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The theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer (May 5, 2016) is ‘Wake Up America.’ The emphasis is upon the need for Christians to “return to the God of our Fathers in reverence for His Holy Name.” The representative verse the NDP committee has chosen is Isaiah 58:1a:

Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet.

I like it, but before we all set out to participate in this year’s event, I’d

ndplike to elaborate upon their import, at least as far as it pertains to consequence, as I suspect a certain presidential candidate’s name is going to come up a lot in our prayers today.  If (or when) God pours out His wrath on America it won’t entirely be because of a heathen in the White House, but because there are heathens in His house as well. So before we go around proclaiming, “Surely God’s wrath is coming now!” we should submit to a little self evaluation.

Let us consider the NDP theme Scripture verse from a few years ago:

“If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14, emphasis mine)
Take note that the passage does not begin, “If my people, which are called by My name, shall elect a godly man…”

If you’re a Christian and you’re concerned about the wrath that is coming, focus on the log that might be in your own eye — that person you’re shacked up with, that lifestyle you embrace, that porn you watch, that substance you abuse; you get the picture. Be ye revived! Some would say you aren’t even born again, so if that’s the case, be ye born again!

You say you’re saved and there’s nothing in your eye? Great! Turn your attention to that brother or sister wallowing in their habitual sin and lovingly bring them back into the fold.

It will serve us all well to remember that God’s wrath is not coming solely because your guy at the gas station is a Muslim, your doctor in the hospital is a Hindu, your mechanic at Pep Boys is an atheist, or your man in the White House is bombastic. These are folks we should be sharing the Gospel with,  but remember, when His wrath comes it will be partly because of the filth within the body of Christ, the Church. That should sting a little.
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“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger (wrath) of God is coming.” (Colossians 3:1-6 NLT)
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That Colossi-warning was written not to the world, but to the saints (Ephesians 5 repeats the warning to the church), and one of the reasons why 2 Chronicles 7:14 is applicable not only to historic Israel, but to our nation today. So perhaps when we pray today, we should focus not on others (so much), but ourselves and in the spirit of revival.
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“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God…(Praise the Lord, but)…whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (Romans 5:9; John 3:36b)
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Are you a fisher of men?

There are many ‘plumb lines’ in God’s word; those verses that we can use to decide if we’re on the right path, spiritually speaking. One of my favorite plumb line verses is Matthew 11:30 where Jesus tells His disciples, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” If a Christian finds that ‘light and easy‘ is not characteristic of their walk with Jesus, he immediately knows something must be askew.

Matthew 4:19 is another one of those verses.

And (Jesus) said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

If you’ve been a follower of Jesus Christ for a reasonable amount of time, God’s promise to you is crystal clear – He will make you a fisher of men; i.e., an obedient Christian whose will is in line with Christ’s for saving souls.

What is the implication if you’re not a fisher of men?

Well that’s clear too – you’re not following Jesus as closely as you think you are. I am not saying that you’re not saved. That could be the case, but that’s not what I’m saying here. That’s between you and God. I’m merely pointing out that if you’ve been a Christian for a while and you’re not an active (regular) participant in the sharing of the Gospel message in some way, shape, or form, you’re either not following Jesus close enough or you’re just plain ignoring Him.

If that comes across as an accusation, please don’t become angry or defensive, for if you have concluded that Jesus has not fulfilled this promise in your life, it’s very good news and one of the reasons we find these golden nuggets in the Bible.

As we read God’s word, we stumble upon these occasional checkpoints and they give us pause, or at least they should. Some of us read them, make a nanosecond determination that we’ve fallen short in our Christian duty, and quickly move on to the next verse. That of course isn’t helpful. Please know that these are not tests that God puts in our path that we might fail, but rather brilliant lights that show us where we may or may not need improvement.

So, if you’re not a ‘fisher of men’ then rejoice! You’ve identified an area of your Christian life that needs attention and more importantly, you know Who to go to, to remedy the situation. Confess it and submit yourself to becoming what Jesus has promised to those who follow Him.

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“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Take notice that this passage begins ‘The fruit of the Spirit’ and NOT the fruit ffof the Christian, the reason being that the fruit belongs to God and is for bringing Him glory. The fruit of the Christian is a myth. When the Bible declares in Matthew 7:16 that people will know us (identify us as Christians) by our fruit and that good trees bear good fruit, the reality is that they will know we are followers of Jesus when they see the Holy Spirit and His attributes in operation.

Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:14)

When we receive the Holy Spirit, it’s a package deal – where He goes His fruit goes and it’s consumer-ready from day one WITHOUT law or regulation. The Christian on the other hand is the shipping crate and it’s his duty is to pop the lid off and display this Spiritual produce to God’s glory.

Let us abandon the notion that we’re babes in Christ and that our fruit needs to mature or other such nonsense. The reality is that in ourselves we will never master these qualities, but we have something better in the Holy Spirit. We just get need to get out of His way (die to our selfishness) and allow Him to do what He desires to do. As a result folks will occasionally notice how loving or how patient we are, at which point we will say, “Dude, that’s not me. To God be the glory.”

