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It’s Time to Share!

 

toogoodJust turn on your computer, tv or open a newspaper today and you will see natural disasters all over the world. There doesn’t appear to be anywhere safe from them. Not only are they increasing, but the strength of them appears to be increasing too.  We are experiencing the early birth pangs Jesus warned us about. As with real birth pangs they start off slowly and gradually increase in both frequency and strength. We can expect the same with natural disasters.

 

We have all seen the headlines with rumors of wars possibly including North Korea, Russia and not to mention all the countries that are currently battling.  The last year alone has brought us into a political environment that increases the chance of war.

Sin, well sin can be found everywhere we look, including in the mirror. The majority of the world has not found or outwardly rejected Christ as Lord and Saviour.  Without Him life is pretty dark and that is exactly what we are seeing everywhere we look.  The world is not a warm, welcoming place without Christ.

So with all this going on around us should we be discouraged? Should we be down trodden and depressed? NO!  A resounding NO!  Through Christ we have every good thing! We have more than we need! We have a truth that cannot be shaken! We have a friend in these times of trouble that is closer than a brother! We have a Savior and friend that will NEVER leave us or forsake us!  We have the good news that we can share with those who have yet to hear or have not listened up till now! More and more people are getting discouraged with this ole world of ours and are looking for something concrete to hold onto.  Well there is nothing more concrete than the love of Jesus Christ and His ability to save people from their sins and  sustain those  people through any situation or circumstance.

Instead of looking at the doom and gloom surrounding you today.  Ask God to give you a heart for the lost and broken. Ask Him to put people in your path today that you can love on tangibly  and share the gospel with. He will do it! He has called us to do this very thing.  Let others know why you don’t walk in fear but by faith.  Be encouraged that God has called you and brought you to a time such as this for that very purpose!

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’”~Matthew 16:15

 

Maybe a little too comfy…

blankyboy

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:11

When my children were little they all had some type of comfy blanket or toy. It was taken with us when we went anywhere overnight or when we traveled in order to ensure a peaceful trip for the rest of the family. They would sometimes rub it against their face when they were going to sleep or just drag it around with them when they were about the house. Fortunately they all outgrew them! 🙂

Us followers of Christ can sometimes be guilty of holding onto our comfort toys for far too long. Those things that bring temporary relief or pleasure but keep us from moving forward and actually living the mature Christian life. We all have ones that we wrestle with.  I know I’ve been sensing that God is not pleased with me when I waste time doing things that bring a little relief from this crazy world we live in when I could be doing something that can help change this crazy world we live in by changing the lives of those living in it!

There is a darkness encroaching that we all see. Christians are being persecuted worldwide at an alarming rate. Many are boldly dying for their faith rather than renounce the lover of their soul. Yet, in North America, Europe etc.  many of us are afraid to even share the gospel with our neighbor.  We don’t want to appear different or odd. Well we are different and odd. We are a peculiar people! We need to be bold in our love for Christ. He was bold for us when he went to the cross and suffered the dreadful death that He did.

The time for playing is over. We need to encourage one another to live our life (always guided by love and not our own agenda) boldly for Christ! We need to set aside anything that is causing us to be distracted or falsely comforted from avoiding the fact that many around us are going to not only miss out on a life of joy and peace but an eternity with Christ!

It’s time for us, the Church, to lay aside our comfort toys and be the Church Jesus called us to be!

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,  to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up  until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves,and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.~ Ephesians 4:11-15

CULTURE is not our course!

JESUS CHRIST the same, yesterday, and today, and forever.~Hebrews 13:8

JESUS CHRIST the same, yesterday, and today, and forever.~Hebrews 13:8

If there is one thing a true follower of Christ can count on, it is that culture as a whole, will change and become increasingly bold and accepting towards sin as we draw closer to the return of Christ. it shouldn’t surprise us.  It shouldn’t scare us. It shouldn’t cause us to over react. It shouldn’t cause us to hate the sinner. Jesus told us that as the days draw closer to a close, sin will abound. Accept is as fact. It will happen and it will continue to happen until we see Him face to face!

2 Timothy 3:1-5 Tells us…But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Though once ourselves bound by sin, we now as followers of Christ, have been given the Holy Spirit! Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to live a life of freedom! In order to walk in this freedom we must remain people of prayer and continue to study God’s Word, which will increase our faith!

