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Labor Has Begun

The days we are currently living in so accurately express the birth pains stage of prophecy. Every day we see religious freedoms become less and less available. Natural disasters have greatly increased. Lawlessness abounds. There is increasing turmoil building in the Middle East. False teachers and doctrines can be found anywhere you look. Sin is rampant. Famines and earthquakes are on the increase.

Matthew 24:3-8 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you,  for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many.  And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.  Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.  But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

Though the times are going to get increasingly difficult, we have to praise God for the fact we are living in days where we get to witness the scriptures be fulfilled in living colour before our very eyes! We may well be very close to the appearance of Christ!

Let’s not waste any more time on frivolous things. It’s time to pray for the lost in our families and the world! We need to pray for our leaders and the darkness that surrounds so many worldwide governments! We need to pray for the body of Christ as never before!

Why not dedicate a set time every day to get alone before God and repent and intercede for all of the above? Reach out to others who also discern the times and join together in prayer in person or if distance is an issue, via a social media platform such as face time.

Let’s do our part to prepare others for the beautiful appearance of our Lord and Savior so that none of us will need to be ashamed at his appearance but rather we will be excited at just the thought!

1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

Heart & Obedience aka Be like Nehemiah!

Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah | Coram Deo ~

I have been rereading the book of Nehemiah and it is such a wonderful book for so many reasons. One of my biggest take aways from it is that we should all have a heart for the people around us. It should grieve us to know that there are so many people lacking faith in Christ and direction when we have the answer.

Nehemiah 1 In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.

 They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.  Then I said,

“O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands,  listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned!  We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.

“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations.  But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’

 “The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants.  O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”

In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer.

Nehemiah was obedient to the call on his life. He listened to God and obeyed, despite the fact he had to be brave in asking for permission. His heart ached when he saw how his people were suffering and needed direction and when he heard about the state of the wall.

I suggest you read or reread the book of Nehemiah this week. It is a book that illustrates how one person’s obedience and faithfulness to God can make a huge difference in the lives of many. Your obedience or disobedience will always have an impact on those around you.

My prayer today is that we too will be like Nehemiah. We will obey the calling God has put on our lives and follow through, despite how difficult it may be, despite opposition or grumblings. The spiritual health of others may be dependent on it! Stay the course!

Nehemiah 6 Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet set up the doors in the gates.  So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono.

But I realized they were plotting to harm me,  so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?”

 Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply.  The fifth time, Sanballat’s servant came with an open letter in his hand,  and this is what it said:

“There is a rumor among the surrounding nations, and Geshem tells me it is true, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel and that is why you are building the wall. According to his reports, you plan to be their king.  He also reports that you have appointed prophets in Jerusalem to proclaim about you, ‘Look! There is a king in Judah!’

“You can be very sure that this report will get back to the king, so I suggest that you come and talk it over with me.”

 I replied, “There is no truth in any part of your story. You are making up the whole thing.”

 They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination.

 Later I went to visit Shemaiah son of Delaiah and grandson of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home. He said, “Let us meet together inside the Temple of God and bolt the doors shut. Your enemies are coming to kill you tonight.”

 But I replied, “Should someone in my position run from danger? Should someone in my position enter the Temple to save his life? No, I won’t do it!”  I realized that God had not spoken to him, but that he had uttered this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. They were hoping to intimidate me and make me sin. Then they would be able to accuse and discredit me.

So on October  the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun.  When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.

 During those fifty-two days, many letters went back and forth between Tobiah and the nobles of Judah.  For many in Judah had sworn allegiance to him because his father-in-law was Shecaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan was married to the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah.  They kept telling me about Tobiah’s good deeds, and then they told him everything I said. And Tobiah kept sending threatening letters to intimidate me.

Blessings!

Don’t Waste this Time

Pin on GO.

Do you believe Jesus Christ is going to appear soon to take up His church? Are you sensing that time for the body of Christ is short here? I do. I have never been more convinced that time is short. I really believe we must use every opportunity the LORD gives us to share the gospel with those that need to hear it, including those who need salvation and those who once knew Christ but are currently living in rebellion.

For those of us who can’t work right now, why not pray and ask God to show you ways you can be used to share the message so desperately needed by this world? Jesus Christ came to save sinners! He is not willing that anyone should perish and be lost for eternity!

2 Peter 3:3-10 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

 They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water.  Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood.  And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.  The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.  But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief.

What will it matter if you helped people with material things during the pandemic but neglected to share the gospel which would help them for all eternity? We are to be the hands and feet of Christ but we are also called to share the good news to those that need to hear it. We also have a responsibility to remind those who have fallen away from Christ that the time is short and His return is imminent. Whether it’s today or in 5 years, they need to be ready.

I have committed to praying for the unsaved during this time but I know that is not enough. We must share the gospel however the LORD allows us to. It may be through social media, a phone call, a letter or a conversation while social distancing in a store.

