Jesus is Coming Soon!

This song has been on my mind for the last few weeks so I thought I’d share it.

 

Troublesome times are here filling men’s hearts with fear
Freedom we all hold dear now is at stake
Humbling your hearts to God saves from the chastening rod
Seek the way pilgrims trod Christians awake

Jesus is coming soon morning or night or noon
Many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound
All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies
Going where no one dies, heavenward bound

Love of so many cold losing their home of gold
This in God’s word is told, evils abound
When these signs come to pass, nearing the end at last
It will come very fast, trumpets will sound

Jesus is coming soon morning or night or noon
Many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound
All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies
Going where no one dies, heavenward bound

Troubles will soon be o’er, happy forevermore
When we meet on that shore, free from all care
Rising up in the sky, telling this world goodbye
Homeward we then will fly, glory to share!

Jesus is coming soon morning or night or noon
Many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound
All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies
Going where no one dies, heavenward bound

The Encroaching Darkness

I want to share one my favorite authors/speakers talking about a subject of great importance.  We are living in dark times, but we are not left alone and without hope.  It is so important to know who we are as children of God and to know what He has said so that we may view the dying world around us through his eyes.  We need to get back into the Word in a way like never before to be salt and light to a world that has largely turned away from Him!

Be blessed!

Forget TBT (Throwback Thursday) – Here’s TPT (Thought Provoking Thursday) Instead…

Thought Provoking Thursday (TPT)..

I come across interesting posts and articles from time to time that are worth sharing.  Here are a few for you to consider. They will take you some time, but I think it’s worth it.

I’m curious what your thoughts are on these.  Please share your comments with me!

Blessings!

This Present Darkness…

Periodically, I will go back and re-read books that I find valuable or entertaining.  In keeping with this tradition, I’m about to start reading This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti again.

The Bible tells us that what we deal with on a daily basis is not physical in nature; rather, it is spiritual.  Failing to understand that basic truth can cause all kinds of problems in your life.  There is a war going on for your soul and you will always be a casualty if you don’t know you’re in the cross-hairs of the enemy!  Paul clues us in to this foundational truth about life in his letter to the Ephesians:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)

Our struggle is against whom?  President Obama?  Republicans/Democrats?  Blacks, whites, neo-nazis, or Al-Queda?  No.  We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood.  We struggle against spiritual forces.  So many times we set our aim on people, not realizing all along that there is more at play than what meets the eye.  Did you ever stop to think on the higher reality that those who cause us difficulty and harm, though responsible for their actions, are under the influence of evil spiritual powers?   I really wonder how many of the ailments we see plaguing society are really caused by spiritual influence rather than physical imperfections (split personalities, depression, suicide, ADD, homosexuality, abortion, sexual perversion, etc…).  Saying that they are influenced by the spiritual does not give license to condone or practice these activities, but it can shed light as to the source of the problem.  Dealing with these types of problems with medicine will never work if they are spiritual in nature.  This is not to say that there are not true medical conditions out there that can be treated, but you have to admit that the concept of a spiritual root is provocative and worthy of serious consideration.  Along the lines of this train of thought, if there were demons present and active in the time of Jesus, did they pack up shop and call it a day when he ascended to heaven?  I think not!  That begs to question, “Where did they go?” and “What, if anything, are they doing now?”  I submit to you that they didn’t go anywhere and are just as active today, if not more active.  But I digress….

Notice that Paul gives a hierarchical listing: rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers.  Just like any modern military, there is an order to Satan’s forces, each with increasingly higher power and authority to work their evil.  Notice that Paul also clues us into the where: the heavenly places.  Where is that?  Those are the places you cannot see but exist nonetheless.  We now know from science that we live in more that four dimensions.  Four you say?  Height, depth, width, and time make up the four observable dimensions, but there are others that are not directly perceptible.  Science is confirming what the Bible has said all along.  Even though we cannot directly perceive the heavenly realms with our eyes, they exist and are populated with both good and evil beings.

The concept of evil and even the use of the word is largely missing in our sophisticated, humanist view of the world at large.  But make no mistake, just because we don’t use the word or acknowledge its workings, evil is present, alive, and on the move in the world today.  Christians accept the reality of the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  If we can accept that each person of the Trinity is actively at work in the world today, then how large a leap of logic does it take to realize that Satan and his angels are hard at work in the world as well?

Sometimes it takes a vivid illustration to make this point and This Present Darkness will snap you out of any sleepy illusion that you may hold regarding the world of the spirit  and give you a fictional, but very thought-provoking view of what it looks like behind the scenes in the realm of the spiritual as it collides and interacts with what we see in the physical.

There is a war raging all around you.  Not consciously making a choice for one side or the other will not prevent you from becoming embroiled in the fray.  The war is real, the stakes are high, and you cannot escape it!  If your eyes are not open to this reality, then I pray that you take the time to explore my claims so that you can prepare and equip yourself to be the active warrior and not an unknowing victim.

