With the last

“Comfort ye my people.” I hear a haunting melody with this line. God’s people have needed comfort through the ages as they have suffered from their own sin and from the hatred of Satan for what God loves. God makes an indescribably comforting statement through Isaiah.

“Who has performed and accomplished it

Calling forth the generations from the beginning?

‘I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last. I am He.'” Isaiah 41:4

We are quite familiar with the words from Revelation testifying Jesus is the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega. However look at what God states in this verse. He is the first; there was no one before Him. He is also with the last. With the last generation of mankind, God is with us. Then He states, “I am He.” We need no one else. That is another phrase frequented in Isaiah by the Lord, “there is no other God.” Grasp that. There is none to refute Him or defeat Him. He is whatever you need, and He is here with us. Comfort yourself with those words.

Burning within me,

JOY!

So hard to do

I am burdened yet determined. I walked with my son this week. He is still young in my eyes and in the eyes of our society, yet he is on the precipice of manhood. Other times and cultures would consider him much closer than we do today. He is a deep thinker, and I took the opportunity to discuss the times. I shared with him the state of America is not the litmus test of our last days, but the condition of Israel is what tells us Jesus coming is near. I spoke of our Christian brethren in the Middle East suffering severe persecution and explained what a martyr is. I reminded him some of those events have touched the United States. Our borders are so open I informed him. Evil crosses often. I went on to tell him of Erwin Lutzer’s conversation with an expert in Sharia Law and how that expert challenged Lutzer that his purpose was to prepare the next generation to be martyrs. I informed my son we must be prepared to stand firm in our faith and not be the cowards described in Revelation 21:8.

It is so hard to lay such truths on my sons, but history has shown us Satan shows no mercy to any human regardless of age or race or mental capacity. Those entering a raging battle need armor and intel. God’s Word is both. My job as a parent is to prepare my children for eternity. That weight is enormous at this point in my life. I rely solely on my God and His word.

Below is a story shared on the Facebook site of 8thirty8 (see Romans 8:38-39). They encourage the world to pray for the persecuted saints. May this story inspire Christian parents to focus on the most important aspect of our “charges” lives. God placed them in our hands, and we will give account for what we have done with the “talents” he has entrusted us with.

Ramadan, Day 10:
“I’m going to tell you one true story of the hundreds of stories about the heroes of faith in my country of Syria:

Muslim militants entered a region near Damascus and they started killing all non-Muslim youth. There was a Christian family that had a young man named George, just 18 years old. The family realized he would be killed. During this time, their Muslim neighbor came to them, she was a good woman, and said to George’s mother, “Let your son be between my children and I will say that he is my son and we will call him Khalid and when the Muslims ask him he must answer, ‘I am a Muslim, I am not a Christian.’ That will keep his life from death.”

George’s mother told George what the woman said, and he replied, “We have learned from our Lord Jesus Christ that, ‘he who denies me before men shall be denied before my Father in heaven and the angels.’ My mom, I would rather die as a Christian and my name is George then have to live a lie. I cannot hide my faith and fear of his announcement.”

George refused to change his name to the name of a Muslim to protect his life and preferred to die with Christ then live for denying his faith and his Master.

When George’s mother told us this story, she was crying. She said, “al-Nusra of entered our home and took my son from my hands and killed him in the street. I could not even hug his dead body to my chest because of the strong fighting. After this, they expelled us out of the area. On this day, George went to his Jesus.”

George’s mother spoke about her son with pain, but also spoke proudly that her son died a hero in his faith. Please, in Jesus’ name, I ask you to pray for George’s mother and his family and for all who have heard and witnessed his death for Jesus. May the Lord send a private condolence to their hearts!”- Amir (Syria)

Deeply burdened,

JOY!

A prayer for our times

If you believe the Word of God gives us glimpses into our times, you know Jesus’ coming is near. If you are aware of the world’s condition, you know unrest exists in many forms: political, social, and environmental. What do we pray? I believe we pray for the salvation of souls.

“Drip down, O heavens, from above,

And let the clouds pour down righteousness;

Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit,

And righteousness spring up with it.

I, the Lord, have created it.” Isaiah 45:8

I am praying for God to drip down righteousness from heaven and for salvation to spring up on this earth. I hear stories of people having dreams of Jesus’ calling them to Himself. I know in war-torn countries and countries with harsh dictators, people are hungry for the Word and the gospel. I desire for people here to be hungry for those things as well. I fear only harsh times can draw some men. Pray that the unrest of our days draws those we love to God and does not turn them from Him. That too is foretold in His Word. May righteousness swell up in our lives so that God is inclined to hear our prayers.

Burning within me,

JOY!

What is in a name?

