NATIONAL CALL TO PRAYER AND FASTING…

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Joel 1:14-15 – “Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.  15 Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.”  NASU

 

Saying that we live in a troubled world is an understatement, but something we dare not fail to remember.  We need reminders, from time to time, of the times in which we live so as, to prevent us from drifting into complacency or adopting a “Que, Sera, Sera” attitude.  We dare not think that if we ignore the conditions they will dissipate or disappear.  THEY WILL NOT!  When there is a lion in the street ignoring the lion won’t make the street safe.  When there is a wolf at the door, denying his existence and seeking to isolate ourselves inside won’t take away his threat.  When the world plunges into chaos, corruption, disruption, and evil raise its ugly head, the silence of the church only facilitates, empowers, and emboldens that evil.

Paul advised us that we are in a spiritual battle and to combat that foe we must utilize spiritual weapons of war, which we have through Jesus.  In 1 Corinthians 10, the apostle tells us that these weapons are supernatural and through them, we can ‘pull down strongholds’ the enemy has and is erecting.  We are more than conquerors through our Lord Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  We can do all things through our Lord Jesus Christ and nothing is impossible with God and in Him, nothing is impossible for us.

The Power of Prayer is wonderfully evident and clear in both the Bible and life, as many of us have learned.  It is not a desperate attempt to sway God from taking some action or get Him to take some action He is either reluctant to do.  It conditions our hearts, develops our faith, emboldens our witness, and reminds us of God’s promises.  Prayer, when effectual, inspires a change of heart and mind and propels into action to achieve that which God through His Word and Spirit has and does promise.  It becomes a mighty weapon to combat the assault of the wicked one, enabling us to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and having done all to stand, to stand firmly on God’s Promise and Person.

Fasting was a much, utilized weapon in the Old Testament and New Testament and has been a cornerstone of the church for centuries.  The diminishing of that weapon or practice is a more recent phenomenon and we have allowed that weapon to be lost to our own hurt spiritually.  Fasting is not simply abstaining from food for a specified period, of time, it is an endeavor in which the Spirit of God takes control of the fleshly mind and desires and turns our focus singularly upon God and His Purposes and Plan.  It is a means whereby we can ‘humble ourselves’ before God.  It is a means whereby we can focus on God first and foremost.  It facilitates a renewed or new yieldedness in our lives and often produces a brokenness that moves us nearer to God and helps us realize our dependence upon Him.

In natural warfare, successful participants know their enemy, know their resources, know their weapons and know how to use them.  When we set aside a time for ‘fasting and prayer’ for whatever reason we are engaging in spiritual warfare.  In view of the current condition, unrest, upheaval, and depravity of our world we must wake up and realize, THIS IS WAR!  In war, there are casualties and there are victors and vanquished.  If we truly care about what is happening our America and around the world and we are Christians, we should be inspired, encouraged, and challenged to discover the root cause of this destruction.  We should desire to utilize our weapons most effectively and consistently.  We should be willing to die for the cause of God and Freedom.  If we love God, love people, and want to see as many salvaged and saved as possible, this call is for us.  I believe that we are being called to “National Fasting and Prayer.”  Let’s bring in 2017 with a commitment to intercession, proclamation, profession, and the pursuit of the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.

God, bless you as you focus on Him and His Purposes for your life and your world!

BOW NOW OR BOW LATER, But Every Knee is Going to Bow…

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Philippians 2:10-11 – “…at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  NASU

 

I am appalled at the lack of acknowledgment of God in modern Christendom and in my beloved nation of America.  I would never have believed that I would live to see a time when preachers of major national standing would proclaim that there were many roads to God and even that Jesus was not the only way to salvation.  Oh, I knew that there would be those who were nothing more than charlatans and frauds but when people who truly believe they are followers of God could adopt those views it is stunning.

