Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

“When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”  But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home.  Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed.  I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers.  I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come.  And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”  When Jesus heard this, he was amazed.  Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!  And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world-from east and west-and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites-those for whom the Kingdom was prepared-will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, ‘Go back home.  Because you believed, it has happened.”  And the young servant was healed that same hour.” (Matthew 8:5-13)

“Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom.  And he healed every kind of disease and illness.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?  And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:12-14).

According to research done by The Joshua Project, there are over 6,550 people groups on earth who have not heard the Good News about eternal life through our Savior and Messiah Jesus Christ.  Want to know who they are and where they are?  Click here (But first count the cost of having access to this knowledge, as you will instantly realize your responsibility to intercede for these people through continuous prayer): http://public.imb.org/globalresearch/Pages/ResearchData.aspx

Let us pray to the Lord of the harvest to send workers to his fields to share the truth of eternal life through Jesus Christ to the remaining people who have never even heard of Him.  Like the Roman officer, let our faith put events into motion in the heavens.  When we pray for the Lord to send workers into these fields, we must understand the power behind our prayers.  We know the will of God on this issue (that ALL would hear), so we know our prayers match His will.  And we know that our prayers are the vehicles through which He accomplishes his purposes on earth.  We are called upon by the Most High God to use our voice on behalf of the lost, to lift them up in faith, that God would reveal himself to them so that they may be saved.

Scrolling through the list of the unreached, we see that many of these people groups have less than 100 people; they are completely remote and tribal.  They live on remote islands, at the top of unchartered mountains, in unexplored parts of jungles, and wild habitats.  God loves them all and wants them in His family.

These are our future brothers and sisters; our future family.  We cannot let them down by failing to pray for them while they are lost.  We see that hundreds of thousands of these people are lost because they are physically deaf and cannot hear the Word of God.  Most are also illiterate, so how can they be reached?  God will reach them through our prayers.  In response to our prayers, God will say ‘Go,’ and His workers will GO!  God will say ‘Do this,’ and his servants will do it.  The Roman officer in God’s Word understood very clearly how it works.  Do we?

Here is an example of how we can pray for them:

Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for the gift of life and for saving me and bringing me into your family through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.  Somehow you made sure that I heard about Christ and you prepared my heart to believe in Him.  Lord, I know that it is your will that all would hear of the free gift you offer through your royal Son Jesus Christ and that none would perish.  In response to your love and for saving me, I long for all to experience what I have with you.  Today I lift up these unreached people groups [HERE, SPECIFICALLY NAME PEOPLE GROUPS IN THE LIST], that you would send your workers into their fields to proclaim the Good News about the Kingdom and Jesus Christ to them.  I pray for their salvation, that they may live in the House of the Lord forever.  May they praise your Holy Name and bring your Name great honor and glory through their praise and by living holy lives in honor of Christ Jesus.  May they acknowledge their sins, confess them to you, repent of them wholeheartedly, and follow Christ Jesus’s example in every way.  May they fellowship with each other to grow in their faith, pray for each other, and may they have access to the Word of God.  Lord, I also ask for your protection over them as they grow with you, that the enemy cannot come to kill, steal, and destroy the relationship they have with you.  Give their hearts good soil which receives your Word and causes it to grow deep roots that can never be uprooted by any force contrary to your will.  May your Holy Spirit do His work in their lives wherever they are and may your Kingdom come!

And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all peoples will hear it, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)

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But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

“Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder.  Now others are building on it.  But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have–Jesus Christ.  Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials–gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw.  But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done.  The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.  If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.  But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss.  The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.”  (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)

“Then Jesus left Capernaum and went down to the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan River.  Once again crowds gathered around him, and as usual he was teaching them.  Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question, ‘Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?’  Jesus answered them with a question: ‘What did Moses say in the law about divorce?’  ‘Well, he permitted it,’ they replied.  ‘He said a man can give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away.’  But Jesus responded,He wrote this commandment only as a concession to your hard hearts.  But ‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation.  This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.’  Later, when he was alone with his disciples in the house, they brought up the subject again.  He told them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her.  And if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:1-12)

What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.  What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.”  (Isaiah 5:20-21)

“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.  For people will love only themselves and their money.  They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.  They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control.  They will be cruel and hate what is good.  They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.  They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.  Stay away from people like that!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

“One day Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting!” (Luke 17:1)

Last week was a historical week in both the world and for God, as the one nation on Earth that the whole world recognizes as a Christian nation made homosexual marriage legal in all 50 states via a Supreme Court ruling that required literally a majority of 5 votes.  5 people is all it took to pass this “law” and trump the 14 states left in America who were holding on to God’s definition of marriage, which was, is and will always be, the uniting of one man and one woman in a sacred union before God that makes the two of them one.  Therefore, the sexual union of any other variety of participants does not meet the requirements needed to fulfill the definition of sacred marriage before God.

One oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms bonded together makes water; no other combination of elements makes water.  Combining other elements together may make a variety of liquids, but calling any of those liquids “water” does not make it so.  For the Christian, one man and one woman bonded together in a sacred union before God makes marriage.  Calling any other union “marriage” does not make it so; it insults God, our Father, and the Author of marriage.

The spiritual implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling on homosexual “marriage” are enormous, as marriage, to God, is an earthly shadow representation of the Lord’s Heavenly, Holy and perfect order in the spiritual realm.  God created and defined marriage.  The Lord will not be mocked on this matter.  Any Christian who celebrates the “equality in marriage” law that was passed last week in America is deceived.  

The deception threatens the relationship with God of all Christians, not just gay Christians.  A straight Christian does not struggle with homosexual issues, but because of blurred lines on the definition of marriage now, as time passes, more and more straight Christians will find themselves on the slippery slope of not identifying homosexual unions as sin; they are in danger of encouraging and celebrating these unions, which defy the Holy and eternal ways of our Lord.  And if they encourage and celebrate it, they are tempting gay Christians.