It’s not the power of the fruit, it’s the Power behind the fruit.

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)

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My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. (Hosea 4:6)

Is Islam God’s Enemy?

The answer to that question depends upon who you’re asking, so just to be clear, I’m addressing Christians only: ‘Are followers of Islam the enemy?’

My guess is that the answer is split within the Church. There are some Christians who discern Islam to be a false religion [as described by the Bible] and that alone is sufficient to make it adversarial. Others would note the Jihadist aspects of the religion [as defined in the Qur’an] and say that is what makes Islam nefarious. Then of course there are Christians who maintain that Islam is merely another way to God (aka: a true religion) and/or peaceful in their existence. This is similar to the position President Obama has taken. It’s to this last group I am writing.

As to Islam simply being another way to God the Father, cover-to-cover the entire Bible disputes that notion. I do however commiserate with those who have taken this position because as a brand new believer I once thought the very same thing. It was not until I got into a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching environment (and later a Bible-believing and teaching church) that I learned the truth. Jesus said it best, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6)

Look at this way. If there were many ways to God and Heaven, then God the Father had His only son Jesus horribly tortured and murdered for no reason at all. Why kill Jesus if there were these other ways?

Now to the second point that Islam is by and large peaceful, the best evidence against that ideology is the Qur’an and the accepted Islamic doctrines themselves. In an effort to keep this article short I’ve provided a link (HERE) to those teachings. A quick review destroys the argument.

Of course some might object and say that the Qur’an has many peaceful principles as well. That would be correct; there are nonviolent passages in the Qur’an. The question is then why – why are there verses in the Qur’an that advocate ‘present day’ peace and violence. The answer to that question is summarized in the following video. It’s 24 minutes long, but if you desire to know the truth about Islam, you must watch it.

Islam is the Enemy: Now What?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

Nothing Changes

The only difference is that now you are informed – you now know that the followers of Islam likely see you as their enemy too. I say that they ‘likely’ see you as their enemy because Islam, like every other religion of the world (including Christianity), has an undefinable number of nominal believers. That is to say that they are Muslim in name only. Like nominal Christians they do not read their doctrinal literature or ascribe to the directives of their religion. Having said that, the potential for nominal believers to become true believers is real, just as it is with Christians. These true believers, those who have submitted themselves to obeying the Qur’an, want to either convert you (remember, it’s a false god they follow) or do away with you.

Now What?

First, God would have you protect yourself. When Jesus sent His disciples out, He counseled them to purchase a sword (Luke 22:36). Jesus was very clear about the situation. He said, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16).

If you do not want to arm yourself, that is certainly your choice, but know in advance it’s not what Jesus recommended and thankfully we live in a country where it is permissible to varying degrees, depending upon the state in which you live. Of course we’re also advised to don the full armor of God.

Jesus would also be clear that these safeguards were for defensive purposes (self-protection) only, not offensive ones. We’re authorized to protect ourselves and those close to us, but we are not called to proactively deter evil by force. That’s what the Lord instituted and ordained governments for: to be a destructive force against those who unite in battle against us; avengers to execute wrath upon those who do evil (Romans 13:1-4). If our government is not doing their job effectively, then according to the Bible it is our duty to support candidates that will do the job effectively. I pray that is clear.

Our mission is to continue to lovingly share the Gospel message. The Christian faith does not allow us to cower in fear because of overt terrorism, political correctness, or if the Attorney General of the United States threatens to have us arrested. If we’re afraid, we bring that anxiety to the foot of the Cross; it is but an emotional catalyst moving us towards Holy Spirit empowerment. And if we hate the hands that shed innocent blood, we have an Advocate who understands, for He does too. But amazingly, He simultaneously loves His enemies, so much so that He sent His only begotten Son to die for them. It’s difficult to fathom, but love and hate can coexist, just know that the former must not rule over the latter. We bring all our emotions to the Cross and allow Jesus to direct our righteous path – He desires that none should perish.

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the LORD will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22

If you are literally able to feed and water your enemy, then do so in the Name of Jesus, but more importantly we are to figuratively feed them with the Word of God and giving them Living Water (John 7:38) to consume, in that they might be saved. Don’t misread this passage of Scripture – ‘heap burning coals on his head’ is a good thing, not a bad thing, as it speaks to kindling a fire that is about to be snuffed out.  Jesus would never have us do good for the purpose of doing evil.

Finally, those outside the church will revile you for speaking about Islam truthfully, despite the fact you repeat over and over that you ‘love everyone.’ Do not be dissuaded. I suspect there is coming a time in our country that if you proclaim Islam to be anything other than a peaceful and truthful religion, you will be prosecuted. Again, do not be discouraged or distracted from the mission Jesus has given us – sharing the Gospel in truth; the truth that cannot be properly expressed without exposing the lie.

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

One last word about the enemies of God – at one time or another, before we received Jesus Christ as both Lord of our lives and Savior of our souls, we too were enemies of God.  No one is exempt. So it is not a hateful thing to establish that Muslims are God’s enemies, it is a truthful thing to make this designation and it is a loving thing. It is loving because recognizing who and what we are outside of Christ Jesus is the first step towards reconciliation in Christ Jesus.

