Since it has been quite some time since my last article, I feel as though I should explain my lack of content. As my personal ministry has continued to increase, I have had to take time from other things, this being one of them. I love writing and conveying those things which I have been give, and those things which I have been taught. This article will be different than many of the others. Several years ago I wrote several short stories and since my time to write has become limited I want to share with you one of those stories. I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, feel free to share it. Here is the story:
In this world one of the most difficult things to endure is heartache. As children, and I speak from experience, we have our hearts broken by our parents and usually over something as insignificant as a toy. Children want and desire things, items, or to go places and most times given the answer “no”. Of course, looking back, it seems trivial. From the child’s perspective, though, it is heart wrenching to want something so badly and then be denied. As teenagers and young adults our hearts are usually broken due to failed relationships. You know, boy meets girl, boy dates girl, boy and girl break up, and so on. Being on the wrong side of maturity, this scenario does seem to be very catastrophic. Yet, with age, patience, and maturity these things help us become who we are. Hindsight being 20/20, we are able to look back and see these things being far less tragic than originally perceived.
When we become adults, the heart aches we go through are quite different. The loss of parents, children, and other family members usually generate the greatest aching within our hearts. Seeing someone suffer through sickness, divorce, loss of finances, and drug or alcohol abuse also bring an aching heart to people. All of these things, from the
time we are children until we leave this life, tear at our heart strings. This, however, is not the kind of heartache my story contains. In very rare instances, we can experience our hearts breaking, in a way that gives us joy and inspires us. If you do not believe that can happen, please allow me the opportunity to change your mind. By trade I am not a writer, but after telling this story several times to family and close friends I have been convinced to put pen to paper (actually, fingers to keyboard), and tell my story. We all have stories. Some are better, some are worse, some are long, some are short. This one is mine.
My name is Jim Duvall. I am 46 years old and work as an advertising and marketing agent for a sporting goods manufacturer. In college I played baseball and played semiprofessional baseball after graduating for five glorious seasons. I was good, just not good enough. I took a job with one of the teams sponsors and the rest, you could say, is history.
My job allows me to travel and work with children, showcasing the latest and greatest equipment. I have always loved children, my wife and I have four of our own. I have been married for twenty two years (I hope I got that right, if I didn’t, I’m sorry honey!) We met in college and for our first official date she invited me to church. She is a great Sunday School teacher and all the kids love her. Thanks to her, I too, have learned much. It was her devotion and dedication that led me to the altar of salvation, then to the marriage altar.
My wife’s name is Natalie. She has taught Sunday School since she was a teenager and in her adult life she runs
a day care center at the church. I suppose that Nat’s love for kids influenced me enough to want to work with them as well. I eventually became a youth pastor, and I have enjoyed that far beyond anything I would have imagined.
Now that we have a little background I can get on with my story. As I said earlier, my job allows me to travel and showcase our newest equipment. For the most part I work directly with schools. Colleges and high schools to be more specific. Working with athletes and being able to impart the knowledge I gained through my own short lived baseball career is rewarding. After the demonstrations are over I always stick around to answer any questions the kids may have and sometimes it proves to be a good way to witness to them about my personal life and my faith. That is by far my favorite part.
Last spring, however, presented me with a rare treat. Our company had come up with some new face shields and batting helmets for Little League players, usually ages 10-12. It had been quite some time since I had done a demonstration for children of that age. Once they hear that you played anything resembling professional baseball or have met a big name player (which had happened several times), they become awestruck. From that point on, you have their undivided attention.
I was excited. Not only would I be able to work with the smaller children, I would be working right in my own community! I knew some of the children that would be there because they were part of our church’s youth group. Seeing some familiar little faces was going to be a very special treat and that day was fast approaching.
On the day of our presentation I was greeted by many smiling faces. As I had anticipated, some were familiar but
most were not. I waved to the children, told them about myself, who I had played for, and the baseball stars I had met. I continued by introducing the new equipment we had developed and explaining the differences between the old and the new. Once the official speech was over, the kids got to try the helmets and our other youth equipment out.
While the kids were busying themselves with the new products I spoke with the coach’s, officials, and principal’s. I assure you, talking sports with kids is much more satisfying than talking business with adults. After the “grown up” business was taken care of I spoke with the children again and asked for their thoughts on the new equipment and finished up the official part of my job.
