Monday, April 29, 2013

As It Was In The Days Of Noah

This day has made me sick; another player, (NBA) comes out of the closet, and our president calls and congratulates him. That's sick. I care less about what goes on in the bedroom of these players.

And then when I look at the deteriorating moral values in our nation -- the divorce rate, abortion, pornography, drug addiction and child abuse, what is transpiring in the homosexual community, the violent crimes, the drive-by shootings and the terrorism that plagues our world -- what is the world coming to? Is the end near?

When Jesus was doing the "Olivet" discourse, his disciples asked Him this very question in Matthew 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

We find the answer to these questions in Matthew 24:37-39 (KJV) 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Genesis 6:5 tells us what was going on in the days of Noah. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” 

If you look at our world today, and you don't see the parallel—
  • the movie industry corrupting our values, 
  • television defiling our homes, 
  • children’s video games teaching violence,
your head is in the sand!

All these things, and even more, are polluting people’s minds until the thoughts and the imagination of man’s heart is continually evil.

Genesis 6:11 tells us that, “the earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” Pick up the newspaper and you will see the hostility that fills the earth. Ruth Graham once said, “If God doesn’t judge America, He will need to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!” I don't think for a moment that God is going to apologize.

Luke also records in his Gospel, "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:20-24).

I would say that the world right now is very much like it was in the days of Noah. Jesus pointed out that in Noah’s day, the people were totally oblivious to the coming judgment of God. They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. It was pretty much business as usual. 

Certainly our Lord is not saying that "eating" and "marriage" is wrong. His point is that they rejected so completely God's warning through Noah that they went ahead and had their weddings -- maybe even "church" weddings -- right up to the day that Noah entered into the ark. They lived as though God did not exist. They did not believe that He would judge them and scorned the warning that a flood was imminent. " There was no awareness that the judgment of God was about to fall upon them. They did not realize anything was wrong until Noah went into the ark, "And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be!"

People today seem to have no idea how ripe the world is for judgment. God is trying to shake us from our rituals in worship, and wake us up. We see a worldwide financial crisis, disasters, earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, floods, famines and the AIDS epidemic. But try to suggest to a worldly person that these indicate the beginning of sorrows and God’s judgment, and they will laugh at you. The world may acknowledge their belief in the existence of God, but they live as though God does not exist. There is a total lack of fear of a holy and righteous God.

The Prophet Isaiah said, “Woe unto them who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). 

The angel proclaims in Revelation 8:13, “Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!” 

You can mark it down; a day of reckoning is coming!

We see prophecies rapidly fulfilled before our very eyes. There is no doubt in my mind that the current economic crisis—and it’s not just a crisis here in America but a worldwide crisis—is going to force a joining together of the nations, a one-world union as prophesied in the Book of Revelation. It’s going to be moving in that direction. And as we look at the situation in Israel, we see their concern about the need to defend themselves against the possibility of a nuclear attack from other nations. Who and what can save us? Increased knowledge can’t save us. The government can’t save us. Neither can science nor Greenpeace save our planet.

The present pope is trying to get all the strays (churches) back into what they call the "mother church." This, too, is a farce, because the Catholic church is not the "mother church." 

So what does America need today? Rather than the homosexual community coming out of the closet, we need godly parents who will go into the closet and pray for their children, for their families, for the school system and the community. We need a spiritual revival to sweep our land. I believe more could be accomplished for good if we gathered together for times of prayer. 

Without a spiritual awakening, let’s face it, our nation is through. We need to realize that the only hope is to pray and to teach morality from a biblical base; that the Bible is the only true basis for morality.

We need men and women in our Congress and Senate who love God and fear Him. We need God’s people to humble themselves and pray, and seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways. You see—we’re either part of the problem or we’re a solution to the problem!

The only hope for the future is the coming again of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can save us. This is what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 24, the day of the Lord’s coming, the day of the establishing of the Kingdom of God. He said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days … they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:29-30).

This will be the day when, according to the Book of Revelation, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). The day when “He [that is, Jesus] shall judge among the nations. … nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4).