I am not addressing the world, but the Church, the followers of Jesus Christ.

The world has always twisted the holy ways and laws of God, for it is completely enslaved to Satan who works incessantly to pervert and flip upside down anything that is sacred.  The world has its ways of doing things like “worship”, “love” and “marriage”, but they are not God’s ways and never have been.  That is nothing new.  The world has a secular version of every sacred thing of God.

No, the world is not the problem.

The Church is the problem.  The watered-down, lukewarm, deceived Church who loves to mingle with and flirt with and prostitute herself to the world; the fickle Church with wandering and batting eyes, who says with her mouth that she loves the Lord while she caresses the world.

If we want to know how this behavior makes God feel, we need only read the Book of Isaiah.

To gay Christians, no, your orientation is not a choice.  You had no say in that matter and your struggles are real, not imagined.  Your desire to experience love, to give it and to receive it, is real.  Your desire to express your love sexually with someone is real.  You do not fit the promiscuous stereotype of wild, perverted sexual immorality.  You just want and need to be loved, to have someone you call your own, to have someone to do life exclusively with. And to do these things with someone of the opposite sex is as foreign to you as doing these things with a person of the same-sex would be to a heterosexual person.  The idea is strange and repulsive.

And yet, when you pursue worldly love like this, you end up hiding from God.  Your conscience weighs on you.  You know you have chosen an idol (worldly love) over God and every day that you wake up and choose that idol, you reject God’s ways and His plan for your life.  Your relationship with God suffers.  You do things to try to nurture your relationship with God; go to church, volunteer, study your Bible, but the void and the shame remain.  God did not create you gay, so you cannot reconcile your desires and behavior with His holiness, and this creates a seeming impossibility for you.

If you are experiencing this, understand that the worldly love you want and need so badly is dominating your thoughts; your flesh is tormenting you and bullying you.  2 Corinthians 10:5 states that, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  We do this through the renewing of our minds through God’s Holy Living Word.

You did not choose your sexual orientation, you were born into it, just like everyone on earth is born into sin.  But if you actively pursue the desires of your flesh in this matter, your conscience will convict you.  If you override your conscience for the sake of having a romantic relationship, you may actually succeed in hardening your heart about it so that your conscience does not bother you anymore.  That IS your choice.

But know that everything will be subjected to the refining fires of God’s judgment and anything done apart from Him will be burned up.  We are born naked into this world and we leave this world just as naked when we die.  You cannot take your worldly love with you; it ends when you die.  And, your ‘love’, having been done outside of the holiness of God’s will, it will be burned up on judgment day.  You will have nothing to show for all your time spent in your ‘marriage’.

So what? Are you supposed to just not have anyone to love?  Are you supposed to go through life alone while everyone else you know has someone to experience life with, to marry, to raise a family with, to grow old with?

If you are asking yourself these questions and you think you are hopelessly alone, you are wrong and really quite a bit self-absorbed.  Beware of pity as it is one of Satan’s most effective tools to destroy people with.  There are straight people all over the world asking the same questions.

But any of us who look further into the future than THIS DAY, hoping for this and that, are in danger of temptation and being deceived.  

We are to be grateful for this day we’ve been given.  We are to focus on our Lord, Jesus Christ.  We are to be one with Him.  We are to follow Him.  We are to follow in His ways and obey His commands.  We are to live quiet, productive lives, serving others, spreading the Good News of salvation in Christ Jesus BY THE WAY WE LIVE.  

Choose today whom you will serve.  And when you make that choice, stop complaining that life is not fair and that you got ripped off.  Christians suffer for Christ as Christ suffered for us.  If your suffering is in the form of ‘loneliness’ because you choose Christ over worldly love, accept your lot cheerfully.  Other Christians are suffering in prison, are living in fear of being ‘outed’ for their Christianity, are being rejected and persecuted by their own families, are being driven from their homes and hunted like animals.  Other Christians are being beheaded and mutilated because they choose Christ over their own lives.  And as we rush faster and faster to the end, all Christians everywhere will suffer.  Suffer your lot joyfully for Christ! Separate yourself from the world while there is still time.

Choose each day whom you will serve and be grateful for this day, the present day.  Be focused on the present day and live it with the Lord if He is the One you choose.

Then you will enjoy His love, His friendship, His companionship, His provision for your every need.  And yes, your “need” for worldly love will take its rightful and proper place in submission to your relationship with Christ.

Straight Christians, please understand that gay Christians carry an enormous burden, as the need to find a partner in life is a basic human instinct and an overwhelming one.  Extend some grace.  Have mercy.  Gay Christians do not fit in anywhere.  They go through life knowing their very existence does not fit the way things are supposed to be and this knowledge alone has driven countless precious people to take their own life.  Jesus’ command to treat others as you would have them treat you applies to straight Christians in a major way in this matter and you will answer for how you treat them and for every idle word you speak to them or about them.  Take heed and do it fearfully and humbly, as the Lord Jesus Christ LOVES them very much.

Never forget that Satan’s endgame is to kill, steal and destroy.  It is his deepest desire to rob every one of us of our eternal inheritance as God’s children.  He covets everything that has been designated to us in God’s love, especially our eternal life.  If he can confuse us as to the ways of the Lord so that we accept the lie over the truth, he will succeed in robbing us of our eternal future.  We must always stay on guard and be alert to everything that is happening so that we can rightly discern the truth in all things.

Lord Jesus, please come soon.  And in all things, may Your will be done.

