Right now, our country is in a state of violence and unrest. We have gone through a global pandemic, shut down one of the greatest economic engines in decades to millions unemployed. Evil violence on both sides of the law. Protests begin as they should, but violent people began looting and destroying property and businesses. Frustrations are building up and looking for areas of release all across our land. Social Media and the news media help spread the unrest. Opinion rather than facts is promoted to influence frustrations and rage.
It is all a supernatural problem. Everything we see and feel today is a supernatural problem, and the solution is not Trump or CNN. It is God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
The Lawless one
Read 1 Thess 2:1-10 The lawless One. The anti-Christ will rule the world. You think it’s bad now? You will want to be ready for the rapture of Christians. You will want to have Christ in your heart when you die.
Notice verse 7. The mystery (hidden truth – usually something you cannot know without God’s revelation.) The NIV calls it the secret power. Lawlessness was already at work even in Jesus’ time, Dark ages, Hitler, World wars, Nations killing their own people. It is at work today, in the USA. In social media, news, the hearts of men and women.
He who restrains…
He who now restrains (holds back the lawless one) – The Holy Spirit, the Church, You. Because of our fallen nature, there is a natural tendency to be lawless. If unchecked, this lawlessness will bring about great evil and destruction. After the rapture – very dreadful events will take place. Matthew 24 says if the days were not shortened, no one would survive. Only God has the power to restrain the lawless one, the lawless power. If you have Christ in your heart, then you also have God’s power to stop the lawless force in you, your family, and this nation.
If my people…
Solution – 2 Chronicles 7:14ifmypeople, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways (lawless ways), then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
HOPE – When people pray, repent for themselves and our nation, the restrainer restrains. This has happened throughout history. Revivals come when God’s power is poured out against the lawlessness and righteousness overcomes.
Join me in praying for our own heart, our nation, our leaders, our different races of people. Pray and repent personally and for God’s power to come down and heal our land. Let your lightnside burn bright with hope in a dark time.
A decade and a half before Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971, Billy Graham was in Boston to deliver a memorial address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The year was 1955, and he had just finished visiting many U.S. military installations in Europe. Below is an excerpt of his timeless message, which still rings true this Memorial Day as we remember with gratitude the sacrifices of so many for our nation.
In all the American idiom, there is no more endearing word than “buddy.” It is warm, with intonations of friendship, brotherhood and common purpose. We are assembled today to pay tribute to those, our “buddies,” who poured out their full measure of devotion upon the altar of freedom.
Thousands of you gathered here could tell dramatic stories of heroism which you yourself have seen acted out by your buddies on the grim stage of war’s theater. They have left this realm of time and space, they have out-stripped us in life’s races, but the sacred memory of their selflessness and the freedom they died to obtain will live forever.
Three weeks ago, I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with President (Dwight D.) Eisenhower at Gettysburg. He took me on a personally conducted tour of the Battlefield of Gettysburg, explaining the strategy used by both the Confederate and Union forces. Both of my grandfathers fought at Gettysburg. This famous battlefield, and hundreds of others like it, have become hallowed soil, where thousands of Americans have died either to preserve freedom, prevent aggression or keep intact the union of American states.
“It was worth it if it will keep America free!”
Some months ago when President Eisenhower was touring the Battlefield at Valley Forge and was being shown from one historic spot to another, he made this statement at the conclusion of the tour: “This is where they got it for us.”
What did he mean? He meant that those men, and thousands of others in all the wars that America has fought, purchased by their blood the freedoms that we enjoy today in “the land of the free, and the home of the brave.” That terse statement from the lips of our president has rung in my ears for many months. …
These battlefields of the world today are hallowed and holy to every American, and we pause to give them our highest honors, humbly realizing the sacred trust that these, our war dead, have handed to us.
I stood by the bedside of a boy in Korea whose spine had been torn away by a shell blast the night before, but by some miracle he was still living. He was unable to change his position; and if he lived, the doctor informed me, the rest of his days would be spent lying on his stomach. The army medics had patched him up the best they could. I gripped his cold, perspiring hand and said words of comfort to him. He made a statement I will never forget. He said: “It was worth it if it will keep America free!”
