LOST SHEEP CANNOT FIND THE SHEPHERD

DRAWING NEAR – PART 23 – 12/27/2015

LOST SHEEP CANNOT FIND THE SHEPHERD

After all the packages have been opened, the Christmas cards and decorations put away and the holiday meals become another wonderful memory of family and friends, we are amazed at how much we have been blessed. But the pleasures of having an abundance of material possessions actually has very little to do with our real blessings. Hopefully throughout the festivities that usually include lighted decorations, luscious treats and passed down traditions, we have paused to consider what we have really celebrated – the birth of our only hope to be saved from our sins.  When we pray, we ask Jesus to forgive us and wash us clean with His holy blood – the ONLY substance that has the power to release mankind from the guilt and shame of iniquity. The reason why Jesus is the only way to heaven is because He is the only one that has the authority to forgive us. People all over the world have always bowed down to various religious figures and imaginations but not one of them had the power to give anyone the gift of eternal salvation. To declare that anyone other than God has the spiritual dominion to save a soul would be to blaspheme the Bible and downplay the significance of the greatest act of love the world has ever known. What other figure is recognized as creator of the universe, the sun and stars, and the endless galaxies? What other person was from the beginning, was not created and has no end? Who can declare they know everyone’s thoughts and will one day judge every person that has ever lived and have the authority to sentence them to eternal life or eternal death? Name someone that can create a human being, an animal, a living tree or can hold the earth in orbit at a perfect angle and keep it rotating at the perfect speed? What was once a crowded room of attention seekers, imposters, lovers of fame and the worship of men and women are now seen slipping out the back door because they are embarrassed and humiliated.

Some will say they searched high and low for the truth and finally found Jesus but is this how salvation works? No. Is the GREAT I AM that is filled with love and mercy playing hide and seek with all the people in the world? No. He is in plain sight and is NOT trying to resist us. He is visible all around us and if we will stop and listen we can hear His voice. It is our blindness that causes us to walk past Him and it is the dark condition of our heart that prevents us from seeking Him. We never went searching for Him – He drew us through the love of His gospel! The truth is that when we made the holy connection with Jesus it was because He was searching for US! He made a divine appointment for you and I to hear about His love and those living words penetrated our heart as the Holy Spirit brought conviction upon us. Our conscience became flooded with the guilt of realizing we were hopelessly lost and that we desperately needed a Savior. We did not “find” Him – He found us! He not only gave His life to rescue us, but was relentless until He finally captured our heart. We are the recipients of His divine GRACE (lest any person should boast) filled with His glory – and forever grateful.

IS THERE ANY ROOM IN YOUR INN?

The story of Mary and Joseph coming from Nazareth into Bethlehem, trying to find a place for her to deliver her baby (the Messiah) has been cherished and contemplated since the day it happened. The city was filled to over capacity during this time because the government was collecting taxes and of course everyone was looking for a “hotel.” Mary and Joseph were nonetheless entering into the city at a very hectic season and as Joseph continued to seek shelter for his wife, he finally realized there were no available rooms. He was told by one Innkeeper that since this was an emergency he could stay overnight in the stable out back with the animals. At least there would be straw and a roof over their head and sure enough this is where the Savior of the world was born. The King of all kings and the Lord of all Lords was brought forth in a dirty, drafty barn, wrapped in a blanket and laid in a feeding trough called a manger. You would think the creator of heaven and earth would have rolled out the red carpet as the second person of the Trinity was being manifested as the greatest miracle of mercy and love to a spiritually lost and dying civilization – but that was not the case. God’s attributes and principals are perfectly based on divine truth and this includes possessing great humility along with superior authority. As always, God’s ways and standards are holy and pure and His Word is our textbook on how to conduct our life – HIS WAY. With Jesus lowly entrance into the world, we see another example of how we should live humbly in our quest to become a reflection of His image. Even though we are also children of His royal family, we are to live in meekness which is strength under control and demonstrating this attitude of spiritual love is our utmost for His Highest. Power and pride when mixed together produce a poisonous recipe for destruction and we can always follow the trail of failure and disappointment back to the carnality of mankind’s arrogant heart. We all represent the Innkeeper and as God continues to knock on our door, many times we are still telling Him there is no room. We are also a symbolic type of Mary, the humble, willing vessel who submitted to the Holy Spirit and brought forth Jesus into her life as the light of the world.

IMMANUEL IS DIFFICULT TO COMPREHEND

The incarnation means “to become flesh” and when Christ was born of a virgin, God became a flesh and blood man for the purpose of living among His creation and then dying to rescue them from being eternally separated from the presence of the Almighty. Theologians have a fancy name for this merging together of deity and flesh called “hypostatic union.” The term hypostatic union is much easier than it sounds, but the concept is as profound as anything in theology. Both the Father and the Son are of the same “nature” with Jesus described as the exact imprint of God as we see this clearly in the first chapter of Hebrews. Hypostatic means personal and this union is the personal combination of Jesus’ two natures – one fully human and one fully divine. Fully human in that He feels and understands everything about us and completely divine that has the perfect wisdom to take care of any and every problem we will ever face. What the doctrine of the hypostatic union teaches is that these two natures are united in one person in the God-man. It is awe-inspiring—to know that Jesus’ two natures are perfectly united in his one person. Jesus is not divided – He is not two people – He is one person without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation. Because of this hypostatic, one-person union, Jesus Christ exhibits an unparalleled magnificence. No one person satisfies the complex longings of the human heart like the God-man. God has made the mind and conscience in such a way that it will never be eternally content with that which is only human. The conceptions of every other religious idol and god have never had an incarnation or a hypostatic union and will never satisfy the human soul like the ONE TRUE God who did! Amen! And beyond just gazing at the spectacular person of Jesus, there is also the amazing gospel-laced revelation that the reason Jesus became the God-man was for us. His fully human nature joined in personal union to his eternally divine nature is permanent proof that Jesus, in perfect harmony with his Father, is the Lamb that was slain and the Son of Man who is Omnipotent. God was glorious long before He became Yeshuah and demonstrated His love for us by living and dying for us while we were yet still sinners. He experienced our nature as a human and was thinking about us while hanging on the cross as our Savior. If we could ever come into an awareness that realizes “God lives in us” we would find ourselves being truly transformed into what God has in mind. “Immanuel” is a mystery and asking God to reveal this to us is how we receive enlightenment and revelation of His wisdom. Some may say this is actually beyond comprehension and others might never even consider trying but some will dedicate their life to it – and succeed. Does the God of the universe live inside of you? Do you have a desire to allow Him to do what He wants to do through you? Do we believe the God who has made everything enjoys being dormant within us? Hmmmm….

HE DID NOT COME TO BRING US SILVER AND GOLD

The Christmas song, “do you hear what I hear” has a line in it that says, “let us bring him silver and gold” and I believe that most people do not have a clue what this means. I was humming this song the other day just going through the house and realized I was singing the words, “HE WILL bring us silver and gold” and it dawned on me that I had somehow subconsciously twisted this important meaning around to bless me instead of me blessing Him. And then I wondered how many people have really forgotten or maybe have never known the true meaning of spiritual worship and praise unto the Almighty God of all creation. Yes, He has no problem blessing us but this is not why he came. I was teaching a Bible story the other day to a group of young handicapped adults and talking about the wise men bringing gifts to baby Jesus and I stopped and asked them, “what can we bring Jesus now” and a young girl immediately said – OUR LOVE! This was very precious and brought a tear to my eye and I thought – do we really understand this? Do I really believe that the item He wants more than anything is the very thing that I do not want to give to Him? Our “will” is mankind’s prized possession because it allows us to do whatever we want and the gifts the Magi laid at His crib represent this most valuable sacrifice. He does not need my gold – He wants me. Not just my works – He wants me to walk in faith and give Him all of my heart, strength and soul. He proved His love by abandoning His will…and is still waiting for wise men and women to bow before Him with the “gift” of submission. Amen.