The Islamic terrorist and followers, as well the many other false religions refuse to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of the Living and only True God.  There are politicians in this nation who openly declare their atheism or opposition to God and His principles and are pushing America toward being a totally secular nation.  Some of those politicians seeking to promote abortion, same-sex marriage and other biblically offensive lifestyles demand that Christians and Churches change their views, beliefs, and teachings to accommodate those things.  They disbelieve that God is God and that Jesus is LORD.  They live without fear of God and what that rejection will mean now and eternally.

They may boldly declare, as those through the ages, views, and beliefs that clearly reject the Lordship of Jesus.  Some even believe that He was a prophet, a good man, a worthy teacher, but reject His divinity.  They may say that now and believe they are right and have no fear of facing the consequences of those actions and beliefs.  HOWEVER, one day they will come face to face with their error and at that point, with fear and trembling they will fall on their faces, bow their knees and confess that JESUS IS LORD!  They will finally realize, tragically too late, what the devils already know, God is and Jesus is God.

You may join people like Friedrich Nietzsche and believe that “God is dead” or say so with contempt for all who believe in God.  You may stand with people like Karl Marx and declare that “Religion is the opiate of the masses” and thereby declare your disbelief.  You may join those who have declared and believe that “Belief in God and Religion is simply a crutch for the weak.”  Let me address that last statement and say, “Yes, God is a crutch for the weak in the sense that when we are weak He is strong and as we recognize our weakness we receive His strength.”  It is as we adopt the mindset of John the Baptist, “He must increase but I must decrease” that we gain His strength. You can bow now to God or you will bow then.  There is no if, and, but, or maybe it is a factual reality that YOU WILL BOW! 

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior I urge you to call upon Him, repent of your sins and receive His mercy, grace, and pardon.  He has promised that if we will call upon Jesus He would in no way reject us.  John 3:16 declares, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”  You can BOW NOW willingly and in faith or you will BOW THEN with fear and trembling facing the judgment of God.

May the Lord bless you richly as you enjoy this wonderful day in the LORD!

GOD, PLEASE SPARE AMERICA FROM JUDGMENT…

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Hosea 1:2; 6-9 – “When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, ” Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.’… 6 Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. 7 “But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the LORD their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen.”  8 When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. 9 And the LORD said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God.”  NASU

 

Israel had sinned and God’s judgment was coming on the land.  God choose to illustrate His displeasure with the nation through the prophet Hosea and gave the prophet an incredible assignment.  Imagine being told by the LORD to take a wife of harlotry!  But, it was not just a wife of harlotry but from a land that was committing flagrant and perpetual harlotry.  I pray that America has not become that nation through our national rejection of God in abortion, same-sex marriage, embracing of lifestyles abhorrent to Scripture, the removal of all things biblical from public places.  Over 60 Million babies have been aborted in the United States since the inception of Rove v Wade and that number is growing exponentially and has evolved to include late term and partial birth abortions.  I can see no path to avert judgment if we continue our current course nationally.

The prophet obeyed God and his harlot wife conceived and gave birth to a daughter. The Spirit of God instructed the prophet to name that child “Lo-ruhamah” because God would no longer have compassion on the House of Israel but would have compassion on the House of Judah.  A divided nation in which one segment rejected God and the other embraced Him.  In a very real way, that is where we are in America today.  Then, this harlot wife conceived again and gave birth to a son.  The Spirit of God gave the instruction to name this child, “Lo-ammi” as a sign that the House of Israel were no longer considered by God as His people nor He their God.  That is more a statement of the condition of their heart in rejecting God than God abandoning them permanently.  It was designed as a call to repentance!

America, Christians, patriots our nation is divided and many are embracing lifestyles and views that are completely opposite of Scripture.  God will not be patient and longsuffering always but will, at some point, say, as He did to Israel, “I no longer have compassion on you” and “You are not my people and I am not your God.”  I personally, do not want to live in that land and at that time.  Therefore, I am calling for all believers to ‘fast and pray’ for the nation.  I call for every believer to ‘repent of sin’ personally and nationally.  I call for every believer to adopt the directive and remedy found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Believers, if we repent and return to the LORD, He will return to us and our nation needs God to return and bring a revival in the land.