With everyone being dismissed and the presentation being over, as I usually do, I waited around and answered any questions they had. I offered my usual “semi-professional” advice about batting, fielding, and which products “I” liked the best. Finally, before leaving, I spoke about my other job of being a youth pastor. Considering our church is in the same area as the school I invited all of them to our next Sunday morning service. The following Sunday morning I was surprised and very pleased to see some new faces in our youth group. One of the new faces in the back seemed quite familiar to me, but I was not immediately sure why. Youth service being over, I searched for the familiar face of the boy who had been sitting in the back. The boy, instead, had found me. From behind I heard “Excuse me, Pastor Jim?” In both of my jobs I have answered a lot of questions. Some of them you expect. Some of them are silly. Some are embarrassing. Some make you think. Some are funny. Apparently, some will make your heart break.
I turned to see the boy who was speaking to me. I recognized him from the Little League demonstration I had done here in the community. I’m glad he had accepted the invitation to attend our church. New faces are always a welcome sight and it gave me joy to know that some children do listen to the parts that are not about sports.
As I faced him, I was met with a question. No, I was met with THE question. A question, which, in all its simplicity, filled me with an initially deep sadness. A question which only a child could ask. The question was this: “Pastor Jim, when we get to heaven can you have your company make me a special wheelchair so me and my dad can play baseball together?”
I’m not sure if it was the question or the innocence and sincerity with which the question was asked that brought tears to my eyes. I had not noticed his disability, but will never forget his question. Here was a child who was not concerned with a disability, not concerned with being in a wheelchair, but only wanted to be in heaven to play baseball with his dad. That broke my heart.
With tears streaming down my cheeks and a voice that quivered uncontrollably I made several attempts at talking and couldn’t. I put my hand on his shoulder, knelt down, and prayed silently until I was able to gain a little composure. It was with sheer and utter joy I explained that a wheelchair would not be allowed in heaven because Jesus would make our bodies glorified. Bodies that would run and jump and not get tired. After explaining the goodness of God and all that we have to look forward to, he was crying tears of joy and saying how he couldn’t wait to get there because his dad was already there waiting on him.
It hasn’t been long since the the story now referred to as “The Question Story” took place. Each time I tell the story I get choked up. The question has always reminded how innocent a child really is and how we should all be so lucky to find a part of that innocence within ourselves.
How are we portraying the love of God? This question should be asked of ourselves when confronting any hot-button issue. It is so easy to get caught up in being right that we can lose sight of being right in the eyes of God. There is a quote, and I use it often, that says “the truth, without love, is just brutality”. I am not making a suggestion to sugar coat anything, but I am suggesting there are, at times, a better approach.
As a Christian we accept the inerrancy of the Bible as God’s Word. We accept His Word is Faithful and True. We accept that He is right in all matters, in all judgments, in all things. When preaching to the choir, that boldness and righteous indignation toward sin is understood, to the sinner, it is indignation toward the person and often misunderstood. Read almost any debate regarding the legalization of gay marriage here in the United States and you will see many examples. Being right with God must exceed our need to be right to man.
We do, however, have a job to speak the gospel, be a witness, be a light, expose the darkness of sin, and speak the truth of God’s Word. We must not be afraid of standing on His truth. Let me ask, though: Was it a hateful Christian that led you to Christ or was it someone that reached out in love, compassion, and understanding? How are you responding now? I have some bad news, this world will get worse and the love of many will wax cold. Knowing this does not give us permission to let our love wax cold too. When love waxes cold, the church must be a storehouse of love from which the world can find an example. The church, and we as Christians, should have love in abundance and readily available. We are not called to be like the world, but to be transformed from the world and worldly ways.
For those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, I often hear “…but God loves everyone”. This is true, and thank God for that. God even loves the sinners, we must never forget this fact.
Romans:5:8: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
The love of God has never been in doubt, it isn’t even what separates a Christian from a sinner. It is the acceptance of God’s love through Jesus that separates and saves. For those who are yet in sin, God loves you. This goes for the homosexual, the liar, the thief, the adulterer, and any other form of sinner. You know the saying “love the sinner, hate the sin”. Never doubt God’s love. Yet, it is your acceptance of God’s love or rejection that will define your eternity. God is love, and Jesus is His love toward mankind. Jesus took upon Himself the sin of the world and won victory over all sin for those who will accept Him as Savior.