As we see the deteriorating condition of the world around us, it should be a wake-up call for us to live godly, righteous, holy lives, placing our minds, hearts and priorities on eternal values.

We don’t know what the rest of 2013 may hold for us, nor even 2014—joys, sorrows, victories or defeats. But we do know that the Lord has promised to be with us, and He’s promised to help us. 

So with this reminder, let us commit our ways to Him, knowing that He will bring to pass His perfect will in our lives.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Waiting On God - My Personal Path

Have you / are you waiting for God to do something in your life? Maybe you can place yourself in one of these situations.
Have you been praying about a situation in your life and found yourself waiting for a breakthrough?
Are you wondering why the answer hasn't come yet?
Do you feel as though victory is passing you by?

I have been waiting on/for God for the past almost five years now. And I am not one to wait. I have found that when we pray long and hard about a situation in our life without receiving any answers, we just learn to live with it. We go on about our business, wondering if or when God will send the answer. But God Word tells us that He does hear those prayers, and He’s working out the answers even though we may not know all the details. Our situation can change suddenly—quickly without warning!

But one thing is certain: Before God moves suddenly, we will wait. Waiting for answers is a fact of life—nobody gets out of it. So the question is not if we'll wait, but rather how we’ll wait. And I believe how will determine how long.

As we see from God’s Word, one of the important exhortations of the Bible is the call to “wait on the Lord.” Even though God promises special blessing for waiting, waiting is one of the most difficult exhortations of Scripture.

Why is it so hard?

Could it be, that as a part of fallen humanity, we are so prone to take matters into our own hands, to follow our own schemes. Yet, over and over again we are told in Scripture “wait on the Lord.”

We don’t like to wait and when we think of waiting we are apt to respond with the pun, “Wait? That’s what made the bridge collapse!” Of course, that’s weight, not wait. But then these two words, weight and wait are not always unrelated because one of our needs in waiting on the Lord is the need to cast the weighty burdens of life on Him.

And, when we think of waiting, we are admonished in Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

In other words, we are to give everything over to God for His will to be done in our lives - to pray and wait for God to move.

The comment about the bridge expresses our normal dislike for waiting, especially in our “I want it now!” society. Ours is a society that has grown accustomed to immediate gratification. Due to modern technology and all our conveniences—telephones, refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, fast foods, airplanes, etc.—we have many things immediately at our fingertips. Just think of the speed of the latest computer technology in comparison with the computers of only a few years ago.

Waiting on God - How do we wait?

Waiting on God was one of David's secrets of being a man after God's own heart. David went in and sat before the Lord (2 Sam. 7:18). God was his confidence, and he trusted Him in every aspect of his life:
for guidance and instruction (Ps. 25:5),
for help and defense (Ps. 33:20),
for victory over his enemies and vindication (Ps. 37:7,9,34; 52:9),
for deliverance from trouble and destruction (Ps. 40:1, 59:9),
for His refuge from treachery and oppression (Ps. 62:1,5),
for His forgiving love (Ps. 130:5-6),
and much more.

Nothing tries our faith like waiting on God for answers to prayer. Waiting tests our submission to Him as our trustworthy Authority. Waiting is not necessarily resignation from all activity; it is submission to God's better idea. Waiting on God means that all of our life is brought under God's umbrella of authority and direction. If we run ahead of God, we will be painfully chastened by turmoil, exhaustion, and failure. Taking matters in our own hands has ample instructive precedent in God's Word. Think of Abraham with Ishmael, Saul's usurping the role of a priest, Israel looking to Egypt for help (Isa. 30:1-3), or walking in the light of our own fire (Isa. 50:11.)

What do we learn while we are waiting?

We learn God Himself. God is revealing His perfections, His impeccable ability to be in charge of every detail.
His timing is split-second.
He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omni-caring.
He works all and in all.
He gives confirmations of His ever-presentness.
He gives us assurances of His real power over the enemy that is not seen.
His Holy Spirit focuses us.

