As we approach Independence day,let’s all be praying for a spiritual awakening in America.
We need to turn to God in prayer and turn back to His Word. Peter Marshall, former Chaplain to the US Senate, once said, “The choice before us is plain: Christ or chaos, conviction or compromise, discipline or disintegration.”
America has seen a number of revivals historically, called “awakenings.” The first was during the 1700s, and was led by such men as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield. During just two years of this revival (from 1740 to 1742) some 25,000–50,000 people were added to the New England churches. This, out of a population of only 300,000!
The second great awakening (1790s to 1840) was led by many, including Charles Finney. It was during the time of the “wild west.” The law was disregarded and sexual sin was rampant. The “camp meetings,” where crowds numbers as high as 15,000, would be held for several days at a time. Thousands came to faith. More than 10,000 in Kentucky alone, between 1800 and 1803.
The third great awakening in America was from about 1857 to 1859. How this revival began is unique. A 48-year-old businessman named Jeremiah Lanphier began a prayer meeting on Fulton Street in New York City. It began slowly and soon exploded. The New York Stock Market crashed around this time and soon Lanphier’s prayer meeting was attended by hundreds.
Prayer meetings broke out all over New York City, filling theaters on Broadway. Within six months, 10,000 people gathered daily for prayer throughout the city! It is reported that 50,000 New Yorkers were converted from March to May. During that single year, the number of reported conversions throughout the country reached an average of 50,000 a week for a couple of years. Over one million people came to Christ in this brief period.
I think you could include the Jesus Movement as a genuine American revival as well. The church was influenced globally by what God did in the Jesus Movement. But that was over 40 years ago; the kids of this movement are now grandparents! (I know because I am one of them.)
Now we look at the current generation and we realize we need another revival. Our hearts cry out, “Lord, do it again!”
The prophet Habakkuk understood this when He prayed this prayer: “I have heard all about you, LORD, and I am filled with awe by the Amazing things you have done. In this time of our deep need, revive your work, as you did in years gone by. Show us your power to save us. And in your anger, remember your mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2 NLT and NASB).
The church is under attack today in every way imaginable – literally as well as figuratively!
We still are reeling from the horrific attacks against the AME Church in Charleston. While our brothers and sisters gathered for a midweek Bible study and prayer time, they were shot dead. We have seen an amazing display of forgiveness on their part for this cold-blooded killer. Facing the killer in court, several relatives who also attended AME Church extended their forgiveness to this young man, despite his indescribably evil act.
The church has since gone back to their midweek Bible study, saying, “This is God’s space. We are not giving it up!” God bless them.
Then there are the attacks on Christians in the Middle East by ISIS and other Islamic terrorists, with followers of Jesus being beheaded, tortured, and crucified. This is full-tilt persecution.
The church in America is also under attack.
Christians are routinely mocked, marginalized, denigrated, and attacked. The Bible clearly tells us that persecution against the church is a sign of the end times. In Matthew 24:9 (NLT) Jesus says: “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.”
How have you faced such persecution – on any level? The New Testament also makes clear that this shouldn’t surprise you. In 2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV), the apostle Paul writes, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
And now the Supreme Court has decided in favor of same-sex marriage.
Needless to say, I am very disappointed by this decision. It is clearly the wrong decision. By making this ruling, the court has invalidated the marriage laws of more than half the states, summarily ordering the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis for human society for literally thousands of years!
The justices couldn’t even agree among themselves, resulting in a five-to-four decision. As Chief Justice John Roberts noted in his dissent: “Just who do we think we are? To blind yourself to history is both prideful and unwise. People of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.” That is true.
But ultimately, this isn’t just about family values and Western civilization. This is about a direct challenge to biblical truth. As Christians, we believe what the Bible says about marriage and every other topic.
Some who are not Christians may wonder why this matters so much to us. There’s a simple answer. It’s because God created marriage. The first marriage was between Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The first miracle Jesus ever performed was at a wedding.
God is very clear about who a marriage is between. Jesus said, “But ‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation. ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together” (Mark 10:6-9 NLT).
This union that God designed can only exist between a man and woman. Ultimately, a child can come from this union, which is God’s purpose. Malachi 2:15 says, “Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.” This “oneness” can only happen between a man and woman. Not between a man and a man or a woman and a woman.
