Category Archives: Jesus Christ

Ambassadors, Citizenship, Allegiance & Ballot Casting

In honor of the road that starts this evening in Iowa, and ends next January in Washington, DC…

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This is a hard word, Christ-Follower… Can we hear it?

Election season is upon America. The question for the Child of God is not who do I vote for… Carson, Cruz, Huckabee, Rubio, Sanders, or even Clinton or Trump?  No, the question is: “Heavenly Father – as a stranger, a sojourner, an alien, and an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven – wherein the new me – born of Your very Seed – alive by Your very Life – is a citizen of another realm: “Heaven” – am I to even cast a ballot (am I permitted an opinion in such matters)?”

If we hear a “yes” from our King (for He might indeed say “no” – for this is an affair of the very world which we have been called out of), then and only then, shall we ask of Him secondly: “As a new creature, commissioned as an Ambassador of Heaven, granted permission to cast a ballot in this human affair – which candidate would You, my King, have me to vote for?” (Does this sound extreme and even ridiculous?!?  I told you it was a hard word.)

Remember, Scripture instructs us that the righteous walk by faith, and live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  And likewise: a soldier in active service does not entangle himself in the cares of civilian life, in order that he may please his commander.  As a regenerated, born-again, child of God, we are to have dashed our life, our opinions, and even our very self, upon the rock that is Christ, thereby living out of His life alone, and expressing the only opinion that is left… His!

This is a hard word, many cannot hear it. But it is time we – the Church – grow up into the Sons and Daughters of God that we have been redeemed to be – revealing His Glory to all of creation!

So, for me, the question begins not with: “which candidate do I want to vote for that I believe will be the best, next, U.S. President?” but rather, “Father, am I to vote; and *if so*, for whom?”

Many will suggest this is unpatriotic; but it’s not about temporal patriotism, it’s about eternal allegiance.

Amen.

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The Word Of Another – Emmanuel

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“… And they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.'” (John 4:42)

Possibly the single greatest Truth of Christianity is found within this one verse in John.

Nearing the end of the telling of Jesus’ encounter with “The woman at the well”, we have the people of Samaria – whom the woman had returned and “witnessed” to – people who by their own confession had “believed in Jesus” – coming to see this Jesus (whom they had already “believed in”) for themselves.

Not content to believe just because of the word of another – the people whom she had talked to (I imagine only some of them) were driven to “see for themselves.” And it was because of that determination to go from “belief based on the words of another”, to “believing based on their own experience”, that they went from a mere intellectual belief in this Jesus (which is unable to save), to a intimate experiential saving knowledge of Jesus!

Look at their “confession”:

“…we have heard for ourselves and KNOW…”

The Greek word used here for “know” is “ginosko” which means “intimate experiential knowing, such as the intimacy of a husband lying with his wife”.

This is saving belief: experiential intimacy with Christ Jesus! Don’t settle for anything less – KNOW for yourself this One whom you profess you believe in.

God became Emmanuel in Jesus, so that we might “know for ourselves” that this Jesus is Christ, the Savior of the world.

Please take time this holiday season to search yourself to see if indeed you KNOW Jesus for yourself, or if you are just believing in Him based on the word of another.

Merry CHRISTmas!

But This Is America…. How Can They Hate Me?

 
This “question” has been posted, in various forms, quite a lot lately – and I think that, overall, we are missing the point. It is a very good and understandable question. Yet, as Followers of Jesus – true repentance demands that we change our thinking (perception) – in doing so, we look at this as the “Born-Again Bible-Believing Saints of the Most High God” that we are; not as just common ole “God, Guns & Guts American Christians”:

“You will be hated by all because of My name…” (Matt 10:22a; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:17)

And…

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” (John 15:18-21)

We “Americanized Christians” resist the very thing (persecution) that authenticates our Faith in our Lord Jesus:

“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23)

We curse and condemn that which is our mark of honor:

“…after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.” (Acts 5:40b-41)

And why? Because:

“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)

Persecution is the great fire that will separate the sheep from the goats. And persecution is coming – and has begun – here in the “good ole USA.” Are we ready for our Faith to be tested and proven? Are we dressed in readiness with our lamps lit? Is our house built upon the rock? The storm of persecution – a very fire of purification & refinement – from the very Hand of God – is knocking at the door of “western Christianity”…  ARE YOU READY?!?