We read in 1 Timothy chapter 4 verses 4-16,  that as the Lord’s return draws closer, some people will abandon their faith in Christ and be seduced by the increase in sin.

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

We must be knowledgeable of the Word of God and diligent in obeying it so that when our culture continues to grow more and more accepting of things that are clearly marked sin in God’s word we will not get entangled in that sin but will instead  intercede all the more for those who are trapped in it and by it! Our motivation must be love. Love for the lost, love for those trapped in the bondage of sin and love for those who have been freed from it through Christ! WE don’t change when culture changes. We are to remain steadfast to the Word of God. If you find yourself more accepting of sin than you need to get yourself into the Word of God (your Bible) and realize how God sees it. Just because everyone else is doing it  or approving of it does not mean it will ever be okay in God’s eyes.  This does not mean we should battle the increase of sin in our culture with fighting words against those whom we want to see freed! Words spewed out in anger and bitterness will never draw anyone away from their sin and to Christ.  Instead we are to share Christ as Lord and Savior. Without salvation and the Holy Spirit, all of us are bound by our sin! It is only through Christ that we are able to be free and keep that freedom. Quarreling words over sin will never accomplish what Jesus Christ alone can accomplish once He has inhabited the heart of a new believer!

It is after we confess Jesus Christ as Savior that we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to turn away from sin. While we are still dead in our sin it will remain a lifelong struggle. So fighting with a sinner trapped in sin is futile. What they need to hear is the gospel message of salvation. Too often we want people to clean up their lives before they come to Christ when what they really need is the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them to bring about real heart change!

We don’t serve culture, we serve Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, Our King of Kings and the true Holy One! He does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His opinions on sin don’t change. He will always detest sin. He willingly endured the horrific death on the cross to free us of it! He doesn’t take it lightly! It is Jesus Christ that the sinner needs! Whether they are busy hiding their sin or boldly flaunting their sin, Jesus Christ alone can free them of it. Just as He alone has freed us of our past sin and continues to intercede on our behalf before the Father. He alone can bring salvation and true freedom.

So as things grow darker in this world we live in, we are to remain true to the Word of God, which requires us to read it and know it. We are NOT to be influenced or transformed by what culture says is okay. We are to stay true to the course Christ has put us on. The course to take up our cross daily, and follow Him and as we do this we are to share the gospel with the messed up, broken and lost. Once they have given their heart to Christ, we are to encourage them in their faith through the Word of God and in prayer. That is our calling as followers of Jesus Christ.

So each of us needs to be prepared to willingly share the gospel with the lost where they are. Trying to get them to clean up first is futile and renders the cross unnecessary. God has provided a beautiful way of saving and growing up His church. Salvation through Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower us over sin. We don’t need to improve on it. We just need to share it!

What’s bubbling to your surface?

Each one of us lives out our story of faith. Every day we are faced to deal with situations and people that cause us to react. Our reaction tells others a great deal about our character. God has called us, through Christ, to be salt and light in an otherwise dark world. Do our words and actions demonstrate the salt and light of the gospel or do they demonstrate a heart of self pity and complaining?

When we are driving down the road and someone cuts us off, our reaction is a direct result of what is inside us. If we have been thinking throughout the day of how difficult life is, how hard we have it or how unhappy we are, our reaction will not be too sweet! What comes to the surface during a crisis or a sudden upset is what we have been telling ourselves right up to that point. What we feed our minds bubbles up out of our mouths!

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.~Proverbs 23:7

 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky  as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.~Philippians 2:14-16

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.~James 4:1-3

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him,  rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.~Colossians 2:6,7

As followers of Christ we too often react with criticism, negativity and self pity because that’s what we have been feeding ourselves in our thought life all day! What goes into our thoughts comes out of our mouth. If we want to react and respond as Christ would, we need to feed our mind and heart on His Word. We need to be in an attitude of praise and thanksgiving, even in the difficult times. Taking up our cross often involves difficulties and trying times.

When we find ourselves reacting negatively to people and things we need to readjust our heart! We need to spend time with our Savior and  get back into the Word of God. It is necessary. It is essential if we want to live as Christ has called us to live, loving Him and serving others, there’s no other option.