Now, this may seem like a “no-brainer” to many, but in today’s culture people are confused about these things. Marriage between one man and one woman is simply what Jesus Christ taught. We cannot and will not compromise on this or any other biblical issue.
I do believe this fateful Supreme Court decision is a sign of the times. You might say that as things seem to be falling apart, they are actually coming together. Jesus said, “So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:28)
So, what else should we do in light of this Supreme Court ruling?
1. First, don’t panic! God is still on the throne.
As my friend, Russell Moore said, “The Supreme Court can do many things; but the Supreme Court cannot get Jesus back in that tomb. Jesus of Nazareth is still alive. He is still calling the universe toward His kingdom.”
The fact is, the church often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. This is what the first-century believers faced in the cultures of Ephesus, Corinth, and Athens. They were pagan cultures, with immorality of all kinds running rampant through society. Yet in relatively short order, the church turned their world upside-down. The church did not accomplish this through protests, boycotts, or marches. They out-lived, out-loved, out-prayed, and out-gave the nonbelievers.
2. We need to remember that Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” As Joseph said to his brothers who had betrayed him, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20 NIV). God, in His sovereignty, can take the very events meant to harm us or defeat us and use them for His ultimate good.
Psalm 119:91 (NLT) says, “Your regulations remain true to this day, for everything serves your plans.” And Psalm 76:10 reads, “Human defiance only enhances your glory, for you use it as a weapon.”
3. We need show this culture what a biblical marriage looks like.
Jesus used the institution of marriage as a picture of His love for the church and our love for Him. This gives us an opportunity to let our light shine and show the watching world a beautiful example of a good and loving marriage. Have we done that? Even as Christians, have we done as good of a job as we can with marriage?
Marriage is a big deal to God. He thought of it, created it, blesses it, and uses it as a picture to a lost world. The Bible tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. It’s as though Jesus is saying, “See how that husband loves his wife? That’s how I love the church!” In the final chapter of Revelation, the church is pictured as the bride.
Your marriage should be a testimony and example to nonbelievers watching. Nonbelievers should see it as an example of God’s love for them.
When as Christians we break up our marriages for no biblical reason, divorce, marry another, and commit adultery, do we not undermine marriage? Resolve your conflicts, forgive one another, and move forward! Don’t tell me about your “irreconcilable differences.” I have had those with my wife for 41 years!
She is sometimes late, I am often early.
She is very neat, I am quite messy.
She is cute, and I am fat!
But it’s a funny thing; we seem to love each other more with each passing year. Permanent, stable marriages with both a mother and father may make us look freakish. Russell Moore said, “We should not fear that. We believe stranger things than that. We believe a previously dead man is alive, and will show up in the eastern skies on a horse. We believe that the gospel can forgive sinners like us and make us sons and daughters. Let’s embrace the sort of freakishness that saves.”
4. We need to show the love of Christ to everyone!
We need to go to people where they are and engage them with the gospel. God loves all people, including those who identify as homosexual. The fact is, God can change anyone. I do not believe anyone is “born gay,” but I do believe we are all born sinners. Just because a person has a “same-sex attraction” does not mean he or she should act on it. We are all tempted to do many things, but God will give us the strength to resist.
The gospel does not define us by our temptations, but by the righteousness of Christ. Listen, we are not against any particular group or individuals. We are not being “unloving” or judgmental. Some would say, “We need to just love and accept people.” Didn’t Jesus say, “Judge not lest you be judged”?
Here is what Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-2 (NKJV), “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Before we consider what this means, let’s first see what it doesn’t mean.
Does it mean that we are never to be critical, or make an evaluation? Some think that being a Christian means we just “love and accept everyone” and never speak critically of anyone under any circumstances. That may be sweet sentiment, but it is not New Testament Christianity. We are to “love everyone” – but if that is true, we must care for their souls as well.
Here is what we need to know. When you love someone, you will speak truthfully to them. The Bible tells us to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15 NLT). Some will speak the truth, but not in love, using it like a sledgehammer. Others will love but not speak the truth, which really isn’t love at all. If your close friend is wearing a horrible outfit, do you tell them? Do you say, “Hey, did you get dressed in the dark?” Do you tell them if there is food in their teeth? Or, more significantly, if there’s sin in their life?