Fortunately, the hard part is already done for you:  Jesus died according to the scriptures, was buried, and rose on the third day according to the scriptures.  Putting your faith in him and believing that only he has the power to cleanse you of your sin (another word we do not use much today), break you out of the chains of your current bondage, set you free, and make you a new man or woman truly alive as you were created to be is the solution.  And he will also give you the power to stand against the tide of evil washing over the face of the earth…the power to stand against this present darkness!

Be blessed!

Before Abraham Was, I am…

John 8:58 has got to be one of my favorite passages in the Bible!  Jesus just finished confounding the scribes and the Pharisees when they tried to test him with the woman caught in adultery (v. 2-11).

He then begins to tell them that he is the light of the world and that the truth will set you free.  The scribes and the Pharisees just cannot take it any longer at this point and start to engage him again, saying “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Jesus explains it for them again, telling them if they were children of Abraham, then they would be doing the works that Abraham did.  As it was, they were trying to kill him – something Abraham wouldn’t do because he would understand who Jesus is and embrace the truth he was imparting to the people.

So they retort, using the insult that they weren’t born of immorality (implying that Jesus was a bastard as a result of his virgin birth) and again cling to the fact that Abraham was their father.  Jesus quickly corrects them and lets them know who their true father is: the Devil.  They claim he has a demon and Jesus replies that he honors his Father and they (the scribes and the Pharisees) dishonor him (Jesus) by what they are doing.

Again, Jesus imparts wisdom, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”  That does it.  The scribes and Pharisees have heard enough!  “Now we know you have a demon.  Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death’.  Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died?  And the prophets died!  Who do you make yourself out to be?

And here is the part I love: Jesus breaks it down and makes it really simple for them.  The results were staggering and the implications profound:

 If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing.  It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’  But you have not known him.  I know him.  If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.  Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day.  He saw it and was glad.  So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”  Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”  So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Wow!  Before Abraham was, I am.  Talk about a thunder-clap statement!  There can be no denying what Jesus just did: He directly tied himself to YHVH, the God of the burning bush…the God of creation.  I’ll bet you could have heard a pin drop in that moment!

But think of the implications of what he said as it pertains to us.  Before you were ever thought of or concived, he was God!  Before that illness struck you, he was God.  Before your husband left you for another woman, he was God!  Before you started having all those problems at work, he was God!  Before one particle of this universe came into being, he was God!

It wasn’t a concept or an idea that was nailed to the cross.  It wasn’t something ordinary that was put into the grave.  It wasn’t something ethereal that rose on the third day.  It was Jesus the Messiah that did all of these things…it was the I AM.

Think about that as you reflect upon whom it is you serve.  It makes all the difference in the world!

The War Within…

We recently covered Romans Chapter 7 on a Sunday morning in church and reading this again just serves to remind me of the war within…the war between the flesh and the spirit.

I found it interesting to see that the law allows us to recognize sin, and that recognition produces the desire in us, as a fallen race, to do that which we ought not do.

What then shall we say?  That the law is sin?  By no means!  yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin.  For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”  But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.  For apart from the law, sin lies dead.  I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.  The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.  For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.  So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me?  By no means!  It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.  For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. (vv. 7-14 ESV).

Furthermore, the flesh produces all manner of conflict as show by Paul when he continues in verses 15-23:

For I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (vv. 15-23 ESV)

Paul describes the war we all experience within and he, very interestingly, personifies sin.  He doesn’t describe it as some inanimate, impassive, or impotent idea; rather, he uses active words like “seizing”, “deceived”, and “killed” to accurately describe what sin seeks to do to all of mankind who know the righteous Law of God.

This war plagues all who know the truth and Paul laments this, then gives the remedy:

Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.  There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.  By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 7:24 – 8:5 ESV)

Thank God!

Lord, may I live by the Spirit and not the flesh this day and every day through your power and sacrifice on my behalf.  Amen.

Daniel’s Gloves

Someone thought enough of me to share this.  In keeping with that same spirit, I pass it on to you…

I sat, with two friends, in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off
the corner of the town-square.  The food and the company were both especially
good that day.
 
As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street.  There,
walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods
on his back.  He was carrying, a well-worn sign that read, ‘I will work for
food.’  My heart sank.
 
I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us
had stopped eating to focus on him.  Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and
disbelief.
 
We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind.  We finished
our meal and went our
separate ways.  I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them.  I
glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange
visitor.  I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some
response.  I drove through town and saw nothing of him.  I made some purchases
at a store and got back in my car.

Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me: ‘Don’t go back to the
office until you’ve  at least driven once more around the square…’
 
Then with some hesitancy, I headed back into town.  As I turned the square’s
third corner, I saw him.  He was standing on the steps of the store front
church, going through his sack.
 
I stopped and looked; feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to
drive on.  The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God:
an invitation to park.  I pulled in, got out and approached the town’s newest
visitor.
 
