Archive | Inspirational RSS feed for this section

America in Bible Prophesy

20 Mar

About ten years ago, the Lord spoke three things to me that shook my world view.

1. A baptism of fire is coming. I’ve just finished a series of blogs on that topic. Know this, if your eyes are fixed on Jesus, you will not suffer loss of true riches.
2. Jesus laid out his blueprint for his ministry and for the ministry his Church will continue in his first sermon. Familiarity with the verses has caused us to miss the deeper meaning and application in our lives.
3. America must fall. What is happening now on our streets, in our schools, even in our highest levels of government are the beginning tremors. I can’t say if this is the time for the collapse or if it can be turned around through a change in the Church, but I see America’s imploding prophesied in the Scripture.

I have already blogged on the first two points. For your convenience, I have provided links to those blogs below. This blog begins my next project. In it, I will explain where I see the U.S. in bible prophesy and why.

But before I get started, we still have this promise: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV). The word was written to Israel—God’s chosen people. By prophetic shadows, the verse applies to The Church—capital C indicating the church universal, not any one denomination or country, his chosen people.

This promise is conditional (If my people). Some of his chosen people will do what the Lord asks, some or many will not. It brings to mind the image described in the Spirit’s letter to the church in Laodicea (see Revelation 3). The church is pictured as meeting behind a closed door, and the reason for their gathering is outside knocking to be let in. It’s a sad commentary that something like that would not only happen, but also happens in our own hearts as we are distracted by things around us.

The prescription is for us to humble ourselves—in the same way we did when we realized we needed a savior. This is not the blushing acceptance-of-praise humility. It is the I-am-undone-my-sins-have-been-declared type of humility.

It in turn steers us to pray and seek his face. In that bankrupt humility, say, “Here I am, Lord, standing naked before you.” Can you imagine coming to this place and looking into the face of him whom John describes as having eyes as coals of fire?

The last step sometimes seems the hardest. “Turn from their wicked ways.” I said sometimes because when a call to repentance sounds from the pulpit, I struggle to recall any action I would call wicked in the last week or month. Ever feel that way? Naturally, an immediate response to that attitude is I better repent from pride. Surely it is hiding things from me. I try to dig a little deeper. I pick through the week spent navigating with my own natural wisdom and cunning, exalting self above God.

Meeting the conditions in that promise may only delay America’s fall. The political rhetoric lauds what we have done as a nation. It declares what we will do to overcome adversity. Even Christians in America join the rallying calls, lifting the flag and our Constitution as a thing for the world to worship. When things seem to be deteriorating in our society, we remind ourselves of our Christian foundation and a call to patriotism. If for no other reason, America will be brought low for such idolatry.

As people who desire to be like Jesus, let’s examine what we say, what we think, what we do, and how we react. Are we in line with his heart and his mission? Healing is promised when we do. God may extend his blessings on our land and bring a healing to all the divisions and hurts, but remember this. God’s salvation does not apply to nations. Political or geological entities don’t have souls; they can’t be saved. Only the people within the nation have that opportunity.

Connected blogs:
Baptism of Fire blogs: Fire in the Church; What did Jesus wish?; A kindled fire, but not burning up; Fire in God’s hands; Fire destroys the bad is a good thing, right?; Baptism of Fire Type 2; Purification adds by taking away; When is a fiery trial not one?; Protected by fire; Burning fire on the altar of worship; The seventh glorious fire.
Jesus’s blueprint blogs: Salt and light: if not us, who?; Broken People: God’s most treasured ones; Christ’s demand for a church that mourns; Happiness in meekness; Happy Hot pursuit; Have Mercy!; Purify your heart for better vision; Special recognition; Jesus, our example—Part 1; Jesus, Our example—Part 2; Wax on/wax off.


I see something beyond the horizon

13 Mar

The last weeks’ blogs took me a step further away from what I have tried to use this site for, but closer to the real purpose. It revealed more of me than what I was fully comfortable doing. At the same time, it opened a door to a message I’ve kept, for the most part, on lockdown in my heart from these pages.

