There Is Still Hope

It doesn't take a rocket scientist, or even a carnal Christian to deduce that things are pretty bad in the world. Peter said, "Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts..." (2 Peter 3:3) And Paul said to Timothy, "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these." (2 Timothy 3:1-5) We've seen all of the preceding increase dramatically over the past 2 decades.

People don't just choose not to serve God, they hate God. They mock God and hate those who live for Him. Things have become twisted in these last days. One who takes a stand for God, by standing on His Word, is branded intolerant. The one who accurately identifies sin...and calls it sin...is a hater of those who willfully live in sin. Things are backward in these last days. The prophet Isaiah put it like this. "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20) The honest truth is...God has not changed; neither has His Word changed!

What used to be immoral is now a matter of ones own opinion. What used to be moral is now outdated and politically incorrect. What were once atrocities are now one's rights in our land. Things are pretty bad in our world, and yes, God said it would come to pass. 

Add to these difficult times the forces of terrorism being unleashed in the world to destroy God's people, and the free nations in which they live. Never before in the history of our nation has the threat of terrorism been so great. Never before has it been so real. And never have we been so vulnerable. Terrorists live only for one thing...to die for their cause. They live to die so they can take multitudes of innocent people with them.

It looks pretty hopeless doesn't it? But actually it is not. Yes, things have gotten worse as the Bible prophesies, and they will get even worse. But it is still not hopeless. As a matter of fact, there is an answer. Contrary to popular belief Jesus Christ is still the answer. Why? Because He died for the immoral. He died for the terrorist. He died for the Atheist and the Agnostic. He died for you and me. There is no one alive on the face of this planet, saint or sinner, He did NOT die for. He died for all. As long as there is sin in this world, the blood He shed at Calvary still flows; it still washes the sinner clean. As long as times are difficult and people mock God, God's love still reaches through Jesus His Son.

If the answer if still Jesus (and it is), then the answer still comes through His blood-purchased church. But His church must be revived. She must return to her First Love, as she remembers from where she has fallen. This means you and I must repent of our wicked ways, and then seek the face of our holy God. When God's church faces the reality of her short-comings, and as a result draws near to God in fervent prayer, God will begin to change things. My only concern in these last days is will she do it? Can she see the error of her ways? If she can, and will repent and cry out to God...He will heal our land.

"If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place." (2 Chronicles 7:13-15)


We Need Revival

What is revival? Revival is the restoration of the church itself to a vital and fervent relationship with God after a period of decline. Revival has also been called "awakening" as the church awakens to her true call to live for Jesus Christ in the earth.

In essence, revival reestablishes God's standard of righteousness, and has been known to change the atmosphere of entire regions, or even nations. Listen to the wisdom of Proverbs 14:34. "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." This is pure wisdom from the mouth of God. Righteousness lifts up nations. On the other hand, sin disgraces nations.

When disgrace replaces the standard of righteousness in a nation (as in ours), that nation is in decline. But a nation in decline is not necessarily a nation doomed. That nation needs revival. True revival can change things. Revival can restore things. Revival however, must begin with the church. (When I say the church I am referring to those who are truly born again of the Spirit of God.) There is no other way for it to spread to sinners.

Revival is not a series of meetings. Revival again is restoration. You and I must pray fervently for the restoration of God's church in America, and in the world. As born again followers of Jesus Christ we must pray fervently for the restoration of ourselves. If revival must start with the church, it must start with me (and you). Listen to Jesus' words to the church at Ephesus. "But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 'Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place--unless you repent." (Revelation 2:4-5)

The answer for our nation is not found in the political realm. The answer to the terrorist threat is not found in our military or in the sophistication of our intelligence capabilities. The answer to injustice in our land is not found in demonstrations or in violent protests. The answer for our nation IS revival. It's that simple. The church must return to her first love, Jesus Christ. Let the depravity of our world and the church compel us (the church) to self-examination. How far have I fallen? Do I even remember my first Love? Will I repent, or continue to judge this crazy world?

As our world seems to fall apart we must pray for revival of the church. No matter how loud the terrorist threat gets I must seek His kingdom first. No matter how angry I get at the injustices of the world against Christianity...I must pray for revival. And no matter how disgusted and discouraged I may become over the lack of God's standard of righteousness upheld in our land...I must fervently seek the face of God for restoration of His blood-purchased church.

Are things bad? Yes. Are things hopeless? No. God's church is at a crucial crossroads in these last days however. Will she repent? Will she pray for revival of herself? Just like salvation, revival is God's work. We must fully trust Jesus to move in behalf of His church. And we must be willing to change as He once again invades our lives.

Can you see the need? Don't look at the folks in the world. Look at the church. Look at yourself. God created His church to be the most powerful force on the face of this planet. Instead she is divided and consumed with herself! Revival is the answer. I challenge you. Pray for revival. Study revivals of the past. Pray for the restoration of God's church. Don't be moved by the natural things. Simply seek first His kingdom, and His righteous until He moves.

"Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Your ways." (Psalm 119:37)

Comfortable?

I was recently watching one of those reality shows about finding and purchasing a home. A younger couple was sitting down with their real estate agent making a list of what they desired in a home. They were sharing the contents of their wish list when the lady said something that kind of agitated me. After she listed several wants she said, "The main thing is that we must have a big yard for Joey (name changed to protect the innocent.) to play in." Joey was their dog. The main thing? (Note: I recently read somewhere that Christians in America spend more on dog food than they do on missions giving.)