[W]hen we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10)

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“So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:17)

You’ve heard (and perhaps asked) the question a thousand times: What is God’s will for me?” Well according to Ephesians 5:17 it’s a very good question to ask.

Let’s examine the 25 times the phrase theWill of God is mentioned in the Bible and then consider the wiiwshort answer that each verse provides.  I say ‘short answer’ because there is much, much more to be gleaned in going back and examining the Scripture references in their Biblical context (click on the verse to read it in context). We would also do well to remember that while the Lord has a specific plan for each of us, it’s not primarily about us.

God’s Will

It’s the will of God that you do the will of God (duh), “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3:35)

It’s the will of God that you serve, “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers” (Acts 13:36)

It’s the will of God to fuel your Christian walk, “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” (Romans 1:10)

It’s the will of God to know you and intercede for you, “And he that (searches) the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he (makes) intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:27)

It’s the will of God to change you for the better, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

It’s the will of God that you draw upon His joy, “That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.” (Romans 15:32)

It’s the will of God to send you out with the Gospel, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God” (1 & 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1)

It’s the will of God that you be submitted to Him and to every believer, “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” (2 Corinthians 8:5)

It’s the will of God to deliver you from evil, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4)

It’s the will of God that you are obedient, “Not with eye service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Ephesians 6:6)

It’s the will of God that you work enthusiastically, “Always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” (Colossians 4:12)

It’s the will of God for you to be holy, pure, and set apart, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

It’s the will of God that you demonstrate continual gratitude, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

It’s the will of God that you are faithfully confident until your great inheritance is realized, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:36)

It’s the will of God you abstain from lust, be honest, and obey the law of the land, “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Peter 2:15)

It’s the will of God that you could suffer for doing what is right, “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.” (1 Peter 3:17)

It’s the will of God that you be Christ-minded, “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:2)

It’s the will of God that if you suffer it is not as criminals, but as unashamed, God-glorifying Christians, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” (1 Peter 4:19)

It’s the will of God that you know: “The world (passes) away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God (abides) forever.” (1 John 2:17)

I can hear some of you saying, “Yes, I know it’s God’s will that I serve Him, that I’m obedient, that I’m enthusiastic, etc., but what does the Lord specifically want me to do!”

What do you want to do?

According to Psalm 37, there’s a good chance God has already put a desire in your heart, that is, if you are trusting in Him, if you’re delighting in Him, if you’re committed to Him, and if you’re resting in Him. Now couple this God-given desire with His plan that we share Jesus with a lost and dying world, praying for direction how two realities can function as one.

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalm 37:4)

Begin each day asking the Lord, “What would you have me do today?” and sense the Lord saying back, “What do you want to do?” When I do that, sometimes my answers are errant and the Holy Spirit is faithful to correct me. But a lot of the time my answers reflect the desire that He has put in my heart and I go and do that thing. That’s not to say that things always go as I had planned, but they do always seem to go as He has planned.

Get in the habit of doing God’s will as He has already prescribed in His word and watch Him lead you directly where He wants you to be.

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The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works…The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people. (Psalm 145:17, Isaiah 3:13)

bbRelax

The title of the blog is a hoax, but let me ask you — what if it were true? Would you have an opinion regarding this judge? What if somebody brutally attacked and killed your loved one, and wound up before this same judge, and what if in his ruling he said,

Because the defendant has done a lot of good things in his life, and he said he was really sorry for killing an innocent person, and because I am a loving and forgiving person myself, I find him not guilty.”

We would never condone this behavior from our judiciary, so why do so many of us believe that our Heavenly Judge rules in this manner? Why are there so many people who believe a ‘loving and forgiving’ God would never send anyone to hell. Why do we believe that if we do enough good, we can tip the scales of justice in our favor when we would never stand for it in our society?

Right-ness

If God is perfectly righteous (and He is), He must find every offender guilty. If God makes any exceptions, His perfection goes right out the window. Either our LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works, or He is not. In God’s courtroom, sin is always ruled sin and the verdict is “Guilty!” a million times out of a million times.

But Wait!

The same God who stands to judge the people is the same God who stands to plead our case. How can our Judge and our Defender be one and the same? It’s at times like these, when our very lives hang in the balance, we should not ask too many questions or perhaps more accurately, not allow our lack of perception stand in the way of redemption. If there is an opportunity to appear guiltless before the Creator of the universe and sidestep the penalty of sin, than we should lunge towards it and grasp at it with both hands! This is not the time to hold onto the false notion that our good deeds will get us out of this jam or hope the judge is inconsistent.

Jesus stands before the Father and pleads the case for His brothers and sisters, essentially saying, “Your Honor, I have taken their guilt upon My shoulders, I bore it to the cross, and I paid the penalty.” If justice has been served; if there was a guilty plea and the punishment was paid, and if the defendant believes in his Advocate, then the Judge must dismiss the case.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

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