In the 1960s, God poured out his Spirit on the Church. Revival broke out on America, and many souls were saved. In our excitement over what God was doing, we looked for ways to expand it in greater ways. Television evangelism mushroomed. The enemy of our souls stirred up ridicule, calling it a movement of weak minds. Some of America’s leaders stepped forward and formed the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Association to show the gospel makes perfect sense to intellectuals, too.

More failures
During these years, in spite of the spiritual advances, we lost other battles. Roe v. Wade brought the greatest holocaust on mankind ever in the history of the world. Madelyn Murray turned her hurts and bitterness against our youth and nation to successfully take prayer and Bible reading out of school. The Church answered with the formation of the Moral Majority and fought fire with fire.

Our efforts to turn those two battles around have actually divided and weakened the Church. Our true enemy took his battle to the generations who were not aborted. The number one cause of death among teens is suicide. He added Columbine, Sandy Hook, and most recently Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The Church fumbles and further divides over gun control.

Where we went wrong
What happened? How did the Church lose the power and drive it experienced in the early years of that revival? Simply put, we thought we could improve on what God began. And, we busied ourselves attacking every advance by our soul’s enemy as if life were some giant Whack-a-Mole game. Demonstrations, boycotts, legal suits, legislative lobbying became our weapons of choice. These all served to divide the church even more as not everyone agreed with Bible interpretations. Even when some verses are not open to conjecture, personal preferences won out over them.

Course correction
We must learn and accept this one fact. We cannot improve on God’s plan and he hasn’t changed it. Jesus won the battle over our true enemy by going right to his stronghold and pillaging it. Scripture says he descended into hell, took the keys from him and led out souls he had held in captivity. The war is for the souls of men. Nothing we can do by our design will accomplish God’s purpose. Until we fix our eyes on him, becoming obedient to his Word and his Way, we will continue to face defeat. But once we can align our hearts to his, the issues that now divide us will fade away. Unless…well, I will have to save that for next time.

Reason for Purposeful Living

6 Mar

The truth of coming judgment flashed through my thoughts. With it came the words of Jesus that the way to the Father and eternal life is narrow and only a few will find it. That means the rest are lost forever. When I thought of friends and family who could be caught in that divide, I cried out in my heart to the Lord that I don’t want to see them turned away from heaven. And then God expanded my thoughts to the people outside my circle—to the state, the nation, and the world. I bawled. Never in my life had I thought of how great a loss was about to happen.

I am sharing this as a footnote to last Tuesday’s blog (Shredded Allegiance). The above episode happened to me a few days before I wrote my last blog. But after posting it, I decided to research the numbers. I wanted to get a feel, if I could, on how big the loss is that God impressed on my heart.

Remember, we are talking first about my family, my friends, their brothers and sisters, and then their friends, in an ever-widening rippling tide.
• The world’s estimated population in April, 2017: 7.5 billion people
• 31.6% of world population claim to be Christian: 2.8 billion
• 65% of Americans identifying as Christians believe there are other paths to salvation than Jesus
Note: When Jesus said narrow is the way and few that find it, he indicated he is the only way. He nailed it when he said no one could approach the Father but by him. Peter emphasized it by saying no other name under heaven is given whereby we might be saved. That says to me that 65 percent of American Christians are living by a different gospel, a false one.

Applying the 65% to world population aligning with Jesus reduces the number of those who see Jesus as the only way to salvation to 980 million or a mere 13 percent of the total world population. Nearly nine in ten people need to discover intimacy with Jesus. If they don’t, their eternity will be filled with pain, anguish, guilt, and gnashing of teeth. Nine out of ten.

It’s hard for statistics to give you any level of connectivity, whether talking about dollars or people. The numbers are simply too impersonal. Let’s draw it a little closer. In America, about 77 percent of the roughly 327 million people claim to be Christian, or about 252 million. Remember, 65 percent may not be holding an essential tenant of the faith. That reduces us down to 88 million, about the population of California, Texas, and Florida. Let that sink in…three of our 50 states only. My hometown has a population of just over 200,000. Using the same calculation, the number is reduced to 54 thousand. Certainly, that number exceeds my contact list by far, but within my day-to-day activities, nearly three out of four people I encounter have a grim eternity to anticipate.