Shakespeare is responsible for that famous line, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The point of course was that even though Juliet was from a rival family, her name mattered not to Romeo. But names had great significance in Bible days. Think of poor Isaiah’s son named “Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey.” That is a recipe for schoolyard bullying. But God said before he knew to speak his mother’s name or his father’s name, “the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria.” (Isaiah 9) His name held a prophetic meaning as did Noah’s, Noah’s name contained comfort. He would carry humanity beyond the destruction of the evil men that occupied the earth in those days.

It then is such a comfort to look at all the names that describe our God. Isaiah portrays Him in three that give me comfort and confidence.

Our Redeemer, the Lord of hosts is His name, The Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 47:4

Briefly, God has bought us back from our slavery to sin. The Redeemer is the One who pays our debt. (For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.)

I like when the Lord of hosts is translated the Lord of armies. Isaiah is about captivity, destruction and end days which settle who is the One in control. God is over armies, legions of angels are at His command. He never loses a battle. He has each situation orchestrated to His glory. (see Isaiah 45:7) No one who has sworn allegiance to Him need fear.

He is the Holy One of Israel. First and foremost God is faithful to His promises. (Psalms 145:13) He promised Himself to the people of Israel, and He keeps His promise today. He hasn’t changed, and His word doesn’t change. Secondly, He is holy. He is not evil. That is a stalwart comfort in a day when deception, cruelty and wickedness abound.

What is in a name? In the name of the Lord there is salvation, peace, deliverance and the list goes on and on. Though Juliet’s name did not alter the love of Romeo and push him from her, God’s name defines His character, which draws me to Him.

Burning within me,

JOY!

The Future of America

Renown novelist Joel Rosenberg shared a message at the Watchman on the Wall conference in Washington D.C. He shared the content of that same message with the audience of “The Cove” this spring in a weekend titled “Blowing the Trumpet” with Ann Graham Lotz. Please read the core of the contents quoted below and pray for the people of this nation and God’s world.

“The Bible tells us the future of Israel. The Bible does not tell us the future of America. Not clearly. Not precisely.

“Bible prophecy tells us that Israel will be reborn as a geopolitical nation-state in the last days of history. It tells us that Jews will return to the Holy Land from exile all over the world in the last days of history, and that Jews will rebuild the ancient ruins in the land of Israel. The Bible tells us that God is in the process of reviving and redeeming and rescuing Israel, and that one day the Lord Jesus Christ will come back to Israel and reign over the entire world from Jerusalem.

“The Scriptures, however, are not so clear about the future of America. And this is what concerns me. Today, America is in not simply in a season of decline. We are heading for implosion. After killing 57 million babies, we are heading for judgment. Could God pour out His Holy Spirit on America to rescue and redeem us? Could He give us another Great Awakening? Could He forestall judgment and revive our nation one more time? He could. He did it in the 1700s. He did it in the 1800s. And I pray He will do it again. But we must be honest: He may not.

“This is America’s most dangerous hour. We need to pray for repentance and revival. We need to plead for the Lord to grant us a Great Awakening. We need to humble ourselves before the Lord and pray and fast. But we also need to understand that if on top of all our other national sins and challenges our government turns against Israel and the Jewish people, we will seal our fate and judgment will come once and for all.”

I personally feel burdened we should pray for our nation, Israel, and every soul we meet.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Rosenberg’s messages (as well as Ann Graham Lotz’s) from this conference can be seen and heard on YouTube.

I brazenly insert my name

The following passage inspires rejoicing, shouts of great joy. As I read of the Redeemer of Israel, I couldn’t help but recount He has done these things for me. In the following verses, allow yourself to substitute the name Israel (Jacob) with your name.

Isaiah 44:21-23 (NASB)

God Forgives and Redeems

21 “Remember these things, O Jacob,

And Israel, for you are My servant;

I have formed you, you are My servant,

O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me.

22 “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud

And your sins like a heavy mist.

Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”

23 Shout for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done it!

Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth;

Break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains,

O forest, and every tree in it;

For the Lord has redeemed Jacob

And in Israel He shows forth His glory.

 

He will not forget me. He has wiped out my transgressions! I am redeemed by Him! Shout for joy!

I just pray that as the last phrase states, His glory is manifested in my life.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Patience or tolerance

Life continues as always. That is the argument of the scoffer in 2 Peter chapter 3. God cannot really be displeased with us if He hasn’t stopped our doings up until now.

