Timely reflections on current events

Oct. 7, 2020

Recently President Trump has been criticized by many people, individuals, political rivals and of course the news and entertainment media, for encouraging people not to be afraid of Covid 19. The fact that we should not be afraid does not mean that we do not acknowledge its reality or even its potential severity. It means only that we should not allow fear to control our lives.

The following is from an article on positivelifeproject.com

Many people believe that philosophies of Yoda, the little guru of Star Wars, make no sense. Recently, a statement made by Yoda in Star Wars has created many controversies among the Self-help circle. Here is what Yoda says:  Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

Everyone agrees that fear is one of the negative emotions and anger may contribute to spreading hatred and suffering, but many people are unsure about how fear can lead to anger. Does Yoda’s words and philosophy make any logic? After hours of studying the relationship between fear and anger, I was finally convinced that little guru, Yoda, speaks the wisdom of ages.

 

Emotions are like a chain reaction. One emotion can lead to several feelings. It has been found that when people are afraid of someone, they get angry that with the one who has made them feel terrible. Then the anger triggers the feelings of hatred and can even make people anxious.

Additionally, fear, living in fear is actually sin. Revelation 21:8 says: The fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death. That is how serious it is that we should not live in fear.  Fear is actually the opposite of faith. It is believing more in what we don’t want than in what we do want.

That President Trump encourages us not to be afraid is not something he should be criticized for. Certainly, it goes against the current culture and the media who live to create division, anger and hatred through fear. It is said that truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth. Truth is not determined by popular opinion, but rather is established by God.

For those who would like help in increasing their faith to overcome fear, here is a link to 365 scriptures regarding fear not in the Bible. 

 

 

https://believersportal.com/list-365-fear-not-bible-verses/

Jul. 2, 2020

Matthew 24   Signs of Christ’s Return

 

Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

 

Many people, seeing the instability and uncertainty in the world today are recognizing how what is happening aligns with what the Bible says will happen in the days before Christ’s return.  Jesus says:  “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”   That what we are experiencing are the birth pangs is undeniable. What is left to find out is how long the birth pangs will last. What the Lord has impressed on me over these last weeks, as I watch what is happening in the world and see the response of people, both believers and unbelievers, is verse 12: Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.  There is no question that lawlessness is increasing. It has moved beyond the scriptural application of lawlessness defined as immorality or sin to the point where we have a portion of our society that truly believes anarchy, lawlessness is the right path for our future. They believe we should do away with law enforcement in favor of social programs which justify criminal activity, blaming society and history rather than the criminals themselves. Without those who enforce the law, there is no law. Without law, there can be no justice because each person becomes the maker of their own law.

The thing that concerns me the most, is not that lawlessness has increased and is increasing, but that we are seeing the result that Jesus warned us would happen, most people’s love is growing cold. True love can only be known by the love of God. 1 John 4:19 says:  We love, because He first loved us.  It is not surprising then that we see the love of unbelievers growing cold.  Their love is based in feeling and emotions. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says:  Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.  The world twists this, rather than bearing all things, the world says that love tolerates all things. The world disregards that true love, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. The worlds version of love surely does not meet those criteria. Many today are most passionate about seeking their own, acting unbecomingly and taking into account every wrong suffered. We have become a culture that love to be offended by everything.  

It is not surprising that the love of unbelievers would grow cold. Their love has no basis or foundation in truth. What is disappointing and concerning is that as Jesus said, most people’s love, including the love of many believers has grown cold. As believers, our love is to be more than emotion or feeling. It should fulfill the criteria of 1 Corinthians 13. Even more, it should fulfill the words of Jesus from John 14:15:  “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  In Luke 6:27-28 Jesus says:  I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”   We are commanded to love our enemies. Romans 12:14-21 says:  Bless those who persecuteyou; bless and do not curse.Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, butassociate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.Respect what is right in the sight of all men.If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.Never take your own revenge, beloved, butleave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.   Jesus overcame evil with good. In the midst of His suffering on the cross, He said: “Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.”  That is the model for the perfect love we are to have for others. As believers we must never forget that:  Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)  As believers our anger should not be toward the people who are engaged by the powers and forces of darkness. It surely should not be toward those who are deceived by them. Our love must not grow cold. Jesus says:  “The one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”  We need to endure to the end and the only way for us to truly endure is to abide in Him and His love.

The world calls us hypocrites because we do not love the way they say we should love. It is not though that we embrace the sin and unrighteousness of the world. In Romans 12 it says:   Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;  not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;  rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,  contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  In truth, the greatest hypocrisy would be for us to embrace evil; to embrace the very things that Jesus died to save us from. Our love must be without hypocrisy. We must: Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Still, we must also bless those who persecute us and pray for those who mistreat us. If the world will know the love of God, our love must not grow cold.  Jesus says:  “The one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”   We preach the gospel not only through our words, but also through our lives. Our love is a testimony to all the nations.

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, in response to Your love and in obedience to Your commandment, may my love be: patient, kind and not jealous; may I not brag or be arrogant. May I not act unbecomingly; not seek my own. May I not be provoked, not take into account a wrong suffered, not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; may I bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things. May my Love never fail or grow cold.   Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr. 20, 2020

Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

I know that this will not be a popular post with some in the church, but it is not as much an opinion as something that I believe is necessary for us to consider in these times. Romans 13:1-8 says:  Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For  rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.   Keep in mind that Paul wrote this when he himself was subject to one of the most oppresive governments in history; the same government and authority by the way that Jesus Himself submitted to, even unto death. Keep in mind that Jesus also said: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom,  and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death,  and you will be hated by all because of My name. Yet not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.” (Luke 21:10-19)  We need to consider whether if we are called before governors and kings, we will defend ourselves and protest for our rights, or will we take the opportunity to testify of the One who is righteous?