Matthew 13:40-43 teaches:

“So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

Indeed, Saint, I beg you… “He who has ears, let him hear.”

 

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A Gospel Diagram

Ponder the below diagram which I designed to help illustrate so many aspects of our Christian Life: Old Man vs. New Man – Life vs. death – The Kingdom of God vs. The Sin of Mankind…. This is… “THE GOSPEL”:

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Prayer of Confession & Intercession for the National Day of Prayer 2015

prayer1On Thursday, May 7, 2015, during Douglas County, Georgia’s National Day of Prayer observance, my dear friend, brother, and mentor, John Brown, offered a eye-opening prayer of confession and intercession for the Church in America.  In many ways it brought a bit of sobering reality to the participants in this gathering – encouraging us to look inward – and not outward – as we prayed that day.

I wanted to share the transcript of that prayer for your edification.  I pray that you might chew on the many morsels of repentant cries herein, as if they were your own:

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Prayer for the National Day of Prayer

“O Lord, great and awesome God, You keep covenant and steadfast love with those who love You and keep Your commandments,

Listen to my words, O Lord;
consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
for You are my Lord, my King and my God,
for to You do I pray.

Enable me by Your empowering grace, to pray according to Your will, breath Your living word through me, for You have promised that if we pray anything according to Your will, that You will hear us, and that we will have whatsoever we ask.

O Lord, we – the American church, have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from Your gospel of the Kingdom — Your Reign, and the commandments that our Lord taught us to observe.

We have not listened to Your Son, our Lord Jesus, nor to Your servants the apostles and prophets, who spoke in Your name to our Elders, our pastors, our teachers, and our fathers, and to all the people of the church.

To You, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us, the American Church, a member of the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, the church of the firstborn, the bride of Christ, ——— belongs open shame.

To us, O Lord, the American Church — belongs open shame, to our Elders, our pastors, our teachers, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.

To You, O Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against You, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in Your ways, which You set before us by Your Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and the apostles and prophets.

For we have played the harlot, sharing our affections — that belong only to You, with this American nation. We have made of her an Idol. Looking to her for our well-being, our security, our health, our lifestyle, and our provision.

Looking to America for our rights to pray, and worship, and to be the people of God. Ignorant of the reality that on the day that we gave to the American Constitution, our rights to pray, and worship, and be the people of God, was the day that we lost those rights.

We have chosen to see ourselves as citizens of America rather than as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God to this fallen nation.

We lift up prayers for our lover, America — at the neglect of prayers for the Kingdom of God and its citizens, our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Each denomination, congregation, and man — building his own kingdom at the expense of unity in the body of Christ, which according to our Lord’s prayer for unity, would convince the world that Jesus is the Christ sent from God the Father, and that You, Father, love us even as You have loved Your own Son.

O God, we see the storm that is on the horizon, this calamity that is coming, that You are sending — to cleanse Your Church of all that is not of You. Yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by the truth of Your Word.

And now, O Lord our God, who redeemed us by the blood of the Lamb, as of this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

Because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, the Bride of Christ, Your people have become a byword among all who are around us. Our hypocrisies have made us a laughing-stock.

“O Lord, according to all Your righteous acts, let Your anger and Your wrath turn away from us, Your called out people.

Now therefore, O God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for Your own sake, and Your name’s sake, O Lord, make Your face to shine upon the American Church, which has become desolate.

O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the people that are called by Your name. For we do not present our pleas before You because of our righteousness, but because of Your great mercy.

O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for Your own sake, O my God, because Your church and your people are called by your name.” 

Now O Lord,

Let all who take refuge in You rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread Your protection over them,
that those who love Your name may exult in You.
For You bless the righteous, O Lord;
You cover him with favor as with a shield.