 

ALLOWING GOD TO MARKET AND ENDORSE US

DRAWING NEAR – PART 22 – 12/20/2015

ALLOWING GOD TO MARKET AND ENDORSE US

 

Have you ever known someone who had a ministry and this was all they wanted to talk about? These are the ones that are constantly promoting what they have done and what God has blessed them with until they actually (unintentionally) begin to drive even their friends away. You would think that Christians would always be excited about anyone that has anything to do with Jesus and never grow tired of ministry related information but that is NOT the case. Why? Well, for one reason we humans are not always in “ministry mode” or in other words it is rare to find someone constantly focused on the spiritual world. I admit the consistency of walking in His Spirit is difficult because there are so many other things to think about and many are not tuned in to God’s “station” all the time. Spiritual awareness will grow stronger if any of us are really determined to have our minds “transformed” but change as you know is very difficult to say the least. It is true that Christians are supposed to ABIDE in Him as a student learning how to be sensitive to His Holy Spirit but we all have a tendency to drift away into our old familiar carnal attitude and when we become satisfied with this lifestyle, we are not as joyful about the Lord and especially about what anyone is doing for Him. I am sure that if we had been with Jesus when He walked the earth, we would have witnessed a person that was always spiritually focused and enthused about serving His Father. Within His everyday life there was always a discernment that provided a zeal and wisdom to include a spiritual lesson in all that He encountered and isn’t this exactly the goal we are to be pressing toward?

I want to be honest and say this past summer I have felt like the kid who was given a brand new bicycle under the Christmas tree. (Actually, I remember receiving a bicycle one year that was so awesome that when I got out on the street with it, every kid in my neighborhood was speechless. It was called the “Cobra” and had so many fancy features that it felt like I was riding in the clouds.) Well, as most of you know, I recently published a book called, “A Lifestyle of Worship” and for me this has been one of the most exciting accomplishments of my life. I invested a year and a half of my heart and soul into this project and to be honest throughout the process I was not entirely positive I would have the privilege to produce it – but the Lord allowed it. It was a considerable amount of money and I just wanted to make sure that it was a quality resource for His glory. I have written 6 other books that are in manuscript form but chose to release a spiritual topic that is associated with music and God’s presence which both are very near and dear to my heart. This is all “happy land” for me in my little world, but this has also been a bitter-sweet experience as I find myself turning into the person that I mentioned in the beginning of this letter. I am having an awkward time knowing when to mention the book and when to keep silent. This is not really anything new to me as I have experienced this in a similar way in the past because I have been writing and recording music for 30 years. So, when I am talking with people and they want to know what I have done and what is going on in my life, I am sometimes not sure whether to tell them I worked in industrial freight shipping – or my ministry labors. Of course I want to say, “I have just written a book” but then it sounds like I am trying to sell them a copy. This is a huge turn-off and awkward to people who do not want it. Most of the time people fail to understand that you are only proud of it and are excited as they are only trying to figure out a way to change the subject. If I become embarrassed or ashamed to mention it, then my joy is turned to sorrow and discouragement because of the old familiar emotions of rejection.

When God helps us create something we are thrilled and proud of it and I believe it is normal to want everyone to see it and know about it. I am always wondering how will anyone know you have written a book if you do not mention it? But, I also am reminded that something like this may fall into the category of divine appointment instead of fleshly enthusiasm. I recently went to a Dallas Holm concert (yes I am that old) and I recognized that he is very proud of the music he has written and the awards he has been given (because he talked about it). He is a veteran in the Christian music business and his success has given him a little swagger in the fact that he is widely known among many older Christians. Actually, he was influential in my music ministry back in the early to mid-eighties because I was playing his songs. I tried to speak with him the other night and it seemed he was much more interested in loading his truck than he was to stop and talk with me but anyway, I signed a copy of my book and gave it to him as I tried to squeeze in a serious “thank you” for his ministry. Later on, I was thinking about the encounter and how important it is to learn how to have discernment and sincerity if we are to be an effective Christian. I guess he was rushing out of there to go to a restaurant and I was trying to make a contact with someone that I used to look up to and this brief encounter reminded me of two ships passing in the night. We were two individuals involved in ministry and yet not really being able to connect personally. I realize we are not to compromise or be ashamed of what God is doing in our life but don’t you think sticking Him in front of everyone’s face constantly may be something we need to be LED by His Spirit about? Trying to shove our visions and accomplishments down someone’s throat even if it is about Jesus may run people off before we have a chance to let them know who we are. Wouldn’t it be much better to listen to Him for divine appointments than be a bull (preacher) in a china shop? I know we have zeal for the Lord and that is wonderful, but are we proud of Him or what we have done for Him? I believe if we have the genuine love and compassion of God operating in us, people will sense His presence and be drawn to HIS life and light – not ours. When we come right down to it, the ministry is not really about us, it is about Him! If serving ever becomes about us then we are using His divine platform as an opportunity to steal a part of His glory. I have no intention of bringing condemnation on anyone or even myself, but just wanting to make sure that I have my heart in the right place not only so that people will stop rolling their eyes and running away when they see me coming but that I might be representing Christ the way I am supposed to be. I remember long ago, there was a person that was close to me and they were really aggressive with the gospel which did not bother me but everyone else treated him like he had the plague. With everything from long and drawn out repentance filled prayers at special occasions to writing letters to family members and certain individuals, urging them to repent and the realities of hell along with pleading for them to receive Jesus as their Savior, to say the least he was the victim of much animosity and resentment. Yes, it is absolutely true that he struggled with consistency like we all do in his Christian walk and he had his own battles with demons that tortured him and caused him to be a less than desirable witness however, I believe the point that I received from the entire situation is that our greatest testimony is how we LIVE more than what we SAY! Our message needs to go along with our lifestyle or it loses its power. The most spiritual person you can think of in this world would not have an ounce of respect if they did not live what they believe. People are drawn to revivals, healing services and preachers and singers that are generating an anointing from heaven because they trust that God is truly with these servants and they are convinced they are practicing what they are preaching. If they discovered these people were phonies no one would listen to them! For example, Billy Graham has always been trusted because he proved throughout his life that he is a decent man and not someone that is only in it for the money or fame. He is not perfect, but it is widely accepted that he tried to do the best he could and remained focused on “love” the basic simple message of the gospel.

This is not to say that only successful people are filled with God because sadly the masses cannot tell the difference between a spiritual person and their own feelings. May I remind everyone (including myself) there are many wealthy and popular ministers and singers that are “talented” but not led by God. On the other hand there are many pastors and servants of God that are truly anointed and sowing the absolute truth of God’s Word that are relatively unknown. If you have even been discouraged because you thought that no one wanted to hear your ministry and you have wondered if the Lord has even called you – this is NOT how God sees you. In the context of the passage found in Matthew 19:29-30, the phrase “first will be last and the last will be first” does NOT mean one person gains MORE honor or respect than another in God’s kingdom. In chapter 20 He also uses the same phrase as He tells the story of those who joined the work of the Lord at different times in their lives and yet He gives them ALL the equal gift of eternal life. If He tells you to share your heart with 10 people and you obey Him – He is very pleased with you and will reward you according to your love and the surrendering your will. If He tells someone else to share their heart with a million people and they do the same thing, is He not pleased equally with both? Be encouraged this day – God will NOT forget you and your labors are NOT in vain. So, as I have been trying to figure out whether to keep my books under the bed and wait for Him to endorse them or take the initiative of bringing them out everywhere I go like “show and tell” at school, I just want to have a pure heart in all of it. I do not want the joy of producing a book to be lowered down into something that is like I am selling a vacuum cleaner. I just want to contribute something for His Kingdom that is an encouragement like all the other resources that God is using in this world. It is the Lord that holds the keys to every locked door and He is not keeping them closed because He does not want us to succeed – He is just waiting for us to listen and obey. I am always thinking, Lord if you do not hurry I will be so old that it will not matter! But you know, His ways are perfect, He is always good and always on time. Amen.

