Do You See What I See?

You cannot properly evaluate all that is going on in our nation and the world without using the Word of God as the measuring standard. I'm not saying Jesus is coming back today. (Even though He could.) But I AM saying His return is near. What He said would take place in the last days, before His return, is clearly taking place as I write these words.

The Apostle John speaks of the anti-Christ, and the spirit of the anti-Christ. The spirit of the anti-Christ is that mindset and thought pattern that opposes God; I mean, vehemently opposes God. "Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son." (1 John 2:22) Ultimately this spirit will prevail and become personified in one man...the anti-christ. Never forget though, God is ultimately in control as this is part of His plan to judge sin, and bring forth the 2nd coming of the King of Kings. Now is not the time to be afraid. Now is the time to rise up and be bold! Where sin abounds, grace abounds even much more.

Let me say my friend, it is no longer time for "business as usual". We cannot ignore all that is happening in our nation, and the world, and continue to be passive. Some say "Things have always been bad." And yes, always, somewhere on the planet, societies have been depraved and corrupted. But it's becoming world-wide. The spirit of the anti-Christ is working hard to pave the way for the man of lawlessness. And those who have recently had to relinquish control of our nation, are fighting relentlessly to gain back its control. I'm speaking of those who are part of establishments that care nothing of the welfare of our nation, but only for the gaining of control, power, and wealth. Establishments that vehemently oppose Jesus, and His people, the church. The spirit of anti-Christ will stop at nothing to accomplish its mission, the new world order, also known as the one world government.

But this is where it gets good; I mean really good. If you are a part of God's church, the body of Christ in the earth, God has an incredible destiny for you! It's time to get serious with Him. It's time to pull yourself away from the world's system, and follow hard after Jesus. The Apostle Paul said, "Time is so short, that those who use the world, should be as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away." (1 Corinthians 7:31) It's so easy to be deeply hidden in the personal affairs of our lives and families (even our churches), and not see or understand the reality of what's happening in our current time.

Understand that you are an eternal creation of the Spirit of God. Peter says "For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, by the living and enduring Word of God." (1 Peter 1:23) The time you live on this earth will be nothing more than a vapor, the Word says. Compared to eternity, your time here is almost nothing. Yet God placed you and me here to make an eternal impact. Too many Christians are so involved in the affairs of this world they have no eternal perspective. They see no farther than then end of the present day. But, what we do here effects our eternal existence. We must live with an eternal perspective. We must learn to live beyond today, tomorrow, and this earthly life. This is what living for Jesus is all about.

If we live with an eternal perspective as we live for Jesus, we understand that God is ultimately in control. We understand that we are truly ambassadors for Jesus, and that our purpose here is that our entire life brings glory to Him. We understand that life is about Him, not us. It is about serving not ourselves, but others, as He came and gave us the example. It is about doing what He has commissioned us to do as we win people to Him, and raise them up to maturity in Him.

Draw closer to Jesus my friend. You need Him more that ever before. Make an impact upon this hurting world. You've been called to do it. You've been anointed to do it. Now...just do it.

Once Saved Always Saved?

Don't you just love it when believers in Jesus split hairs over things that aren't really that significant? Or on those ask the expert shows, the same questions always keep popping up. Questions like: "Who were the sons of God who went in to the daughters of men in the book of Genesis?" And then there's the subject of "once saved, always saved"! Now this truly is significant. So this is the one I want to address in this post. Be careful though. You might get stirred up if you are committed to one side because of what you've been taught, regardless of what the Bible says! By the way the phrase "Once saved, always saved" is not mentioned, per se, in the Bible. But the concept is very, very clear.

Let me start with some very clear and powerful verses from Romans chapter 6. Romans 6:10 says, "For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God." From this it is very clear that Jesus died to sin, one time, for everyone. His sacrifice required Him to die only ONE death. But that one death includes everyone who has ever lived, lives, and will live. After taking the sin of the afore mentioned upon His sinless self...He died to that sin.

Never forget, a dead person cannot sin. Why? Because they are dead. I've never seen a corpse lying in a casket in the funeral home rise up and start telling dirty jokes to the crowd. I've never seen a dead person in the casket sit up and start cursing (cussing if you're from GA). Why? They're dead, and dead folk don't sin. They cannot sin...because they are dead. (Romans 6:7), "...for he who has died is freed from sin." When Jesus died in our place, he died to sin...once...for ALL.

(Romans 6:3), "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?" This is referring to those who have been saved. When a person becomes born again (saved), they become connected to the death Jesus died for them. In a spiritual sense, they die to sin because Jesus died to sin. However, in the same way Jesus came up out of the grave, they become connected to His resurrection life! (Romans 6:4), "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." How incredible this is!

(Romans 6:8 - 9), "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him." There will never be a need for Jesus to come back to the earth again and die. He died once to sin. He died once for everyone. It was enough for all eternity.

