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Archive for May, 2013

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life…In the world you will have tribulation…For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Genesis 3:17 + John 16:33 + Matthew 24:7-8

My heart aches for the people of Oklahoma. So does yours. Less than a year ago we endured Hurricane Sandy. Soon after, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Then, the Boston Marathon bombings. As we look around the globe we see there have already been about 600 earthquakes in 2013 and last year, in the US alone there were 932 confirmed oktornadoes. Some are saying that this latest one in Moore, Oklahoma was the biggest and worst one ever recorded. We barely recover from one tragedy and then we’re hit with another.

Why?

The answer is simple: humanity blew it in the Garden.  Tragedies of this sort have been snowballing exponentially ever since Eden, but don’t blame Adam. He was our best chance at maintaining Paradise, and if you or I were in his fig leaves, we would have done worse. As a result: killings and killer storms. Nothing new here. The only thing that is new is the frequency of these catastrophic events. The Bible snippets from Genesis 3:17, John 16:33 , and Matthew 24:7-8 provide a brief summation, but if we fast-forward a couple thousand years, we might find that perhaps Randy Bachman may have said it best, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Perilous times have come and they will be growing worse and worse.

Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, And like vinegar on soda, Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. Proverbs 25:20

A Message for You

Some folks in Oklahoma need to hear this message, but this is not the time. They are suffering more than most of us can imagine, and frankly, pulling them aside and saying, “You know, all things work together for good to those who love God,” probably won’t be received well or bring them very much peace. That’s why this verse is for you.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

While it’s probably true that there are no atheists in foxholes, those who know Jesus Christ in a personal way before finding themselves in the valley of death are best equipped to get through adversities in peace and in one piece, eternally speaking. I’m certain that there are Christians in Moore, Oklahoma who have suffered great loss and are in severe emotional pain, but have wrapped their bruised arms and legs around this promise of God…

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt receive me: Thou shalt stretch forth Thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and Thy right hand shall save me” Psalm 138:7

Honestly, you do not want to find yourself in this lonely and broken position without Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. While it’s true a person might come to a saving faith in a horrific situation (many do), Jesus wants you to know that today is the day of your salvation and there is no guarantee that you will survive the next tragedy that shows up on your doorstep.  And it will. The next tragedy is just around the corner and it is coming quickly.

Who?

God has told us in His Word why these things happen, so now you can stop asking. You may not understand it or even believe it, but those two concepts are not relevant now. When the storm is barreling in on you, your perception of it does not negate its reality. So it is with Jesus. He is Lord and Savior regardless if you understand or believe. If you are not a believer, you must stop asking why these things happen, and start asking, “Who will save me from these things.”

These two things have come to you; Who will be sorry for you?– Desolation and destruction, famine and sword– By whom will I comfort you? Your sons have fainted, They lie at the head of all the streets, Like an antelope in a net; They are full of the fury of the Lord, The rebuke of your God. Therefore please hear this, you afflicted, And drunk but not with wine. Thus says your Lord, The Lord and your God, Who pleads the cause of His people: “See, I have taken out of your hand The cup of trembling, The dregs of the cup of My fury; You shall no longer drink it. But I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you, Who have said to you, Lie down, that we may walk over you.’ And you have laid your body like the ground, And as the street, for those who walk over.” Isaiah 51:19-23

Jesus is the answer. He is the One who delivers us, and if we should perish, Christ is the One who receives us to His bosom. In Him alone is our hope.  Before the tempest, in the trial, and after the tumult, it’s Jesus. He is our firm foundation that cannot be moved. Your search has ended; Jesus has found you!

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Isaiah 51:1

Hear the Lord’s plea…

My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed. Isaiah 51:5-6

The world as we know it is quickly fading. And even if it were not, you still need a Savior, [because] eternity does not fade. You will spend forever somewhere: Heaven, with God, or Hell, without Him. This is true whether tragedy strikes you or not. You need to be saved even if you do not recognize the storm that’s brewing all about you — our sin condemns us.

But know this…

(Jesus) was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6

In Christ Jesus we are saved. He is the only hope we have. Don’t wait for the next tragedy to strike, for if you do not know Him as your Lord and Savior, calamity is already upon you. Shed that garment of misfortune and put on the clean and pure garment of Christ’s righteousness. It’s free; all you need do is receive it by faith.

Consider this scriptural path to Heaven:

  1. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
  2. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
  3. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
  4. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
  5. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19)
  6. “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
  7. “We have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)
  8. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

If you want to know more, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to assist you.

If you enjoyed the post please like it, share it, subscribe to the blog, or leave a comment. I am blessed that you took the time to read this post today. God bless you.