“Lord, hear my prayer!  Listen to my plea! Don’t turn away from me in my time of distress.  Bend down to listen, and answer me quickly when I call to you.  For my days disappear like smoke, and my bones burn like red-hot coals.  My heart is sick, withered like grass, and I have lost my appetite. Because of my groaning, I am reduced to skin and bones.  I am like an owl in the desert, like a little owl in a far-off wilderness.  I like awake, lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.” (Psalm 102:1-7)

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)

“But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem.  He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.” (Daniel 6:10)

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.  Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”  (Matthew 6:6)

Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.” (Mark 6:31-32)

The Holy Scriptures share with us a valuable habit of our Lord Jesus Christ: He often withdrew into solitude.

The importance of the fact that He “often withdrew” into solitude should not be lost on the Christian; we should take note that in order to withdraw into solitude, Christ did not live in solitude.  He lived an engaged life with others, interacting with them, socializing with them.  He placed an importance on His time with people and spent the majority of His time serving them, teaching them, healing them, speaking with them, eating and drinking with them and surrounding Himself with them.  Because of this, He needed to rest and re-energize and did so by retreating to “lonely places”, “the wilderness”, “to solitary places”, to be alone with God.

Scripture greatly encourages time alone with God, giving example after example of righteous people deliberately and purposefully withdrawing into “places” of isolation for their time alone with God.  In those places, they are able to rest, relax their soul, their mind and their body.  It is in these places, in private, that they find their spiritual oasis they dip into for renewal.

Solitude is a place of reflection.  Reflection cannot successfully happen apart from solitude.

Scripture shows us that Jesus withdrew into solitary places to be alone when He received news about the death of John the Baptist and after performing the miracle of feeding 5,000 people (Matthew 14), when He was in distress just before His crucifixion (Luke 22), and before making the major decision of which disciples He would choose as His apostles.  Jesus was often even “alone” with his disciples, so we see that group solitude also has its benefits.

So the Christian is called to be a social creature.  We are not to live our lives in isolation, for what fruit do we bear there?  How can we fulfill our calling to spread the Good News of Christ Jesus if we are not interacting with others?  Our very lives should be as lamps set up to light the darkness; we should not put our lit lamps under baskets, as Jesus illustrated so eloquently in His parable: “No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.” (Luke 11:33)

Discernment is required here to achieve balance. The calling to be social is not a calling to be a busybody.  We are not called to fill our days with so much activity and toiling that we lose our focus and become distracted and fatigued.  Some of us are extroverts; some are introverts or ambiverts.  We are not all called to approach the mission of spreading the Gospel the same way. But we ARE all called to approach the mission with deliberate purpose and thought.

If any of us are living our lives in a state of isolation, void of human contact, we should take heed.  Technology advances are actively making it so easy to get through a day without any real human contact.  Posting and scrolling through social media and “liking” and commenting on posts is no replacement for looking into someone’s eyes or hearing their voice as you communicate with them.  Sadly, studies are showing that, with the advances of social media and other technologies that eliminate the need to have real contact with others, people are feeling more isolated and lonely than ever before has been recorded.

Depression rates are skyrocketing and apathy is rampant.  Technology is perpetuating desensitization on a global scale and the human being, while able to instantly connect with any information about anything we want to know, is left more humanly disconnected than ever.

Contrary to solitude, which is healthy in moderate doses, loneliness is an emotion, a state of mind and feeling of isolation that is destructive.  Loneliness is not of God; is the result of being away from His loving Presence. Throughout the Psalms, we see time and again how David pleaded with God to be near to him and to never remove His Presence from him.  How lonely and desperate are the Psalms David wrote while anguishing and begging for God to close the distance between them.  That is loneliness.  Fellowship with God, hearing, reading, thinking on His Holy Word in a solitary place is the remedy to a lonely, anguishing, exhausted soul.

God promises that He is always with us, so if we are in fellowship with Him, we do not experience prolonged bouts of loneliness.  He is the ultimate company and friend.  He is the antithesis of loneliness.  He may send us into the wilderness for refinement or discipline, but He is always with us.

People are hurting and lost; many are losing their sensitivity to the preciousness of life, goodness and righteousness.  The burden is on the Christian to be the light in the darkness and the way we do that is to interact in a real way with others; make time for them and be purposeful in the time we spend with them.  Then we can withdraw as needed for our alone time in solitude, just as Jesus did.  There we will always find refreshment from the living waters of God’s Word and His Presence.  Find the balance.  Leverage the benefits of solitude in our lives.  “Come out” of the world and take refuge in the rest that is found in solitude.  Then we are able to shine the light of the Lamp that is inside of us so we can illuminate the darkness around.

Solitude is not necessarily a “weapon of warfare” in the great spiritual battle, but it is a private room in the fortress and stronghold we withdraw into to rest and be renewed.  If we are not properly rested, if we are not regularly renewed, we run a high risk of being too fatigued and exhausted to stand firm in our daily battles.  Be social, spread the Good News of Christ with wisdom and discernment as opportunities present themselves.  Then slip away ‘to a quiet place and rest awhile.’

 

 

I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me?” (Psalm 6:3)

“The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.” (Isaiah 57:15)

Restore us, O Lord, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had!” (Lamentations 5:21)

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24)

“‘My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you.  For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.’  As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children  Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?  If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.  Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how.  But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.  No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it’s painful!  But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.  So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.  Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”  (Hebrews 12:5b-13)

The Lord restores.  The Lord can, does, and will restore anything He wants to, for the whole world and everything in it belongs to Him.

We experience loss in our lives from many different sources; things we cherish become casualties of living in a fallen world and we watch as things and people we love die, relationships end, reputations flounder, possessions disappear.  Many of our sacrifices add up to so little in return or to nothing at all; dreams and ambitions get thwarted or we outright fail in so many ways.  Sometimes we lose precious, irreplaceable things through no fault of our own.  Sometimes we are directly responsible for painful losses we experience; our own sin, our own horrible judgment decisions rob us and destroy us.

This is a personal post, one in which I am compelled to document on a personal level that the Lord restores.  What can easily be called “The Lost Years” of my life were caused by my rebellion.