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
That’s what you call “getting it for us”! As we think of the selflessness and heroism of such fellows, we are reminded of the words of Jesus Christ who said: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
The freedoms we enjoy, the freedoms we take so much for granted, the freedoms we so often trifle with were bought not by the gold of our millionaires, nor altogether the genius of our scientists, nor the sacrifices of the people at home, but primarily by the blood, sweat and agony of those whose names on this day we honor—those who died that we might live!
They found, as have brave men of all ages, that there are principles well worth dying for. Their noble, unselfish sacrifice is a silent, eloquent rebuke to the self-centeredness of this generation. Let those who want “peace at any price” remember this day that thousands have died for honor and freedom and that what we have today has come at the price of shed blood. …
As I stood in the hospital quarter of the Danish ship “Jutlandia” in Korean waters by an American boy scarcely 20 years of age and watched helplessly as this young life ebbed away, I thought: What right have thousands of pleasure-seeking Americans to go on living when this lad in the early flower of youth has to die? And in that moment, the fact dawned on me that if he had to die for America, some of us must live for America. Sometimes it is far more difficult to live than it is to die. They have handed us a torch, and we have a responsibility to see that they have not died in vain.
Even though the sacrifices of our war dead have been great, yet the greatest sacrifice of all time was made by a man on a cross who died not only physically but spiritually that men might live. We have neglected Him too long! We have rejected His plan for peace, and as a result, we have fought, bled and died for centuries! I challenge the world at this hour to accept His program of heart regeneration that can transform the society in which we live, and we can know the meaning of genuine peace in our time. …
Yes the bells of liberty ring in America today because these men we honor today got through for us. The sacred memory of their sacrifice will always live in our hearts, and we have a sacred and holy trust—and we cannot fail them!
“It is finished.” He got through for us!
My mind goes back 2,000 years to another battle which was fought on a hill called Calvary. It was a battle of one young man against all the forces of evil. It seemed like a futile, hopeless struggle as Jesus Christ took on Satan’s task force single-handed. The jeers of the rabble, the spittle of the soldiers and the sneering of the people were incidental compared to the inner struggle which was taking place in His soul. But I watch Him, in fancy, as one hand is stretched out toward God and the other toward rebellious man, and He makes the connection and says: “It is finished.” He got through for us!
If we are to be strong spiritually, it will be through Him. Thousands today are finding a fresh, new meaning of life through Him. They are learning to say with confidence, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthened me.” We can best keep faith with those who have gone before by keeping faith with ourselves, with our highest ideals and with God.
“man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4
There is no triumph without testing.
There can never be a revealing of what controls us without a time of testing. Testing is not pleasant, however testing with the right attitude and focus can bring about powerful weapons for battles. It is in the testing that these weapons are revealed, sharpened, bloodied, and victorious. Jesus came out of the baptismal waters fully immersed in the power of the Holy Spirit. While Jesus lived a sinless life growing up as Mary and Joseph’s son, He was going to enter a time of intense spiritual battle as His ministry begins and ends at the terrible wonderful cross. Jesus needed to be tested, strengthened, attacked, and come out victorious to equip Himself for His ministry.
40 days – 40 years
During the forty-day fast Jesus identifies with Israel in the wilderness. Israel was sent to the wilderness because of unbelief. God was going to teach them a long lesson. Jesus was sent by the Holy Spirit for forty days to be strengthened. During the wilderness trials of Israel and Jesus, a withdrawal from provisions are placed upon them or in Jesus’ case was self-induced. As a time of physical need becomes a reality, our bodies begin to ask for supply, for food, pleasure, peace, escape.
Faith grows out of emptiness.
Israel complained about the lack of provisions and God supplied manna and water to sustain. What was also being provided to Israel was faith in God. Although they complained to Moses, there was also a strengthening of faith in God. Jesus fasted forty days knowing God was preparing Him for the mission. His body cried out for food, Jesus’ soul cries out for God.
