to become spiritually knowledgeable. The Bible, in many ways speaks to your daily life and is the ultimate “How To” book. Pray that God will show you things in the Bible that will direct your life in practical ways. Yes, the Word of God is the instruction manual for God’s human creation! Compare your ways against God’s ways and make all appropriate changes!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Flood of God’s Wrath!
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
Can you imagine how it must have been for those who were alive when the flood came and covered the entire earth? It was just a cloudy day. Then it became a heavy rain and storm. Then it became a flash flood. Finally a serious flood was upon them and even that did not stop. It was unprecedented. Nothing like this had ever happened before.
“Is this what that old man Noah had predicted? But Noah was an idiot! Who could believe his ranting?” Then there was no turning back the judgment of God on the world. The time for repentance had ended. There was no more time for revival. God had decided to destroy the earth and everyone in it except Noah and his immediate family. God baptized the earth and cleansed it from all wickedness.
God promised never again to destroy the earth with water. You can rest assured that there will not be another world wide flood. But God’s judgment of wickedness has never ended. He will deal with evil. There is only one way to avoid the recompense of God for evil. That way is by repentance which results in revival.
The grace of God does not ignore evil. Evil is either dealt with by the blood of Jesus or it is dealt with by the wrath of God. Evil is either covered by the blood and wiped away by its cleansing power, or it is covered by the flood of God’s wrath and burned away in the fire of His judgment.
The days of Noah are being repeated on this earth. This time God’s judgment will come with the return of Jesus to the earth. Will you be Noah or part of the wicked world which is oblivious to the imminent coming judgment of God? Don’t be fooled. Be ready!
Monday, May 3, 2010
What Do You Hear?
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:1-2
When the world honors you for your faith in God, you should be troubled and very afraid! Genuine faith in God is not seen as a good thing by the kingdom of this world. When you are honored by the world for your Christianity, you should immediately examine your relationship with God to see if it is authentic.
Non believers are capable of honoring you for your good works, but they have no way of examining and evaluating your faith.
So how do I know that my faith in God is real? If I depend on the evaluation of other believers I know that they can be deceived because they don’t know my every thought.
Real faith comes from hearing God’s Word! Your heart comes to accept and believe in what you hear. When people hear a lie repeated over and over they come to believe it. Their “faith” in the lie comes from hearing it over and over. When we hear the truth repeatedly we also believe it! That is why Satan fights hard to keep the Word of God out of the market place, our schools, and our government. Hearing God’s Word produces faith in the hearers.
Real faith is not hoping that something is true. Faith is the “evidence of things not seen.” There are many things that I have not seen, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are real and true.
If you are being honored for your righteousness by those who are unrighteous, there is something very wrong with that story. If you are being persecuted for your faith, take heart. That is what happened to the Lord Himself. Jesus is the benchmark for everything in life. Measure your life against His. Measure your thoughts and words against those of Jesus. Pay no attention to the other voices. It is only the voice of Jesus that deserves your attention. Then you will grow in faith and become strong in the Lord!
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Blade of Grass!
"All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you.
Passion for a perfect lawn is indeed very symbolic. The lawn care experts encourage us to make the short life of a blade of grass as beautiful and esthetically pleasing as possible. We fertilize, kill the dandelions, and post the area with keep off the grass signs. But in a few short months the object of our attention dies and is gone.
Focus on our physical body and our life here on earth is like caring for a blade of grass. We spend our time and money making this life as beautiful and esthetically pleasing as possible. Then in a few short years our bodies can no longer continue to live and we die. No matter how beautiful the lawn its glory fades as other years come and other lawns display their brief glory to the world around them.
The Word of God can turn a blade of grass into an eternally flowering plant! When you hear His Word and are Born Again because that seed was planted in you, then everything changes. Your life was temporary but now it is eternal. You had no hope for the future, but now you have hope forever! You had a moment of glory, but now you will have glory for all time and beyond!
Let the Word of God dwell richly in you! Think about it, speak it, and ponder the implications of God’s Word in your daily life. Memorize it. Carrying the Word of God in your heart is more potent than carrying a concealed weapon in your pocket.
The truth of life on this earth is that Jesus may indeed be coming soon, but as a blade of grass, I am going soon whether He comes soon or not! Jesus will come and I will go. But, I must spend my time getting ready to go rather than trying to predict the time of His return. If I am not ready to meet Jesus in the air, then I will not be ready to meet Him when I die. Prepare today to meet Jesus, nothing else will matter!
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Repentance and Revival!
If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.
The tragedy of Alzheimer’s disease is great. To put it in the simplest of terms you forget the ones you love. After years of relationship recognition fades and the victim of the disease no longer knows even his closest family members. I have not had a close encounter with this disease, but am told it is like the person dies and only their living and breathing body is left for the last few years of their life.
There is no indication that Alzheimer’s is the result of some bad behavior or sin in your life, but it is certainly a type of a spiritual condition caused by sin. When we turn to sin and away from righteousness, even for a time, we begin to forget the God who created us. As “Spiritual Alzheimer’s” sets in we daily redefine God as someone who is not important to our existence. Finally, God becomes altogether irrelevant to our lives or the world around us.
