The Most Devastating Sign of The End Times

Bible believers, followers of the Lord, are increasingly engaged with scriptural studies of the end times, eschatology. This is a good and vital part of our faith as believers of both the Old and New Testaments were called to watch for the fulfillment of prophecies. The prophets of the Old Testament had their spiritual eyes set upon the coming Messiah and today believers are called to focus on His glorious return. While so many are busy with timetable charts and configurations, few are expounding on the most devastating indicator of these end times. It is prevailing, overwhelming, and prolific enough to undergird every sin and pave the way for other end time events…even ushering in and celebrating the rise of the Antichrist.

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days, people will be lovers of themselves…” II Timothy 3:1-5

eselflove

If religion is “a system of faith and worship” then self-love would be today’s prevailing faith.

The cost and consequence of this love of self is rarely truthfully exposed. Self-love corrodes marital foundations as spouses increasingly seek to ‘fulfill themselves’ with selfish pleasures. Youths are encouraged to explore every venue of sexuality without restraint or consequence. Lovers of themselves put themselves before their unborn child, their spouse, their neighbor, and their Maker. From this root of‘love’ springs forth the “lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power…”  (II Timothy 3)

Why should this self-love concern ‘believers’?

“Lovers of self” is foundational to end time apostasy, ‘the great apostasy’, the great falling away. How so?

Through our worship. “Do not love the world” declared the elderly Apostle John but if he were to enter into much of our worship he would see both a love and imitation of the world. The spirit of this world appeals to our flesh and leads us to gratify ourselves in every way. Godly wordage aside, much of the ‘worship’ thronged after in American churches tantalizes our flesh and elates our emotions. This euphoric experience utilizes the same dynamics as a rock concert – invigorating music, strobing lights, even fog machines. Nothing is missing in these massive gatherings except the Holy Spirit.

Through our compromise. If there be lacking in the ‘whole counsel of God’ there is no counsel of God therein. In our ‘love for the world’ we have become like the world, excusing and redefining sin, omitting the preaching of hell, and neglecting the Lord’s admonishment to watch for His return as Judge and King. Not wanting to miss what this world has to offer, many throng to megachurches where the leadership enjoys kingdom living in this world – private jets, elaborate compounds, and extravagant incomes. Worship and church together are formidable and lucrative businesses today and sadly, we are content with euphoric worship and prosperity. Sanctification, a pursuit of holiness which is the crux of our Christian walk, is the most unpopular doctrine of the day.

Through our ecumenicalism. We are surely called to embrace our brethren from every tribe, every nation, and every tongue. We are to love the Body of Christ as we love the Lord Himself. But we are not called to – and strongly cautioned against – embracing every church doctrine, belief, and practice. “Small is the gate, narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” declared Jesus. However many believe that this gate can surely be widened for the sake of love, to include lifestyles, beliefs, and practices forbidden by the Word of God.

Who are we appeasing in this great movement of ‘togetherness’? Our carnal nature is that which wants to belong, wants to be loved, wants to be affirmed. Churches no longer esteem humility and fear of God but empowerment, success, and celebrity status.

The most devastating sign of the end times is not the sinful state of the world, it’s the worldly state of the church!

The Apostle Paul warned “there will be terrible times” and our only refuge as believers is to trust in the Word of God, His whole counsel and to do so we must know the Word of God. Orderly worship, the singing of hymns, presenting a word of instruction, “devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” describes church life of the early believers, those who had closest proximity to Jesus and the Apostles. There would be nothing to inflame the flesh, no lofty goals to fill giant stadiums, nor slogans to ‘change the world’ for Jesus.

There are perilous days ahead and a grooming underway for a one world church. Christendom will come to a great divide. Do we recognize the Jesus of the Bible where we worship?  He is found on one narrow road…

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”      Luke 9:23

A church with such followers – even if just two or three are gathered – have the greatest worth as useful vessels for the Kingdom of God if  Christ be in their midst.

God’s Candidate Will Win

elephant and donkey

We, as a people and nation, are in a different place than we were eight years ago. Without delineating the prevailing issues, it is enough to say that the church has become increasingly irrelevant except where it is seen as a voting bloc. Data bases of megachurches reveal clusters of thousands in the US and an unknown vast number of smaller community churches. When has so many people had such little impact at such a critical time?

Even worse, the churches ‘call to action’ amounts to courting political candidates whose views may be somehow contorted into a moral or religious framework. Christian colleges, ministries, media programs, and countless churches rally around a prospective president as if he or she could be a mini-savior, representing Christian viewpoints to our country. As citizens it is our right to vote. However, wooing worldly men to represent godly views is fruitless. The Lord saves us and calls us to represent Him ourselves – to abdicate this holy call to anyone else, to a politician, disqualifies us in the race.

Why coddle candidates or strategize campaigns? Be assured, God Himself has chosen a candidate and no one will thwart His plans.