The Jericho Victory
After forty years of growing faith and knowledge of God Israel once again faces Jericho. The once believed unbeatable kingdom was now a possibility because of what was learned in the forty years. Our supply and hope are not from food and drinks only, but from God who supplies, defends, and delivers victories in impossible situations. The devil tempted Christ to turn the rocks into bread and eat. He was very hungry as his body was screaming for food. But a greater cry came out of Christ’s soul. He quoted from Deuteronomy 8 a truth that we must learn in the testing to succeed and mature in faith.
Deuteronomy 8:1-3 Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
You may be in a time of testing right now.
Don’t look only for the needs of your body and family. Allow this time of testing to strengthen your faith in God and His word. It may be good for you to fast a few days to place your body and soul in a place of need as you cry out to God. He will strengthen you as you call out to Him. Use your faith in the trial against Satan and triumph over his temptations and suggestions.
Israel entered the promised land. Jesus was victorious on the cross and prepared a promised land for us. Walk this world fighting the good fight with every word that comes out of God Word. You will find a sharpened, ready weapon beside your glowing lightnside.
The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7 NIV
God’s word effects our mind, spirit and path.
The greatness of God’s word and it’s effect on our lives are recorded in the second half of this Psalms. The word is active. It is alive and brings with it an active influence into one’s life. Even if you don’t remember what you read yesterday, the fact that the word went through your mind and heart, it creates a reaction. This Psalms records the effect of God’s word in your mind and soul.
Attributes and Reactions
The Psalmist elegantly describes the attributes of God’s words then list’s it’s effect in our mind, body and soul. God’s word is perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, firm, more precious than gold. The Word’s produces refreshing, wisdom, joy, light, endurance, righteousness, and sweetness. Want to be sweeter to others? Answer: God’s Word!
There are also some preventive properties in God’s Word. These properties are the added results beyond the benefits mentioned above. These properties are like taking vitamins or getting a flu shot. Protection and insulation are the added benefits from God’s word. This protective effect of a daily intake of scripture is found in verses 11-13.
Verse 11: “BY THEM” (the daily dose of God’s word):
We are warned – Understanding consequences of choices.
Exposes hidden faults cannot see – Brings to the surface hidden behaviors and beliefs that have secretly caused us harm.
Keeps us from allowing willful sins to rule over us.
Keeps our life away from choosing life destroying paths.
Because of the scrubbing, correcting, healing and joyful work of God Truths we conclude and desire with David as we say with lightnside:“Let our words and thoughts be pleasing to God. My Lord (relationship), my Rock (security), my redeemed (active Grace and Mercy).”
Acts 10:9 Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
God was planning on using Peter in a new way that would challenge some of his beliefs and traditions. God was opening the gospel to nations outside the Jews. But it was going to require a change in Peter’s thinking and traditions. God put Peter in a trance and lowered a sheet down that had many unclean animals by Peter’s standards. God said Rise, Kill, and Eat. Peter replied, “no, I have never eaten from unclean animals.” God said, “Do not call unclean what I have made clean.”
God was calling Peter to change a tradition and belief that was so ingrained that any thought of changing was unthinkable. Sometimes God will call us to change our daily patterns of activity and focus to be used by God. It may challenge us. God may be wanting to use you in a new and fantastic way. Todo that, He must place a revelation be used by God, which will require you to change some habits and traditions in your life. After the vision, men from Cornelius arrived to ask for Peter. Peter went with them and followed God’s leading.
God showed Peter the trance to challenge his traditions and beliefs. Peter had to do more than just think about it. He had to put action toward this effort. It may not be an evil habit, but God may be wanting you to change your life habits to open up more time for God. Today we have so many distractions surround us with streaming tv, social media, cell phone addiction, sports, and other activities. God may challenge you to change your daily focus. God told Peter to make a change, to do something outside his comfortable daily habits. Peter left with the gentiles. God may be calling you to spend more time with Him, to lead a small group, to change your thoughts about someone or a class of people. Reading more Godly books—volunteer for His purposes. You will need to rise from your normal life and make a change to follow God.
God was not only calling Peter to kill the animals (which he did not do). He called on Peter to kill some of his traditional beliefs. He knew it was God speaking to challenge him in a new way. To not call unclean what God has made clean. Peter was challenged to change his way of thinking. Peter was challenged not to let his past prejudice stop what God was doing. You may be challenged to kill some daily habits, things that would interfere being used by God. Kill some addictive habits that keep you away from the Bible, prayer, and time to meditate on God and His word.
God was telling Peter this new journey was His plan. Peter was expected to follow God and the Holy Spirit by faith. When Peter later saw what God was doing, it changed his whole life.
God used Peter in powerful ways to grow His church in the Gentile world. God’s revelation to Peter that day on the roof challenged him to take action (Rise) in his life to trust God, to make changes (Kill) in his own traditions, and to walk in faith (Eat) and fellowship with God.
Following God is a challenge and requires changing elements of our own lives and habits. You never know what God will do with a person who, like Peter, will rise, kill, and eat their way to a powerful man or woman of God. Let you lightnside be challenged by God this week.
Hebrews 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
During this time of national struggle, We can become focused on politics, on the economy, on how we should protect our families, on our retirement. All these things are not necessarily evil. They are a part of real life. But if we see beyond today and see beyond our local surroundings, and even see beyond the next election and look into eternity, we will see a hope that cannot fail. We will see an unfading promise. We will see our Savior and our God waiting to embrace us and live in complete bliss for eternity.
What is your focus?
The people listed in Hebrews chapter eleven have all long since died. Some were delivered from tragedy, and others suffered without relief. Some are very famous as God used them to protect and lead the nation of Israel; others were unknown and died poor. The one thing all these people had in common was their focus. In Hebrews 11:13, it speaks of a people still believing when they died. Their focus was beyond their time here on earth. There focus was a reward in heaven.
Where is your focus?
The American dream is to be comfortable and retire to enjoy life. God’s Word never promised easy times. Just because you became a Christian, it does not mean all things become easy and pleasant. The Bible talks more about overcoming troubles and counting it as joy when you go through trials. If your focus is based on something eternal, God will give you strength and grace to endure. The Hebrew verse states the people identified themselves as a foreigner and stranger on earth. Their focus and identity were on heavenly citizenship. Their kingdom was not of this earth. By faith, they saw and welcomed their promise from a distance.
Who is your focus?
(My hope is built on nothing less )Hymn by Edward Mote 1834
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace;
in ev’ry high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.
When he shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in him be found,
dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.
Listen to this great hymn and allow your lightnside to proudly shine on a focused promise that is in the future and welcomed from a distance.
How do you go forward in this new world when you are not sure what to do next?
The answer James 1:1-8
The book of James has so much practical advice in living during frustrating times with strong spiritual truths and common sense. The preamble to the whole chapter is found in the first eight verses.
There are two truths that the remainder book rests on. First, you will be frustrated and challenged in your mind and heart. So knowing that understand these struggles will make you a stronger Christian and mature you in ways that a comfortable life would not. You will also be in situations where you do not know what to do next. And to ask God for wisdom to make decisions in a new world environment.
FAITH IN FRUSTRATIONS
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Count it as joy even though it is not joyous. You can choose to be happy about your situation because God is growing stronger in you. You will need to control pride, anger, outbursts. But, aren’t you suppose to do that already? Maturity only comes through struggle.
Why not keep a journal of some kind to help process feelings and to consider your thoughts and prayers each day.
Know that God is at work in the situation and in you.
Repent when you fail and learn from the failures and God’s Grace.
Worship God and His goodness. His timing and plans are not ours.
Ask and believe for wisdom.
ASK & BELIEVE FOR WISDOM
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
We are all facing a world that is beyond our experience. Worry and fear can keep us awake at night, feeling unable to know what to do. Ask for wisdom from God. The Bible says, “It will be given to you.” Fact, Truth, Bible!
We have a natural ability to doubt. We look again at the high walls of Jericho (COVET-19) and want to begin to doubt instead of following God. Believe, not feel. Believe not hope it might be true. Believe God is giving you wisdom through the Power of the Holy Spirit. Rest in that truth. Don’t waver. Someone who doubts becomes more than useless, they become unstable, unreliable, driven by fear and gossip. No, my friend…BELIEVE you are receiving wisdom from the Holy Spirit.