Let’s do our part to help people be spared from the evil days to come. The pandemic is bad but the book of Revelation tells us for those that are left behind things will be far worse or an enormous scale!

So brother or sister in Christ, pray and ask God how you can be used during this time. He is always looking for willing vessels. We don’t have to be perfect. We must have a heart for Him and be willing.

Have a blessed day!

Our Daily Walk

DAY BY DAY

Our walk with Christ must be something we rededicate ourselves to DAILY. It isn’t a Sunday only or Tuesday night Bible study only kinda walk. It is a walk of daily commitment to speak to, heed the voice of and follow in obedience to Jesus Christ.

Why not begin each morning, before your feet hit the floor, by thanking God for another day? Invite Christ into your day and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you! Putting our LORD as our number one priority before we begin our day is the best way to start. It keeps the long term goal in the forefront. To take up our cross DAILY and follow Him!

Luke 9:23-25 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross DAILY and follow Me.”

Lord let our day start with you! Help us keep our eye on you from the start to the end and glorify you in all that we do today. In Jesus name, Amen

Things Are SHAKE, SHAKE SHAKING

Image result for God is shaking the world

We are living in some extraordinary times right now. It would seem everything around us that has been familiar and secure in the past, is no longer available to lean upon. The Corona virus has literally stopped many from being able to continue to worship so many of the idols of our culture such as sports, live entertainment, celebrities, activities and gatherings etc. Instead people are finding themselves at home self isolating from the rest of the world.

This is a wonderful time for the saints of God to use social media to share the truth of God’s WORD. We recognize what is happening all over the world. Things are being shaken. We were told things would be shaken. It is no surprise to those who study the Bible. Though it can be a terrifying time for those who fear death, for us that are followers of Christ we need not fear. We know where we are going when we pass from life to death and that that day will not come one day sooner than what God has destined for us.

We should be wise and heed the advice of those medical professionals and self isolate when possible. We should take care of our bodies and our families. This is submitting to authorities that are not asking us to do anything against God’s will. It’s the right thing to do. But we need not fear during these days. In fact for many, the situation has presented a wonderful opportunity to spend time in His Word and in prayer interceding for those who need our prayers at this time.

While you may be holed up in your apartment, house or residence you still have the opportunity to let your light shine to others. Call those that are alone and maybe lonely, pray for those who need it during this time, pray for the worldwide persecuted church, spend time in worship throughout the day, be an example to your children, grandchildren and others. Encourage those who may need it right now. In other words let your light shine!

We may be experiencing the same shaking as the rest of the world but we are not to let it shake our faith. In fact why not use this time to press in closer to the ONE who holds the universe in His hands?

Be well, be blessed and use your time wisely while the distractions are minimal! He will soon appear and the time you spend with Him now will keep your heart ready for His appearing!

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven,  whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”  Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:25-29

Image result for the Cross

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

When less is MORE

 

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He must become greater; I must become less.~John 3:30 NIV

For us to really be servants of Christ we have to yield our own wills to His. We can’t just do this Sunday morning during church service. We have to do it daily, when or before our feet even hit the floor we must determine that today will be a day that I will surrender my will to His. This means in the home, at work, on the bus, in the store and anywhere else we may find ourselves. This means we may find ourselves being put in some difficult or uncomfortable situations for our flesh. In fact it is very likely that we will from time to time.

We have been called to be FOLLOWERS of Christ. Not LEADERS of Christ. He knows us and loves us more than we are capable of truly loving ourselves. He is a trustworthy leader and earned our dedication on the cross of Calvary.

Let’s use this day for Him! Let’s determine to allow Him to lead us this day to do good works for His Kingdom. Let’s be willing to share our love for Him & others in practical ways today.  Intercede for those who need prayer! Be a support to those who need it! Wherever He puts you and whatever He puts in your path today, do it in submission to Him and do it with excellence!  Less of us and our fleshly wisdom and MORE of Him and His infinite love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

It’s the SAME Spirit!

We follow the same Jesus that the disciples followed. We are filled with the same Spirit that filled them. The words that Jesus gave to His disciples are words for us today. He didn’t say, “I am with you always, until the last of the 12 disciples dies.” NO. Matthew 28:18-20 says 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  He is with us always! To the very end of the age! The same Jesus, the same Spirit abides with us today! 

I believe we need to remind ourselves from time to time that the Holy Spirit that moved in the book of Acts is still moving today. It is up to us to make a daily decision to read the Word of God and listen to the voice of the Spirit to lead us. When we do we are able to do wonderful things for the Kingdom of God. When we don’t we are merely living out a fleshly existence with little to no fruit.

Once the disciples repented of their sins, made a decision to follow Christ as their Lord and were filled with the Holy Spirit they became power kegs for the Kingdom of God. They literally turned the world upside down with the gospel. First to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. We too have the ability to turn our world upside down with the gospel, if we yield ourselves to the purposes that God has called us to. First and foremost we must grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, and secondly we must obey the Word. Being fired up to serve God without knowing who He is or what He wants us to do is a waste of time. We must learn of Him and that comes through studying the Word prayerfully. We must also spend time with Him in prayer daily. The saying, “Seven days without prayer makes one weak,” is more than just a cute phrase. We can’t live out a life of faith on old studying habits. We must continually be in the Word and allow God to transform our thoughts and life by the washing of the Word over our hearts and minds.