            God, bless you as you embark on today’s portion of your life journey in Jesus!

THE LIVING DEAD…

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Ephesians 2:1-10 – “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  NASU

 

No, I am not talking about Zombies, although that might be a somewhat accurate description of a person’s life outside of Christ.  I am talking about being alive in the sense of having a heartbeat, brainwave function, and breathing if we can call that living.  It is living but it is not life!  I well remember when I was counted among the LIVING DEAD and am so thankful that the Lord sought me out and encouraged people to persist in their pursuit of me.  I am thankful for people who faithfully prayed for me and then respond in love offering the encouragement and eventually the simple message that penetrated my rigid exterior and crushed my heart for God.

Paul told the Ephesian Christians you were once among the LIVING DEAD.   You were DEAD in your trespasses and sins, living your sinful lifestyles and pursuing your death lives.  You were manipulated, influenced, and to a great degree controlled by the prince of the power of the air, the devil.  You lived in the grip of your own fleshly lusts, indulging yourselves in the desires of the flesh and mind.  You were children of wrath, filled with hate and bitterness, envy and greed.  BUT NOW, God’s incredible mercy and grace penetrated that veneer and veil that covered your blinded eyes and you were set free.  You are no longer among the LIVING DEAD but are alive in Christ and are THE LIVING!

The translation out of the kingdom of darkness and the recreation of our spirit-being or soul was an act of God’s Grace.  He resurrected us from the LIVING DEAD and made us alive in Christ and now He has given us a seat at the Master’s Table and we are ‘seated with Christ’ in the heavenly places. This is not the result of any deed we have done to EARN IT but by His incredible mercy and grace.  I had someone say recently, “I am longing for the resurrection from the dead.”  I understood and do not disagree or disparage their sentiment but I said, “I have already been resurrected from the dead.”  No, I have not attained the final resurrection but have experienced the spiritual resurrection from the LIVING DEAD.  I am now ALIVE in CHRIST.  Yet, it is not I that lives it is Christ living in me!  Hallelujah!

The door has been opened and the invitation extended for WHOSOEVER WILL to come and drink of the Living Waters, receive the forgiveness of sin, and be BORN AGAIN.  God loves us so much that He was, is, and will always be unwilling to leave us hopeless and helpless trapped in the state of the LIVING DEAD.  In Christ Jesus, we are ALIVE!  Now, we enter into the Abundant Life that Jesus came to bring and give!

            God, bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in the LORD!

TAKING GOD’S WORD TO A HEATHEN LEADER or UNBELIEVING PERSON OF AUTHORITY…

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Daniel 2:19-23 – “Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven; 20 Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. 21 “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. 22 “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. 23 “To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for You have given me wisdom and power; even now You have made known to me what we requested of You, for You have made known to us the king’s matter.”  NASU

 

We are not living under an authoritarian monarch in 2016 America but imagine being a citizen or a captive or slave in such a nation.  Daniel and the Jews had been taken captive by Babylon.  King Nebuchadnezzar was a terror and like most Despots, if he wanted an answer, failure to provide the desired answer or solution could and likely would result in death.  God began to trouble Nebuchadnezzar with dreams and in his perplexity, he demanded of his magicians, conjurers, sorcerers and the Chaldeans to interpret the dreams.  The Chaldeans made a reasonable request asking the king to tell them the dream and they would interpret.  God, moved on Nebuchadnezzar, and the king insisted that the interpreters give him both the dream and the interpretation.  That would require the supernatural beyond their magic arts and was the only way Nebuchadnezzar would accept the answer.  Those practitioners of the black arts could not and that resulted in a decree from the king to slay them.