 

The Ostrich attitude

DRAWING NEAR – PART 21   12/13/2015

THE OSTRICH ATTITUDE

 

It is interesting to some, how unique and diverse the human personality is among us. We are all similar but there definitely differences in the way our brains are wired. For example, I was talking to a young man the other day that was from Singapore and the topic of emotions came up and I asked if he was an emotional person. He said no and that hardly anything moved him to tears as it seemed that deeply moving events were handled in more of a business manner than with upsetting and unstable “feelings.” I later learned this is common with many from the Asian culture for several different reasons including being taught that revealing emotions is a sign of weakness. On the other hand, I am very emotional and it does not take but a glimpse of any type of suffering and my eyes are welling up with tears. These types of differences within our psyche are also observed within the world of topics we are passionate about and the amount of time we spend researching facts about them. Think about all of the types of professions in the world and how many have spent their lives trying to become “experts” by gathering as much knowledge as they can about the subject. Many people accrue specific things while others study about certain civilizations, wars or whatever it might be. Others may collect pottery, guns, paintings, clocks, maps, books, art, etc… and they search everywhere they can to find out where and when it was made and who was the one who created it. Then of course there are some that do not care about anything and only function in a small and simple existence of breathing and eating while watching life pass by. Nonetheless, it is common for all humans to form their opinions and worldviews according to how “deep” they are willing to discover facts and invest serious research to KNOW why and what they believe. This brings us to our point; what difference does it make how much we know – if we are not willing to let go of our “habitual” trespasses?

It is true, that many people “think” they are scholars in the religious world. One reason is because they have sit in a church pew for 50 years and listened to thousands of sermons and teachings of other peoples interpretations. This does not count as personal wisdom no matter how well the speeches were presented because divine illumination is a gift within a personal relationship with God and receiving holy truth directly from Him. Teachers can help “lead” us and inspire us to research the scriptures on our own, but the church was never intended to spoon feed the lazy. It is not only dangerous to accept someone else’s opinions but we are missing the vital aspect of our spiritual intimacy between us and God. Many have never been taught to pray, study or worship on their own and this is the why we have such an anemic church today. Instead of studying themselves, the average Christian takes the easy road and listens to someone else. Instead of worshipping God on their own, they “listen” to a worship CD. Instead of making prayer our highest priority, we bow our head in church and believe that hearing someone else pray is counted toward our quota for the week. Shame on us! Humans have a built-in nature that comes standard in all makes and models which is seldom talked about. It is an “office” within the conscience that has the typical filing cabinets, desk and papers strewn around and one of those tucked and pleated chairs. The person sitting in the chair is Mr. Will and he is usually upset, anxious, stressed and overworked because he has been in charge and realizes it is up to him to singlehandedly make all the decisions within the individual. Mr. Will is a pretty sharp character as he watches and analyzes everything that is seen and heard. This is how he processes what he believes and what he disregards as meaningless. Not only is he constantly trying to sort out information but he is also on guard for opportunities to take advantage of situations of course for the benefit and success of the entire “organization.” When it comes to spiritual wisdom, Mr. Will is not really that interested especially if it involves any type of personal sacrifice because in his view this is very uncomfortable and basically unnecessary. Mr. Will feels much more safe and relaxed around good old harmless traditionalism and can tolerate seemingly innocent rituals and ceremonies that have been handed down through the centuries if need be. He considers logic and common sense a more practical way to live and actually deep down believes that religious people are weak and silly. Besides, there are so many other more crucial things to do with our time!

For those of you that have spent years studying the Bible trying to learn about God, you can relate to what I am saying about becoming “more aware” and knowledgeable with the subject. There are levels of research for example; some people just want to read the Bible and nothing else. They really do not comprehend much of it but they do receive a sense of spiritual peace by just reading it. Some may just be interested in certain topics such as eschatology and all the prophetic mysteries connected with the end of days. Others try to find as many solid resource materials as they can to help them gain a more in-depth understanding of the background and historical accounts of facts relating to the text. Still others go further and study ancient civilizations and other religions to see the bigger picture of how God’s Word and the Christian faith has influenced the world and how differing ideas have been intermingled within what we now have accepted as holy. With all of the seeking and interest for the absolute truth, we can agree that the more we learn the more sensitive we are about the way we live and the more accountable we are to God. One of the more profound revelations of truth is how sobering it is to realize that Mr. Will lives in us. We are the one sitting behind the desk making decisions every moment to either ignore God’s voice or submit and allow Him to lead us. This is very important if we are to ever come to the place where we actually walk in His Spirit. In closing, I just want to say that it is difficult to do what God is requiring us to do. This is exactly why hardly anyone is doing it! It is one thing to NOT be aware or comprehend God’s desires for us but it is completely another issue when we know and refuse to change. The truth is always offensive to Mr. Will however, it is even MORE offensive to God to continue sinning even when we have learned it is wrong. A crucial part of our holiness and purity is understanding what is keeping us from God’s presence – and having the courage to walk away from it. Are you willing to sacrifice what you love in order to make Jesus your FIRST love? Again the spotlight is on Mr. Will – we can put our head in the sand and DENY God’s holy truth – or we can embrace it and allow it to set us free.

Standing at the edge of eternity

DRAWING NEAR – PART 20    12/6/2015

STANDING AT THE EDGE OF ETERNITY

My wife and I went to the mall over the weekend, and of course the massive crowds were hustling and bustling like always. When the holiday season comes around, it brings a higher volume of consumers and there always seems to be more of a chaotic sense of anxiety and stress – which I try to avoid. I found myself drifting away in my thoughts as I watched the people and began to wonder how many know the Lord and how many are lost and on their way to an eternity without Him. We were strolling down the main walkways and there are many different little small businesses in the “medians” that try to offer you samples of certain products (which I find annoying) as they hope you will stop and purchase from them. We always just wave them off and keep walking and it dawned to me – this is how the world reacts to the gospel. Most everyone has the Word of God available to them at any time, with churches on every corner, television, radio, literature, and internet and so on…but they do NOT want Him just like we are not interested in the everyday things that we turn away from. The lost is being given the GRACE and mercy of God each moment because of His great love and He is trying to reach out to them and tell them what He has provided to save them from hell – but they walk away and wave Him off like He is peddling a trinket. Most people worship pleasure, money and possessions and if the offer does not have anything to do with materialism and self-gratification they are usually not interested. May the Lord help us! If we ever lose our burden for the lost – we have lost the purpose of our mission! Lukewarmness is measured with our level of love and concern for souls.

Our “first love” is our personal intimacy with Jesus (Revelation 2:4) and our second love is the burden and compassion for a lost and dying world (Matthew 22: 37-40). When a congregation becomes lifeless and empty, it is because the people have drifted far away from the fire of these two priorities. If any Christian and/or church spends more time focusing on itself than the needs of others, they have abandoned the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. I have personally turned to the community with my ministry because I grew weary preaching to the choir. It seems the meaning of church loses its point if all that happens is a couple of people conducting a program and the rest of the people participate in a social gathering. For heaven’s sake – what about all of the people in the city that need Jesus? What about the sick and dying in the hospitals, the ones in jail and prison, single mothers that need help, the children, nursing homes, the physically and mentally handicapped, the poor and desperately needy? It seems the “normal” attitude is to be proudly content with attending a church service and yet NOT feeling an obligation or any type of spiritual responsibility until the next time they return. I want to say very candidly; this is a dark spiritual attitude. Now wait just a minute brother! Brother, we don’t have a minute to wait. Until we begin to address the problems of how twisted our religious ideas have become and be willing to admit what is happening, the religious masses will continue feeling a false sense of spiritual security and proceed with business as usual. Spiritual deception is from the dark side and as we have said many times before – Satan will do anything to keep God’s people from demonstrating their faith by their works. Attending a politically correct church service does NOT alarm the devil in any way. It is only when an individual receives the revelation of truth and begins to manifest God’s Word into ACTION that causes the kingdom of darkness to fear. As long as the church crowd is comfortable, satisfied and cozy and NOT realizing or fulfilling their spiritual accountability, then the enemy has nothing to worry about. The pastor should be busy trying to hear from God so that he can relay the message from heaven. Those who declare to be God’s warriors are called to do the “WORK” of the ministry because each individual remnant disciple is a complete representation of God’s Kingdom, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and commissioned with the callings, gifts, and anointing’s to be “in service” 24/7. Sadly, members want to be “served” as a patron and enjoy being the spectator – what a pitiful perspective.

