Reading the signs?

Earlier this week I was sad to I read about American journalist, James Foley being beheaded by ISIS.  It is tragic what this group is doing around the world!  We hear not only of ISIS but of multiple terrorist groups armed and determined to wipe out anyone that does not follow their radical beliefs. They target Jews, Christians and fellow moderate Muslims with abandon. We are living in some pretty dark times. With wars, rumors of wars, great persecution, natural disasters and an overall increase in sin we don’t have to look too hard to believe that we are living in the end times. How long things will go on for before Jesus returns, we don’t know but it sure is closer than it was but a few years ago.

Let’s take a look at just some of these signs from the book of Matthew.

Matthew 24:1-14 NIV 

24 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Does any of this sound familiar? All it takes is for us to turn on our tv news channel or open a newspaper and we can see each and every one of these things happening right now in our time. We have brothers and sisters in Christ worldwide that are dying for their faith at the hands of their persecutors, all because they will not renounce the name of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.   Wickedness is everywhere. We hear daily of family members killing other family members, adultery, sexual sin, murders happening in each and every one of our neighborhoods.   Famines and earthquakes are at an all time high along with other various natural disasters. Nations are definitely rising against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms.  There are too many cults and cult leaders to list here preaching a false gospel that denies the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the need for salvation rather promoting themselves and their false ideology. With modern technology and the ease of travel, the gospel is now being spread in countries that would never have had access to the gospel before. The message of salvation is being preached throughout the world!

Though the Word of God tells us that no man knows the day or hour when Christ will return, we do know from the signs that the time is getting closer. With that in mind, God does not want us to walk in fear or trepidation.  Jesus said, “See to it that you are not alarmed,”  instead we are  to walk in peace knowing these things must come to pass before we see our beautiful Lord and King face to face.  It is so important that we use the time God has given us to share the gospel to those who need to hear! We need to daily demonstrate the love of Christ to a world looking for answers. People are wondering what on earth is going on in this crazy world of ours right now and we have the answers. We don’t need to be caught off guard. Our Bible tells us what must happen before Jesus returns.

It is imperative that each follower of Christ  live each day knowing that the Lord could return at any time. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:36-44 NIV

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

I want to be ready when He returns! I want to be busy doing His will! I want to be excited, and without shame, to see Him face to face!

Father, I ask that you prepare our hearts for the days we are living in. Please keep our hearts tender before You. Let us be sensitive to the chastening of Your Spirit and let us repent of those things that are holding us back from following You with abandon. Give us wisdom to be able to read the signs of the times and to live our lives accordingly. Give us a deeper love for the lost so that we won’t hesitate to share the gospel with them. Give us a deeper love for You Jesus so that we will walk intimately with You as we wait on Your return. We ask it all in your precious name, the name of Jesus. Amen

 Take courage. We walk in the wilderness today and in the Promised Land  tomorrow.~Dwight L. Moody

Are you worried? Here’s your answer!

Are you worried about what’s going on in the world today? Worried about your financial situation? Worried about your family? The list of things we worry about is endless but there is a solution. In every situation we are to turn our worries over to the ONE who died for us. The ONE who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond anything we can comprehend.

Worry will never solve a single thing. It will only rob us of our peace and joy. When we apply the Word of God to our situations we are able to rest peacefully knowing there is nothing impossible with Christ. Here are but a few words to take deep into your heart and apply to whatever it is you are worrying about.

1Peter 5:6-7 NIV 1 Peter 5:6-8 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Romans 8:28 NIV 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. 

Phillipians 4:4-9 NIV Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Psalm 55:22 NIV 22 Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never let the righteous be shaken.

Phillipians 4:19 NIV 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

Luke 12:22-26 NIV 22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

Hebrews 13:6 NIV So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”

John 6:37 NIV 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 

Isaiah 41:10 NIV 10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Deuteronomy 31:5, 6 NIV The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

And finally…

Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Watch, Pray and Be Ready

 

Matthew 24:44 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Matthew 24:44  So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Last week my husband and I spent a relaxing, wonderful week visiting my sister in Florida. As always we had a great time. We were ready for some rest and relaxation after a busy summer and we got it. I did notice however that the world didn’t take any rest and relaxation. The Middle East is aflame with the war in Israel and Gaza, ISIS is massacring Christians and fellow Muslims in Iraq, there are daily atrocities being committed in Syria along with massacres in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, there is an ongoing battle between Russia and the people of the Ukraine and still more.

