Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Give Us this Day Our Daily Miracle

Give us This Day Our Daily Miracle
Barbara Henderson

Have you ever thought that if you could see God do a few miracles you would have greater faith?  Well, Surprise!  You have seen the greatest miracle of all, and some have been blessed to see it often. What is this great miracle that happens daily?

John 5:25-29 tells us:
‘ Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
26.  For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
27. And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
28.  Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29.  And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.’

Verse 5 tells the hour is now come that the dead hear the voice of the Son of God and they will live. The dead are those separated from God by their sin.  Those that hear the call of the Spirit to turn to Christ will live.  First their souls will live.  Then eventually their resurrected bodies will live again. That is the great miracle that happens when a soul is saved.  The dead soul of a believer is resurrected to live forever.  Is there a greater miracle possible?

This is the miracle that you personally saw when you were born again.  You were changed from the walking dead to a child of God who will live forever in the place God names as heaven with our Savior Jesus Christ.  Think about it; just think about it.  You were dead and doomed to eternal hell.  Then Jesus ransomed you from hell with His own blood. Your soul has reached the place that is beyond the reach of hell and death.  Praise the Lord!  Is that not a miracle beyond compare?

If you read on after verse 25 to the next few verses you find that Christ the Son has the authority to do this from God the Father.  He also has the power to do this as evidenced by your own salvation.  We are spending a finite amount of time in our earthly bodies, but at some point, these bodies will wear out and sleep in the ground.  Then what happens? The Bible tells us that we will be present with the Lord.  But what of our earthly bodies? 

Verses 28 and 29 tell us what is coming.  There will be a bodily resurrection for all people.  Some will wake from the dead to everlasting life. Others will wake to the resurrection of damnation.  It is very clear.  There is no way to interpret it differently.  The choice is made while we live.  Those who chose life through Christ have their souls ransomed from hell.  Those who refuse Jesus Christ die in their sins, and spend eternity damned.

So, you wanted a miracle, and now you have one. 

If you thought your faith would increase if you saw a miracle or two then you saw the greatest miracle of all when you were saved.  Every time you see a lost soul come to know Christ you see a miracle of the highest magnitude.

This miracle, the greatest of all miracles, happens often and reminds us of the power and authority of Jesus.  Don’t doubt the power of Christ to do what seems like a miracle in answer to prayer. It is true that all prayers are not answered in the way we want, or the time frame we want, but that doesn’t change the fact that Lord our God has power to answer our prayers.  As our loving Father, He will always do what is best, even if we cannot see it now. 

In the Bible we are told the story of Elisha the great prophet of Israel.  Elisha’s prayers were considered more powerful than the horsemen and chariots of Israel.  Does that give you an idea of the power of prayer?  It isn’t that we personally have power, and neither did Elisha.  It is that Almighty God loves and listens to us.  Elisha believed the Lord and persistently prayed to Him.  Follow His example.  Or follow the example of Daniel who prayed even when it got him thrown into a den of hungry lions.  God saved him from the lions. Or, even better, just follow the Bile instructions to pray without ceasing. Do not let anything come between you and the Lord.  The more you pray the more sensitive you are to temptations, and the closer you are to the One who can protect your from evil. God knows our needs.  He will answer our prayers or show us a better way.  Either way our trials are taken care of.  Going through something that seems unbearable in this life could be compared to going through algebra or some other horrible math class when we see it through the eyes of eternity. 

And all trials end just like math class.  They can end when we go from this life into the next. Or, God can end the trial and let us live to tell the story of God’s grace. No one, even those who face a life threatening disease, knows the hour of their death.  The Lord alone knows that. So pray without ceasing.  Continue in prayer.  When you find yourself doubting remember that you have already personally experienced a miracle beyond measure. Keep praying.  Every time you see a soul saved you have seen the greatest of miracles.  If Christ does such miracles daily why would you doubt that He will answer your prayers?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Is Evangelism or Political Activism More Effective in Changing the World?

Evangelism versus Political or Social Activism,
Barbara Henderson

Who would you guess to be:
the most evangelical of the Protestant/Baptist denominations?
the most likely to be watching for the return of Jesus Christ?
My guess on both is Baptist, but there are many others who place a high priority on evangelism. 

