Archives for posts with tag: judgment

signsofthetimes(A Brief Meditation on Psalm 46 and Matthew 24)

The way of grace teaches us that our hope for life begins in repentance. We prioritize out of necessity and for the sake of aligning ourselves with the truth.

We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ because man-made opinions and bubbles burst and the world tries to bustle us into becoming entangled with its causes, wars, and disputes. We believe so our ways might be exchanged for the ways of God, worldly reactions and responses exchanged for the will of God’s Kingdom.

We build up our faith because the systems upon which we lean and depend will be kicked out from under us. There will be divisions along ethnic lines and realms of thought.

We bless others in the power of the Spirit because a spirit of bitterness is taking hold of our society. There is a famine of taking in God’s Word.  We are called to move as free people, willing to let go of our own lives for the sake of those who are locked into their limiting fortresses of unbelief. We know soon all the vain things which leech and consume our attention will be consumed by God’s fiery judgment so while the light of grace still shines we are working.

We bring life in Jesus’ name to those pestered and plagued by sin, seemingly bound to turmoil, chaos, and unrest. We influence this wicked and perverse generation by the rest and stillness we have found in the presence of God. As we allow God to ascend in the midst of what we do, even the ‘fools who say there is no God’ may discover otherwise.

We breakthrough as the One whose name is above all names is exalted in our lives. Everything we know will be shaken including the ground upon which we stand. The confidence we carry is “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46: 7, 11)

(This post is used by permission and is written by my dear friend, Dr. Craig Green, Pastor of Livingston First Church, Livingston, TN.)


Misunderstood Love

PalmSundayWhen Yeshua had come closer and could see the city (Jerusalem), he wept over it, saying, “If you only knew today what is needed for shalom! But for now it is hidden from your sight… all because you did not recognize your opportunity when God offered it!” (Luke 19:41-44 CJB)

Misunderstanding love is the hallmark of the fallen human race—regardless of how God presents love; regardless of how explicit He is in foretelling it. Not only are we guilty of misunderstanding His love, we are guilty of redefining His love—even though He has clearly defined what real love is—and is not—in His Word…

Jesus wept over a city that should have known better. Zechariah 9:9 clearly states that your King comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey. The crowd outside the city got it…sort of. They covered the ground with palm branches and clothing and shouted praises as King Jesus rode toward Jerusalem. But they misunderstood the Messiah coming in humility, regardless of what the prophet had said.

That misunderstanding caused Jesus to weep over a city that would be utterly destroyed—with enormous loss of life—less than forty years later. Many in Israel never did come to see their Messiah…

I wonder if Jesus’ second coming—this time as the King of Kings riding on a white horse—will be equally or even more misunderstood…

While the religious leaders and most of the public two thousand years ago could not fathom a Suffering Servant as the Messiah (despite the prophet Isaiah’s clear words), most of our current world can’t seem to fathom a mighty victorious King coming in perfect authority and righteousness in His Second Coming.

In perfect humility—or in perfect glory, honor, and strength—Jesus is still… Perfect Love! His love is equally evident in suffering for our sin (as He did on the cross), in calling us to righteous holiness that finds victory over sin (as He does now), to returning in all glory and power to restore perfection (as He will soon).

The Love of God is still misunderstood and it is still being redefined as people long to manufacture a god who serves our needs and scratches our itches rather than submit to the one true God who—in humility and in all power—calls us to surrender to Him, as if… He is God and we are not!

Both, I believe, make Jesus weep as multitudes miss the peace Jesus brought, brings, and will bring.

· He came as a humble servant, but they wanted a militant king…

· He is now the King of righteousness who demands transformation by the Word and Spirit, but many bristle at the suggestion that HIS definition of righteousness and love, not ours, is the standard.

· He will come in all glory as God the King, but many will balk in full-blown rebellion.

This Palm Sunday, perhaps the thing to do is to lay down our lives before Him (rather than palm branches), and to receive HIM until our misunderstandings and redefinitions are overpowered by His enormous and perfect love…!

dangerWhen I was a teenager, my brother and I used to race in the pasture on the motorcycle. With but one bike between us, we raced each other and the clock. We had a fine route laid out, almost a mile long, that gave us ample opportunity to test our skill.

We had one rule to start. Since I was older and had been riding longer, and was more prone to take risks, it was determined that I had to go twice as fast in order to win. That actually worked out fine in the beginning. But, the more we raced the more Dennis’ riding improved.

I remember the last race before the rule had to change. I was flying along on the dirt bike with a few seconds to spare and still gain victory. But, I was nearing the halfway point on our course: a V-turnaround spot after which I would head for home. I realized if I slowed down much I would lose the race so I thought I would try to slide the bike into the curve and then propel my way to victory.

I knew as soon as I decided on the slide, the bike would lock up and I would go flying over the handlebars.

I lost the race.

Even though I knew it was coming, I had to try for victory anyway. Worse case scenario? I wreck and my brother wins the race.

I had this memory reading about God’s judgment in the last of days. God says through Ezekiel, “And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 38: 23) The prophet was speaking against those who were doing things God was against. We certainly know that activity is still going on and God is still against it.

Our way of driving along may be wrecked here soon as God shows his greatness and his holiness.  Let’s just make sure Jesus will be leading us to victory despite what happens in the world.  Even if we see it coming, let’s be ready to confess and know these three things.

