Sunday, October 22, 2017

From Trouble to Greatness: Need to Partner with God

A ten-year old boy is terrified and deeply troubled when he overhears his mom and dad screaming crude expletives of hate toward each other.  A teenage girl doubts whether she is worth anything after being ridiculed for being fat, ugly, and dumb by her peers.  A business man, who crossed the line in drinking too much, blows an important account and loses his job.  A mother of three is served divorce papers, because her husband is involved with another woman, and now she faces having to provide for and raise the children by herself.  An old man, lonely and distraught in a nursing home feeling like his life was a total failure, is at the mercy of high school dropouts who work there because it was the only job available to them and who have no regard for the needs of the clientele.  What do these people and their situations have in common?

God has called them to "reign as kings in life" (Romans 5:17 AMP).  WHAT?

Yes it is true, everyone has life situations that seem overwhelming and defeating; the last thing we would call them is winning or reigning.   It is so easy to get depressed and feel sorry for ourselves, especially if we compare ourselves to others who seem to "have it made."  However, you are you and not someone else, so the question is "how are you going to face your problems?"

The good news is that God's plan for you hasn't changed, He has a way to rule as kings in your every situation by becoming a partner with God. There are three steps in our partnership with God.  First, God initiates what He wants by declaring it in His Word and having the Holy Spirit stir our hearts to believe it.  Second, we respond in obedience with prayer, fasting, or whatever He has called.  Third, God honors our response by releasing His power in that situation for which we have cried out. 

God will not do our part and we cannot do His part.  If we do not do our part, some of the help and blessing that God would have given us are withheld.  Our part includes making quality decisions to deny ourselves (say no to sin and pride); to feed our spirit on the Word, to ask for Divine help and intervention through prayer and fasting; and to embrace godly activities (service to others) and relationships.  There are many things that God will not give us individually until we pursue them in faith and obedience.

God's part includes releasing supernatural influences on our hearts (power, wisdom, desires); on our bodies (healing, strength); on our circumstances (provision, protection, direction); and on our relationships (favor).  God governs the universe in intimate partnership with His people through intercession. He has chosen to give His people a dynamic role in determining some of our quality of life, based on our response to the grace of God, particularly in prayer, fasting, obedience and meekness.  God opens doors of blessing and closes doors of oppression in response to prayer.  There are blessings that He has chosen to give, but only if His people rise up in the partnership of prayer to ask for them.  James said that we do not have because we do not ask (James 4:2).  Jesus spoke of demons that would not stop tormenting people until driven out by prayer and fasting (Matt. 17:21).  Our prayers matter greatly, even when we do not feel their power.

God has given us the blueprint, His Word.  Prayer causes us to internalize God's Word as we speak His ideas back to Him.  Each time we say back to God what He has declared to us, it marks our spirit, illuminates our mind and tenderizes our heart.  Our character is transformed.  God's requirement that we pray reflects His desire for intimate partnership and connection with us.

In the world we have trouble (Scripture calls them tribulations.), but God says to be of good cheer, He has overcome the world.  He calls us to give all those cares to Him, declare His promises, and walk forward in simple obedience to God and the truth He has given.  Then, the eternal law of sowing and reaping allows Him to multiply our efforts with His response.  God is faithful and will never overlook our labor of love.  The very problems that the enemy meant to destroy us are the same stuff God uses to allow us to partner with Him and reign in life.  You can choose to partner with God and reign as kings.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Greatest Appointment of Your Life is Coming!

Good news.  You won't be late.  The greatest appointment of your life is coming, and you will be ushered in right on time! Every person has the interview of their life awaiting them, and what's more, the conversation will be exactly true, about everything you ever thought, every emotion, every choice, and every action you ever did.  You see, this inevitable appointment is with the Lord Jesus Himself who knows the very intents of your heart and mind.  His eyes of fire burn through every fa├žade and deception and hidden thing.  He knows the complete truth about each of us.  Our lives will be completely exposed in that look.

What will He will say to you?  What does He see?   To whom much is given, much will be required.  Each of us will give an account of what we did with our lives, with what He gave us according to 2 Corinthinans 5:10.  Usually this thought arouses overwhelming fear and panic.  If all we had was our own worth, we should tremble.   However, Jesus the righteous judge, is on our side.  The cross and His shed blood really did pay for our failures.  Amazingly, He not only has taken our sin, but He also has given us His righteousness, His divine nature (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God is so good, so kind, so wonderful.  The purpose of the judgment is not to condemn us, but to reward us.  What?  Can that be true?  Many times in Scripture, for example in Revelation 22;12, it declares that He is coming and His reward is with Him.  Even the "Bema" judgment seat is not a reference to a judge in the courtroom, but rather a picture of where the judge stood in the athletic games handing out the gold and silver medals.