I do pray, with intercession, for Your people,

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

AMEN

Lines Are Being Drawn

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SAINTS OF GOD: Are you watching the news? Are you reading the headlines? Are you paying attention to what world leaders are saying – and what they “are not” saying? It is all becoming so clear. It is not ISIS we need to fear (as if we should fear man anyway). It is not the American government we need to “watch out for.” No, but the table is being set, and it is becoming clearer every day. As it was for our Lord, so shall it be for the people of God, in the days ahead.

 

The US government (even most of the free world for that matter) is clearly establishing its opposition (and intolerance, in the name of tolerance) to “radical religious extremism” – whether ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Boko Haram or the like.  Meanwhile, “church leadership”, by and large, in epic proportions, is increasingly establishing itself as firmly embracing compromise and unscriptural positions on non-negotiable positions on what they call “social issues”, such as homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and abortion – as well as condemning as “judgmental”, the antiquated notions of morality, truth and faithfulness – and opposing those who firmly embrace Scriptural positions on such matters.

 

Can you see the line being draw?  Soon, with the full support of governmental laws (right here in the good ole’ USA), the vast majority of church leadership (or maybe I should say “pharisaical religious leaders”) will begin to attack those Saints who hold firmly to traditional scriptural principles. (It is happening already, and is rapidly in the increase.). They will call us “radical religious extremist” and “intolerant haters”, and they will use ever-increasing laws against such extremism to silence, reduce or otherwise “eliminate” the faithful. (Thus resulting in a clear distinction between those who are “faithful sons of the Kingdom”, and “the goats” who are wearing a label, but are casual, marginal, and/or insincere.) There will become two camps: those who are firm in their faith in Christ Jesus (and will be “dealt with”), and the rest who will be “accepted” among the “religious” and among “the world”.

 

This is not a call to arms. This is not a warning to run and hide. This is not a plea to step up and attempt to bring about change (it’s long since too late for that – the only change we can bring about is in ourselves). No, rather this is a passionate cry to those “true Christian believers” to prepare yourselves for the coming storm(s) of persecution:

 

  • Establish now where your allegiance lies (the Kingdom of God, or the kingdoms of this world);
  • Devote yourself to abundant prayer (become increasingly certain and familiar with the Father’s voice);
  • Become assured of your personal community of godly support (be clear as to whom you stand with, and who will stand with you);
  • Commit yourself to a life of faith (hearing the Father’s voice, agreeing with Him, and taking obedient grace empowered action according to what you have heard Him speak);
  • Establish your determination to live by the Life of Christ in you, as one who has been set apart for holiness and righteous, to be the light of the world, no matter the cost.

 

Remember… Jesus has said it, and so it shall be:

 

“…a servant is not greater than his master, if they hated me, they will hate you too;”

 

“…a man’s enemies will be those of his own household;”

 

“…father will turn against son and mother against daughter; brother will betray brother…”

 

“…many false teachers will arise and lead many astray;”

 

“…you will be hated for my name’s sake.”

 

The time is now! The days are short! Dress yourself in readiness & keep your lamps lit. Carefully examine and insure your “house” is built upon the Rock.  For there is… a storm coming!

Let him who has ears to hear, hear.

 

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Good Enough

I’ve known some really good people in my life. In fact, I have known some “non-believers” who were more pleasant to be around than some who profess Christ. Problem is, how good is good enough? The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus encountering a young man who inquired of Christ, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

As Jesus talked with this young man (Luke 18:18-27), we find that this man was far more “good” than anyone I have known in my 53 yrs of life. He confessed that he had never committed adultery, murder, stolen or lied, and has always honored his father and mother! (Who among us can honestly say that we have been that good?!? Personally, sadly, I am 0-5 on that list.)  But Jesus said that was NOT good enough. In fact, we see in the opening of this passage that this fella also confessed Jesus was both God & Savior – I surmise this because 1) he asked of Jesus a question about eternal life… This strongly suggests to me that he knew Jesus was the Savior sent from God; 2) he knew He was God, for he called Him “Good”.

But, alas, confessing Jesus was both God & Savior, was not good enough either.