“No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. But it is God who judges: He brings one down, He exalts another.” Psalm 75:6-7

Sovereign God raises up prophets, kings, pharaohs and presidents. He uses the godly and wicked to serve His divine purposes: one to proclaim God’s truths that will ultimately reconcile man to God, the other to display His glory, His power and as His rods to chastise and refine, also to reconcile man to God. God declared to Pharaoh, the enemy and enslaver of His people, “I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you My power and that My Name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16)

Rather than ‘picking up our cross’, American Christianity espouses a worldly mixture of faith:

  • Jesus came that we might have a good life
  • God is ‘for’ America and the ‘American Way’
  • God does not judge sin

Not only do these tenets bear bad fruit in our lives but worse, we export them to other countries through various prosperity ministries. If God loves us, if He is calling us and drawing us to Himself, He may raise leaders and circumstances that will set fire to our lukewarm floundering faith. After years of godly warnings, God raised up Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, to invade and desolate Jerusalem as a painful rod of chastisement to crush the unbelief and unfaithfulness of His people. His heart was to restore them as faithful to Him, separated from this world.  While as good citizens we may defend and protect our fellow citizens, prideful allegiance to any country, any world system or ‘way of life’ is adultery toward God. Except for the prophetic promises for Israel, God is not ‘for’ any country. Sad to state, God is not ‘for’ America.

“Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales…Before Him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by Him as worthless and less than nothing.” Isaiah 40:15, 17

And, sad to state, America is not ‘for’ God. As all the world, it will voluntarily come under the domain of the Antichrist. What is of great and eternal worth to God? God’s people, true believers, are His treasured possession – He will defend us, protect us, and endow us with His presence wherever we are.

Who is God’s presidential candidate?

It is not the one who passes the ‘Christian Value Litmus Test’. We cannot try to elect a president to ‘sanitize’ or ‘Christianize’ the United States. Believers are not called in any way to pump life into this condemned world, to make America great, bolster the stock market, or champion civil liberties. Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” Do we believe Him?

God’s candidate may unknowingly hold a powerful unspoken promise, “Vote for me.  I will bring about the chastisement and discipline of God. Under my leadership, you will be brought to your knees, crying out to Him!” God may ordain the leadership and circumstances that shake us and bring us prostrate before Him: calamity, economic downfall, the uprising of enemies, natural disaster.  The Lord’s only campaign is for men to turn to Him and find eternal life and forgiveness through the cross of Christ.

Beloved, the alternative to God’s painful discipline is not prosperity, it is abandonment.

The Lord has already chosen His candidate and no amount of campaigning will change that. He Himself erects authorities in the world and they will suit His eternal purpose and fulfill the expressed prophecies of His unchanging word. I pray that we are not in the least swayed by political promises or put our hope in any man.  Pray that the Lord’s ordained candidate and circumstances miraculously and mercifully lead our nation into repentance. The fearful alternative is that God ushers in a president that sustains our implosion of sin and fortifies the lie we have been living, that we can sin and get away with it and by the way, there is no such thing as sin. A prelude to coming Judgment.

It’s time for us, GOD’S ELECT, the Body of Christ, to rise up and take up our office in Christ, shut in with Him and come forth with a fresh and living word to restore and renew our lost nation.

“No one is like You, O Lord; You are great, and Your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere You, O King of the nations?” Jeremiah 10:6-7

Christian Counseling or Counseling in Christ?

Firstly, what is Christian counseling? Typically, ‘Christian counseling’ offers therapeutic interventions by a therapist who subscribes to the Christian faith. Reference may be made to the Bible and godly principles however a Christian therapist is trained to assess, analyze, utilize treatment modals, and maintain ongoing notes of a client’s history, presenting problems, coping skills, and treatment goals. Christian therapists are professionals that will employ techniques from various psychologists and psychiatrists to address grief, anxiety, depression, and averse or addictive behaviors. (Note: someone suicidal or homicidal requires immediate crisis intervention at the closest facility).

When the Apostle Paul declared, “Mark this, there will be terrible times in the last days”, he was not exaggerating, he was warning. Believers in Christ are living in those ‘terrible times’ and few are spared from the ravages of sin and the grief brought through others’ sins upon us, physical disease, great personal loss, and deprivation. Many of us find ourselves facing emotional pain and confusion. We belief in God, we go to church yet our lives become surprisingly ruined by calamity. Will Christian counseling help? What could be wrong with Christian counseling?

Today much of ‘Christian counseling’ is a misnomer, “a wrong or inaccurate name or designation”. What a Christian in crisis needs is counseling in Christ.

For the believer in Jesus, every painful upheaval, every fiery arrow, every fearful precipice, brings us to critical crossroads. Suffering can deeply challenge our faith and force us to reaffirm.
Do we believe?

  • that the Lord knows every minute detail of our situation and pain and understands every aspect?
  • that He foresaw every calamity and perhaps orchestrated the trial?  If our lives belong to Him, it is He alone who can lower the hedges of our life.  Do we believe that the Lord is sovereign,  with full control and authority over every power in heaven and on earth?
  • that, sovereign and all powerful, God alone can make our enemies His servants?  Do we believe that God can bring healing to deep wounds and deliver us from every snare?
  • that the power of the cross, the blood of Christ, cleanses us from every sin?  And moreover, avails to us His indwelling Holy Spirit with power to break every curse, loose every chain, and overcome spiritual and fleshly bondage?
  • that we are chosen by Him, His ‘treasured possession’ and that He truly loves us?

What do we believe?

The critical question at junctures of suffering and confusion is this: Are we determined to empower the flesh or defer to a living faith in the power of God?

“Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power.” (Proverbs 8:14)

The Lord has no need to assess the problem, explore our family background, or development treatment options. He is not interested in certificates or diplomas – He declares “Jesus the power and wisdom of God”. “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? …For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom…” (I Corinthians 1:20-25). When we leave a counseling session, having poured out our emotions, described the pain, and handed over a hefty hourly fee have we found enlightenment, living waters, an anointing upon us…true power to heal and deliver?