I am so thankful that when I screw up and get waylaid in selfishness, I can ask the lover of my soul to forgive me and get me back on track!  He longs for our fellowship and is willing to forgive us over and over again.  So if you have been complaining, griping or just responding with an ungrateful attitude to your circumstances perhaps it’s time you get on your knees before Him and ask for forgiveness. Ask Him to get you back on track with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving. Ask Him to illuminate the Word of God before you read your Bible and allow it to penetrate into your heart and mind. Allow the Word to conform you into the image of Jesus so that you too can be the salt and light this world of ours so desperately needs!

Life is but a Vapor

This past weekend we lost a dear friend. She had recently been battling cancer and lost her fight. In our minds and hearts we lost her way too soon. She was still young! We didn’t expect to lose her this soon! This morning I was reminded that there are no guarantees when it comes to our life span. We cannot possibly predict what the future may hold for any one of us.  I was hit in the face with this fact almost ten years ago when we lost our twenty year old son Daniel in a car accident. I was reminded of it again this weekend.

There is no certainty, no guarantees and no assurance that we will have another day, another week, another month etc. As much as we like to feel we have control over so much of our life, this is one area none of us can control completely. We can take care of ourselves and try and stay fit but even that does not guarantee longevity.  So what does this mean? Should we live our lives in fear or discouragement knowing just how frail life can be? Should we worry incessantly about what could happen? The answer to all three questions is a resounding NO!

We are to live each day as if it were our last, abiding in Christ and serving as we have been called. NO fear, NO terror, NO worry, just living out our lives with purpose each day as we walk close to the ONE who gives us purpose. Each day is a gift God gives us to walk close to Him and share the gospel with a dying world. As long as we are staying close to Him through our prayer life and increasing our faith through the reading of the Word, we will hear Him speaking to our hearts and leading us. That is how we are to live each day. Not worrying about tomorrow or what it may bring. Simply living each day with His purposes in our heart! When we need wisdom to do so we simply ask for it. He promises to give it to us liberally! When we stumble, we need to repent and get right back on track. Moving forward in the course He has set before us.

We run into the most trouble when we forget that we who follow Christ, have been called for a purpose. We have been bought with a high price, the price of His shed blood. We have not been called to ignore God’s purposes and live out our own plans. When we remember to whom we owe our life and redemption we live with His purpose in mind. We lose the need to control our future. James says it beautifully. James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make a profit;” whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

None of us knows what the future holds. We do know that we have been given this day! This day to walk close to the ONE who saved us and called us. Let’s remember to seek His face today and fulfill the purposes He has for us! Not worrying about tomorrow, next week, or any time in the future!

Lord, forgive us for our arrogance in thinking we have all the time in the world to fulfill Your purposes. Remind us each day that we need to live close to You, seeking Your face and purposes for our life. Knowing that life is but a vapor! We may not have tomorrow but we have today!   We ask this in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Really? Peace & Joy during a storm?

There is only one way, we who are followers of Christ, can possibly have peace when we go through a storm in life. It is by believing in the depths of our being the truth that God is faithful to us and will NEVER allow us to go through more than we can bear. It is knowing with absolute certainty that NOTHING or NO ONE is able to cause us to lose our peace and joy if we put our trust in the ONE who is absolutely trustworthy. The reason we too often lose our peace when the storms come is simply because we have stopped believing that everything that happens to us has been allowed by the ONE who knows us best!  He who knew us while we were being formed in our mother’s wombs, knows what can be used in the transformation of our character from selfish, self absorbed individuals to sold out, Spirit lead followers of Christ.

The great preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon once wrote, “God gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.” There is so much truth in this quote. Why does it often take afflictions, trials, storms to grow us up? Perhaps it is because when things are going smoothly we tend to forget the goodness of our God. We tend to fall back into the pattern of thinking somehow we have control over all our circumstances. We forget just how much we need to rely on and depend on the lover of our soul!  When difficulties enter our lives it usually doesn’t take us too long before we are back to crying out to God for His help.

