Saturday, August 25, 2012

For Such a Time as This

Back in the sixties Jerry Lee Lewis sang “there is a whole lot of shaking going on.” However, those "shakings" do not begin to compare with what’s happening in the world today and what is coming. Hebrews 12 informs us that everything that can be shaken, will.

What is a person supposed to do who is concerned about what must soon happen? Even Jesus pointed out that in the last days “many hearts will fail for fear.” Nevertheless, God always has a perfect plan. He reveals truth to prepare us, not to cause us to fear. First Corinthians 10:13 reminds us that God is faithful to give us the grace to endure, but more importantly, He will also show us the “way of escape.” In other words, rather than just “grin and bear it,” we are going to overcome. The promise in Isaiah 60 is that when darkness covers the earth, His light shall also come and shine in you. His glory will be seen in you.

“For such a time as this,” Mordecai told Esther in the day of extreme trouble for the Jews, after she had come into the King’s palace. Clearly God had arranged events and given her favor to be in position to stop Haman from killing all the Israelites. Likewise, God is arranging events and giving favor to believers to “know their God and do great exploits” in the days ahead according to Daniel 11:32.

We have a choice. Either we go along with the world in a business as usual attitude, or we wake up and realize we have been brought into God's Kingdom to make an eternal difference. We are called to go beyond enjoying the blessings of peace, health, and prosperity and only living for our own comfort. Desperate times call for desperate measures.  We can use this time and position to come to know Him and become grounded in the truth of His Word.  God commands us to stand in the strength of the Lord, exercise His power in the spiritual fight, and extend the triumph of Jesus Christ to change lives forever.  In short, God sets before us life and death. Choose life.

How do we choose life in this "such a time?" The answer is to make it our first priority to know God. Yet, we can’t even love or know God without His help. So ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to us each morning. Cry out as Paul did in Ephesians 1:17, "that God may give unto us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him." Then deliberately take time each day to read and to think about His Word until the truth is stronger than the world's ways or your own human thoughts and desires.

God has brought you (us) into His powerful kingdom and put us in the world in the midst of the shaking going on for such a time as this. Even Jesus before His death and resurrection stated, “For this purpose I have come.” This is the time to get to know and love Him with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength.  In this awesome relationship, in His light we will become light.  God needs you (us) for such a time as this to be His light.  We will overcome the darkness.  Jesus reassures us, "Fear not, I have overcome the world."

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What is Your Goal for Today?

Focus. In watching the Olympics one thing becomes increasingly clear: these people focus. Whether the action is a routine on the balance beam or a summersault and twist in a high dive, the competitor has learned and trained to focus whole-heartedly on the details to make the execution near flawless. While it is exciting to see someone with such effort and ability put everything on the line for the gold medal, there is something more which rivets us to the screen. In every person there is a deep-seated desire to succeed and reach our goals.

Often in the day to day reality of life we get caught up in our work, our family, our responsibilities, and even our struggles to survive as pleasantly as possible. If we make it through the day, without rocking the boat too much, we feel like it has been a good day. Unfortunately that is not why God gave us life. What is our main purpose for the day?

Most Christians have read that the purpose of life is to know and serve God. Yet this foundational principle seems so far removed from real daily existence. How do we make it an inner drive of our hearts everyday? What if God, in giving us this first and great commandment (Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength), also intended us to ask Him for help in doing it? All the commands in Scripture are addressed to our will, in other words, we have to choose to obey them. Then God who “works in you both to will and to work for His pleasure” accomplishes it in cooperation with us. Many of us are like Peter, who promised Jesus his willingness to die for Him, but didn’t have the inner power to do it in the time of trial.

The point is, even in the area of our relationship to God, we need to ask Him to give us a heart to know and love God each morning.  Ephesians 1:17 is a prayer asking the Father for wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.  The most precious and important goal of our life today is to know and love God , and those who invite the Holy Spirit to empower their will and heart will experience a fresh desire and joy in being closer to Him. It is as simple and yet profound as praying,  “Father God, help me to know and love you today in all I think and do.”

Jeremiah 24:7 Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Facts, Just the Facts

On Dragnet many years ago Sergeant Friday wanted the facts. Everyone has an opinion, but the facts provide the evidence to reach a right conclusion. The facts are that Christian teenagers are departing from the faith and becoming like the world. Here are the results of three recent surveys.

1. “According to a stunning new survey by America's Research Group, 95 percent of 20 to 29 year old evangelicals attended church regularly during their elementary and middle school years. However, only 55 percent of them attended church regularly during high school, and only 11 percent of them were still regularly attending church when in college.”

2.”Another new survey by the Barna group reveals that less than 1 percent of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 23 hold a Biblical worldview. This new poll data clearly demonstrates that the youngest adults in America are clearly rejecting traditional evangelical Christian teaching.

The Barna survey defined "a Biblical worldview" as holding all of the following six key beliefs:1) Believing that absolute moral truth exists.

2) Believing that the Bible is completely accurate in all of the principles it teaches.

3) Believing that Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic.

4) Believing that a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or by doing good works.

5) Believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth.

6) Believing that God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.”

3. “The board of the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group representing 60 denominations and dozens of ministries, passed a resolution this year deploring “the epidemic of young people leaving the evangelical church.” Their alarm has been stoked by a survey claim that if current trends continue, only 4 percent of teenagers will be “Bible-believing Christians” as adults. That would be a sharp decline compared with 35 percent of the current generation of baby boomers, and before that, 65 percent of the World War II generation. There is widespread consensus among evangelical leaders that they risk losing their teenagers.”

Also quoted from the New York Times article “Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers” of 10/06/2006 “Genuine alarm can be heard from Christian teenagers and youth pastors, who say they cannot compete against a pervasive culture of cynicism about religion, and the casual “hooking up” approach to sex so pervasive on MTV, on Web sites for teenagers and in hip-hop, rap and rock music. Divorced parents and dysfunctional families also lead some teenagers to avoid church entirely or to drift away.

“Over and over in interviews, evangelical teenagers said they felt like a tiny, beleaguered minority in their schools and neighborhoods. They said they often felt alone in their struggles to live by their “Biblical values” by avoiding casual sex, risquĂ© music and videos, Internet pornography, alcohol and drugs.”

Whether we like it or not, those are the facts. The facts speak louder than words of opinion. The eternal welfare of our children is too important to continue letting the worldly system destroy them. God’s plan includes the promise in Daniel 11:32 that in the midst of troubling events toward the end of the age, “those who know their God will be strong and do great exploits.” If ever there was a time to put your children in a Christian environment where they can know Jesus and learn to walk in the truth of His Word, that time is NOW. For such a time as this.