The choice must be clear. As a Christian, we must show the world the love of God. For the sinner, God’s love is Jesus, and if you haven’t accepted Him, you have not accepted the Love of God. Turn from your sin, ask forgiveness seek His love, His Son. That gift is available, but like any gift, it can be accepted or rejected. Unlike other gifts, this one has eternal consequences. Only love covers a multitude of sin, seek Him while He may be found. Today is the day of salvation, call upon Jesus now and accept the Love of God, there is no promise of tomorrow.
This article is a bit of a departure from my usual writing. I usually reserve this space, this medium, for something fresh or new. Tonight, however, I am going to do something new. I will be sharing, in this article, excerpts from a sermon that I had prepared and delivered on April 1st, this year, 2015. What I will be sharing will not be the complete message. I hope you are blessed with the following message, which I titled “When the Prophetic Becomes the Present”.
- What is prophecy exactly? It is the proclaiming future events. A better definition is: History written before it happens. It is like reading next months news headlines today.
Why is prophecy important? The most important reason, I believe, is, God wants you to understand the future is just as divinely appointed as the creation. He states in the Bible that “He knows, and has told, the beginning from the end”. Another reason to study prophecy is because it shows the exactness and truth of His Word. It shows that there is only one in control, and we call Him God, our Father who are in heaven, we call Him Savior, we call Him Messiah, we call Him Jesus!
Some question, is prophecy important, does it matter? The answer must be, absolutely, for the same reasons we just mentioned. It tells us what is coming next, and that we must be ready.
Tonight, the main part of the message really comes from the question, what happens when prophecy comes to pass? Have you ever asked that question? Have you ever considered the question?
Our foundation for tonight’s message is found in Luke 4:16-22 –
Lu:4:16: And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
Lu:4:17: And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
Lu:4:18: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Lu:4:19: To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Lu:4:20: And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
Lu:4:21: And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Lu:4:22: And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?
Before we get into the message, can I just take a moment and express how great this verse is. Here we find Jesus, the Son of God, on the Lords Day, the Sabbath, sitting in the synagogue, which is a house made to honor God, and Jesus takes a scroll, which is the Word of God, and we know according to John “in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God”, So Jesus takes the word of God, and says the Spirit of God is upon me… This is God, in a house of God, proclaiming the Word of God, by the Spirit of God…there is so much truth here its almost hard to comprehend. So powerful! Before I get too far from where I hope to go, lets get back to the message…
Here we see Jesus as a preacher, and as a prophet, for He proclaims this day these things are fulfilled in
your ears. Prophecy fulfilled by the Prophet, Priest, and King, Jesus. Yet, there seems to have been a problem, today we can understand how magnificent this truly is, but they seemed to have an issue, they did not just accept it. What did they do? They questioned. How much is the world like that today?
3 Past Prophecies Fulfilled
Lets keep moving and look at some past examples: Noah in Genesis chapter 6 (verses 12 – 22)
Noah, faithful, prophesied, preacher of righteousness. Noah preached for about 120 years, while he built an ark. His faith was on full display in the shape of a huge ship. Think about it, a ship built on dry land awaiting an event that none had ever seen. Yet, the world continued on in disbelief. Only 8 were saved, only 8 from the entire world.
Noahs work was visible, His faith manifested where everyone could see, it was not hidden. How about yours? Are we building our ark where others can see or are we attempting to hide and build a boat for one? Noah preached, others heard his words and they fell on deaf ears. Are we still preaching even if the words are falling on deaf ears or are we whispering? Just as it was in the days of Noah, the world is refusing to hear what “thus saith the Lord” but let me tell you that Noah boarded that ark and with the first drop of rain, the prophetic became the present and God moved. The righteous were saved, all others faced the judgment of God.
- Current Prophetic Events
The current events unfolding speak even more to the truth of God’s Word. In Matthew 24 we find many things that are going to be, but we’ll just focus on the first few verses:
M’t:24:4: And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
M’t:24:5: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
M’t:24:6: And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
M’t:24:7: For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
M’t:24:8: All these are the beginning of sorrows.