Lastly, Jesus essentially says to the man “You want eternal life? Then allow me to be Lord & King of your life, ruling and reigning over even your most prized possessions.” In this, the man walked away sad, for he was willing to admit Jesus was God; willing to admit Jesus was Savior; willing to live a “good” – even very good – life; but not able to surrender the throne of His life to The Christ. 

Isn’t that our problem really? We want a Savior (for heaven); we want a God (in heaven); we want to be pretty “good” so we can feel good about ourselves (a little heaven on earth); but it all comes to a grinding halt when we are faced with the reason the Savior came… To make a way that we might return to know His rule and reign in our hearts and lives; knowing intimacy with our Father; and knowing the indwelling of the Spirit – i.e.: “thy Kingdom come”

So, here is what every person (including the rich your ruler) wants: “a list of rules for inheriting eternal life!”

  1. Acknowledge Jesus is God
  2. Acknowledge Jesus is Savior
  3. Do not commit adultery (or even lust); do not murder (or even hate); do not lie or steal; honor your mother and father.
  4. Surrender wholey to the Lordship of Christ without reservation into all aspects of your life that He might, by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, and His sovereign regeneration of your life, bring His Kingdom to rule and reign in you…. (grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone).

Sorry, I realize #4 kinda destroyed “my list” – but after all, isn’t that the point… 

Let him who has ears, hear.

  

Mercy and Grace – Part 1: The Distinction

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Mercy and Grace

Part 1: The Distinction

Guest Blogger: Phil Powell

Most Christians I know take great comfort and find welcomed relief in Romans 6:14b.  “…you are not under law, but under grace.”  We tend to gloss over or flatly ignore the surrounding versus including the first half of that same verse that declares, “For sin shall not be your master,” let alone the following verse, “What then, shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?  By no means!”

Our struggle is this.  We have accepted the gift of Christ from the Father, but we see in our lives that we still go on sinning, perhaps less or differently than before, but in the light of Christ we still see our darkness.  The sinless life of Christ acts as the same plumb bob as the Law that exposes the fact that our lives do not line up with God’s requirement of holiness.  For the most part, we have justified our sinning condition by declaring our position in Christ and rejoicing that we are no longer under the Law meaning, in our minds, we no longer have to do what the Law says because we are under grace.  But here’s the rub.  The Father gave us more commands through Jesus Christ than He did through Moses.  The Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commands.”  If we are even slightly familiar with the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John this should be a frightening prospect.

Of course, Isaiah 53:5 says He took our punishment.  Yes!  Praise God!  Our position with the Father, lost through Adam, has been restored through the sin offering of Christ.  We have been reconciled back to our Father.  Because of the death of Christ the veil between us and our Holy Father has been ripped in two and we are now seated in Heavenly places with Christ.  Because of the cross and the shed blood of Christ the sacrificial Lamb, and through our faith in that sacrifice, our position is established.  Again, praise God!

Isn’t that enough?  Now that that’s settled, can’t I push on through life doing as much good as I can to show Him how much I appreciate my “avoid hell free” ticket and what He did to obtain it for me?  This is the mercy of the cross: while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

But there is something more.  Through faith we died with Christ.  Anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Rom. 6:6)  We have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Rom. 6:18)  Paul’s instruction is to offer the parts of your body in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness, not to impurity as you used to do. (Rom. 6:19)  We are not free from the consequences of sin, for we shall reap what we sow. (Gal. 6:7, 8)  He that sows to please his sinful nature will reap destruction; he that sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life.  “…do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.” (Gal. 5:13)  “…live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature (or flesh).” (Gal. 5:16).

However, if we are honest with ourselves, we know we are frustrated that so many of the desires of our flesh still control us.

“Why, if I am seated with Christ in Heavenly places, do I still get so angry when someone obstructs or hinders my pursuit of what I want?  Why am I so dissatisfied and want more or different than what I have?  Why do I still gravitate to those familiar sins that gratify my flesh?  Why do I try so hard to get people to think highly of me?  Why do I worry about tomorrow?”

Why would Jesus tell us not to do these things knowing we couldn’t even keep the Ten Commandments much less the scores of Christ’s commandments?

