Be Prepared – 1 John 3:3

Without Holiness, No One Will See The Lord

All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Worthwhile Warfare

You are under attack.  Whether you realize it or not, you are being bombarded in the three main areas your adversary – Satan and his minions – have found to be most effective in derailing your efforts at remaining in Christ:

  1. The lust of the flesh
  2. The lust of the eyes
  3. The pride of life

There is a VERY GOOD REASON that the Western World is not seeing the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus when He said:

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

The reason?  We are not a holy people.  We go to church (rather than BEING the church).  We seek and revel in the prosperity The Lord Jesus Christ has provided to us but don’t seek as our first priority that His kingdom prospers, even in our difficulties, and we don’t take the time to ensure that God has our full attention to transform us into the image of His Son.

I was recently at a worship/revival service where a man said that every believer should be able to do what Jesus did in His ministry:

Heal the sick, raise the dead (Gasp!  Anyone try this one lately?), cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.  – (Comments in italics mine)

He then dedicated the people gathered (a local body of believers who knew each other and a few others that were invited) for service to the Lord.  He prophesied over their lives in the dedication part of the service with complete accuracy, telling people about themselves that he could not have possibly known (including the strangers among them, of which I was one).  After the dedication, he began to heal those who were sick.  Broken bones were mended.  The crippled and infirm stood up, jumped up and down, and praised God.  He drove out demons, calling them by type or name, and released people from their control.

This was a first for me.  Never had I seen someone operate with the power of God in such a way.  Then he made good on his promise that anyone can do these things.  My wife had recently had a concussion, and went up for healing.  After being healed, a man with a broken ankle went up for healing.  Looking around, the guest speaker at the revival service spotted my wife, and said to her, “Come here – YOU lay hands on him!”

My wife, in faith, walked over, placed hands upon the man’s ankle, and was told by the guest speaker to command the ankle to be healed, and say it with authority.  My wife did exactly that.  And then the most amazing thing happened – my wife said that under her hands she felt the bones of his ankle moving around and mending!  The guest speaker asked the man to walk around, and he did.  He could now jump up and down on it.  My wife doesn’t have the spiritual gift of healing.  She was just being faithful to the Word of the Living God, and He responded.

The following morning, I decided, in faith, to put this to the test.  My wife suffered (past tense!) from hypothyroidism.  I laid hands on her neck where the thyroid was located, and prayed, “In the name of Jesus Christ, thyroid, BE HEALED!”  I sensed the Holy Spirit of God tell me to command it to “BE HEALED!” two more times.  But, how do you take a thyroid for a walk?  Later that evening, after putting on her bed-clothes, my wife said to me, “I’m hot.”  The only way that she was warm in the past was severe sickness (fever).  We took her temperature, and it was normal – almost two full degrees higher than normal.  It has been that way ever since.

WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND OUR AUTHORITY IN CHRIST

The Western church (at least, a significant portion of it) is not teaching the disciples of Christ how to engage in spiritual warfare and how to use their authority in Christ.  I will not speculate here as to why.

God wants us to be free – to live free! – for if the Son frees you, you are free indeed.  But we continue to live in bondage.  And the reason why?  One of the very core reasons of this is that we are not preparing ourselves to meet the Lord.

Proper Preparation

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

We are to be a holy people, set apart from sin, and set apart to God.  But truly, how are we set apart?  Apart from telling people the Gospel, would anyone be able to identify you as a disciple of Christ from your actions?  Are we feasting our eyes on the latest R-rated films?  Do we feast our bodies with excessive alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, or food consumption?  Can anyone tell us apart by the way we speak (not only the words we use, but how we say them)?  These are just a few indicators.  It was once said (I don’t remember who) that we should ask ourselves, “If there was a trial today, would there be enough evidence to convict you as a disciple of Christ?”

We are to be preparing ourselves as the bride of Christ.  The bride removes her old garments and puts on the wedding garment.  She waits in eager anticipation for the coming of the groom.  She preens and puts on her best makeup, perfume, jewelry, and has her nails buffed and polished to perfection.  She selects the very best shoes to wear.  She seeks to be as beautiful as possible for him, to be his delight.  If we do that just for OUR spouses, how much more so should we be doing this for The Lord Jesus Christ?