These are called the “beginning of sorrows” or the “birth pains”. Just as labor pains, these will start, or should I say have already started, and will not stop until the end. Also, just as labor pains they will increase in severity and become closer together. These are listed, by Jesus, first. These are the first things to look for at the coming end of the age. Deception, has there been a time when deception was abundant than today? Wars, and rumors of wars. Isn’t that all we see, hear, or read in the news? Famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. Are there one of these that are not or have not happened? Have you, yourself, seen these things multiply?
It goes on to say these days will be like the days of Noah and the days of Lot. There were at least three major things present in those days. Unrighteousness is the first, how many would say this would describe our world today? Unbelief. The state of unbelief in the world today is staggering. Oh sure, there is belief in Buddha, in Hinduism, in being positive, in Islam, there is belief in nothing, belief in everything, belief in being positive, belief in spirituality, but all these are still unbelief. Belief has a name and it is Jesus Christ, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is only one name under heaven given whereby man must be saved, that name is Jesus, and that is belief! The third and last prevalent sign, is sexual immorality. Listen to these words and think about how commonplace they are today: Rape, sodomy, pedophilia, adultery. Rape is a criminal epidemic that has moved into bars and college campuses and made a home there. Sodomy is a lesser heard term, but in the news more than any of the others, but it uses more friendly names such as marriage equality, pro choice, those associated believe in terms such as life partner, march in parades under the banner of gay pride. This is not an isolated problem, these are all world wide problems and getting worse.
Even with all these things at the forefront of our attention, so many are calling us the crazy ones. We preach Christs return and they ask, where is he? There unbelief, all the fun they make of it, is proof He is almost here according to 2nd Peter 3:3. There are so many signs screaming for attention, yet, the world does not hear. Can you? Can you hear it? Can you hear what I hear? Can you hear the preparations of a wedding feast about to take place?
5 Seeking A Sign, A Sign Given
A wicked and adulterous generation seeks a sign. We live in a wicked and adulterous generation and many are seeking a sign. Ever wonder why the generation that seeks a sign is called wicked? I have, and the answer that came to me is this: It’s wicked because it seeks a sign and not a Savior. How’s that for blunt? The generation that sought a sign, however, was given a sign. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish for 3 days, so Christ was in the belly of the earth for 3 days. And just as we have already discussed, it wasnt enough. This is what happens when we seek the wrong things, it is never, and will never be enough, until you seek the One who is able to heal you, restore you, save you, raise you, and call you His. So, let me ask, are the churches seeking a sign or Jesus? Are the churches still looking for proof or walking in faith? I assure you, these are very valid questions.
Ac:2:16: But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
Ac:2:17: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
Ac:2:18: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
Ac:2:19: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
Ac:2:20: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
Ac:2:21: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Today, the prophecy of the Blood Moons is very popular and discussed among many scholars and congregations. Here is a quick run down of the teaching, if you have not heard it or read about it, you’re about to hear it now. These blood moons taking place fall on Jewish Feast Days, specifically the Feast of Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles last year and this year, which should make them of particular interest. Of the major feasts, the Feast of Passover is the first and the Feast of Tabernacles is the last (Leviticus 23), and I cant help but to be reminded that in the book of the Revelation Jesus says He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, He is the beginning and the End. On April 4th, just a few short days from now, the third blood moon will take place, hows that for a timely message?
This has only occurred three other times since 1492. When it occurred the first time, the Spanish inquisition took place, America was discovered. The second time it happened Israel became a nation once again. The third time it happened Israel claimed Jerusalem from Arab control and it once again became the capital. Those are the major events of the last set of blood moons, or lunar eclipses, on Jewish Feast days. You may also hear them called a tetrad of blood moons, it simply refers to 4 lunar eclipses. Naturally that leads to question what events have taken place with the latest set of blood moons. With the first blood moon ISIS became prominent on the world stage. With the second blood moon, Ebola became a worldwide concern. Now, what I am going to say is, if you are looking for, perhaps a deeper meaning or understanding, let me offer this: If these things are a foreshadow of things coming upon the earth, a shadow of what the Bible says will be, ISIS could be seen as peace being taken from the earth, a reference and again a foreshadow of one of the seals found in the book of the Revelation being broken. Ebola could be pestilences being unleashed upon the earth, and in case you’re keeping count, that would be 2 of the 4 horsemen found in Revelation 6. I am not saying that’s what is, but if you want a deeper opinion, thats what mine is, and it didnt cost you a dime extra. We have 2 more to come, and only time will tell what they bring with them. Perhaps we’ll go on to see a financial collapse or natural disaster, or a coming conquerer. Time will tell.