For me, there was a 4 year window of time in my young adult life where I was given the opportunity to take the next step in my educational path and attend a wonderful college to pursue my undergraduate degree.  The sky was the limit.  This was an opportunity in discovery that could go either way, to my benefit or to my destruction.

I was afforded the life that many do not get to live.  The campus was a paradise.  The classrooms, library and fitness facilities were state of the art.  The best.  Even the dining hall food was excellent.  I could have seized the moment in every way to feed my mind with every marvel in education I was curious about. I could have sculpted my body into physically the strongest and fittest version of myself possible.  I could have spent my time in social settings, doing fun, healthy things with others, forging and fostering lifelong friendships and relationships.  I could have networked and belonged to strong communities that would aid me throughout my life as I needed them.  I could have grown strong in my faith and spent my time renewing my mind and life in the beauty and guidance of God’s Eternal Word.  I could have given to others in so many ways and been a light in their lives.  I could have…I should have…

But instead of achieving these virtuous things, I was attracted to trouble makers who had no focus, no ambition, no goals of any worth.  I was attracted to carefree, lazy, godless people who only cared about having a good time and so I became just like them.  I managed to graduate from school after 4 years there, but aside from my paper, I have nothing to show for my time there other than heartache and regret at all the opportunities that I foolishly threw away.

These thoughts and many more have been a heavy burden on my heart for a long time. The sobering reality that I cannot ever go back and do it over has haunted me.  If only I could go back, I would do it right.

This may seem petty in the grand scheme of the world and world events.  It may seem petty in comparison to what most people consider true loss, myself included. I am not naive to tragedy and real loss, but loss happens on many levels and it impacts us in many different ways.  For me, this was a loss that landed squarely on my shoulders.  I was completely to blame for the collective loss of 4 years of my life that I have dubbed “The Lost Years”.   My sin; my own rebellion did this to me.

But the Lord restores.

After 15 years, the Lord has given me a new opportunity and I have the chance again to seize every good thing from this new window of time.  It’s like a smaller-lesser version of the Parable of the Lost Son has happened to me: I had it made, went away, squandered everything, was a loser, returned to the Lord, committed my life to Him again, and after several years of wondering what could have been ‘if only’, I am being restored in a very tangible and pleasantly emotional way.  Of course, the Parable of the Lost Son concerns the eternal implications of being lost and found, but it speaks to my heart greatly when I consider it as also applying to my earthly life and what I have lost due to my rebellion.  I praise God that He has saved me from eternal destruction.  I also praise Him that He is able to restore me in my life on earth as well.

The heartache of loss and regret I’ve carried for 15 years is the fuel that keeps hot the fire that is refining me.  I am grateful for this new door that has opened to me. To walk through it means that I must leave the room of emptiness I have been trapped in for so long.  I get to finally leave that room and shut the door behind me. I get to walk through the door of opportunity once again and make the most of what awaits me on the other side of it.  Just the knowledge alone that there is a new, fresh chapter opening up to me has restored my hope, my outlook on my life, my outlook on myself, my perception of my own worthiness, all of which had been what seemed irreversibly damaged because of my own sin.

The Lord restores.

As the children of God, we have the promise from our Lord that He makes things new again.  The Lord restores.  “Behold, I am doing a new thing!” Though Job did nothing to deserve the horrible things that happened to him, Scriptures say that, when Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored all of his fortunes and blessed him even more (Job 42:10-17).  Likewise, Joseph and many other people in Scripture suffered loss through no fault of their own.  But they were restored.

King David, who was directly responsible for heart-wrenching losses because of his sins (the child he created with Bathsheba died and he watched of 70,000 die by plague because he took a census of his warrior count instead of trusting the power of his Lord, to name a couple) also experienced the restoration of the Lord.

Does restoration mean that we get back exactly what we lost? No, it does not.  But the effects of loss take a toll on our spirit, our minds and our bodies.  As the saying goes, perception is reality.  Through the renewing of our minds in our communion with the Lord, He restores us.  This restoration may sometimes manifest itself in our physical world and belongings as well, but He restores US.

Praise the Lord for second chances.  Praise the Lord that He chastens, disciplines and then gently helps us to stand.  Praise the Lord for the wilderness, for when we have wandered through it on our own accord only to be left parched and barely hanging on, He offers the oasis to quench our thirst and give us life again. Praise the Lord for the experience of The Lost Years in whatever form they come, for without the acute and sharp knowledge that we have lost something precious, we take for granted what we have, particularly time.  Praise the Lord for new beginnings, the reminder of which we have every single day with every rising sun.  Praise the Lord that the earth and everything in it belongs to Him, for everything is at His disposal and perfect judgment.  Praise the Lord for His unfailing Love, for without it all is lost and can never be found.

I write this entry from the perspective of one who has experienced the rush of being set free from a spiritual and emotional bondage; the heavy shackles of regret and longing.

However, just last week, I wore those shackles.  Yet, I knew I am loved by Christ Jesus.  I knew I would be restored, whether in this life or in the eternal life He has given me.  Christ’s love is sufficient for everything and I have lived my life for several years now trusting in His love every single day.  I did not know that it was His desire to help ease my mind over my version of The Lost Years, but now I know.

If you are experiencing “The Lost Years” now or if you are lamenting your past, I am writing this for you.  The Lord restores.  The Lord can restore you if something precious has been taken from you. His love is sufficient.  The Lord can restore you if you are suffering by your own hand, your own sin.  His love is sufficient.  The Lord can restore refreshing waters into the desert wilderness you live in.  Whatever our circumstance, however seemingly hopeless, the Lord is infinitely bigger.  He can handle our mess and restore us.  Have hope.  Pray.  Answer your conscience.  Sin no more.  Whether in this life or in life eternal or both, the Lord is Mighty and He restores and makes new again. What an amazing thing it is to be the recipient of a gift so wonderful.  Praise the Lord.