If only the world wanted to know God, they would discover a Savior that is ready and willing to forgive them from their sin and adopt them into His family. If only they would stop for a moment and seriously consider this JESUS who came into the world to rescue them and give Himself as a LIFELINE for them to grab hold of in the midst of a dark and stormy sea. People are not as ignorant about gospel as one might think as many of them know the Lord is pursuing them and they realize down in their heart they are running away but they have given the reigns over to their will and allowed their human nature to have the power and authority to choose what to let go of and what to hold onto. We all walk along the edge of eternity everyday but at least those who are living IN CHRIST have the hope and confidence of eternal life. If only the lost   would pause and consider they are only a breath, only a heart-beat away from eternal death. This is not a scare tactic or a depressing downer – it is one of the most powerful realities that is intended to keep us sober, alert and humble in the fear and reverence of our Maker. Within the inner chambers of every human conscience there is a courtroom where cases are debated each moment between the prosecutor and defense with an “elected” judge that goes through the motions of making critical decisions. Did you notice I said “every” person? The courtroom scenario is not just happening within the lost person on whether or not they are going to accept Jesus as their Savior – it is going on within the Christian about whether or not they are going to accept Him as their LORD. Selah. We talk about spiritual warfare like it is always the devil attacking us and making our life difficult but we will never face a more fierce and ruthless enemy than our own carnal will! It is easy to fall into the mindset that the poor lost world is refusing to allow the Messiah entrance into their life and rule as the King of their heart, when many in the church are doing the same thing. Hmmm…Being “saved” means more than being a church member.

As the New Year is quickly approaching, it is a good idea for us to focus on how we are living and the decisions we are planning. Nothing is more important than to be prepared for the return of Yeshuah Messiah! Are we awake and actively involved with what He is saying for us to do? Are we submitting to where He is leading us? If not – this is the sin of rebellion! If Jehovah Yahweh is convicting your heart about making drastic changes in the way you are living, I promise these choices will be argued in the courtroom of your conscience. Will there be enough evidence to prove that we are serious about following Him all the way? And if our will is allowed to win the verdict, are we prepared to face the Almighty and explain why we refused to do what He said? Telling God that I did NOT want to follow Him and yet expecting Him to be pleased with me is an eye opening definition of deception. I personally know individuals that have made these life changing decisions and are in the process of preparing for His return and they can testify there is sacrifice with obedience. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, here I am; send me (Isaiah 6:8).

Of course no one wants to suffer loss and this is one of the very reasons why the church has become a distorted and dysfunctional organization. When we speak of the “world” or something that is “worldly” we are saying this is a realm where fleshly emotions govern the mind and that follows a system that is led by the power of humanistic values. Being secular is usually regarded as someone that is not involved in religious ideals but rather operates in the environment of intellect and science. When we talk about people that have tried to abandon the carnal way of living and have become determined to be more “spiritual” we are referring to those who are striving to follow Jesus no matter what the cost. These are families that are home schooling, others are trying to be self-sustaining by coming off the power grid, moving out into the country and growing their own food and most importantly pulling away from the enticements and temptations of the default system. What has this cost? Many are being persecuted for their faith and have been called “crazy” even by their own families. They are commonly labeled as extreme fanatics that have lost all common sense and are now blinded by a serious mental illness. You see, there is a path well-traveled by the masses, a safe and secure view that most everyone takes. It is the easy road of comfort and convenience because it has no briars or thorns, ditches or obstacles. Very few desire to step into the forest with a machete and follow the still small voice of God into places they have never been and challenges they have never faced. This is the difference between an empty religious philosophy and becoming a remnant disciple of Jesus.

“Ye are children of LIGHT, and the children of the DAY: we are NOT of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us NOT sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us who are of the day, be SOBER, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation” (I Thessalonians 5:4-8). We notice in the above passage that the ones who “choose” to live in the holy of holies are able to see much clearer and are recognized by the Lord as the children of the light. The reason why the masses consider us as crazy is because we are operating in a completely different mindset and spiritual identity. The bride is preparing for the coming of Jesus Christ and following HIS directions – while the lost world is living in a hypnotic trance and following Satan. This is why our Father is saying the difference should be like DAY and NIGHT! I believe a strong point here is to understand if there is NOT a noticeable separation between us and the world – something is seriously wrong. The danger is the way we see our life may be completely different from the way He sees us. Willingly submitting our life according to His perfect will – proves how much we truly love Him. All praise and glory to God forever!

WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE EVERY DAY

DRAWING NEAR – PART 19

WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE EVERY DAY

 

It is easy to see there are many things going on in the world that gives us a reason to be concerned. Matthew 24 allows us to see that Jesus prophesied the future and is aware that we are anxious. Of course He realizes we are concerned and as we try to figure out what to do in preparation for what is coming, we desperately need to have a clear mind and a clean heart. “And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes in many places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24: 5-8) We watch the news and listen to what is happening, but I just want to say with confidence that God is not surprised or shocked. He has always known about all that is going on and all is NOT lost. The word of the Lord for us this day is that God is NOT worried or afraid and neither should we! How easy it is to become so caught up in the dangers and anxieties and what WE are going to do to survive that we do not pay attention to those around us. Jesus loves the world and has a burden for the lost – and this is also the mindset we should have. We are to not be distracted by the “bombs and bullets” so to speak but to remain focused on the mission at hand. I am reminded of the old TV show “M.A.S.H.” when the incoming wounded would be brought in and the emergency surgeries would be performed while the sound of rockets were exploding all around them. They did not run and hide but were “concentrating” on what they needed to do to save others. This is our calling right now – not to spend our time railing against the system but to be a courageous soldier in the midst of spiritual warfare and help those who are wounded and afraid. It’s not about how much we can accumulate or spend every minute soaking up the pleasures and abundance we have been given. It’s about keeping a clear head and a clean heart so that we can KNOW what God is saying and be prepared to do it – whatever it is! The more we love others – the more we will pray for them and the more involved we will become with God’s specific will.

Matthew chapter 24 is such a “packed” series of passages and gives us much spiritual insight as to what is coming in these last days. It talks about severe persecution for God’s people, the great falling away from the faith, the anti-christ, the tribulation, the return of Christ and the judgment of all who did not heed the warnings to be faithful and obedient. Of course the enemy is working hard to tell the younger generations these are all fairy tales and superstitions that are not based on fact. The devil is leading a global campaign to discredit God’s Word and make it seem that only an uneducated fool would actually believe such fictional literature. I say to you this day that EVERY word of God’s promises are true and will come to pass exactly as The Almighty has declared! And it is the day and the hour for all of His children to fall on their knees and cry out to Him! Verses 21 and 22 are very serious reminders of how this will not be a time of playing around nor having a half-hearted devotion to Christ. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor shall ever be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elects sake those days shall be shortened.” Violence is increasing and we cannot imagine how much worse it will be “if or when” there becomes a power outage along with a probable financial collapse. I heard today that a waitress asked a man to put out his cigarette in a restaurant and the man pulled a gun a shot her in the head. Another story a couple of days ago reported where a family moved to another state because the man had accepted a position of pastor for a church. 2 men watched him leave and came into his house and killed his pregnant wife – taking an ATM card (?). No value for human life – no sensitivity or conscience. Many are trying to block out the news as a way to escape how bad it is becoming but let us make sure we are also not blocking out our call to pray.

There are still a few good people in the world and these individuals are very serious about their relationship with God and are serving Him. There are prayers being sent up by those who still have faith in God and who trust in His promises – and He will be faithful to their cries. It is true, that it is possible to find ourselves being surrounded and overwhelmed by so much negativity, that we forget that everything and everyone is NOT bad. The old saying is definitely worth repeating, “The bad things are getting worse but the good things are getting better!” What is getting better brother? I am reminded of the old hymn, “Every day with Jesus – is sweeter than the day before; every day with Jesus – I love Him more and more. Jesus saves and keeps me –
and He’s the one I’m waiting for; every day with Jesus – is sweeter than the day before.”
Isn’t that a wonderful encouragement? Amen! One question I hear all the time is, “WHAT CAN WE DO?” Well, no matter where we are or what we are going through – we can pray, study and worship our King! We can spend every moment talking with Jesus and telling Him all that we are concerned about. Communicating with Christ through the Holy Spirit is physically the easiest act we can do – but mentally and spiritually it will be our most difficult challenge. Why? Because the enemy of our soul does NOT want FAITH to be generated from our spirit to our heavenly Father. The devil realizes this will RELEASE the POWER and AUTHORITY of God to bring hope and love into circumstances and creates miracles within all types of needs and situations!