We want proof, but faith is the substance (not the evidence) of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). The Holy Spirit says, "I am giving you the substance of faith." He gives the grace to await His purposes until the precise moment when He gives evidence that He was working all along. Without this faith, it is impossible to please Him, for all who come to God must believe that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb. 11:6).

As we humble ourselves and open up to receive from Christ, we will be strengthened to see the full kaleidoscope of His plan and be encouraged in the grace of waiting.

How Do We Wait?
  • Prayerfully Psalm 25:4-5 
  • With strength and courage Psalm 27:14, 31:24 
  • Rejoicing and trusting in His holy name Psalm 33:21 
  • Based on the fear of the Lord and His unfailing love Psalm 33:18,22 
  • With hope Psalm 33:20, 39:7 
  • Patiently Psalm 37:7, 40:1; Habakkuk 3:16, Romans 8:25, Hebrews 6:15 
  • Obediently Psalm 37:34, 119:166; Isaiah 26:8-9 
  • Desiring Him Isaiah 26:8-9 
  • Single-mindedly Psalm 62:5 
  • Expectantly Psalm 123:2, Micah 7:7 
  • Believing His Word Psalm 130:5 
  • Assured He is all we need, He is our portion Lamentations 3:24 
  • Quietly Lamentations 3:26 
  • Always Hosea 12:6 
  • In anticipation of joy John 3:29 
  • Eagerly Romans 8:19,23 
God tells us it is good for us to wait for him. The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:25-26)

Here are a few things God does for us when we wait for him:
  • He humbles us 
  • He teaches us to seek him 
  • He teaches us to trust him 
  • He builds patience and perseverance into us 
  • He reveals what is in our hearts 
  • He helps us to treasure him above the things we are waiting for 
  • He makes mercy sweeter when it finally arrives 
Two Ways to Wait

All of us will wait passively, or we'll wait expectantly. A passive person hopes something good will happen and is willing to sit around waiting to see if it does. After a short time, he gives up, saying, "That’s it! I've waited and waited and nothing's happened." The passive person has a lot of wishbone but not much backbone!

The expectant person, on the other hand, is hopeful, believing the answer is just around the corner, due to arrive any minute. His belief is not a passive thing. His heart is full of hope, expecting his problem to be solved at any moment. He wakes up every morning expecting to find his answer. He may wait and wait, but suddenly what he’s been waiting for happens.

If you are waiting on the Lord here are some things you can do:
Do not cease to pray about what you are waiting for and ask others to pray for you. God honors obedience and prayer is a must in your relationship with Him. Listen to Him when you pray, it isn't always about you talking to Him. Sometimes your silence allows you to "hear" Him.

"But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me." Micah 7:7
Be open-minded to God's will and not only your own plan. God is going to take your plan and may make it seem impossible to our human minds. Then He is going to give you two roads. Your way or His way. His way looks harder, but the truth is that it is only your own self-doubt that can stop a "God-thing".

"Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." Ephesians 3:20
Don't get discouraged. What if you wait for three years, and get nowhere. Keep your head up and your heart focused. That breakthrough you have been waiting for will happen, with patience- us moms best friend!

"Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary." Isaiah 40:31
Open your ears to listen to Him even if it's through the wisdom of others like friends, family or pastors and sometimes in your very own thoughts. But be very careful for doomsdayer's and gloominess. There are some people that want to bring you down. In this case, remove them from the conversation, surround your life with people who lift you up.

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" Matthew 11:12
Have a servants heart. Regardless of where you are in your vision or waiting on God, life should always have a focus on serving God through serving people. If you are worrying about your finances, go feed the homeless, be God to those less fortunate, if you are longing for a baby make a meal for someone who just had a baby, place yourself in places where your heart can grow more dependent on Him.

"This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God." 2 Corinthians 9:12
Build relationships. If you have a vision to make a difference, then go ahead and start building a future of partners that will prosper when you have been sharpened by God and He releases you to fulfill your destiny.