That is when a man is transformed into an enemy of God’s people. That is when Deuteronomy 8 and God’s promise of destroying a nation comes into play. The United of America is suffering from Spiritual Alzheimer’s. We were born out of the love for and fear of God, but have progressed into a nation standing in firm opposition to any and every influence of God on our land.
If you know history, and we don’t, God has destroyed other nations for the same offense. The fix for our nation is not in getting the debt under control or even in shutting our borders and getting corruption under control. The fix is totally in repentance and revival. Until and unless those two things happen nothing else will matter.
Friday, April 30, 2010
War Not a Game!
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
The ebb and flow of Spiritual Warfare is a truth worth noting for every believer. There are days when you feel the strength of God flowing through every fiber of your body. Life seems to be one victorious moment after another! You become convinced that you have ascended right to the top of True Spirituality and nothing will ever get in your way of overcoming the odds! Many times these days are very soon after you turn your heart to Jesus and begin your walk of faith.
Then comes the “day of evil” spoken of in Ephesians 6. It is the day when you confidently step out of the boat and you begin to sink. What has changed? Did you do something wrong? Has God abandoned you? How could it be that suddenly you morphed from being an over comer to being overwhelmed? For a while you refuse to admit that it is happening. You have been told that if you ignore it maybe it will go away, but it does not.
This is when your heart is tested and you can clearly see the results of the test. When you are on the offense in battle and there is no incoming fire, then war can be exhilarating. But when the shots are returned and the incoming missiles are landing around you and you see the carnage of war, exhilaration can quickly turn to terror and fear.
Spiritual Warfare is real. In fact, Spiritual Warfare is the cosmic reality out of which came all wars. The struggle between righteousness and evil will come to an end, and righteousness will win, but the battle is no less real.
Every temptation with which you are confronted today is a part of that war. When you stand firm and wield the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, the war is one encounter closer to its end. In your struggle against sin you are not alone, but know that it is war not a game.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
The Heart of Job!
My kinsmen have gone away;
my friends have forgotten me.
My guests and my maidservants count me a stranger;
they look upon me as an alien.
I summon my servant, but he does not answer,
though I beg him with my own mouth.
My breath is offensive to my wife;
I am loathsome to my own brothers.
Even the little boys scorn me;
when I appear, they ridicule me.
All my intimate friends detest me;
those I love have turned against me.
The suffering of Job still sets the standard for stories about righteous men from whom God’s blessings are removed. Those blessings were removed not to punish Job or even to discipline him. Job was basically abandoned by God to prove to Satan that Job’s love for God was pure and without ulterior motive.
Was Job sinless? Of course not! All have sinned and that included Job.
A very rich man once told me about the difficulty of being wealthy and having true friends. He said that his money made the compliments of his “friends” less than always trustworthy. Hearts become suspect when money, fame or power is involved. How long does it take for a wealthy young bachelor to find a wife who would have married him even if he had been a pauper?
As a part of the “Bride of Christ” God knows your heart. He knows if you love Jesus purely or if your love is tainted with the pursuit of something else, anything else. Sometimes God will strip away everything else so you can see your own heart! It is what happens to every believer who lives a long life. Slowly, and yet relentlessly most of the blessings of youth fall away as you become old and you are left with Jesus alone!
By His own promise, Jesus will never forsake us! We may lose everything else, but nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
God’s library is unimaginable. How many books does He have and what are His favorites? In the first place, how could God enjoy reading a book? Books contain knowledge which is transmitted to someone other than the author. What does anyone know that God has not already fully and completely grasped? Who could write a book that God would read? About what could you write it?
The one book that we know is in the library of God is the “Book of Life.” In this book are the names of those who will spend eternity in heaven with Jesus. We know that for certain, but I wonder if the “Book of Life” also may contain the stories of those who have walked in faith over the millenniums. God found Job’s story worthy of note. God obviously knew the story of Job and presented Job to Satan as an example of the kind of person who had His approval.
There is nothing more interesting than a well written biography of a man or woman of God. As I view the life of another servant of Christ, I am encouraged to be faithful to God no matter what the circumstance. The stories of other God fearing men and women strengthen us in our own walk with Him. I can better judge my own journey of faith as I see the lives of others.
Because of the sacrifice of Jesus the end of every believer’s story is the same. It ends in Glory! But the potholes in the path and the daily struggles are all unique.
As you live and go about the affairs of life today be aware that your story is being recorded. How you live this day is of extreme interest to God Himself. The choices you make will determine how this chapter of your story is told. Choose that this day will be one of faith and not fear!
What does God read? He reads the story of your life!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Anger of God!
Sing to the LORD, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Every few years a word is coined and becomes popular for a time until it fades into non use. The word “TUDE” was so short lived that it probably never made it into a dictionary, but its meaning was simple. If you had a bad attitude you were said to have a “TUDE.” If you had a good attitude you would not be guilty of having a “TUDE.” Frankly, I’m glad the word went away. It just doesn’t sound very dignified.