On top of it, these could be optimistic numbers, believe it or not. Jesus also said many will say to him, didn’t we even work miracles in your name? But he will tell them to leave because he never had an intimate relationship with them.

I challenge you to think about these things in the next restaurant you are in, during your next shopping trip, or anyplace else where there are people. Ask Jesus to speak to your heart about the level of loss he sees. Be willing to be used by him to give an encouraging (or challenging) word.

If you accept my challenge, please come back to this blog and share your experience.

Have you felt this same weight that sprang on me? I would like to hear about that, too.

Shredded Allegiance

27 Feb

A blog handed to me

I awoke Saturday morning from a dream that pulled my thoughts to the mess our nation is in. I likened this generation to ropes that bind us together as a country being shredded by individualism and majority rule. This strengthened my belief that America is in Bible prophesy and can be found in the book of Daniel: King Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the statue with feet and toes made of a mixture of iron and clay.

Morning devotions opened on my kindle with the Bible verse for the day from Galatians 5:3 “Only use not your liberty for an occasion for the flesh, but by love serve one another.” I tucked that away in my mind with the thought of how timely for that verse to pop up right after my rough awakening.

I then turned to the next chapter of the book of Revelation, which I had begun reading. In chapter 3 of John’s vision, Jesus is sending specific messages to seven churches. The Laodicean church is the last one. In it we see described that image artists have portrayed of Jesus standing at the door knocking. That door is most often thought of as an individual’s heart with the Savior asking to be let in for eternal bliss. However, take note. The letter is to the church, not the lost. The church is gathered together behind a closed door to share their like-mindedness concerning faith and salvation. But, the whole reason for them being together is outside knocking, asking to be let in. This blog topic began forming in my mind.

Then, late Saturday, I opened a devotional I receive in my email to find the writer had also chosen Galatians 5:3 for the focus of her meditation. I felt my blog topic for today was confirmed, and I asked the Lord to show me when I fail in this, too—especially me.

Breaking the ties that bind

The rope analogy came back to me. The church in America seems divided more every day in spite of near heroic efforts to call us back together. Differing interpretations of God’s Word, hurt feelings, disputes over how the worship will be led or the sanctuary adorned, and now multiple political issues have brothers against brothers. These divisions and service specializations do not represent Kingdom Life—the very thing we were called into.

What are we to do?

When Jesus talked about salvation with Nicodemus, he said without being born again, no one could see the kingdom. Jesus’ command was to preach the gospel of the kingdom. Instead, our message has been the gospel of salvation. Salvation is stepping into the threshold of the kingdom. The door is opened for us. We are not to stand in the threshold peering in. We are to enter into the kingdom. Be active in kingdom work.

Each “blessed” Jesus spells out in the Sermon on the Mount (See Matthew 5) describe what kingdom life and work looks like. His final blessing is for the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God. As Christians, we will tell you we are God’s children. We become his children when we are born again. But, how are we doing as peacemakers? One definition of a peacemaker is a person who introduces people to the Prince of Peace. How is that done? Certainly, by preaching the gospel, but also—and perhaps most importantly—by showing what kingdom life is like in our lives.

Living purposefully, I believe, is the current buzzword. Over the years, I ‘ve read a number of self-help books. They all promise to lead us to the life we dream of. Many people have had their lives turned around by them and have been able to live their dreams. And I become frustrated with the fact that the writers are making headlines and wealth with principles already laid out in God’s word. I’ve not found one that does not teach what God has said in the Bible. A bit of anger stirs in me because they are getting rich by plagiarism, and I helped them by buying the book. I’m angry with myself for not seeing it in the Word and doing it. I guess I would say I’m a little jealous for God that they are taking his Word meant for the spiritual good of his followers and turning the focus away from God and to earthly gain. But all the inner turmoil settles back on me asking why am I not living them in my kingdom life? They have been proven to work even for selfish goals.

I believe the popularity of those books lie in that one fact: achieving selfish goals. One mark of the baby boomer generation is the shift in focus to self. Subsequent generations have carried it to extremes. American mindset exalts individualism. Individual freedoms, each decides his own truth, and ultimately, there is no God. These are the sharp blades shredding the bonds of our national fabric. And, they’ve invaded the church.