God wants us to go through life knowing, really knowing and believing that ALL things work together to them who love God and them who are called according to His purpose. When we finally really get it, really believe it, than we are able to trust Him regardless of the battle, regardless of the size of our opponent and regardless of the severity of the difficulty. This is how we are called to live as followers of Christ. Not on a daily emotional roller coaster that is fueled by our emotions and insecurities. We are to live by the truth of His Word which tells us nothing can separate us from Christ or His love for us. NOTHING!  If we allow them, afflictions will teach us just how reliable HE really is. If we speak the truth of His word to our situation and believe it in the depths of our being, than we are able to maintain our joy and peace no matter how difficult or severe the trial is. The truth of this has been demonstrated through centuries by all those martyrs who have willingly given their lives rather than deny Christ. They believed the truth of His Word and they lived it! Their lives and even their deaths became a witness for all those around them, that God will give the grace and willingness to endure whatever may come to those who love Him.

If our love is conditional based solely on His gifts and blessings to us it is not really love at all. If we truly love Him and believe He is who He says He is and that He loves us enough to not allow us to endure more than we can bear, we will be able to go through ANY circumstance with joy and peace. 

 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”~Deuteronomy 31:6

I’m not for one second suggesting this may be easy. Yet it is possible. Not by mind over matter or wishful thinking but soley by knowing the truth of who HE is and how very much HE loves us. By knowing Christ’s promises are as good today as they were when He walked the earth.  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.~Romans 8:28  

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;  and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.~Romans 5:1-5 

Our confidence in these truths  grow as we spend time with Him daily in prayer and as we spend time reading our Bibles, the Word of God.

 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.~Psalm 145:18  

 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.~Colossians 4:2

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.~2 Timothy 3:16,17

 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”~Romans 10:17

None of us know when trials will come. If we stay close to our Savior and grow in our faith, knowing and trusting Him completely, when they come we will not be swept away. We will be able to stand and endure with peace and with true joy (not surface happiness) but true joy, knowing whatever He allows to touch us is going to work out for long term good!  He will continue to grow Christ like character in us as we go through the very things we wish to avoid the most.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.~James 1:2-4

Ultimately, Christ is preparing us to one day meet Him face to face and hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” My prayer is that we will cultivate a deeper, more sincere walk with our Savior and Lord and that we will hide the Word of God in our hearts so that when the storms of life come crashing in, we will NOT be troubled or dismayed. We will confidently rest in knowing even in this, we can joyfully trust Him!  He is still in control!

Oh to have a heart like Stephen!

Reading Acts 6 & 7 just blesses me so much! I love Stephen’s passion for Christ and his desire to share the gospel despite the circumstances! A man of love and faith, fully passionate about our beautiful Jesus! His love was even evident on his face!  All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6:15) Stephen was filled with the Spirit of God and sold out and radical for His Savior. There was no other Way for him to live. His allegiance was to Jesus!

There is so much we can glean from Stephen’s final day. When the elders and teachers of the law had him falsely accused of blasphemy against the law he didn’t fight back in the flesh but he used a more powerful weapon, he preached the Word of God to them! He didn’t try and justify his actions. He didn’t cry out to God for deliverance, He preached the Word, starting with the Old Testament and leading up to the ONE to whom he loved and followed, Jesus and what a sermon he preached! He knew the Word and he used it. He didn’t rely on his earthly wisdom, but rather the Word.

In chapter 7 we see him preach how God moved through the generations from Abraham up to the coming of His Son and how the “learned leaders” often refused and rejected God’s message and persecuted those who brought it, even to the point of betraying and murdering the Righteous One.

The Spirit of God moved mightily through Stephen as he preached with boldness! He didn’t back down or relent knowing full well that it may result in his death. Stephen’s focus was on sharing the gospel of Christ and Christ alone!

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:54-60)

I can’t help but notice two things, Stephen did not want the Lord to hold their sin against them and his persecution was witnessed by Saul, whom later had his name changed to Paul and who happened to become one of the greatest preachers of the gospel ever!  Stephen’s death was NOT in vain!  We are living in times where are brothers and sisters around the world are often called to share the gospel amid hostile persecution! The way things are going in North America, it soon may be upon us too.

Lord give us a heart to share the Word of God boldly and in the power of Your Holy Spirit. Let us not be cowardly, or cling to things that really don’t matter. Give us a holy boldness to speak the truth when called up to do so! There is no ONE more worthy of our allegiance, than you Jesus!  Let Your Spirit move upon each of us that call you Savior and Lord to be bold and obedient, regardless of the circumstances we may face!

In the beautiful name of Jesus, Amen.