Proverbs 27:5 says, “An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”
So, Jesus is saying we need to make certain judgments, and He uses an interesting illustration to make His point – He goes on to tell us not to give what is holy to dogs. How can I accomplish this if I don’t practice some sort of judgment? Just who are the dogs? Are they people with flea collars?
When the woman was caught in the act of adultery, what did Jesus do? He turned away her accusers, but then said, “Go and sin no more!” He was loving to her, but He challenged her to change.
A better translation of “judge not” would be condemn not. To condemn, is to turn a person away. We should not do that. We should lovingly welcome all who want to come to Christ.
5. We need to engage all people with the gospel.
Everyone is searching. Some, disillusioned with life, may think they may find fulfillment with a member of the opposite sex, others with someone of the same sex. Deep down, what everyone is searching for is a relationship with God. They may oppose us, but that does not mean God cannot change them. No one hated Christians more than Saul of Tarsus. God not only saved him; He raised him up to be a leader in the church.
6. We need to pray.
When the disciples were told by the authorities not to preach anymore, they prayed. They prayed for more boldness to tell more people. Then they went out and preached some more. When the authorities passed a law that people could no longer pray, Daniel prayed.
We need to pray for a spiritual awakening in America. We need to pray for our home church and the church as a whole. We are in this together. We stand together or we fall alone. Paul reminds us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6).
We are launching a new initiative calling on Christians to pray every day for the month of July. We want to pray for our churches and for America. We are calling this initiative “3:20,” based on Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Let’s not give up or lose hope.
Taken from my column today from Worldnetdaily.
How are we to live in light of the fact that Christ could return at any moment? First, we need to wake up! The apostle Paul gives us the answer in 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8
“Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”
We need to WAKE UP, SOBER UP, and finally SUIT UP!
I already looked at the first two catagories in my last two blogs.
Let me close with #3 – Suit Up!
“[Put] on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8 NKJV).
You are in a spiritual battle. It started on the day of your conversion and will rage until the day you go to Heaven. You will be tempted, harassed, hassled, and attacked. Simply put, Satan does not want you to follow Jesus Christ. This is why we need to suit up!
Ephesians 6:12–13 says, “We are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms” (NLT). Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm!
It’s really not a choice of fighting or not fighting. It’s a choice of victory or defeat, winning or losing, gaining ground or losing ground.
When we become Christians we also become soldiers in a spiritual battle. “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4). You are no longer a civilian; you are now under the orders of your Commander-in chief, Jesus.
This is what weakens so many Christians today. They try to live in two worlds, and it just won’t work. As James 4:4 says, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Duplicity and hypocrisy weaken any witness we have to a watching world. They especially weaken our witness to our own children! They see hypocrisy in the home and it turns them away from God. So, suit up!
Paul, having spent a good deal of time under house arrest, knew Roman armor. Two pieces are mentioned: the helmet and breastplate, both essential to the protection of the soldier in battle. The breastplate protected the vital organs of the roman soldier. One well-aimed blow without that protection and he was a goner. We are to have the breastplate of faith, not feeling.
The helmet protected the head; without it you cannot do much. Most motorcycle riders hate helmet laws, but they do serve their purpose. I read about a biker in upstate New York who was participating in a ride to protest helmet laws who died after he crashed his motorcycle and hit his head. Ironically, a helmet probably would have saved his life.
The Roman soldier’s helmet was carefully designed. It was generally bronze on the outside. Sometimes it was leather over an iron skullcap. It was designed to withstand a crushing blow to the head and still protect it. In the same way, Satan will attack us in “command central”—the mind!
Our minds, thoughts, imaginations must be protected. “As a man thinks, so is he” (see Proverbs 23:7). We need to train our minds to think properly and biblically—when impure thoughts come, when doubts come, when Satan comes.
We read in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that we should cast down “arguments, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Satan recognizes the value of first getting a foothold in the realm of the thoughts. Thoughts prepare the way for actions! Most people fantasize, think about, and imagine a sin before they actually commit it. They rationalize it by saying, “This is not that bad; I would never do this thing!” But actually they could and would, given the right circumstances.
The only way to protect your mind is to fill it with godly thoughts. Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things above, not on things on the earth” (NKJV). When my computer is full, I get a sign that says “memory full.” There’s not enough space on my hard drive to load a new program. We need to have the hard disk of our mind filled so there is no room. That is why we need the helmet of the hope of salvation.