It is time that the church takes holiness seriously, and that the holy ones of God are released to do what God has purposed for them to do since before the foundation of the world.

Heart Hunger

We are to seek the holiness of God in our everyday lives.  We need to hunger and thirst for righteousness.  It is to be our heart-cry.  We are to eagerly desire the transforming work of the Holy Spirit as we grow in righteousness:

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.

Does your heart crave the word of God?  Do you long for and desire to be in the continual presence of the Lord?  Can you say, with complete honesty:

Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

If not, do you WANT to be able to say that with joy?

Delightful Deliverance

The good news is that there IS deliverance from the soul-crushing rut of running into the same sins and (to a certain degree the same temptations) over and over again.  If that is how you feel, YOU NEED DELIVERANCE.  Disciples of Christ can be overwhelmed and influenced by Satan and his minions in many ways.  Once we have granted the enemy LEGAL GROUND to afflict us through unrepentant sin, curses (generational and otherwise), and ignorance of the word of God, we are the enemy’s new plaything.

There are several fine resources available to help you to shake yourself free from the grasp of the enemy (a couple of them are listed below).  If you want to live free in Christ, please take the time to read these resources, do the hard work, and free yourself:

Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

Awesome Authority

You have AWESOME authority in Christ!  With the same power in you that raised The Lord Jesus Christ from the dead (the Holy Spirit of God), YOU can live a free life, do the works that Jesus did, and even greater works than those, as you consistently yield yourself to the authority of the Holy Spirit as Jesus did when He walked the Earth two thousand years ago, and now sits at the right hand of God praying for you:

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question – Am I truly walking in the freedom promised to me by My Lord Jesus Christ?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, forgive me for not taking your word at face value.  Forgive me for not believing what You have made plain to me in Your word about Your authority, my authority in Christ, and for not seeking you with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength.  Lord Jesus, help me to be the bride that is radiant and adorned with holiness, greeting You when You come for me dressed and prepared for the wonderful future You have promised to me, sealing Your promise with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Help me to tear down any stronghold that holds me captive to the lie and does not comport with Your holy word.  Help me to rely completely upon the Holy Spirit so that I would walk in Your ways.  Help me to fight the good fight, to prepare as I need to prepare, and to stand for You, even unto death.  Help me to put to death anything in my life that would keep me from following you with utter abandon.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Holy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


Notes:  Here are two resources that can be used hand-in-hand for deliverance of demonic oppression and interference in your life.  Please note that while I may not agree with everything the authors say or live out in their lives, the information in these resources is extremely beneficial to taking off the last of the grave-clothes, and keeping them off:

The Bondage Breaker” by Neil T. Anderson

DELIVERANCE and SPIRITUAL WARFARE MANUAL” by John Eckhardt

If you have not been taught about spiritual warfare and deliverance, these resources may be challenging to both believe and read.  Set apart time to fast (a juice fast or Daniel fast if medically necessary) and pray that God would open your eyes when you read the books, protect you from interference from the enemy, and reveal the truth about spiritual warfare and His word to you as you read.

If you find that you cannot read these books (you feel pressure to not read them), pray earnestly that God would show you anything that you need to confess in your life to Him and repent of, anything in your life you need to renounce, and any amends that you need to make first (and go make them).  After this, open your Bible and begin reading the four Gospels and Acts.  If you feel reluctance to do that as well, seek out a church that will pray over you and help you with this issue (the interference of the enemy).  The body of Christ is there to uplift, uphold, bear the burdens of, and hold accountable all of us in our walk with God.

It IS possible to live freely in Christ.  Just because you haven’t experienced it yet does not mean that it is not possible or feasible:

my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge…”

Spiritual Blindness – 1 Corinthians 2:6-10

If Satan Had Understood The Purpose Of Christ, He Would NEVER Had Tried To Crucify Him

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”
the things God has prepared for those who love him-

6 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

Worldly Wisdom

There is a worldly wisdom that pervades our culture.  It reveals part of the truth, but ignores the truth about the spiritual activity that goes on around us.  The world desires that the rest of us follow its lead, hoping that we will not be “duped” by the truth of the One who is all-wise who came among us.

Wonderful Wisdom

God’s wisdom has been and, for many, is still a mystery that they are unable to unfold and comprehend.  The world seeks God “in the box” – the known universe – but ignores the Spiritual realm as “something spooky filled with ghosts and other benign and malicious creatures”.  God instead greatly desires to reveal the mysteries of the Spiritual realm to us, but in His way.  His wisdom has been recorded in His word, but even now is ignored by many due to the strongholds that prohibit them from seeing the truth.

Reigning Rulers

The reigning rulers and wise people of this world are blinded by their inability to properly discern Spiritual truths.  Even Satan, who once was with God in Heaven, is unable to properly discern spiritual truth.  If he had understood the purpose of Christ coming to Earth in the flesh, Satan would NEVER had placed the hatred in the hearts of men to crucify our Savior.

If man had not crucified our Savior, Jesus would not have received the punishment that we were intended to receive.  Jesus would have had a wonderfully long ministry on Earth, but our sins would not have been atoned for by His blood, because it was necessary that man shed Jesus’ blood for the plan of God to succeed.

Particularly Prepared

God reveals His wisdom through His word and the Holy Spirit who helps us to understand the truth as it was, and is, being revealed.  We need to rely upon the Spirit of God for this revelation, because we simply cannot comprehend apart from Almighty God’s help the depth and beauty of His wisdom in all that He does.

Salvation was a mystery from the very beginning.  It is something that the angels of God sought out, but did not know either, until it was revealed.  This was done to glorify God, as well as to ensure that God’s plan would be fully fulfilled in its proper time and by the proper vessels.

Spirit Searches

The Holy Spirit searches the deep things of all reality, including the thoughts of God and men.  We cannot even begin to fathom what God is doing because His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways.  It only makes sense that He would need to reveal to us these things, for they cannot be ascertained apart from spiritual insight provided to us by Almighty God Himself.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I listening to the revelation of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your word reveals Your will and Your ways to me.  Help me to learn these lessons, and to keep my heart attuned to Yours.  Help me to listen to the Holy Spirit as He unveils the truth about life and Godliness, and reveals Jesus to me.  Help me to remember that spiritual blindness can occur if I am not seeking You with all of my heart, mind soul, and strength.  Guide me in the ways that I should go, and prepare me for what is to come.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Motivation for Discipline – Proverbs 13:24

Spoiled Children Are Like Spoiled Food – They Leave A Bad Taste In Your Mouth

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Worldly Wisdom

Everyone seems to have a word of wisdom.  Time-honored advice that has worked for them, and others who passed it on to them.  Wisdom is the practical application of knowledge for the betterment of mankind.  And the world, the flesh, and the devil seem to constantly pour out their versions of wisdom.

With children, wisdom from the world and the devil appears to be hands-off parenting.  “Be their friend; give their opinions, no matter how bizarre, the same weight as your own, and let them guide the way; after all, they are the future!”

The world does so at their own peril.  For children learn by observing and doing what pleases them.  The implied morality that human beings supposedly have – that we are inherently good – is believed and embraced.  And any correction to the natural learning cycle of children is no longer the imparting of wisdom, but rather considered an impediment and abuse.  After all, should not the child be able to decide for itself how it should think, act, and respond to the world?

Learning Love

The first fallacy of hands-off child-raising is that children, by their very “innocent nature”, implicitly know love and how to love.  But observe any child left to his/her own devices, and watch just how manipulative, conniving, scheming, self-centered, self-absorbed the child will become.  Rather than Timmy on the classic “Lassie” TV show, the child instead begins to resemble Damian in “The Omen“.

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Children need training.  They need to both be trained through instruction and correction, as well as having a solid example of behavior in the form of character that is congruent with what is being said.  Children are natural hypocrisy detectors.  Their “radar” is tuned to check what they hear against what they observe.

Love does not come naturally.  It makes no sense to love anyone else if there is no direct benefit to yourself.  Self-preservation and self-fulfillment are the goals of the untrained, undisciplined mind.  Even in adulthood, the world behaves in the same way:

  • Get as much of the pie as you can, because no one will help you out
  • Be concerned with yourself first and everyone else later (if it is convenient for you and your plans)
  • The strong should rule over the weak

Godly love does none of these things.  Godly (agape) love is

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Does not envy
  • Does not boast
  • Is not proud
  • Is not rude
  • Does not insist on its own way
  • Does not rejoice at wrongdoing
  • Rejoices with the Truth
  • Bears all things
  • Believes all things
  • Hopes all things
  • Endures all things
  • Doesn’t fail

Children, left to their own devices, will not embrace this type of character.  They must be taught character.  The first part of learning is accepting the correct role of authority in one’s life

Accepting Authority

Correction helps us to accept the rightful authority over our lives.

An old friend of mine had a nephew whose father was wild.  In a stunning, emotional scene where the child’s mother was allowing the father to see his son one last time (she had won full parental responsibility and the court ruled that the father would no longer have any rights [or financial obligations] towards the child), the father’s parting words to his son were astounding.  He basically said, “Son, you don’t have to listen to anyone, not even me.  Be your own man.”  His parting words were calculated to do the maximum damage that he could so that the child’s mother would have the most difficult time raising him up.

Years later, the uncle of that child and two of his friends took this child on their annual pilgrimage to a famous amusement park.  There were three sets of hawk-eyes trained on that young man, now just a little before the teenage span of his life.  Rather than hold the young man’s hand (and embarrass him in front of strangers), these three men kept a watchful eye on the young man.  The child, who had never had the opportunity to visit this amusement park, was in wonder at all of the sights before him.  The three men watching him were diligent in keeping their eyes on this child.

About three hours into the first day of this weekend-long trip, some sound caught the attention of all three men.  They looked away for a mere second or two.  But that was all that was needed.  The child, who was watching the men carefully, realizing his opportunity to be free from the control and authority of these men, bolted into the thick crowds.  Almost an hour later, the young man was found, greatly enjoying the freedom from oversight by those who had been placed in authority over him, unaware of the dangers that his “dash to freedom” placed him in.  Because this young man had the tendency to bolt like this, corrective action needed to be taken.  In this case, the weekend-long trip was cut short, as the risk was just too great.

When we refuse to accept the rightful authority of the ones who have been placed in charge over us (not only men, but also God), we set ourselves up for the opportunity to be placed in a situation where the outcome is less than desirable.  And like the young man’s story above, not every “dash to freedom” results in dire consequences.  But we fail to recognize the danger that we are in, because we are unable to see every aspect of life as it unfolds around us.

Readying for Responsibility

Correction readies us for greater responsibility.  As we accept correction of those who are in lawful authority over us, we begin to be prepared for greater responsibility.  Just as you wouldn’t give the keys of the $500K Ferrari to the 14-year-old wild-child, neither will God give us responsibility when we are not ready.

When God calls us, He then equips us.  But this is after careful preparation:

  • Joseph was prepared as a slave for more than a decade before God called him to save the entire world from famine
  • Moses was prepared for forty years as shepherd before God called him to shepherd his people into the promised land
  • The twelve disciples of Christ were prepared for three years (including Paul, who had his own three-year preparation with Christ in the desert before being released) by Jesus Christ Himself.

We need to be open to correction in order to grow and be prepared for greater responsibility.

Careful Correction

The manner of correction is just as important as its intensity and timing.  The strong-willed child will defiantly say, “I would rather DIE than have to submit to you!”  And the child is truly fully prepared to make good on that statement (it is NOT an idle threat).  What to do?  How do you prepare a child such as this so that they will be ready to be released from your care and supervision and then solely under the supervision of Almighty God?

God Himself will provide the manner, attitude, words, and consequences for training such a child if we allow Him to and invite Him to do so.  Some children appear completely compliant.  Those are the dangerous ones.  They seem OK, but what is really going on inside?  Are they compliant to get their way, or are they compliant because they desire to accept the authority over them?

God sees our hearts as they truly are.  And He is more than capable of applying the “rod of correction” to each of us in such a way that we will not soon forget it.  What works for you wouldn’t necessarily have any impact on me.  And what works on me might just irritate and turn you away from God rather than have the desired effect.

In any case, correction is necessary, for if we are permitted to continue on in our ways, we will surely pass the point where our consciences are seared, and we won’t even realize the deep depths of darkness that our lives slip quietly into until the terrible moment when circumstances reveal the true depravity of our souls.