Will we find relief in the next session? When will the ‘waters part’ for deliverance? What will we gain by unraveling quagmires of the past and explore the depths of our “exceedingly deceitful heart” which is “beyond cure, who can understand it?” Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with paying someone to listen to us and offer coping skills to lessen our pain. We may feel better, but no amount of money spent on clever interventions in timed sessions can bring about the presence, the power and deliverance of Holy Spirit.

As followers of Christ, God’s unchanging purpose is to “conform us to the likeness of His Son”. This is our destiny. There is no alternative for the Body of Christ – we will suffer in this world – but unlike those in the world, our suffering is appointed to bring about greater revelations of God and His power to deliver.

Christian counseling is a business that arose to address what is lacking in the Body of Christ – the anointed ministry of “iron sharpening iron”. Are we, the church, just too busy? Are we knit together with a body of believers? Have we come under the Lord’s appointed authorities – pastors, elders, deacons? This is the heart of Christ, that we as His Body “be brought into complete unity”. He commands, “Love one another. As I loved you, so you must love one another.” We are given gifts through the Holy Spirit – the Lord’s indwelling power and anointing. We have access to God’s throne for discernment and wisdom. It is God’s will that His Body minister to one another, receiving from Christ and ministering outward to our brethren. We are called to allay each other’s fears, encourage, exhort, stand alongside through dark storms…counseling each other in the power of Christ. Even the weakest vessel shut in with God, is mightier than a world power.

There is a place for doctors and professionals but there are times of confusion, turmoil, heartache and spiritual attack where God’s word states and demonstrates that, “The help of man is worthless.” That may seem offensive but in His exclusive claim over us as our Lord and Master, He calls us to trust in Him completely. Faith does not build our flesh but systematically kills it, a painful process that will cost us but lead to supernatural victory.

“This is what the Lord says, ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)

  • Paths of untimed prayer, shut in with God with determination to wait upon Him and hear from Him.  The flesh likes control, but the Lord may call us to all night prayer, a meeting that may hold eternal value and reward.
  • Paths that open the Word of God as we prayerfully pore through, eagerly anticipating the ‘Wonderful Counselor’ to open up living waters into our soul.
  • Paths of deliberate praise and worship, even during emotional grief and turmoil.  The sacrifice of praise is a high expression of faith in God’s deliverance, even before it arrives.

In these ‘terrible times’ there is a great need for anointed servants of Christ, those prepared from the prayer closet and diligent study of God’s word with a burden to minister. We can find our very heartache, grievous loss even devastation in the Bible and also see there God’s power to heal, restore and renew. He longs to show Himself strong in our lives as we trust in Him. I pray we begin to understand the authority of God, the power of the cross, and the supernatural counsel of the Holy Spirit. As He breathes His Life upon us, may we glorify Him by serving others with the counsel of Christ.

There is no higher calling.

lazaraus-tomb

“Lazarus, come forth!”

Let us also come forth to Christ and go forth to speak life to one another.

 

(Disclaimer:  this website does not provide medical or psychiatric advice.  It is intended to provide spiritual inspiration and is not a substitute for medical or psychiatric advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of a medical professional before changing or neglecting necessary treatment.)

GUN CONTROL, Drug Control, God Control…..Making the Devil Laugh

“There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

While not quoted from New York Times, Washington Post, or Boston Globe this is an accurate description of our culture today.  It was written over 2700 years ago, Hosea 4:2, where the answer to moral decay, violence and treachery was not legislation.  There were plenty of laws already written with steep penalties  for violators.  The law merely served as a barometer , a gauge to measure man’s  innate potential for depravity.  If any law could successfully set boundaries  around man’s  behavior or curtail evil there would be no need for a Messiah, for Christ to die on the cross, for the Lord to come and “save His people from their sins.”

The timeless inerrancy of God’s Word continually exposes the futility  man’s attempts to create an orderly, civilized culture.  History will never record, ‘our society was out of control with violence, family destruction, drug and alcohol abuse and corruption but with the right laws, we put everything under control.’   Tragedies, vicious attacks, perversions, lying and conniving at every level are only fruits that we ourselves cultivate by fertilizing unrestrained freedoms, watering the lusts of our own fallen nature and lastly, cutting away that which would quicken our God given conscience.   Eliminating all shame, leaders puff up and posture around futile ‘controls’ to set boundaries around human nature, at which the devil laughs.

“What a man sows so shall he reap”. All the laws in the world cannot change these apples into oranges – a laughable endeavor!

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander”, declared Jesus in Matthew 15:19.  Change a man’s behavior without changing his heart?  Impossible if not laughable.

The United States can gauge the downward spiral by the leadership which we rally after and elect.  There were declarations for godly righteousness, there were cries for shame as the only impetus for change….      

 Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God…

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon;

…to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

…. We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

…. I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer….

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State

Those days are woefully gone.

The Ten Commandments ordered removed from Oklahoma Courtyard

The Ten Commandments ordered removed from Oklahoma Courtyard

“…the decision to remove the monument under the cover of darkness was made to avoid disturbing workers at the Capitol and to keep protesters from demonstrating…”  (Reported by Sean Murphy, AP News, 10/6/15)

Removing the Word of God ‘under the cover of darkness’ to avoid a dust-up with mortal man?  A tragic laugh/weep moment in history!  The devil is laughing and we should surely be weeping.  The problem is not when darkness is dark, the problem is when our light is dim.  The ‘treacherous days’ marked by the Apostle Paul in II Timothy 3 are here but can be the greatest days for the Body of Christ in the world if only we would ‘lighten our ship’ of the useless cargo of sin – materialism, greed, lust, and carnality.