Though it is wonderful to be able to take a holiday from our jobs and our everyday life, there is NO time to take a break from our prayer life. We need to be vigilant in holding up our brothers and sisters at home and around the world in prayer! We need to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem! We need to pray for all those innocent people caught in the various wars and battles around the world! This is not a time to become lazy in our prayer life! There are too many people counting on the people of God to faithfully keep them in prayer, interceding for them in situations that are dire and could become dire at any time. We must pray for those who are being martyred around the world, that their life will speak of Jesus right up until the end. That they may be given boldness and peace during their times of persecution.  And of course, we are to pray for our families, friends, neighbors an our communities.

I am feeling a call to prayer like never before. The world is experiencing some mighty birth pains and scripture indicates the pains will only get greater and longer until the great tribulation. My prayer is that we will be faithful in praying, helping and sharing the gospel in the days we have. All indicators indicate that our beautiful King is coming back sooner rather than later. May He find us faithful and obedient to the calling He has given each of us. May He find us working to further His Kingdom. May He find us ministering with the gifts He has given each of us. May He find us taking care of all those He has entrusted to us.

Jesus told us keep watch and know what is going on so we can be aware of the times we are living in.  

Matthew 24:4-13 NIV Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

We are seeing now experiencing some of these very birth pains.

He also told us to be ready for His return and not be caught spiritually sleeping. Matthew 24:36-44 NIV  36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

 

Though we all have earthly responsibilities we must take care of, let’s not lose sight of the things that really matter for eternity. Let’s keep watch, pray and be ready for the return of Jesus, our beautiful Lord and King.

 

 

 

Choose to cast your cares on Him!

1 Peter 5:6,76 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,  7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6,7 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

This week I heard some disturbing news.  It was something that I have been concerned about in the past and it is now reoccurring. The event itself doesn’t matter. My response however does. When I first heard my heart grew heavy and I felt incredibly frustrated. I want the situation to be resolved immediately and without any upsetting consequences. It has been a reoccurring concern for some time and it would be great to see it finally resolved.  However, it may not happen that way. It may continue to drag on for some time.  I have had to make the decision to trust God in this matter. To lean on Him to take care of the situation and any of my concerns regarding it. This is how we must live.

In the past I have often allowed my emotions to run wild with the onset of disturbing news. I have given in to the discouragement that often accompanies it. It has never helped me or the situation to improve. In fact it has left me with a poor attitude that kept me from being useful in doing the things God would have me do. At times I have sulked thinking somehow that would get God’s attention and He would step in and fix the situation immediately. All of these responses are those of an immature follower of Christ, of which I have been guilty! :)

Yesterday when I heard this disturbing news I grumbled for five minutes and then remembered I follow a Savior who understands all things. A Savior who is able to take any situation and work it out for good, no matter how difficult that may seem to me.  I follow a Savior that loves me and loves those whom I love even more than I do! I follow a Savior that has told me to cast my cares on Him for He cares for me!

This Savior does not owe us an explanation of why some things happen and why there is often a waiting period on our answer. His Word is good enough and His Word tells me in 1Peter 5:6,7 NKJV

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

So instead of fretting, whining and allowing any situation to upset my peace and joy I choose to humble myself before Him and cast my cares on Him for I do know He cares for me just as He cares for you!

Prepping the heart for the future

Years ago I read Corrie Ten Boom’s book, “The Hiding Place”.  I remember thinking it must have been so difficult during those dark days of World War 2. Corrie shared the sorrow of losing her family members to the Nazis. She also shared how God sustained her during those dark days, even in the little things like providing a tissue when she desperately needed one.  With the growing wars and rumors of wars we are experiencing in the world right now, I can’t help but think how important it is that we remain close to Christ. That we don’t allow anything to come between our intimacy with Him. I believe we have some difficult days ahead of us.

The church has been undergoing intense persecution during this last century with numbers increasing drastically within the last ten years. Anti-Semitism is steadily increasing.  We are experiencing the birth pangs the book of Revelation warned us of. It is time for the church to lay aside things that would beset us and share the gospel with unbelievers. It is time we lay aside our denominational differences and follow the Word of God wholeheartedly. It is time we pray for the peace of Jerusalem as we have been instructed. It is time we live out our faith lovingly and in boldness.

