Monthly Archives: January 2015
The question “does God care who wins the super Bowl?” doesn’t amaze me half as much as those who would answer “No, He isn’t much of a football fan, all He cares about is souls.”
Why yes He does care about souls, but what does that look like? Do we honestly think that the God of the universe; the sovereign creator of everything seen & unseen; the most infinite & supreme being in all of all – is so linear that we can answer this question with a simple “yes or no”?
The one true God takes the term multitask to a level that cannot be comprehended by the created mind. The outcome of the game has been ordained by God – as well as His purposes for that win-loss, in the heart & life of every winning player, every losing player, every joyful fan, and every disappointed fan. His purposes extend to every announcer, every official, every media personality, every half-time performer, and every spouse touched by a player, a fan, a coach and even those Monday-Morning-quarterbacks!
Does God care who wins the Super Bowl, you ask? I ask you, does God care about the hairs on my head, the sparrows that fall to the ground, the type of wood used to build the ark, and the color of the tassels hanging from the altar in the Tabernacle? Yes He cares! He cares because He is forever sovereign, eternally loving, and full of grace. He cares because He cannot not care. He cares because He purposes ALL for His glory – even football. He cares because He is the divine multi-tasker, having ordained and perfectly destined that ALL things work together for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-40)
Consider firstly, that our Lord comes to His Elect in many ways. This passage certainly is most often – rightly – applied to the second coming/return of our Lord & King. However, I believe we can also rightly derive an important insight from this passage regarding our preparedness for daily “comings of the Lord” and other events, circumstances, and moments of Grace, in which He comes to us in testing, trial, sufferings, difficulties and disciplines.
The opening verse is striking to me: “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.” The original language even places an emphasis on the word “keep”. In light of the “unknown” (to us) that is sure to come our way *tomorrow* (or later today), there is a “dressed & ready” that we are to “maintain”.
If I am transparent – I confess that most times that I am “caught off guard” by a situation or circumstance, that I was not “prayed up”, “bathed in the Word”, and/or “living a worship lifestyle.” Rather, I was uncovered and naked – spiritually – and left to my own means, to react to the surprise “coming of the Lord” in my life. And therein – I miss Him; or at the very least am unprepared for His visit. (Am I making sense?)
I shared in my previous blog, In The Year Of Our Lord 2015, that I strongly sense there are days coming our way this year, that will test our faith, and *prove* us. Many who are “unprepared” will be proven to be “not of our Lord”. With this in mind, we need to be prepared for the days ahead – for the uncertain & unknown trials, testing and sufferings that we are promised, as His “Called Out Ones”.
If I was to suggest that circumstances in the coming days might provide the most difficult economic times in many generations – what preparations would you make to be ready? I recall the preparations many made for Y2K – yielding a readiness of a physical stockpile of water and dry beans that proved to be unnecessary. I am not suggesting that our readiness looks like water and beans. However, I am suggesting that there is a parallel to be made between physical “efforts” of readiness that we would make if we knew there was an approaching event (economic collapse or an approaching hurricane), and that of the spiritual readiness that should be made to prepare for life’s promised trials, and spiritual tsunamis. We all know it is critical that we make necessary preparations, so that we will not be “without”, “lacking” or “in need” when tribulations come like a thief in the night.
Looking to the story of the 10 Virgins, we are clearly told that not all who are “aware”, are “prepared”.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.” (Matthew 25:1-4 )
We are called to be “prudent” in our “readiness”. Being *aware* alone, is not good enough – we must be “covered with readiness” for the next “coming of our Bridegroom” in situation & circumstance. We need not just have our lamps, but oil to spare!
Only the Holy Spirit can teach you what the rubber-meets-the-road “dressed in readiness” looks like for you. But I promise trials, testings, sufferings & difficulties will come – small and large – tomorrow, next week & months from now. And spiritually speaking… if we are not prepared – “dressed in readiness with our lamps lit and with oil to spare” – I fear, many will sell their soul for a loaf of bread.
“Oh gracious and kind Heavenly Father. Teach me how to be dressed in readiness. Help me to ensure that my lamp is lit, and I have oil to spare. Holy Spirit, teach me what this means! I know that You, Lord Jesus, come to me daily – often like a thief in the night – in testing, trials, sufferings, difficulties, tribulations and disciplines, for Your glory, through my endurance – which leads to spiritual maturity and wholeness in You. It is my desire, Father, that – whether a daily trial of life, or a catastrophic spiritual tsunami – I would not be caught unaware, nor unprepared; that, for Your Glory – by Your Grace – Your Light in me, will shine in the darkness of day, and the faith of the Son of God in me would be proven! As in all things, Lord, I cast myself upon You, for You, and You alone, are my only hope. Amen.”
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and you be caught by surprise like a trap. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Excerpts of Principles Spoken by Christ, from Luke 21:34-36 NASB)
I am no prophet… moreover, some of my dearest CHRISTian brothers and sisters would struggle or even oppose my suggestion that I have a “Word from the Lord” regarding the new year: 2015. Others of you would think nothing of that phrase or suggestion, and eagerly read on to see what I sense the Spirit is speaking. For those who might struggle in any regard with this, let me assure you that I am not “making prophetic predictions” nor am I in some way attempting to “add to the fullness of the revelation our Lord” given us in the Scriptures. Let simply say, I am prompted to encourage the Body of Christ with the following thoughts and words for the coming year.