Let me suggest that the purpose of this "judgment" is to summarize our 70-80 year internship to determine where we will serve for our 1000 year assignment, and beyond.  God is the master at calling us to choose His way, and then our one step of obedience yields a mile of reward.  God, who loves the cheerful giver, demonstrates this quality through Jesus who is the ultimate giver.

God highly treasures fear of the Lord.  However, we are not meant to fear the judgment of being sent to hell if we know Jesus as Savior.  Jesus went to hell for us.  Fear of the Lord, rather, is our response to a great, loving Father, by hating any evil thing that would separate us from a pure, clean relationship with Him and by seeking whole-heartedly to know and love Him.  When you realize all that He did for you, your only honest response is to lay your life, your choices, down for Him.  But God knows our frame, so He also promises great rewards.  He declares rewards for praying in secret, for fasting in secret, for giving in secret, even for giving a glass of cold water to a child.   See this principle in Jesus' words, "If anyone desires to be great, become servant of all."  He isn't against us being great for Him or desiring His reward, but He does clearly lay out what we must do to receive this desired award.

One more important thought: (found in 1 Corinthians 3:11-18)  Everyone must build on the one foundation, Jesus Christ.  Then everything we do will be tested by fire (maybe the fire of His eyes).  What an incredible warning to evaluate what we are doing, whether we are building with silver and gold, or wood, hay, and stubble.  Can you imagine the regret, of standing before God on that final most important appointment, and having Jesus say, "Your soul is saved, but all you have done with your life is wasted."

"Father, search me O God, and help me see what is fleshly and what is Spirit-led so that there will be great rejoicing and reward, rather than failure in the review of all I have done.  Lord, prepare my heart and teach me to walk in the fear of the Lord, so that I am unashamed and ready for the greatest appointment of my life."


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Run with Horses

Are Things Going to Get Better or Worse?  
Yes.....Both.

In all four Gospels Jesus warns about the signs of the times and the incredible distress that will come on the earth at the conclusion of the age.  Consider a few descriptions from Jesus in Matthew 24, "nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.  And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places."  Then He adds "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake."   Because of such overwhelming statements, many people have such a fear of the end times that they don't even want to think about it.

However, on the other hand, God declares that of the increase of His government and His peace, there will be no end (Isaiah 9:7).  God further declares great anointing coming on His people, such that we will shine as lights and His glory will be seen on us (Isaiah 60:1-3).  Therefore, the end time sounds much like the passage of Psalm 23, "He prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies."  Jesus explained that "a servant is not greater than his master.  If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you." (John 15:20)  Therefore, just as Jesus turned Satan's greatest attack into glorious victory, His Spirit in us will provide the strength and power, the love and peace, to overcome all the plans of the enemy.  He will (always) lead us in triumph.

Perhaps the famous introduction by Dickens, in A Tale of Two Cities, is an appropriate description,
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."  Clearly the Holy Spirit is preparing the Bride of Christ, convicting of sin and establishing righteousness, and calling us into an "Abba, Father" relationship that is so real and unshakeable, that nothing can separate us from the love of God the Spirit has poured into our hearts.  All who loved God through the ages longed to see what we and hear what we hear in these days.  It also follows that the enemy, the accuser of the brethren who tested Job, will likewise test us.  Yet Scripture states we are not ignorant of his designs.  Therefore, it is not a little thing to build ourselves up in the Holy Spirit and be so prepared that we know "God is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day (2 Timothy 2:1:12).  

How does the enemy attack?  First of all, consider the "why" that Jesus revealed, that Satan is a liar, and that he comes to "steal, kill and destroy."  In the parable of the sower, the enemy stole the "Word" from those who didn't understand or receive it.  Secondly, those who weren't well established in knowing Jesus Christ fell when there was persecution or conflict arising from holding God's truth.  Thirdly, those who held on to the world, loving the things of the flesh such as pride, immorality, money, and selfishness more than God, fell because these "weeds" choked the Word.  Is this not a clear trumpet calling us to seek a solid revelation of Jesus through His Word, to choose that which pleases God over what satisfies our fleshy desires, and to look upon Him who rewards forever so that we can stand the temporary sufferings of persecution.