“The end of the world is coming soon.  Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.  Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.  Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.”  (1 Peter 4:7-9)

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.  Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.  Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.  In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus.  So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.  All power to him forever! Amen.” (1 Peter 5:7-11)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.  All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!” (Psalm 111:10)

“Fear of the Lord is a life-giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death.” (Proverbs 14:27)

“Fear of the Lord leads to life, bringing security and protection from harm.” (Proverbs 19:23)

Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul.  Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25)

Alex Jones is the head of an independent news and media outlet in America called Info Wars” at http://www.infowars.com.  He is committed to reporting stories that the mainstream media does not report on and, as such, he has uncovered the truth about many events over the years.  His focus is largely on the shadow agenda of the one-world government elitists and because of this he often gets mocked.  Even the American President has taken his mocking stabs at Alex Jones, attempting to attack his credibility.

In the video, Alex Jones shares with his viewers that he senses that something horrible is happening or has already happened and it’s just a matter of short time before the world is impacted.  He senses ominous tension in the air and has asked many if they feel or sense something similar.  They all have.  No one can quite identify what is wrong, but it is enough to cause them anxiety and worry about the unknown that they are not usually susceptible to.  Understanding that we are spirits living in physical bodies, of course we would discern that something is amiss, especially if we are Christians and in constant fellowship with the Holy Spirit Who know all.  However, the Holy Spirit does not give us a spirit of fear, anxiety or worry, as these are not godly attributes.  But if we are spiritually alert and watchful, we all sense that the end is near and the world is speeding towards it.

Scriptures tell us that a world government will happen and that events in the last days will usher it in.  There are so many events happening at this time that we do not really know which events are occurring naturally and which ones are orchestrated to push the world along, but the details do not matter.  Everything is leading us to the return of Christ Jesus and Christians should be alert, watching the times, staying faithful in everything we do and praying at all times about everything.

Instead of worrying and living in fear, like the rest of the world is doing, we should be quietly making sure our lamps are full of oil; we should be prudent in every way, confidently taking care of our business and trusting that the Lord God Almighty is with us.  We should be ever conscientious of how fragile we are, how temporary life is, how temporary our belongings are, how limited our time is and how naked we truly are.  Having our minds right about our place in life puts everything that is happening on Earth into the proper perspective.  It helps us not to cherish the things and our lives in this world.  Jesus told us not to love our lives here; to not try to hang on to our lives, but rather to hate our lives in this world.   He did not use the word “hate” in the sense that we usually understand it; he was not taking the view of those who are depressed, hopeless or hateful.  He was highlighting that anything done apart from him is futile and will not withstand the refining fires of God’s judgment anyway.  We are to live in Him.  We are to bear fruit in Him.  We are to follow Him.  Our lives revolve around Him.  And if we are focused on Him as we should be, our attitude towards the things of this world is that none of it matters much.  We are pilgrims passing through, stewards of the Kingdom of God, voices in the wilderness. We have been given one job: to love others and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ with whatever time we are given on Earth.

Let the foolish try to harness control and power.  Let them waste their lives on Earth trying to enslave, manipulate and maneuver for domination.  Let them build monuments to themselves and steal from those who are weaker than they are.  Let them hoard all the riches they can.  They are wicked.  Their story has been told thousands of times through history.  An eternity of weeping and gnashing of teeth awaits them.  Their lives will come to nothing.  They will be forgotten and no one will think of them anymore.  All their scheming and effort and sleepless nights will amount to nothing but eternal misery.  Pray for them, that they are able to escape their own wickedness by turning to God and repenting before they are out of time.  

Indeed, we know that evil is real on Earth.  The devil is just like the foolish people of Earth and we already know how his story ends. As we watch, we watch with the understanding that we live in the last days.  Be surprised at nothing. Let no evil overwhelm you. Hearts will wax cold and that coldness will even turn children against their parents, brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, and this will be world-wide.  But, let no evil event send you into hiding.  Christians are called to light our lamps and place them where they can be seen at all times, by everyone.  We are to be the ones that love when no one else will love.  Yes, something wicked this way comes.  But we are not to fear it.  We fear only The Lord God Almighty who has already conquered death through His Son Jesus Christ.

Just as the rich rule over the poor, so the borrower is slave to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)

Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to love one another.” (Romans 13:8a)

Do not charge interest on the loans you make to a fellow Israelite, whether you loan money, or food, or anything else.  You may charge interest to foreigners, but you may not charge interest to Israelites, so that the Lord your God may bless you in everything you do in the land you are about to enter and occupy.” (Deuteronomy 23:19-20)

“Remember this–a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop.  But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.  You must each decide in your heart how much to give.  And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure.  ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’ And God will generously provide all you need.  Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.  As the Scriptures say, ‘They share freely and give generously to the poor.  Their good deeds will be remembered forever.’  For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat.  In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-10)

Our age is the age of entitlement and instant gratification, evidenced by debt.  How rarely we take the time to save our money for something we want.  For the sake of having things we want right now, but cannot afford, we willingly put forth our wrists and ankles for the shackles of debt to bind us as slaves.  We may not realize this, but financial debt is also spiritual bondage.  How can we contribute to the Kingdom of God if everything we have to our name and the money we work so hard for is not even enough to cover our debts?

God’s people are forbidden from charging each other usury (interest) on debts, yet in the world, and especially in the West, each day is ‘business as usual’.  It has never been easier than it is today to merely swipe a credit card in exchange for anything we want to have right now, but the exchange is a trap from hell, meant to enslave us and take away the joy of sowing into the Kingdom of God and advancing His Kingdom as we’ve been commanded to do.  Debt, quite simply, robs the Kingdom of God.

In these end times, Christians must stay alert and watch.  We must lead quiet lives in dignity and righteousness, owing nothing to anyone, except the debt of love.  We are to lead the world by example, staying on the narrow path and not mingling our ways with the world’s ways.