When a man has a Godly attitude what does that mean in practical terms? It can mean a host of different things. A Godly attitude can be kind, gentle and loving. A Godly attitude can be harsh and hard and angry. God does not have one demeanor to fit every situation. He is not oblivious to the dynamics of the world and its people. His attitude is always appropriate for the situation.
When a loving father is angry with his child it is a fearful thing if you are the child. But you can rest assured that a loving father will do no permanent damage to the object of his love. His anger will only serve to discipline and ultimately encourage the one he loves.
But when a loving father is angry with someone who threatens his loved one, the fury can be awesome. His anger then will do harm and it will bring no good to the object of his anger.
Who you are in Christ makes all the difference when it comes to the anger of God. If you are a child of God, then His anger will last only for a moment. But, if you are not born again into the family of God, His anger is the ultimate terror! Hell is where men will experience the complete opposite of the glorious presence of God forever. Those in Hell will be cut off from everything that might be called good!
Repent quickly, turn to God and cast yourself on His mercy and believe in Jesus. There is no time for delay and debate. Obey His every Word.
Today may be the DAY of the return of Jesus Christ. The trumpet will sound and ready or not He will come!
Monday, April 26, 2010
The Strategy is God’s!
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
There is a societal tension that always builds when many people work for one man or one company. When one employee working for a small company decides that his working conditions and pay are not suitable he simply seeks other employment. Competition for good workers produces good salaries and wages and working conditions that are at least tolerable.
But it is different when many employees working for the same company all decide that things should change and they press that point collectively. Instead of competition driving the situation, coercion becomes the means to the end. It is one of the steps away from a free market economy.
But what happens when you become dissatisfied with God? And don’t tell me that you are always perfectly happy with the way God runs your life! Even Jesus was not pleased about the cross. Check out the prayer He prayed the night before that ordeal. When you decide that God is not doing things the way you like, you always have the Judas option. You can walk away from Him and join the forces of Hell. That of course is frightening even to mention, but God gave you the freedom to choose and that is the only other choice. You will either serve God or Satan. There is no middle ground.
Another option is to “stay with the company” and sow dissent among other believers. The most common way of doing this is to ascribe to Satan things that God Himself is doing. The discipline of God is not satanic attack!
Knowing and trusting the character of God is for me the best way of remaining faithful when God’s dealings with me seem wrong. The question is not “Why would God do this?” but rather “Did God do this?” If the action or command comes from God then “Trust and Obey” can be my only valid response.
God is the general and I am the private! He knows the plan and I carry out my piece of that plan for today! I must spend my time practicing my aim and leave the war plans and strategy to God!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
1 Peter 1:13-16
Little things can certainly mean a lot. When my children were small and I would come home from a business trip I always heard, “Did you bring me a prize?” It must have started when I picked up something for each of the children while away and so they looked forward to the next trip for the “prize.”
When Jesus returns He will bring a prize for those who are God’s children! According to 1 Peter that prize is Grace. One dictionary defines Grace as “the infinite love, mercy, favor, and goodwill shown to humankind by God.” Of course Jesus shows us these things today, and we are grateful. But when He returns we will be immersed in, surrounded and even consumed by His love, mercy, favor and goodwill.
Even as the young couple engaged to be married hopes for that day to arrive, we look forward to the return of Jesus. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” I am the object of the Love of God! How can that be? I am a frail and sinful human being. I do not deserve His love. But the Love of God comes not because I am strong or sinless. It certainly does not come because I deserve it. There is no justification for the Love of God, but because of the Love of God there is justification through the Blood Jesus!
Hold on to the Hope of His return! That means think about it and imagine what it will be like when you meet Jesus face to face. The veil will be removed and you will see Him as He is. Let not your heart be troubled! He is coming soon! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Return to the Garden!
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
When the Bible says there is more blessing in giving than in receiving it is revealing a deep and eternal truth. God is a giver! The gift of God is the essence of everything we know as human beings. Truthfully, every spark of life that exists was conceived by God Himself! The design of life itself was formed in the mind of God and fashioned by His hand.
The fundamental nature of God is to be the Creator and to be the Creator who gives! It is who God is. The outpouring of His love is felt by every creature great or small. If God were to stop giving, then we would stop living. Human existence is totally supported by the perpetual outflow of God’s gift of life!
So when you begin the lesson of sharing with a little child he embarks on a great epic journey of becoming like God. God is the Great Giver. When we learn to give we become like God. Adam and Eve fell because they wanted to be like God. Instead they became like Satan. God is a giver, Satan is a taker. Our first parents took the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and walked away from the gift of God!
The more you give the more like Jesus you become. Jesus is not remembered as a great philanthropist who gave great sums of money. Jesus gave Himself first.
Someone has wisely said that if you put some of your money in the collection box, it is good. But if you put yourself in the collection box, then all of your money goes with you!
On the Cross, Jesus gave Himself as the greatest gift to mankind! That gift made it possible for the fall of man to be reversed in your life so that you can return to the Garden with Jesus!