Prophet Stanley Frodsham, friend of Smith Wigglesworth and author of his biography, prophesied in 1965 five years before he died, that God would empower His people with great glory and holiness in the last days.  However, he suggested that many would fall because we would be tempted, just like Jesus, with being offered the kingdoms of this world, and secondly, with severe rejection and persecutions.  He strongly calls for believers to let the Lord lead them into a walk of holiness where there will be great glory and "unspeakable joy."  (This prophecy entitled "Preparing for the Coming Glory Amid Tribulations, Persecutions" can be read in in its entirety on the Charisma Magazine website, charismamag.com)

Obviously, according to Paul's instruction to Timothy, all those who live godly lives will have tribulations.  Jesus said they are sure to come.  However, we need to learn how to "count it joy" and have "peace" and "glory in tribulations" (James 1:2-4, Romans 5:1-5) so God can grow us up.  He does not waste things, but uses all for our good.  God is faithful and He waits for us to choose to obey His Word so He can do it.

Stop, repent from being lukewarm, because now, before things get worse, is the time to seek God seriously. Ask the Holy Spirit to build you up in the truth of the Word and to form in you His character.  Quit complaining, but instead, be thankful and let Him work in and through you.  God told Jeremiah, “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?" Let God work in you now so when the day comes, you can run with horses.




Monday, July 10, 2017

What are You Going to Do with Your Life? (Now that You Have Graduated)

"What are you going to do with your life now that you have graduated?" is the typical question that every high school or college graduate is presented with by friends and family.  Even though people are just trying to make conversation and to encourage the graduate in his future challenges, there is a more serious aspect to the question.  Many graduates are only thinking about getting out of their current school and do not have a thoughtful answer, because they have not really stopped to ask themselves this question in a long-term way.  However, graduation is a good time to seek and ask God what is His plan for your life.
Misty Edwards has written a powerful book entitled, "What is the Point?" in which she shares her challenge to find meaning in life and to give herself to something that really matters.  The truth is that each of us has to face that basic question at some point; otherwise, we could not survive or have the inner strength to fulfill our daily responsibilities.  We need a reason for living and doing what we do.

The secular world suggests the answer is to find something where you can make money and have all the pleasures and luxury that life affords.  However, there is something else far more important to consider.  Ecclesiastes declares that God has put eternity in our hearts.  Most people have a deep desire to do something with their lives that matters (even forever), that in some way contributes something to mankind that produces a measure of satisfaction.  Yet even stronger than this general longing is the revelation found Ephesians 2:10, that clearly states "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."  What an amazing thought, that God has specific works prepared for each of us to do!  All we need to do is find out what they are and do them.

Back to the key issue: What are you going to do?  How are you going to find out what those works are?  Jesus knew we would need direction, so that is why He promised to send another comforter ("another" meaning like Himself) who would guide us into all truth. The Holy Spirit is given to all who ask and is here to help us find this truth.   Romans 8:14 declares "as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."  We can know the Spirit's leading, and proceed knowing with confidence our relationship with God.  

First of all, to be a son of God, one must let the Holy Spirit reveal Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, as the One who paid the price (His blood) for your sins and to whom you willingly commit your life. 

Secondly, God promises to give to those who ask.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you God's plan.  It sounds so simple a little child could do it, which is the point.  Simply come as a little child admitting you need His help and trust Him to guide you through His peace.  As Colossians 3:15 points out, we are to "let the peace of God rule in our hearts..."  (The Amplified actually states "continually be the umpire").  So to the best of your knowledge, begin doing what is on your heart, what you feel is right.  Then let God re-direct you and guide you with His peace as you calmly present each step to Him in prayer and quietness. 

God is not mocked and cannot lie, so it follows He will faithfully guide each one who asks Him and trusts Him.  Sometimes we see this clearer when we look back at how God has led us through many ways into the place we now are.  Each one of us does not have to be some kind of big hero, but just simply be content as the person He has made us and doing the work that He has led us to do.  The rest of that Colossians 3:15 verse says "and be thankful."  With thankfulness, enjoy the peace and presence of God in all you do.  Since you are His workmanship, He will lead you into the work He has prepared for you.  He made you for this!
 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How to Get Away with the "Perfect Crime"!