 

 

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Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)

I had to write something today.

I only need 11 more hits/views to reach 100,000 readers and I didn’t want that to occur without having written something to mark the occasion. I fully understand that in the blogosphere 100,000 really isn’t a big deal, unless of course a single post gets that many hits in one day — it took me 3 years to hit the number.  Nevertheless, I am appreciative — first to the Lord for providing ‘good’ material, and second to those who stumble upon this ‘blog’ in my eye.

Thank you and God bless you.

If this is your first time reading, welcome. This blog is about Jesus and Christian discipleship. If you’re into that kind of thing, please subscribe, and if you have a blog, I’ll subscribe back. That’s how I roll. By the way, do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Do you believe and follow Him? You should. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. There is no other way to be saved. You are going to live forever somewhere: Heaven or Hell. Smart folks choose Heaven and the smartest folks choose Jesus.

100000Anyway, that’s all I got.

I did play golf this morning with my buddy Gary and it cost me $28 bucks. That works out to 27.5 cents for each stroke I took. You do the math; I’m too embarrassed to tell you my score.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

HEY! If you enjoyed the blog (even though it was a little scant today), please LIKE it, subscribe to it, share it, or leave a comment. If you want to know more about Jesus, drop me a note — I’ll tell ya everything I know. God bless you.

 

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“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11

Prayer Warrior

It’s a term we all recognize. I have used it, my pastor has used it, and probably every Christian I’ve been blessed to schmooze with through the years, has used it. We use the expression because it best prayerwarrior7describes the actions of those of the faith who earnestly lift others in prayer; who consistently and persistently go before the Lord with all requests, supplications, intercessions, and thanksgivings, and often time while possessing prayer lists and maintaining prayer logs. They are classified as our  ‘go to’ people within the body of Christ when an appeal, a plea, or petition is desired. That brings me to a twofold question:

“Is the label right (and by ‘right’ I mean Biblical), and is it harmful?”

I’ll explain. First…

Is it Biblical?

The short answer is, I don’t believe so. While there are certainly folks in the church who fit the definition, I’m not convinced God would concur that a special designation is called for. Is being a prayer zealot a gift of the Holy Spirit? If so, I’m not seeing it. The Bible records three main passages regarding spiritual gifts: Romans 12:6-8;1 Corinthians 12:4-11; and 1 Corinthians 12:28. According to the list, we see…

Prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership, mercy, the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues, helps, governments, and diversities of tongues.

But, I don’t see prayer warrior on the list.

I suppose you could make an argument that tenacious prayer falls under one (or more) of these categories, but I sense that’s when we begin to stretch the doctrine a little too thin. Let’s be honest, prayer is a vital component of each of these giftings, but is not the actual gift.

Is it Harmful?

Yes, I believe it is, and I’ll tell you why — our Father in Heaven desires that we all pray in this manner. Could we really believe that the Lord would want us to delegate our conversation to somebody else; someone who we perceive is better at it then we are? Where in the Bible does God suggest to us to go find a prayer warrior, or even to make a separate distinction? Nowhere that I can find, but I do see this…

“In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.” Acts 10:34

Elevating someone to the status of prayer warrior may encourage the believer who happens to fit the mold, but it simultaneously sends an erroneous message that this person is gifted in a way that we are not, and therefore, we have been relieved of this duty. Do we really believe that? Aren’t prayer warriors doing the very thing that we are called to do? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that prayer warriors are obedient, rather than gifted? Finally, should we be seeking out a prayer mediator when the Father has already provided us one?

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” 

Haven’t we also been given a Helper in our pursuit of prayer?

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26

Here’s the truth — God desires all His children pray in this manner! The fact that you don’t now is not the point. God never intended that in your discouragement (in this regard) you turn to another Christian, but rather you turn to Him. Therein lies the point!

Look at these directives from God’s word…

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

There is nothing in there that remotely suggests we find a prayer warrior to do this for us.

Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17-19

Do you see anything in there that implies this is somebody else’s job? Me either. The one thing that does jump out at me [is] that if we’re not praying like this, we’re throwing water on the fire that is the Holy Spirit. That cannot be good.

One more…

“Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” Ephesians 6:17-18

The Last Word

Try to look at like this — it’s the church (not God) that has created a prayer warrior status. When we serve to encourage others with the moniker, it is a wonderful, Christian gesture, but what we’re really saying (when we use the term), is that we recognize there is a great void within the body Christ that only very few are filling. It might be better to recognize this Christian’s faithful obedience instead. May I suggest that the next time we sense the need to identify another believer in this manner, that we also ask the Lord to examine our own hearts to determine why the title is not befitting for us. The question should not be, “Lord, why am I not a prayer warrior,”  but rather, “Why am I not submitted to Your will in my life?”