Friday, April 23, 2010
Believers in Hell!
It is written: "As surely as I live, says the Lord,
every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God."
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
There is great pride in being an Atheist. Consider the perspective of the man who does not believe in Almighty God. He rails against the Creator of the Universe and declares that God is either dead or never existed in the first place and yet he continues to live and breathe and go about his business like everyone else! I’m certain that every, would be Atheist sticks his toe in the water of unbelief to see if he will be struck by lightning for standing against God.
But God’s great mercy and love permits a man even to become His enemy without immediate retribution. The arrogant unbelief grows as the atheist becomes convinced that God is indeed dead, asleep, or never existed at all. It is all a part of free will. Humans have been given the freedom to choose or reject God. It is unique. The animals that populate the earth do not struggle with faith. The principalities, powers and powers of the air, including Satan himself are not Atheists.
Atheism is a temporary state of man which will end on your knees before the Creator of Heaven and earth! There will be no Atheists in Hell. They will all come to faith on that day when they stand before God to give account of themselves.
The question for you, that will make an eternal difference is this: “When will you come to faith in Jesus Christ?” If you do it now, you will live forever with Him in Heaven. If you wait until you become a believer by the force of reality, as you stand before God, you will spend eternity in the fires of Hell.
Becoming a believer on the Day of Judgment will be too late! You have this moment to accept Him. You will become a believer, and you will bow before Him. For Heaven’s sake do it now!
Thursday, April 22, 2010
By His Spirit!
'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.
The will to win goes a long way in any contest.
When a football team decides they cannot win, the game is usually over. Of course, physical strength and skill are important, but when the attitude is one of defeat, victory rarely follows!
The opposite is certainly true as well. There have been many amazing comeback victories by sports teams who refused to give up in the face of almost certain defeat!
The difference is inside the heart of the man. A man or woman who refuses to give up rises to a very different level of success.
Inside the heart of every Christian is the Holy Spirit! As a follower of Jesus Christ, He has placed God Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit in your heart. The Holy Spirit does not give up. The Holy Spirit does not tell you to be discouraged and quit! The Holy Spirit not only knows the outcome of every situation in which you find yourself, but He can manipulate the situations for your benefit.
Let’s pretend that God decided to take over a football team and that His goal was to win the Super Bowl. He was not only the coach but was in the heart of every player. Let’s say “perfect season!”
God has decided to take over your life and His goal is to get you safely to Heaven. He is not only your coach, but has put His Spirit in your heart! Your victory is not determined by your might or by your power. It is totally decided by the fact that the Holy Spirit is living in you!
A man or woman filled with God’s Spirit will overcome and will be declared a winner on the Day that Jesus returns!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Then the angel said to me, "The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth."
God will accomplish His purpose, no matter what that purpose is. The road to the end may be and will be a bumpy ride, but the destination for those who follow God and those who do not is fixed and unchangeable.
These words in Revelation 17 are intriguing to say the least. Here is a situation where a leader is given the authority to rule over a people and then he brings them to ruin. The leader hates the people over which he is the ruler and he implements his program of governing until they are destroyed.
All of this, according to scripture is to accomplish God’s purpose!
Why would God purpose to bring a nation to its knees or even worse? Why would God remove sound judgment from the leaders of a country so that it falls on its face before the rest of the world?
The answer to that is simple. If God is God Almighty, and the country had established itself in the fear of God, and then turned away from Him, it would be more surprising if God did not precipitate the decline and fall of that once great nation.
So how does that nation stop the slide into oblivion? What can be done to halt the fall? There is no hope in lower taxes, or less socialistic policies. There is no hope in rallies and parties. The only hope is in turning to God Almighty, calling on His name, and repenting of their wickedness! Until and unless that nation does that, nothing else will make any difference.
Remember Nineveh. God changed His mind because they changed theirs!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
What Am I Bid?
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
Salvation is a free gift. If you were to try to purchase it rather than receive it as a gift, you would find that no man could ever be wealthy enough to buy salvation. The world itself does not contain enough gold to pay the price for one sinner’s redemption.
When a work of art goes on the auction block the value is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it. The important aspects to consider when giving value to a painting are the artist and the price that is paid. The picture itself is truly irrelevant. There are many paintings that are more beautiful than the very valuable ones.
Your life is a work of art painted by God Himself. He reached down and formed you from the dust of the ground. He skillfully brushed across your canvas with the colors that gave you form and meaning. And then, because no one else could afford this work of art, Jesus gave His life to pay the price for your life.
When the participants in the “Antiques Road Show” discover the value of an old painting that sat in their attic for years the response is predictable. That which was ignored and not carefully cared for suddenly becomes a treasure to be guarded.
When you encounter Jesus Christ and discover the price He paid so that you could be His, it is truly amazing. Jesus outbid the devil himself for your life. He paid a price that no one else could ever pay. There is nothing in all of creation that is worth more than your life! This is the terrible tragedy of abortion. God is in His studio painting lives and before they are even born we rip up His work and cast it out.
