Be Sober and Vigilant

1peter5-8  One of my responsibilities at work is that I’m the Chair of the company 401k committee.  I’ll even admit that when I was asked to do it, I was very hesitant.  I didn’t want to do it.  It’s a 20 million dollar plan.   Our advisers did their best to terrify the entire committee with lessons on fiduciary responsibilities .  After one session of training all of us sat around the conference table in a state of shock.  We were so overwhelmed that we couldn’t speak or even move.  The first few weeks I lost sleep with the weight of it.  Seriously, people work their entire lives to save up for retirement.  The decisions of the committee affect what they’re working their careers to build.  The good news is that I’m not in it alone.  We have each other on the committee, financial advisers and the plan sponsor.  That doesn’t remove the responsibility but it does ease the burden.

I’ve been thinking about our responsibilities as believers being alive for such a time as this. Our decisions affect multitudes for eternity.  Let that sink in for just a minute.  Sometimes all I can say is, “God help me.”  This goes way beyond retirement savings or anything else that’s temporal.  Eternity hangs in the balance.  I wonder, do we have a grasp on that fact?  Do I?  Wouldn’t we live our lives differently if we did?  I don’t think we would struggle so much with giving our lives for the cause of Christ.   The wonderful news is that we’re not in it alone!  We have the Creator of the Universe on our side!  If you’ve named Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, He’s within you!  We have the Comforter, the Helper to encourage us, He gives us wisdom, discernment and anything else we need.  We have each other to usher in the harvest that’s coming with the end of this age.  Our financial advisers did their best to help us understand the seriousness of our positions on the committee.  I pray that God helps me to understand and help others understand the seriousness of our positions in the Body of Christ today.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us  Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [[a]in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.  We don’t have to run in fear at what the enemy is doing on the earth today.  Our God is GREATER!  We can be at peace knowing that the God of Angel Armies is with us!  We do have to be sober and vigilant though.  In the Greek that word sober doesn’t just mean to be free from the influence of intoxicants. It means to be calm, collected in spirit, to be temperate, dispassionate, and circumspect.  Vigilant means to watch, give strict attention to, be cautious, active.  If I was in the jungle of Africa, I certainly wouldn’t walk around haphazardly and half asleep.   I would be SO vigilant, not just for myself but for all those around me.  I would most definitely be armed and on guard.  Even though satan is a defeated foe, we still have to be on guard.  Others don’t have that revelation.  We have to be on guard for them.  With a fierce hunger, the enemy is actively seeking those he can seize upon and devour.  Are we actively seeking people to love and restore to Jesus?  Do we have that fierce hunger to snatch people from the flames of hell?  The Message Bible says it like this,  Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping.  We can’t fall asleep on the job!  We have to take this seriously.  Eternity hangs in the balance for so many.  If you’ve been asleep; WAKE UP!  I’ll admit to times of weariness, discouragement and allowing heartache to take precedence in my life.  We don’t have time for that.  I pray in the mighty name of Jesus, that each of us would live with an eternal perspective, that nothing else would ever take precedence over the cause of Christ in our lives.

In Christ Alone

imagesToday I received an update via Facebook from Pastor Saeed Abedini’s wife Naghmeh.   For those who aren’t familiar with his story, please refer to the following link

http://beheardproject.com/saeed

Today Saeed’s father was able to visit Saeed in person. It was a very short visit, but Saeed was able to send a message. He wanted us to know that for 1000 days he has experienced utter darkness and has died, yet for 1001, he has been resurrected with Christ. That for 1001 days he has learned to forgive over and over and over again. That for 1001 days he has chosen Christ over what they have tried to force on him and he has stood on His faith in Jesus Christ despite the pressures, tortures and threats. He wants you all to know that through the Grace of God and your prayers he has been able to stand strong and see lives redeemed inside of the prison. He has felt your prayers in prison as no prison walls can hinder them.

Even now, hours after reading it I’m at a loss for words.  God help me to love, forgive and stand up for the cause of Christ even more.  Our life isn’t our own, we were bought with the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  Pastor Saeed is someone who is willingly laying down his life.  He’s laying it down for his captors, and the other inmates who are mercilessly beating him.  Ultimately he’s laying his life down for His Savior.

I can’t help but wonder about the days ahead and what we as believers will face -right here in America.  There is so much going on in this world.  Each day it seems like the human race has reached a greater level of depravity.  I’m heartsick over the evil that has been unleashed through ISIS, human trafficking, the senseless attacks on our brothers and sisters home and abroad.

