"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
A COVID-19 Confessional
Lord Heavenly Father,
I come to you in this solemn time of our country. Unprecedented is an overused word these days, not just because a moment of correction is nothing new for the eternal God of Heaven, but because our society has turned to the terminology, ways, and methods of this world to solve issues that only have supernatural solutions.
There are no words to describe what is going on not only in this world right now, but also inside the hearts of mankind.
What I do know is that there is only one solution and if we so choose to just accept you as Lord and Savior of our lives, you can meet every need that we have within your Word.
So, as many across this nation are abiding by the laws of their lands and the courtesy of their fellow countrymen by staying away from one another, we are learning some very valuable spiritual and life lessons.
While I normally like to crack a joke here and there (such as someone must have prayed for patience again), I will keep the purpose of this prayer and writing for what it was intended for: repentance.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
That word “seek” that we see in this verse also refers to as the AMP version of the Bible mentions to, “crave, require as a necessity.”
When we “seek” you Lord God, the amazing thing is, unlike when we seek anything else in this life, we actually find you. The issue for us at that moment is that the heat becomes hot as your glory and presence burns, revealing the cracks and crevices of our character. Your presence reveals what is in our wicked hearts and to remain in your presence, sin has to go.
The Word already tells us, we can’t serve two masters (Matt. 6:24).
Many reject this feeling of conviction as something terribly bad; something avoidable in our life that false doctrines have told us over the years could be considered “negativity” just because it causes us pain. What is hard for us to understand is that there is some good in suffering.
If it were not so, would you have endured the suffering required to trade your life for ours? You endured suffering although you were “in the beginning with God” (John 1). You could have stayed right where you were, but instead you made a way. “A way” that does require some effort on our part. That small effort; however happens to be a lot bigger than just mumbling a few words and crying some crocodile tears. That effort requires that we “humble ourselves, pray, seek the face of God, and turn from our wicked ways.”
Did you catch that last part? “Turn from our wicked ways”?
I have heard many of the last couple of months profess this very statement with their own mouths although they are not believers themselves, they as even sinners recognize the times that we find ourselves in.
“Turning point” happens to be a common phrase in our society today, yet many of us still cling to our patched up lives like a poor widow does a 30 year old hot water heater. It’s only a matter of time before we burst all together or God calls us home. Either way, we do not know when that moment will come. Either way, why do we hold on? What are we really living for?
Perhaps we hold on to what we know because giving up control of our lives to God is something that is foreign to us. How would we know if we have never tried it before?
I challenge all of us with a simple question in that instance. How do we know anything? Nearly everything that we hear that sounds reasonable, we test. Maybe it’s a new restaurant, store, social event, etc. Whatever it may be, you heard the testimonial of someone you trust and you tried it. For many, that new thing because something important in your life. Chinese food didn’t really require a lot of commitment from me and it’s certainly something I would consider to be an awesome part of my life today, however starting a family and doing things the “traditional” or biblical way was.
That commitment to do things according to God’s plan required a larger commitment from me, but in the end became my main purpose for this season in my life, which is to glorify God through my commitment to Him and my family.
Instead of being angry and missing what life was like before this whole COVID-19 mess brought to our lives, maybe we should look back and try to understand exactly what was great about it.
It appears to me that not all of the impact from this sickness has been bad. While it’s impossible to wrap our heads around the loss of loved ones, death in high numbers, and the suffering that this situation has caused the world, we should “lean not on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5-6).
Christ looks down and He feels what we are feeling, and He has compassion for us. However, we must not confuse compassion with justice. God is always just (Isa. 30:18) and therefore must always carry it out.
This nation was once a living “testimony” of God’s righteousness and justice. We gave the most resources for His Kingdom work to be accomplished, whether by time, finances, or materials. We abided more as a whole by his Word, especially in the most foundational sense of raising families, forming our nation’s laws around interpretation of God’s Word, and even seeking God through great crusades and revivals. We took time for family dinners and spending quality time together. Worship and reverence to God wasn’t simply a burden (some were dragged I know), but something that was a part of many people’s lives.
While God doesn’t wish or desire for us to be stricken with sickness (we were created in a much more perfect situation in Gen. 1), He does have to obey His own Law which follows the path of righteousness and justice. If He did not, He wouldn’t be God, just another man.