The next time you feel down, depressed and worthless consider Jesus and the art auction where He purchased you. The price that Jesus paid for you was higher than any price that has ever been paid. You are worth more to Jesus than His own life!
Monday, April 19, 2010
The Good Fight!
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.
You may lose a battle, but still win the war! That is a fundamental principle of warfare. Losing a battle does not mean that you will be defeated in the conflict. When you go to war there will be casualties. There is a nasty reality of warfare that causes many veterans to never talk about it after they return from service.
In the narrative of Revelation 13 we are told that there will be a time when “the beast” will make war against the saints and conquer them! That doesn’t sound like a bunch of victorious Christians. It’s not just the ones who are weak and faithless that will be conquered. It simply says the beast will conquer the saints! That is pretty discouraging or is it?
The time line for this power is 42 months. That is only three and a half years.
Have you ever or do you right now feel defeated as a Christian? Do you look around and it appears that righteousness is losing on all fronts?
Remember this: Jesus is the Victor and He will win the war with all who oppose Him. There is no chance that walking with Jesus and following Him will end in defeat!
Will there be times of discouragement and setbacks in your walk with Him? Of course! This is a war not a walk in the park. No one can know for certain where they are on the timeline of human history until the trumpet sounds and puts it all into perspective. Praise Him when the battle is being won by righteousness, and praise Him when you are being conquered by the beast! In this war the Enemy can kill you but he can’t harm you. Heaven waits for everyone who has been born again and washed in the Blood of the Lamb!
Fight the good fight!
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Filled With Fury!
”Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short."
When the devil is filled with fury, you can be sure that things are going to be very bad for most people. Even the worst human being alive has something that can be said about him that is good. But there is nothing good that can be said about the devil. He is pure evil, even as the last four letters of his name spell.
Revelation 12:12 clearly says that the devil will be filled with fury when he realizes that time is almost up. He will see clearly that the end is at hand and he will lash out in rage. When a vicious animal is cornered, trapped and about to be taken out, his fury is evident to all. It can be very scary. The snarling teeth of Satan would be enough to make anyone straighten up and pay attention!
But Christians must know and know for certain what is happening and what will be the end of the story. When the devil is filled with fury, know that his time is short! When you see the world being engulfed in terrible trouble know for certain that Jesus will return and put an end to the insanity! As the storm rages remember that Jesus can walk on water and with Him you can too. And even if you are tossed in the sea, the Lord can send a great fish to swallow you and keep you from drowning.
The stories of miraculous intervention in the lives of believers will abound. The power of the Word will be seen and felt and heard! The “Grand Finale” is going to be very exciting and frightening for those who don’t know Jesus, but if you do know Him then hold on for the END IS NEAR!
Friday, April 16, 2010
Keep the Snake Out!
Look at your troops—
they are all women!
The gates of your land
are wide open to your enemies;
fire has consumed their bars.
When a country opens the gates of its land to its enemies it doesn’t take a professor of the history of international relations to predict the outcome. When the purpose of a military is to bring comfort and peace around the world the end of a conflict is easy to predict.
More to the point, when a man opens the gates of his life to the enemies that desire to destroy him, the devastation is totally predictable. And when spiritual warfare becomes a “police action” to keep the forces of evil at bay for a time, the end of that story is not pretty.
As a follower of Jesus you must be diligent and relentless in your border patrol activities. Inspect the perimeter of your life daily and look for any weaknesses where Satan might slip in to your life. Repair the fence. Shut the gate. Lock the doors! Pretend that Satan is a poisonous snake trying to find a way to get in to your house. How diligent would you be about keeping that snake out?
Then when you are called upon to wage spiritual warfare, take no prisoners! The mercy of God is not called for when it comes to the principalities, powers, and powers of the air! There is no requirement in God’s Word that we be kind to Satan! Defeat him. Cripple his efforts in your life. Draw near to God so that Satan will flee from you! Let the fear that he tries to distribute to you come back on him in Holy Terror!
Finally, never lay down your weapon! The Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God must be at the ready at all times. When the head of the snake appears, cut it off!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Count on Jesus!
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9
When all six of our children were still at home sometimes it was easier to count them to make sure no one had wandered off. When God created the world in which we live He included numbers. That may sound silly, but He could have created us without any awareness of numbers or the need to count anything. There are other things in the cosmos about which we are oblivious.
But God created us to count. In fact, that phrase “to count” has a double meaning. We count people and things, but in recognizing a person’s significance we say “he really counts for something.”
The United States Census is spending huge amounts of money to make people aware that they need to be counted in each census. In sports we carefully count how many players are on the field at any given moment. If there are too many it is a violation. When we take on any endeavor, if we are wise we count the cost.
So why does it specifically say that Paul prayed three times for the Lord to take away his “thorn in the flesh?”
The Bible says in Exodus 34:23: “Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel.”
Paul came before the Lord three times about his problem and the Lord gave him the answer. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Would Paul have prayed more than three times if the answer had not come? Certainly, he would have, but the number of times He prayed when the answer came is significant.
It is a play on words, but maybe not. As a follower of Jesus Christ, when times get tough you can COUNT ON JESUS to be there for you. He said He would and trusting Jesus really adds up!
