I have spent a lot of time over the years, taking trips to other nations and continents where the Gospel is better received. Yes, I know we are to “be instant in and out of season,” but nonetheless it is truly exhilarating to observe people respond favorably to the Word of God. My heart goes out to missionaries who spend a lifetime toiling away in a pagan environment and fail to see even one convert. Our church is hosting a revival the week after next. Let me contrast what a real revival is compared to what we call a revival. A real revival is when the saints of God are convicted by the Word of God. When this happens, the saints fall in line with God’s will for their lives and obey Him. The lost become saved! THAT is God’s idea of a windswept and heart touching revival. The book of Acts is one big revival. The modern definition however is different – It is when the local church hosts a guest speaker for a period of time, and he expounds upon the Word of God to the congregation and friends. These use to be very effective, prior to our nation becoming Gospel hardened. Now, the church gravitates towards other less convicting pursuits such as music concerts, block parties, trunk or treat, Easter egg hunts and the like. I attempted to advertise our revival on a contemporary Christian radio station’s website, and it has been “pending” for two weeks. Funny, when I requested promotions for contemporary musicians we just hosted, they went right through. Why is this? Well, the radio station, I will hide their identity and just call them “W Christian Lite,” promotes the feel good aspects of the Gospel and not the whole counsel of God. I appreciate all kinds of Christian music, but note the absence of key doctrines from many of the contemporary musicians: 1)Some are ashamed of the mere name of Jesus. We sometimes wonder who they are singing about when the only reference to the Lord is an impersonal pronoun. 2)Lacking also is conviction over sin and the need for repentance, without which one cannot become saved. This is often totally absent. 3)The reality of hell is rarely mentioned. 4)The need to be born again (John 3:3) and receive a new heart is omitted. …..and others. The question remains: “Is a partial “grace only Gospel,” really the Gospel. My answer is: “No way Jose.” On the bright side, the one faithful Christian radio station in our area, WSEB, will promote the revival. I will not have to even listen to check and see if they share the news of our revival. How do I know this? Because I know who the station manager is, and the preachers they feature, and the great Christian aura about their station in general. Many of our churches have false doctrine, watered down doctrine, and no longer even focus on the Bible in their teaching and preaching. The churches that are still truly faithful (and we praise the Lord for them), are often sparsely attended, with a great majority of their membership being seniors. We have arrived at the generation who knows not the Lord. When prayer and Bible reading were excised from the schools in the early 1960’s, we set the stage for our nation to turn away from the Lord. We have sown the wind, and are reaping the whirlwind. God is not mocked and we will reap what we have sown.
Hosea 8:7 King James Version (KJV)
7 For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.
Galatians 6:7 King James Version (KJV)
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
The Bible forecasts NOT a revival but a great falling away (apostasy) before the coming of the Lord.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 King James Version (KJV)
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Now, let not your heart be troubled. In spite of the sad conditions in our apostate nation today, this is all a forecast for a great soon coming future for the believer:
Luke 21:28 King James Version (KJV)
28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
This doctrinal theme reminds of the bumper sticker I read a few years ago that said: “Lord, protect me from your followers.” It also brings to mind the fact that Billy Franklin Graham left his first and only pastorate and answered the call to evangelism because of similar circumstances. It seems that Billy and Ruth led a very cosmopolitan couple into the kingdom, brought them to church, yet some of the parishioners were appalled because the couple had a lifestyle and practices that did not fit in with the flock. They were given no time to grow and were judged to simply not belong. Praise the Lord that He knows us and accepts us where we are and we grow from the time we are saved! Enjoy the following devotional:
Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil. Psalm 56:5
Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? Psalm 56:8
Suffering does not always come from sickness and bereavement. One of the greatest trials occurs when others-especially if they are believers-question our motives and actions and make us feel like spiritual failures. The psalmist reminds us that God understands our pain and registers it in His book and there is not one tear that is not collected. -Brian Russell
No-one understands like Jesus when the foes of life assail.
You should never be discouraged . Jesus cares and will not fail.
We learn to put our pride on the shelf, we learn how to be humble and we learn about the grace of God. Often though, it is only when we suffer a set back that we turn to God, because there is no other place to turn to. When we are ill, or lose a loved one, or have financial problems and the like, THEN, and only then do we depend upon God because there is no one else to depend on.
When God leaves us utterly alone and does not visit us with testings and trials, we may be sure that our lives are barren. Gold is put in the fire for refining. A farmer carefully tills the soil in order to raise good crops.
Sunshine all the time only makes a desert. We need rain and storms or else how would the plants grow? How would we grow? In the midst of our difficulties we must trust God and have faith in Him. Faith must be tried in order to grow. JUST LIKE EXERCISE STRENGTHENS OUR BODIES, OUR TRIALS STRENGTHEN OUR FAITH. Without trials, how could our faith grow?