We have said that we cannot change the world’s system and have not really been called to do that. We also cannot change a person’s heart because each of us is responsible for our own actions. We can help others, talk with them and pray for them but we have to turn them over to Jesus. We have talked about spending time with the Lord and how this is our highest priority, but in closing, I want to mention another thought that is associated with what we can do – we CAN exercise and demonstrate our faith by our works! We CAN rise in the morning and ask God to not only show us who and what to pray for that day – but for a divine appointment to SAY something and DO something so they might be reminded that God loves and cares about them. In this small way – we CAN make a difference in the world EVERY DAY for His glory! “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26).

 

DRIFTING AWAY FROM THE MISSION

DRAWING NEAR – PART 18

DRIFTING AWAY FROM THE MISSION

 

If Christians are to be a rising force of power and influence and make a stand for God’s truth, we will need to take our studies and training seriously. Yes, it is true – we must be trained! What do you mean brother? The system of the world has learned how to uphold and represent the message of their king Satan and the philosophies of humanism and the religious worldviews that are slowly being enforced upon the masses are not a friendly influence. This dark agenda is being carefully planned from the pits of hell to win-over the hearts of the lost and keep them occupied away from God until they die and then dreadfully discover they have been duped. There is nothing more discouraging than for a Christian to be “un-informed” about what they believe or even worse living as if they do not care. I was speaking with a dear saint the other day about these issues and they mentioned that it’s always better to not stir up strife so that everyone can be happy. I responded by saying that I just needed to know for sure if these pagan practices were offensive to God or if He did not care. If He does not care, then we can all relax and not worry about it – if He DOES care, then we need to repent and obey! No partial obedience, no middle of the road compromises – we just need to make up our minds how much we love Him and how close we want to be with Him. Yes, it will be painful as the true Christians know they will be targeted as the enemy and faced with persecution because the worldviews of this “system” are in direct contrast with the Bible. There was a time when politics and spiritual convictions were closer together, meaning that candidates and the voters were both aware of Christian values and how important it is to at least acknowledge God in the everyday affairs of life. Sadly, in the last 75 years, we have seen a swing toward mass rebellion where a treacherous demonic spirit of humanism has gained popularity through public education and a general falling away from Biblical principles. So today we find ourselves as followers of Jesus in a battle that I believe we are not sure how to fight. What do you mean? On one hand, we are being persuaded by our instincts and encouraged by our fellow comrades to take a fearless stand for God and against this coming New World Order. I do believe we will need to stand and not compromise in our personal convictions however, on the other hand let us be careful that we do not become so emotionally drawn into politics and aggressive in social issues that we forget about our spiritual witness. Just because we feel that we should get involved with something does not mean that Christ has specifically told us to do it. Well brother, we should always jump in and fight against the darkness and not worry about anything but the cause! This sounds noble and logical but let us remember that even God Himself is NOT stepping into many of these issues and destroying the works of darkness. He is allowing the world to destroy itself and has given free-will to choose and obey whom and what they love. We cannot change the hearts of those who have committed themselves to the devil and even if we fight against them and win, this does not mean they will not immediately re-group with even more hatred against us and a new plan for an even stronger attack. My point is that only God can change a heart and re-direct a conscience as we have not been called to restructure the world but rather to simply serve Christ.

It is good to understand this important truth and it is not a negative confession but rather accepting reality; “the world without Jesus is doomed and many hearts have become so cold and hard they will not be changed or saved.” Brother that is so depressing! Of course it is sobering and causes people to turn down the music and step away from the sausage balls and become serious, but to those who know the Bible, this is an issue that is known and has been an agonizing part of their burdens with lost family and friends for a long time. The end of the world is laid out clearly and if we study human behavior within the entire Word of God, we see that people in general are wicked, depraved creatures and hopelessly lost without the supernatural intervention of God’s mercy and grace. In order for anyone to be spiritually born-again into Christ, there has to be one of the greatest miracles in heaven and earth manifested within the spirit that literally changes the mind, the conscience and the eternal destiny for that individual. Allow me to say that this does not legitimately happen very often and when it does there is tremendous rejoicing in heaven. I personally believe the teaching of salvation has become distorted and its standards have been lowered in order to make everyone feel they are eternally secure. With churches handing out free passes to heaven like tickets to a carnival, it is no wonder why there are many who are deceived. If we believe that Satan is not involved with trying to manipulate the emotions of mankind through a false religious system, we are living in a fantasy world of dangerous denial. There is no doubt a false security of salvation that has mingled in with the truth exactly like the parable that described how the enemy came at night sowed tares among the wheat. We think of the devil only operating in the world of casinos and parties, alcohol, violence, drugs and sex but we hardly ever consider that he is actively involved with religion and politics. There is no doubt that religion and politics are “two peas in a pod” because their agenda always includes earthly power and authority. The problem with these two highly emotional driven passions is how they have left the deepest and widest trail of blood upon the history of the earth. Does this sound like the message of Christ for His followers to carry out? Christ was not trying to establish a new government – He spoke truth because it is the only power than can save a soul. Deception means blindness and when Jesus preached the gospel some were saved while others became angry and filled with hatred – and then they killed Him.

“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore COME OUT from among them, and BE YE SEPARATE, saith the Lord, and TOUCH NOT the unclean thing and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:17)

So, today I am looking in the mirror and asking myself; how much am I willing to compromise with religion and politics? What do you mean brother; we are not to compromise AT ALL! OK, I know that sounds like a real trooper but I do not think very many actually have a clue to what I am talking about. You see, most of us are already compromising because we are following a mixed bag of belief systems and even though the masses do not realize what they are doing, to just be painfully honest, they also do NOT really care! There are several “camps” of spiritual thought and one is the group that just walks through life quietly and keeps to themselves. They have opinions but refuse to worry about others because they are convinced they can do nothing to change the way things are. These are the ones that get up in the morning, rush to work, make their own independent decisions about everything throughout the day and come home at night and watch TV until they fall asleep. Ah, but you say this is the lost crowd right? No, I am talking about religious people who call themselves knowledgeable Christians. Brother, we are doing the best we can and besides, what can I do about what everyone else thinks and does? I do not have time to worry about anyone else because it’s all I can do to keep my personal affairs in order. I’m saved but I’m also tired and as far as I’m concerned the world will just need to figure it out on their own. Everyone does what they want and that’s on them! Is this the attitude of the average Christian? Probably, then why are we shocked to realize why the organized church system has a cold and calloused atmosphere that feels like going to the grocery store? Why are we upset to discover that people all around us are hard and uncaring without compassion? We must NOT allow selfishness to cause us to drift away the “holy” vision and meaning of life.

The pendulum also swings the other way with another spiritual camp that believes we are to fearlessly step into the arena with every legal decision and social issue that we disagree with and FIGHT until we secure our opinions and interpretations of justice. This group becomes involved with the political system and tries to infiltrate and defeat the darkness with their own clever ideas, enthusiasm and energy for what they believe is God’s way. They are convinced that their interpretation of good can overcome evil and everyone that does not fight with them is actually allowing the world to destroy itself and ruin everything that is good and sacred. They become so drawn into combat they become distracted from listening to the Holy Spirit because they are determined to defeat the enemy and win their cause. It is good to be passionate about what is right but what many have not recognized is that politics is the devils arena and he is the temporary adversary and ruler of this worlds system. When you step onto his turf and fight on his playing field you have lowered your standards in order to do battle using the carnal weapons of persuasion that can become dirty, ugly and divisive. Many rail angrily against taxes, against the president and every issue that is being that is a part of our everyday concern for the future of this nation as though they would gladly blow away anyone who disagrees. They portray themselves as the biggest supporters of military destruction and killing and big corporations and believe that patriotism is the same as being a remnant disciple of Jesus Christ! Just listen to them talk. It is about as far from the Almighty as you can possibly imagine and the Lord does NOT want us to be a part of it. Why? Because Christians are to be known for their mercy and forgiveness – NOT for their tendency to crush those that disagree with them. Is this not true? “Dear God, help us to realize that one reason why the world hates us and sees us as the enemy is because we are no longer seen as being concerned for the souls of the lost or walking in the message of LOVE.”