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Praise Him from Hell!
The earth is defiled by its people;
they have disobeyed the laws,
violated the statutes
and broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore a curse consumes the earth;
its people must bear their guilt.
Therefore earth's inhabitants are burned up,
and very few are left.
The condition of the earth after the curse consumes it will be very bleak. Most of the people on earth, according to Isaiah 24:6 will be burned up with “very few” left. If you are one of those who are left in the burned out rubble of planet earth, your day to day life will be miserable at best.
Some commentators think that this chapter is a description of the “Great Tribulation” that is prophesied to come. It will be a time when the constraints of righteousness will be given over to the plundering of evil and every man will be a nation of one! Your worst nightmare will be a daily reality as almost everyone left on earth sinks to the lowest level of human depravity possible.
The good news in this chapter is heard in verse sixteen which says in part:
From the ends of the earth we hear singing:
"Glory to the Righteous One."
So, in the middle of this Hell on earth praises will still be sung to God! That must be your goal. Be prepared to be a voice of Praise from the depths of Hell! If you survive the destruction and find yourself still alive after the judgments have fallen on earth then set your heart to Praise the Name of the Lord and sing praises to Him!
Will it be hard to Praise the Lord in the middle of the Great Tribulation? I suppose it will be. Those who are left will be tempted like Job to curse God and die. But there is a way you can prepare to be a part of that elite choir. Today, when trouble comes, Praise God! When problems attack you on every side, Praise God! When all seems lost, Praise God! When hopelessness abounds on every side, Praise God! When suffering and pain fill your mind and body, Praise God!
Then if you are still alive when Isaiah 24 is fulfilled on this earth you will have practiced and be ready to be one of the voices heard singing Praise to God from the pits of Hell!
Monday, April 12, 2010
Give Us the Glory!
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”
Of all the puzzling statements in the Bible these verses must rank fairly high on the list. Jesus tells God that He has given us “the glory that you gave me.” We give God Glory and we give Glory to Jesus, but what could this mean that Jesus gives us the Glory that God gave Him?
What Glory did God give to Jesus? Jesus was given Glory because He was a man and He was God. He was God incarnate. Jesus was flesh and blood and Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit of God and He Himself was God. It was a never before seen mix of man and God. He was both the Son of Man and the Son of God.
It makes me nervous to even attempt a description of the nature of Jesus, because I know my understanding is incomplete at best. But God gives us Glory when He forms us into the image of Jesus. As you become like Jesus, you reflect the Glory of God and you reveal the Glory that He has given you.
The struggle that will go on in you will mirror the struggle Jesus had with Satan. You will be tempted in the worst ways, but each time there will be provided a way of escape. Even though the power of God will be seen working through you, persecution and suffering will stalk your every moment. As you approach your “It is finished” valley you will ask God if there is another way even as Jesus did.
It is not an easy road to walk with Jesus, but it is even harder to walk in His steps. In an almost incomprehensible way Jesus came as a proto-type for your life. What He was is what I am to be. What He did is what I am to do. The road He walked is the path for my life. Then and only then does the Glory make any sense.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.
1 Peter 4:7
After reading hundreds of pages of a novel, the last page or even last paragraph can make or break the story. Either it ends in a way that satisfies everything you hoped would happen, or it ends in frustration, leaving you almost wishing you had never picked up the book in the first place.
So here is a “novel” idea! (Play on words intended.) I will write a story and leave the ending as a blank page. Then, when you get to the end of the story you can write that part to make it work out just like you think it should. To be even cuter I would call it an “Endless Story.” It is not a terrible idea, but I don’t think I had better quit my day job to pursue it.
Life itself is a little like my “Endless Story” idea with a twist. God has given you a notebook filled with paper. Each day starts as a blank page and you write the events of your life from the time you wake until you retire for the night. As of this morning I have written 23,298 pages in my life story. There have been exciting days and mundane. I don’t yet know how many pages my story will take, but I do know how it will end. You see, I don’t write the end of my story. Many years ago I gave God the production and editorial rights to my life, and so God writes the ending of my story. Because of Jesus the story of my life will end gloriously!
Do you know how your story will end? Are you still working hard to make everything work out in the end? Here is the simple solution. Give your heart, mind and strength to Jesus Christ and live each day listening for His direction in your life. Then when you come to write the final page of your story Jesus will give it the PERFECT ENDING! It will be Heavenly!
Friday, April 9, 2010
This Little Light!
He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
2 Thessalonians 1:8-10
Even those who vehemently rebel against Almighty God are totally dependent on Him for their next breath and their next heartbeat! The power and influence of God totally pervades the existence of Satan himself. Those who stand against God are standing at all because God chooses to allow them. And even more baffling, God is the source of the life that gives them the strength to rail at Him.
Like a moth caught in the cupped hands of a gentle giant men flap their wings and struggle with every ounce of energy to break free from the confinement, but only the will of the giant determines the fate of the moth.
