before the sun goes down

"Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in His sight" (I Chronicles 19:13).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

JUST Thinking Out Loud

You could call it a defining moment.

I looked up the word "just" in the 1828 Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language.  I learned that...

JUST: an adjective.  It comes from the Latin, justus.  The primary root idea is probably "straight, as adhering to a standard set or erected."  

It can be used to describe that which is 

1. Regular; orderly; due; suitable.
2. Exactly proportioned; proper.
3. Full; complete to the common standard.
4. Full; true; right.

THEN it got really interesting...
5. In a moral sense, upright; honest; having principles of rectitude

Our God is JUST.  That is JUST the way He is.  He says of Himself, "...there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me" (Isaiah 45:21).  He is a JUST God AND a Saviour!

6. Righteous.  The final definition lets us know that to be just means to meet the exact standard of the law of God.  And right in the section, was the following verse, given as an example of the word's usage:
"For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Ecclesiates 7:20).

All people are sinners.  WE are unJUST, and JUSTLY deserve death and HELL.  

You and I are wholly unable to be good enough to escape that judgment, for we are guilty.  We cannot be good enough.  "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20).  We cannot save ourselves.

But God the Son, Jesus Christ came, Whose name is "the Just One" (Acts 7:52).

And He Who is JUST was sent to earth to take the JUST punishment of the unJUST.  The Lord Jesus Christ willingly shed His precious blood when He died on the cross, was buried and came back to life the third day.  Why would He do this?  "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God..." (I Peter 3:18).

And all who turn and trust in Jesus Christ alone as their personal Saviour SHALL be saved, for He is a JUST God and a SAVIOUR.  He is JUST and the JUSTifier!  As it is declared in the Scriptures:
"To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).


"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24).

"Therefore being justified by grace, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).

"Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him" (Romans 5:9).

Friday, November 29, 2013

Written for the Generation to Come

The Bible tells us that it is good for us to share our testimony, of how we each came to know Jesus as our personal Saviour from sin.  Paul shared his testimony many times to bear witness of the grace of God.  It is a powerful way to declare the truth of Gospel, to encourage our fellow believers, and to give glory to our Redeemer.  It is especially important to pass on the truth of our faith in Jesus Christ to those who are younger, both in age, and in the faith. 

Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.”

Have you ever shared with others (friends, family members, fellow believers, etc.) about how the Lord saved you?  How you came to know you were a sinner?  How you heard the Gospel of what Jesus did for you, giving His precious blood, dying on the cross, and rising again (I Corinthians 15:3-4)?  How you turned to Him and trusted in Him to save you?  No testimony is boring.  Some are saved as children, and others as adults.  Some sinners were saved out of the gutter, and others were churchgoing sinners who were just as mightily saved out of a church pew.  Your salvation testimony is powerful, whether or not you feel it was dramatic.  Please share it.  I’d like to encourage you to do this, so that others can be edified in Christ.  Do your children and/or grandchildren know how you were saved? One of the greatest blessings I possess is knowing how my parents and grandparents came to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 38:19 “The father to the children shall make known thy truth.”

Psalm 78
v. 3 “Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.”
v. 4 “We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.”
v. 5 “For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:”
v. 6 “That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children”
v. 7 “That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:”

One great way to start sharing your testimony is to write it down.  Just write out your thoughts; put it down on paper.  Tell about how old you were, what was going on in your life, what showed you were a sinner in need of forgiveness and salvation, how you heard about what Jesus did for you, and how you came to trust in Him alone for your salvation from the condemnation your deserved because of your sin.  Share a Scripture verse about being saved that is special to you.  Your written testimony could be a paragraph or 5 pages long!  Once you have written out your testimony, you will find that it is easier to verbalize it too.

A testimony that is written down becomes a fast way to witness.  You can make copies and share them with friends, neighbors, family and strangers through e-mail, letters to grandchildren, or even in this year’s Christmas card!  It may be one of the greatest gifts you could give.  What a blessing for everyone you tell, to read how you came to know Jesus Christ!  It may even cause others to consider whether they have believed and turned to Jesus Christ, and be used to draw them to salvation as well!

“This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD” (Psalm 102:18).

Sunday, September 29, 2013

I Believe God

Yesterday a year ago, my precious little son William Livingstone Samuel, was born, having already departed this earth.  Today a year ago, I laid his body in the earth.  Each day since, his mother and I have mourned, but not as "others which have no hope" (I Thessalonians 4:13).  "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (II Timothy 1:12).

It is from the Lord through His word that we find comfort.  "This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me" (Psalm 119:50).  

God desires His children to pass on the words of comfort that He gives to us.
"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies,and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (II Corinthians 1:4).  This I wish to do today.

That morning a year ago, fresh in the pain and anguish of the loss of a son, we found great comfort from a good many verses in Isaiah 25 and 26, from our regular reading.  Here are a few of them, with some thoughts.

Isaiah 25
 8 "He will swallow up death in victory; and the LORD God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it."  O Death!  Where is thy sting?  O Grave!  Where is thy victory?  I look forward to the promise that God will wipe the tears away for good (Revelation 21:4)!

 9 "And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation."  I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.  Look what my God will do!  My Lord worketh "all things together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose".  My heart should not depend on the ups and downs of circumstances for its rejoicing, but rather, as Jesus instructed, "...but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven."  No matter my sorrow, my salvation in Christ is secure.  Therefore Job in utter grief could still cry, "The LORD gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the LORD" and "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him."

Isaiah 26
 3 "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, who mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."  When upon life's billows we are tempest tossed, let's not be discouraged, thinking all is lost.  Rather than allow our hearts to be washed overboard, should we not instead seek the face of Him Who stilled the winds and the waves?  Should we not join him in the hinder part of the boat and find rest for our souls? 

 4 "Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:"  His strength is EVERLASTING!  I am weak, but His strength is made perfect in my weakness, whereby I can say "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me"  Let the weak say, "I am strong!" 

"I hear the Saviour say, Thy strength indeed is small; 
Child of weakness watch and pray, Find in Me, thine all in all."

16 "LORD, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them."  Many have been the prayers poured out in mourning, many the cries in the night.  God hears the supplication of His saints.  We are told that he keeps our tears in His bottle.  Are they not in His book? 

17 "Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O LORD."  
18 "We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen."  How this describes our situation!  To be with child.  To have the expectation of a little babe to hold and cherish.  To prepare for their coming.  To lose that seed.  To go into the pain of delivery, knowing the baby is gone.  To feel empty, as if all that was brought forth was vanity and wind.  Those who have suffered miscarriage know this pain and loss.

19 "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise.  Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out her dead."  What a emotion fills my soul!  To know that the dead shall rise!  That the grave shall give way to victory, and the earth will cast out her dead! That I shall meet my child in glory.  Because of the Gospel!  Because of the Almighty Redeemer, we have the certainty of victory.  What unspeakable joy!  

This evening, Deana (carrying our third little one in the womb), Tirzah, and I went out and laid flowers on the grave of little William Livingstone Samuel.  We thanked the Lord for William, for the honor of carrying him, even for that short while, and for the assurance that we would see him again.  I read verse 19 again, and as we turned back to the house, I considered the words from the verse, "Awake and sing", and so we sang as we walked home,

"When I can read my title clear to mansions in the skies,
I'll bid farewell to every fear, and wipe my weeping eyes.
And wipe my weeping eyes, and wipe my weeping eyes.
I'll bid farewell to every fear, and wipe my weeping eyes."

  So, in all things I am able to declare, even through tears, Jesus Christ is my Saviour!  He it is which giveth "beauty for ashes" (Isaiah 61:3).  As Paul declared, even in the teeth of the storm Euroclydon, "...I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me"

Monday, July 1, 2013

Let Not Thy Zeal "Be as When a Standard-Bearer Fainteth"

Last year, around the 4th of July, my wife, daughter, and I were in our van, in Kansas City, stopped at an traffic light.  For those of you who know KCK (and care to know), it was the intersection of State Ave and 78th Street.  Some road work was being done in the area, so there were cones about, and temporary lines drawn for lanes, and asphalt dust scattered across the road.  As I waiting for the green arrow to appear, I noticed something in the middle of the intersection.  There was a small, somewhat dingy cloth, lying crumpled on the road, as cars and trucks went whizzing past.  I squinted, and said, "Deana, do you see that?  What is it?"  Deana wasn't sure.  

Could it be a rag from construction worker?  Or an article of clothing that fell out of a passing vehicle?

An afternoon breeze moved the rather worn cloth, and I saw some faded color in a striped pattern.  "I think it is an American flag."  "It couldn't be."  She was incredulous.  But another automobile went by, nearly running it over, and the fabric was moved again, revealing a dirty blue field, with faint stars.  "It IS a flag!"  

I began to unbuckle.  My wife said, "What are you doing?"  I said, "I need to get it out of the street."  Just then the green arrow lit up, and I had to go.  I went by, careful not to go over the flag, and pulled into the nearest parking lot.  Parking, I leaped from the driver's seat and sprinted down to the corner.  I hesitated only a few seconds, then left the curb.  Into the flow of traffic, I ventured, and made it to the end of the median.  There were some exasperated honks from drivers, whom I'm sure were wondering what the crazy pedestrian was doing.  

