Do What You’re Told!

[ Behave Like a Christian ] Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
Have you ever gotten angry? I’m not talking about ticked off or irritated; I’m talking about angry. The rage that boils in the pit of your stomach and becomes silent indignation so palatable that you can taste it angry. I have and it is not a fun place to be. I will admit that this week was one of those weeks for me. I began to truly notice the world at large around me and the picture it presented was less than pretty. The picture is that of a divided world. It feels as though the forces of evil are closing in on every side, leaving those of us who are called to stand with nowhere to turn.
It is in those moments of desperation that believers so often turn to the flesh; allowing their anger and frustration to win the day, they lash out. Let me say that this weeks post is in no way intended to be a reprimand or a rebuke, simply a reminder. As the world spins out of control, the words of Jesus echo in our ears:
[ The World’s Hatred ] “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.
I believe this is more true today then it has ever been in modern history. Christians around the world are being persecuted and, by and large, their strife falls on deaf ears. When that fact is coupled with the random acts of violence that overload the evening news, the hate speech, and “Political correctness” that drown out the truth it is easy to see why we are frustrated as a body of believers. The devil is definitely on the march:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
How does the evil one do it? How does he frustrate us so? He makes us take our eyes off of Jesus. it is really that simple. When we do that we fall into his camp; we start arguing politics, we fall into senseless situations where winning the argument  is more important than being an  effective solder of the gospel and bringing the lost to the cross of Christ.
It is hard, of that there is no doubt. there are many times when it would be much easier to just give in and follow the crowd and many times we do. It is interesting that throughout the bible God refers to us, His people as sheep. a reference to sheep is made 200 times in the bible, 45 times in the new testament. 39 of those references are made in the gospels. We are the sheep and Jesus is our shepherd.
[ Jesus the Good Shepherd ] Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
Without a shepherd, sheep would graze in the same field until its resources were depleted and then starve; never having the sense to move to the next field over. The sheep need direction. Without the shepherd, when one sheep walks over a cliff the rest of the flock will follow unless told otherwise. Sheep need correction. Wow! that sounds just like people! We people all need Jesus!
The truth of the matter is, not everyone will accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Jesus said as much Himself:
[ The Narrow Way ] “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because[a] narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Friends, we are in a select group and we have orders. We are told in Matthew 28 to go and make disciples of all nations. We can’t do that if we are busy allowing our flesh to have dominion over us and follow the lost souls over the cliff. We must endeavor to do what we have been told, pray always and keep our eyes on Jesus.
Grace & Peace,

Bittersweet Truth

So I went to the angel and said to him, “Give me the little book.” And he said to me, “Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.”
I was told once that is not a bad idea to watch the news with the remote in one hand and the bible in the other. It isn’t a bad idea. in fact when done in the spirit (with our eyes on Jesus) it can be a powerful tool in the prayer life of a believer.  As Christians watch world events unfold, it is easy to become discouraged and even disinterested. There is so much wrong with the world today that it often is overwhelming to see it played out in our living rooms on the nightly news. But I am dating myself. No one watches the nightly news any longer now, with the advent of the twenty-four hour news cycle, the news is delivered up to the minute. It is delivered on every device imaginable. In short, we can’t get away from the flow of information.  This has been prophesied by the Lord.
“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
God had just put before Daniel a vision of the end times. He  then tells Daniel to seal the book; to seal what he has just been told because people of His time could not understand what God had imparted to Daniel. God then tells Daniel that in the end, many shall run to and fro and knowledge will increase. Does that sound familiar? As the old saying goes, “I meet myself coming and going.” Knowledge and the speed with which we live our lives has increased one hundred fold and is increasing by the minute.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am in no  way attempting to predict the end. i will leave that to the prognosticators. Scripture tells us that is not for us to know the day or the hour.
[ No One Knows the Day or Hour ] “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
It is clear by the words of Jesus that no one knows when the end will come. God has not told us period. What He has done is given us signs, markers if you will. he has told us to be ready and watchful. If you wish to dive more deeply into the signs of the times, here are some scripture references to get you started: Matthew 16. Matthew 24, Matthew 25, and Daniel 9-12.
The question is, what do we do with that which we know? In my bible Revelation 10 is titled: The Mighty Angel With The Little Book. The Apostle John is told to eat the book held by the angel. He is told that the book will make his stomach bitter but taste as sweet as honey in his mouth. I believe the little book is the word of God and as we christians eat it ( read it, study it, pray through it) It should have two distinct effects on us. First it should thrill us. The truth that the God of all creation loves us sinners so much that He sent His Son to die so that we who believe may live and that our savior is coming back to rule and reign with us in His millennial kingdom should make our heart beat forth from our chest! That truth should give us hope and joy. It tastes like honey in our mouths. Second, it should bring about an urgency to reach the lost.
I speak often about the lost. Who exactly are the lost? The lost are anyone who has not come to a redeeming faith in Jesus Christ. The lost are non-believers. As believers eat the word of God if you will, we understand that there will come a time of judgment for those people who have rejected Jesus Christ. This is not popular today. but it is true. The knowledge that we as believers have of what is to come for those who do not believe should turn our stomach.
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
As I write this I am acutely aware that it is hard to read. When I tell you that it is hard for me to write, believe that. I know that there are many of you out there that have loved ones who do not know the Lord or they know Him but time and time again reject the gift of salvation. I know how painful this is and pray for all lost souls regularly and specifically for those loved ones in my own life.
For those of you who live through this daily; let me encourage you. God is with you. He knows your heart and the hearts of those you love. His word reminds us that it is not His heart that anyone should perish but that all should have everlasting life. Remember that God hears our prayers so PRAY!!
pray without ceasing,
Prayer is an amazing weapon against the evils of this world, use it! Pray for those you love to come into a right relationship with the Father and ask for Him to use you to that end. God bless you all!
Grace and Peace.