The Lord Jesus, Creator of the universe, could have used the world as His podium.  However, He often displayed His power and deliverance by personally touching the lives of ordinary individuals.  While some wait for a  ‘call to great ministry’ the Lord is calling us to obey and enter into the simplicity of communing with Him, receiving the joy of His presence and allowing him to share His grief for the lost. Waiting upon Him, through prayer and study of His Word, enables us to break His bread with those ‘coincidentally’ around us.  The Word of God in us is a living word for the ‘woman at the well’, whether she is at the bus stop, market, the home next door or office across the hall.

Believers must ‘rally’ solely for the Word of God, embracing the truth –  the only source of ‘control’ – for peace, healing, deliverance, and restoration – is the Holy Spirit.   Contrary to popular mantras, we are not here to ‘change the world’ but called to represent Jesus Christ and enlarge His Kingdom as we anticipate His return.  It is impossible to legislate God or even morality but we can be surrendered and available vessels of truth for Him, in spite of the darkness, in spite of discouragements, in spite of a devil who laughs…temporarily.

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur….tormented day and night for ever and ever.”  Revelation 20:10

TIME TO GET OUR EYES FIXED!

“For it is time to seek the Lord” Hosea 10:12

The Body of Christ is suffering greatly in every way, from violent onslaughts to emotional trauma, grief and anguish.   Some cry out to be rescued, others must pray for ways to reach them.  Many brethren suffer silently in personal turmoil and grief.  The spiritual darkness upon the world is alive, strategic, and bearing fruit.  Within our cultures and in our personal lives, we are suffering the wages of sin.  Endurance, healing, renewal and hope are the rare treasures of our day.  The world conjures up programs, pharmaceuticals, therapies and mantras, yet can find no remedy for the sick and damaged soul.  Government, Education, Health and Welfare are futile venues for change – they are often the birthplace of ungodliness.  For believers to fight in worldly arenas is like attacking a fire-breathing dragon with a toothpick.  Nothing less than the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit can enable us to “shine like stars” in this “depraved generation” and enlarge God’s Kingdom in this world.  “Apart from Me”, Jesus said, “you can do nothing”.       

To ‘take a stand’ we must decidedly face one direction, one centered focus aligning our feet, our mind and heart.  With our “hand to the plow” we cannot look back (Luke 9:62) whether it is to the world, to our losses, to deep and bitter wounds, or even joyous days past.  The runner looking back will stumble and fall, forfeiting his prize.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”

Our clarity, discernment, and wisdom are found in this singular focus and commitment.  Supernatural healing, renewal, and hope are found within the pages of the Bible – the living book that reveals the power of God and imparts it within us.  This is not unreachable.  The presence of God becomes more evident as we shut down every distraction and humbly offer Him due honor and worship.  He is faithful, worthy to seek with all our heart and wait upon with expectation, “a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”   What an encouragement to know that the Holy Spirit- Who spoke the world into creation – continues to speak through the living and unchanging Word of God, through the authority of godly leadership and personally into our hearts as we cry out to Him in our own ‘prayer closet’.

‘Looking unto Jesus’ is not a call to gaze at portraits, crucifixes, or spiritual images that yield little outside of emotional comfort.  It is an active search to find and grasp ahold of the revelations of Jesus Christ in the Bible and let Him speak these truths into our lives.  As believers in Christ we are His Body, the vessels He calls into obedience, to indwell and glorify Him on earth.

We can find Jesus from Genesis to Revelation, He is revealed to us in every Book of the Bible.  Online searches of the revelations of Christ, Old Testament to New Testament may provide some insight for Bible study.  The circumstances of our life, often painful and bewildering, are often ordained to open doors of faith within us and reveal to us the power of Christ in our needs.  Within our trials and grief we find Him, “a hiding place” of fellowship and intimacy with God Himself.  Our faith in the fire testifies of Christ as the Good Shepherd, Defender, Healer, Prince of Peace and Wonderful Counselor as we cry out to Him from our wilderness, in our afflictions, and during turmoil and onslaughts.

For the Body of Christ, knowing Him is central – all else is peripheral.

‘The author and finisher of our faith…”  The literal translation of this verse (Hebrews 12:2) from original transcripts does not include the word ‘our’ but does include a definite article before ‘faith’: ‘the faith’.  From the original Greek wordage, ‘author’ might translate as:  creator/trailblazer/leader.  While modern translations insert ‘our’ into the text to personalize this faith, Bible studies such as the Bible Hub Commentaries offer notes on a more literal translation:  Jesus, the ‘first’ (Captain/Leader) and the Last (Completer/Victor) of the faith.   Jesus leads an army of faith.  Fix our eyes on Jesus, He is the Creator, Leader and Commander of the faith and as He accomplished triumphant victory so shall He lead us.  

Our greatest challenge - taking our eyes off the world and our circumstances to look upon Him with faith

Our greatest challenge – taking our eyes off the world and our circumstances to look upon Him with faith (Amedee Varint painting)

As the dividing line between believers and unbelievers widens, carnal Christians will be forced to take sides, either validating compromise or choosing to stand upon the unchanging Word of God.  As this world spins quickly toward Judgment, a fire-tested remnant will persevere and stand to testify of God’s faithfulness.  Let us be counted among them, strengthening and encouraging one another as we fix our eyes on Him.