6)Suffering Teaches Us Patience
Paul said we glory in tribulations.
Romans 5:3-5 King James Version (KJV)
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Continued from Part 4… This entire eight part series will be listed under the category entitled Devotionals/Inspirationals.
3)Suffering Makes Us More Like Christ
God allows us to suffer to accomplish the ultimate purpose for which He has called and chosen us. The purpose of God in choosing and saving us is to make us more like Jesus Christ. Jeremiah was called the “weeping prophet.” We are to be conformed to the image of His Son. Jesus was called the “man of sorrows.” Is it any wonder that we will experience affliction, pain and grief as He did? Hebrews 2:10 “For it became Him, for whom are all things… in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Following Jesus means tasting Calvary and the Garden of Gethsemane, it means darkness and suffering. Paul said in Philippians 3:10 “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, being made conformable unto His death.” Wherever He leads, I will go.
4)Suffering Makes Us Appreciative
We do not appreciate our blessings until we lose them. How can a day be beautiful unless we have stormy days to compare with it? I never cherished my good health until I got pneumonia. I was so weak that I could not move my little finger. I then learned how to lean on the Lord, how to pray, and how weak and feeble my body really was. This happened just after I came to Christ – after our “born again” experience, God often chastises us or allows us to suffer so we can grow in the Lord.
“Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. John 8:11
Jesus’s teaching about absolute ideals and absolute grace seem contradictory.
Jesus never lowered God’s perfect ideal. In His response to the rich young ruler, He said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). He told an expert in the law who inquired as to the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (22:37). No one has completely fulfilled those commands.
Yet the same Jesus tenderly offered absolute grace. He forgave an adulteress, a thief on the cross, a disciple who had denied ever knowing Him, and a man named Saul, who had made his mark persecuting Christians. Grace is absolute and all-encompassing, extending even to those who nailed Jesus to the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” were among the last words He spoke on earth (Luke 23:34).
For years I felt so unworthy when considering Jesus’s absolute ideals that I missed any notion of His grace. Once I understood this dual message, however, I went back and found that the message of grace gusts through Jesus’s life and teachings.
Grace is for the desperate, the needy, the broken, those who cannot make it on their own. Grace is for all of us.
Father, Your all-encompassing grace washes over us and astonishes us. May we live today as people who enjoy Your complete forgiveness and a restored relationship with You.
Jesus fulfilled the perfect requirements of the law so that we may enjoy the perfect peace of His grace.
INSIGHT: The life of the apostle Paul is another example of God’s grace. Because of Paul’s past, he considered himself the most undeserving recipient of God’s mercy and grace (1 Tim. 1:13–14). Although he was chosen to be an apostle to the Gentiles, Paul also gave another reason he was chosen: “God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life” (v. 16 nlt). God had you and me in mind when He saved Paul—an awesome thought. If Paul, the worst of sinners, could be saved, then there is hope for everyone else. No one is beyond the reach of God’s mercy and grace.
Suffering is a doctrine that is found throughout the Word of God. The Emerging Church totally ignores this teaching. What would Job say if Joel Osteen said to him: “Have your best life now?” God builds us up through trials and tribulations, not through creature comforts and living on easy street. Following are ten reasons why Christians suffer. The list is not conclusive. A couple of them will be mentioned in this posting with more to come.
Why Christians Suffer –
1)Suffering Silences Satan
The best example is the story of the patriarch Job. When God pointed out to Satan what a good man Job was, the devil accused Job of doing it only for gain and profit which came to him materially because he feared the Lord. In order to prove his point, God allowed Satan to take his possessions, health and family. The result was that Satan was silenced. Instead of murmuring, complaining, and becoming bitter, Job praised God and said: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
How wonderful it is to see people love the Lord and smile while suffering. The next time you feel like complaining, read the diary of Ann Frank.
2)Suffering Enables Us To Glorify God
The eleventh chapter of John tells us about the death of Lazarus, a dear friend of Jesus. Jesus could have healed Lazarus, but allowed him to die in order to teach a lesson to Lazarus and his two sisters. Jesus said in John 11:4: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified by it.”
“Their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” (2 Timothy 2:17-18)
Many Christians decry the citing of actual names of those Christian leaders who teach heretical doctrines, saying that such an act is “unloving.” Paul, however, considered it an important evidence of true love to warn against those who would “overthrow the faith of some,” realizing that generalities would be useless.
On the other hand, Paul was much more generous with name recognition when he was giving out commendations (e.g., Romans 16:1-15; Colossians 4:7-17). We undoubtedly need to follow his example in appreciating by name those who are faithful in teaching and living the truth.