For us to live in kingdom life, we must reject the individualism that permeates our society today. As Paul said, we must reject using our liberty to satisfy our greed, our lusts, our need for others’ approval and praise, and learn to love one another in word and deed (my paraphrase). We must become peacemakers—leading others to the Prince of Peace—through sharing what God has done and is doing in our lives and through living as kings and priests in his kingdom. In short, we must be Christ-like in every way. Purposefully.

We Can’t Enhance God’s Work. We Mustn’t Detract Either

20 Feb

Two separate scenes (seemingly two separate messages) recorded by Luke—one right after the other—captivated my thoughts. They made me wonder if they instead of being unrelated incidents were complementary to one another for a more complete understanding. Read them in Acts 5.

Ananias and Sapphira

In the first, we have the account of Ananias and his wife Sapphira. At the end of chapter 4 we are told the believers began living in deep community. Many, if not all, sold what they had so that the money could be shared and have all things in common. No one with surplus, and definitely no one in lack. Since it seemed to be the Christian thing to do, Ananias and Sapphira joined in. However, they agreed together to reserve a sum in hiding for themselves (for that rainy day). The Holy Spirit revealed their deception to Peter who confronted Ananias as soon as he presented his sale proceeds. He had no time to repent (possibly no heart to, either), but took his last breath and was carried out.

When Sapphira came in to meet up with her husband, Peter asked her if they sold their property for a certain amount. She confirmed what she and her husband had agreed to say. Peter confronted her for sharing in the attempt to deceive the Holy Spirit. The men who had carried Ananias arrived in time to carry her out, too.

Same error as Uzza

Their stunning account lacks meaning without considering an Old Testament example of similar quick judgment. In 1 Chronicles 13, Uzza died the moment he reached out to keep the Ark from slipping off the cart when the ox stumbled. In our minds we think like Uzza might have reasoned. I know we are commanded not to touch the Ark, but should I do nothing and let it fall? I doubt he had the time to think that through; he simply reacted. But he was judged for disobeying God’s commandment. Fair? We would say he deserved grace in the situation. Just? In accordance with God’s word. The Ark was sanctified holy.

In like manner, the Holy Spirit prompted a holy thing with the deep uniting of the hearts of the believers. It was holy. Ananias and Sapphira came in and touched it with unholy hands. Judgment came swift and complete.

Wisdom of one priest

After this account, the Apostles are thrown in prison for preaching Jesus again. The religious leaders—the keepers of God’s word and teachers for the people—became jealous over the numbers of Jews turning to follow the teachings concerning the Christ. Many wanted to put the leaders of the new sect to death, but one of them (Gamaliel) stood up with this wisdom:
“So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God” (NKJV).

In other words, like Uzza of old, don’t meddle with what is holy.

Our take-away

I’ve spent several weeks writing about the baptism of fire, a baptism I believe will be coming for the Church. It will undoubtedly bring about what some may think to be radical changes and will likely face opposition. John exhorted believers to test the spirit to see whether a teacher or his teaching is of God. We are not to accept or reject every new enticing thought without testing them by the Holy Spirit within us. And may we not confuse our natural discernment with the Lord’s. Come Holy Spirit fire.

Exercising the Muscles of Surrender

13 Feb

The Winter Olympic Games have captured the attention of the world as it should. Out of it, heroes will rise, and some hearts will be broken. Some will set their faces toward another try. Some will revel in having achieved more than they ever expected when they first started on their course. A rugged course that demanded strict and complete commitment. What would be more than a lifetime of intense physical training for many of us, they compacted into a few years of their young lives. Their hard work and devotion to the discipline required for excellence in their sporting event serves as a role model for the rest of us.

Faith Exercise
The writer of Hebrews surely had a marathon runner in his mind when he wrote, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12: 1-2).

When we decide to make Jesus the Lord of our lives, we entered a contest. More than a race, we are thrust into the front lines—the hottest part of fighting—of a battle for our lives in a war that has already been won. Yes, it’s won. The outcome has been determined, but we must still contend. Being a Christian is not a spectator sport.

