Wednesday, August 27, 2014

HEADED FOR THE LABOR ROOM

“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

This is God’s inspired Word and every word was chosen carefully. Destruction is coming suddenly as the birth pangs of a woman about to deliver a child. The woman here is a lost, wicked, godless society and judgments are going to come like labor pains. When the moment of birth draws near, the pains begin to increase both in number and intensity. They can be an hour apart, then half an hour, then ten minutes apart. She is taken to a hospital, and the pains keep increasing. Suddenly, constant labor pains—travail. Its spiritual application is that the final destruction will begin with painful warnings which will intensify and become accelerated.

I believe America is already headed for the labor room. When hundreds of American marines were suddenly destroyed in Beirut, Lebanon, without a warning, we stood by—helpless! A few years later when America’s space shuttle Challenger blew up in the heavens, the world watched in horror as seven astronauts plunged to earth—and again we were helpless.

AIDS was declared a plague upon America by alarmed doctors and its spread was terrifying. Drugs have exploded upon our society—another plague. Drug abuse is spreading like the black plague of past centuries. Gangs now roam New York, Los Angeles, Chicago—killing, robbing, mugging! Paul warns us that it is all going to intensify, and God is now quickening the pace of troubles and sorrows.

The Holy Spirit is also blowing the trumpet louder and it sounds more ominous. Never have we heard so many warnings. Never have there been more watchmen crying from the wall. In fact, there have been so many warnings that many of God’s people have turned a deaf ear. Society is in travail—judgment is breaking out—and people are turning to idols and toys. Jesus said we are to rejoice when we see all these things coming to pass because it means our redemption is near.

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

“PLEASE SAY IT ISN’T SO”

The church awoke one day to a horrible scandal. We blushed to hear that a preacher of the gospel had spent millions of dollars on fancy cars, lavish jewelry, luxury homes, expensive wines! The ungodly laughed and mocked, and the name of Jesus became the butt of jokes and satire. And then the world was told that the nation’s number one “sin preacher” had been caught in sin! Again God’s people cried, “Please say it isn’t so!” And we watched the awesome decline of some ministries. Amidst it all, these sobering words rang so true: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).

Why was the church so shocked? We had been warning that judgment was at the door, and it must begin in God’s house. God is willing to let His name be mocked just to wake up the church and give one last trump to the world. “And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:17-18). God’s judgments in His house are so sudden and frightful, men’s ears tingle when they hear of them. When God judged the house of Eli, He said, “I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. . . . I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knoweth” (1 Samuel 3:11 and 13).

When God judged Israel and the house of Manasseh for corruption, He said, “I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle” (2 Kings 21:12). God told Jeremiah that such awesome judgments were soon to fall on the house of Israel that “whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle” (Jeremiah 19:3). In Hebrew, to “tingle” the ears meant to rattle the ears and make them red with shame. Even the wicked will have blushing ears!

If God will rattle the ears of this nation by what they see and hear of His judgment upon the church, what kind of sudden, fearful judgments will fall upon this society? The media of this nation has delighted in making sport of religion. They have made the nation distrust all holiness preaching and made all ministers out to be charlatans and crooks. People lift their drinks to toast, jeering, “Here’s to all hell-fire preachers!” But it is all going to change overnight. God will tingle the ears of the world because there will be sudden ruin! Sudden death! But we can look up and rejoice because we know that our redemption draws near (see Luke 21:28).

Monday, August 25, 2014

A LIFE OF FAITH by Gary Wilkerson

To have the kind of faith that pleases God, we often must be taken through frustrating, irritating, fist-clenching experiences. Maybe you’ve been at the point where you cried, “Lord, You gave me a promise, but now You have taken away everything that could make that promise possible!”

Why does God do this? Why does He remove all natural means through which His promise could be fulfilled? Often, it is so our relationship with Him will be pleasurable rather than dutiful. You see, if His promises could be fulfilled through our abilities, we would be in performance mode 24/7. That is not His way. Instead, He asks us into an ongoing relationship, one that requires the trust of our whole hearts.

That’s how the great cloud of witnesses before us made it into His Hall of Faith. Scripture says that when God promised to make Abraham the father of all nations, Abraham “figured his body was as good as dead” (Romans 4:19, NLT). That word “figured” is a mathematical term. Abraham realized that nothing in his life “added up” to see this promise fulfilled. Nothing in his power could make it work. And yet we read, “Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger” (4:20).

Here is a picture of Jesus initiating and perfecting a godly man’s faith. The more Abraham figured, “I can’t do this,” the stronger His faith in God’s ability grew. And through the death of his flesh came a power that was not of himself—it was the power of the Holy Spirit.

I wanted to see my prodigal son return to the Lord and in order to see that accomplished, I put my faith in God’s power to draw him with overwhelming love. I am happy to report that my son has been gloriously reconciled to God and to his family.

I want to see thousands of lost people in our city come to Jesus. Yet I know that will never happen by strategizing, planning or putting programs into place. Those things may be useful, but only Jesus can initiate anything for His kingdom. Only He can perfect in us the trusting faith required to see multitudes of souls brought into eternal life.
Yes, we are called to do the things we can do for Christ’s kingdom. But we are also called to more. Do you want to see God’s purposes accomplished in your community, His promises fulfilled in your life? He asks only that you trust Him by living a life of faith.