There are many Christians who are blaming the 'great falling away' on Christians who have spent the last 50 years sitting around waiting for the rapture.
I have news for these people, those who are really watching for the rapture are spurred onward to tell the world that Jesus alone gives lost people the opportunity to turn to Him and gain entrance to heaven. The idea of people spending eternity in that literal place of horror called hell gives boldness to speak out and warn people of the terror that is coming if they don't turn to Christ.

There is a danger that those who set out to change the world through activism and social pressure will turn to a social gospel instead of the harsh reality gospel - turn to Jesus or you will go to hell. That is the truth, and it is the job of Christians to make the message clear and plain.

The good news is that social and political change is a byproduct that happens as people turn to Christ. Lives are changed when Jesus comes in, and then the new Christians begin to think and act different. Sometimes the change is slow, and sometimes fast, but change is definitely something that happens.

Some people feel they are called to go into politics and work to make changes in the government and society that way. That is wonderful, and I do wish them the very best. But true and lasting change must first come with a change of heart. Only Jesus Christ can make that change.

What the world really needs from all Christians is that we take heed to this verse:
Romans 1:21
'Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.'

Christians should live a life that glorifies God through obedience, and be thankful.
I thought for years that if I could change one thing only in this world I would stop abortion. But, I  came to realize that when people come to know the Lord personally then they will think and act different. Abortion will become as horrible to them as it really is. If there is a specific thing in the world you want to change, then go after it. However, the best way to change things is, as always, through personal dedication to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The second best way to change the world through the world for the better is through evangelism.  For every person saved you have gained someone who will be on the side of truth and right.  There are whole armies of people out there who need to hear about Jesus Christ. 

Let the hearts of all believers be broken for those who don’t have a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. 

Our Biblical examples of evangelists begins with Jesus Himself.  He never took on the government or set out to change specific things in society that He didn’t like.  His apostles didn’t set out to do anything except see that as many people as possible had the opportunity to hear about Jesus. 

The United States is really a byproduct of people setting out to serve the Lord as they were directed in the Bible. Can we do better than those first Pilgrims and Puritans in social change?  The answer is, ‘No, we can’t.’  All we can do is the same thing they did.  Turn to God with our whole hearts and do what He leads us to do. 

I can guarantee you that evangelism will gain more souls for heaven than any activism. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

How Relevant Are You to Others??

Are You Relevant or Irrelevant to the World in Which You Live?
Barbara Henderson

 Franklin was the oldest of a large family. He was born responsible and only became more responsible as time went by.  When Franklin was fifteen years old his youngest brother was born.  No one knew why, but Franklin’s mom named the new baby Adam. Franklin used to say that his mom always had a different way of looking at things, and no one ever knew why she decided to name her last son Adam instead of her first son. 

Franklyn and Adam and seven or eight other children were raised on a farm. They went to church on Sunday, and practiced Christianity every single day.  Most of the family was hard working like Franklin.  Some weren’t as gifted as Franklin, but they made an effort to do the best they could.  Except for Adam that is.  Adam wasn’t a total slacker.  He tried to do just enough of what was required of him to get by. He didn’t want to draw attention to himself.  He worked at his grades in school enough to make sure he was going to be somewhere in the middle when report cards came out. If they were gardening Adam did just enough to get by. Once again, he didn’t want to draw attention to himself.  He never wanted to be the leader, but he never wanted to be last either.  Adam spent his life hiding in the middle. Franklin spent his life just doing the very best he could do in whatever situation he found himself.  When someone wanted or needed something the person they went to for help was Franklin.  Franklin never thought about it much.  He just did what he knew was right. 

It is true that as the years went by Franklin didn’t get credit for a lot of things that he did, but he really didn’t care.  He wasn’t doing a good job to get a pat on the back.  It is also true that if Adam did anything he made sure he got credit for whatever he did.  In fact, he usually got credit for quite a bit more than he did. He was quite happy to let people know how he heroically faced down three doctors who didn’t want to do the gall bladder surgery on his dad.  In Adam’s mind, he saved his father’s life. In reality, his dad’s gall bladder was fine, and he didn’t actually need surgery.

Franklin worked for a local manufacturing company.  He worked his way up into upper management, but he was always easy to find and enjoyed lending a helping hand to any employee who was running a little behind for what ever reason.  Everyone loved Franklin.  His personal life was the same.  He helped his parents support the family because he was able to help.  He never thought of not helping.  He married a young woman he met at church. She was a very nice person, and they committed their lives to living for the Lord.  They had children of their own, and they raised them to love God, to keep the commandments, and to work hard.

Adam also eventually married.  His wife suited him quite well.  Both thought of themselves highly. Both thought they were too good to do certain jobs, and that they were far better suited to boss people around than to actually work.  They got by.  They grabbed credit where credit wasn’t due, and left their own work only half done.

One year Franklin was in an accident and had to miss three months of work.  There was no question that Franklin was relevant to those around him!  His family got by, but everything was in turmoil because Franklin was the one everyone relied on.

The next year Adam managed to have an accident that required him to miss three months of work.  Well, he was able to milk the situation to the point that he was off three months.  He wanted to get on disability because he really liked not working, but he couldn’t convince the doctors that he was disabled.  So, he had to go back to work.  What he discovered when he got back to work was that no one had really missed him at all.  People were so used to stepping in to do part of Adam’s job that they did it automatically.  They actually liked it better with him home sick, because they didn’t have to listen to him whining about how hard life was or how unfair his work load was.  Sadly, Adam was pretty much irrelevant.

And that brings us to a soul searching question.  Are you living a life that is relevant or irrelevant? 

First, to put your mind at ease, you definitely are relevant.  You are so relevant to God that He made a supreme sacrifice to make a way or you to spend eternity in heaven with Him.  That definitely means you are relevant.

Second, you are relevant to the devil.  He has evil plans for you hidden behind all sorts of glamorous and exciting wrappings.

The question is, ‘Where is your allegiance?’.  If your allegiance is to God, then you will be used for good.  If your allegiance is anywhere else, even to your own self-preservation, then your life will not be spent making a difference for good.

Whether for good or bad, you are definitely relevant to your family, your church, and your job.  It is the duty of every Christian to do the best they possibly can under whatever circumstances they labor.  It is discouraging to see that so often the things we want to influence are beyond our sphere of influence to effect a noticeable change.  I will take abortion as an example.  It appears I am irrelevant when it comes to stopping it from happening, but that is not entirely the case.  I pray for it to be stopped every day.  Never underestimate the power of continual passionate prayer.  I am seeing more young people standing up against it.  I believe this is in large part because the sonograms of today make it obvious beyond any doubt that although tiny, a baby is a baby whether it has been born or not.  Hopefully, the misandrist feminists of today are shrinking in number as younger and more honest people take their place.  What we have seen from the feminists lately should repulse any human being with a shred of decency.   Honestly, as much as I hate the murder of unborn children, there is something far worse going on.  People are not honoring God as God.  When God is honored then many of the world’s evils just don’t have a chance to grow.

I have been considering how Christians can be more relevant in the world today.  It is the same two ways it has always been.

First, pray more.  If you are breathing then you should be prayerful.  That means, at least in part to consider what you do and make sure it is God honoring.  Don’t let anything get in between you and your Lord.  The Lord’s hand is in everything going on around you.  Be thankful. I love the Psalm that says, ‘My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.’  Sometimes we have the same help every day, but it still comes from the Lord.  That knife you used to peel a potato is something that makes your life easier.  You bought the knife.  You clean the knife.  You store the knife, but it is still a help from the Lord. 

God puts people in your life who are helpful.  It is always good to tell people thank you, but even more important is to thank God for the helpful people in your life.  In a different way, even difficult people and situations can be helpful because they remind us of our own helplessness in many situations.  That leads to a more fervent prayer life.  That leads to repentance and humility.  And then, your entire world changes for the better.

Second, and this is really a continuation of prayer, act like the Christian you claim to be.  The more you pray, the more you realize your own inadequacies, and the more you realize your abilities really are not relevant to getting difficult jobs done.  You learn to truly cast your burdens on the Lord and let Him solve the problems.  It becomes more important to do the things Christ says to do as your prayer becomes a way of life to you.  

Please do not confuse continual prayer as mindlessly repeating a mantra.  Continually having God on your mind, thanking Him for His presence, asking Him for direction in even the smallest task, acknowledging the beauty and complexity of life in general, and really just including God in your daily thoughts and activities is the right thing to do.  Obviously there are tasks that require your full attention, but even that doesn’t require that you shut God out while you are doing something. Instead ask God to help you do your job.  Then do your job so well that you stand out as exceptional help.  Even if you are doing a job that does not pay well, or does not pay at all like homemaking, do it with all you might because God is watching.  His pay scale is different that the pay scale of the corporate world, but nevertheless, eventually payment will be made.

Right now America is in transition.  It appears that the entire world is in transition.  There are two groups trying to take America and the world in totally opposite directions.  Currently, the USA has led the way in electing a president that is standing up for a strong nation, secure borders, better wages, and better opportunities for citizens of this nation before people from other nations.  Britain has exited the EU.  France and other nations have strong nationalist groups growing and fighting for their existence instead of being swallowed up by a global conglomerate.  

I know that according to Bible prophecy the day will come when there will be a one world government led by evil.  But, it will not bring the utopia that one-worlder’s are looking for.  It will bring persecution and hardship such as the world has never known.  Christians should never be part of this.  God Himself divided the world into nations.  The Bible lets us know that an eventual one world government is coming, but we don’t want to participate in helping it get here!

My personal opinion on that – or really speculation – is that the EU will be weakened or actually fall apart in the coming years.  Then, when that major battle spoken of in Ezekiel happens the powers that converge on Israel will have their strength broken.  That will include Islam and the Arabs, and Russia and Turkey, China and possibly more of Asia, and anyone else who goes against Israel.  From the ash heap of that war there will be a leader who arises and unites people as his followers. Think about it.  Actual Christians will be gone in the rapture.  (Yes, I am pre-trib.)  Followers of Islam will have had an eye opening experience in the loss of armies and the defeat of Allah.  Collectivists nations will have their armies destroyed as well.  The loss of life will be staggering.  My dad used to say he believed the rapture would be around or at the time of that battle.  There may be accompanying natural disasters that would further weaken nations and governments.  Surviving people around the world will be shaken to the core.  They will be ready to accept a new way of thinking.  And then, enter the Antichrist to center stage. 

Until it actually happens no one can know for sure who the antichrist will be or from what culture or religion he will come.  I read somewhere that the first type of antichrist in the Bible was Nimrod, and that final antichrist may be something like him in lineage.  It obviously isn’t necessary that we know who the antichrist will be.  It is needful that we know he is coming, and that he will gain power when God allows it to happen.

In the mean time, Christians should be working diligently to become more relevant in today’s world.  I do not mean that we should go out and become social activists, and certainly not begin to preach a social gospel.  The most powerful things we can do are pray more and take care that our personal actions are in line with what the Bible teaches.  I have heard more than one preacher say that prayers go unanswered because people give up and stop praying.  Don’t let that be the story of your life. 

Right now I believe America is in greater danger than before the election because Christians may become complacent as things improve under new leadership.  They may forget to be thankful to God and pray for His continued blessings.  Had Hillary been elected faithful Christians may have been more likely to continue in prayer.  So, please, whatever you do, do not consider the danger to be past because of the new president.  Be a relevant Christian by praying more and patterning your life after Christ.  Some Christians will find themselves in the public eye.  Some will obviously make a difference for good.  But for many, their main influence is going to be to those in their family, church, and work.  If it is a small group don’t feel unimportant or wish for bigger tasks.  Cheerfully do what needs to be done.  Enjoy life.
Pray without ceasing.

I had a college history professor who approached every historical battle with the idea that the victory could have been much greater if the victors had pursued their enemy after the battle.  In his mind, no matter how sound the defeat of the enemy, the generals in charge never pursued their objective far enough when the battle ended.  Well, he was considered a nut by most of his fellow professors, and students preferred to take a different class whenever possible because his tests were hard.  He had a five point plan for everything, and you had to be able to write down the five point plan or objectives of at least two major campaigns in whatever war we were studying at the time.  I took all his classes because he was interesting and college for the most part was just plain boring. (We will NEVER talk about biology, so just don’t ask.)    Anyway, Christians are at a point today where God has given us a victory and what appears to be a reprieve with our current administration.  But the enemy has not been vanquished to the trash heap of history.  Like the courts of Babylon when Daniel was there, a lot of opposition is scheming to stop any progress toward liberty and law.  Regardless of what happened around him, Daniel was faithful to God.  He continued in a daily prayer routine even when it risked his life to do so.  Daniel pursued his objective to serve the living God throughout all his life. 

You could ask yourself, ‘What is my objective in life?  Am I pursuing my objective on a continual basis?  Or am I acting like the battle is over and that I can retire to my safe space?’ 

Truthfully, the objective for Christians should always be to stay close to God.  When you are close to God then doing the right thing in any situation will be a clear choice. Your soul will prosper, and your family will be blessed by your actions.  You will definitely be relevant.