Kruger National Park is the largest wildlife preserve in South Africa.Thirty years ago, the elephant population exceeded the park’s capacity to sustain it.A decision was made to kill off some of the adults and relocate some of the youngerelephants. These young bulls were resettled in Pilanseberg National Park.
All seemed well for a few years then a serious problem developed—there was an unexplained slaughter of rhinos taking place in Pilanseberg National Park. It was not poachers as suspected, but hyper-aggressive young bull elephants. They were chasing down the rhinos and goring them to death with their tusks. This is not normal elephant behavior.
Why was this happening?
It turned out that these orphan elephants developed into gangs replete with leaders. Without older bull elephants functioning as authoritative, stabilizing role models, these young bulls were running amok!
They were able to resolve this problem. Older, more mature bull elephants were brought to Pilanseberg Park as a “Foster Father/Big Brother project.” Within weeks, discipline was restored and the younger elephants bonded with the older ones imitating and exhibiting more acceptable behavior. There were no more reports of killed rhinos.
So, how could this help us in our culture today?
We need large male elephants roaming our streets! No, this shows an important spiritual principle. As one expert said, even in the animal world the presence of “Father figures is essential to civil behavior, discipline, and relational decorum with others.”
In the same way, we need godly, strong fathers to take their part to lead lead in their homes, communities, and nation.
God bless all of you fathers today!
How are we to live in light of the fact that Jesus is coming back soon?
We need to sober up!
“Let us who are of the day be sober . . .” (1 Thessalonians 5:8 NKJV).
Having spent the first 17 years of my life in the constant presence of drunk people, I can speak somewhat authoritatively to this.
Different people react in different ways to the effects of alcohol:
• You have your so-called “happy drunks,” who laugh at anything, like fools. They think they are much wittier then they really are.
• You have your sleepy drunks, who spend most of their time asleep or unconscious after drinking.
• Then there are the mean drunks, who explode and throw things. I was around a lot of these in my childhood.
A Christian should never be under the control of the “spirits” but should be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit” (NLT).
Here’s a newsflash for you: If you drink, you can get drunk, but if you don’t drink you will never be drunk. I personally do not drink at all and I have never found that I’ve missed anything.
You can be “drunk” or “intoxicated” by many things in this life. Jesus said in Luke 21:34, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you unexpectedly.”
“The cares of this life.” It is not wrong to have things; but it is wrong when things have you. There is the “thrill of the hunt” while you pursue what you want. Then, when you get it, you move on to another thing. We should be pursing God as we await the return of Jesus Christ.
To be sober does not mean being miserable. Some Christians are like “Debbie Downer” about everything. In the name of spirituality, they never smile or laugh. That’s not spiritual; that’s not spiritual,that’s just weird.
When Paul says we should be sober, it means to be clear-headed. To be sober means to be alert, to live with your eyes open, to be sane and steady.
Don’t be drunken and sleeping; be awake and alert!
How are we to live in light of the fact that Christ could return at any moment? First, we need to wake up!
“Let us not sleep, as others do . . .” (1 Thessalonians 5:6 NKJV). The Encyclopedia Britannica defines sleep as “a state of inactivity, with a loss of consciousness and a decrease in responsiveness to events taking place.”
There are people in the church today who have gone asleep. They are not watching the signs of the times, nor observing the “times and seasons.” There is a lethargy and passiveness, even a laziness. There seems to be a disconnect from their so-called “spiritual life” and real life. Instead of “walking in the spirit” they are sleepwalking!
I don’t know about you, but when I have had a good meal, I get sleepy! Sometimes the most well-fed Christians are also the laziest! They become sermon connoisseurs instead of fishers of men. Paul tells us to wake up and be ready for the Lord’s return!
Remember when you were a little kid and it was so hard to fall asleep on Christmas Eve? It may have been the excitement of opening your presents the next day. For some, it may have been the hope of seeing Santa Claus. It was a joyful anticipation that kept you awake, not some kind of dread or fear.
Looking for Christ’s return is not a miserable, repressive, confining way to live. It’s a happy, joyful, purposeful way to live. C.H. Spurgeon said, “It is a very blessed thing to be on the watch for Christ. It is a blessing to us now. How it detaches you from the world! You can be poor without murmuring. You can be rich without worldliness. You can be sick without sorrowing. You can be healthy without presumption. If you are always waiting for Christ’s coming, untold blessings are wrapped up in that glorious hope!”