Make no mistake though, the sun, moon, and stars were put in the sky for more than light.
Ge:1:14: And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
Now, the bible has one thing to say about this prophecy of the blood moons and that is: These things will take place before that great and notable day of the Lord comes. That should be more than enough to grab your attention. One less talked about part of this prophecy is the blood, fire, smoke, the part just before the blood moons. I believe this relates to volcanic activity during the time of these blood moons. For emphasis, there have been volcanic eruptions also during these blood moons. Who but God Almighty could have set these things in motion? Only God has told the end from the very beginning.
- When the Prophetic becomes the Present/Gift
With signs and wonders coming to pass, I have to ask: Are the churches guilty of a lukewarm response? The church has a job, and it is not to be lukewarm:
Lu:21:28: And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
We must be rejoicing. We were put here, at a certain time, in a certain place, all according to the plan of God. We were born for this! Are we living like it? The Word of God teaches us there are “the few” and “the many” and we mentioned this about Noah’s day. Jesus said the way to the Father was straight, narrow, and few find it, and broad is the way that leads to destruction. He also says He is only coming for those who are looking for Him. That He is coming and such an hour as you think not.
Consider this your wake up call. You can not see all these things, hear these things and continue in doubt, in unbelief, and not be held accountable. Every day we are seeing the prophetic become the present. One day the prophetic will become the present, that is to say the Prophetic will become the gift, in a moment in the twinkling of an eye, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God. When that prophetic becomes the present, praise God, this corruptible body will put on incorruption, this body which is sown in dishonor will be raised in glory, when this weakness will be raised in power, when this body will be put away for a glorified body! The King is coming!
In closing, let me say this: Jesus is coming back, ready or not. In Matthew 25 you can read the parable of the ten virgins. All ten were virgins, all ten were waiting for the same thing. All ten were together. Yet, only five were ready. There will be no warning, except maybe this one. One day, and I believe it will be soon, the prophetic will become the present and the world we know will change, the salvation that is free today will cost dearly then. There may never be another day or night where the righteous of this church will enter these doors because the call Home, into God’s presence could happen now, I mean right now. This altar is open, if you seek a Savior, He is here with open arms. If you need to recommit your life, if you need to repent, whatever your need, He knows and is waiting. Be prepared, the King is coming!
We study the Bible, usually in great detail. We concentrate on verses, we dig for details, inspect words for insights, and string together references for a thorough analysis. There is nothing wrong with this. Yet, never forget to step back and realize the big, broad picture.
Today, as I pondered several verses, I again realized the Bible is the greatest love letter ever penned. Have you considered what a perfect, written, proclamation of love God has given us? Take a few minutes and consider the following phrases:
I love you, forever
I wont leave you
I will always be with you
No matter what you have done, I forgive you
If you are troubled, tell me about it, let me help
If you want me, look, and I will be there
These may look a little more familiar in another format:
I have loved thee with an everlasting love
I will never leave nor forsake you
If you are faithful to confess your sin, He is faithful to forgive
Cast your cares upon Me
Seek and you shall find
These proclamations are not trivial. These are but a few of the promises of love. This love is available to everyone. This is true and eternal love. The only requirement is our acceptance of His love toward us in Jesus Christ. Jesus is that promise and fulfillment of love toward us.
I just wanted to take a minute, step back, and give thanks for the opportunity to see the love letter that could be missed. There is a quote that goes something like this: “He couldn’t see the forest for all the trees”. Take a moment, step back from the verses, word studies, and chain references. Gaze upon the masterpiece that is God’s love for you, then go back to studying the brushstrokes with which He painted this work of art, and see the details anew.
1st Thessalonians:5:17: Pray without ceasing.
We are instructed to pray. There should be a point in time where our prayer life begins, and continues without end. Our prayers are our communication with God. Prayer should not become a one-way conversation. We are quick to speak and make our needs known, yet, slow to receive, slow to hear, and quick to dismiss that small, still voice.