This morning I woke up with the song In Christ Alone on my heart.  That song goes back to the early 1990’s.  It was one of my favorite songs then and it still is today.  The following lyrics washed over me as I’ve listened today:  “In every victory, let it be said of me, my source of strength, my source of hope, is Christ alone”   In every circumstance,  my prayer is let it be said of me that my source of strength and hope is Christ alone.  We are rapidly approaching the time of Christ’s return.   Our hope cannot be in the government, another person, our pastors or even our family.  Our hope and source of strength can only be found in Jesus Christ.

In 1997 I was taking out the trash when God spoke a promise to me that I’ve never forgotten.   This was one of those times that I knew with all of my heart God was speaking to me.  I was reflecting on the scripture 2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  Can you imagine anything more wonderful than being an eyewitness of His majesty?  All these years later that verse still infuses me with hope and faith.  That night God said, “Not only will you be an eyewitness of My majesty but you’ll be a participant in the greatest outpouring of My Spirit that this world has ever known.”  Eighteen years later, that promise has only grown in my heart.  Regardless of what CNN, or FOX news reports, that’s my promise.  That’s our promise.

Isaiah 60: 1, 2 says,   Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you—rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!  For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and dense darkness [all] peoples, BUT the Lord shall arise upon you [O Jerusalem], and His glory shall be seen on you.  Our promise is that the Lord shall arise upon us and His glory shall be SEEN on us!  This is more TRUTH than the news has to offer.  Yes this world is experiencing horrible and heinous things.  Darkness is covering the earth and gross darkness the people BUT the Lord shall arise upon His people AND His glory shall be seen on us.

My friends, don’t be discouraged or disheartened.  We’re closer to Christ’s return than we’ve ever been.  Soon, very soon all of our hopes and dreams will be realized with one look in His eyes.  Until that day,  may we live in such a way that others are drawn to Christ.

People of the Cross

A phenomenal song called People of the Cross was just released.  It was written by Jennie Lee Riddle and Todd Smith.  Todd Smith is the lead singer of Selah.   Jennie Lee Riddle is an amazing songwriter.  She’s written praise & worship anthems such as Revelation Song, Love Came Down, and collaborated on hundreds of others.  It was written to honor the 21 men who were beheaded on the beach in Libya.  Please take the time to listen to this song and pray for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted.

Earthquake in Nepal

137928546-Nepal-Quake_6                                                                                                                                                        Please lift of the people of Nepal and surrounding areas.  The capital city of Kathmandu  was hit with a magnitude 7.9 earthquake.  It is said to be the worst one for that area in 80 years.  It’s being reported that over 1400 people are dead.  Many are trapped as rescues workers do their best to free them.  It also caused a deadly avalanche at a Mt Everest base camp killing at least 10 people.  India, Tibet and Bangladesh also experienced casualties as a result.

Just a few facts about Nepal:  Over 30 million people live in Nepal.   It is a nation comprised of over 80% Hindus, 9% Buddhist and the rest of the people are Muslim, Kirantism, Christian and not specified.  The male literacy rate is just over 75% with the female literacy rate less than 50%. The Kathmandu valley is populated with over 2.5 million people and over 2700 religious shrines.   Once the only official Hindu nation in the world, Nepal is no longer a Hindu Kingdom.  It has been declared a secular and federal democratic republic. The sharing of the gospel and conversion are currently not restricted.  Over 20 years ago while looking at a travel brochure God put a supernatural love in my heart for the nation of Nepal.  It’s a moment I’ve never forgotten.  I love the people of Nepal and pray that during this time many will come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  Just as centuries old temples were destroyed during this earthquake I pray that the demonic strongholds in that nation will be obliterated.

Will You Join Me?