Our triumph abides because of 1) the blood of the Lamb, 2) the word of our testimony, and 3) we don’t love our lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12: 11)

pridequoteThe seed of sin holds its own destruction. When it first flowers you may not see it. In the beginning of sin, there is only the betrayal, the small failure, the falling short of victory. We feel the dis-appointment. We hopefully are conscious and aware that we have missed the mark. But, we’ve been told, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” So, one sin begets two; begets a thousand.

We got locked into a self-serving, sin-perpetuating biased way of doing things. At first, the dis-appointment nudged us towards introspection and evaluation. Now, it moves us to look for someone to blame.

True self-improvement will always pull us back towards humility and truly starting over. Sin with all its bitterness will simply demand repetition or recruitment of a crowd that agrees with us.

Pretty soon, a battle is being fought, sides have to be chosen.  Alignment to a path with those committed to breakthrough becomes impossible for us. Why? Because, we are no longer committed to breakthrough and newness of life. We are now committed to putting off and forestalling our breakdown and downfall.  This translates into a commitment to destroy anything or anyone who will once again expose our dis-appointment.

To what are we appointed? The Bible says, we  are all appointed to death and after that the judgement. (Hebrews 9: 27) But, what if that judgement had already been borne by someone else? Indeed, it has been. “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Hebrews 9: 28)

For those, who await a different outcome, it is not too late for you. Today, if you will hear God’s voice, the offer of grace stands.  Yes, you are appointed to death but come before the Lord in humility and repentance and let that death be a death to self, a confession of your sin, and a turning to the Lord that uproots you from the life you’ve lived up til now and roots you and grafts you into God’s kingdom.

Yes, you will still be fighting a battle but this one will begin in humility.

joytotheworldJesus said, “Unless you repent, you too will likewise perish.” (Luke 13: 3, 5) What’s the counter for that?  Have I got any other options? Jesus says, ‘No’.

Jesus says, “Don’t be surprised when I tell you, you must be born again.” (John 3: 7) The rules haven’t changed. Grace doesn’t change the rules. Grace makes the rules more emphatic. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” (John 3: 16-18)

So are you going to follow the rules or not?  “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now He commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus. For He has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17: 30-31)

Jesus began his ministry with this here’s-the-way-it-is call to each one of us. “He said, ‘The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel’!” (Mark 1: 15) Some may want to ask, what about those who haven’t heard the gospel? Do they warrant an exception? Once again, the answer is ‘No’.

“For since the creation of the world his (God’s) invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:  20 NET) Same rules apply because everyone is expected, even if they haven’t heard the gospel, to align and prioritize their lives with God and do it with joy and thanksgiving in their hearts. What’s made has always had to meet the approval of their Maker. The rules haven’t changed.

Are you going to follow the rules? Grace says, you can!

In the pathway of grace and in the life of Jesus the resurrection is the breakthrough event that ushers in the work of the Holy Spirit. In the listing of first principles in Hebrews 6, the resurrection of the dead is the principle that corresponds with the bringing of life in the pathway of grace. It is the singular event that demonstrates the efficacy of Christ’s suffering and theresurrection (1) victory over sin, death, and hell God brings to us through Jesus Christ.  The book of Acts repeatedly proclaims that it is the resurrection of Jesus that exalts Him above all others. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, (whom God raised from the dead) both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2: 36)

In Acts 3, Peter gives Jesus the title, the Prince of Life. The Holy Spirit has been poured out so the apostles and all who repent and believe in Jesus might become witnesses to this fact.  Peter goes so far as to say whosoever will repent and be converted to follow Jesus will have their sins blotted out and experience the time of refreshing promised by God. (Acts 3: 19) Even more stark and declarative, Peter quotes from the Old Testament warning to those who refuse to turn to the Resurrected Prophet. “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3: 23)

But, as Peter shares in his own epistle, God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3: 9) This is shared in Acts 3: 26, “God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” Yes, this is the divine plan: for you to experience life and that more abundantly.

Please remember though, that life is mediated through one person – Jesus.  Peter says, “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4: 10-12)

And Paul later speaking to the philosophers and thought leaders of Athens says much the same thing.  “For as much then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17: 29-31)

“And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.” (Acts 17: 32) I hope we will hear again about this matter.  Our lives depend upon it.

KICKING THE CANI have been led repeatedly lately to read and meditate on the vision of Isaiah, chapter 1.  A word of wisdom that arises from that vision is deal with difficulties when they are small.  Repent of sins speedily.  Make course corrections sooner rather than later.  Kicking the can down the road as the cartoon illustrates eventually hurts more than toes.

As Dave Dee writes in a recent GKIC Insiders Circle post (December 3, 2013) titled, The Real Secret to Getting Ahead, one of the things we must do is “solve problems fast. Everybody experiences problems, conflicts and challenges. The trick is to not let them fester. As soon as you identify a problem, swoop in and resolve it quickly before it becomes a bigger problem.”

Burdens carried over time have a way of bending us and reshaping who we are.  Challenges to our character left unchallenged change our character.  I’m not talking about being defensive or argumentative but about being plain and honest.  Our days of covering up and being dishonest are coming to a close.  The question is whether that ending will bring us to a time of open tyranny or a new season of grace and truth.

Pray for me, our ministry, and our nation.  I have started a book based on this vision of Isaiah 1.  The working title is A Desolate Country.  It is a call to the nation to turn back to the Lord.  Jim Rohn says, “You cannot change your destination overnight but you can change your direction overnight.”  This book is a reminder God is still able to change destinations overnight or even quicker if we turn back to Him.