I have been to nations in which many people live a standard of life much lower than our pets here in America. I've seen people living in cardboard boxes in India and Guatemala, some literally on the streets. The picture above is from Honduras. (I actually visited the family that lives in this home. A total of 11 people live in this home.) Somehow I believe the priority for this family is not the family pet...but having enough food to eat. You cannot visit precious people like this and not be awakened to God's heart for the much less fortunate.

Most of us are living comfortable lives here in America. So comfortable that we cannot relate to the reality of the rest of the world. We grieve more over the loss of entertainers than we do those being murdered for serving Jesus in foreign lands. We need to be made uncomfortable by the One who died not just for Americans, but for the whole world. You see, being made uncomfortable produces a concern for others who are much less fortunate than we are. Spirit of God, please make us uncomfortable to the point of waking us up!

At the time of this post Christians are being heavily persecuted in Iraq. They are being sought out, run down, and killed. These are not only real people with families, they are brothers and sisters in Christ. The lack of concern troubles me. Where are our priorities? Where is the concern? Where are our hearts? Are we serving the American dream or the Lord of the universe?

The good news is that Jesus is the answer. Oh that we would turn back to Jesus for our every need. To need Him desperately is to trust in Him. It can only start as we plead for those overseas that are being persecuted. When all is said and done, it won't be about our comfortable American culture. It won't be about having all of our wants and desires fulfilled. It will be about Jesus....and those He died for. It will be about the widow, the orphan, the prisoner, the rejected, and the persecuted. That's where I want my heart to be.

Embrace The Difference

Please love me as I bear my soul on an issue. Before I continue let me say that no one has offended me. What I write, I write with no particular person or persons in mind. No one event or action by any one particular person or persons has provoked me to write this. It is what I see and hear that bothers me. It is also what I don't see and hear that bothers me. What is this issue? It is the issue of those who claim to be Christ-followers...not following Christ. One more disclaimer before I continue. I realize that we are not perfect, even as Christians. None of us are flawless. Thank our God we are not required to be flawless.

Yes we are still human. But we are very different. Different is the keyword. One who is a follower of Jesus is different. The Spirit of God in us makes us different. As a matter of fact, one who claims to be a Christian and is not different is not a true follower of Jesus. Can I say it one more time? In order to follow after Jesus one must be different.

When I completely turned my life over to Jesus I was different. I knew it. I acted differently. I began to talk differently. I began to live differently. And even though I was convinced I was different, those who knew me saw the difference as well. My family witnessed the change. My friends witnessed that I was different. I lost most of my friends because I was different from before. I was different from the world. The loss was a blessing however, as the friends I made were now different! The flow of my life was different from the world. Keyword (again), different.

What I see is a Christian world full of Christians who are coerced by the world to live like the world, not different from the world. For example, in our culture we are addicted to entertainment. Entertainment in itself is not bad. It's the addiction that concerns me. A Christian life addicted to entertainment is numb to real world needs, and to the Spirit of God.To be addicted to entertainment is to be addicted to self. (Do you still love me?)

What I don't see are generations being raised up to be sold out to Jesus Christ. Instead, Christian parents are allowing their children to be raised on Netflix, DVDs, Nickelodion, Disney, video games, and movies. What I don't see are Christian parents who require their children (from a very early age) to read, study, memorize, and quote the Scripture. To be sold out to Jesus is to be different. Being different will change the world...one life at a time.

Listen to Jesus. "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." (Luke 9:23) The only way we can follow after Jesus is to deny self. In order to follow Jesus we must be different. Believe me, one who denies self is different from one who lives for the world (and self). Jesus has done His part. He came and bore ALL of our sins. He came and removed our guilt. When we truly choose to surrender our lives to Him we become new creatures in Him. Our part is to embrace the difference, and follow hard after Him. It is impossible to change the world if we live for the world.

When Jesus came, He was different. The way He came was different. His life was different. He didn't conform to the standards of religion and legalism. He was just different. He was different because He was from another world, not this one. The truth is, if you are born again of the Spirit of God...you are different. You will know you are different. But it is your responsibility to embrace the difference. God's power is in the difference, not in the similarities to the world. Jesus went against the current of this world. But He changed the world. That is what He called you and me to do. Be different. And through our being different His power changes the world.

CD58791: Revealing Jesus, CD/DVD Revealing Jesus, CD/DVD
By Darlene Zschech / Integrity Music

From the original songwriter of dozens of today's most performed songs comes a live worship project that seeks to make Christ known to all! Featuring guest appearances from Michael W. Smith, Kari Jobe, Israel Houghton and others, Revealing Jesus includes "God Is Here," "All That We Are," "Best for Me," "Victor's Crown," and more. CD/DVD edition includes audio and video of the performance, captured at the Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama.

CD77395: Tides Tides
By Bethel Music / Bethel Music

Led by Brian and Jenn Johnson, Redding, California's Bethel Music offers their first studio recording, a captivating thirteen song set of powerful worship originals. Tides adds rich layers of electronics to their lush organic instrumentation on a blend of ballads and mid-tempo tracks, including "Breaking Through," "Come Awaken Love," "Ascend," and more.