Warning: Danger Ahead


Warning

“For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

1 Thessalonians 5:2

 If you and I were walking in the woods and I said, “You need to be careful because I have spotted a bear here in the woods before,” what would you think?

What would happen as we walked along if, on the ground, you saw signs that indeed a bear had been in this area?

If I suddenly yelled, “RUN! There is a bear,” what would you do?

Would you run, or would you tell me I was crazy? Would you wait around to see just how close that bear would get to you before you would begin to run away?

 It is absurd to think that you would stand and wait for that bear to reach you before you ran. It is crazy to think that you would turn around and face it head on as if you could battle it alone.

Hopefully you would heed my warning. Hopefully you would trust me enough to run when I told you that you were in danger.

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Friends, I am here this morning to warn you. I pray that you will heed my warning. I pray that you will trust me when I tell you that something is coming.

I am here to tell you that if you are not a Christian, if you are not covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, then you are in grave danger.

I firmly believe that Jesus is coming back very soon. Too many things are happening and too many signs are being seen to believe differently.

Just as you would never chance being chased by a bear, or just as you would never try to fight it alone, please do not think that you can handle being left behind. Please do not think that you still have plenty of time to get it together.

Today’s verse reminds us that we do not know when Jesus is coming back. His coming will be instantaneous. It will take everyone by surprise.

My question for you is this: Will you be ready? Have you made preparations to leave this world behind and be taken up in the clouds?

There will be no time to make this choice when Jesus does come back. It will be too late when you realize that friends and family are missing and you have been left.

The time to prepare is now. The time to get it together is this very second. We are not promised tomorrow. We are not even promised our next breath.

Will you heed my warning today? Will you trust me when I tell you that something is coming? Will you take the time right now to seek out God’s forgiveness and gain the assurance that you have a home in Heaven when that time comes? Only you can make that choice. No one can do it for you.

The good news is, it is simple to do. Let me tell you how:

1. Realize that you are a sinner. ( Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”)

2. Confess your sins and ask for forgiveness. (1 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.”)

3. Believe that you have been saved. ( Romans 10:9-10 “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”)

Once you have done these things, Jesus will begin to work in your heart and in your life. He will begin to grow you into the person He wants you to be.

If you follow God’s word and listen to His commandments, you can be assured that when the Lord comes back for His children, you will not be left behind. You will not have to face the many terrible things that are to come. You will have a home waiting for you in Heaven.

I pray, today, that you have taken these steps to prepare for what is to come. I want to know that I have done everything I can to warn and prepare those I love.  It breaks my heart to think of friends and family left behind.

Remember: The Lord is coming back as a thief in the night. I pray you will be ready.

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Loving “Prickly” People


Cactusville_USA                           ” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. ”  Matthew 5:44

I have many fond memories from my childhood as an MK (a missionary’s kid).

One memory that sticks out in my mind is the many trips we would take to Arizona from our home in New Mexico. A few times a year my parents would have to travel there for a series of meetings. Most of my trip was spent listening to my Walkman, ( do kids even know what those are anymore?). I would also color or draw, anything to pass the time. My favorite part of the trip, however, was when we would cross over into Arizona. As a child I can remember watching intently for one specific indication that we were almost to our destination: cacti.

As we would travel I could see the landscape change and I would impatiently wait until I could see the cacti begin to appear. One here, another a few miles down the road, then suddenly they seemed to be everywhere. With my childlike imagination I pictured them as men, soldiers, standing at attention, waiting for marching orders. Sometimes they would even come alive, as their “arms” stretched up to the sky. I would imagine them as dear friends just waiting for my embrace.

It is funny to me the things that kids think and remember. Now, even as I write about these memories, I shake my head at my innocence. Cacti as men? Can you really imagine HUGGING a cactus?

As I pondered this memory in my mind, I thought to myself, “We encounter prickly people daily.” Think about that for a moment.

I am sure that as you take time for this thought to sink in, someone, maybe even more than one person, comes to your mind. Sadly, we all know prickly people. These people are the ones who bite at us with their words or actions. These are the people who no matter how hard we try to love them, it never seems quite enough to shield against the barbs that prick our hearts. No matter the reason behind the prickly cover ( and I assure you, there is always a reason) it is still very painful to love people with this kind of personality. The barbs that we encounter from these people often come from insecurity, pain, or abuse. Nonetheless, they are quite painful if we are not equipped to handle them.

You may be asking the question, “What then do we do?”

You have to make a choice. Do you walk away saying, “You are too difficult to love,” or do you love them in spite of the barbs.

I will offer you this piece of advice: It takes a true “God love” to love prickly people.

It is not a love that you possess in yourself. The only hope you have of loving a prickly person is to let God fill you with His love. When you do this, you will find that God shields your heart from the painful barbs. You may even find  in loving prickly people that God uses you to minister to them. You can show them what God’s love can do in even the prickliest heart.

The next thing you can do is to pray for them. God is the only hope for prickly people. He alone can heal the hurt that such people have experienced. They, however, have to want it and ask for that healing. Pray that God will show them the error of their ways and begin to sooth the hurts they feel.

If you are dealing with a prickly person let me encourage you today. Do not give up on them. Do not walk away. Pray for them daily and allow God, through you, to give them the love they need. God may have brought you into their lives to minister to them. You may even learn something new about yourself in the process. Pray and ask God to show you what you can learn from this situation. Sometimes God uses difficult situations to grow us.