"You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, your mind and your strength and love your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27

Monday, April 22, 2013

What Makes One A Christian

God's word says there is only one thing that makes a person a Christian, and that is faith in Jesus Christ. But what does that mean? Does it mean just saying “I believe” or praying a prayer? Or is there more to it?

The book of Romans goes step by step through what salvation means. The beginning chapters talk about sin, and the penalty for sin (death, hell) and the fact that everyone is sinful. Chapters 4 and 5 talk about how we are justified by faith alone, and how salvation (getting to heaven) is NOT a result of our works, or our good deeds, but it is based on God’s power to save us. It also mentions the Law (all of God’s rules for our lives) and how the purpose of the law was to show us that we cannot follow the law, and that we are all sinful. Why would God go to such lengths to prove how sinful we are?

Let’s say you had a deadly disease that had no symptoms but would suddenly kill you 6 months from now. During your regular checkup, your family physician (a brilliant man) realizes that you are suffering from this insidious illness. He knows that the news will upset you but he also knows that he has a cure for your illness. Now, it wouldn’t make any sense to tell you about the cure without first telling you about the illness. In the same way, God created the law to show us our sin so that we would realize the danger we are in and believe in Christ for our salvation.

A mysterious thing happens when a person becomes a Christian. Something dies and is replaced with something else. We are still ourselves, walking, talking, going to work, feeding our pets. But something intimately connected with our being has been lost. Look at Galatians 2:20.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

The part of us that dies is what we refer to as “the old man”. And in Romans Chapter 7, Paul tells us about the reality of our life now, as Christians. A battle is going on in us all the time. You see, the “old self” and the body (he calls it the flesh) were really good friends, and when the “old self” was crucified with Christ (by faith), a “new man” arrived (this is the life we now live in the flesh, by faith). God calls this being “born again” (John 3) or becoming a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). But this “new man” and the flesh do not get along. They are always at war. The flesh wants to sin. But the new man wants to please God. So, we have this conflict inside us. This is totally normal for a Christian – if you read Romans chapter 7 you will see how even Paul struggled with it.

Now, all that said, what makes a Christian a Christian?

  • A Christian sees and acknowledges the existence of God and His right to rule.
  • A Christian is convicted by the words of the Bible and will see that they can never live up to the standard God has put in place.
  • A Christian accepts the reality that their deeds deserve death, and that without God’s intervention, they will be lost eternally.
  • A Christian takes great joy in the fact that Jesus Christ has taken the punishment for sin and has opened their way to Heaven.
  • A Christian believes that Jesus’ sacrificial death applies personally and completely to their debt of sin. A Christians obeys the Lord – not out of a desire to save themselves, because that has been done on the cross – but because the “new self” desires to obey.
  • A Christian will have peace in doing what’s right – following Him, even when it hurts.
  • A Christian is not a person that does everything right all the time, but a person who desires what God desires.
  • A Christian is not a person that wins every battle against sin, but one that keeps on fighting.
Jeremiah 33:3 says:  Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

Only when you trust the Lord and follow Him will you see those mighty things.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Seven Churches In Revelation

"People ask me often what do the seven churches in Revelation stand for?"

The modern country of Turkey is home to all seven of the churches mentioned in the opening chapters of the Book of Revelation. At the time it was written, around 100 AD, the churches were located in a region of the Roman empire known as Asia Minor.

Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse, is the last book in the New Testament. While the rest of the New Testament is made of narratives and instructional letters, Revelation is an apocalyptic work. It consists of visions, predicts future dramatic events, and uses a great deal of symbolic language. Interpretation of the Book of Revelation is a task that has kept biblical scholars busy for centuries.

However, Revelation begins like most other New Testament books: as a letter from a prominent church leader to various churches. The author of Revelation identifies himself as John, who had been exiled to the island of Patmos for his Christian faith. This John is generally believed to be St. John the Apostle, the beloved disciple of Jesus and the author of the Gospel of John.

In the opening chapter of Revelation, John send his greetings then describes a vision he had on Patmos. The remainder of the book consists of his descriptions of what he saw and heard. John relates that while he was "in the Spirit" one Sunday, he heard a voice say, "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."