A big semi truck and trailer made its wide turn, which I avoided, and dashed out into the intersection and plucked up the old flag.  For yes, it was a flag, which must have been torn from its basing on a motorcycle or other motorist, and left behind unnoticed.  Holding it with both hands, I returned to the curb.  I caught surprised looks from a few drivers, when they realized what I had gone to get, and at least one grandmotherly driver nodded in approval and waved her thanks.  I headed back to the van and my family, which had watched the scene. 

Back in the driver's seat, I considered my prize.  From the flag's condition, it was immediately evident that it had lain in the road, at least all day, unbeknownst to the drivers who passed it by, or overran it with the tread of their tires.  

How sad, to think that this flag of our nation was lying in the dust for hours, while American citizens drove by, oblivious of it!

Yet, how much more tragic is it to realize that our nation itself has sunk into the gutter, becoming corrupted by greed, pride, perversion, and the innocent blood of 55+ million babies, just like those in Israel, who "...shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters...and the land was polluted with blood" (Psalm 106:38).  We have, as a people, turned away from the true God "which hath made and preserved us a nation" (from the Star Spangled Banner, verse 4), and have cast His Law behind our back.

All this, and so many Christians, in so many local churches, are just driving by, busy about their own agendas, not heeding the cries of the lost in this country who need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the righteousness of the God of the Bible.  Are we not called to be "SALT"?  Are we not to let our "LIGHT so shine"?  Has not the Captain of our Salvation given orders to His people to stand for righteousness and truth in society?  As the hymn declares, are we not to "Work, For the Night is Coming"?  Do we hold God in so light esteem, that we think He will not judge wickedness?  Who are we to think that the United States is exempt from being brought fully to account before His seat?

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever."  Thomas Jefferson

"Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise? 
He that planted the ear, shall he not hear?
He that formed the eye, shall he not see?
He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct?
He that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?" (Psalm 94:8-10).

Judah fell into sin, and God did not let her get away with it.  Even Jerusalem, the apple of His eye, was not spared.  When the weeping prophet, Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, wrote Lamentations, he cried, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?" (Lamentations 1:12).

Christians in America must consider this cry: 

Get your Bible out and study what it says about God's dealings with countries.  

"Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34). 

Read the 80th Psalm, and consider the truths it holds concerning God's blessing and judgment on a nation.  Let us cry unto our God to "Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved" (Psalm 80:3 see also 80:7 and 80:19).  

Remember and heed God's voice: "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 hear their land" (II Chronicles 7:14).

So I urge you, brethren, let NOT the bowstring of your prayer go slack!  Let not your zeal be as when a standard-bearer fainteth!  "Be not weary in well doing" (II Thessalonians 3:13)!  

Weep for your people.  Repent from your sin.  Pray for God to, "in wrath, remember mercy" (Habakkuk 3:2).  Stand and speak for the truth and life.  Be attentive to the Spirit's leading.  Stop to stoop down and plead the cause of the poor and needy.  Love your preborn neighbor with a zeal that refuses to be silent and absent in in the day of battle!  As the watchman in Ezekiel, warn the wicked to turn from His way to Jesus Christ. Preach the Gospel to a dying people.

I kept that flag, and have it still today, as a reminder to pray for my country, and of the need for righteous action for the kingdom of God.  I must not allow my zeal to start flagging.  

"Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people (in my case, America), and for the cities of our God (the kingdom of Heaven): and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight" (I Chronicles 19:13).

There is still time to win a battle before the sun goes down.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

It is the Same Sword

From a child, I have loved the stories of history.  What joy to read of noble men and women!  To hear rousing accounts of clashing battles!  To learn of significant points (both high and low) in the history of mankind and gain instruction from the past!  These have ever thrilled and challenged my adventurous heart.  O how I have longed to be where great things happened!  To walk and stand where heroes trod!  Even to view and touch articles that were used by those who went before me.
You can then understand my feelings as a child, when blessed at times to go and see places that I had read about.  I am so grateful that my parents took our family to places to see for ourselves.  What learning times I had! I recommend such trips for every family.  You don't always have to travel far.  Here are just a few of the places I was able to experience.

In Diamond, Missouri, at the George Washington Carver National Monument, I stood and saw the site of the cabin where he was born.  My brother, sister, cousin, and I walked, nay, ran down the trail to the spring (still flowing) where George fetched water as a boy.  I remember looking up at the life-size statue of the young "plant doctor," and wondered, "If I had lived back then, would he have wanted to be my friend?"

In St. Joseph, Missouri, my family and I went to see where Johnny Frye, the first Pony Express rider, set out west towards San Francisco.  Think of itten days to traverse plain, mountains, and desert!  Through weather, outlaws, and Indian attack those young wiry lads brought the mail with speed and devotion.  As a young boy, I stood at the Pony Express Stable museum and trembled deliciously to think, "It happened here."  Years later, as a man, I was in Wyoming and went out on some friends' ranch and saw where a Pony Express station once stood.  There I experienced the same shiver.  "How exciting to think, I got to see this!"  