Properly Prepared

God is the one who knows best how to guide, correct, and instruct each and every one of us at any age or stage in our lives.  We need to go before Him to receive instruction and correction.   The hyper-grace community of believers may be just as surprised as the legalists when they go before Almighty God saying, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?”  And our Lord Jesus Christ will reply, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

God disciplines us as His childrenAnyone who is not disciplined by God is NOT one of His.  Surely, if God disciplines us, should we not then discipline our children as well?  And what then shall we say of our motivation behind discipline?  Is it truly “child abuse”, as culture tell us, or is it loving care as we use it as a preparatory method for bringing about the fruit of righteousness?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I accept discipline properly?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, may Your holy name be praised.  Thank You for disciplining me so that I would not bring dishonor to Your name.  Thank You for showing me, through Your discipline, that I am one of Yours.  Thank You for the opportunity to grow in truth and righteousness.  Thank You for the opportunity to bear fruit in accordance with righteousness rather than selfishness.  Thank You, Father, for Your many lessons, painful as they are.  And I pray, Lord God Almighty, that should I be in the position of administering these lessons to others in a parental, governmental, judicial, and/or business environment, that You would guide me as to the best way to do so.  Help me to adhere to Your word, and to reject culture where culture conflicts with the truth.  Give me courage, resources, and assistance where necessary to defend Your tried and true methods against the rebellion of society towards You.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Calling of God – Exodus 3:1-10

God First Calls You, And THEN He Equips You For Your Calling

1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

Anointed Announcement

Many times when God calls someone in the Bible, He either makes a personal appearance, or sends an angel to announce the calling.  One notable exception is Esther.  Yet, even in her calling to be the Queen so that she could save her people from the evil schemes of Haman, God’s call upon her life was very evident. Other examples of people who were called by God include (but are not limited to) Gideon, Elizabeth, and Mary.

Sign of Selection

In the case of Moses, God used a sign to draw Moses closer so that he could learn the fuller message.  A burning bush that was not consumed by fire drew Moses closer to God.  Moses had been chosen long ago, as evidenced through his birth and upbringing among the Egyptians.  God will make His calling evident by three things:

  1. God will first call you
  2. God will then equip you
  3. God will then use you

Calling Confirmation

Most people are under the assumption that God will give them the capability to do what He wants for them to do, and THEN He will call them to do it.  However, God does the opposite.  He first calls us, THEN he equips us.

In the case of Moses, God had to get forty years of Egypt out of him so that Moses would be ready for the calling God had prepared for His life.  We must remember that everything is dependent upon God’s timing, and not ours.  Patience is the key to ensuring that we are not jumping ahead of God, but rather walking alongside God in His time and in His way.

Gideon was a prime example of this.  God found Gideon threshing grain in a wine-press to keep it from being seized by the Midianites.  God hails Gideon with, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”  How ironic!  God calls Gideon a mighty warrior, yet he is found cowering in a wine-press threshing his grain!  Gideon, greatly desiring to see the deliverance of his people, cautiously and humbly asked God to verify his calling with three signs.  He was willing to submit to the will of God, and wanted to make absolutely sure that it was God who was calling him.

The angel Gabriel appeared to both Elizabeth and Mary to announce the unlikely births of two of the most important people in the Bible – John the Baptist, and his cousin, The Lord Jesus Christ.  In both cases, biology would normally dictate that their pregnancies are unlikely.  Yet they believed God, and He honored them first through their calling, and then equipping them for the calling.  It is wise when approached with a calling from God to accept it.  Elizabeth’s husband, possibly discouraged by circumstances, did not accept Gabriel’s announcement and asked for sign.  Gabriel, in response to his uncharacteristic reproof of the announcement, struck Zechariah speechless until his child was born.

Powerful Provision

After God calls us, and we accept the call in faith, God THEN prepares us for the calling that He has chosen for us.  In the case of Moses, a murderer hiding from the Egyptian authorities, God then prepares him to shepherd His people.  Moses had a speech impediment.  But God told him that He would speak through Him.  Moses did not fully trust that God could use him in that way because of his circumstances, so God appointed his brother Aaron to be his spokesperson.  Imaging how much more effective Moses would have been he trusted the Lord God Almighty to speak through him!