You may ask as many have, “why does God allow bad things to happen?”
We don’t always have the answers to everything, but what I can tell you is that the Bible gives us a clear understanding of how evil operates in this world. Once it was introduced through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, man has continued the chain of sin and death (James 1:15). Man is steadily evil (Matt. 15:19). It is out nature and has been since the fall; however we are presented an opportunity to be “born-again,” by being saved from a life of sin and death by the redeeming power of the death and resurrection of Christ. If we just have faith, believe, and profess in the power of Christ to have lived a righteous life, worthy of our substitution and therefore forgiveness, we can receive salvation because of His redemption today.
This born-again experience leaves us as a new creature and back into fellowship with Christ from the separation caused by our sin.
If there is one thing I can sum up as a positive by-product of this virus lockdown, it is being reset and fellowship!
For my Christian brothers and sisters who have lost their opportunity to physically fellowship with one another, this may be hard to understand, but in more ways than one it has restored fellowship in other places. It has also brought some good lessons to the forefront of our conscious these past few weeks.
So, while these hard learned lessons are pressing me at this moment, let us pray for God’s forgiveness, mercy, and grace to “turn away from our wicked ways” of our pre-lockdown life. While you may feel that few things we did or participated in were not necessarily “bad” per say, they weren’t in line with God’s perfect will and what He wants for us.
Part of allowing God to be not only “a lord,” but the Lord of our whole life is to relinquish control and surrender to Him.
So, once again:
I pray now to thank you for all you have done for me. Even before I knew of you, you made a way for me. Even before my parents knew each other, you made a way. For a man who didn’t deserve any mercy, you made a way. You are truly the perfect Waymaker!
Forgive me Lord of these things you have had to correct in our lives as of lately:
Before the sickness, we took family for granted and now man-made laws have placed us back at the dinner tables together.
I took your creation and the beautiful landscapes around me for granted by staying in and now I yearn to see, feel, and experience God’s hand at work.
We took fellowship of brethren and gathering in the house of the Lord for granted and now we are forced to stay away.
We were reluctant as a body to leave the four walls of the church and now the gospel goes out in the airways and on the global web at a rate never seen before.
We did not value our freedom and many sought further restriction of our country, now it is being forced down upon us and we are reacting with cries for continued freedom.
Lacking good stewardship, we trashed God’s creation and wasted in the name of commerce. Now the world is being cleansed of our filth.
On the same note as stewardship, we idolized money and our methods to obtain it; therefore as a society, we have lost much of it.
We ran around running the rat race of life, never slowing down to appreciate the goodness you provide, now we have been placed in this moment of involuntary reflection.
We idolize the wisdom and education of man, now our institutions of “education” struggle to even exist.
We devalued the cost of a human life, now we spend every resource necessary to keep those who suffer alive.
I could go on forever Lord giving thanks and I should as “his mercy endureth for ever,” so should my praises. However, I want to take this moment once again to thank you and praise you for all that you have done for me and my family in this moment.
I pray blessings and safekeeping for every family in this country. May they seek your face in this time of need and receive your “everlasting life” and peace. Amen!
“Beauty for Ashes”: A Resurrection Not Forgotten
By now, we have all figured out that things just aren’t normal in much of the world right now. People are sick, many more are hunkered down in their homes, business vacant, and the world economic system seems to be in total shock at this moment. As we go from a Good Friday that we would normally be out celebrating with our families as a group, to eating take out around the kitchen tables with our immediate household only, we can’t lose hope. Right now, hope is the greatest reason for us to be joyful in this moment. However, we must ask ourselves, “shouldn’t we have prioritized this reason to be joyful before now?” Why did it take a moment of solitude and loneliness for us to reflect on how good God is just based on the fact that He has offered us eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
The truth of the matter is, there is nothing God can’t turn around. Although our economies seem to be in ruins, people around the world are dying, and many millions are unemployed, there is hope for us if we trust and believe in Christ. Picture a forest fire. Unfortunately, much of the world is going or has been through that fire already. While the world may seem as if it lay in ashes and burned to the ground with all hope lost, there is that remnant bit of trees off in the distance that no one can see. It is amazing what happens to a forest when left alone after a burn. After a couple of weeks, small tree saplings begin to burst forth from the ground. They come from the remnant trees that remain off in the distance carried by wind, bird, or buried in shelter from the consuming flames. As a matter of fact, the ashes that remain in the dirt contain elements vital to plant growth and nourishment that help propel that young tree in its early stages. My friends, if we can just believe and have the faith of a mustard seed today, that God can turn these horrible situations around, nothing is impossible for Him (Luke 1:37). Out there where we can’t see someone somewhere is praying for you. Although you can’t see or hear it, there is a body who believes that God not only wants to see you prosper, He has also promised that if we “shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).