Jesus Gets Personal
My current training (and battle) is in 2 Corinthians 10:5 “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” I’m too impulsive, too self-centered. Even if I can hold my tongue one moment, my frustration gets released later in some other destructive way. I hear the Lord saying softly to me, “Surrender.” Surrender as he surrendered to his Father.

Follow Him in Every Way
In many ways we are told or reminded that Jesus led the way for us. We are to follow him, his example. Even the name Christian means like Christ. His total surrender—I’m not talking only about the cross—stands as my greatest challenge. Jesus said that he didn’t do anything on his own. He only did what he had seen and heard from the Father. That’s a level of surrender eluding me.
Consider what that surrender looked like for Jesus.

Upon his arrest, he did more than turn the other cheek. He remained silent in his interrogation. He said nothing to those who spit on him, beat him, mocked and struck him. Yet, a few days earlier he held the whip as he drove out the moneylenders from the Temple and turned over their tables. He was surrendered to his Father in both instances.

I particularly love the times when he rejects the passive acceptance of circumstances. You know, fate or karma dictates some event or hardship so I will show God I can trust him and endure. Jesus grieved over his dead friend then raised him from the grave. He rebuked his disciples for not exercising their small faith then turned and rebuked the storm that threatened to sink their boat.

Every Means Every
I am learning that in every word spoken and every action taken, I have a choice to rely on my own strength, understanding, or clever scheming; or I can surrender my thoughts to Jesus and let him show me what I should say or do. In the moment I may not understand. I might not even like it, but it yields peaceable fruit for his glory. In the end, that’s all that matters. I have been learning this lesson well over forty years, but only recently have I understood that every thought means exactly that. And only recently have I believed that Jesus and I (Jesus and you, too) can have that intimate of a relationship. I have witnessed it in a few of his followers and thought, “Ah, they are among his chosen few.” Wrong. He desires intimacy with each and every one of us so his glory will shine bright and overcome the darkness in this world. Join me in throwing off now every argument, timidity, and thoughts of unbelief that encumber so that we can run the race before us.

How does Jesus challenge you?

What encumbrance is he asking you to untie and drop?

Can I pray for you, and will you pray for me in our race?

Don’t forget to sign up to receive notices of my blog posts directly. No worries. I don’t sell my list, and my posts are the only things you will get from me–currently at the rate of one per week.

By His Spirit All Things Are Possible

6 Feb

I’m reading “Life in His Hands – A Devotional” by Jill Holler and wanted to share this quote with you. It says so well and so gently what I have been attempting to share over many posts.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

HAS GOD CONFRONTED you with the undeniable reality that apart from Him, you can do nothing? Has He displayed the limitations and weaknesses of your human nature vividly upon the canvas of your life?

If so, when faced with such knowledge, our reaction may be to close our eyes to the truth. However, recognizing how vastly inadequate we are without God is the tipping point of a life lived fully in His power. For when we come to the end of ourselves, God takes over and supplies us with all we need to live abundantly for Him. God is the vine; we are the branches. If we stay connected to our lifeline, there is no limit to the amount of eternal fruit that we can produce for Him. Life-giving power springs up naturally from His being, and it can flow right through us to grow His kingdom here on earth. The results of remaining in Him will be a bountiful harvest that is beyond what we can imagine.

In contrast, if we begin to believe that we can make it on our own and try to sustain ourselves, we will quickly see just how fruitless our efforts will become, for no branch can bear fruit by itself (John 15:4). Without God, our lives become withered and dry, void of the eternal.

What a great blessing it is, therefore, to realize that we can do nothing apart from Him! When we stay forever connected to the one who sustains us, we will experience true, fruitful living. Through God, the source of everything good, we can become all that He has created us to be: a blessing to those around us and servants who advance His kingdom purposes. What glory we can bring to God as we let Him work His power through us! As we make His Word the foundation of our life and our relationship with Him our greatest priority, we will produce fruit that will glorify God’s name and have an eternal impact on the world around us. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalm 16:2 In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success. Proverbs 3:6 (TLB)”

Start reading this book for free:

Me again adding my final thoughts: doing God’s work in our own strengths, talents, perceptions is just another religion. True Christianity is being led by his Spirit, releasing him to work through us what we could never do on our own.

%d bloggers like this: