A Strong Conviction…

Haggai 1:5-6
Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.
Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.

 
This passage of scripture could have been written in 2014.  As we ease further and further away from the truth of God’s Word,  the Lord is saying to us “Consider your ways.”  We need to consider our ways.  I am not even referring to the people who do not know the Lord, I am talking specifically about the church of Jesus Christ.  I am referring to men and women who claim the Name of Christ Jesus.  Consider your ways, people of God!  The church of Jesus Christ looks just like the world.  The divorce rate in the church is about the same as in the world.  As many women in the church are having abortions as there are outside of the church.  We do not cry out against homosexuality and lesbianism to the point where it is creeping, or should I say, storming into the church.  We need to consider our ways.
 
A local church, that claims to be an evangelical church, recently hired a lesbian to be the assistant pastor of the church.  Well, that situation is wrong on a few levels.  First of all, a woman has no business being in pulpit ministry (1 Timothy 2:11, 1 Corinthians 14:34, Revelation 2:20).  Second of all, God’s Word calls lesbianism “vile” according to Romans 1:26, which says “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature…”  The church has got to cry out against this stuff.  The Bible believers who are a part of that church (if there are any) have got to say enough is enough.  They need to find churches where the Bible is being taught, and the central focus is on the Lord Jesus Christ.  We really need to consider our ways.
 
A local church stood by their pastor as he dated another woman in plain view of his wife.  He not only deserted her, but divorced her for no just cause.  He continues to stand in the pulpit of that church every Sunday claiming that he knows the Lord, and claiming to speak for God, while flaunting his vile lifestyle.  Another local pastor remained in his pulpit after his wife accused him of an inappropriate relationship with a man.  She divorced him, and all the while the church was calling for his resignation.  Still another local church had their pastor investigated after accusations were made by female members who were under his counsel that he made suggestive remarks to them.  He, too remains in the pulpit.  The congregations in these churches remain loyal to the church and continue to sit under the teaching of these men who are so obviously disqualified from pastoral leadership.  We need to seriously consider our ways.  
 
We wonder why this country is in the mess that it is in.  We wonder why our children are shooting up school buildings, why the prisons are filled with young men and young women, why our children are committing suicide at an alarming rate, why there is so much teenage pregnancy and abortion and drug abuse…if we really wonder, we can find the answer right there in God’s Word.  “Ye have sown much, but bring in little…”  Parents are bringing home two paychecks nowadays.  Used to be, the man of the house was the breadwinner.  Now, the woman has to work too.  Why?  Because we have sown a lot, but we don’t have much to show for it.  “…Ye eat, but ye have not enough…”  Enough is not enough for us anymore.  We are chasing the American dream to the tune of a national debt that I cannot even write out numerically.  We have to have more and bigger and better and more expensive, and on and on and on…
 
“….Ye drink, but are not filled with drink;  ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it in a bag with holes.”  When I read this passage, I was convicted myself.  I think of all the times when I did not have enough because I had misused what God had given me.  I am sure that if it is true of me, I am not alone.  There is so much fleshly desire amongst the people of God until God is not the priority anymore.  We need to get back to putting first things first.  If God is God, then He needs to be first on our agenda.  If He is not first, then we need to stop calling ourselves Christians.  I am not just calling out others in the body of Christ, I am turning the mirror on myself too.  
 
This is serious.  Time is winding up.  Jesus is going to return, and even though we are saved and filled with the Spirit of God, there is someone out there with whom we have not shared the gospel.  We have avoided a neighbor because they get on our nerves, but they are destined for hell and we do not even care.  We have not shared the gospel with a family member because we do not want to deal with their response, or we are afraid they are going to make an argument for not surrendering to Christ, and we will not have an answer for it.  The answer is to do what Jesus said:  go out and make disciples.  He told Moses not to worry about what he would say, because the LORD would put the words in his mouth.  We need to ask the Lord to put the words in our mouths to share the gospel with someone who does not know Jesus as their Lord and Master.
 
People of God: wake up!!!  Pray and ask the Lord to send strong conviction into your heart if you have not earnestly considered your ways….

 

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Please Pray for the Wiater Family

On March 13, a young man named Sam Wiater went missing from his apartment in Athens, Ohio.  From March 13 until today, many have been praying for Sam’s safe return home.  Unfortunately, with heavy hearts, his parents announced that a body found in the Hocking River was indeed that of their precious son.  I have never met the Wiaters; I only heard about their story through a mutual friend.  Nevertheless, I have been burdened for Sam’s family, and I am devastated to learn this news today.  Please pray that the Lord will console the hearts of Sam’s parents and his younger brother.  In the words of Sam’s mother, “this is a difficult cross to bear”.

I read Sam’s story in the Columbus Dispatch online, and there was a link to the Wiater family’s Facebook page entitled “Bring Sam Wiater Home”.  In the days prior to receiving this devastating news, Sam’s mom posted this heartfelt post, and I thought it was too rich not to share with my readers.  These words were hers, not mine.  I wanted to repost them because I agree with them totally.