God not only longs to heal our land, but He also longs to heal our hearts. See, the promise begins with humility and seeking the face of God. If we will repent of our wrongdoings and turn away from those things to God, His heart and promise requires Him to restore us.
John 3:16 (KJV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
This repentance and returning our focus back upon the Lord not only works for those who are lost, but restores the believer as well! Many of us may have proclaimed to have been saved for years, but did we live continually with our hearts and minds upon Him? That is His desire for us today. Romans 10:9 tells us that the Greatest Commandment given by Jesus himself was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Notice he didn’t say to just believe, but to love Him “with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” I must say that like many, I am guilty of violating this simple commandment at times by not giving Him my undivided attention. So, as we attend our convenient drive-in and online services this Resurrection Sunday, let us not forget that none of this awesome life we have been given and a hope for an eternal life afterwards would have been possible without the great sacrifice that Christ has provided for us.
As we remember, let us not leave it there, but understand that God is not finished with us yet. If He wished to destroy this world or end it as we know it, He would do it faster than we could imagine. We do not know the day or hour (Matt. 25:13), but we know that until that moment, we have a job to do. The fact that we are still here tells us that He has a work for us to do and He will complete it (Phil. 1:6). Although we lay in a nearly barren economy at the moment compared to the fruitful months that preceded this sickness, we serve a God who not only can restore, but can raise from the dead! Like the forest that can be healed and return in abundance fuller and more beautiful than before, God can do the same for us! If the hope of a tomorrow with our Lord and Savior weren’t enough, I leave you with a Word of our Lord to Israel during a time of testing. As you spend time with your loved ones this Resurrection Sunday, take time and remember the Lord and all He has placed in your heart to do. There is a work that must be continued until the whole world hears (Matt. 24:14) that HE IS RISEN!
Isaiah 61 (KJV)
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
7 For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.
8 For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
The Church of New Wineskin
Many of us are asking, “When this pandemic is over, what’s next?”
We all know that the Day of the Lord draws near and we will soon see the Lord’s return, however I also believe that this troubling time that we live in has another purpose.
I believe that God is not only disciplining His church, but showing and preparing all of us for what is to come in the next few years.
Mark 2:21-22 (KJV)
21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.
22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
My grandparents and even parents grew up in a time where kids got holes in their jeans, especially the knees. Their parents would sow patches to cover up those holes because back then it wasn’t cool to go to school with torn jeans. However, most people did not have the means to buy a new pair of jeans every time they ripped or were worn out. However, if the parent sowed in a piece of patch that was not pre-shrunk or flexible and then washed the jeans, many times it would create a new tear worse than the first. I have seen it happen to patches that go on uniforms and the like. You just can’t put a brand new piece of cloth on a broke-in or old piece of cloth and expect things to be alright.
The concept or thought process of an ancient wineskin/bottle is the same here. Jesus is saying you wouldn’t put new wine into an old wine’s bottle. The two would mix together when they weren’t meant to be together. It would not only distort the taste, but totally ruin the whole aging process. They just simply do not go together.
But what does this have to do with the Church today and this current crisis we are in?
God is simply allowing us to be purified, to go through the process of becoming new/purified/prepared!
The proof is in the pudding they say!
Has the church not been going through a recent stirring the last couple of years, especially the last few months? I have noticed myself a huge burden and stirring for reaching out to the lost and broken.
However, this burden has also magnified our impurities.