Are you a prickly person? Do you ever find yourself meeting people with painful barbs rather than kindness? Do your words sometimes bite or tear?  I want to encourage you to search your heart and find out why. You do not have to stay this way; there is hope. His name is Jesus Christ and He can heal even the deepest hurt. You see, when we have been hurt, abused, or made to feel insecure, we learn to protect ourselves. Unfortunately we often do this by becoming hard, and prickly. God wants to heal that hurt and to make you the person He wants you to be.

Fighting an Unseen Battle


Sword_and_Shield

 “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 

 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 

 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”

Colossians 3:8-10

As I sit here this morning and ponder these verses, I feel the need to share with you the burden that has been on my heart.

I was trying to think of some clever story I could tell, or some fun analogy I could use to grab the attention of my readers, but I feel this morning that I need to just say what is on my heart.

Friends, we, as Christians, are under attack. I am not talking about an attack from some foreign country, or from our government. I am talking about a spiritual attack that we can not see, yet one that is all round us.

 We are told in Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

I firmly believe that the devil knows his time is coming to an end and he is fighting with every trick he has left in his book to destroy Christians.

If we do not open our eyes to these tricks, we are putting ourselves in danger of being defeated.

You may read the verses that I have chosen for today and ask, “Why did you choose these verses to talk about an attack by the devil?”

Friends, the devil wants to use us to defeat each other. You see, the devil in himself has no power, but if we allow him to, he will use us to do his dirty work.

The devil knows that if he can get us as Christian brothers and sisters to turn on each other then his battle will be won for him. He knows that we will defeat ourselves. We need to wake up to this reality and realize the threat that we are under every day.

Our verse today warns us against the very things that the devil wants to use to defeat us. He wants us to be angry, and to fight and bicker with each other. He wants us to talk about each other and lie to each other. He wants to cause discord between God’s people.

This is why we are told to put off these things. We can not grow together as Christians and encourage each other as long as we are holding on to things such as this.

We go on to read in Colossians 3:12-17:

 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

These are the things that we need to be sharing with each other. Instead of anger we need kindness, meekness and long-suffering. Instead of talking about each other and telling lies about one another we need to be loving each other, forgiving each other, and encouraging one another.

Ephesians 6:13-18 tells us:

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, take the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”

In order to live as Christian brothers and sisters we need to put on the whole armor of God. This is the only way that we are going to be able to stand against the devil and the things he uses to defeat us every day.

We as Christians need one another. We need each other’s friendship, and prayers. We need to hold each other up and defend each other, not fight with one  another and tear each other down.

I would ask that you commit to pray with me about these things as we stand together as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray these verses have encouraged your heart today. Yes, the devil fights hard against us, but as long as we are under the shed blood of Jesus Christ, there is no fiery dart that can harm us. It is vital for us as Christians to recognize the things that the devil wants to use against us, but to also understand the things with which God has equipped us to stand together.

 

 

 

Your Story. Your Life


your_story

 “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.” James 4:14

 

I love to read. I have told you that before. I also love to write. In high school I wrote short poems. As an adult I enjoy writing for my blog. I like being able to get my thoughts out on paper so I can go back and look at them. It is a way for me to clear my mind.

Have you ever thought of yourself as a writer? What would you say if I told you that you were? You have been working on a book of your own for a long time (some of us longer than others 🙂 ). The day that you were born your story began, and every day since you have been writing the story of your life.

Yesterday, my kids and I were having a cleaning day. Their bedrooms were in desperate need of an intervention by Mom. My boys, Big D and Little D, are pretty good at cleaning their own room. Sometimes they just need a little motivation to get it done. Sister, however, is still small and the mess that she makes in her room sometimes overwhelms her little mind. When it comes time to clean she needs a little more help than my boys do.

After Sister had cleaned all that she knew to clean, I had to come behind her and give her some ideas as to what else needed to be done. As I explained where to put these toys, and where to put those books, she listened rather intently. In the past when we would have these conversations she would cry or get upset because she had to clean her room. This time, however, she quietly listened to what I said and I could see her taking it all in. She slowly turned and went back to her room to resume the cleaning process.

At that moment,  it was as if God lifted a veil from my eyes and suddenly I saw how much my precious daughter was growing and changing. I suddenly saw the sweet young lady that God was growing her into and my heart sighed. I quickly realized that we had turned a page in our book called  Life.

Sometimes as a parent, I get so involved in raising our children and making sure that they are learning the right things, and growing in the Lord that I forget how quickly they are growing and changing.  I no longer have babies that need me guiding their every move. My precious babies have grown into young people who are learning to think for themselves and reason within their own minds. It is a bitter sweet moment for me. I love seeing my children grow, but I also see how quickly time is passing. Sometimes I wish I had a pause button and I could stop time for a just a moment. In reality I know that it is not possible. Today’s verse says:

” Life is even a vapour,

that appeareth for a little time,

and then vanisheth away.”

The time that God has given us with our children is precious. This book called Life that our family is writing is a blessing, and by God’s grace and with His blessing it will be a beautiful story.

Let me encourage you today. You too are writing a story, and it is going more quickly than you realize.  Enjoy the time you have. Make it count. Let God guide you as you write each chapter of your story. It is only by God’s grace and blessings that it will be something which you can look back on and smile. When the time comes and you read back over your story, what will it say about the life you lived? Remember, it is your life. It is your story.