I hiked the hill of the Little Bighorn region in Montana, and saw the place where General George Armstrong Custer and his men had their last stand.  I'd look at each marker, and wonder what each man thought as he tried to hold his ground.  And I'd try to picture Crazy Horse and his warriors, as they gained victory thinking about these mighty men on both sides, wishing I could have been able to sit with each and learn why they were fighting and that I would have had the opportunity to share the Gospel with them.

We toured Daniel Boone's last home in Defiance, Missouri.  How incredible to see the narrow windows crafted for defense, amazing furniture the great woodsman had fashioned with his own skillful hands, and even the threaded door hinges he designed to keep the wooden floors from getting scratched.  It was there I saw Ticklicker, Daniel's famous rifle, and I would have touched it too, but it was on the other side of the glass. 

I got to walk through Squire Boone's Caverns, and remembered how God had saved the life of Daniel's kid brother by having him fall into the cave while he was pursued by hostile natives.  The escapades of this Revolutionary War hero and the first Baptist preacher in Kentucky filled me with fervor.  God's providence and care was made very evident to me as I looked at the spot where he was delivered.  The words he carved on the stones of his mill nearby, still ring in my ears: "My God my life hath much befriended; I'll praise Him till my days are ended."

Whenever I see an historical marker, I want to stop and see what it says.  Even just this spring, My wife, daughter, and I stopped several times while driving through Kansas to see an old train station, stone arch bridge, church, and a one room schoolhouse from 1896.  The stone schoolhouse stood alone on one end of a pasture.  We pulled over, piled out, and looked in wonder.  You could see the bell still in the tower, two stone outhouses (presumably one for boys and one for girls), and the pump for the schoolyard well.  We imagined children walking up the lane to school, and wondered what became of them. Who taught in this place?  Who were the students?  Did a courageous student stand up to a bully in that yard?  What was accomplished in history because of truths taught?  What has been lost in education in the generations following?  How I wished to venture closer, to explore, to peek in the windows.  I would have paid for a tour, but alas, it was desolate, the only signs of life in the area a herd of cattle grazing a hundred yards off.  So we drove on.

For years I have picked up various items for my collection: 

a Civil War bullet that was found on a battlefield (perhaps the Battle of Wilson's Creek)
stone arrowheads and chippings left by native Americans in Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Wyoming
a couple tin cans (used and discarded by pioneers) that I found along the Oregon Trail
various articles, including instruments from a ship, salvaged on an historic beach in Two Harbors, Minnesota
—ancient pottery I dug out of the earth with my own hands in Israel

These and other objects are great tools for teaching lessons from the past, giving inspiration for the mind in our present day, and can stir up motivation to take up a challenge for the future.  Being able to see and even hold pieces of history can make events become more "real", assist us in understanding what others went through, and encourage us to live uprightly in our generation.

Our daughter, Tirzah Carmichael is named in honor of Amy Carmichael, the Irish missionary to India, who served faithfully for 55 years.  Amy's life, ministry, and writings have been a blessing to multitudes and a testimony to the grace and power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Let's consider her words in one instance...

"Someone gave me a bit of brick and a little slab of marble from Rome.  It was wonderful to touch one of them and think, Perhaps the apostle Paul or one of the martyrs touched this as they passed.  But how much more wonderful is it to think that we have, for our own use, the very same Sword our Lord used when the devil attacked Him...We have the same Book that He had, and we can do as He did.  So let us learn [His words] that they may be ready in our minds; ready for use at the moment of need - our Sword which never grows dull and rusty, but is always keen and bright.  So once more I say, let us not expect defeat, but victory.  Let us take fast hold and keep fast hold of our Sword, and we shall win in any assault of the enemy."

What delight we should take in the Scriptures!  Think of itGod inspired men to write His words down, and has preserved those words for us even today.  The very same "sword of the Spirit"!  The "quick and powerful"!  The trusty two-edged weapon!  The Book that declares "the end from the beginning"!  That reveals the truth of the God of the universe!  That can make a sinner "wise unto salvation", and can grow a believer to be "throughly furnished unto all good works"!  The same Book which was wielded by Jesus Christ, the apostles, the martyrs, missionaries such as Livingstone, Hudson, and Carmichael, and so many others, has been laid in your hand. 

Let us NOT lightly esteem it!
Let us NOT neglect the use of it!
Let us NOT despise the treasure which our Lord has entrusted with us!

"Let us take fast hold and keep fast hold of our Sword, and we shall win in any assault of the enemy."

There is still time to win a battle before the sun goes down.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lifting "Bloody" Hands in Prayer?