The very second God decides that evil should no longer exist, it will not. Like the moth, one clap of God’s hands would eliminate it forever from the cosmic landscape. So, what great purpose of God is fulfilled by the existence of evil? Strangely enough evil brings Glory to God. The brightest light we might produce sitting on the surface of the sun, and theoretically not consumed by its heat, would not be noticeable at all. The brightness of the sun would outshine and hide its glory! But one little candle in blackest darkness, can be seen by everyone. Darkness and evil provide the contrast needed for light and righteousness to be quite clearly seen.
Without the darkness who could see the light? Does that mean that you should love the darkness? Oh no, not at all!
Evil is the backdrop and contrast to reveal the Righteousness of God and to make our walk with Jesus apparent to all! Evil is serving God’s purpose and will end at just the right time. Never compromise and give in to temptation to be a part of the darkness, but never fear what it can do to you either. No evil can harm God’s child unless he or she chooses to give in to its temptation.
Remember the deeper the darkness around you the brighter your light will shine!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-18
The season of high school class reunions comes every year. It is emotional, sobering, and extremely thought provoking. “How could they all have gotten so old?” “It seems like only yesterday.” With class reunions it is almost certain that nobody looks better at their 40th class reunion than they did on the day of graduation. Time definitely takes its toll.
When Jesus returns to this earth there will be a grand reunion of unimaginable proportions. Everyone who died “in Him” will come back with Jesus. And all those who love Him now will be gathered together with them in the air. This reunion will never end and I can assure you that everyone will look better than they have ever looked in their life! Everyone will be transformed and given a new body!
As turmoil engulfs the world around you and maybe even your life what can you do? There is a song we used to sing when our children were young. It is lively and lifts your soul.
The words are:
My Lord will come again,
My Lord will come again,
He’ll come again,
I know, I know, I know, I know,
So sing my soul
And laugh and dance and skip and run
And shout for joy He’ll come!
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Hold Tight to Jesus!
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
If you are sober it is pretty easy to walk a straight line without veering off to the left or right. But if you put that line on a twelve inch wide beam several hundred feet in the air, walking that line without falling off is very difficult. Here is the difference. If you were to fall while walking at ground level you might bruise yourself or at worst break a bone. But if you veer off and fall while hundreds of feet in the air the impact will most certainly be fatal.
Walking in the Spirit is pretty exciting. The view is glorious and the air is clean and crisp and invigorating. When you walk with Jesus you soar above all the petty realities of this life. It is like Peter walking on the water with Jesus. Those first few steps must have been amazing. Because of Jesus, Peter was doing something that nobody had done or could ever do! Then the most debilitating four letter word of all grabbed Peter. The word is fear! After beginning to walk with Jesus and ascend above the troubles of this life every believer is tempted with fear and is encouraged by Satan to grasp again for the “safety net” of this world.
The truth however is this: Nothing the world can offer will save you from the troubles of life. This corrupt world system may make many promises, but it has no power to fulfill any of them apart from the Grace of God. When God says to the powers of this world, “It’s time for you to go” they will go and go quickly!
If you must fear, then fear God instead of the bad things that could happen in life. If you are safe in the arms of Jesus, then you can walk on the mountain tops or through the pits of Hell and never have reason to fear. When I was a small child I remember clinging to my father when things got scary. Now that I am an old man, I am still clinging to my Father! Here is the best advice. Hold tight to Jesus and enjoy the view!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Who Are You!
This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.
Who was Melchizedek? He is perhaps the most mysterious character in the Old Testament. Abraham gave Melchizedek a tithe of the spoils of war. “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.” Surely the identity of Melchizedek will be on the “questions to be answered in heaven” list.
Who are you in the story of God’s working through this generation of men? The truth is simply this: Great men and women of God rarely, if ever know how history will remember or not remember them. We will meet men and women in heaven who are highly honored by God but are not remembered by men. And I suppose the opposite will be true. There will be some who are honored by men as “great saints” but are not so deemed by God.
It is not for you to know your place in history. All of your contemporaries may hold you up as great or they may put you down as worthless in God’s working on this earth. But the opinions of men, even righteous men may not mirror the judgments of God Almighty.
So instead of trying to “make a name for yourself” in God’s kingdom, work to make a “Name for Jesus.” Your eternal value is determined only by what Jesus thinks about you and your life. What others think, or even what history records is irrelevant.
Believe it or not, praise is potentially more destructive to a servant of Christ than criticism. A very wise man once told me not to listen to praise and to consider the criticism to see if it is true and then make changes accordingly. Working for the praise of men or listening to the praise of men can divert you from the calling of God in your life.
Remember, only God knows the purpose He had in mind when He created you in your mother’s womb. Fulfill His calling for today and let history say what it will or nothing at all.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Power of His Presence!
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.
He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
When Jesus shows up in your life you can be just like His disciples. They were startled and amazed, but didn’t really believe that it was Him. We have lots of alternative explanations to the presence of the living Jesus. “What a co-incidence! How lucky is that? That was a bit of good fortune.”
When Jesus walked with His followers before the crucifixion we do not hear of one of them performing a miracle. It was Jesus power infused into a life situation that was deemed a miracle. When Jesus went back to Heaven His followers were not left powerless.