  “But my eyes are fixed on You, O Sovereign Lord; in You I take refuge”                                     

(Psalm 141:8)   

Walking Through the Fire, Through the Flood and Through the Rainbow Parades

When, years ago, I first heard the traditional hymn, “I need thee, Lord I need thee, Every hour I need thee…” I thought it sentimental and adoring but really wondered, do they really need the Lord every hour? After all, unbelievers make it through an hour, the whole day – many their whole lives – prospering and content without the Lord.  In fact, they shun His interference.  However, as a believer in Christ, this hymn has become a frequent personal anthem. “Every hour” speaks deeply to those of us who decidedly follow Jesus.  The closer we follow Jesus, the more we need him.  As A.W. Tozer describes, this world is ‘not our playground but our battlefield’.  And, within this battle ground, the Lord has one strategy for victory:  walk in obedience and total dependence to Him.

“Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus walked.”  1 John 2:6

It is in this great Scriptural challenge – “walk” – where we often slip, trip, and fall.

walk-dont-run

In the fire and in the flood, we want relief and deliverance – we are anxious to run and make things happen.  When the flood of sin rises higher, when “good becomes evil and evil becomes good” ” many Christians plan, strategize and gear up to protest and rally.  It is a prideful delusion that draws Christians to believe that the world can change through political, social or economic arenas.  The great danger is this:  we may miss the anointing that God would bestow upon us, the “good works which He planned in advance for us to do”.

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  (Micah 6:8)

When the world around us or the personal world within us is crashing how can we walk like Jesus walked, humbly with our God?  It is easy to be sickened and shocked by grievous violence, pervasive immorality, and increasing apostasy.  But let us not be as those outside Noah’s ark, shocked when the rain began! Those who study the Word may be grieved but not shocked – we are witnesses to the prophecies that the Lord Himself proclaimed.

“Get into this Word and get this Word into you!” remains the cry of 90 year old Pastor Ben Crandall.  Walk into the Word of God, take time to digest, meditate and hear from the Lord. We are purposefully placed amidst this dark world and, step by step our mind and hearts will be renewed and strengthened from the Word.  Discernment and godly instruction often challenge and override the ‘good’ ideas and inclinations of our fleshly nature.  Jesus declared in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Now, more than ever, the Body of Christ needs to rise up as His Body.  Jesus may not lead us to the White House lawn but He may be preparing us to meet the woman at the well.  Legislation will never change our culture or the course of this world, it is as foolish as investing in a foreclosed bank.  The sad truth is, many Christians have befriended this world and now strongly ‘push back’ at the thickening darkness.  “Friendship with the world is hatred toward God” – we are not called to improve this world but separate ourselves from it.  

It is through separation that we gain spiritual strength.  We will not change the world but will have divine anointing as we walk through it in Christ’s shadow.  “Walking humbly with our God” is a divine call onto a path where He touches the sick, speaks life to the brokenhearted, and opens doors for those in bondage.  To ‘walk like Jesus walked’ is to walk in divine appointment – not knowing whom we might touch and the eternal difference it makes.

The Lord seems to overlook the influential, the politically endowed, and those with celebrity status to find the weakest, most insignificant, and unknown.  Those with a heart to obey are fully qualified. We can never renew or revive this world in any way but we can be vessels of honor in service of Most High God as He renews and revives the hearts of man for all eternity.

These are the last days before Christ returns as Judge.  Time is short and we must be in step.  The devil isn’t moved by campaigns or product boycotts.  We can boycott the whole world, if it were possible, and it wouldn’t add anything to the Kingdom of God.  The devil trembles, he loses ground, when we decide to really pray, to study God’s Word and walk humbly with Him through this world.  Along that lighted path, doors open and hearts change as people meet Christ their Savior.

Let us walk together in unity, close behind Jesus Christ through the fire, in the flood, and across the ‘rainbow parades’ in step with Him as He reaches out to those who would receive Him, those who would be set free.

CALLED TO STAND BY HIS SIDE

As the world spins faster and closer to Christ’s return, there is an ever increasing dividing line between Believers in Jesus Christ and the world.   Darkness seems to prevail as God’s people suffer near annihilation and the truths of God’s Word trampled upon.  As followers, not wanderers, we must stand in the only place of security and strength.  We must stand by Christ’s side.  There is no gray area, we are either yoked to this world or to Christ….free to live and move through darkness or walk toward eternity in the light of our Maker.  “Come to me” Christ calls, “all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28-30) The world and its false religions cannot give you this rest.

“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.

Carnal Christianity builds a gospel around ‘easy’ and ‘light’.  Yet, without the Lord’s yoke and  burden, it is a useless gospel.  His yoke binds us to His side; His burden opens His heart into ours.

One's mobility, speed and direction are determined by Another.

Here, one’s mobility, speed and direction are determined by Another.

A yoke is forward focused, causing great discomfort when the bearer veers to the left, to the right, or turns to look behind. Under His yoke, through obedience and submission, we share in His burden to reflect the glory of God in this dark world. Here, at the Lord’s side, we will stand with Him and He will stand with us.  Before His arrest on the Mount of Olives, even knowing their weakness, the Lord said to His disciples,

“You are those who have stood by me in my trials.”  (Luke 22:28)

High accolades from God to mortal man!  What are the Lord’s trials – and how can we stand with Him?