Daniel became aware of the situation and called his three Hebrew friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah and organized a prayer meeting.  In the night, God opened Daniel’s spiritual eyes and gave him a dream or a vision explaining the dream and the meaning.  I love the prayer of Daniel.  He did not go to prayer simply pleading for the lives of those affected but focused on honoring God.  He began praying, “Let the name of God be blessed…”  He also acknowledged that God was the true source of wisdom and power.  He acknowledged that God had the power to reveal the hidden things knowing what is in the darkness and in the light.  He expressed his thankfulness for God having given him wisdom and understanding as well as favor.  Then he rejoiced in the reality that God had granted him the petition of he and his three friends so that lives could be spared and God’s purposes could be carried out.

I wonder how we would react to such a decree were it to happen in our nation today?  Would we have the courage and boldness to stand before a Despot and tell him what Daniel told him?  Remember, if you are wrong or if what you say is not acceptable to the tyrant your days on earth not only numbered but over.  Would we have the courage and faith to stand on what we had seen and heard in our dream or vision?

In the aftermath of Daniel’s interpretation rather than turning his heart to God, King Nebuchadnezzar became more filled with himself and erected a giant image of gold and demanded worship from everyone.  Failure to bow when the trumpet sounded meant immediate execution.  Everyone, even many of the Jews in captivity sought self-preservation and bowed.  Three refused.  Those three were contemporaries of Daniel were none other than Hananiah, Misael, and Azariah.  Of course, the Bible identifies them, in this situation, by their new Babylonian name.  That was, in my view, for the purpose of identifying the mindset of the Babylonians and the king.  He recognized no god other than himself and to identify them by their Hebrew names would have been to recognize the God of the Jews.  They refused and, through their refusal, took their message from God to the king, he was furious and caused the furnace to become so hot that those who cast them in were immediately consumed by the heat.  Then, the king, to his amazement looked into the furnace and did not see three, he saw four men walking in the fire unhurt.

Daniel’s demonstration of the supernatural, and acknowledgment that his ability to interpret the king’s dream was from God did not sufficiently impact the king.  But, now, this miracle coupled with Daniel’s supernatural revelation gripped his heart and he acknowledged God!  That resulted because four men were willing to pray, exercise faith, and stand staunchly for their faith and in their commitment.

It is my prayer that God would raise up Daniel’s, Hananiah’s, Mishael’s, and Azariah’s in our present time and that we become men and women so committed to God and His word that we are willing to die rather than compromise our commitment.

            God, bless you richly as you embark on this leg of life’s journey today!

 

REDEMPTION – It Is Not Earned, It is Received…

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Galatians 2:15-21 – “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17 “But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! 18 “For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 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. 21 “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”  NASU

 

The apostle Paul formerly Saul of Tarsus, was a Jew of the Jews, a Pharisee of the Pharisees, a rigid and devoted keeper of the Law BEFORE his encounter on the Damascus Road and his conversion.  This man, speaks eloquently, thoughtfully, forcefully, and clearly to the truth that Righteousness, Salvation, Redemption cannot be earned, is not acquired through works of keeping certain rules and regulations it is BY FAITH and RECEIVED.

Paul addresses the reality, that no man or woman is JUSTIFIED by the works of the Law.  Man’s redemption is the Gift of God and is experienced and entered, into BY FAITH in Jesus Christ.  Paul addressed to the Galatians and all who would come afterward, including you and me, that if we seek to be JUSTIFIED by what we do, our religious observances, and attempting to keep the Law we fail.  All, have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  He addressed the reality that the Work of Christ on the Cross opened the door to salvation and that through keeping the Law no person is justified.  His warning was that they not revert to attempting to earn righteousness and redemption through the practice of the Law but receive Grace through Faith.