Personally, in the last three years, I have faced each year a strong trial that challenged me greatly. Before the last three years, life seemed to move smoothly for several years then…BAM. Three difficult situations I found myself in. God took me to James. I asked for wisdom. I had to work at believing I was receiving direction from the Holy Spirit. It was work to believe. I had to say it out loud, “I BELIEVE YOU ARE GIVING ME WISDOM AND I RECEIVE IT!” As I walked slowly through these three events, God helped me. All three events are past, and I can say I have matured in my walk with Christ and my belief in God-given wisdom.
As you are reading this blog, you will be faced with challenges this year as our nation tried to manage life with the virus. Be a JAMES 1:1-8 student. Manage joy in frustrations and faith for wisdom. You will grow more mature and feel the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, helping you through your situation. Your lightnside will burn joyfully and wise in the coming days.
“playing the odds is a fragile place to put your hope…There is a better place to stand: a Rock of certainty rather than the sand of probabilities.” John Piper
“I am moved to write because playing the odds is a fragile place to put your hope. Odds like 3 percent versus 10 percent, youth versus old age, compromised health versus no history of disease, rural versus urban, self-isolated versus home meeting with friends. Playing the odds provides little hope. It is not a firm place to stand. There is a better way. There is a better place to stand: a Rock of certainty rather than the sand of probabilities.”
I recommend this book. It is encouraging, honest, and God centered. John helps us understand God and His character in a difficult time. I will share a few small quotes and leave the rest for you to discover in his small but powerful book.
Truth and understanding of God comes from the Bible which is a living book. Piper states in this book ” The way we come to know the glory of God in Scripture is similar to the way we know that honey is honey… We know that this is honey because we taste it. Similarly, there is a divine sweetness in the glory of God in the message of the Bible. It touches a part of us that we know was put there by God. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Ps. 119:103). “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps. 34:8).
The book is two parts.
The God Who Reigns over the Coronavirus (5 chapters)
What Is God Doing through the Coronavirus? (6 chapters)
Much of this book deals with the solid foundation of trusting God and resting in His sovereignty. This book also points to a world to awaken to it’s need of God and a call to repentance.
This book will challenge you and help you feel secure during our national crisis. It’s not sugar coated but rather, mercy coated.
John 12:24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
This chapter in John has such a range of emotions. Starting with the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem. Such joy, such hope. It would seem this event is the spark that would bring about the kingdom of Christ as the savior of the world. But it was instead a final celebration before suffering and death.
Victory through death? YES
Christ made clear that the triumph He sought was not by His own strength and popularity. It would be in suffering and dying. Jesus shared a model for us to follow. We do not become a more powerful person by asking God to just bless our lives. By asking Jesus to give us more of what we want in life. It is rather us dying to our desires and plans to allow something new to birth in our soul and heart.
The hour has come to die then God glorifies
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.28 Father, glorify your name!” It was not the entry into the city that was triumphal, it was His death that produced much life.
What you feed grows and what you starve dies.
We can walk around and try to be a good Christian by our own power. It will not work. It is the act of dying to our desires and allowing some issues of our heart like anger, lust, pride, judgementalism to die so God can birth something holy into our life. One statement I remember from college is the statement “what you feed grows and what you starve dies.” I will be first to say, God is dealing with me to put to death some of my emotions and desires of my sinful nature that wants to rise up.
The Cross is the path to Resurrection.
Allow the Holy Spirit to identify areas in your life that need to die so that God can birth a resurrection of healing and life. There will always be tension between our desires and following God. As we come to the Cross and lay down our heart and desires before God, His righteousness, and the power of Christ’s death takes that offered seed and produces much fruit. Are you frustrated in sins and attitudes, place them on the altar to die. God will birth the power of His presence and the Holy Spirit to produce more than you could ever be on your own.
Die to God and watch your lightnside burn bright with resurrection power.