First, there are multiple references throughout scripture to the principles that direct the “Ecclesia” (the called out ones of God) to be “vigilant”, “alert”, “sober-minded”, “on their guard”, “prepared”, “diligent” and the like. It is with these general Scriptural Truths in mind, that I share the following thoughts for 2015.
Let me say as well, as my predominate awareness and experience is with the “church in the west” (or Christendom in America), that this is the primary audience that I have in my heart, as I write this. Let me clarify regarding this phrase: “Christiandom in America” – I am including here a group of individuals that range from those who would check “Christian” as the answer to the question “What is your religious affiliation?” – to those who would most assuredly, but humbly, say of themselves, “I have experienced a life altering encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and have been redeemed, regenerated and restored to relationship with my Heavenly Father” – and everyone in between. Within this group, I believe, is found the True Church of Jesus Christ… the Ecclesia, as He called it – His called out and chosen ones – the “Sons of the Kingdom.”
In The Year Of Our Lord, 2015. It takes little effort – whether on Cable News Networks, or Internet News Feeds, or Cell Phone Breaking News Alerts – to witness that our entire planet is experiencing dramatic changes – as the pains of Child-birth. In some ways, we have never seen greater days! In other ways, there is so much hurt, pain, loss and devastation, that it seems we are in humanities worst condition in modern history.
Around the globe, CHRISTians are being martyred at an alarming rate. (The Center for the Studies of Global Christianity in the United States reports: “About 100,000 Christians die every year because of their religious beliefs.”) Persecution of CHRISTians around the world is alarming, and become far more blatant and commonplace. (Voice of the Martyrs reports that “The Christian Faith is illegal in 53 countries around the world”.) And here in the west, particularly America, we are quickly losing any hope of leaning on our “constitutional rights of religious freedom” that Our Lord has allowed to protect us for the better part of 225 years. There is no rational denial that we are seeking an increased rapid decay in Judeo-Christian morals – both globally and domestically – and we are fast approaching a day when “things will be different” than we have ever known in our lifetime, even here in the west. The assault on “Christian Religious Freedom” in America is rapidly on the increase – both from freedom to practice our faith, and freedom to speaking publicly (or privately for that matter) regarding our convictions of faith and belief.
Deceptive doctrines taught by false teachers is becoming rampant – and clearly taking on more of a “perversion of truth” than an the outright cultic foolishness of years gone by. Truth mixed with lies, and palatable intrigue, lead the list of deceptions – while taking Truths foundational to the Christian Faith and perverting them, as to both lead astray, and mock the very essence of their principle counsel.
Say what you will, but there is already a “great falling away” that is taking place in our midst, as the faith of many is being shipwrecked & derailed, with these perverted and deceptive doctrines; accompanying that, is a gospel message that is weak, fruitless and ultimately, inadequate to save.
“You know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation [trial, testing], for when he has been proved, he will receive the Crown of Life that he promised to those who love Him. (James 1:3, 4, 12 NASB)
It is my personal conviction that this coming year will be a time of great trial and testing for Christendom in America. The time is near that we will begin to see greater persecution of those “true to their CHRISTian faith”, here in these very United States. To the Saints among us, I plead that we get established in our faith now. Settle your matters and affairs of assurance, trust and allegiance – for when then testing comes, it will be too late. If you are not grounded now in your faith in Christ – when hard times come, you will certainly sell your soul for a loaf of bread, or a bag of rice.
Be prepared. Be Alert. Be vigilant. Take time in prayer now to insure that you have oil in your lamps, and plenty of “oil to spare”. There will come a time when it will be too late to acquire more. I am NOT talking of stockpiling in the natural – but, rather, stockpiling in the Spiritual. There are 4 places the Holy Spirit will cause this to happen:
- in Scripture,
- in prayer,
- in true worship, and
- in godly, committed, accountable relationships with other faith-filled Saints.
We have, for the most part, experienced years of plenty, years of ease and years of comfort. If we are not solid in our faith – rooted and grounded in who Christ is, in whom we trust, and where we are placing our allegiance – then there is little chance that we will get solid when the times of trial and testing come. For it is in trial and testing that our faith is proven – it is in Christ, thought the Holy Spirit in us – in Scripture, Prayer, Worship & Fellowship – that our faith is built and established!
Won’t you join me now in falling before our Lord & King and crying out to Him to generously & lovingly, cause our individual faith to be rooted & grounded, solidly, in Christ as the one whom each of us trusts with all our heart, and pledge our sole allegiance to? And should storms of trial and test indeed come our way in the west in this year, 2015 – we who are the Ecclesia of Christ, indeed stand firm and honor our Lord & King!
If I am mistaken – you will have lost nothing, and still gained everything!
May it be so, Maranatha, Lord Jesus!