Before Jesus died on the cross, He bore the sin of all humanity. For 3 hours the sky turned black in that region because all the sin of humanity was concentrated on Calvary's hill in that region. The earth even shuddered at all the darkness that was placed on Jesus that day. But at some point Jesus said these words, "It is finished." He had born your sins and my sins long enough. Then He yielded up His Spirit and died. Death and sin didn't overcome Him. He released His own Spirit from His broken and battered body. When Jesus died to sin, we died to sin. When Jesus rose from the tomb 3 days later, we rose with Him. And when Jesus ascended back to the Father, we were seated with Him in the heavenly places!

Your salvation is not contingent on the way you feel today. Your salvation is founded on the Rock of all the ages, Jesus, and what He started and completed more than 2,000 years ago. Your salvation is not contingent on the fact that you struggle with sin. Your salvation is founded on the truth that Jesus died to sin, once, for everyone. And as Paul says, "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." (Romans 6:11 - 13)

Through His death, we died. Through His life, we live. Through His ascension, we are seated with Him in heavenly places, in Him. And if death is no longer master over Him, death is no longer master over those who receive Him. What He did cannot be undone. Therefore my genuine relationship with Him cannot be undone.

Paul started this passage in Romans 6 by asking this question: "How shall we who are dead to sin still live in it?" (Verse 2) In the English language we take the word "live" to mean sinful acts. Example: "He is a Christian, living in sin because he's married and having an affair with someone." That's not what the word means here. The word "live" here means to "be alive". When a person is born into this life, they are born into sin. As far as sin is concerned, they are alive. The moment they receive Jesus as Savior they die to sin, and become alive to God (just as Jesus did). No longer are they living/alive in sin. It is impossible. Now they live to God. Their new domain is the kingdom of God. This is possible because Jesus died once, for all. The truth is, it is impossible for one who is truly born again to still be alive to sin because of the work of the cross. We can still chose to sin and suffer the consequences. We become slaves to whomever we chose to serve. But what Jesus did cannot be undone. That's why Paul said we must consider ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God. This is where we live now!

Don't let the enemy lie to you! You are property of God Almighty. You were purchased with the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross. What He did cannot be undone. Therefore what you are (in Him) cannot be undone. Your part is to consider that you are dead to sin, but alive to Him. Present yourself to God as one who is alive from the dead, and the members of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness. Press forward you resurrected person you! You are dead to sin and alive to God, in Christ! And you always will be!

Culture Shock Is Mostly Your Friend

I'll be the first to say that there is trouble in America. But, we are still a very blessed nation. All you have to do is travel to another nation and observe. America is still seen as the land of opportunity to folks from almost every nation. Millions of folks have come to the U.S over the years to start a new life for themselves. And millions have done very well. Again, we are still a blessed nation!

However, the problem for we Americans is that we tend to be unaware of how about three quarters of the rest of the world lives. We're enclosed in our own culture making us oblivious to the rest of the world. This causes even Christians in our blessed nation to be insensitive to the needs of those in other parts of the world. It also produces an insensitivity to the needs of our neighbor, right here at home. There is a solution to this however. It's probably not for everyone, but definitely for most of us. The solution is to go on a ministry trip to another nation and culture.

I went on my first missions trip to India in 1997. Simply changed my Christian walk, hence, my life! First, I encountered culture shock. Culture shock is the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes. Culture shock is a challenge. Culture shock is a good thing however, because it gets your attention! Culture shock demands we focus on the differences we are not accustomed to. God employs culture shock to change a believer's life in a positive way. One more thing about culture shock. It makes real the truth that not everyone lives like we do.

Second, this missions trip with its culture shock made me a million times more appreciative of our way of life back at home. I was able to see all the ways I had been taking for granted the blessings God has poured out on our nation. God has blessed our nation because many people have taken the gospel to other nations of the world for centuries. If we want to stay blessed, we must continue to obey His command to "Go"! (See Mark 16:15-16)

And third, short-term missions made me realize that having "things" is not where true joy and happiness come from. As a follower of Jesus I knew this in my brain, but not in my heart. Through the culture shock I encountered, I saw people with far less "stuff", and far more every-day challenges than me. But they were happy. They had a joy I didn't have. They  relied on the pure presence of Jesus. They had no choice but to fully trust in His Word. It broke my heart, not for them, but for me. As I said, it changed my walk with Jesus.

Let me encourage you to consider a short-term missions ministry trip. But plan to go to an area where life is hard for the folks who live there. Plan to encounter a really strong case of culture shock. Jesus said to "Go", so that part is a no-brainer. If he said to "Go", then the money part is easy. Your part is to obey the call to go. Your part is the simple decision to go. Then start looking for opportunities. Many local churches support missions and missionaries in various places around the planet. So finding an opportunity won't be hard. If it changed my life, it will change your life. Go with a servant's heart, because missions is all about service.

Finally, Harvest Celebration Ministries was conceived of and birthed as a result of my initial visits to India. God has opened doors many times in India, Honduras, and Guatemala. We've only just begun!

Are You Impacted By Deception?

How is it possible for a true believer to embrace doctrinal or political views that directly oppose God's Word? Why do believers embrace ungodly principles in the name of a political party or simply in the name of outright sin? How can a person who claims to be a Christian embrace a worldly lifestyle that defies the principles of God's kingdom? This used to confuse me. But the simple answer is deception. Believe it or not (no pun intended), Christians can be deceived.