Once again, please pray for the Wiater family.

EASTER SUNDAY

As I sit here tonight, in the wee hours of the morning going into Easter Sunday, I am at a crossroads. For last night, my tears saturated my pillow as I wept for my son, longing to hear from him. On Saturday, I went to a baby shower for my dear friend Cindy’s daughter, due to give birth to her first son in just a few weeks. As people celebrated life, I looked back at what seems like yesterday, when I opened gifts in celebration of preparing for the birth my two sons. The crossroad at which I stand points in two directions: one direction toward pain, and one toward great faith and fighting in the spirit for my son’s life. 

Although it is Easter Sunday when we commemorate the resurrection of Jesus, today is a battlefield. It’s is not a recreation room. And right now, our family is in the battle of our lives. And you know what? We intend to fight until the end. 

The Bible says that Jehovah God has eight names. He is Jehovah Shammah, the God who is present. He is Jehovah Shalom, the God of peace. He is Jehovah M’Kaddesh, the God of our holiness. He is Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord God our righteousness. He is Jehovah Rohe, the Lord God our Shepherd. He is Jehovah Raphika, the Lord thy God that healeth all thy diseases. But He is also known as Jehovah Nissi. He is our banner, our flag of completed victory. He is our standard. He is He that we look to and we are freed. He is He that we look to, and the penalty of sin and death passes away from us.

Flags and banners were used in the Bible for several purposes. 1) They were used in warfare; 2) They were used as a warning, “This land does not belong to you;” and 3) They were used for identification. And when you begin to hoist the blood-stained banner of the cross of Jesus Christ over your life as the standard by which you will live and be judged, I can tell you that hell’s opposition takes center stage against you. A target gets placed on your life, and you don’t know which way you’re going to turn, but there’s only one answer: You’ve got to put your head up, square your shoulders, put your weapons in hand, and move forward to reclaim enemy-held territory, because there is nowhere to go back to! It is fight or be conquered! 

On this Easter Sunday, I am proclaiming that Jehovah Nissi is our banner! We will not give up the fight. 

It’s us against the devil, but we are never alone. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. We are going to be like Esther. We have been called for such as a time as this, and God never intended for us to die in this valley! We have to be like David and say, “There’s a giant in here I’m supposed to kill somewhere!”

This is the battle of our lives for our son, Sam. The Bible didn’t say IF the enemy comes in. It said WHEN the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will rise up a standard against it. Whether we like it or not, we were built for the battle. We were created for a conflict. Quite honestly, this can truly suck at times. (Just being honest.) But, God has called us to overcome and not to sit by and be defeated by our own grief, or the FEAR of grief. (FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real).

The adversary continues an all-out offensive, and he has only one thought or one objective in mind–to leave us discouraged and defeated. And if we are going to have victory, we are going to fight for every inch of ground. 

Many people think that Jesus was just a nice guy who loved everyone and never caused any trouble. But Jesus came to impose this kingdom. He came to enforce the boundaries of this kingdom. The Bible still says, “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take hold of it by force.” We are not going to conquer principalities and powers by sitting in a church pew singing six verses of a hymn wearing our most beautiful clothes to impress others.

So how do we take it by force? We pray. We do what we can to live right and to live holy lives. We stop doing stupid things that we know not to do. We’ve traded the blood-stained banner of the cross of Jesus Christ for the banners of criticism and contempt. We judge and talk about others while pointing our finger at the homosexual and the drug addict, which leave three fingers pointing back at ourselves. We have traded prayer and intercession for programs that make us feel good, but don’t help others.

Why won’t we pray? Pray and watch heaven move, pray and watch principalities be dethroned, pray and watch bodies be healed, pray and watch a revival come, pray and watch heaven open, pray and watch our missing child come home! 

It really is time to raise the blood-stained banner of Jesus Christ. It’s time to invade enemy-held territory. It is time to draw a line in the sand. To sum it up, it’s time to really get serious and pray.
In saying all of this and looking at who Christ has transformed me into today, I choose to walk by faith and not by sight. I choose to fix my eyes on my Lord and Savior, Jesus, Who gave his life freely for me. This holiday isn’t about the Easter bunny and eggs–it’s about a God who loved us enough to send His own Son to die for us in our place because we owed a debt that we could not pay. He paid it for us. What was lost by eating from a tree in a garden was restored by One dying on a tree to pay the debt that no one could pay. What a wondrous thing! What a wonderful Savior… and no matter what, today I choose to lay down my own mortal feelings and worship Him. Yes, sometimes I hurt so bad that it is overwhelming. But I am loved so much from the God who made the Heavens and the earth, that His love is even MORE overwhelming. 

May the God that loves you passionately overwhelm you today as you celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior! Keep praying!! Keep fighting!! Keep believing!!

A Ransom for Many…

Matthew 20:28

Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.