Likewise, we need to be ready and willing to name those individuals, churches, schools, and other organizations that are denying biblical inerrant authority, compromising the doctrine of special creation, requiring humanistic works for salvation, or bringing in other heretical doctrines. We obviously need to be sure of our facts when we do this and also to bring such charges only if motivated by genuine concern for those apt to be led astray if we don’t speak out. But then we must, indeed, “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). HMM
Him That Cometh to Me
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)
In this verse and the verses to follow, we find Christ using a marvelous teaching technique. Several times He makes a general, generic statement but quickly advances from the general and impersonal to the particular and personal.
“He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. . . . and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” (John 13:4-5)
Our trials, tribulations and suffering build us up. Who has not heard of the common story of the overly protected child who later has trouble functioning in school and everyday life? The devotional below reveals how trees placed in a protective space, collapsed under their own weight. Why? Because they were never exposed to the winds of adversity. They never had a chance to develop strong roots and a solid trunk! God grows us, and in order to grow us, He allows us to suffer and be tested. Without a Goliath in his life, the strength of David’s character would have been dormant and not seen by man. Goliath did not make David a heroic man of faith. Goliath simply revealed what was already in David. Trials do NOT make or break us, they reveal what is in us.
Following the devotionals from Our Daily Bread, the topic of suffering will be further expounded upon. In Christ, Pastor Steve
Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him! Mark 4:41
Imagine a world without wind. Lakes would be calm. Falling leaves wouldn’t blow in the streets. But in still air, who would expect trees to suddenly fall over? That’s what happened in a three-acre glass dome built in the Arizona desert. Trees growing inside a huge windless bubble called Biosphere 2 grew faster than normal until suddenly collapsing under their own weight. Project researchers eventually came up with an explanation. These trees needed wind stress to grow strong.
Jesus let His disciples experience gale-force winds to strengthen their faith (Mark 4:36–41). During a night crossing of familiar waters, a sudden storm proved too much even for these seasoned fishermen. Wind and waves were swamping their boat while an exhausted Jesus slept in the stern. In a panic they woke Him. Didn’t it bother their Teacher that they were about to die? What was He thinking? Then they began to find out. Jesus told the wind and waves to be quiet—and asked His friends why they still had no faith in Him.
If the wind had not blown, these disciples would never have asked, “Who is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41).
Today, life in a protective bubble might sound good. But how strong would our faith be if we couldn’t discover for ourselves His reassuring “be still” when the winds of circumstance howl?
Father in heaven, please help us to remember that anything that frightens us comes with an invitation to find the strength of knowing and trusting You.
God never sleeps.
INSIGHT:In Mark 4:35–5:43 the gospel writer tells of four miracles to prove that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of God” and therefore has absolute authority over the forces of this physical world (4:35–41), over the powers of the spiritual world (5:1–20), over physical illnesses (5:24–34), and over death (5:35–43). These miracles were designed to answer the question, “Who is this?” (4:41). The first miracle was Jesus calming the storm on Galilee. Because the Sea of Galilee is in a basin about 700 feet below sea level and is surrounded by mountains, sudden and violent storms are common (v. 37). That Jesus was tired and soundly asleep showed that He was fully human (v. 38); that the storm instantly obeyed Him showed He was divine (v. 39).
When I married my English fiancé and moved to the United Kingdom, I thought it would be a five-year adventure in a foreign land. I never dreamed I’d still be living here nearly twenty years later, or that at times I’d feel like I was losing my life as I said goodbye to family and friends, work, and all that was familiar. But in losing my old way of life, I’ve found a better one.
The upside-down gift of finding life when we lose it is what Jesus promised to His apostles. When He sent out the twelve disciples to share His good news, He asked them to love Him more than their mothers or fathers, sons or daughters (Matt. 10:37). His words came in a culture where families were the cornerstone of the society and highly valued. But He promised that if they would lose their life for His sake, they would find it (v. 39).
We don’t have to move abroad to find ourselves in Christ. Through service and commitment—such as the disciples going out to share the good news of the kingdom of God—we find ourselves receiving more than we give through the lavish love the Lord showers on us. Of course He loves us no matter how much we serve, but we find contentment, meaning, and fulfillment when we pour ourselves out for the well-being of others. —Amy Boucher Pye
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Isaac Watts
Every loss leaves a space that can be filled with God’s presence.
INSIGHT: When we choose to follow Christ, we won’t necessarily be popular. Our highest calling is not self-promotion or self-preservation. A hero jumps into deep water to save someone who is drowning, but that same person could well lose his or her life (to quote Jesus) in the process of seeking to save someone else. Jesus indicated that even family members (normally our closest natural connection) may be squared off against us. While others may become our obstinate opponents because of Christ, we are obligated to show unselfishness because of Him (Phil. 2:3-5). “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21). It’s a profound paradox. To lose our life for Him means to find it. Has there been a time when the choice to follow Christ has cost you? Jim Townsend
This is totally current end times prophecy happening as this message was given – yesterday, Sunday, 1/15/17. It revolves around the decision of the United Nations to make Palestine a state, thus fulfilling the Two State Solution. This is an excellent Biblical interpretation of current events.