NEGOTIATING A BALANCE WITH GOD

DRAWING NEAR – PART 17

NEGOTIATING A BALANCE WITH GOD

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).

I am told on a regular basis, “Write something that makes us feel good instead of depressing information that upsets us.” I understand perfectly. We want to live in a happy bubble where we only read and watch messages that allow us to relax and enjoy life. However, being positive all the time is NOT the issue here, it actually has much to do with where we are IN Christ. You see, we should love and seek truth because God IS true, but truth is not always going to be something we want to hear. Discovering that we need an operation is “discouraging news” but could end up saving us! Amen! Humanity has always been open minded and excited to confuse evil with good because it tries to cloud and excuse our guilt. Adam and Eve were the original pioneers of agreeing with Satan and adopted justification to cover their disobedience. Since then, this world has drifted so far from shore, it can hardly see land and sadly is hardly alarmed. Is it any surprise that the world cannot sense the coming danger and has no idea where they are going? When the compass of God’s absolute truth is thrown overboard and direction is left up to those who are spiritually blind – what can be expected? If evil were not made to appear good, there would be no such thing as temptation or deception and when people stop caring about right and wrong we can guarantee that society (regardless of titles or affiliations) is destined for collapse.

A word I hear quite often is “balance” and in fact, I use it myself but I have found the deeper we go with God, the more challenges we face with how we should live and many of these decisions involve compromise. If we study with the intention of learning our responsibilities to the Lord, we will discover amazing demands from Him that will require us to make painful choices as to what we should let go of and what we need to hold onto – without carnal justification. We do not hear this taught often but God most of the time operates in black and white. What does this mean?  It means that though He is filled with mercy and long-suffering, He is also very strict when it comes to obedience. When He says, “do not look back” He means what He says (as turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt proves His point). We also pull out the word “legalism” in this day and age when the new style of Christianity is projecting an image of soft and easy with God being like a sympathetic old man that feels sorry for everyone and cuts a lot of slack. This really becomes noticeable especially at funerals where it seems that being generous toward others is an automatic induction into heaven. Ministers have evidently thought they should try and make everyone feel good so that when we sing, “When we ALL get to heaven” we can wipe a tear and pat each other on the back because we know that Jesus saves. For example, when I read a scripture that commands me to take up my cross and follow Him, I immediately try to figure out how I can do this and continue living the same. My flesh does not waste a moment trying to comfort and assure me that it already knows how to handle this without change, sacrifice or suffering even though the Lord has said being a remnant disciple will cost me everything. The flesh will continue to declare “I surrender ALL” but this does not really mean to give up everything but rather to do the best you can while trying to find a perfect “balance.” Ahhhhh…the word that fixes it all. This is usually a plan that will include going to church or at least reading a scripture every now and then while not allowing any type of consideration to relinquish control. We love to create our own destiny from our desires and visions and then cover it in a delicious chocolate coating called compromise. We avoid looking carefully at the meaning of balance because we do NOT want to see the gut-wrenching truth. In reality “balance” is attempting to reduce the authority of what has been demanded and in order to cut a deal with God we are going to somehow have to bring Him down on our level. (This is where we get the idea of creating Him in our own image). Here are the ugly meanings of what our human nature stands for when we try to find a balance between us being an extremist for Jesus verses adding a little religion to our established lifestyle – “Making concessions, a settlement of a dispute, making a deal, coming to a mutual understanding, finding a happy medium, accepting a lower standard, undermining, weak, bringing damage, to jeopardize, to dishonor and bring shame to the original purpose.” So, hopefully we are willing to see that relying on our logical explanation while trying to find a “middle ground” with the commands of God is really utilizing rebellion in order to keep us safe from spiritual accountability unto Him.

Modern social righteousness has always had its own ideas but now it has become a fierce enemy toward the acknowledgement of the Bible. Someone has said: “A wrong deed is right if the majority of people declare it not to be wrong” and with the falling away from the faith in God and the love for Him waxing cold, we can know our society is heading for moral disaster. We have watched our standards slowly shifting from year to year according to the popular vote! The many things that used to be offensive and taboo to the general public are now laughed about as they are celebrated every night as a part of our entertainment. Fornication, adultery, murder, abuse, nudity, shocking extreme violence and shameless profanity is glorified in our literature and films and the masses drink it up because they are thirsty for sin! However the reality about God’s demand for purity has not changed and His standards of holiness have not been lowered. God still calls immorality a sin, and the Bible says God is going to judge it all! Honesty was once the hallmark of character but it has been set aside with an “It’s all right if you don’t get caught” philosophy. Darkness sneaks its way into our lives by presenting a harmless appearance, such as television shows that portray distinguished families opening wine at every meal and then sipping on a glass of bourbon after dinner in the warmth of a well-appointed room. These images do not talk about the number of new alcoholics that are being made every day, nor of the problem of excessive drinking that is eating at the heart of our civilization. Of course it wouldn’t be in good taste to show “soap operas” of successful people that end up losing everything that began their drinking as a social habit but now find themselves captured by its influence. Young people who believe that having alcohol in every room of the house as a sign of prominence and higher intellectual standards are not seeing the other side of the picture – the tragic view of sin. We cannot play with vipers without eventually being bitten. “Woe to those who call evil good!” The young couples, though they have been warned of the psychological and spiritual downfalls of premarital or extramarital intimacies, dance with tragedy, all the while calling the experience heavenly. That which is sanctified holy within the marriage bond can become a torment within the soul to those who indulge in lust and perversion. How did the world come to this point where our values and convictions are confused? We were warned that Satan has laid deceptive snare traps and how dark evil temptations were lurking behind every corner for the purpose of destroying lives. But people do not want to listen because they think that pleasure brings happiness and immediate gratification naturally prompts us to think of evil as good. Someone has said: “As the occasion, so the behavior” as we have changed our moral code to fit our behavior instead of changing our behavior to submit to God’s moral code. We believe that whether it is legal or not, that no one has the right or power to stop us from doing as we please. Constant rebellion causes our conscience to be calloused and this deadening of our spiritual discernment is a result of our hunger for perversion which cannot be quenched. We no longer blush, are insulted, offended or shocked by the aggressive immorality that’s going on around about us which speaks volumes about our conscience. “Woe to those who call evil good!”

Do you believe that people know what is genuine and what is false? Are you feeling that many now do not know right from wrong and others that may have somewhat of a sense do not care? When something brings profit or pleasure to us we are inclined to call evil good, even though we know it is absolutely wrong. We hear people all the time say, “It was such a good deal and I just can’t stop myself.” These are excuses we manufacture to justify evil and call it good. Are we prepared to explain to God that we loved pleasure more than Him? We have heard many times, “Anyone that was in my position would have done the same thing.” This reminds me of how Adam blamed Eve for giving him the forbidden fruit. Remember the self-righteous Pharisee in Luke chapter 18 who stood and prayed: “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.” He could not see that he was as sinful as these other people he was criticizing. This hyper-spiritual Pharisee kidded himself into thinking he was something when in truth he was not any more holy than anyone else. This is an example of skilled rationalization that can become so deceptive that our lives may never change. However, the tax collector, whom the Pharisee looked upon as the most sinful of men, saw himself as he was, and said: “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus said, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” There were no religious church games in this or pride or being judgmental – it is just simple humble honesty. This is the attitude that will allow us to recognize right and wrong. We need to remember that if it were not for the grace of God that we would still be heading down the road of hopelessness. Saul before his conversion to Christ in Acts chapter 9, was convinced that Jesus was a terrible evil and was in charge of torturing and murdering the disciples of the Lord. But after he encountered Christ on the Damascus Road, he loved whom he had so fervently hated. Verse18 says, “there fell from his eyes something like scales.” He saw truth and was willing to submit his ALL to the one who gave all to him. He did NOT try to argue, negotiate a deal or compromise to find a BALANCE!