Am I suggesting we should not seek out others to pray for us?

Heaven forbid!

We are called to pray for one another. I’m saying that there is not a circumstance to ever shy away from being the type of communicant the Lord wants us to be or to relegate the duty to someone else. God wants to talk with us directly and has fully equipped us to be fervent communicators.

Talk — God is listening.

If you enjoyed the post please like it, share it, comment on it, or subscribe to it. Frankly, I am blessed that you stopped by to read it today. God bless you too!

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“What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6:28-29)

It’s been estimated that since Christ’s time on earth, 70 million Christians have been martyred for their faith. Recent statistics reveal that over 100,000 Christians are killed each year. Their crime: faith in Jesus Christ. Some reports say that annual number is closer to 160,000 deaths per year! As for general Christian persecution not necessarily leading to death, it is estimated that currently over 200 million Christians are being persecuted worldwide. That’s 200 million Christians who are routinely subjected to oppression, humiliation, jail, beatings and/or torture.

Again, that’s 200 million!

How should we respond?

I don’t know about you, but I very often feel helpless. My attention has been drawn to the reports of American Christians, arrested in foreign lands. Names like Saeed Abedini, Kenneth BaeMaryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh have made our recent headlines, thanks primarily to a select few media sources, such as Fox News.

Why would God allow this to continue?

The answer to that question has too many facets for us to count. In a sad way (and in one small SaeedAbediniaspect), I see these arrests and the media attention they are receiving, as a good thing, in that the eye’s of American Christians are being opened to the horror. Is this a tiny portion of God’s plan? It very well could be, although I would not be dogmatic about it. The reality is that many of us have heard the outrageous statistics, but at the end of the day they are just numbers on a piece of paper and we do nothing. So in a sense, Saeed Abedini and Kenneth Bae have become the face for Christian persecution — essentially they are the poster boys for the 200 million tyrannized Christ-followers, worldwide.

Now that you know, what will you do?

I submit to you that God has a purpose for each of us in this, and that the directive behind the purpose is unveiled, at least in part, in these two Bible passages:

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

“We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

To simplify…

Pray and  Obey

As a first response to any situation, prayer is our course of action. Frankly, it is the best thing we can do. God, through prayer, does many incredible things, but the fact that God changes us when we pray could perhaps be the most significant factor. Don’t believe God changes us? Then try praying sincerely for your enemies or for the needy or praying thanksgiving over the blessings you already have, and watch how God changes you. The truth of the matter is that in our earnest prayers, God reveals the next step we are to take. It might be a baby step or it might be a grand leap, but whatever it is, He shares the maneuver with us. In contrast, if we do not pray, we probably will not hear.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

We need to know that our prayer, at least as it pertains to how God wants to change us, is often rendered powerless, unless it is our intention to obey whatever we learn from God in those prayers. In actuality, we might want to include that talking-point in our prayer, for as we know it is not an uncommon thing for our Spirit to be willing, but our flesh to be weak. It has been my experience that if the Lord detects any insincerity in this regard, He likely guides us to address our submission issues, while putting the other items we presented on hold. Not always, but remember, our Father is a God of order, not chaos.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Practicality 

What God says to you may not be the same thing He says to me. It could be, but I believe the Father takes our individual needs into account, in order that the changes He makes in us are most appropriate for us. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Let us also keep in mind that these changes in us are for His glory, not ours.

For example, when I began to pray for the persecuted church, God’s initial response to me was that these prayers needed to be an everyday, consistent practice of mine. The Lord then moved me to share the dire situation with others so they would pray. I’ve got to be honest with you — I was waiting for God to say to join some cause, or financially support some persecution ministry, such as Voice of the Martyrs. He still might! I am willing, but that’s not the direction God is nudging me, today.

One substantial thing He has led me to do is to exercise my liberty as a US citizen — to share the Gospel more boldly and passionately. It seems to me, and I could be wrong, that God would not have reached me with this change He desired to make, unless I had been praying for the persecuted church and the likes of Pastor Saeed Abedini and Kenneth Bae. All that is to say, God is faithful.

I don’t know firsthand what the Lord is doing on behalf of Saeed and Kenneth, and the millions of nameless Christians whose plight we bring before the throne each day, but I know God’s way is the best way and that He will get His glory in each situation. My prayer is that you will be encouraged to pray for the persecuted church and  all things, with an attitude of submission to God’s will.

Expect to hear from the Lord and be prepared to obey.

If you enjoyed the post please like it, share it, comment on it, or subscribe to the blog. God bless you.

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