Gideon was first given a simple act of obedience – tear down his father’s altar to Baal and the Asherah pole beside it.  In that simple act of faith, God was preparing him for the next big challenge – defeating the enemies of Israel.  God then equipped Gideon with three hundred men who would be used in the attack against their enemies.  To help Gideon have courage, God then gave Gideon the opportunity to go down and listen at the tents of his enemies, where he learned that they already knew his name, and were in great fear, for the dread of the Lord had come upon them.

In the case of Elizabeth and Mary, the barren woman well outside of the age of childbirth and the virgin both became pregnant.  As simple as this was, it was the supernatural provision of the Lord God Almighty to make possible the impossible.

Mighty Manifestation

Once Moses was equipped with Aaron as his spokesperson, a staff that could turn into a snake, and other signs, He was ready for his confrontation with the Pharaoh of Egypt.  God used Moses in a mighty way.  He delivered the Israelites from Egypt through the Red Sea, and led them for forty years in the desert.  Moses had the opportunity to get so close with God for so long, his face glowed.  And Moses, along with Elijah, appeared with Jesus Christ on the mount of transfiguration.

Gideon successfully led the attack on his enemies, giving his three hundred warriors torches that were simultaneously made visible using pottery, invoking God’s name and his own.  And God Himself routed the enemies of the Israelites.  God used Gideon mightily after preparing him.

With the birth of John the Baptist and The Lord Jesus Christ, the teaching, nurturing, education, and encouragement of these women helped these two men to achieve their God-given roles.  Of John the Baptist, it is said of those born by women, no greater man was born than him.  And Jesus Christ fulfilled His preordained life, fulfilling all scripture about Him and providing the way that men might be reconciled to the Father through His shed blood and resurrection.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What has God called me to do?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You call each and every one of us according to Your plan and purpose.  Help me to accept Your calling, even if it seems impossible, for You will equip me to do all that You have called me to do.  Help me to yield myself to You so that You can properly prepare me for what is to come.  And I ask, Father, that You do as You please with me, that everything You desire to be done is accomplished in order that Your name would be glorified, magnified, and exalted for all eternity.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Sleeping in Christ – Isaiah 57:1-2

And We Await His Coming

1 The righteous perish,
    and no one takes it to heart;
the devout are taken away,
    and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
    to be spared from evil.
Those who walk uprightly
    enter into peace;
    they find rest as they lie in death.

Slumbering Saints

What happens when the Saints of God shed their bodies?  To be absent from the body is to be present with the LordJesus referred to it as sleep:

He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

Paul also indicated that those whose mortal bodies are no longer alive are sleeping:

That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.

After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

A Pleasing Promise

It is a glorious thing to think about – that although our bodies have failed, our spirits will be with the Lord when our mortal flesh fails us.  And we await the Coming of the Lord in the skies when those who are still (mortally) alive are gathered up to greet Him in the clouds with the saints that have fallen asleep!

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Graciously Grabbed

The Greek word for “caught up” is  harpagEsometha (from harpazo), which means “shall be being snatched (away).”  It will happen in an instant.  We will literally be seized.  Jesus referred to it this way:

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.”

Readiness Required

There is a second kind of sleep.  The one where we aren’t paying attention.  We get so caught up in our daily lives that we can sometimes forget that we need to be preparing for the return of Jesus:

 1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

The Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question:  Are we prepared for our sleep, or the return of Jesus?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank you for Your Word, as it illuminates every aspect of my life, and brings light into my darkness.  Purge me of all darkness that I may be a light set upon a hill, and that Your Son, Jesus Christ, would shine through me to a wicked and lost generation.  Help me to be prepared for the great day when Your Son returns in glory and splendor.  Help me to be prepared, for I do not know when my life will be required of me by You.  Guard me against worldliness and the attractions of wealth and comfort.  I know, Lord God, that these things are meant to be enjoyed and used for Your glory.  Help me to keep everything in its proper place in the life You have give me.  Help me to remember that separation from those who have fallen asleep is only for a very brief time, and that we will be reunited with You shortly.  Bless all who are called by Your Name and whose names are written in the book of life.  Remember, divinely act upon, all who do not know You, for You have said in Your word that You want all to come to repentance and salvation.  May Your name be blessed and praised forever and ever, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?