Just last week, on the 2nd of April, we had the National Day of Prayer here in the United States of America.  All across this land churches, groups, and individuals lifted their voices in prayer to God for their country.  Some in prayer closets, others outside city buildings, still more around flagpoles.  Some on their feet, some on their knees, some on their faces.  Most were disturbed over the evil that prevails and sought the hand of the Almighty to change hearts and bring revival.  And it is meet that we should make supplication to the God of Heaven for our nation.

This week I've seen verses like these posted on church signboards"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance." (Psalm 33:12).  And "happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD" (Psalm 144:15).

These are excellent verses to be sure.  They boldly declare the blessing that is upon a nation who acknowledges God, whose policies are in according to His Scriptures, and whose people follow Him with the whole heart.  When we consider the rebellion that is glorified in our own United States we must sadly come to the conclusion that all
 is not well in our country.  As a nation we countenance covetousness, allow injustice, and promote perversion.  Even our churches can be filled with those who refuse to speak the truth and push for compromise—a compromise that can only exalt what God calls wicked. 

Scripture teaches that "righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:35).  And that "the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God" (Psalm 9:17).  These are hard verses but they are given by God to warn of coming consequences, to keep us holy and vigilant against sin, and to drive us to pray specifically for a country engaged in such evil practices!

On the 1st of April (the day before the National Day of Prayer), I read the first chapter of Isaiah and was smitten in my heart for my people.  In the text, God was rebuking the kingdom of Judah for their wickedness, and foretelling the desolation and destruction that would come as a result of their sin.  Take note that Israel hadn't stopped their sacrifices, feasts, or prayers. They may have filled their time with religious obedience but they also allowed other gods to creep in alongside.  As they dwelt in the temple, they also permitted sin to dwell in their hearts.  Singing praises one hour and defaming the name of Christ the next.  Continuing to worship God a midst other vile acts, all the while expecting God to bless them.  But God was not pleased, is not pleased, with lip service alone.  During His earthly ministry, Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah, giving the following rebuke: 

"He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me" (Mark 7:6).

My mind was grieved, picturing how the words "Ah sinful nation" could apply to the USA as a wholehow even many claimed Christians could be described as "a people laden with iniquity".  The Scripture says "...they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward."  Wait a minute!  Forsaken God?  Seems a rather harsh statement for a "claimed" Christian.  For someone who still goes to church!  Still wears His name!  Still testifies to be believe in the Lord!  

Let's take a look at just one grievance put against God's chosen people in Isaiah:

Among all of Judah's rebellion, we find child sacrifice was one sin that God especially highlighted as being grossly abominable:

"And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon" (II Kings 24:4).

We could easily make an enormous list of national sins that are rife in the United States, but let's just take this rebuke to Israel as an example of the many.  Here within our borders, in the last 40 years, we have slain over 55,000,000 baby boys and girls through child sacrifice—a sacrifice to the god of self—and our government calls it "legal".   The Christian church is not clean of this atrocity either.  The sad statistics show many of those that have abortions are professing Christians.  And I have witnessed this to be true.  Every week at the local murder mill in KCK, I either see a "Christian" fish on a client's car or hear one of them claim to follow Jesus.  They answer my pleading and preaching that they are "fine with God", tell me that "Jesus is okay with this," that "God is forgiving," and that they "will be going to church tomorrow."  

This calls to mind the words of the LORD to Ezekiel: 

"for when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into my sanctuary to profane it; and, lo, thus have they done in the midst of mine house." (Ezekiel 23:39).

What was the result of the prayers of people who asked for God's blessing, while they were guilty of abominations?  Read what He thought of their worship, their special days, and acts of devotion in verses 10-15, culminating with...

"And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: YOUR HANDS ARE FILLED WITH BLOOD" (Isaiah 1:15). 

What a terrible thing to read!  God will not hear the prayers of those who will not first repent of their sin.  

 "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me;" (Psalm 66:18). 

Near the end of Isaiah we see that indictment again...

"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
For YOUR HANDS ARE DEFILED WITH BLOOD, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness." (Isaiah 59:1-3).  

Read on in Isaiah 59, and meditate on how America is in such a strait:
"None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity...
Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.
The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.
Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.
We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.
We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.
For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; 
In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter..." 

There is a blot on the "American church" for not speaking out and standing without compromise for truth and life in society.  We have been largely silent, and our silence is in effect a support of the massacre of these millions.  Abortion is permitted by the voiceless permission of the church.  This applies to what is preached in pulpits, what is counseled by Christians to those considering abortion, the action of believers in the voting booth, what is discussed in family gatherings, out publicly on the street, in the marketplace, and also in the number of Christians going to plead for life at abortion mills.  

