hope

True Love

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.

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Prayers (A Few Thoughts and Discernments)

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!

Failing

Prior to salvation through Jesus Christ, we fail. We fail Him, we fail to see, we fail to hear, we fail to understand, we fail to seek His word. Instead, we seek the advice of friends, we look for a better relationship from the world, our time is spent on self. God is neglected.

Romans:3:23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Failing God is not just for those who have not yet accepted Jesus as Savior. Failure is only permanent for those who die in their sin, those who do not confess and turn from their sin, those who do not accept a relationship with Christ. Those who proclaim Jesus, confess Jesus is Lord, have faithful church attendance, do good for others, they fail too. The difference is, there is grace for the believer. For the unbeliever there is forgiveness. Thank God that we all have a way, through Jesus and His work to be cleansed.

1st John:1:8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1st John:1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1st John:1:10: If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

While this could be a broad generalization suited for many, I am directing this article at myself. Often, Christians are called hypocrites, holier than thou, and two-faced. Let me confess to all who take the time to read this, I fail. Everyday it seems I find a new way to fail. There are times I fall flat on my face, inconvenient times when I have to “practice what I preach”. Still, I fail.

Recently, I realized a new way I have failed. I have failed to reach those close to me, my friends. I have not taken opportunities to present the gospel, instead, I have made the assumption they know my life, what I believe, and considered it enough. There are friends I have not spoken to in a very long time, friends I have lost touch with, people I may not have another chance to present the gospel to. Failure to take every chance to present the gospel can have eternal consequences, especially for those who do not have a relationship with Jesus and never knowing if we have a tomorrow.

As much as this article is for me, it is just as much for my friends, family, and anyone else who cares to read this. We all fail, in different ways. We all fail to different degrees. One thing that does not fail is the salvation offered by God through Jesus Christ. Today, I will try harder, and even harder the following days. Even on the days I do not feel as though I have failed, I will bow before the Lord in prayer, confess my sin, ask forgiveness and the strength to do better with every day I am given. Time is short, with no guarantee. I am sorry for the times I have failed, so now I will do better to rectify the situation.

I have set up an email account for this blog. If I can be of help to you, if you need prayer, if you have questions, please feel free to contact me: prophetic.steps@yahoo.com or you can comment or send a message to the facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/propheticsteps

We have all failed, we have all fallen short of God’s glory. We must cast those things aside and carry on that His strength be seen, that He be given the glory, for when we are weak, then He is strong.

The Rise of Persecution

Trials and tribulations should be expected by all who choose to follow Jesus. The Christian walk is not an easy one. We must realize that we do not wage war against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities, spiritual wickedness in high places. It is fortunate when our worst days of “spiritual warfare” are when we are faced with temptation, fight the urge to use vulgar language, want to lie, or refrain from doing good when we should. These are very real circumstances, and submission to these things are sin. If this is the worst we face, and I know at times these are bad enough, I also know it could be so much worse.

I am afraid that we will indeed see worse. There is a storm on the horizon gaining momentum, speed, and strength. That coming storm is persecution. In the headlines of media and news, and across the globe on television we see a very open and violent persecution of Christians in the Middle East. Men, women, and children are being kidnapped, crucified, tortured, beheaded, and gunned down because of their Christian faith. I feel a strong burden to pray for those people and the horrible situation they face. Please remember those people in your prayers.

These situations should not take us by surprise. As we see prophecy being fulfilled, we should know that it will continue to get worse. These things have been foretold:

Matthew:24:9: Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

Luke:21:12: But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.

2nd Timothy:3:12: Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

I believe we are seeing the very beginnings of those verses taking place. I also believe we are witnessing a very strong faith in Jesus Christ by those people who are more willing to die than deny the Savior. We often read of martyrs from the history of the church and their valiant fight of faith, yet, do we realize that we are also now seeing it in the present?

It is easy to say “well, it isn’t happening here” and carry on with our lives because we do not see it affecting us directly. Those people are our brothers and sisters in Christ, we better care! Their faith to the death should be a witness to you, it doesn’t show their strength, it shows His strength within them.

Luke:21:13: And it shall turn to you for a testimony.

Don’t be fooled though, the storm is coming to you also. The persecution of the church has already begun. Prayer in schools or at school functions has been forbidden. City and state governments must now speak the name of Jesus in whispered voices or behind closed doors for fear of who might hear. Your beliefs may now exclude you from jobs, positions of authority, or show you as impartial or biased. Speaking your belief of Jesus as Lord and Savior could next lead to belief that you are a radical or guilty of a hate crime. You could be taken to court and found guilty simply because you stand on ideas and principles found in the Bible.