Why would God allow this new wine, this new generation/harvest He is about to bring in be brought into an impure church with old wineskins and old cloth. He won’t! He is actually renewing and purifying us as I write this today.
Along with some of the businesses that are seeing their business model not stand up and prepared for today’s circumstances watch their future wash away as fast as they were established, many churches who also find themselves clinging to a worldly business model are also seeing their last days.
Before you write me off as harsh, understand, I hurt just as many of you for many of these small companies who simply cannot weather a storm that has mostly been controlled by man-made government. However, in these troubling times, God has also warned us that He “sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
This current crisis not only impacts these companies. Remember that many churches have also now become business based around the cult of “prosperity.” Their whole existence is based upon the false gospel that God only wishes to prosper us financially and allow only positivity in our lives. They leave adherents with the attitude that the closer we get to God the more we are blessed with material things and finances. Perhaps many even teach indirectly that even negativity is something that God rejects and therefore does not allow His true believers to experience if we are truly believers.
We know if we read the Holy Bible that this is false because even Jesus dealt with negativity and rejection. We are talking about a faith based around a man (who was also God) that was rejected and ridiculed to the point where He was crucified. Of course His resurrection gives us life and victory today, but it does not mean we are to only experience positivity and financial prosperity in this life. God has given His greatest commandment as well as the Great Commission as standing orders in our life. Our mission should be His will whether or not you personally believe or agree with it.
These same organizations based on false teachings are also often built on business models that require vast amounts of revenue to keep their bills paid. Not having this revenue stream due to lack of attendance from these current circumstances may soon find themselves closing their doors. Many smaller organizations will also experience this and it is unfortunate, but there is an opportunity for them to join others in ministry. There will come a need for many local and small churches however and I will explain that in a bit.
A Period of Preparation, Rest, & Reflection
Prior to this crisis, many ministries and churches were experiencing a move of God unlike anything we have seen in many years. Many organizations had begun preparing outreach and ministry teams to go out and serve. Some may have been already been in this process many years before. Others had maybe thought or prayed about it, but did not have the support or push from the Lord that they though they may need in order to make such bold moves for ministry.
This current crisis has allowed us to stop, reset, and reset. A co-worker friend of mine said recently, “God has caused us to slow down and focus on the basics of this life.” Just as He renews the church, He renews us. Many of us were headed in different directions from His purpose and will for us in this life at the speed of light. Just as quickly, He turned it all upside down, casted it aside, and asked us “what now?”
Use this time to rest your bodies, minds, and souls. Make time to dive into the Word of the Lord, study, pray, and spend quality time with your family. Many of us were so busy; we hardly did any of these things before we were forced to spend our time indoors with nothing more to do. These items on our “to do” list should not simply be a dependent factor on which it depends on our left over time or energy. Rather, they should be the focus of our lives if our priorities are where we say they are (1.God, 2.Family, and 3.Church)!
Also, use this time to prepare or regroup as an organization. If your church was already in the process of outreach, media, or some other type of effective ministry, use this time to organize and prepare yourselves for what awaits us on the other side of sickness in our land. I will talk a little more about that in a second, but first I must touch on what this will require.
New Wineskins With New Methods
If you grew up watching some of the stuff like I did, cartoons were not an option 24 hours a day as they are now. Many of us watched some nature or outdoors shows every now and then.
What is interesting when it comes to watching someone fish is that the lures or methods of catching fish seem almost unlimited. Matter of fact, they are only limited by your imagination and resources.
Recently on Facebook, I saw that a couple of my old high school buddies had won a bass fishing tournament. I am sure if you asked (and they were willing to tell!), they would tell you they used a few different lures and maybe even changed them according to the color of the water, the season, temperature, etc.
Many factors are considered when determining what type of lure to use when fishing at that high of a level. When I watch this one show about individuals living off the land in Alaska, many times they switch up the nets when different seasons of fishing come up due to the size of the holes in the nets to catch the proper size of fish for that season.
Another video on Facebook I watched had a man fishing in what looked like a muddy marsh using soda and Mentos tablets. As he put the explosive mixture in the holes, the fish came rushing out right into his hands.
All of these fisherman have and will continue to adapt their methods to the season and opportunity that is presented to them.