And it does so with 100 % accuracy.
God must surely have wanted His people to learn Bible prophecy. He dedicated almost 30% of His Scripture to it. For example, the Old Testament features more than 100 prophecies of Christ’s coming. Through these prophecies, we know that Jesus is the Messiah, for He fulfilled every one.
This is how believers can be so confident that He will return physically to this earth to set up His kingdom: because He promised He would—five times more frequently than He promised He would come the first time!
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has made a promise: “I will come again”! (John 14:3).
But why should I study Bible prophecy? In revelation, a blessing is promised to the person who reads, hears, and keeps the words found therein. The more we know about the next world, the better we will live in this one.
Bible prophecy is not given to scare us, but to prepare us for what’s ahead!
This great event is described for us many times in Scripture. There are over 300 passages that deal with Christ’s return. Jesus spoke of it at least 21 times when He walked this earth. Statistically, one verse in 25 mentions the Lord’s return.
One of His most well-known statements about it is Matthew 24:29–30: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (NKJV).
Is the Second Coming physical or spiritual? Answer: it is the physical return of Christ to the earth. His first coming was physical, and so will his second coming be.
Though it is true that Jesus indwells every believer bodily, He has remained in Heaven. When Stephen died, he saw into Heaven and there was Jesus standing at God’s right (see Acts 7).
At the Second Coming, Jesus returns bodily to earth. After His ascension into Heaven, the angels said to the apostles, “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11 NKJV).
But why is Jesus returning again to earth?
He is coming to judge the world in righteousness. There are so many injustices in this world: criminals who have seemingly gotten away with their crimes, terrorists who have done the unthinkable, etc.
At the Second Coming, Jesus will right wrongs and bring justice to a world of injustice.
If the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is close,then the Rapture of the Church is even closer!
Are you ready?
This past Sunday at Harvest Riverside and Orange County, I continued my series on what Jesus said about the end times in Matthew 24. We talked about the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
You can watch the archive here.
The media could hardly contain its glee at the findings of a survey about what Americans believe. The LA Times trumpeted the headline “U.S. has become notably less Christian, major study finds,” stating that “for probably the first time in U.S. history, the total number of Christian adults has declined.”*
But things are not always as they appear. Cultural, Bible-belt style Christianity is becoming a thing of the past. But the fact is, although attendance in mainline churches has fallen, in evangelical churches it has remained remarkably steady. What is replacing it is a more honest assessment of true believers and nonbelievers.
Russell Moore, president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, indicates that the report shows that there are more honest atheists in America today, and that they are rejecting “almost-Christianity,” or traditions that “jettison the historic teachings of the church as soon as they become unfashionable.”
Moore states, “The churches that are thriving are the vibrant, counter cultural congregations that aren’t afraid to not be seen as normal to the surrounding culture. This report actually leaves me hopeful. The Bible belt may fall. So be it. Christianity emerged from a Roman Empire hostile to the core to the idea of a crucified and resurrected Messiah. We’ve been on the wrong side of history since Rome, and it was enough to turn the world upside down.”**
We must be aware of this as evangelical Christians. This kind of thinking comes by subtle deception and even enters into the church today through preachers that challenge authority of Scripture, even denying Hell.
One of the signs of the times will be a great apostasy, or falling away.
“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). “For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4). This does not necessarily mean true believers will fall away. It also speaks of professed believers turning away.
Yes,some people have left our Churches,but were they ever even believers to begin with?
The Bible says, “These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.” (1 John 2:19)
A true believer may fall away for a time,but they will always come back.
If they don’t come back to Christ and the Church one must question if they ever were a real Christian to begin with.
1 Timothy 4:1–2 says, “The spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” I don’t think these people were true believers to begin with.
You know a true Christian by where they end up.
The fact is,with people being more direct about their faith or lack of it may in some ways be a good thing.
Our charge as Christians from Jesus Himself is “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel”.
That is the ultimate answer.
**Stoyan Zaimov, ‘Is Christianity Dying?’ Russell Moore Says Rise of Nones, Decline of Christians in America ‘Good News’ for Church, http://m.christianpost.com/news/is-christianity-dying-russell-moore-says-rise-of-nones-decline-of-christians-in-america-good-news-for-church-139060/