Prayer in the powerful name of Jesus today comes to the throne of Heaven with petitions bearing the authority of His name. Never take such prayer lightly. If you have been given the right to pray in Jesus Name then nothing is impossible in answer to your prayers.
But if Jesus is not alive, His name means nothing as you approach God in prayer. He is alive and the name of Jesus is still powerful beyond imagination. All the nuclear stockpiles on earth cannot compare to the power of one simple prayer in Jesus’ Name!
Before you bow in prayer realize that you are about to unleash the Creator of the Universe on the issue at hand! May He be praised forever!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, "It is done!" Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.
The President of the United States mocked those who said the passing of his health care bill would bring Armageddon. On this the President was correct. Armageddon will be a much “bigger deal” than health care reform.
There is coming a time and it may indeed be very soon when everything that can be shaken will be shaken. Imagine the whole world, all together suffering an earthquake like the Haiti shaker! There will be no news reports because everyone will be so busy with their own destruction. All you will know is that it is horrible where you live and help is not coming from anywhere else!
If you survive the awful events of the coming days your faith will be tested to the maximum. Pray that those who believe that Christians will be taken to heaven before it gets really bad are correct in their understanding of the coming events.
Pray that you will have the God given strength to endure whatever suffering comes your way. Most you must pray all the time. Talk to God about everything. Don’t let a moment pass without considering His point of view on your own thoughts.
Ask God to give you the courage to speak up the words that He has ordained for you to speak to the world around you. Waste no time in telling the world around you that Jesus will soon be here and it is time to turn to Him and repent of their sins!
We are standing at a bus stop waiting for the bus and we can hear it coming. Wake those who have fallen asleep and tell them to be ready for the return of Jesus. It is the only important thing to do until He comes!
Friday, April 2, 2010
The Next Miracle!
"Before she goes into labor,
she gives birth;
before the pains come upon her,
she delivers a son.”
When my children were very small my oldest son had difficulty with the concept that I as their father was not bound by the laws I had written for the family. Actually, I never wrote them down. But sometimes it was necessary for me to “break the law” and that bothered him. Now Morgan is a father of five children himself and I’m sure he understands!
It is hard for me to understand how God can create laws, even the laws of nature and then not be bound by them Himself. One of the earmarks of an action of God is that it is not boxed in by law. God can and does cross over the “that can’t be done” line frequently and we call it a miracle. In fact, the basic definition of a miracle in the minds of most is that God is acting outside of law. Dead people don’t resurrect, sick people don’t instantly get up well at a spoken word, and waters don’t part so you can walk to the other side on dry ground.
When God passes by you almost never notice unless He brings a miracle with Him.
So here is today’s challenge. Recognize the presence of Almighty God without a miraculous sign. When a dead person rises up everyone can recognize God’s power, but as His child you can sense His presence as you stand in line at a grocery store. He is no less with you there than He is when you are with Him walking on the water. When you see Jesus with you always, then your life can be lived in readiness to be a part of God’s next miracle!
The Old Testament Law was given by our Father in Heaven and then Jesus came and nailed that Law to a tree. Jesus was Himself God’s Miracle. Let Jesus be God’s Next Miracle in your life!
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Lord Speak To Me!
This is what the LORD Almighty says:
"Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
they fill you with false hopes.
They speak visions from their own minds,
not from the mouth of the LORD.
They keep saying to those who despise me,
'The LORD says: You will have peace.'
And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts
they say, 'No harm will come to you.'
But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD
to see or to hear his word?
Who has listened and heard his word?
“We don’t have wars here in America. They are all fought overseas in other countries.” My mother’s words were an attempt to calm a little boy during the Korean War. When I saw news clips on our black and white TV I was worried about war coming here. But she said it would not and I believed her!
My mother was not a prophet, but she was filling my heart with false hopes. After World War II had engulfed the world, but not touched our shores at all except for Pearl Harbor which at the time Hawaii was not a state, we began to believe that we were immune from the ravages of war. War was a spectator sport except for the boys who had to go and fight. 9-11 almost pulled us out of that perspective, but we have lulled ourselves back to sleep while we continue to believe that we will not be involved in the tragedy of war in America.
But is anyone hearing or even listening to God? Are our leaders paying attention to the Word of the Lord about any matter? Many today would even deride someone who believes that we can hear from God. They speak visions from their own minds and say “no harm will come to you.” They fill us with false hopes as we go on our way towards the Gates of Hell.
It is not for someone else to raise the alarm about our certain fate as a people in all out rebellion against our Creator! A nation becomes corrupt because individuals succumb to the lure of evil, and a nation become righteous because individuals repent of their evil and turn to God!
As the ship of state goes down our leaders are telling us we need to spend more money in order to keep us from sinking. The band is playing while we wait for a miracle that will not come from our gods of gold and silver. We have thrown our Captain off the ship and are listening to the lies from our own hearts.
Our only hope is for us to stand in the council of the LORD so we can see and hear his Word? Lord speak to me!