                                                   
"The perfect crime"is the carrot on a stick that seems to motivate the criminals that CSI and other detective shows work to capture.  The suspect always has this deluded sense that the crime will not have consequences.  It always does.
Likewise, the drug addict or the alcoholic thinks that he can stop whenever he wants to, but it never happens that way.  The wife beater, who later promises never to do it again, only returns to his habitual pattern the next time he gets upset.  The man trapped by sexual pornography doesn't think it owns him, but step by step his whole attitude about women and his relationships get corroded with lust and guilt.  A man reaps what he sows.

Sowing and reaping is one of the eternal laws, stronger and more reliable than gravity, that God established in the beginning.  Adam's disobedience had lasting consequences which still plague mankind and the world today.  The introductory explanation to sowing and reaping in Galatains 6:7, "Be not deceived, God is not mocked," provides the foundational reason: God.  Does He, who made the eye to see and the ear to hear, not see and hear all?  He knows every thought and intent of the heart.

Most people who are involved in sin, whether they are willing to call it sin or not, have an excuse and blame someone else.  Perhaps this started with Adam blaming God for his sin by giving the excuse "It was the woman YOU gave me." and Eve blaming it on the snake.  Or Cain challenging God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" rather than admit he killed Abel.  The greatest challenge to prideful human nature is to admit "I was wrong."  It takes a measure of supernatural grace, honesty, and courage to acknowledge this.  No wonder God repeatedly addresses his people, "Be strong," or "Take courage," or "Fear not," when He invites us to repent and believe He is willing to forgive and to intervene.

"He who humbles himself will be exalted" is the conclusion Jesus gave after telling the story of the proud Pharisee and the penitent publican that went into the temple to pray. (Luke 18:9-14)   The point is that God, as revealed in Isaiah 30:18, is waiting to be merciful toward you.  What is He waiting for?  For you to acknowledge your own wrong choice, your responsibility in what you have done wrong, and accept that the only perfect way out is to let Jesus die for the sin and His blood wash you clean. 

God sent Jesus not to judge (us) the world, but to give Himself to pay the price for sin once for all.  He has already paid the high price, his very life, so you and I can not only be free, but He actually makes a promise that seems too good to be true, we become the righteousness of God.  God is not mocked, all sin will be paid for justly.  Either Jesus takes the consequences and we go free, or we proudly refuse to admit our wrong and we suffer the consequences forever.  God sets before us Life or Death.  He then encourages us to "Choose Life."  This is the greatest Good News man could ever hear: It is finished!  Jesus paid it all.  So great is this truth that it rightfully should be The Headline on every Internet site, every television news, every newspaper in the world.  Perhaps this amazing truth is summarized by the best known (and maybe least understood) Scripture in the world: " For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  Do you see how the heart of God does not want anyone to perish, but rather to receive what Jesus has done, and live free of the consequences forever?

God honors both what is in our heart and on our lips.  However, we do have the power to choose and put something in our heart.  When we admit our wrong and are willing to believe that Jesus paid the price, that is our heart.  The second step, according to Romans 10:8-13, then is to be willing to declare that choice out loud with our lips, inviting Him to take over and be Lord of your new life. 

Therefore, I invite you to honestly admit your sin or wrong decisions, receive Jesus' consequences, and say the following prayer to settle this crucial choice:  Thank you, Jesus, for taking the consequences for my sins by dying on the cross and shedding your blood for me.  I believe you rose from the dead, paying completely for every sin I have ever committed.  In response to You and your love for me, I willingly choose to receive your forgiveness and give my life to you by declaring "Jesus, You are my Lord" forever.    

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Monday, August 8, 2016

"Mommy, I'm Scared"



 
What do you tell children who are afraid of what is happening in the News?



When children hear about a gunman shooting police officers or a bomb blowing up people in the mall on the news report, their mind and heart are overwhelmed. The fear that gets into their psyche produces anxiety which may come out in nightmares, abnormal timidity, or negative behavior.



What can a mother say?  Number one, don’t put the child down with some quick remark like “that’s foolish” or “you shouldn’t think that way.”  How much better to listen, ask questions, and give the child a chance to express what is in their heart.



Can you be honest enough to say that sometimes you get scared too when you hear these things?  Let the child know that it isn’t uncommon for even big people to have these feelings.  When someone understands, it opens the door to hope that maybe things will be okay.



Love is greater than fear, so take the opportunity to hug the child and let the young person know that you love him (her) so much.  And how much more is  God’s love for each one of us?  What a powerful time to pray together asking Jesus to get rid of those bad fears with His perfect love, and to protect our family from all the evil in the world.  Encourage the child to say his own prayer asking Jesus to help him.