If even only one person from every Gospel preaching church in the Kansas City area alone came and stood outside the abortion mill every day it is open for abortion (twice a week), that bloody business would not be able to stay open.  Yet, only a few Christians go to stand/speak on behalf of the unborn on a regular basis.  What percentage of professing believers do you think have never stood for life at an abortion mill?  I fear the enormity of that percentage would shock us.  Yes, the hard truth is that we find blood on the hands of those in churches, not just in those doing and having the abortions, but also in those who will not warn those going to have the abortions!

You see, God has commissioned His people, those who are called by His name, to be watchmen, to sound the alarm, to warn sinners of the danger of their way, so that they may escape.  See the following passage:

"Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.  
He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
But if the watchmen see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand" (Ezekiel 33:4-6).

Christians who neglect to stand and warn those who are murdering their children, representing Christ at the Gates of Death, are watchmen with blood on their hands too. These innocent image-bearers of our God are being slaughtered on OUR WATCH.  How many Christians across this land are lifting bloody hands to God on the National day of Prayer and every day?  

So, brethren, do you not see the danger of our estate?  How can we pray for God's blessing and intervention on our nation when we don't even acknowledge OUR sin in this one area (let alone our other sins)?  

I Timothy 2:8 states, "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands..."  Should we not each seek God's cleansing?  Our hands are to be "holy," not bloody.

Can we not see that the abomination of shedding innocent blood brings judgment and destruction?  It is "a BOMB in [our] nation!"  Let us be zealous therefore and repent (Revelation 3:19)!  Why should we expect this country to repent of its iniquity, when many in the church will not turn away from their own transgressions?  "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13).  

We need to go humbly to our Saviour Jesus Christ to seek cleansing (I John 1:9).  Consider the admonishment in Isaiah 1, right after the declaration about those who are praying with bloody hands.  What does God say to do?

"Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:16-18). 

Let us repent (confess and forsake) of our part in the bloodguilt of the holocaust of the preborn, when that part be Complicity, Compromise, Complacency, Callousness, or Cowardice.  

Let us who are Christians be faithful watchmen, 
-obedient to rise and open our mouths, 
-engage this culture of selfishness, 
-warn the wicked, rescue the weak, 
-bring the Gospel in conflict with murder, 
-call for justice and equity for the vulnerable, 
-and seek the total and immediate abolition of child sacrifice in this nation. 

Knowing that "...judgment must begin at the house of God..." (I Peter 4:17), let it be that repentance and revival begins there too.  Again, how can we expect the nation to repent and return in their hearts, values, laws, and policies to align with God's truth, justice, and equity if the church is not willing?  Let us consider OUR WAYS (Haggai 1:5).

Let us remember and apply to our lives this verse that is often quoted, including the part least practiced:

"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" (II Chronicles 7:14). 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Clarion Call for Earnest Zeal

Recently, tragedy struck Kansas City.  

On the 19th of February, a restaurant/bar on the Plaza, called JJ's, exploded into flames.  One person died and over a dozen went to the hospital with injuries.  The cause for the explosion was a gas leak.  The strong smell of gas had been present for hours.  It was so bad that at least one individual in the restaurant wore a cloth over her nose and mouth, and others fought the impulse to retch.

Eventually, members of the gas company went specifically into the restaurant, carrying a meter to measure the percentage of gas in the air.  When the meter signaled that the level of gas was approaching dangerous levels, the gas personnel informed those in the restaurant that it was best that they leave the premises.

I have heard informal testimony from some of those who were there at that time.  The witnesses state that the gas company personnel did not communicate the importance of leaving NOW.  There was no urgency in their voices or manner.  They basically told the people to finish, pay their bills, and leave.  Some left.  Others stayed.  What was the rush?  

Minutes later came the explosion and fire, wreaking havoc and damage to life, limb, and property.

What could have greatly lessened the amount of injury?  

What could have saved the life of that one which was lost?    

If those who had read the meter had been more insistent, more urgent, more emphatic, quite possibly the customers and employees would have acted more swiftly and have been spared.

But let us consider something of greater import.  This world is full of men and women who are sitting and enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season.  Scriptures state"There is not a just man upon the earth, that doeth good and sinneth not" (Ecclesiastes 7:20).  All mankind have transgressed the holy law of God.  The earth is cursed by sin, reeking with the stench of our abominations. "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:22).  And yet, we find people persist in their rebellion against the Creatorholding their noses, pretending that nothing is wrong.

As Christians, we have been redeemed and we hold in our hands a meter, a StandardThe word of God.  It declares that this world and all the lost in it are in danger of judgment. It is sure and imminent!  "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (II Peter 3:7).  God has been longsuffering, but judgment IS coming.  It will come in due time. "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (II Peter 3:10). 

In the same passage we find that the Lord is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9).  That is God's heartbeat on the subject. 