isis-execution-ethiopian-christiansAnother video has been released that shows at least 30 Ethiopian Christian men being shot or beheaded.   The terrorists referred to both groups of men  as “worshipers of the cross belonging to the hostile Ethiopian church”.  These are our brothers.   They aren’t just random strangers being slaughtered for no reason.  They are our brothers who were martyred for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.    The Ethiopian government is deeply saddened by the barbarous act committed against our innocent nationals,” a government statement said.  I wonder, is the Church grieved over this?  Do we see the reports on TV or online and just keep going?  This was a heinous act that defies description.  Are we affected by our brothers being murdered?  Does our heart cry out for the families that lost husbands, brothers, and sons?  As we sit in air conditioned churches listening to sermons to increase our self esteem, do we even care?  The Ethiopian government is declaring 3 days of mourning beginning tomorrow.  Will you join me the next three days in prayer and fasting for all those affected by this and for the persecuted church?  It’s happening all over the world.  I’m not going to take the attitude that as long as everything is okay in my life that’s all that matters.  It’s not okay to watch as the world goes to hell.  It’s not right to change the channel on TV because the news is too hard to watch.  It’s not okay to be a follower of Jesus Christ and not raise our voice in intercession.  It’s not okay to ignore what’s going on all around us.  I’m not going to be quiet about it.  I’m not going to enjoy the comforts of my life without regard to those dying not only on distant shores, but in my own backyard.  In America, the persecution is different but it’s there nonetheless. It’s not going to get any better either.  As the Church we have to rise up from our apathy and get on our knees before a holy God.  We think we’re so civilized that it won’t happen here. Right now our persecution comes in the form of legal action against business owners refusing to compromise their beliefs. That’s just the beginning unless America is transformed to a Christian nation again.
 What are we willing to do for the sake of a lost and dying world?  Are we willing to pay the price to see revival fires burn?  Am I willing to pay that price?  Statistics show that over 150,000 people die all over the world every 24 hours.That’s over 54,750,000 people each year.  I’ll be 42 years old in exactly one week.  In my lifetime over 2,299,500,000 people died.  Each one is an eternal being.  They’re either in Heaven or hell right now.  Twenty four hours from now at least 150,000 people will be plunged into eternity.  Leonard Ravenhill once said, ““Are the things you’re living for worth Christ dying for?”    I want my life to count.  I want to see others come to Christ and be set free. Living for Christ is what makes life worth living. Now is our time to rise up individually and corporately.  The effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man avails much!

Sharing Inwardly His Likeness

potter-and-clay  One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 8:29 in the Amplified version For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren.

Our destiny from the beginning was to be molded into the image of Jesus Christ.  God doesn’t stop there.  An image can be formed in the likeness of something else but that doesn’t mean it has the same inner qualities.  We don’t get to just look like a Christian on the outside.  We get to share inwardly His likeness.   That’s where it truly counts.  We get to have His inner strength, peace, ability, love compassion and everything else.  For this we were foreordained!  It’s our purpose and our destiny.  What could be better?  Once we share inwardly His likeness we will share outwardly His actions.  That gets me excited!   The King James Version says, “He did also predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.”   That word conformed in the Greek means having the same form as another.  Our destiny is to share the same form as Jesus Christ!

Most Christians are able to recognize the fact that we are living in the very last of the last days.  It’s not just a popular saying.  It’s the truth!  So much is going on in the world that it’s difficult to keep track of everything.  It can be heart wrenching and make you angry all at the same time.  We have so many questions and wonder why Government administrations aren’t doing more to help and stop the madness.   The amazingly, wonderful and awesome truth is that God chose us to be here for this exact time.  I know I mention it often but it’s a powerful reminder when chaos seems to be all around.  God chose us to be here, for this time, in this place to share inwardly the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.  As I said before, when we share inwardly His likeness we’ll share outwardly His actions.  Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with all that’s happening in the world but mostly I’m grateful that God allowed me to be here for this time.  He chose you to be here for this time as well.  God has a plan and purpose for your life and that my dear friend is to share inwardly the likeness of Jesus Christ.

One of my co-workers told me today that she appreciates and admires the burden I have for certain things.  Honestly, I had nothing to do with that.  God put it in me.  I used to hate it because it caused my heart so much hurt.  At least 15 years ago I went to a co-workers mother’s funeral.  I didn’t know my co-worker very well and I had never met her mother.  Her death came as a complete shock and my co-worker was devastated.  After the funeral I got in my car and cried so hard.  I had no clue why I was crying like that.  In that moment God showed me that it sometimes hurts to have His heart.  I distinctly remember Him asking me if I wanted His heart knowing how much it could hurt.  I humbly said “Yes, I want Your heart.”  It was one of those moments I’ve never forgotten.   There’s no other way to live this Christian life than with His heart.  Now, I’m grateful to feel the hurt of others.  The Bible says in Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus as our High Priest is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.  In the Message Bible it says that He is not out of touch with our reality.  That’s who Jesus is.  His love for us causes Him to be touched with the feeling of our weakness, lack of strength, and when we’re going through trials.  Since that’s Who Jesus is, I want to share His likeness.

Numerous times in the New Testament it says that Jesus was moved with compassion.  It’s one thing to be touched by someone else’s affliction but it’s something entirely different when it propels you to action.  True compassion, true Jesus compassion will propel us to action.   It will cause us to pray, fast, turn off the television, drive to a friend’s house late at night, make someone a meal and it will also cause the miraculous.  Research it for yourself.  Each time the Bible says that Jesus was moved with compassion a miracle took place.   Open your heart to the feelings of others and let Jesus within you be moved to action.  We live in awesome times with the greatest outpouring of the Spirit of God anyone has ever seen.  These are also desperate times which call for great love and compassion.