Prayer is a wonderful tool (for lack of a better word in this instance). It is an entrance into the presence of God. There are times it is a solemn, introspective experience, when mourning, confessing, or pleading for His helping hand. Other times it is informal, such as giving thanks, giving praise.
Prayer is not just an individual experience. There are times we enter prayer as a group, in agreement. This is sometimes referred to as corporate prayer. Many have gathered together and recited the Lord’s prayer, prayed in agreement at the opening of a church service, or even at the close of a church service.
A question came to mind during prayer and it is a question I must share and ask: What if all your prayers were answered instantly? My immediate reaction was surprise, wonder, awe, and excitement. I know God is able to do all I can ask and more.
Ephesians:3:20: Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us
I also know there are times we ask amiss. There are times when our faith waivers, times when we are weak, times when His will must be done, because our requests are contrary to His way. I know He hears the prayers of the righteous. The thought that really came to mind was: “What if all your prayers were answered instantly, all you need to do is ask”?
As this question became clearer, the big picture came into focus. This is where I began to see some shortcomings of my own prayer life. Should all my prayers that evening have been answered, me and my family would have been blessed abundantly, our debts would be gone, our health would have been assured, our church would be blessed and grow in number and would have reached the lost of our community, just to name a few. These are great things and I still pray these things will come to pass.
The problem was not in what I was asking. The problem is, my prayer life would have shown the deficiencies of my prayer life. My neighbors would not have prospered as I did, and we are commanded to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. My enemies, or those who are against me would not have received any type of blessing, there would have been no reconciliation between us. The other area churches would not have received as our church would have. Those that I work with would not have been any better off. There would still be nations at war, our state and national leaders would still be untouched, and our brothers and sisters in other nations would still be suffering persecution without relief or any sign of comfort.
As complete as our prayer life may seem at any time, there will always be more that we can do. Our reach must exceed the boundaries of our home, our state, and our nation. We must not be guilty any longer of praying in manner that resembles “bless me and my four and no more”. Through the gift of prayer and the blood of Christ we are able to go boldly before the throne of Almighty God and make our petitions known to Him. We have the ability to ask not only for ourselves, but many others in need, faces you may never see or meet. We must pray for our enemies and our neighbors.
Let me end with this thought: If your prayers were answered instantly, what would your deficiency be? What would everyone else see? Who would be left out? Who would still be in need? I hope to encourage you as I have been encouraged, during a simple prayer where I not only spoke but listened as well. May God bless and keep you, and as always, to Jesus be the glory!
We all have a story of how we met our closest friend, our significant other, a distant relative, or maybe even a favorite pet. Do you remember the details? Can you still picture it as though it happened just yesterday?
Did you see them several times before you actually met? Did you hear someone else say their name? Or maybe you read their name on an office door, maybe even on a name tag or badge. Thinking back on that day, do you remember their clothing, their cologne or perfume? Did you meet them by chance or did you purposely start a conversation?
These are just a few of the details and questions that come to my own mind. Whether you remember the smallest details or not, you usually remember the place or setting in which you met. In an office, on the street, in the market, at work, or at church? These are common places to many meetings.
My question for you is this: Do you remember where in scripture you met Jesus? Do you remember the sermon, the message, the song, or the teaching? Where in His Word did you meet Him? Now, let us go back to the second paragraph and ask some very similar questions with Christ as the subject. Did you see Him in others a few times before you met Him yourself? Did you hear others speak His name? Did you read His name and wonder? Did you purposely meet Him? Maybe you just meant to get some information on Him and ended up meeting Him unexpectedly.
I met Jesus in the twenty fourth chapter of Matthew. I had heard about Him and learned about Him from the time I was a small child. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I met Him for myself. When I met Him in His word, He was at the Mount of Olives telling His disciples what would happen at the time of the end. He gave a detailed, passionate prophecy. It sounded so much like the world I live in. I then thought “how wonderful that Jesus was seeing a place and time where He would meet me, and probably many others, in His word”. Since then I have realized the place, time, setting, details, or circumstance did not hold as much value as the simple fact that we met and I accepted Him as my Savior.