What should we do with this knowledge?  Should we stand by and keep quiet?  Is it right to  think, later is a better time to warn of the danger to come.  Even while opening their mouths to speak of salvation, many Christians seem to communicate the sense that there is no hurry.  But God says, "...Now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2).  We do not know how long any person has left.

 We must warn the lost to "flee from the wrath to come?"  "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord" we must "persuade men"!   Is it not our commission to preach the Gospel that men may repent and be saved?  We must let them know that this is a matter of LIFE and DEATH?  

Hear the words of Paul: "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in God's stead, be ye reconciled to God" (II Corinthians 5:20).

The word beseech does not denote any sense of being nonchalant.  We are to passionately and earnestly implore, zealously preach the way of salvation!  People need to realize that there is an urgency, fervency, and emergency nature in their situation!  

So, believers, let us hear the word of God"Thus saith the LORD of hosts; consider your ways" (Haggai 1:7).  And hearken to the exhortation"Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?"  Are you content to be silent, or passive, or half-hearted while family, friends, neighbors, and strangers around you are on the way to hell fire?  Does it not move you that there are "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision" who need to be warned of their danger and hear the Gospel?  Who will go to this corrupted planet and cry, "Earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD"?  The LORD told His servant Isaiah, "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet..." (Isaiah 58:1).  

Do you desire to be that fervent for the Lord and for the lost?  Spend much time in the Scriptures.  Get in the Bible!  Get IT into you!  Meditate on the seriousness of sin, the terrors of Hell, and the wondrous magnifical way of escape through faith in the Saviour, Jesus Christ!   Standing in the Holy Presence of God will magnify the stench of sin, awaken us to the reality of eternal brimstone, and cause us to yearn for others' escape.  "Earnestly contend for the faith...pulling them out of the fire" (Jude 3, 23).  In doing so you will most definitely find the fire of zeal and will say with

David "I delight to do thy will O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart" (Psalm 40:8). 

Jeremiah "Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay" (Jeremiah 20:9).

Peter and John "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).

You will join in with many others!

I know my own feeble flesh and personally must remember this admonition.  We know not how long we have to do this service ere we are called home.  What a shame is on us if we waste the life He grants us!  "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame." (I Corinthians 15:34).  

Let us implore the Lord our Father to cause us to be fervent emissaries, obedient to His call with our whole hearts.  May many souls hear the Gospel and turn to Christ!  May our Lord be magnified in how we befit ourselves as His servants!

"Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight" (I Chronicles 19:13).

Be valiant!  Be zealous!  "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season"!  Be about your "Father's business"!  Sound the alarm to those in danger of everlasting flames!  

There is still time to win a battle before the sun goes down.

Friday, February 22, 2013

"War a Good Warfare" in Witnessing!

There is a war going on.  A war for souls.  We who are saved are to be on active duty, witnessing to those still enslaved to sin and Satan that they might find freedom by the blood of our victorious Saviour! 

"And ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to be His witnesses.

Ananias gave the new believer, Saul of Tarsus, the following charge:
"For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard" (Acts 22:15).

However young or old we are in the faith, we are to be witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  Therefore, we must plan and prepare ourselves to be able to share what the Lord Jesus Christ has done to save souls!  Let us befit ourselves as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.  Let us have open communication with our Captain, pleading for the hearts of the lost and relying on the Spirit to convince men of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).  Pray for boldness to speak as we ought to speak (Ephesians 6:18-20).     

1. Witness for Christ by giving your testimonysharing personally how you were saved from the punishment of your sins.  In the New Testament, we find Paul repeatedly telling the amazing account of how he came to know the Lord (Acts 22, 24, 26, etc.).  

2. Take something with you to give them to read! The prophet Jeremiah asked, "What thing shall I take to witness for thee?" (Lamentations 2:13).  Give gospel tracts to people you meet (a clerk, a waiter, a passenger on a plane, a child in your neighborhood, etc) and leave them where they can be found by those you may never meet (a gas station, a public restroom, a book in the library, in a grocery store isle, etc).  Be creative.  Spend time praying for those who get the tracts and for those you shared with, that God will work in their hearts and that they will have repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ!

What is the most valuable, powerful weapon to wield in the "warfare" of witnessing?  

It is the word of God!  The Sword of the LORD!

3. Get to know your Bible and use it in witnessing.  It is the Bible that makes one "...wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15).  God's word is quick and powerful (Hebrews 4:12).  It can pierce the heart and bring conviction where human reasoning and argument will only bounce off the calloused surface.  God proclaims that His word is not bound (II Timothy 2:9), will not return void (Jeremiah 55:11), won't fall to the ground (II Kings 10:10), and cannot be destroyed (I Peter 1:25). 