The disciples stood with Jesus, God incarnate.  After the Lord’s ascension, the Holy Spirit was sent to indwell believers, giving us new birth, new life, and joining us together as the Body of Christ on earth.  If we would really stand with Christ in His trials, we must likewise stand with His Body in this world.   As Saul persecuted the brethren, Christ challenged him, “Why are you persecuting ME?” (Acts 9:4)

We must be challenged to stand with Christ as His Body is despised and rejected by men, suffers need, languishes in prison, tortured, widowed – humiliated and dishonored in every way.

Jesus proclaimed that eternal life awaited those who served His Body in this world – and damnation for those who neglected the same.  (Matthew 25:31-46)  Our world is exploding into an arena for the mocking and torture of Christ.  If we are not standing at His side, we are amongst the spectators, the condemned.  

There may be brethren in our midst who are suffering and discouraged, in grief and even despair. We must be available in Christ to minister to them. For certain though, a collective lament cries out from those who are persecuted and in the clutches of cruel and merciless hands.  We are accountable to hear those cries, to open our hearts, to “mourn with those who mourn”, and stand with them in their trials as with Christ….but how?

The devil wants to keep us as spectators, pitying the ‘foreigners’ who are suffering so much… out of reach, impossible to help.  Our unseen brethren are as foreign as the unseen Christ.  They are as unreachable as Peter in Acts 12, held captive by the most powerful world government.  No carnal plan or coup can subdue the powerful darkness consuming the world.  As with Peter, only that which is launched supernaturally through prayer can rescue, deliver and strengthen.  Esteem prayer as the Lord Himself did – reserving time and place as a supernatural encounter.  As “co-workers in God’s service”, our work in prayer yields rewards as the Lord answers. Believe that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”,  whether or not we see physical evidence.    Lacking fervency and passion?  When yoked to the Master and into His Word, His heart will rekindle our passion and zeal.

To stand by the Lord in His trials is to take His yoke and follow His lead.  It does not guarantee detour from pain, anguish, or even martyrdom but will assure this:  He will never leave or forsake us, He will stand by our side and indwell our hearts to overflowing that we may endure whatever He sets before us for the glory of His coming Kingdom.

We can only imagine hearing Him say,

“You are those who have stood by me in my trials”

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”

REMEMBER APRIL 24th AND FIGHT THROUGH THE NIGHT

a call to all night prayer on behalf of brethren and others suffering today under the same evil sword.

One hundred years ago the Ottoman Empire launched a systematic plan of genocide against the Armenians and other minorities within Turkey.  At least 1.5 million Armenians perished in horrifying ways, hundreds of thousands dying in death marches from Turkey to Syria.  Painful open wounds remain, generation after generation, as Turkey continues to deny these atrocities, employing political influence and futile media campaigns.

The demonic spirit of murder lives on however, as persecution continues to sweep across the Middle East – perhaps until every Believer in Christ and Islamic non-conformist is vanquished or ritualistically tortured and killed.

Every true believer feels anguish and anger.   The call of God is unmistakable and undeniable.  We must access the power of heaven through prayer – fighting demonic attacks with supernatural resources. 

Ordinary prayer rarely breaks through such darkness.   The enemy is disciplined and trained – inspired by and devoted as minions of hell.  To unburden my heart for the brethren, I sought an all night prayer meeting to join with believers crying out to the Lord.  I could not find one (which doesn’t mean there weren’t any).   During my own prayer, I sensed the Lord’s leading – stop looking for one and be one yourself.   

I INVITE ALL TO JOIN IN THIS NIGHT, FRIDAY, APRIL 24, AT ANY GIVEN POINT.  LET US BE INSPIRED BY HEAVEN, DEVOTED TO OUR LORD – THE DELIVERER – UPHOLD THE BRETHREN AND CAUSE DAMAGE TO THE KINGDOM OF DARKNESS. 

Keep the Word of God open and review the battles of the Old Testament, the tumultuous cries and triumphs of the Psalms and the victories in Christ through the New Testament as encouragement.  The Book of Acts demonstrates the presence of God through persecution and suffering and His miraculous interventions through prayer.

I am prayerfully offering the following schedule to bring order to the night and alignment with the burden of Christ for His followers:

9pm to 10pm, (EST):  Prepare to meet with the Lord.    Find a “place of prayer” where we may quiet our spirit and separate from distraction.  Into the battle bring the Word of God and if possible, a tablet, computer or materials available as resources.  Sing the Psalms, access and sing worship to the Lord.   Pray…

  • for ourselves, the unpersecuted, whose battle is often complacency and unbelief.
  • for a heart cleansing, make confession for anything within us that may be a stumbling block
  • for the Lord’s leadership, that His burden will prevail in our heart, that we may join in His battle and share in His victory
  • that the presence of the Lord will be with us and His Word a living inspiration for us as we pray

10pm to 11:30:  Prayer for suffering Christians and others in fiery areas such as Syria, Iraq, Egypt and parts of Africa.  In lieu of visual aids, search ‘persecuted syrian christians’ and others to put faces on our brothers and sisters.  Review Christian news posts to pray for prevailing attacks and crisis.   Pray…

  • even in the very moment for their physical protection.
  • for their provisions, that our Heavenly Father provide even more than they need to share with others. Pray that we may be the means thru which provision is made.
  • for a supernatural outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them…that they may be clothed with courage from God and a peace that surpasses all understanding.
  • for supernatural strength to endure torture, that their faith may stand strong as a living testimony of our crucified Christ who overcame death and reigns for all eternity
  • for personal visitation from the Lord, that they may supernaturally know His presence and understand “the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings”.
  • for those in refugee camps. While in a ‘place of refuge’, many suffer traumatic loss of health, home and family.  Depression, PTSD, ongoing grief and deprivation may plague these survivors
  • for the families of those who have been abducted and/or martyred, that their faith may be strengthened and the presence of God overshadows their hardship and sorrow
  • for the Christian leadership amongst the brethren, for the Holy Spirit to greatly indwell them and uphold them supernaturally…”that they may shine like stars” in the midst of depravity

Continue praying for those areas that may have fallen off the daily radar.   Ask the Lord imprint our hearts with the regions within Africa and Asia.  Engine search suffering believers in these areas and advocate for them.