 

 

 

CHILDREN LOVE CANDY

DRAWING NEAR – PART 16

CHILDREN LOVE CANDY

 

Remnant disciples are definitely looking for the return of Christ and doing much study concerning end time events. There are many things we do not understand but God has been gracious to allow us to see the mysteries of how to live and prepare in the time we have left. Many will talk about how important it is to go to church and I am not saying this is entirely wrong but it is much more essential for us to spend quality time with God. To be honest, it can be distracting to go to church because many have substituted church – for God. We are the church and Christ is our head! In today’s churchianity, people are not generally friendly and in most cases we also are not really interested neither do we have the time or desire to become connected with others. Again, I am not saying this is good but just being truthful. I believe there are a few saints in the churches that are sincere about God and Jesus will lead them to discover the “truth.” What do you mean – don’t they already know the truth? The more a person learns about WHY they do the things they do, the more our eyes will be open to what He desires. There is a world of “facts” that explain all of our precious traditions that are very dear to our heart but actually they are very offensive to God. If we want to find out what they are, there is certainly not anything preventing us from knowing. The truth is, many really do not want to know WHY they believe the way we do – we just want to “manage” our life around what feels good to us.

I am sad to say that the majority of religious gatherings have become “artificial.” What am I saying? There is a plague of insincerity from love and concern to prayers and relationships. The only way I know how to explain it is to say that many are NOT walking in the presence of the Holy Spirit and this lukewarmness has caused many assemblies to become spiritually cold and uncaring. Are there saved people in these places? Yes, but I believe the true born-again followers of Christ are realizing the church is NOT their source for spiritual living and the only real lifeline to heaven is between them and Jesus. There are more and more churches being established where the leadership is embarrassed to preach against sin and are establishing the professional, technical “Hollywood” personality of political and social correctness as a new and improved identity so that everyone can be happy and comfortable. I personally do not want to go to a church where there is no conviction of sin or reverential fear for God because when the Bible is watered down it has no power to change anything or anyone. I want to be able to sense that God is leading the service and we are not just going through the motions of a dead program. What many do not realize is that when boards and committees begin to micro-manage the church and follow their own agenda instead of the urging of the Holy Spirit, that God slips out the back door and removes His presence. It is HIS church and He longs to be given the liberty to minister in POWER and anointing according to HIS will. When leaders are convinced their speeches and building programs are more important than Gods plans, we are allowed to witness the dark influencing spirits of religion that causes more harm than good. I have said many times before, there is NO substitute for developing an awareness of His presence and nothing (including going to church) is more important than spending quality time alone with Him.

We have been given a wonderful opportunity to have as much of God as we want and to draw as near to Him as we desire and yet along with all of this we also need to plan to have hardships and times of disappointment. This is not a negative confession but rather facing a reality that comes with standing for God’s truth. The world hates God and His Word and the Lord has promised that if we love Him and stand for Him, the world will also hate us. This is where many are deceived. The masses within the religious system observe the world and realize that lost sinners do not want anything to do with Christianity (and this is true). However, they fail to discern that most church members feel the same way! The congregations of today consist of multitudes of individuals that have already set limits to how much of Jesus they will endure. They do not mind to attend church but want everyone to stay out of their business when it comes to everyday life. They will listen to lectures about God’s grace and mercy but have already decided that other issues such as holiness and sanctification are not for them. They LOVE their sin and have no intention of sacrificing their life in order to be “filled” with God’s Spirit. If we want to see how serious people are about God, we can watch what a congregation will do when a pastor receives the revelation of what a remnant disciple has been called to be – and how they react when faced with dealing about God’s refining fire! Will the people stay and submit to the Spirits call to self-discipline or will they drift away and join another church where they tell humorous stories and talk about sports? One side of the gospel is preaching to the lost about what Jesus has done – the other side is preaching to the saints about what God is requiring from them! If we do not have a balance of the two-edged sword of God’s truth, we will end up with a carnal social club that focuses on eating and being entertained. Those who love God desire to hear truth no matter how excruciating. Those who are playing games will NOT endure sound doctrine and will turn away from the engrafted Word that is able to save their souls! Jesus said in John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” People are like little babies that want to be fed and changed so they can rest in comfort and peace. When we teach about growing up and manifesting our faith by our works, we notice the “day care” crowd becomes disgruntled and drifts away. It reminds me of the mother who calls out to her children, “who wants Brussels sprouts?” and the children run and hide. Then when bags of chocolate candy are brought in, the children seem to be mesmerized by dreams of being satisfied with delicious treats. May we keep pastors on our prayer list and remember they have been called to lead people TO God – not to imply that the church IS God. It is time for pastors to teach people how to find God on their own because one day we may not have a church to go to. May we pray for them to have strength and a willingness to fall on their face to the Lord and listen intently to the instructions from heaven.

Yielding our lives to our heavenly Father is a step toward being spiritually empowered and being determined to control our carnality is the path toward holiness. There are many purposes for the church and one is to help lead people into spiritual maturity but when it is converted into a candy store – everyone loses. Immature Christian leaders cause much discouragement and certainly do not lead anyone to Christ. When pastors become satisfied with just keeping people comfortable by serving cupcakes instead of “balanced” nutrition, the message becomes unhealthy and unable to sustain life. I am not saying that trying to manage a church is easy – because it is not! It is very difficult to keep everyone enthused and supportive no matter what you are doing but the more carnal the people are in their everyday life, the more static and heaviness the atmosphere of the church will have. The pastor may be trying to do everything he can but it is the attitude of the congregation that can be a positive force or become guilty of ruining a church! When the Bible speaks of how influential leaven is to the entire lump, we think of how a small hidden sin can affect the individual and hinder their relationship with the Lord. However, we can also realize that when church members bring sin into the camp, they contaminate the environment with dark lustful influences that are cleverly deceiving. I have personally witnessed this in a church and know how powerful this seduction can be. At first it was an attitude that presented itself as innocent and harmless but beneath the mask, the spirit was planting seeds of corruption for the purpose of changing the personality of the church into a sickening arrogance. The original vision was turned from those who needed Christ – to the glamor of egotism and wealth. These fruits of carnality grew strong until it choked out the original purpose of the assembly and replaced it with a hellish agenda of selfishness, lust, covetousness and pride. As the leadership (and pastor) imploded with greed, competition and arrogance along with instances of adultery and eventually the pastor divorcing his wife to marry the worship leader, the congregation dispersed and the building was sold. We do not need any more churches because the ones we have are filled with controlling spirits. What good would more churches do if the people are not responding to the voice of God? The great falling away is happening before our eyes. Let us seek out our own salvation with fear and trembling in order to anchor us from being swept out to sea. Amen.

WHY IS THERE A FAMINE OF TRUTH

DRAWING NEAR – PART 15

WHY IS THERE A FAMINE OF TRUTH?

Within our conversation lately about truth, some may think that I am being narrow-minded and that my stand for absolute truth is a sign that reveals a lack of love. I am not going to try and defend my level of agape love because to be honest I could definitely be filled with more charity. Nonetheless, I believe those who refuse to compromise God’s Word actually have a better comprehension of love than those who are convinced that we can believe whatever feels good is acceptable to the Lord. It is much easier to not be devoted to Jesus and just open a champagne bottle to celebrate how that everyone is OK and that God’s mercy will respect and endorse whatever is presented to Him than to become serious with our faith. Why? Because; the more serious we become about God – the more of our SIN will be exposed. Feeling good in our flesh is NOT why we are here! And doing whatever we want is NOT God’s idea of abundant life. Since taking up our cross and following Jesus demands that we forsake our fleshly desires and decisions, we can KNOW that the philosophies of men have nothing to do with the will of God.

The responsibility to Christ and reverence for what He requires fades away when heresy is embraced and this is exactly what we are facing in our world today. Compromise declares that even if individuals are blatantly wrong that God will overlook their idol worship and welcome them into His heaven as perfectly righteous. With this in mind, it is clear to see why today’s thinkers are convinced that it does not matter what anyone believes. However, this is NOT true! It matters greatly what and whom we put our trust in. Even though our religious world looks more like a Baskin and Robbins Ice cream shop, this does not mean that one flavor is the same as another. The concept of universal salvation (or ultimate reconciliation) is not a new idea but has been around a long time and is just a fantasy that attempts to take the responsibility away from seeking God and His truth. The reality of this nightmare is that it has already led multitudes into the gates of eternal separation from God. The evil insult to our Creator is to cast aside the great price that Jesus paid to redeem the lost and declare that man did not need this blood filled sacrifice to save their souls. This is blasphemy unto the holiness, mercy and compassion of a loving Savior that offers complete forgiveness and eternal salvation. If our Father accepted everyone no matter what they did or believed, the gift of the New Testament Blood Covenant would be reduced to an option which is why we must stand strong without wavering to declare that faith in Jesus Christ dying and resurrecting is the ONLY “approved” way to heaven.