Right now, our government tolerates Christianity. We were once a government of the people, by the people, for the people, but we are soon to be a people under a government, unlike what we know today. If you understand Bible prophecy, you already know a change in government is coming. I believe that change is already taking place, but we still see the illusion of what we had. That veil will soon be removed and the persecution we see today will be a fond memory, because Christian persecution will be multiplied exponentially.

Please pray, pray for those suffering persecution to the death, pray for their safety and their lives, that their testimony speak to those who do not yet believe in Jesus. Pray for our churches, our national, state, and local leaders. Pray, if not for deliverance from these things, for strength, patience, comfort, and protection. Remember God’s word for those who suffer persecution:

Matthew:5:10: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew:5:12: Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Handwriting on the Wall

Have you noticed we live in a world where slogans are everywhere and used to remind us of something? For instance, slogans are one of the most used, most efficient, most reliable ways of advertising. Some examples would be “Just Do It” (Nike), “Made from the best stuff on Earth” (Snapple), “They’re Grrrrrreeaattt” (Frosted Flakes), and “Have it your way” (Burger King). Some of these are a bit old, and probably outdated by now, but you get the idea.

Phrases have a way expressing a big idea using few words. We often hear familiar phrases used in a variety of contexts. Lately, I have heard a phrase used several times, meaning that a person “should have seen it coming”, but the phrase used is: “They should have seen the handwriting on the wall”.

For me this always brings to my mind the fifth chapter of Daniel. This is quite possibly one of my favorite events to read, re-read, and study. It is also a realization, shouldn’t we “see it coming”, should we not be able to discern some of those things which are about to happen? Of course I’m not referring to fortune-telling, nor am I specifically referring to the gift of prophecy. When we are given numerous examples throughout the Bible, when we are given specific actions and reactions, shouldn’t we be able to know what is going to happen? Sure, the consequences of repeated actions may not be immediate, but they are imminent.

In the fifth chapter of Daniel we find that Belshazzar was giving a great feast, a party, and gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels, which had been used in the Jewish Temple. Once those vessels were brought out and used, something happened:

Daniel:5:5: In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
Daniel:5:6: Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.

The hand and writing caused the king such horror that his bowels were loosed and his knees buckled and began to shake. I suppose the phrase “caught red-handed” could apply here. There is a very important lesson to be learned, you should not mis-use nor tarnish the instruments set apart for the service of God!

1st Chronicles:16:21: He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes,
1st Chronicles:16:22: Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.

Those instruments were created, finely crafted, and sanctified for use in serving God. The equivalent today are those who are saved and serving Jesus. We have been cleansed by His blood, we are set apart from this world, and serving our Lord. We are those instruments, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, serving a risen, living Savior, seeking to accomplish His will in our lives, giving our testimony, letting our lives be a witness, moving in faith, praying always, loving in truth and in deed, all that the glory be His. We offer our bodies a living sacrifice.

Just as Belshazzar was living it up in the world (eating, drinking, and being merry), he misused the instruments dedicated to God. Today, this world is misusing and mistreating the instruments dedicated to God. Belshazzar did not see the writing on the wall and his reign ended that very night. There is coming a point in time where someone in this world will say “we should have seen the handwriting on the wall”, and just as it was then, it will be too late. Be of good cheer, we will suffer things in this world, we will be hated in this world, but I have good news, Jesus overcame this world and by Him, we shall too! To Jesus be the glory forever, amen.

A moment

Things happen, often quickly. The term “moment” comes to mind in defining the instant things come to pass. For example, the moment my son was born I became a father. While it is true that pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, there comes that span of time which changes everything.

Our lives change in moments, yet, the moments move by swiftly and never return. Moments become memories, a small amount of time that stands out. A moment is a snapshot, a picture, a detail, a happening, a culmination. It’s easy to think of moments as being precious, tender, and innocent. For example, graduations, marriages, births, and achievements turn into moments.

Just as there are good moments, there are also bad moments. Vehicles wreck, causing various tragedies, in a moment. Heart attacks happen in a moment. Lives are saved and lost in a moment. On September 11th, 2001, our country was changed in a moment. The gravity of this small span of time we know as a moment should not be taken lightly. Our lives are made up of moments, we are remembered in moments, and ultimately all the time we are given, is but a moment.

As we go forward in our lives, there are moments yet to come. There is one specific moment I live in hope of:

1st Corinthians:15:51: Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
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.

I hope to not sleep, but to be changed, in that moment, that twinkling of an eye. Every day I have, I live expecting, hoping, longing, looking for that moment. For those who are ready, whether they sleep (euphemism for being dead) or live, this moment is one of promise, glory, expectation, and eternal joy.