For many under the sword, tonight may be their last night.

11:30pm to 12:30am:   Pray for the young girls and women who have been abducted and sexually assaulted.  Many, such as the victims of Boko Haram, have been forgotten by the world.  Torn from family, Islamic terrorists make daily life a living nightmare of gang rapes, abuse, and forced marriage.   Bought and sold as spoils of war, these young girls often attempt suicide to escape immeasurable anguish.  Pray….

  • for supernatural means of escape, that Almighty God will send warring angels to their side.
  • for deep spiritual and physical healing; that whatever Scripture they know may well up in them for faith to endure
  • for an inner spiritual life, through the Holy Spirit, to rise up and strengthen them with endurance from heaven, that their eyes may focus on eternity
  • for their rapists and abusers, that God Himself would render them impotent, and utterly disable them and even, in defense of these girls, send an Angel of Death upon these hellish brutes 

1:30-2:30amPray for these enemies, our enemies, God’s enemies, including ISIS, Boko Haram, and all affiliates.  Pray…

  • that they are overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, with great heaviness and oppression.
  • for an inescapable and overwhelming shame to come upon them
  • for deep grief to envelope them, that the Holy Spirit will hold up His mirror and reveal God’s view of all their dastardly deeds
  • for God to take away their slumber, that they may be mentally and spiritually hounded, tormented, put to confusion
  • that their eyes may be opened and they fall to their knees with godly sorrow and repentance AND
  • that they may be saved, rising up as beacons and heralds for God, a powerful voice over all against the work of Satan

2:30-3:30amPray for the minorities who do not know the Lord.  Many, including the Kurds, Yazidis, and Muslim sects, suffer the loss of lives, homes, entire villages.  Pray….

  • for their strength and provision. Pray that, as they may interface with true believers and see their living faith, they may be drawn to the truth of Christ.  Pray for them to know the Lord, to receive forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life through Christ.
  • that what the devil orchestrates for death and evil would be turned into glory for God. Pray that the power of God come forth through suffering and confound the enemy, leading more to everlasting life through the Gospel

3:30-4:30am:    Governments, agencies, missionaries, aid workers…..pray for ourselves, all whom the Lord might use to intervene into this suffering.   Pray…

  • for media exposure and global outcry to stir the hearts of the complacent
  • for the leadership of these groups and workers, that they may hear from God
  • for the Body of Christ to arise and awaken, shake off worldly distractions and press on in the Lord
  • for those already serving, that they may be encouraged and strengthened by the Holy Spirit.
  • for supernatural doors to open, for God to be glorified as He moves through those who are surrendered to Him and His service.
  • that we become those vessels, useful to God, to serve Him and His Body and bring honor to His name in this world.

4:30-5:00am:     Praise and worship for what the Lord is doing, praising Him before He ‘parts the sea’, before we learn of – if we ever know – His answer to our cries. He is  worthy and faithful.

I pray that, when we meet the Lord and our Brethren, we will rejoice as one body together forever.

 

DELETING WORDS OF LIFE…

…will never change their power or purpose.

“Repent and Live!” declares the Sovereign Lord (Ezekiel 18:32), however today only “Live!” remains and resounds in our vocabulary.   There is power in words and, in God’s living Word, it is power to renew, restore, and resurrect.  “The Word became flesh and for a while lived among us”.  The Word of God defines the fall of man, what keeps him separated from God, (Isaiah 59:1-2) and that which would restore and reconcile him to his Maker (Galatians 1:4).  Separation from God aligns us with the spirit of this world – the very spirit that “sets himself up as god” and continually baits our pride with the ancient seduction of sin: “you will be like God”.   As ‘gods’ we reinvent the Lord’s  proclamations, decrees, and promises into that which circumvents acknowledgment and  submission to Sovereign God, elevating our knowledge and wisdom against His truth. 

Toward this, we tolerate and broadcast the most profane words and phrases – many that enflame our flesh with corrupt imagery while, at the same time, systematically eradicating the very words that usher our minds toward Almighty God.  Who today calls for repentance?  Words that evoke life changing decisions are erased from our culture. With near success, we have eliminated “sin” from our vocabulary, our thinking – our entire belief system.  In fact, the Oxford Junior Dictionary, grooming the next generation, has removed the word ‘sin’ because “it has fallen into disuse, is obsolete, and is not recognized by the younger generation”.

It has been aptly said,

All moral engineering is preceded by verbal engineering.”

This reality was heralded by renowned psychiatrist Karl Menninger in his acclaimed book, “What Ever Became of Sin.”  The very word ‘sin’, he expounds, “was once a strong word, an ominous and serious word…It has almost disappeared – the word along with the notion.  Why? Doesn’t anyone sin anymore?”  Dr. Menninger predicted that sin would be replaced with symptoms of illness and disorders.  He foresaw a day where practically everyone would be considered sick with little or no personal accountability for choice and willful conduct.  Biological and psychiatric terms, even environment, would define deviant behavior.