The goal of deception is a hardened heart. On the other hand, the goal of the Word of God is that we do not become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. God has given us His Word as the standard of truth by which we live our lives, and by which we gage all the issues of life.

Sin is the motivation of the enemy. But deception is the power of the enemy. The only way he can overcome and control is through deception. If you know the truth, you cannot be deceived. It's been said that if you tell a lie long enough, you eventually believe it's the truth. And if you hear a lie long enough, you eventually embrace it as the truth! To a deceived person, the lie is believed as the truth.

Deception takes place when a person believes something contrary to the truth; contrary to God's Word. The media in general has provided the platform for the lies of the enemy to be propagated throughout our nation and the world. The secular, mainstream news media has the power to proclaim whatever they want as the truth. If it's on the news it has to be true, right? No, not right! It is utterly staggering how many people fully trust what is said on the mainstream news media, the content of which is their personal, political, and social agendas. What concerns me greatly is that many Christians cannot discern between deception and truth, because they don't know God's Word.

You don't have to have a hard heart. You don't have to be deceived. You DO need to know the Word of God. That's your decision. Then you must confess the Word of God and pray the Word of God over yourself and your family. God's Word is the sword of the Spirit. It is living and active. God's Word cuts through the deception and reveals the heart of God in any situation or any issue. Join with me in these last days in defying the thrust of the world by standing on His Word. Expect God to show Himself strong and mighty in your behalf, and in behalf of those you encourage with His Word.

Convert Or Disciple

Are you a "convert" or a "disciple"? When I use the world convert in this post, I am referring to one who has truly been born again. They've sincerely asked Jesus to come into their heart. As a matter of fact, if they were to die today, they would go to heaven. I use the word disciple in this post, I'll be referring to one who has truly been converted, but at conversion (or some point later), they've committed their life to following after Jesus. You see, disciples (aka followers of Jesus) change the world. Converts don't. Listen to this: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 18: 19-20)

Over the years so much focus has been on getting someone born again so they will go to heaven, not hell. Of course, the sooner we settle this issue in our lives, the better off we will be. And we must be born again to go to heaven. But there is much more to being born again (saved) than going to heaven, and not going to hell. Could there be other reasons Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost? Of course. Jesus explains in the above Scripture that disciples must be made from converts. A disciple learns from Jesus (by being His follower/pupil), and then they teach others how to be disciples of Jesus. Here's an important point: It's impossible for a convert to make disciples without first becoming a disciple. Converts make no impact simply by being saved (unless their life changes drastically).

Let me further clarify my point. How does a person, who is genuinely born again, embrace principles and theologies that are clearly opposed by the Word of God? How can anyone, who has surrendered their whole life to Jesus claim, "I have a right over my own body", when their body now belongs to Jesus? How can a genuine believer embrace political party platforms that diametrically oppose the Word of God? That used to confuse and frustrate me, because it not only blasphemes the name of Jesus, but the body of Christ as well. Then it hit me one day. There are converts, and their are disciples.

A believer can and will believe almost anything, if they are not grounded in the Word of God. The same is true if they have no on-going, growing relationship with Jesus. You see, it's clear in the Word that disciples "grow up" in Jesus. That's the purpose for discipleship. Remember, disciples change the world, babes in Christ do not.

One more question: How can Christians exude so much hate toward one another over differing doctrines and beliefs? It was really evident during the last Presidential election. So much hate was hurled back and forth between genuine Christians? What a terrible indictment against the church! How can this be? It's simple. Some are converts, and some are disciples. A disciple has matured (or maturing) and learning to walk in the genuine love of Jesus. (John 13:34-35), "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." This was a new commandment because it required us to love each other as Christians, regardless of our feelings, beliefs, or even how we are treated by others. It is also the PROOF that we are truly disciples/followers of Jesus. We must get that!

You were created to serve this life. You see, even though your salvation is about you going to heaven, it is also about other people going to heaven as a result of how you serve Jesus in this life. This has everything to do with your walk with Him day in and day out on this planet. The idea of getting saved and living any way you want to (because you'll go to heaven) is destroyed by Jesus Himself. (John 8:31), "So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine..." (John 15:5), "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."

According to the  above words of Jesus, a true disciple is one who continues in His Word. A true disciple is a pupil of the Lord Jesus. He/she is one who sits at His feet daily, feeding upon His Word and His incredible presence. And a true disciple is one who lives to make others disciples. A disciple won't win everyone to Jesus. But he/she will live to make those who are born again disciples of Jesus.

Jesus referred to Himself as the vine, and we as the branches. If we abide or live, or dwell in Him daily, we bear much fruit. It is the fruit that makes the difference. It is also the fruit that substantiates the genuiness of our walk with Him. 

Finally, I'm convinced that those who grow up in Christ fulfill the destiny Jesus has established for them. No one can fulfill your destiny but you. Being a disciple of Jesus is the process that makes it happen. If you don't know your destiny, commit your Christian life to being a follower of Jesus...a disciple of Jesus. Grow up in Him. You will begin to know, and more importantly, fulfill your powerful, unique destiny in Him.