How come even though fishing is used as one of the largest illustrations of the Bible when presenting the gospel, the church never adapts to opportunity and need as fisherman do?
For years and even generations now, our society has been changing all around us. Some ministries have been obedient to the true purpose God has given to us and adjusted, others not so much.
Don’t misinterpret this! This is not an attack against tradition, biblical standards, or righteous teaching, rather against the attitude of “same old, same old.” We must adjust our methods and process for how we “fish” in these different days.
If you always use the same color plastic worm every day at the lake are you likely to get the same results fishing as you did on a different day with different weather and water color? Most likely not!
Just as these fisherman switch their methods/lures, we must also adjust to the changing times. For decades now as we learned from our forefathers, we have sat on pews, allowed the pastor to preach, and waited for the fish to walk in the door. So what happens when the fish no longer come to us?
God says we must change our methods and “Go Fish”!
Many of your local ministries and organizations in the coming days will begin to change your methods and process of doing ministry as a result of this current crisis. This is perfectly fine so long as you follow the will and Word of our God.
The Coming Healing and Harvest
When our bodies get sick, they do one of two things. They either heal or die. Burned land is also very similar. What separates the two? Opportunity!
If God saw no opportunity for further repentance and revival in the land, resulting in more harvest for the Kingdom of God, He would return, bring His children home, and you know the rest of the story (or should).
The fact that He appears to have allowed us to not only live through this moment in time, but shake up the whole world in the process shows us that He has a future purpose for us here and requires us to learn from this experience to achieve this purpose.
To achieve the purpose, He has provided many of us already called into His ministry a new vision. He will also raise many others, followed by the future generations. The reasons are many.
First, He needs those who have fallen by the wayside to be replaced. Secondly, He needs those He has equipped with a new skill set now needed in today’s ministry field to bring in new methods. Third, He needs the established churches and ministries with their resources and stability to help lead and guide the coming harvest.
What about this harvest I speak of?
Well, if you were paying attention at the beginning when I mentioned the burden many ministers and their congregants have been dealing with as of late, it is there because God has place it there. There is a burden because there is a need.
Many have heard the old quote, “luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” If you understand that saying, you understand that luck is eliminated because without the preparation, the opportunity would pass us by. However, there is a third element to the equation. This third element is surely “action.” Without works (action), this opportunity for harvest in our coming season will not be realized and our period of suffering (reflection) will be our loss.
I know you can feel it if you are a child of God. I can feel it every day as I go through the streets of cities where people are losing their jobs, walking down the aisle of the local store, or even browsing the news feeds of social media. The need for our “action”/ministry is surely here in these perilous times. The harvest is ripe, as it is surely an opportune time to take advantage.
Would we allow this opportunity to pass us by, relying on the old methods of sitting and waiting on the few fish to come to us, or will we be children of God who are prepared for a harvest that is overflowing?
The Hour of the Sober Saints
1 Peter 1:13 (KJV)
13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
1 Thessalonians 5:6 (KJV)
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
Ephesians 5:18 (KJV)
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit
God instructs us to be Sober, to be aware, to be vigilant. This does not necessarily always mean sober from substances or alcohol, but sober from all distractions. Nothing offers more distractions, nor have there ever been more distractions than there are in today’s society that we live in.
God even tells us why in a timeless answer saying:
1 Peter 5:8 (KJV)
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
However, you may ask yourself, “why does God care about our attention, our sobriety, our alertness in a world that is not our home and that is beyond our control?”
The answer is that when you are drunken, you may stumble. When you are not aware of what is going on around you, what the enemy has placed in your path, we become easy to be stopped. Asking why a Christian needs to be sober in this world is like asking why you would need to be sober from alcohol in a calculus class. The answer is obvious.
The Types of Drunkenness:
Substances: Alcohol, Drugs, Medication
Today we have more intoxicating substances than ever before at our disposal because we are the leading drug consuming nation in the world. Both legal and illegal substances equal in the billions of dollars profit each in our nation, yet we are also considered to be the leading Christian nation in the world.