That ‘day’ is here.  Redefining and reinventing ‘sin’, we have rendered ‘repentance’ obsolete and offensive, scorning God’s sacrifice for remission of sin and the gift of reconciliation through our Savior.  Ultimately, it is a collective rejection of God as our reference point in life.

Changing our reference point, framework, and jargon however cannot change the truth, neither can it alter the damage and guaranteed consequences of sinNo matter what we call it, “The wages of sin is death…”  Yet God’s call to repentance is the deepest call of mercy to man, “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23)   At the heart of our refusal is rebellion – intuitively we know that to receive a gift from God we must acknowledge that He is God

Sin unleashed, driven by lust and corruption, bears such reprehensible fruit that we label it uncontrollable – a mental defect or disease.  While mental illness is a painful condition in all its forms, are we oftentimes diagnosing the consequences of sin – those we commit and those committed against us?   Can layers of guilt and self condemnation ever be lifted by an ‘anti-depressant’?  Will a laboratory find the balm for the deep wounds of abuse and betrayal?  The  Bible defines sin in Old Testament law and New Testament, such as the ‘obvious’ acts noted in Galatians 5:19-21 and the condition of man today, II Timothy 3:1-4.   Against this hopeless array, the Lord offers unmatchable promises, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;” the relief of forgiveness and the joy of new beginning.  

Jesus calls out,

“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28) 

The launching pad for every sin is the refusal to go to God.

Satan finds no threat in manmade programs that exclude God yet propose to remedy the sure damage and destruction of sin, he knows their futility.  Deleting words cannot diminish their strength – sin is a powerful stronghold which man CANNOT master, an ensnaring deceit that man CANNOT outsmart or resolve.  Pride, confidence in the ‘human spirit’, encourages us to address ‘drunkenness, debaucheries, sexual immoralities and violence, lack of self-control, rage, hatred, jealousies, and the like’ with programs, prisons, therapies and medications that ultimately yield no freedom, reform, relief, or cure….no inner peace.

Sin is a cruel taskmaster, ‘taking us farther than we planned to go…costing more than we ever thought to pay’.  Calling us ‘dead in sin and trespasses’, God Himself initiates our repentance, drawing us and quickening our hearts with truth through the Holy Spirit.  Worldly regret, remorse and tormenting guilt are a downward deadly spiral but godly sorrow, repentance, leads to life. (II Corinthians 7:10) The Lord did not die for our sins to be treated, improved, or morphed into something acceptable.  He came to save us, deliver us from our sins, cleanse us completely, and in doing so, create new life.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation:  the old has gone, the new has come!” (II Corinthians 5:17)

                       “Repent” come under the authority of God “and live!”

"Whom the Son sets free is free indeed" John 8:36

“Whom the Son sets free is free indeed” John 8:36

                                       

TAKE THE LORD OUT OF THE MANGER

manger-cross
Americans spent nearly 51 billion dollars during the Thanksgiving weekend to kick off the Christmas spending season. Is the ‘reason for the season’ really Jesus? Why does so much of this activity, clamor, entertainment, spending and planning yield so little if anything for the Kingdom of God? How could so much count for so little?

When God commissions an event or mission, He is in it and it will not fail. He will make Himself and His power known without bells, whistles or tinsel. In fact, all He seeks is a willing vessel, often choosing the weakest, the oldest, and least capable.

“The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing”. (John 6:63)

While the Word of God is “active and living, sharper than any two edged sword” the Lord chooses to conceal some ‘vital information’ from man – obscuring specific dates, times and places such as the burial place of Moses. He knows man’s propensity to enshrine and idolize events, times and places, and, in doing so, miss the mark. Have we missed the mark here? If so, why?

Perhaps presenting God in a manger is a benign message – one the world can easily tolerate. A helpless baby, animals, shepherds and gift bearers – all pose no threat to the average man or the world at large. The whole world can celebrate without conviction or accountability. Yet, we know that when God moves, the world trembles.

It is good and right to rejoice at the truth that God became flesh. As vessels of God, Old Testament prophets stood as living beacons for this event, preaching a message of repentance and hope. However, this most important event of history had no fanfare, no crowds, no entertainment or publicity. By God’s design, those whom He called, those who would seek Him, would find Him. As the Body of Christ, we are called – commissioned – to be heralds and beacons, surrendered vessels to proclaim the coming Messiah – proclaiming not only His birth, death and resurrection but His return – as Judge!

“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” Matthew 24:44

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out…” Acts 3:19

“In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world by the Man He has appointed.” (Acts 17:30.31)

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His Kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season…” II Timothy 4:1-2

“He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one whom God appointed as Judge of the living and the dead.” (Acts 10:42)

“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…” (I Thessalonians 4:16)

The Lord did not point to His birth as He walked in this world…He pointed to His return, commanding and beckoning us to “watch”, “wait”, “pray” and keep our lamps burning. As His Body in this dark world, we extend His call to repentance and reconciliation, hoping men might turn, receive forgiveness, new life, and life everlasting.  Are we willing to go beyond the manger, calling people to repentance, to the cross of Christ?  Can we tell of and point to His promised return?  

The full Gospel is not a popular message, even among some Christians.  But it is the message delivered by the Holy Spirit, through surrendered vessels, to hearts prepared to receive.   Heaven does not rejoice over the popular, heaven rejoices when one sinner repents.

Time is short. Christ is no longer in the manger, He’s standing at the door!

“Behold, I am coming soon!” Revelation 22:7