Turning around, John saw the voice belonged to a brilliant white figure, clothed in a white robe and with eyes blazing like fire. The figure told him the trembling John not to be afraid, and identified himself as the Risen Christ: "I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades." The vision again commanded John to write everything that he will hear and see.

John's vision recorded in Revelation began with specific messages to seven different Christian communities in modern-day Turkey. Some are addressed to the "angel" of that city, the meaning of which is not known for certain. It may symbolize the spirit of that city or refer to an actual heavenly or earthly messenger (the Greek word for angel also means "messenger").

The messages also speak of stars and lampstands, which the robed figure explained in Chapter 1: "The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches."

Again, the seven churches described in Revelation 2-3 are seven literal churches at the time that John the apostle was writing Revelation. Though they were literal churches in that time, there is also spiritual significance for churches and believers today. 

The first purpose of the letters was to communicate with the literal churches and meet their needs at that time. 

The second purpose is to reveal seven different types of individuals/churches throughout history and instruct them in God's truth.

A possible third purpose is to use the seven churches to foreshadow seven different periods in the history of the Church. There are pros and coms with this view, and each of the seven churches could describe issues that could fit the Church in any time in its history. 

The main focus should be on the message God is giving us through the seven churches. 

The seven churches are:

(1) Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) - the church that had forsaken its first love (2:4).

(2) Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) - the church that would suffer persecution (2:10).

(3) Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) - the church that needed to repent (2:16).

(4) Thyatira( Revelation 2:18-29) - the church that had a false prophetess (2:20).

(5) Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) - the church that had fallen asleep (3:2).

(6) Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) - the church that had endured patiently (3:10).

(7)Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) - the church with the lukewarm faith (3:16).

Characteristics of the churches can be found at this link:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Living Holy In An Unholy World

The biggest threat to living "holy" lives today is allowing ourselves to say, "I don't believe anyone can live holy today; I don't believe that anyone can live by the 'Ten Commandments'." I believe that many who call themselves "Christians" today have very little idea, if any, (maybe due to their own ignorance), of what living "holy" is all about. I don't mean to imply that Christians are ignorant, but, by and large, we are not reading and meditating on the most important BOOK that we have in our library, and that BOOK is the BIBLE. I believe, also, that we don't read the BOOK because we do not want to change "our way of life and our way of thinking." Wow, did I just hit a nerve?

In 1 Peter 1:13-16, Peter writes to believers, "Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" Peter is quoting from Leviticus 11:44 and Leviticus 19:2.

When we think about holiness we need to understand what it mean when the Bible says that God is holy. Passages like 1 Samuel 2:2 and Isaiah 6:3 are just two of many examples of passages about God’s holiness. We can also say that God is absolute perfection:

  • God is unlike any other (see Hosea 11:9), and His holiness is the essence of that “otherness.” 
  • His very being is completely absent of even a trace of sin (James 1:13; Hebrews 6:18). 
  • He is high above any other, and no one can compare to Him (Psalm 40:5). 

God’s holiness pervades His entire being and shapes all His attributes. His love is a holy love, His mercy is holy mercy, and even His anger and wrath are holy anger and holy wrath. These concepts are difficult for humans to grasp, just as God is difficult for us to understand in His entirety.

What does it mean for us to be holy? When God told Israel to be holy in Leviticus 11 and 19, He was instructing them to be distinct from the other nations by giving them specific regulations to govern their lives. Israel is God's chosen nation and God has set them apart from all other people groups. They are His special people, and consequently they were given standards that God wanted them to live by so the world would know they belonged to Him. When Peter repeats the Lord's words in 1 Peter 1:16, he is talking specifically to believers. As believers, we need to be "set apart" from the world unto the Lord. We need to be living by God's standards, not the world's. God isn't calling us to be perfect, but to be distinct from the world. First Peter 2:9 describes believers as "a holy nation." It is a fact! We are separated from the world; we need to live out that reality in our day-to-day lives, which Peter tells us how to do in 1 Peter 1:13-16.