Too often we are walking around weak and defeated because of our lack of studying the Word and inconsistent prayer life. There is no excuse for this. We have the same Spirit that led Jesus, Paul, Peter and multiple others that have accomplished great things for the Kingdom. It is time we got serious about allowing that same Spirit to lead us into the works God has called us to do. NOTHING good will be accomplished by trying to please God with our own thought directed efforts. He has called us to abide in Christ. Abiding requires spending time with Him.

The book of Acts is so full of wonderful examples of how the men and women of God allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them in what to speak, who to speak to, where to go etc. We to need to be led by the Spirit. We need to keep our hearts tender before God so we can hear the still small voice of the Spirit when He leads and then OBEY!  When we do we will have the boldness to share the gospel and therefore see souls won for Christ, we will see signs and wonders and we will be growing in our walk with Christ as we should. The Word of God doesn’t change. The Spirit of God doesn’t change. The purposes of God don’t change. As you read the following scripture remember, it is as relevant for us today as it was for the Apostles..

Acts 2:14-21 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.18 Even on my servants, both men and women,  I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Father God: Remind us that we your sons and daughters are to be led by the Holy Spirit. Give us a heart that longs to share the good news of Christ with those who desperately need to hear it. Keep our hearts tender before You so that we may yield to Your will and accomplish much for Your Kingdom.  We ask it in the beautiful name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

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.

He has equipped us for every situation!

As I have mentioned in previous posts in the past, I like to read my Bible front to back. Other than when I am studying a particular topic, I like to read from Genesis to Revelation in order it has been placed.  I am once again back in one of my favorite books of the Bible, the book of Acts. When I go through this book I like to take it slow and savor every word and chapter. If you haven’t done so recently, I highly recommend that you reread the complete book of Acts!

Yesterday I was reading Acts 4 and was so encouraged. The Apostles and all those present in the Upper Room had been filled with the Holy Spirit. No more would Peter be afraid to admit to being a follower of Christ as he had previous to receiving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit provided all they needed to be able to complete the work that Christ had called them to do. With the experience at Pentecost, God had  equipped His children to continue to share the good news with the rest of the world, Jews and Gentiles! He also equipped them to cast out demons and heal the sick in the name of Christ.

Just prior to chapter 4, the Apostles, now filled with the Spirit,  had just healed a man in the name of Jesus, who was about fourty years of age. This man had been lame right from birth. Because of the miracle, many became followers of Christ! Because of the miracle there was also a new threat of persecution. The Jewish rulers, elders and teachers were not happy to have Peter and John healing the sick and teaching about Jesus, whom they had crucified. They wanted them jailed and silenced.  I couldn’t help but think of all my brothers and sisters in Christ, worldwide, who are now going through the same thing. They are being threatened with prison or death if they continue to follow Christ and share the gospel with others.

When I read the following verses I was so encouraged and blessed! When faced with the threat of persecution or death, the Holy Spirit will provide the boldness and faith any true follower of Christ will need!

Acts 4:8-31 NIV Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected,which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together.16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it.17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old. 23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord  and against his anointed one.’

27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

I have often wondered, Lord, how exactly should we be praying when faced with opposition for our faith or for those who are enduring persecution. At times I have prayed for deliverance  from the situation, I have prayed for the Lord to provide courage to endure,  I have prayed for safety  and I have prayed for God to intervene and stop the persecutors. However, after reading this chapter this time around I feel encouraged to now  pray as Peter and John prayed.  “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness! Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus!”  Every follower of Christ is blessed with the gifting of the Holy Spirit! We too can call on the Lord for great boldness and signs and wonders through Christ!

God does not want us to walk in fear and trepidation when faced with opposition or persecution but wants us to call on Him in every situation and to use every situation to further His Kingdom!  I am believing, just as Peter and John did, that God will hear me and give me great boldness when I cry out to Him when i am faced with opposition for my faith.  I am also believing that when I intercede on behalf of my brothers and sisters suffering for the faith  that God will give them great boldness! It is the same Spirit in us that raised Christ from the dead! He will provide the power His church needs to stand and be bold. The Holy Spirit is as important in the life of the church today as He was on the day of Pentecost!

Lord, You have not left us without providing all we need. You have given us the Holy Spirit to equip us for every good work that You want us to fulfill! You have given us the Holy Spirit for signs and wonders! You have given us the Holy Spirit to comfort us! Thank You for His presence in our lives! Remind us to allow Holy Spirit to move through us and teach us all things! Give us a hunger for Your Word and keep us close to You as we fulfill all that You have called each of us to do.

In the beautiful name of Jesus, Amen.