Indeed, the whole world is falling apart because of debt; whole countries are bankrupt, their people suffering unimaginable hardships because of the destruction caused by debt.

In the West, the clock is ticking, especially in America, where the government is in debt over $18 trillion, a number that the human mind cannot really even fathom.  The people of America, no matter now long they work cannot pay this debt, ever.  America is bankrupt and the storm on the horizon when that debt is called in is going to shake the whole world to its core in a most apocalyptic way.

Let the people of God, those called by His Mighty Name, not be a part of this demonic system of debt.  If any of us are in debt, now is the time to take it to the Lord in prayer for His help, stop spending money on things we do not need and get our necks out from under the slave master’s boot of debt.

We must be aggressive and eager to escape the shackles of debt, the way we would aggressively try to find a way to escape the trap of a psychotic captor who we knew intended to kill us.  The slave master is Satan.  We are free in Christ Jesus, Who freed us.  Let us live truly free in Christ Jesus during our brief life on Earth, not as slaves; not as helpless captives.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.  Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.  Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people.  Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.  Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.  For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.  If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?  Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.  If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different form anyone else?  Even pagans do that.  But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

A very popular “Christian” website publishes pictures and stories of the current Islamic “Crusades” happening in the Middle East and Africa.  The author is supposedly a convert to Christianity from Islam, having weighed the ways of Islam against his own moral compass and deciding that Christianity is superior.

As such, he calls his readers to take up arms to wage “Militant Christianity” and cites history’s many examples of Christians taking up physical arms, swords, and such to physically fight against zealous and extremist Muslims and purge them from the earth, since they are wicked and spiritually inferior to Christianity.

He writes about the “Us Versus Them” stance that Christians must take and he says the root of the spread of Islam throughout the world is the Church’s lukewarmness.  Essentially, he says, if the Church was strong, Islam would be a non-issue. But where Islam is strong, it is evidence that the Church is weak.  He says, if the Church is strong, then Islam will be weak.  But what kind of “strength” is he referring to?  He equates spiritual lukewarmness to physical battle-ready weakness and spiritual zealousness with a Christian’s willingness to physically battle flesh and blood wickedness.

A quick read of his standpoint and theory makes sense to the emotionally charged mind.  It’s a very human stance; one that every religion and nation has taken at some point.  He says his call for Christians to take up their “sword” is backed even by New Testament Scripture and he says that Jesus calls on Christians to do this. Whatever he found in Christianity that he considers “Superior” to Islam, he has yet held fast to the extreme Islam principle of killing the “enemy”.  Sadly, a skimming of the hundreds of comments on his website from fellow “Christians” shows that even those who wish to be zealous for God are lost and worldly in their reasoning, as they unfortunately agree with him.

But this is the age-old trick that makes Satan so powerful.  Present 90% truth, mixed with 10% falsehood, and those without the power of discernment in their spirit will believe that all of it is 100% truth.  The best liars that have ever existed have followed the evil one’s lead on this and it is most common in religion and politics, where the average person is fed just enough truth to believe everything that is being said.  CHRISTIANS, BEWARE OF THIS AND PRAY TO GOD ALMIGHTY THAT HE WILL GIVE YOU A DISCERNING SPIRIT THAT CORRECTLY DIVIDES TRUTH FROM LIE.

The old saying, ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” has never been so real as it is in matters of spiritual warfare.

What did Jesus Christ tell us to do about our enemies?  He told us to love them.  Indeed, He commands us to LOVE our enemies and to pray for them.  The “sword” our Lord speaks of is the Sword of the Spirit of God (The Word Of God), which we wield in prayer and obedience.  We protect ourselves by putting on the Armor of God, spiritual armor.

It is true that the mainstream Church, especially in the West, is lukewarm and dull; being subjugated more and more each day to liberal agendas and philosophies that are popular in culture but completely contradictory to Scripture.  The Word of God has instructed us that this is a sign that the end is near.  

The answer is not to take up arms and take part in the new Crusades of violence and hatred that is spreading across the globe, but to live righteously and to pray.

The battle is the Lord’s. We are called to pray. The Lord will purge evil and wickedness according to His perfect will on Earth, as it is not His will for evil to be in the Earth.  But, we are called to pray for it!  Prayer is the vessel that carries the will of God.  The lukewarm, dull Church is failing in this regard because they are not praying for God’s Will or His intervention in the Earth as they should.

The Lord raises up kings and authorities and armies as we see time and again throughout Scripture.  He uses people according to His good pleasure to accomplish His Holy Will. But Christians, who have been handed the keys to the Kingdom in Christ Jesus, must exercise our authority by praying and living righteous lives; demonstrating that we are citizens not of this world, but of the Kingdom of God.

Our lives should be living testimonies of the glory of God and his Supreme Authority over all creation.  Our lives should be conducted in a way that cannot be criticized: “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you.  Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” (Philippians 2:14-15)

“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.” (Philippians 1:27a)

We harvest what we plant.

The Christian does not plant hatred and violence, but love and righteousness. This is what separates us from the world and makes us stand out as citizens of the Kingdom of God.  Things that concern us, make us worry, make us feel helpless and scared, make us feel unprotected and fragile, or make us feel that we’re at the mercy of evil and wickedness, are the very things we must take to the throne of God Almighty in the Name of Jesus Christ who conquered death and has promised us eternal life.

We must live zealously, yes!  Zealous living for God is one of worship, right living, obedience and prayer.  This kind of zealousness is a sacrifice that greatly pleases the Lord and demonstrates that we belong to Him and are under His supervision and provision for our lives.  When we live this way, we show that we have a King we belong to and we trust Him in every way and in every situation.  If our dying breath is at the hands of a Muslim or any other persecutor, then so be it, as this world is not our permanent residence anyway.  We are guaranteed that we will leave this place behind, whether comfortably or violently.