As Easter Sunday rapidly approaches, and the study of Matthew in BSF comes to a close, my mind has been filled with thoughts of the Savior’s sacrifice for the sins of the world. As we read the gospels, and witness through the testimony of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the horrific events that took place leading up to the resurrection of Christ, we should all be humbled by the fact that the Lord God Omnipotent, the One Who reigns forever and ever, left His throne in glory, came to the earth, lived the life that we should have lived and could not, then died the death that we should have died and did not, all so that we could be redeemed back to Himself after we fell into sin. How incredible is that…

Let’s just take a few moments and walk through Jesus’ last hours here on earth. He had eaten dinner with his friends for the last time here on earth. He knew what was coming, so He told his friends that someone near and dear to Him would betray Him, and someone else would deny Him three times, after vehemently professing his loyalty to the Master. Jesus took His three best friends, Peter, James and John, with Him to the Garden of Gethesemane to pray. These were the three who had been closest to the Lord, and though He asked them to watch and pray for only one hour, they could not control the temptation to sleep during one of Jesus’ most desperate hours. Jesus prayed to His Father, and the Bible says that He was so passionate at this point that His sweat was like great drops of blood…and then He comes back to find His friends asleep on the job.

Shortly thereafter, one of those “friends” comes into the garden with the chief priests and scribes, ready to arrest Him. His friend kissed Him on the cheek, and then Jesus was arrested. He was taken to a mock trial, where false witnesses came to testify, and they couldn’t even get their stories straight, but nevertheless, Pilate released Barrabbas instead of Jesus, after having heard his wife say that he should have nothing to do with Jesus’ conviction. She said that she had had bad dreams about it, and she did not want her husband to pay for making a bad judgment call. But just a side note: making no call at all is just as bad when it comes to standing for Christ.

So, Pilate washed his hands, symbolizing the fact that he wanted nothing to do with Jesus’ sentence. Jesus was convicted and sentenced to die. He was beaten mercilessly; slapped around like a nobody. He was spit upon: how disgusting. If I may interject my own personal thought right here: had I been Jesus, spitting on me would have ended all of it. Jesus had already said that if He wanted to, He could call His Father and get a legion of angels to stop the whole thing, but He did not do that. But I would have, because being spit on would have been more than my proud flesh could have handled. Thank God that Jesus is not like me…

Jesus endured having His beard pulled out of His face. He endured the mocking: they put a mock robe around His shoulders and bowed in jest, calling Him the King of the Jews. They braided a crown of thorns and pushed it down on His head. He had nails driven into His flesh, and the cross was stood up with Him hanging on it. It was not the neat picture that we see in the art stores; it was bloody and gruesome and unpleasant. He suffered humiliation, in that, while He hung there on the cross, He was not draped in the neat little loin cloth that you see on the paintings of Jesus. He did not have that luxury. He had a spear driven into His side. As He hung there, scientists have suggested that the pressure of hanging on the cross with the weight of His body bearing down on His chest would have made it difficult to breathe. His legs were bent so that He would naturally push back against the cross, making the experience even more painful. He was called a blasphemer and a liar…He watched His mother as she stood at the foot of the cross, devastated that the Child that she had borne from her body was being crucified for crimes that He did not commit. He had also been left by His friends; the ones who said that they would never fall away from Him.

The Lord Jesus Christ endured all of that for all of the world. I used to think that Jesus died for the Christians, but the Bible says that Jesus died, the just for the unjust. So, if He really did die for the Christians, it stands to reason that He died for the sins of the world because each of us were once enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season, and we were sinners that had not yet been saved by grace through faith. He died for each person who has confessed that He is Lord, and He died for the ones who have not yet confessed Him, but someday will…He also died for the ones who will never confess that He is Lord.

I read a blog post earlier today that said that God does not exist, and the proof is in the fact that there is a ship out in the ocean that was carrying a boatload of high school students, and it sank….there is a plane that took off a few weeks ago, and it disappeared without a trace. So may other horrific things are happening, and there are those cynical people who want to blame God every time something goes wrong. My response to that attitude is this: God is as real when everything is going bad as He is when everything is going good. Are we going to bask in His blessing and never endure any burden? Are we going to experience all the pleasure and never any pain? I never hear anyone acknowledging God publicly when the sun is shining, but when the rain comes, it is all God’s fault. I pray that those with that attitude will search the scriptures so that they can come to know the truth.

But I digress…Jesus gave His life as a ransom for many. If you do not know that, or if you do know it, but you have not confessed your sins to Him, and asked Him to be the Master of your life, won’t you do so today? Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. The Bible says that we do not know the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will appear, and I know that I do not want to look up and Jesus is riding on a cloud, while I am in sin. Don’t let this moment pass without dropping to your knees, crying out to the Father, asking Him to take you as one of His own. He has never rejected anyone who sincerely wanted Him to be the Master of their lives. He gave His life as a ransom for many, and you are one of them…

Happy Resurrection Day!!!