Freedom’s Responsibility

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Have you ever been called out by a non-believer? I have and let me tell you, there is no interaction I can think of that is more uncomfortable. There you are on the highway taking you non-believing friend to church and suddenly someone cuts you off. Your blood instantly reaches the boiling point, you yell at the person in front of you; even though they can’t hear you and ride the horn. And then you sense you’re being watched. You look at you friend and see their face awash with judgment. While shaking their head in that slow disapproving way they say in the most sickening sweet  voice they can  muster, “Love thy enemies.”
As believers we are going to make mistakes; it is human nature. By nature we are sinful beings and as such we are continually tempted by our flesh. Flesh used in this context means human desires. When we as believers give in to lust, greed, pride, or in the above example, anger we are giving in to the desires of the flesh and not living in God’s will for our lives.
among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
When we live in the flesh, in sin, we are no different then a non-believer. And yet, as believers, we are different. We are different because we know the truth.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God was there when man fell (See Genesis 3) at that moment we were separated from God and it was for eternity, except that our Heavenly Father loves us unconditionally with a deeper love than our human minds can conceive. He told satin how it was going to play out:
And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, believers, though we don’t deserve it, have freedom from our sin. We are covered and washed by the blood of Christ. While that is amazing to the point of blowing ones mind; use caution. The covering of Christ is not a blank check to live in the flesh Monday through Saturday and show up on Sunday for absolution.
This is a core complaint of the non-believer: the hypocrisy of the church. They will point out every failure that they see and say, “don’t judge me man. Take a look in the mirror.” As painful as it is at times to admit they are often correct. We are not living what we preach. I believe that this simple truth, is  the biggest hinderance to the gospel today. When a non-believer, someone who might be on the fence, struggling with eternal truth views their Christian friend does the life of the Christian live up to the words and call to repentance that spring forth from their mouth?
Is that too close to home? I know it is. There might even be some who would say I’m not being fair. After all, no one is perfect that is the reason we need Jesus. Followers of Jesus understand the freedom we have been afforded by His sacrifice. The point is, don’t  abuse the privilege. Think of it this way: if you were caught stealing and when you went before the judge; although the evidence against you was overwhelming, He found in your favor; you were exonerated. Would you go out and steal again? Maybe, but hopefully you would have learned. God wants us to use our liberty, our freedom from condemnation to serve others, not as a blank check to do what we want in our flesh.
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Are you a reflection of the spirit of God to this hurting broken world? We are called to be like Jesus, which is to serve and not be served. If this message has struck a nerve settle it with God. Then  turn your face toward the Lord, keep your eyes on Him and see what is in store.
Grace & Peace,