Consider just 3 of many witnesses that God gives us in the Bible, who used the Scriptures to preach Jesus: 
Philip"And Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto Him Jesus" (Acts 8:35).

Paul"And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ" (Acts 17:2-3).

Apollos"For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ" (Acts 18:28).

Jesus also used the Scriptures to proclaim Himself. "...O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them all the Scriptures concerning himself...These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.  Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:25-27).  

Wouldn't you have loved to hear Jesus preaching Jesus?

After declaring Himself through Scripture He then told His disciples, "And ye are witnesses of these things" (Luke 24:48).  Today, if you are saved, you are to follow as a disciple and witness.

You may think, "But I can't be a witness!" for many reasonsfear, your past, your inability to speak well, no burning desire.  And you are rightyou cannot do it alone.  Jesus said, "...For without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).  

Consider Saul of Tarsus, who became the apostle Paulprobably the greatest evangelist, church planter, and missionary in history; not even he could witness on his own.  In speaking of his own conversion, Paul declared to Agrippa that the Lord Jesus Christ told him, "But rise and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness..." (Acts 26:16).  God would have to make him a witness.  

When Jesus called the fishermen Peter and Andrew to be His disciples, He also told them,  "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19).  Jesus calls us and then through His power alone, He enables us!  "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:24).

Ask the Lord to lead you in this war for souls, and to teach you as you obey.  Then step into the fray, sword in hand.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

40 Years Too Long

January 22nd, 2013 (this COMING Tuesday) is a significant day.  It marks 40 years since the United States of America declared it legal to slay babies before they are born.  At this time we have slaughtered over  55,000,000 (55 MILLION) children!

Our nation, still in horror at the deaths of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut (and rightly so), must consider the 3,000 American boys and girls that are violently butchered each day!  Sadly, our nation as a whole, is unmoved at these facts.  These babies are much more defenseless—they cannot run, hide, or even cry out for help!

God makes it very clear that His people are to speak on behalf of those who have no voice. "Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.  Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy"  (Proverbs 31:8-9). I hear a lot about how we must care for the needs of the poor and needy in society.  But is it not true that the unborn are the poorest and most needy of the land?

Do we think that God will be silent concerning this matter?  Did not the blood of Abel cry out to Him?  Are not "hands that shed innocent blood" (Proverbs 6:17) an abomination in His blood?  Did God not overthrow the Canaanites because of their wickedness, chief among which was declared by Moses? "...For even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods" (Deuteronomy 12:31).  Abortion is a human sacrifice to the god of self.  Who are we to think that we have the jurisdiction, not only to choose when we have children, but also to think that we can murder innocent people in the womb?  Those who promote abortion both "condemn the innocent blood" (Psalm 94:21) and "contemn God" (Psalm 10:13).

Did not the LORD judge even the kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem, the apple of His eye, for their national  sins, led by king Manasseh, who "shed innocent blood very much" (II Kings 21:16)?  How can we think that our own nation should be able escape the judgment we deserve?  Why should we expect God to bless the people that murders their little ones?  Remember, "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34).  There is reproach on this our nation today, for we have cast God's laws behind our backs (Nehemiah 9:26) and have framed "mischief by a law" (Psalm 94:20).  We are told that "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD" (Psalm 33:12), but does it not follow that conversely, that the nation which rebels against the LORD, and slaughters the innocent is in danger of judgment (Matthew 5:21)?  The Scripture warns, "Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person" (Deuteronomy 27:25).  Does it not follow that cursed is the nation who protects, promotes, and provides for the continuance of such a vile practice?  Sober thoughts indeed.

Our nation has allowed the murder of the innocent and it's money making industry 40 years too long!

A multitude of believers in churches today are slumbering in apathy toward this great massacre.  Some even promote abortion as a good thing, calling evil good.  Woe unto them!  Did Christ not tell us that we are to be salt and light in society?   Many others recognize the problem, but do nothing of substance about it.  We need to hear the rebuke of Paul: "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame" (I Corinthians 15:34).  

Much of the church has chosen to ignore the murder of the innocent and, even at times, defended it's money making industry 40 years too long!

Let us stand for truth, and declare the word of God concerning Life, and Life Everlasting!

Let us consider this charge: "If thou forebear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?" (Proverbs 24:11-12).

What is the believer to do when society is contemning God and condemning the innocent blood? 

"They that forsake the law praise the wicked, but such as keep the law contend with them" (Proverbs 28:4).  We must obey His word and contend for Life, pleading the cause of those who are unable to speak for themselves!  We must also cry unto the Lord to work mightily to change hearts.  "It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law" (Psalm 119:126).  

If the Lord has given you a burden for this ministry, and you would like to find out ways that you can get involved in the battle for lives and souls, please contact me.  I would love to share resources and ideas, and encourage you as you go forward.

There is still time to win a battle before the sun goes down.