Matthew 24 :37-39 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

Ann Graham Lotz made a powerful point in a message from Joel chapter 1. Could we be mistaking God’s patience for God’s tolerance? The distortion of God’s law is not a sin of the unbeliever but a sin of the believer. The unbeliever doesn’t distort the law he doesn’t acknowledge, but we, as choosers of God’s way, do. We teach God is loving, patient and kind, and neglect to say He is holy, righteous and just. We console ourselves with the thought God understands that we cannot live as He required in the days of the prophets or the apostles because things are just not the same. In our zeal to draw all into the church we make sure not to call out any specific sins; we don’t want anyone to examine the skeletons in our closet. We are afraid of being considered intolerant ourselves so we portray our God as a tolerant one. Inclusion is the byword of our day after all! However, God does not change. He is not as shifting shadows. His patience does end. It ended for Israel when she was carried off by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. It will end when the trumpet sounds and the church is raptured. We are seeing the effects of God removing His hand from the United States of America even now. We do harm to all including ourselves if we do not proclaim that a fearsome day of wrath is coming to the earth. We do not want to be as those in the day of Noah, caught unaware. We do not wish for those unsaved we know to be destroyed in the coming judgment.

Pray for the wisdom of God’s people as we see that terrible day approaching. Humankind needs to know the truth. May we boldly proclaim the truth of the gospel as Paul asked others pray he be able to do. (Ephesians 6:19)

Burning within me,

JOY!

Ephesians 6:19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,

 

Need incentive

Are you struggling to keep going? Are the pressures and burdens of your life too much? God encouraged me this week with a verse I wish to share with you. From Hebrews 11:27, I recount the second half of the verse.

“For he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.”

How did Moses keep going with pharaoh chasing him, grumbling and arguing family members, lack of food and water, and no map? He kept His eyes on the One he could not see. Oh, God at one point gave Moses a glimpse of His hind parts, but Moses was holding on by faith to the Word God had given Him.

God has many promises for you too. They are scattered from the Genesis to Revelation. Mine for them as the jewels they are. Set your mind on the One who made those promises, and remember He is faithful and true. He will sustain you and give you the strength to carry on until He comes for you. Determine to see Him who is unseen.

Burning within me,

JOY!

By the water

During the drought Elijah prayed down from heaven, where did God station the prophet? He sent him to the brook Cherith. (1 Kings 17) There was water there for a time even though rain nor dew were falling. God sustained Elijah there.

When the glory of God departed Israel, there was a famine of the Word. Ravi Zacharias preaches a powerful message associating God’s glory with His Word. There were four hundred years between the last writings of the prophets of the Old Testament when God removed His glory from Israel and Jesus birth. In America the glory of God is rarely if ever seen. If we enter into a drought of the Word of God, will you have planted yourself like a tree by streams of water by immersing yourself in God’s Word now? Psalm 1 describes the man who meditates day and night on God’s Word this way. It states this tree will yield its fruit in its season and its leaf will not wither. In whatever this man does, he prospers.

I fear ignorance of God’s Word will soon be tragically felt. Jesus said He is living water. Learn of Him from the Holy Book you have such ready access to now. If a famine comes, you need to be planted in it.

Burning within me,

JOY!

It’s not about being happy

A divorced friend who seems to be getting serious about a romantic interest is posting pics on Facebook. I was questioned as to whether the former spouse still wanted to reconcile. What is your opinion my sister asked me. It’s not mine to judge I replied. I don’t know the lack of trust or hurt on the part of the partner who moved on. I know part of what happened but not all. None of us knows all of the story, maybe not even the two involved. I do know that when Christians divorce the kingdom is damaged, the witness of the body of Christ itself is marred. I also know the children never truly recover from the foundation of their life being uprooted. The proof of that statement is evident in my own family.

There are few times God uses the word “hate” in the Bible, but in regards to divorce it is the word He uses. Divorce causes permanent damage to people: the couple, their children and those who are witnesses of their union. I can still hear the young person on the phone line who lamented to me of a stalwart Christian couple we both knew who were divorcing, “if they can’t make it no one can.” It reaches so far beyond ourselves and our children, to those who know us, and those who come after us.

I have personal friends who stick with marriage not because they’re happy but because it’s the right thing to do in God’s sight. They don’t want to damage their children’s spiritual and emotional security. They aren’t living for themselves but for God and the charges He has given them. Their focus is on eternity and what role their lives here play in it.

One casualty of divorce told her mom how her heart hurt for a mentor whose wife was leaving him. It was not the adults she worried about but the young children. She knew what they were going to endure. It squeezes her mom’s heart to know what her daughter has suffered as a result of her divorce, even though it was not something she could have safely prevented.

Marriage was designed by God; it is the illustration He uses for His relationship with Israel and our relationship with Christ. Ignorantly, we as humans have tried to redefine it. Our redefinition leaves us disillusioned. Today, be aware the consequences of divorce are far-reaching. Just being unhappy, unfulfilled or unloved are not reasons to end a God sealed union. In the end we must question whether we are living to please ourselves or our heavenly Father. It’s the bottom line. As Erwin Lutzer states, “At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is His glory.”

Pray for all the marriages you know. Pray for your own and pray for mine. We have children to protect.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Disclaimer – this post is not meant to bring guilt to anyone or to suggest spouses in danger should endure those situations. It is to remind the bored, unhappy, unfulfilled believer his satisfaction is in Christ alone.

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