It does not matter which sermon led you to the Savior, Jesus Christ, as long as you accept Him. The songs that were sang are now of little consequence, a minor detail in a major event. I am not trying to downplay sermons or songs or words or prayers, they all play a very important, vital part. Yet, nothing compares to the moment of salvation, the perfect work of Christ being made manifest in the life of a believer. It is of little importance where each of us met Jesus, me in the book of Matthew, another in the book of John, one in the book of second Peter, and another in the book of the Revelation, as long as we met Him and accepted Him as Savior. The one common ground we have is this, we all meet Him at the cross.
Ga:2:20: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
There was a time, as a sinner, we drove those spikes into His flesh. The sin of man put Christ on the cross. His work defeated sin once and for all, for everyone that will accept Him as Savior. Once you come to the cross by His blood, our old man is crucified to the cross with Him. No longer are we guilty, for it is not we who live from the moment we are saved, it is He that lives within us! There at the cross, it was He who loved me, it was He that loved you. He gave himself for us. If you have not yet met Jesus, He can be found anytime, anyplace. You can arrange that meeting at once, just simply reach out to Him in prayer, in faith believing, confess your sin and ask Him into your heart, accept His atoning blood to cover your sin, and you too can have a time and place, where you met the Savior. Glory to His name!
Down at the cross where my Savior died,
Down where for cleansing from sin I cried,
There to my heart was the blood applied;
Glory to His Name!
Glory to His Name,
Glory to His Name:
There to my heart was the blood applied;
Glory to His Name!
In the twenty-third chapter of Leviticus you will find the feasts which are celebrated, mostly by the Jewish people. You find wonderful celebrations, times for rest, time for introspection, and time for judgment. While these are often referred to as “Jewish feasts” the bible indicates otherwise:
Leviticus:23:1: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Leviticus:23:2: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
These feasts should be recognized and at least acknowledged by the church. Just as we have been made heirs and joint-heirs through Christ, we also share in the promises. If we share in the promises, shouldn’t we also share in the knowledge and celebrations appointed by the Lord? These feasts are rich in symbolism and worthy of teaching and understanding! I have covered some of these in previous articles, such as “Passover” and “Unleavened bread”.
The Feast of Trumpets is celebrated as the beginning of the Jewish New Year. The term for this is “Rosh Hashana” which literally means the “head of the year”. The Jewish calendar is based on lunar cycles, and the new year does not begin until the observance of a “new moon”. There will be one hundred trumpet blasts for this feast.
Leviticus:23:24: Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
Prophetically, all the feasts were a fore-shadow. This feast is no different. The Feast of Trumpets is a prophetic picture of the rapture, the gathering together of the church. No man knows the day or the hour of the rapture, just as no man knows the day or the hour the new moon will be observed. Consider theses verses also:
1st Corinthians:15:52: In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1st Thessalonians:4:16: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Revelation:4:1: After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
Revelation:4:2: And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
The Feast of Trumpets is also called Yom Teruah, which literally means the day of shouting and noise. What a day and what a shout of victory there will be at the prophetic fulfillment of this celebrated feast day! This feast is observed as a day of rest, the beginning of a new year or a new beginning, and a gathering together. The phrase “holy convocation” translates or literally means a holy gathering of a group of people in answer to a summons. What a joyous day that will be when we are gathered together with the Lord! As this day approaches, let us celebrate, and then let us anticipate and live prepared for the prophetic fulfillment!
As a child it seemed the days passed so slowly, especially during school. The days of summer would come and erase the memories of tests, studying, and what appeared to be endless assignments. Those warm nights, though, would again give way to cooler weather and a return to school. Upon finishing formal education, those days gave way to employment. Time passes, swiftly. The older I become, the quicker the days seem to pass.
Looking back, the days spent in school don’t seem so far away. As a child it appeared that time was an abundant, inexhaustible source. Now, time is priceless and something that must be managed wisely. Seeing the sands slipping through the hourglass of life you begin to realize that no one knows how much sand their hourglass starts with nor how much remains. With age comes the realization and reality of our mortality.
This life, no matter how long we have, is short. Whether forty years, sixty years, eighty years or more, it passes quickly. Life consists of doing, working, going, and countless other things. We get busy, we become occupied, and time passes. Much of it passes and we are blissfully unaware.
Job:14:1: Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.