If the child is old enough to understand, this may be an open door to explain about sin, which leads to evil, and that is why Jesus died on the cross, to pay the price for all evil.  Sometimes when things go wrong, people realize they need Jesus’ help.  God wants every person to come to Him.  Besides what Jesus did 2000 years ago when He became man, someday, Jesus is going to come again and make everything right.  Then there will be no more evil, or crying, or death.



Often the evening news only tells us about the bad things that are happening, but God is doing a lot of good things too.  For example, the news reports all the trouble in Syria, Iraq, and in the Middle East where there are a lot of Muslim terrorists.  But on the other hand, consider how God is opening hearts to turn to Jesus.  “From 1960 to 2010, the number of Muslims that have converted to faith in Jesus Christ has grown from fewer than 200,000 to some 10 million people”1(Joel Rosenberg)  Ten million people brought into the kingdom of God forever is so much greater than the trouble.



The child who is afraid needs our comfort and help to restore hope that his world is not falling apart.  The truth is that it does look that way many times, but we also know God is greater and He has a plan to put an end to all evil.  Jesus rose from the dead and overcame all sin.  He will come again and make all things new.  Come, Lord Jesus!   

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Put an End to all Evil

"I'm so afraid of the coming events described in Revelation that I don't even want to think about the end times."   These and similar reactions are typical of Christians interviewed about their reaction when someone mentions the last days.  How do you approach conversation or even your own thoughts about the days that Jesus described, "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved?" Clearly there are some extremely hard times ahead, but how should the mature Christian think and feel about what is coming?

As the daily morning news seems to highlight one more act of violence and murder, racial hatred, and ISIS inspired terrorist act, we have all become only too familiar with the fallen nature of man and how the enemy is able to "steal, kill, and destroy."  A growing spirit of depression and frustration gets stirred up in the human heart each time we hear of one more act of injustice.  No wonder the Bible states that "because lawlessness is increased, the love of most people will grow cold." Matthew 24:12

On the other hand, God is not mocked and is moving mightily on the earth. We just don't always see it.  Just as the coming of the baby Jesus seemed like a completely helpless and futile attempt by God to change the world and mankind. Today God is raising up millions of prayer intercessors around the world that may seem insignificant to the average person, but this mighty force is powerful in shaking the heavens and the earth. 

“From 1960 to 2010, the number of Muslims that have converted to faith in Jesus Christ has grown from fewer than 200,000 to some 10 million people”  Joel Rosenberg recently said, citing a 19-page peer-reviewed study.  See https://endofdaysprophecy.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/joel-c-rosenbergs-blog-muslims-turning-to-christ/   Likewise reports continue to come in about an unprecedented move of God's Spirit in Latin America and millions are responding to the Gospel in Africa.  As Christians unite in prayer, and 24/7 prayer/worship groups continue to rise up, the prophecy of Isaiah 60 will surely come to pass: "For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen..."  God is not mocked by evil men or the devil. He raises a Standard against it. We know and believe God's plan will bring in the most possible souls into the kingdom, for He desires that all be saved.

There is one main warning Jesus gives in His comments about end time, found in all the Gospel accounts.  "Be not deceived."   Paul reiterates this in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first."  Why or how could those who have come to know Jesus and believe in Him fall away?  Verses 9 and 10 of the same chapter point out, "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved."  The key to having peace and not being shaken is to receive the "love of the truth," namely, God's Word.  May you and I call on the Holy Spirit right now to give us a love for the truth that never wavers, even in the light of public opinion, peer pressure, and false signs and wonders.

Yes, evil days are coming and the tribulation that Jesus and Revelation describe will occur.  It will only stop when Jesus comes again and instantly changes every kingdom to "become the kingdom of our Lord."  What is He waiting for?  Could He be waiting for the Spirit and the bride to say, "Come."  When Christians see how evil the enemy is, and how fallen man in his pride and fleshly lusts, and how he arrogantly thinks he can do whatever he wants without consequence, then we will long for and cry out with all our being, "Come!" 

So I have come to love and desire to know more about God's perfect plan and triumph in Revelation (God promises a blessing on all who read and/or hear the words of the book), and to see things going on in a new light.  Each enemy attack and victory for those who defy God's law opens my eyes to need for Jesus to intervene.  The more I  understand God's plan for the end, the more my heart longs for Him to come and to put an end to all evil.  Come, Lord Jesus!