Saturday, August 29, 2015

Expecting...


"You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect."
Luke 12:40

When do we expect Him to come? At first glance, looking around at the world today, I feel like the Lord's return to earth could come at any moment. Some, many who are in the midst of the worst horrors, are praying, "Come quickly Lord Jesus!" The wars, rumors of wars (terrorist threats), physical, legal and social persecution of God's people, make me lift up my head and expect to see Him come bursting through the sky at any moment. However, Jesus said He's coming at a time that we don't expect

I'm not saying He couldn't return at any moment, but Jesus gave us a clue about what would be going on in the earth right before the end. He said "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:14. That word testimony is the Greek word marturion which means a testimony, witness, evidence or proof.* So at the time of His return, or just before, this gospel will be preached, in the whole world, to all nations. The preaching and His return will bear witness with each other.

Will this preaching be coming from those under severe persecution who refuse to deny their faith, even at the risk of death or loss? Or will it come from those who have great blessing on their life in the midst of great turmoil in the world? I would guess it to be both. There are two equally telling tests of faith. One is persecution and the other is prosperity. Persecution either presses people to draw closer to the Lord out of both need and faithfulness, or causes them to question and abandon their faith. Luke 21:36, Prosperity either causes people to draw closer to the Lord out of thankfulness and gratitude, or to become comfortable, arrogant and with a false sense of security, abandon their faith. Deuteronomy 8

The point is, as Christians, we want to guard against both the hopelessness and fear that comes with persecution (or the threat of persecution), and the pride and complacency that comes with prosperity. The gospel of the kingdom needs to be heralded and proclaimed throughout the world. That is to be our focus no matter which situation we are in.


*Strong's Concordance of the Bible retrieved from Biblehub.com 08/29/2015

Monday, August 24, 2015

Inhale

The view from our cabin

"...Who brings forth the wind from His treasuries." Psalm 135:7

I just returned from vacationing upnorth and the one thing I always notice up there is the fresh air. My entire body is refreshed just by breathing. I often bring back rocks or other little treasures when I leave, but one thing I cannot bring back is the air. If you want to breathe the air in a region you have to go there. However, you can breathe the air and then breathe out the refreshment you receive in other ways. You can breathe out words--spoken or written. You might even breathe out that refreshment in the form of art--an inspired dance, painting, sculpture, song or even a culinary creation. Your life and your work can become revitalized by going someplace where you connect with the Lord and breathe in that refreshing air. You breathe it out through your words and your work.

What you breathe out after breathing in from the Spirit of God can bless other people. There are refreshing places on earth, and there are refreshing places in the spiritual realm where we can breathe in from the breath of God and breathe out life-giving refreshment to others. This is good for us to do. This is what God wants us to do. However, at some point each person needs to inhale from the Spirit for themselves. It's good to be inspired from others, but the air becomes stale if we do not, at times, go to the Lord ourselves and breathe in the air of the Spirit--inhale the wind and words He gives to us individually.

What exactly do we breathe in when we inhale from the Spirit of God? Well, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are characteristics of the Spirit Himself. This is how He treats you. You must receive these things from Him first--breathe them in--before you can exhale these things towards others. If I try and extend goodness to others without having received the goodness of God first then I'm offering stale air, something that is not refreshing like His Spirit is. 

Today is a good day to inhale the refreshing breath of the Spirit of God. If you can, enjoy the beauty of His creation while you do so. If not, He is still here, waiting for you to come breathe in from His breath, His Spirit and His life.

See also "What's in Your Atmosphere?"

For more on discovering art as worship visit www.HoHodos.com. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Expanding Kingdom



The Kingdom of God is Expanding. 

It is expanding with each person who enters. Each person who comes into the kingdom brings their life, their gift and they have a place. This place is not a cheap addition or an afterthought, but an intricate part of the kingdom of Heaven. In fact, God had each person in mind before the foundations of the earth. Ephesians 1:4-5. He wants everyone to enter in. We enter His kingdom by faith in Jesus Christ.

The heroes of faith we read about in Hebrews 11 admitted they were foreigners on the earth, but their heart was after a heavenly country, one not of this earth, and "God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:11-16. There is a city, a heavenly place that God is preparing for those who believe.

Jesus said to His disciples before He left this earth that there are many dwelling places in His Father's house. He left this earth to go prepare a place for those who believe in Him, those who come to the Father through faith in Jesus Christ. John 14:1-6. There is a place being prepared for you right now if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will fit perfectly into this place!

It's More Than a Place.

Yet, the kingdom of heaven is more than a place. It's more than a city. God promised Abram/Abraham both land and people, sand and stars. He told Abraham that his seed, his descendants, would be as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sand on the seashore--innumerable. Genesis 22:17. Heaven is more than a place. The real estate of heaven is made up of people. People are the real "land",  the real jewels of heaven. We are living stones "being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 2:5. Jesus Christ is the choice corner stone. People make the kingdom of Heaven what it is and what it will be.

Jesus answered the Pharisees when they asked Him when the kingdom of God was coming, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, "look, here it is!" or, 'There it is!" For behold the kingdom of God is in your midst." Luke 17:20-21. I like the Amplified Bible which says, "the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you]." The kingdom of God is within us and among us. He is with each one of us individually and when we gather in His name He is in our midst. His kingdom is within our hearts, yet it is among us when we come together. It expands, multiplies and surrounds us when we come together.

The War Over Territory.

What we must realize is that we are in a war. A war over territory. A war over people. We see this war expressed as a fight over land, but it is also a war over the hearts of people. To maintain our ground, we must teach our children the ways of the Lord. We must pray for them, pray with them, and do all we can to strengthen the family unit. The family is God's ruling authority in the earth. Genesis 1:27-28. We must not neglect our children!

To be rescued from the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of light that you were created and predestined to live in, you must know the good news of Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:13, 1 Corinthians 1:21. You have a place in God's kingdom. You have a gift. You are a beautiful, valuable, and vital part of the kingdom of Heaven. But you must believe in Jesus Christ. You must accept righteousness God's way. You must be rescued from the darkness and deception that is filling the earth today. By believing in Jesus you will inherit your place in God's kingdom. God is making it so. Jesus is preparing the place. Receive His rescuing light that shines into a dark heart and brings it into His glorious kingdom for a perfect fit!