So, as we understand God's holiness, and in light of this, what does it mean for us to be holy?

First of all, we need to understand that  holiness only results from a right relationship with God by believing in Jesus Christ as Savior (accepting His gift of eternal life). If we have not placed our faith in God's Son alone to save us from our sins, then our pursuit of holiness is in vain. So, we must first make sure we are born-again believers (see John 3). If we truly are believers, then we recognize that our position in Christ automatically sets us apart from the world (1 Peter 2:9). After all, we have a relationship with the living God! Then we must daily live a set-apart life, not trying to "blend in" with the world, but instead living according to God's Word as we study the Bible and grow in it.

Holiness is not only a possibility for the Christian; holiness is a requirement. The difference between God and us is that He is inherently holy while we, on the other hand, only become holy in relationship to Christ and increase in practical holiness as we mature spiritually.

So than you may be asking yourself, "What does it mean to live Holy live today? Are you really ready for the answer, and will the answer make a difference in your life today?

To be “holy” means that we are, first of all, “set apart for honorable use.” Whereas we were “once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures . . . God our Savior . . . saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:3-5; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:11). The Lord took the initiative to pull us out of our former lifestyles. He saved us, cleansed us, and set us apart for righteousness. If we have believed in Christ for salvation, we have been washed by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit and set apart from the world for godliness (see Romans 12:2).

However, the pursuit of holiness does not end when we come to Christ. In fact, it just begins! There is a positional holiness that we inherit at regeneration and a practical holiness which we must actively pursue. God expects us to cultivate a lifestyle of holiness (1 Peter 1:14-16) and commands us to “cleanse ourselves of all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1 NASB). Bringing holiness to “perfection” means that we should be increasing in spiritual fruitfulness every day. We are to consider ourselves “dead to sin” (Romans 6:11), refusing to revert back to our former lifestyles. In this way we “cleanse [ourselves] from what is dishonorable,” becoming vessels for “honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master . . . for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). Holiness is the mark of every true Christian (1 John 3:9-10).

Cultivating a lifestyle of holiness does not mean that we must draft a list of do’s and don’ts to live by. We are free from the letter of the law which kills (2 Corinthians 3:6) and now live according to the dictates of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18).

We are told, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). In this verse, we see cooperation between God and His children in sanctification. We “work out” what God “works in” us, because God has a timeline for the virtues that He wishes to cultivate in our lives. Our responsibility is to yield to His wishes, “working out” with focused attention and great care those things that He is causing to grow in us. Holiness will not be brought to completion in our lives with no effort on our part. We are invited to participate in God’s work in us. We will not be “carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease,” as the old hymn says.

I believe that the most important lesson that we can learn here, as Christians, is that God’s ultimate desire for His people is that we be holy—conformed into the image of His Son, Jesus (Romans 8:29; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4). Holiness is the will of God for our lives.

The fact that our flesh is weak (Mark 14:38), is nothing we should tale lightly. There is no way that any of us will ever reach sinless perfection in this world, but God has made provision for our sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Our pursuit of holiness in this world includes daily confessing and forsaking sin (see Hebrews 12:1-3). Note that it is not an automatic thing in our lives.

And we soon realize that God helps us in our weakness by giving us His Holy Spirit who reveals the mind of Christ to us and enables us to carry out His will (1 Corinthians 2:14-16; Philippians 2:13). When we yield to the Spirit, we become fruit-bearing Christians, yielding a harvest with which God is well pleased (Galatians 5:22-23). On the other hand, when we suppress the work of the Holy Spirit by rebelling against His will for us, we stifle the design of God, sabotage our own spiritual growth, and grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

If God was gracious enough to redeem us from sin and death and give us new life in Christ, the very least that we can do is offer our lives back to Him in complete surrender and holiness, which is for our benefit (cf. Deuteronomy 10:13). Because of God’s mercies, we should be living sacrifices, “holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1; cf. Deuteronomy 10:13). One day, in heaven, we will be free from sin and all its effects. Until then, we “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” and keep running our race (Hebrews 12:2).