The goal, therefore, is not to kill whoever does not believe in our God.  The goal is to present them with the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ so that they may believe and be saved from the second death, that is the spiritual death.  Many of us may find that this is our last action on earth; and what a glorious action that would be.

If we are ever tempted in any way to react to troubles the way the rest of the world does, the devil is nearby, guaranteed. Stay alert and pray!

“This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15b)

And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)

“Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth.  They cause the grain to grow, producing see for the farmer and bread for the hungry.  It is the same with my word.  I send it out, and it always produces fruit.  It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

From Voice of the Martyrs Ministry–“VOM workers distributed 2,000 Bibles in rural Nepal in August, through the support of Bibles Unbound sponsors.  A pastor who oversees 13 churches was so desperate for Bibles that he traveled to the Nepali capital of Kathmandu to get secondhand Bibles from several churches there.  Only 35 of the more than 600 believers in his churches owned Bibles.  While in Kathmandu, he learned of the VOM Bible program and submitted the names of 634 believers who needed Bibles.  He was amazed when he learned that he did not have to pay for the Bibles.  In Nepal, converts to Christianity from Hinduism or Buddhism become social outcasts, and some are even beaten.  Proselytism is not allowed, and those found guilty are subject to three years in prison.  Three months after the pastor requested the Bibles, a VOM team delivered them to his village.  ‘I still remember the day when I was searching for who could provide us used Bibles,’ the pastor wrote.  ‘But now we all have very new…Bibles.  This is not only a blessing; this is our God’s plan to have Bibles for us.’  The pastor old us his church reserves time each week to pray that the Bibles Unbound program will bless many other believers. (Voice of The Martyrs Newsletter, November 2012, ‘Bible Blessings In Nepal’)

While these Bibles were delivered in 2012, Bibles are actively being delivered all over the world, in the native languages of the people they are being produced for.  The Bibles Unbound program is a program that produces Bibles for people who have asked for them.

Projects are currently ongoing for Christians in Nigeria, China and India.  These people cannot afford their own Bible or cannot access one altogether, but they worship Jesus and desire to know Him more and more.  We have a unique opportunity to have a direct impact on their lives and an indirect impact on everyone they share the truth of Jesus Christ with.

These are NOT people who may or may not treat their Bible as some informative pamphlet, maybe reading it, maybe throwing it away.  These people want their own Bible and have asked for help to get one.

If this excites you, please visit http://www.biblesunbound.com/qry/mc_home.taf to sponsor ongoing Bibles to various projects.  

Or, you can make a One-Time contribution to get the Holy Bible to someone who desperately needs and wants one.  Just go here:  https://secure.persecution.com/p-418-bibles-to-captive-nations.aspx

“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)

“Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the court secretary, ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the Lords Temple!‘ Then Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan, and he read it.  Shaphan went to the king and reported, ‘Your officials have turned over the money collected at the Temple of the Lord to the workers and supervisors at the Temple.’  Shaphan also told the king, ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.’  So Shaphan read it to the king. When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair.  Then he gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the court secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal adviser: ‘Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah.  Inquire about the words written in this scroll that has been found.  For the Lord’s great anger is burning against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in this scroll.  We have not been doing everything it says we must do.’  So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to the New Quarter of Jerusalem to consult with the prophet Huldah.  She was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, the keeper of the Temple wardrobe.  She sad to them, ‘The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken!  Go back and tell the man who sent you, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this city and its people.  All the words written in the scroll that the king of Judah has read will come true.  For my people have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done.  My anger will burn against this place, and it will not be quenched.  But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the Lord and tell him: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: You were sorry and humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I said against this city and its people–that this land would be cursed and become desolate.  You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord.  So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace.  You will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city.'” So they took her message to back to the king.” (2 Kings 22:8-20)

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.  For people will love only themselves and their money.  They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful.  They will consider nothing sacred.  They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control.  They will be cruel and hate what is good.  They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.  They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.  Stay away from people like that!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

“I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God.  Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not.  Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.  For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching.  They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them what their itching ears want to hear.  They will reject the truth and chase after myths.  But you should keep a clear mind in every situation.  Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord.  Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.”  (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

The “day” has officially come when, world-wide, good is called evil and evil is called good, dark is called light and light is called dark, bitter is called sweet and sweet is called bitter (Isaiah 5:20).  These days are the days when the Holy ways of God are turned upside down and those who faithfully follow His ways are mocked, punished and persecuted.

If any of us is lucky enough to own a Bible, but we neglect the truth and power contained within its pages; if our Bible is ornamental or a space holder on a bookshelf, collecting dust, sitting silent, then we are like the people of ancient times who, having no king and no one to share the Book of the Law with them, did what seemed right in their own eyes. We have no supreme guidance or direction and no foundation of truth from which to address any moral question.  The ancients did what seemed best to them, but when they found the Book of the Law of God and learned what was truly right, they panicked and tore their clothes in despair for how wrong they really were.

The Holy Scriptures of God renew our mind with truth every time we read or hear them.  The Word is life-giving.  It guides us. It directs us.  It gives us wisdom and discernment.  It shows us right from wrong and even shares examples from people’s lives as they did right/wrong and the blessings/consequences that resulted from their decisions.  It protects us and shows us the best way for our life.  Knowing the Word of God and obeying it brings peace and prosperity to the land, our communities, our families.  Where God is honored, we find His presence.  Where He is dishonored, we find His judgment, for the world and everything in it belongs to Him.

But we live in the days when the Word of God is intentionally stifled and contradicted world-wide.  The creation mocks and defies the Creator.  Those who believe the Bible are mocked as being naive and child-like. Our values, likewise, are openly scorned by the world.  In many parts of the world, we are targets of hatred and violence.  In the West, the freedom to believe and worship the Lord is fast disappearing, as our very existence offends the emerging groups of people who love to celebrate their own ways in contradiction to the Holy ways of God.