‘Looking for the pastor?’ I asked…
 
‘Not really,’ he replied, ‘just resting.’
 
‘Have you eaten today?’
 
‘Oh, I ate something early this morning.’
 
‘Would you like to have lunch with me?’
 
‘Do you have some work I could do for you?’
       
‘No work,’ I replied ‘I commute here to work from the city, but I would like
to take you to lunch.’
 
‘Sure,’ he replied with a smile.
 
As he began to gather his things, I asked some surface questions.  Where you
headed?’
 
‘St. Louis’
 
‘Where you from?’
 
‘Oh, all over; mostly Florida …’
 
‘How long you been walking?’
 
‘Fourteen years,’ came the reply.
 
I knew I had met someone unusual.  We sat across from each other in the same
restaurant I had left earlier.  His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38
years.  His eyes were dark yet clear, and he
spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling.  He removed his
jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, ‘Jesus is The Never Ending
Story.’

Then Daniel’s story began to unfold.. He had seen rough times early in life.
He’d made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences.. Fourteen years
earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in
Daytona.  He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent
and some equipment.. A concert, he thought.

He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and
in those services he saw life more clearly… He gave his life over to God.
 
‘Nothing’s been the same since,’ he said, ‘I felt the Lord telling me to keep
walking, and so I did, some 14 years now.’
 
‘Ever think of stopping?’ I asked.
 
‘Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me But God has given me
this calling.  I give out Bibles.  That’s what’s in my sack… I work to buy
food and Bibles, and I give them out
when His Spirit leads..’
 
I sat amazed.  My homeless friend was not homeless.. He was on a mission and
lived this way by
choice.  The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked:

‘What’s it like?’
 
‘What?’
 
‘To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your
sign?’
 
‘Oh, it was humiliating at first.  People would stare and make comments.  Once
someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly
didn’t make me feel welcome.  But
then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and
change people’s concepts of other folks like me.’
 
My concept was changing, too.  We finished our dessert and gathered his
things.  Just outside the door, he paused He turned to me and said, ‘Come Ye
blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom
I’ve prepared for you.. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was
thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in.’
 
I felt as if we were on holy ground. ‘Could you use another Bible?’ I asked.
 
He said he preferred a certain translation.  It traveled well and was not too
heavy.  It was also his personal favorite.. ‘I’ve read through it 14 times,’
he said.
 
‘I’m not sure we’ve got one of those, but let’s stop by our church and see’ I
was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very
grateful.
 
‘Where are you headed from here?’ I asked.
 
‘Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon.’
 
‘Are you hoping to hire on there for awhile?’
 
‘No, I just figure I should go there.  I figure someone under that star right
there needs a Bible, so that’s where I’m going next.’
 
He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission.
I drove him back to the town-square where we’d met two hours earlier, and as
we drove, it started raining.  We parked and unloaded his things.
 
‘Would you sign my autograph book?’ he asked.. ‘I like to keep messages from
folks I meet.’
 
I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my
life.  I encouraged him to stay strong.  And I left him with a verse of
scripture from Jeremiah, ‘I know the plans I
have for you, declared the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you;
Plans to give you a future and a hope.’
 
‘Thanks, man,’ he said. ‘I know we just met and we’re really just strangers,
but I love you.’
 
I know,’ I said, ‘I love you, too.’ ‘The Lord is good!’
 
‘Yes, He is.. How long has it been since someone hugged you?’ I asked.

A long time,’ he replied.
 
And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I
embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed.. He put his things
on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, ‘See you in the New
Jerusalem.’
 
‘I’ll be there!’ was my reply.
       
He began his journey again.  He headed away with his sign dangling from his
bedroll and pack of Bibles.  He stopped, turned and said, ‘When you see
something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?’
 
‘You bet,’ I shouted back, ‘God bless.’
 
‘God bless.’ And that was the last I saw of him.
 
Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong.. The cold front
had settled hard upon the town.  I bundled up and hurried to my car.. As I sat
back and reached for the emergency brake,
I saw them…. a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the
length of the handle.  I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered
if his hands would stay warm that night without
them.
 
Then I remembered his words:  ‘If you see something that makes you think of
me, will you pray
for me?’
 
Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office.. They help me to see the world
and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my
unique friend and to pray for his
ministry. ‘See you in the New Jerusalem,’ he said.  Yes, Daniel, I know I
will….
 
‘I shall pass this way but once.  Therefore, any good that I can do or any
kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way
again.’
 
Prayer is one of the best gifts we receive.  There is no cost but a lot of
rewards.  Let’s continue to pray for one another.. God bless and have a nice
day!
 
‘Father, I ask you to bless my friends, relatives and e-mail buddies reading
this right now.  Show them a new revelation of your love and power.  Holy
Spirit, I ask you to minister to their spirit at this very moment.  Where
there is pain, give them your peace and mercy.  Where there is self-doubt,
release a renewed confidence through your grace, In Jesus’ precious Name,
Amen.’