We all agree that God is LOVE as first John chapter 4 clearly explains. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that does not love does not know God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (Verses 7-11) We notice the statement, “that we might live through HIM as the core of this beautiful passage because God’s love is the ONLY way we can truly love someone else. Since He is truth and has given us His gospel because He loves us, we must in turn give the world His truth because we truly love them. Selah. It is the same principal that is used when disciplining a child. He disciplines us because He loves us and we discipline them because of our great love for them! Sparing the rod proves how much we do NOT love them. Preaching and living God’s truth is our witness and testimony of how much we care about those who desperately need Jesus. To compromise truth so that others can be happy in their error is to be afraid and ashamed of God and to be cold and calloused toward those who live in a “lost” condition. So we realize there is a famine of truth as a consequence of a lack of love! We can clearly see that love is dissolving which is causing many to doubt that God is absolute truth. “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because sin shall abound, the love of many will wax cold” (Matthew 24:11-12). Truth and love go hand in hand and we know there is a serious problem with both. Those who care enough to stand for the truth are the pure in heart and shall see God.

There are many repercussions to this epidemic and one is the increasing daily stress for leaders to stand for truth and not compromise. Yes, we will disagree with small issues and not see eye to eye with everyone but when love decreases so does humility and patience. Many of the older generation are falling away and the younger ones have not been taught or experienced God’s presence. There is rising up an army of young thinkers that have accepted many lies that are contrary to the Bible and now they simply do not trust the traditional message. Slowly but surely truth has been challenged and chiseled away until the rebellious masses of opposition are being aggressive toward the fundamentals of the faith. Years ago, when an individual would come against the Bible, they could be reasoned with or would just leave but now the numbers are too massive to ignore. Two generations (Y and Z) are very determined to deliver the world from what they call “ignorance.” Many of these young leaders are not going to listen to anyone that declares the Word of God as the ultimate absolute truth for mankind because they have a new interpretation about most everything including fierce arguments against such topics as Jesus being the ONLY way to be saved and how truth is relative to whatever a person believes and many more religious, political and liberal social issues. So, the question remains; how many of us will “fold” under this pressure to change in order to maintain financial stability for the ministry? Pastors are not dumb or blind when it comes to dollars and sense, and they realize that in order to have a paycheck at the end of the week, they need to have members. An evangelist called me the other day from Ohio, and was upset because he said the churches in his area are allowing sin to take over the assemblies and no one has the courage to stand against it. When the majority of the congregation accepts the leaven, what can a pastor do? Continue to preach until everyone leaves…or leave himself? I would rather fellowship with a small group that is seeking God’s face than a multitude that is playing a religious game. The enemy hates the truth of God’s Word and is doing everything he can to bring a famine! It would seem that the Christians could recognize this but their failure to comprehend reveals how distant they are from the Holy Spirit.

WE MUST TRUST – BEFORE WE CAN FOLLOW

DRAWING NEAR – PART 14

WE MUST TRUST – BEFORE WE CAN FOLLOW

 

“Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth. That they all may be ONE; as Thou Father, art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be ONE in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me” (John 17:17, 21). “Thy Word is true from the beginning and every one of thy righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:160).

I really had not planned to carry this subject further but my personality is wired to pursue an issue until the understanding becomes more clear. The last two articles have stirred some controversy but it was not my intention to offend. If declaring that God’s Word is absolute truth offends anyone then the problem is not with the messenger but rather with the message. This is NOT about who on the earth is correct but rather we are pointing toward God as being the ONLY one who is! We notice in John the seventeenth chapter and verse 14 that Jesus is talking with the Father and says, “I have given them [the Lord’s followers] THY Word and the world has hated them because they are NOT of the world – even as I am not of the world.”  This is a very important verse because it identifies the “world” as those who do not see or comprehend spiritual truth. The lost have not been transformed into a new spirit that has the capability to receive understanding from God because they do not know Him. A lost person bases their faith on ideas that seem logical and usually build their life upon a philosophy that comes from this earthly realm. This “hatred” for Godly truth is imbedded within the depths of spiritual rebellion and is enmity against what is holy. All humans are born into this condition and quickly learn how to adapt to this environment that is perfectly suitable to this natural way of thinking. It is only when the Word of God is heard by the listener and it “ignites” the fire of spiritual conviction can the gospel penetrate the conscience. If this “stirring” is allowed to have its way, the power of God’s compassion will DRAW the lost soul into the light of His love and demand a decision to follow or turn away. This free-will principal that is a part of God’s divine reality is an opportunity to embrace His grace for those who are hopelessly lost.

I watched a documentary the other night that followed several individuals as they were seeking out their spiritual path. There was a young man that had searched for truth and studied a few religions before finally accepting Allah and the Muslim faith. He talked about the peace and happiness he now had within his mind and he was convinced that he had finally found the perfect path to spiritual contentment. He went to Mecca and took part in the Muslim ritual that is an obligation for every person who seriously follows the teachings Islam. The Hajj is associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Abraham. The idea is for every follower to walk around the tomb of Mohammad 7 times as a ceremonial tribute to their allegiance and devotion to Allah. This television program presented an aerial view of this ceremony and it was amazing how many people come there and believe this is God. This is a faith built upon a dead man where Christianity is a faith built upon an empty tomb and the only truth whose God rose from the dead and returned to heaven as the King of all kings. When we see something like this we cannot help but feel sorry for them and have a burden for the many million souls that are lost. I realize that many people do not like the sound of this because it sounds like a person is bragging that they are right and everyone else is wrong. However, allow me to clarify once again that I am not shining the spotlight on what an individual believes but rather who God IS! When I say there is but one true God and HE is absolute truth, this does not “glorify” His followers but rather they bow before Him in worship because of His great love and mercy on their souls. Everyone has a choice to believe as much of this truth as they choose but this also does not exalt a human in any way just because they are trying to follow Him. The attention is focused on the one who is truth and will judge everyone and everything else that is trying to be equal with Him.

It is estimated there are 1.6 billion Muslims on earth today and is also noted to be the fastest growing religion in the world. Buddhism is estimated at a half billion and is divided into different philosophical views including; Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana Tantric, Tibetan, Han, Taoism and Confucianism just to name a few within this particular way of thinking. It is not called a religion because there is not a Savior that requires faith. Buddhism is all about obtaining knowledge from a wise teacher and using that knowledge to live according to your own strength. With all of the hundreds if not thousands of imaginations pertaining to the spiritual world, we can see that in just these 2 examples of so-called truth, the world functions in a state of darkness. I am not arguing and criticizing people because of their choices but only stating a fact that the God of the Bible is the only “light” of the world. The world is NOT on one huge pathway to heaven! We are not like the Olympics where every nation carries their flag and is respected and honored as being equal. God is a very strict Lord and His salvation will be received His way. Our heavenly Father will not allow anyone to worship and follow another god and then count it unto them as righteousness. He will not allow any person to give their heart to another belief system and serve a religious tradition no matter how holy it may seem and welcome them into heaven with open arms. Jesus, in Matthew 23:27 confronted the religious priest in His day and told them; “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like white washed sepulchers [tombs], which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” This is a clear example of how a religion is NOT accepted just because humans are devoted to it. Those who challenge the belief that Jesus is the only way to the Father, do not have an issue concerning tolerance but with the spiritual authority of Christ. Promoters of religious pluralism do not have a problem accepting absolutes when it comes to breathing, following law enforcement instructions, highway detours, medical treatments or loving their children. They are perfectly willing to accept the “one way” concept when it is in their best interest or they have complete TRUST in a authority they believe is absolutely true.