For those who are not ready, this is the moment, an exact and coming point in time, where everything (and I do mean everything) will change. Families will be torn apart. Worldliness and wickedness will dramatically increase. Hope will be hard to find. Uncertainty will remain and all that was, will never be again.

Just as we live, there is a coming moment, where we will either be changed or we will die. Can you imagine standing before Almighty God, the Righteous Judge, and being shown every moment, every opportunity you were given to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and refusing? Seeing those moments in your life when you could have said “yes” to the Master, but believing you had time? Deciding, you were too embarrassed, you were too prideful, you just “weren’t ready” or you’re “too busy” living your life? Thinking, you didn’t want to change your life, you were afraid what someone else would think, you may lose out on something you wanted or had?

We don’t know when our last moment will be, nor what our last moments hold for us. We have no promise of time. Things happen, often quickly. Take a moment, this moment, and call upon God, ask Jesus to forgive your sins, come into your heart so that He can present you faultless to God the Father. It only takes a moment, and it will be, in eternity, a priceless moment, the greatest moment of your life. The moment of salvation.

Scattered thoughts

This article marks the one year anniversary of my blog. I thought I would try something different to celebrate, through my writing. I like short, pointed, and articulate articles and make attempts to direct my writing toward that style. Today, however, I am going to depart from that and do something a bit different. Through the weeks many ideas for a writing come to mind, are jotted down as notes, then are rarely seen. Most give way to more thorough, comprehensive, structured teachings, illustrations, or encouragement. Today, I offer a peek into my thoughts and ideas from the past few weeks. These are a small collection of ideas, verses, and thoughts. Enjoy!

I had been considering writing an article on “liberal” Christianity. It is hard to imagine such a concept really exists, it appears to be an oxymoron. Can Christians really have liberal beliefs? Are there Christians who believe abortion, same sex marriage, adultery, or baring false witness is okay? Do certain circumstances make these things acceptable? What is the root cause, the foundational belief to allow any of these things to become tolerable? One concern is that true, doctrinal teaching has become too “old fashioned” or “too boring” for the majority of congregations. Is it because people no longer desire to submit themselves to the whole Word of God? Is this part of the apostasy? Many questions, few answers, but very deserving of a good study. Liberal defined as “abundant” and “broad”, reminds me of the narrow way to eternal life, broad is the way to destruction. Verse references would be:

Colossians:2:8: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
2nd Thessalonians:2:15: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

A second thought or idea I had been considering began with a title, “The Perception Problem”. The idea began flowing something like this: The church has a perception problem, the way we are perceived and the way we perceive. Perception is defined as “apprehending by means of the senses or mind, it is also defined as “understanding”. The church, in general, perceives worldly ideas and teachings through the lens of the bible, which is the way it should be. The world attempts to perceive God’s truth through a carnal mind, which is not possible. The best description for both sides is “on the outside looking in”. Scripture references are:

John:8:23: And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
John:18:36: Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

The last few ideas are still in their infant stages and are not quite thought out, but here they are:

If Christ is the author and finisher of your faith, be of good cheer, your story ends “happily ever after”.

Waiting upon the Lord is not easy, patience is a virtue, and if He called you to do something, that time and place is on the way and ready, you are still being prepared. In due time He will lift you up, never forget to give Him the praise, it is His will, His strength, His sovereignty, not your patience that puts you there.

Do you love God? The answer should be yes, easily. Is that answer just lip service? Are you keeping His commandments? According to what Jesus said, if you love Him, you will keep His commandments. Yes, He fulfilled the law, but you cannot live to the flesh and reap a spiritual reward.

Sin must be punished. Why would a loving God send people to hell? Because He is a righteous God and has always punished sin. This is why Christ was beaten, mocked, and crucified. If you accept Christ as Savior, your sin has been punished in Him. Your life is hid in Him, and because He was spotless, because He rose again, you too will be made alive by Him. This is why Jesus is deserving of all praise, today and every day. “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun”.

These are a few of the things I had been considering, yet nothing really stood out. So, instead of giving one line of thought, I wanted to share a few of the things I have been considering. I rarely share partial thoughts or writings because so many things need to be corrected and some things can be taken out of context, yet tonight I throw caution to the wind and let these thoughts scatter. I hope you, the reader, have enjoyed reading these articles as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I am looking forward to another year of writing and watching as the number of readers grow, which is only possible by all of you who choose to share this blog with someone else. Thank you so much for your support, your prayers, and your kind words. Thank you Jesus, for the knowledge, the wisdom, and the understanding which has allowed me to serve You, and because You have given me a desire to serve, I pray the glory be to You, Jesus, my Love, my Friend, my Savior, my Lord, and my God.