Certainly I am not suggesting that we should blindly follow everything that the government of the world says or determines. We should not follow and accept the things that are an abomination to God; things like abortion and rampant immorality, but we need to take care that we are led by the Holy Spirit and not by our own opinions and offenses. Jesus never confronted what offended Himself, but rather what offended God. When He cleansed the temple it was because it offended God. In Luke 12:8-12 Jesus says:  “I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God;  but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.  And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.  When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”   Now more than ever, if we are truly a people who have been called and raised up for such a time as this, we need to have, to hold and to yield to the Holy Spirit. Like Jesus Himself, we need to say only what the Father is saying and do only what the Father is doing. Like Jesus, we need to say: “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”  Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

 

 

Mar. 15, 2020

Like many of you I have been wondering what the coming days will bring. In many ways it seems as though over the past few days the world has been turned upside down. It is hard to determine the balance between practicle measures and hysteria. Tonight though as I sat out on my deck grilling dinner, for a time I closed my eyes. The warmth of the sun on my face gave me a peace that has been difficult to find. With my eyes closed, I listened to the birds singing and chirping. I opened my eyes to see them going about their normal routine; eating and preparing their nests. I saw my dogs peacefully laying in the driveway, having already had the dinner, they had no worries or concerns. I closed my eyes again and could imagine the deer and the other animals in the fields and woods; none are concerned about the corona virus. None are concerned about tomorrow at all. In all of creation we are the only ones to worry.

Then I thought of Jesus words in Matthew 6:25-34:  “I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Thank You Lord for speaking to me in the quiet of the evening. Thank You for reminding me that if I will tune out the noise of the world I will hear Your still small voice.  If I will seek first Your kingdom all that I need will be provided for me.

   

Jan. 19, 2020

This month’s theme is     Be Proactive (Set Goals-Make a Plan)

 

Last week among other things Matt shared that we should begin with the end in mind.

If we don’t know where we are going we can not know if we are going in the right direction?

When you put a destination in a navigation system at the end of the trip it says, you have arrived at your destination.  

If we don’t know where we are going, we won’t even know if we make it to our destination.

If we don’t have an end in mind how will we know if we have gotten there?

 

When Ted contacted me last night around 6 and asked if I could fill in for him today, I felt fairly quickly that I knew what I would share regarding having a plan.

In 2 Timothy 4:1-2 Paul exhorts Timothy saying:  I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 

In Jeremiah 29:11 God says:  

I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

 

Part of having a plan; part of walking in the fullness of God’s plan for good is to be ready in season and out of season.

If we want to follow and fulfill God’s plan for our lives we need to be prepared to do what He asks whenever He asks.

When we begin to follow Jesus, God doesn’t reveal all that we will do or all that we will have to walk through. If He did many of us would probably quit before we started.

 

When I shared a couple of weeks ago we looked at the many and varied gifts that God has given to and for the church.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 says:  Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

Romans 12:6-8 says:

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

I don’t know what all of your gifts are, but God knows them all because He is the one that gives them.

James 1:5-6 says:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

 

If you don’t know for sure what your gifts are, ask God, but ask in faith without doubting.

That means that we need to believe what God says even if we can’t see it or the evidence of it.

2 Corinthians 5:7 says: 

We walk by faith, not by sight.

 

Returning to what Paul said to Timothy: be ready in season and out of season

 

For me, preaching the word is one of the things I am called to do.

So what must I do to be ready in season and out of season?

When I first started preaching, I felt like I needed at least several weeks to prepare.  So in that respect, I was only really ready in season.

To truly be ready to preach the word, I need to be in the word.

I also need to be aware of what is happeng in the world and also in the kingdom of God.

Many of you know Noel Santiago. He has shared here a number of times. There was a time that I had occasion to meet with Noel regularly. I once commented to him that I was amazed by how often what I would hear others share in messages, was the same things God was speaking to me. Noel’s response was, why would you be surprised, you are in the same throne room.

So to be prepared to speak the word of God, I need to know the written word, what He has spoken and I also need to hear His living word, what He is speaking.

We often have people come here who are gifted in prophetic messages. They hear what God is saying not only to and for the church, but also for individuals.

They can’t really prepare to go to a place and speak prophetically to people, But they still must both prepare and practice listening to God and speaking what He is saying.

In Luke 16:10 Jesus says:  "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much”    

 

To be ready in season and out of season; to walk in the fulfillment of God’s plans for our lives, we need to be faithful in little things.

If God has put it in your heart to write a book, start by writing a blog.

If God has put it in your heart to see sick people miraculously healed start by praying for headaches so that you will be ready to raise the dead.

Whatever great thing He has called you to; faithfully do the little things each day.

In John 14:12-14 Jesus says: 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Do you see how much pressure that takes off of us?

The results are not our responsibility.  It is Jesus that will do it.

We just need to be ready and to be ready we need to prepare and practice; we need to believe what He tells us.

Most of all we need to respond to what God asks each day.

Having a plan and making long term goals; beginning with the end in mind is a good thing.

May we also though keep as a goal to walk according to God’s plan today and every day; to faithfully do even the little things He asks.