The ways of the world are aggressively promoted in every avenue of communication available.  If we do not know the Word of God, we can easily be deceived and confused into accepting evil as good and in danger ourselves of calling good ‘evil’.  

God stays His hand of judgment on the repentant, but how can we repent when we do not know the truth?  In a world where seemingly everything is becoming permissible, where evil is called good and is celebrated and encouraged, who is repenting of sin and desiring righteous living? How do we know what living a righteous life even looks like?

Attending church is not enough, for how do we know if our trusted church leaders are teaching us the truth unless we are spending time alone with God by reading His Holy Word?  He warns us many times throughout Scripture that false teachers are everywhere and that we must stay alert so as not to be deceived.

As servants of the Most High God, we have been called to stand on the Truth at all times and in every situation in Christ Jesus.  In order to do this, we must first know the Truth.  And to know the truth, we must dust off our Bible and spend time renewing our minds and our souls with the precious truth contained within its pages.  This is the only way to fight against the wiles of our enemy, who works day and night to separate us from our Lord and the truth.

Let us cling to the Word of God as we would cling to our most precious possession.  Let us cling to it as the world tries to wrestle it from us; as the world makes us suffer for it. These are the last days; the days of the Great Falling Away where popular opinion persuades the masses to abandon their values in favor of the latest societal trends.

When our Lord returns, how many faithful will He find?  Very few.

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies!  Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you.  Pray for those who hurt you.  If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other cheek also.  If someone demands your coat, of your shirt also.  Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.  Do to others as you would like them to do to you.  If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that?  Even sinners love those who love them!  And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit?  Even sinners do that much!  And if you lend money only to those who can replay you, why should you get credit?  Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.  Love your enemies!  Do good to them.  Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.  Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.  You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” (Luke 6:27-36)

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?  Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37)

“When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony.  They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?”  Then a white robe was given to each of them.  And they were told to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers and sisters–their fellow servants of Jesus who were martyred–had joined them.”  (Revelation 6:9-11)

Are Christians to take up arms to pursue battle with our enemies?  In a world brimming with violence and hatred, this question has been much debated among Christians.

How can victory be ours if we are being slaughtered?  How can victory be ours if we are being raped, persecuted, tortured, humiliated and oppressed?  Aren’t these things evidence of being conquered, not victorious?

It certainly appeared to the Jewish leaders and, really, all of Satan’s kingdom, as Jesus was dying upon the cross, that they had won; that they had killed their enemy and won the war.  

Had they known that their violent schemes and actions were only fulfilling the purpose of God and His plan to save humanity from the wages of sin (death), they would have never crucified Jesus.  “Yet, when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world, or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten.  No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God–his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began, which none of the rulers of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him’. (1 Corinthians 2:6-9)

In retrospect, we see that God’s hidden plan was hinted at by what happened to Joseph in the oldest book of the Bible, Genesis.  Joseph’s own brothers, out of jealousy and hatred, sold Joseph into slavery, hoping he would be worked to death as a slave.  But their wicked plan only led to countless lives being saved, including their own, because God was with Joseph.  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.  He brought me to this position so I would save the lives of many people.  No, don’t be afraid.  I will continue to take care of you and your children.’ So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.” (Genesis 50:20-21)  Note that Joseph, upon having power over his persecutors, did not return evil for evil.  No, this whole story is but a shadow glimpse into what Christ would later do for all humanity.

When a crowd arrived in the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus, Peter attacked a servant of the Jewish high priest and cut the man’s ear off.  Jesus stepped forward immediately and healed the wound.  He did this knowing that the servant was there to arrest him and lead him to his death (Matthew 26:47-55).   There was a two-fold purpose in this: first, that the actions of the men who were arresting Jesus would soon lead to Jesus fulfilling his destiny on the cross, thereby conquering Satan’s kingdom, and second, that the story of Jesus would not be tarnished by any actions of violence.

Nowhere in the Gospels or the entire New Testament do we have even one single instance of a Christian acting violently in any way.  When Peter tried, he was rebuked by his Master, who instantly righted the wrong.

Violence is of this world.  Violence is not of the kingdom of God.

Christians are in this world, but we are not of this world; we are of our Father in Heaven.  We are simply visitors passing through, sharing with as many as we can the story of the Son of God and His saving grace.  We are merely traveling through on an eternal train, picking up as many passengers as we can from this wasteland to take them home.

We don’t know where our last stop on Earth will be, only our Father knows.  Our last stop may be as an old person, simply fading away in the comfort of our bed.  Our last stop may be suddenly, unexpected, untimely; it may be after much suffering in our bodies.  Our last stop may be tragically, on a highway or by a freak accident.  Our last stop may be at the brutal whims of those who are acting out the violent ways of their religion or lack of religion and we may therefore take our place with the countless others who have been given white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, martyrs.

No matter the nature of our death, we are guaranteed we will all die.  And if it’s at the hands of another because of our testimony of Jesus Christ, then our life and death has assisted the grand purpose of God and our death brings glory to God. Indeed, so many of the very ones who have oppressed, persecuted and murdered Christians have themselves been saved in the aftermath of their horrendous deeds.  The grace of God is at work in everything.  We need only to surrender our lives to Him.

Those who love their life in this world will lose it.  Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” (John 12:25)  We are not called to seek to preserve our lives on this Earth.  Yes, we are to treat our bodies as the Holy Temple of God and care for them, but we are not to love ourselves so much as to place our lives ahead of or above God’s purpose.  We do not seek risk to ourselves, but if it comes to us, we are to face it boldly and righteously as Jesus would.  In all things, we are to follow Jesus.

And Jesus died for His enemies.  He loved them.

How does the Christian, then, battle wickedness and evil?  We battle by living righteous lives and by prayer.  Jesus led by example and we simply follow Him and pray that God’s Kingdom come soon!