He makes an incredible statement that can only be understood by faith, “I have been crucified with Christ…”  Had Paul been placed on the Cross with Jesus?  NO!  He had died to self through repentance and by faith received Christ into his heart in the New Birth.  He then says, “…it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…”  That’s the key!  Jesus, through faith now lives in our hearts and the Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through Him.  He then explains how this is possible, “…the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  That’s it!  That’s the secret!  We are not IN Christ and He is IN us and now lives His life in and through us.  We are not just representing Him we are manifesting Him.  Then Paul makes a powerful statement in v 21, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”  THAT IS POWERFUL!

If it is Christ and anything, Jesus’ death was meaningless.  If we can earn salvation by any effort of our own, Jesus’ death was meaningless.  If we gain entrance into the Kingdom of God by our keeping of the Law or any acts of piousness, Jesus’ death was meaningless.  No person could be saved had Jesus not gone to the cross.  Jesus was our substitute and the sacrifice that paid the penalty of sin by the human race.  He satisfied the demands of divine justice and shed His blood for the redemption of sin.  Without the Cross, there is no redemption.  Therefore, please never try to earn your redemption, that is impossible.  “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth, he confesses, resulting in salvation.  For the Scripture says, WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the Same LORD is LORD of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”  (Romans 10:9-13).

You cannot earn redemption, you do not deserve it, and you cannot do enough works to become justified.  IT IS BY GRACE THAT YOU ARE SAVED, THROUGH FAITH, NOT OF WORKS LEST ANY MAN SHOULD BOAST!  If you do not know Him, please call upon Him, in faith, and receive Redemption!

Blessings as you embark on today’s leg of your life’s journey!

 

THANKSGIVING IS FOR GIVING THANKS…

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  NASU

  

Today is Thanksgiving Day and many focus on time off from work, food, football, family gathers, and more.  Thanksgiving Day was instituted for the purpose of “Giving Thanks” and “Being Thankful”.  It was to be a day of reflection and declaring our appreciation for what we have.  I’m not sure that is the case in the majority of homes in America or even the world for that matter.  It, too often, is a football watching marathon and a food consumption binge rather than a time of setting aside a portion of our day to Reflect on that for which we should be Thankful.

I would like to challenge you to consider what you should be thankful for.  You may be experiencing incredibly difficult times, materially, socially, relationally, economically, spiritually, or physically but rather than focus on your problem focus on your blessings.  If you are so deep in despair that you can see nothing for which to be thankful, it is imperative that you shift your focus from within to without.  Have you received Christ as your Savior?  If so, no matter what you are now experiencing, you have much for which to be thankful.  You have Eternal Life and is that not worth more than anything else?

I would challenge you to gather your family, preferably before your meal or your football watching marathon and collectively reflect on your blessings.  The Psalmist entreated us to, “Enter His (God’s) gates with thanksgiving and His (God’s) courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him, bless His name.”  (104:4).  Let the reality of what you have received from Him resonated and pulsate in your heart and mind and join David, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trust in Him, and I am helped; therefore, my heart exults, and my with my song I shall thank Him.”  (Psalm 28:7).  Let the cry of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7 reverberate through your being, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

I read a prayer recently that speaks volumes to my heart on this day:

“Oh Heavenly Father:

           We thank you for food and remember the hungry.

            We thank you for health and remember the sick.

            We thank you for friends and remember the friendless.

            We thank you for freedom and remember those in bondage.

            May these remembrances stir us to service, that Your Gifts to us

            may be used in service to others.           

            Amen!”

             I am thankful that I live in a Free Nation.  I am thankful that I am reasonably healthy.  I am thankful that I have a dry bed to sleep in, a warm house to live in, clothes, to wear, food to eat, a car to drive, and can enjoy the fruit of my labors in peace.  I am thankful that I have received forgiveness for my sin and that out of that freedom of forgiveness I can forgive.  I am thankful for life now on earth and life that is to come for all eternity with God, in heaven. Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul!

God, bless you as you enjoy this THANKSGIVING DAY and make it a DAY OF THANKSGIVING.