In the process of living it is normal to ponder life, God, religion, eternity. I suspect that many, if not all, have pursued the answer to these subjects. I spend every day offering my life, my being, as a witness for Jesus and the Bible. Some days I succeed, other days are not quite as successful. With the time I have been given, I made a decision to accept Jesus as my Savior. Far too many days slipped by, too many times I said “maybe tomorrow”.
James:4:14: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
There is no guarantee of tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation. Once you die, your works here are finished. There is no second chance to come back and make anything right. This life is all we are given, whether your days are few or many, our days are numbered. A decision must be made with the time you are given. No excuse will be accepted. Lies will be transparent. There will be no reason “good enough” for refusing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah:55:6: Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
This day is an opportunity, a moment in time where you too can accept the gift of eternal life. It is a gift. It cannot be bought, it cannot be traded for, it cannot be sold. The giver of eternal life is God, and it is given to all who will confess their sin to God and accept His Son, Jesus as their Savior. If you do not have a relationship with Jesus, let me encourage you to accept Him today, for your tomorrow may not come. Accepting salvation is a simple act, simply pray the following prayer (or something close to it), believe in your heart, and accept the grace of God through Jesus Christ:
Heavenly Father, I have sinned, I have lived a life of sin, I have done wrong and confess my sin to You. God, my sin is against you and I am sorry. Please forgive me. Jesus I ask you now to come into my heart, cleanse me and make me worthy of You. I accept You, Jesus, as my Savior and I thank You for the salvation You have given me now and the gift of eternal life.
If you prayed that prayer I would love to hear from you. I thank God for you, and all that read and share these messages. I continue to pray for you all and simply ask that you do the same for me. May God continue to bless you and all that you do!
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Once you became a Christian, once you obtained salvation through Jesus Christ, did your effort end? If not, does your new life in Christ end in the faithfulness of going to church? Do you venture into spiritual warfare from the comfort of your house by praying? Are you heading up an outreach ministry by smiling and nodding to strangers in hopes they will understand that your actions are really Christ living in you?
I have asked these questions, mostly in jest, but to also stir a desire. We all must start somewhere, and we must also realize there is always more we can do. Salvation is only the beginning of our journey. We should also have a desire to gather among the brethren. An active prayer life is also a great beginning. All these things are a good start, but it is not all that we are called to do.
The work of Jesus is called the good news (gospel) for a reason. When you receive good news, what is it you do with it? You want to share it! Today we use the term “evangelist” as a person who travels and preaches. We are all called to evangelize, which in its simplest terms means to share the good news of salvation with those around you. You can reach others no one else can.
Nothing surprises God, for He is all knowing. He knows you. He knows your attitude, your strengths, your weaknesses, your victories and your failures, and chose you (and me) anyway. We all have different personalities, assets, traits, and abilities. He uses all these things for His glory and to accomplish His purpose. He made us to be different, put us in different places, and called us at different times. His calling on our lives is only the beginning.
This bring us to the main point I hope to make. We all have different callings, in scope, in scale, in ability, and style, and almost any other description or adjective you may wish to use. We, being unique in who we are, are able to accomplish, in such a way, as only we can. In being unique, our calling and ministry should also reflect that.
I am not called to be the same minister as you, as your preacher, or maybe anyone else you know. Neither should you be a copy of anyone you or I know. Similarities are bound to exist, but our pursuit should not lead us to be a copy of anyone else. The lesson we must learn is this: If you aren’t like a televangelist, the preacher with the largest congregation, an accomplished, motivating up-and-coming minister, singer, author, or whatever your ministry may be, be what God is leading you to be. Do not worry about “keeping up with the Jones'”. Don’t worry about your “style”, worry about pleasing God and being faithful to Him. Let Him be glorified in using you for who you are, in reaching those He has called you to reach.
Joh:21:21: Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
Joh:21:22: Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
We all have our own walk with the Lord. Though we may be treading the same straight and narrow path, we each have our own unique relationship with Jesus. Let each of us continue to pursue our callings, not someone else’s calling. Let us continue to learn from others, grow in ministry, and allow Jesus to cultivate and nurture each of us into what He has planned for us, not what He has planned for someone else. He chose you and me knowing exactly what He was getting. Look forward in expectation and anticipation because His plans for us are better than our own.