Although we lead the world in the financial support of non-profits and ministry as the most generous and prosperous nation, we also lead the world in money spent on drugs and other substances. According to the CDC, excessive drinking is draining the U.S. economy. Alcohol is responsible for 2.8 million premature deaths each year world wide. Do you think all of those individuals though before they consumed their drug of choice were ready to meet their maker face to face? Not likely! Like many they probably thought they had time to “get their life straight and get old”!
Complacency: Convenience, Laziness, Selfishness
Along with the highest amount of drunkenness in our country the world has ever seen, we also have the highest amount of complacency I have ever witnessed. People everywhere are wrapped up in the complacency of convenience and laziness
We live in a microwave society. Here in America as in many Western World countries, we want things now with no waiting. God doesn’t move on our timing, He moves on His and many times we get inpatient. We want an answer now and God’s methods require faith. I can’t tell you how many times I have grown inpatient or weary, only for God to be perfect in His timing and come to the rescue. It has taught me some valuable lessons about waiting upon the Lord.
Selfishness is also a huge character flaw that I see largely in today’s society. As carnal human beings having a natural sin nature, we have always and will continue to have a tendency to be selfish as long as we are in our flesh bodies. The old saying is, “if I don’t take care of me, who will?” The truth is that God takes care of us and if he can feed the birds even though they do not produce their own food such as according to Matthew 6:26-34, why can’t He take care of our needs. This however requires us to be vigilant and stay alert. While the birds don’t necessarily produce, just by observing you can see that it is evident they are certainly not lazy! However, the type of selfishness I see today that our society is drunk off of is that of self-care, interest, hobbies, and so forth. While it is true that the best work for God comes out of the activities and living every day life, how much more could people see the Jesus in you if every now and then you reached out to serve someone in a bad situation, a church member in need, or that lost individual who needs a helping hand?
So, don’t get caught up in the drunkenness of complacency, the allure of convenience and the bad habit of laziness or selfishness.
Distraction: Media, Politics, Sports, Money, Interests & Entertainment
Going back to 1 Peter 1:13, we may ask what exactly is God saying here?
One version says it like this, “preparing your mind,” and another “think clearly and exercise self-control.”
Being that we were all once in sin even if we are now saved, therefore we are former drunkards, it takes the work of the Spirit as well as self-control to keep us away from drunkenness.
However, notice that the midnight hour is upon us!
Take a look at the Parable of the 10 Virgins and compare it to modern times.
Matthew 25:6 (KJV)
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Why would the enemy desire for us to be in this “drunkenness” and not ready for our groom’s return?
It’s clear my friends that the enemy desires above all that we not make this meeting in the air and eternal life. The enemy wishes for us to be distracted so like the virgins with unlit lamps, we also get left behind.
Don’t be the unprepared virgin, but be the bride who is prepared, ready, and on full display of her beauty at the arrival of her bridegroom.
How Do We Become Ready?:
1.) We Must Seek the Lord!
2.) We Must Remain Holy!
3.) Protect Our Minds and Hearts
4.) Spread The Gospel
As we saw in Matthew 25:6, we are certainly in the midnight hour, a time of awaiting the Lord's return. It draws near my friends, but many are still drunken and not sober. What is the most popular time to be drunken? I would say it is around midnight when people often begin to lose all sobriety and continually be under the influence of other things. If today is the midnight hour and mankind seeks to be drunken with worldly things, we should seek the opposite and run to God. If our focus is on Him and remaining focused on what is going on around us, we won't have time for drunken games, influence, and the stumbling blocks of the enemy. We will be ready for the return of our groom as the bride of Christ!
Mary, You Did Know!
Last year in honor of Christmas, I wrote an article titled “The Perspective of the King’s Expecting Parents!” In that article, I wrote from the perspective concerns that Mary and Joseph may have had as a young newly formed couple about to embark on the journey of their lives, raising the King of Kings! It is similar to another great work that I often run across around Christmas time. Many of us have heard the song “Mary, Did You Know?” It is sort of a Christmas tradition in many churches to play this song every Christmas season, while others hear it on the radios this time of year. It’s written from what appears to be Mary’s motherly perspective and asks some very emotionally charged questions for any mom in her position. I will post the actual song on the end of this post, but for those of you who rather not listen, here are the lyrics:
Mary, Did You Know?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you
Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God
Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?
Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?