I submit that Grace has lost its effectualness for us because we have confused it with mercy.  We cannot have faith in something we’re not aware of.  As long as we think being “under Grace” simply means the penalty for our sins has been paid, doing away with the consequences of sin, the true power of Grace is rendered impotent by my lack of faith through which Grace is made effective.  Let me explain.

Mercy is defined by the modern dictionary as “compassionate treatment of an offender.  A disposition to be kind and forgiving.”  The Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines mercy as “that benevolence, mildness, or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries or to treat an offender better than he deserves.  The disposition that tempers justice and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and to forebear judgment.”

In the Old Testament, the Lord often referred to having mercy on someone.  The Psalmist repeats many times “His mercy endures forever.”  The original Hebrew word translated as mercy refers to favor, kindness, pity, and compassion.

It was because of God’s mercy that He gave the Law.  His people needed to know what sin is in order to see how their lives contrasted with and were at enmity with their Holy God.  His goal was for the creation to ultimately be reconciled to its Creator so that, once again, the Creator might indwell His creation.  Without the Law, His people couldn’t know what sin was, nor realize their need of a Savior.

In the New Testament, the original Greek word translated as mercy also means to have compassion or pity on someone.  Many times those who needed healing or deliverance cried out to Jesus, “Have mercy on me;” an inducement to show compassion or mercy by doing something.

Paul greets both Timothy and Titus with “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find Grace to help in time of need.  So, there is obviously a distinction between mercy and Grace.

It is the great, forever enduring mercy of God that motivated Him to send His son to take the punishment for our sins and reconcile us to Himself through the death of Jesus.  We know from Romans 5:10 and others, that through His death and our faith in His death we are brought back into right position with God; new wine skins ready to receive the new wine.

So there was mercy under the old covenant of the Law and there is mercy under the new covenant of Grace.  But the story does not stop on the cross.  It doesn’t stop with the atoning blood.  It doesn’t stop even with the tearing open of the veil of the temple giving us access to the holiest of holies.  No.  After the cross is the resurrection!  Christ made alive to indwell us with His Life.  Romans 5:10 goes on to say, “…having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”  “Saved” is translated from the Greek word sozo, meaning to be healed, made whole, and made complete.  This is accomplished by Christ’s Life.

COMING SOON: Mercy and Grace – Part 2: Welcome To Grace!

Guest Blogger, Phil Powell, is a husband, father, and grandfather; entrepreneur, business owner, community & church leader, mentor, faithful Berean, and passionate lover of Christ. Phil resides in rural west Georgia with his wife of 40 years, and attends The Church at Chapelhill in Douglasville.

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Biblical Faith: As Simple As 1-2-3 (-4-5)

Luke 5:4-6 “Jesus said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’  Simon answered and said, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.’  When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break.”

1) Jesus spoke.

“Jesus said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’”

Rom 10:17 “…faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the [rhema; spoken; alive & active] Word of Christ.”

2) Peter heard.

“…as You say…”

Matt 7:24a “Therefore everyone who hears…”

Matt 13:16 “But blessed … are your ears, because they hear.”

3) Peter believed (Jesus’ words in opposition to logic or reason)

“..but I will do…”

Heb 11:1a – “…faith is confidence…”

Matt 4:17 – “Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent [change your way of thinking & your perception], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Isa 55:8-9 – ““For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

4) Peter took action in obedience to what he heard spoken.

“…I will … let down the nets.”

James 1:17a “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead…”

Matt 7:24b – “…act[s] on them [words of Christ]…”

5) Jesus produced unmistakable & miraculous fruit.

“…they [the nets] enclosed a great quantity of fish, and began to break.”

James 2:18b – “I will show you my faith, by my works.”

Heb. 11:1b – “faith is the proof of what is not seen”

Matt 14:29 – “Peter … walked on the water”

 

Remember, the “lawless one” does without hearing…

Matt 7:22-23 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

And, the “foolish one” hears without doing

Matt 7:26-27 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

 

Don’t be lawless…

Don’t be foolish…

Instead, be a man or woman of faith, who hears Christ speak, believes & takes obedient action!

In The Year Of Our Lord, 2015

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“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!