Always remember that the Bible is a resource that we too often treat lightly. We give token service to it by carrying our Bibles to church or reading a daily devotional or a chapter a day, but we fail to memorize it, meditate on it, or apply it to our lives; we fail to confess the sins it reveals or praise God for the gifts it reveals to us. When it comes to the Bible, we are often either anorexic or bulimic. We either take in just enough to keep us alive spiritually by eating from the Word (but never ingesting enough to be healthy, thriving Christians), or we come to feed often but never meditate on it long enough to get spiritual nutrition from it.

Do you see yourself in either of these two situations? If you have read this far, don't you think it's time to let go of your life and let the Holy Spirit take control?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Olive Tree Ministry Post Today

The Foreshadowing By Jan Markell April 3, 2013
If the strong delusion that is racing across the globe doesn't shock you, something is wrong! Whether it was the ecstasy on thousands of faces in St. Peter's Square waiting with adoring eyes for their new Pope, or the shenanigans in Israel a few weeks ago, it's a scary time. It's both a privilege and a challenge to be born for such a time as this.

The Bible speaks extensively about delusion! It is on overdrive in the last days. And you saw deluded college students in Tel Aviv, Israel on March 21. When Barack Obama suggested that they had to give away more land, the Leftist students applauded for a full minute. Though the land give-away has never worked, I guess this time, they thought that Obama delivering the idea in person in Tel Aviv was the magic trick needed! This time world, just watch, it's a go!

Keep in mind that rockets were raining down on Israel as Obama spoke! Yet, this idea, that is, weakening their own security, was still a good idea to them.

"For I will stretch out My hand against the inhabitants of the land," declares the Lord. "For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely.  They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace." (Jeremiah 6:12-14)

An American president screamed, "Peace! Peace! Give up more land for it! The hour is at hand. I have the magical formula. Hear me out. This time, I guarantee, it will work."

Could you imagine with me the Antichrist speaking to Israelis as he will some day, just like this. He will offer Israel a peace covenant in a manner similar to this. Was the March 21 speech a dress rehearsal? A dry run? I am not suggesting that Barack Obama is the Antichrist as we don't know who it will be. But a man talking about peace journeyed to a land occupied by people who long for it, although they haven't a clue how to bring it about other than land exchanges.
Keep in mind that in the Palestinian territories, there are streets, public squares, summer camps, high schools, and even a kindergarten named after suicide bombers and other mass murderers. So much for the notion that if only Israelis would care about Arab kids, peace would be possible.
Israelis have wanted nothing more than peace and security for all the children. That's why they accepted the 1947 U.N. partition of British Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. Unfortunately, the Arabs said no. To this day, the Palestinians have rejected every peace offer that leaves a Jewish state standing.

Since we're smack-dab in the midst of these incredible last days, how many e-mails does this ministry get wailing that churches will no longer address the subject? Well, legions of e-mails and even calls.

Back to my strong delusion commentary. The Bible foretells through Paul to the Thessalonian believers that in the last days, a time in church history would come when God would send "strong delusion." In like manner, Paul even warned Timothy that in the last days, there would be a group of demons who would infiltrate the churches with false and mixed doctrine, capable of even causing some to, "depart from the faith" and give heed to devilish false teachings.

God instigates this. It's not just the increase of evil that brings this on. Yes, Satan ratchets up his evil in the last days, but God sends the delusion. I think He gets mighty disgusted and just sends the delusion as a judgment! He washes His hands and turns His back.  

You don't want to be on the back side of God as He does this. Those Israeli students were on the back side of God and they were blinded.
Our times are way too perilous to be this unprotected.  
So, we've had a foreshadowing of the blind and strong delusion that will play out unchecked during the Tribulation. We're having lots of dress rehearsals these days. Most of them are around dark events. That's why the Bible reminds us to stay yoked to one another and to God at the end of the end.  

There are even murkier waters ahead. Look up and not around! 
Pray daily for Israel at lunch time. Visit this link.