The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect lamb?
That sleeping child you're holding is the great I am
Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?
Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Oh
Mary did you know?
Song Writers: Buddy Greene/Mark Lowry
Not to knock the meaning and value of the song as we know it, but I want to pose a challenge. Mary not only knew who that little baby boy was that she held in her arms, she also knew quite a bit about his purpose. As a gentile mother she may have had nearly all of the questions that the song presents, but as a Hebrew mom, knowing the history and faith she was taught, I highly doubt many of these questions ever remained a concern for her. Out of all the Hebrew women in the nation, God chose her and for good reason. Mary was pure and had never known a man. Hebrews in those days would have grown up hearing the scrolls of the Torah (The Law) and Tanakh (whole thing) read in the Synagogue. They would have heard the precious words of God even in schools. The Torah includes the 5 early Old Testament books Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy and the Tanakh is the entirety of the Jewish Bible. From these books we find prophecies about the soon coming of the Messiah (Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ).
Prophecies such as:
The Messiah would be in the lineage of the tribe of Judah:
Genesis 49:10 (KJV)
“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”
King David would be part of the lineage of the Messiah:
2 Samuel 7:12-16 (NKJV)
“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the [a]blows of the sons of men. 15 But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before [b]you. Your throne shall be established forever.”
The Messiah would certainly be born in Bethlehem:
Micah 5:2 (KJV)
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
The Messiah would approach Jerusalem riding upon a donkey:
Zechariah 9:9 (KJV)
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”
The Messiah would according to scripture, suffer, match a description, would be silent during his trial, buried in a rich man’s grave, and would be resurrected from the dead:
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” –v.3
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” –v.5
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” –v.7
“And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” –v.9-11
All of these details and hundreds of others were established centuries before the birth of Christ and would have been part of Mary’s faith and traditions.
As we can see from Mary’s responses to her “unique” and bizarre situation of being a virgin mother, we can see that she already had expectations and faith in God’s way of doing things:
Luke 1:26-38 (KJV)
“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
For with God nothing shall be impossible.
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”
Notice that Mary doesn’t question if this son would be legitimate, beg God to take such a hard situation away from her, or even question if God could do it. She not only knows that God can, she asks how it would all happen as if to say, “instruct me what to do.”
Even Elizabeth (Mary’s cousin and John the Baptist’s mother) understood what was about to happen. In Luke 1:43 we find her saying, “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
Later on in Jesus’ life, even before the public knew exactly who Jesus was because His ministry had not even begun yet, Mary once again allowed her understanding of who her son was to be on display. Even though we find in John 2 where Mary begs Jesus to perform the miracle of making more wine for a wedding party and Jesus tries to resist due to the timing of ministry not being right, the faith of his Mother inspires Jesus to perform the miracle anyway. What is awesome is her faith, determination, and confidence in who Jesus was and what He could do.
In verse five “His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it.” (John 2:5)
There is a lesson here in this perspective of Mary for all of us. Today, little girls dreams may not be to one day be the mother of the soon coming Messiah, but we can all be excited about the purpose that God has birthed into our lives. In a way, we are all Mary’s expected something the world considers impossible, living with a purpose and a promise of redemption! While the world believes the lie that we all made it here by accident and will meet the same meaningless fate at death, God gives His people a hope for not only a future, but a future filled with “abundant life.”
So, I ask you today, what dream has God birthed into you?
What are you “expecting”?
Notice that v. 37 says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
My next question to you is that if you already have faith in God, are you obedient?
Are you doing as Mary instructed to the servants, “whatever He says to you”?
As you reflect this Christmas on the “Reason” for the season, don’t forget to remember the purpose God has placed in your heart and the decisions that lead you in the direction of the path God has set before you.
Mary could have taken a much different path and a total different direction, but God knew that she wouldn’t because He knew her heart.
Mary may not have known just how awesome the miracle of Jesus would be, but what she did know was that He was surely a miracle and that “with God nothing shall be impossible.”
You also may not know for sure just how awesome and powerful your journey may be, but you have the assurance of God and the promises that He brings to our lives. So with boldness and faith this Christmas season, proclaim the name of Christ to all those you encounter and walk in obedience to the Lord.