I know I need to spend more time in the Word. It is through spending time in the Word that we gain spiritual wisdom and knowledge. It is also through reading the Word that our faith increases. If there was ever a time we needed wisdom, knowledge and an increase in faith, this is it. God wants His people spiritually prepared for what is coming. He wants us free of fear. He wants us equipped to minister to those He puts in our path. It is not a time for lounging or idling. We need to be ready for whatever is coming. We need to have the assurance that nothing is too big for us to go through with Christ!

God does not want His church ignorant of the times we are living in. We are to be wise as serpents, yet gentle as doves. Matthew 10:16 NKJV 16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves:  be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
He does not want us fearful of what is coming  because fear shows our lack of trust in the only ONE who is truly trustworthy. Instead He wants us to be full of faith, trusting in the ONE who has it all under control, standing firm in our faith and in the ONE  (Jesus Christ) in whom we believe.

2 Timothy 1: 7-13 NKJV For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Revelation 21:8 NKJV But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Jesus has called each of us to follow Him. Some days are easier to do this than others. Regardless of the circumstances we may find ourselves facing, we can be assured that HE is with us through every step of the way. This is His promise to us.  The book of Hebrews has some pertinent words for us today. Words of encouragement and counsel.

Hebrews 13: 1-8 NKJV 13 Let brotherly love continue.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

So let’s encourage each other with these words as we watch prophecy unfold before us. Let us live sold out and fully for Christ and allow Him to use us for His glory and purposes as we wait on His beautiful return!

 

Honoring marriage is still God’s plan

This coming weekend our son is going to marry his long time sweetheart at our home. My husband and I are  looking forward to the wedding and the coming marriage. We have waited for this day for a long time. :)

In a day when marriage is not always esteemed, I am glad they have made this decision. Marriage, though not easy, is still God’s designed plan for a man and woman that wish to be together. The Bible is full of verses on marriage. Today I want to take a look at one of my favorite verses on marriage.

Hebrews 13:4 NIV  Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.  

Though this flies in the face of political correctness today, God’s view on marriage hasn’t changed. It is a state to be honored by all. It is so important that those of us who follow Christ uphold the value of marriage and offer our support to those who have chosen it.  It still remains God’s environment for sexual intimacy and for raising a family.

It is so important that we show our support by praying for those choosing marriage. We live in a society that puts all kinds of temptations and distractions in our way. For marriage to work, couples have to have the resolve that they will commit their lives to one another regardless of the obstacles and difficulties that come their way. They both must make this commitment. One person cannot a marriage make! For those who are followers of Christ, this commitment is vital. The seriousness of this commitment before God is revealed in Malachi 2:16 NIV 1“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

We live in a society where people marry without seriously considering it is a lifetime commitment. Though there are definitely cases of  Biblically  justified divorce (unrepentant infidelity and/or abuse), many marriages are broken because of a casual view of the state of marriage.  People say they no longer feel affection for or love their spouse and leave. Some leave having found someone they love more.  Others decide they don’t want the responsibility of marriage and want their freedom back. Too often kids are dragged into the mess of a broken family and suffer the consequences of their parents decisions.

The church has a responsibility to show support to it’s married couples with  prayer, sound Biblical  advice when needed and on occasion with practical help. When a couple in our church body suffers, we all suffer. When a family is broken, it hurts us all.  We must do all we can to help couples stay together but if and when that is not possible, we need to be there to help with the fallout.

My husband and I have been married over thirty five years. We have had some wonderful years. We have also had some very difficult years marred by selfishness, immaturity and on a few occasions heartache and the loss of loved ones.  Our marriage has forced us to  learn to mature in ways that can only come from sharing your life with another person. Our marriage has challenged us to be more Christ like in our behavior. We have had to learn to listen to each other, respect each other, love each other in word and deed and be kind to one another even when we don’t feel like it!  These things to do not come easy or natural for most of us. When we neglect to do any of these things, it isn’t long before we need to have a talk  and get things back on track  ;)

I am so grateful that I have been able to share my life with my husband over the years. It has been a good thing. We have gone through so much together and I believe our love is deeper now and more secure now than it ever was.  I wish the same for our son and new daughter-in-law, maybe with a little less difficulty but even that helped mold us! I am glad they have chosen marriage. Though it has become less popular over the years, it is still a good thing in God’s eyes.  I am excited for them and the journey it will take them on. My prayer is that they will have the support of their families and the church as they walk their journey together.  After all, marriage is to be honored by all!