Plagues into Prayers

Plagues into Prayers

Turning plagues into prayers

Four scriptures from John’s Revelation stir me to turn the present plague into prayers. In Revelation 9:20, after the trumpet plagues had been sent across the earth, John mourns that “the rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands,” indicating that God can use plagues in a way of calling people to repentance.

Similar frustration is expressed following the bowls of wrath that are reported in chapters 15 and 16. “They were seared by the intense heat and cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him” (16:9). “Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heavens because of their pain and their sores, but they refused to repent for what they had done” (16:10-11).

However there can be another response. Following the two witnesses, John reports, “At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven” (11:13). Giving glory to God implies that there was repenting going on.

Let us pray that this present crisis will be used of God to turn the hearts of thousands, even millions of hearts to Jesus. Do remember the prophecy about a billion soul world revival beginning in our day.

Let us be filled with hope and with joy in Jesus. Let us turn this plague into a “good report.” To the glory of God! Through Jesus the King!

Present Concerns, Though Written 72 Years Ago

Present Concerns, Though Written 72 Years Ago

“Do not fear” Luke 12:32

This word from the very erudite C. S. Lewis is a fitting “Good Report.”

From his book, “Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays,” published in 1948.

Substitute “atomic bomb” with “coronavirus,” and you will find—though written 72 years ago—it is still very accurate and encouraging to this day.

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any nigaht; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

Be outrageously blessed in Jesus this and every day.

Strength for Every Occasion

Strength for Every Occasion

An interesting passage in the beginning of the book of Judges: “These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experiences)” (3:1-2).

That does not sound like a “Good Report” to me, but it actually was. It was essential for the younger generation to learn how to fight. God’s view is often very different from our own.

I suspect that the worldwide pandemic about the coronavirus is another one of those strange things that God is allowing so that we will learn how to weather every storm that comes between now and His return. If my understanding of Scripture is close to accurate, we are headed toward the most horrific time in world history. Daniel calls it “a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then” (12:1). Jesus adds an addendum to Daniel’s prophecy, saying that it will be “great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21).

I have bad news. It’s going to get worse.

But I have good news. God will be with us and give us strength for every occasion.

Could it be that He is allowing the worldwide coronavirus so that, like Israel in the time of the Judges, we learn how to wage war and come through in victory at all times and in every way?

Let us lean into the Lord and have no fear. Remember that Jesus has “all authority” not only in heaven but all “on earth” (Matthew 28:18). The coronavirus did not catch Him off guard. He’s got it.

So “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory…  stand firm. Let nothing move you.” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).

God-Identity

God-Identity

Know your identity!

I love John’s description of the night when Jesus washed all the disciples’ feet. John says, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, so he got up from the meal…  and began to wash his disciples’ feet” (13:3-4).

Jesus knew who He was. He knew His identity. His actions came out of his God-given confidence.

Do you know who you are? Are you confident of your God-identity? Life and actions should follow our God-identity.

I encourage everyone I know to write for themselves their God-identity, based on scriptural facts, then memorize the statement and repeatedly speak it to yourself. This rids us of demoralizing negative self-talk, and then we grow in a walk with joy and confidence. Here are some possible starters for you:

*All of my sins are forgiven in Jesus (Romans 3).

*I have become righteous in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

*I have a secure future.

*He works everything for my good – everything! (Romans 8:28)

*I refuse to walk only by what I see or feel (2 Corinthians 5:7).

*I hear when God speaks (John 8:47; John 10:27).

*I am becoming more like Jesus (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18)

*I refuse to dwell on the past (Isaiah 43:18).

You get the point. God has a different view of us than we have of ourselves. As an example of this, check out God’s view of Moses (Exodus 3:11, 13; 4:1, 10, 13), Gideon (Judges 6:11,12), or Jeremiah (1:4-8) as opposed to their view of themselves.

Know your identity in Jesus. Speak that identity to yourself repeatedly, and you will begin to believe God more than you believe yourself, and you will walk in greater joy, confidence, faith and hope into the future.

Have a blessed life.

Confession & Forgiveness

Confession & Forgiveness

“Confess your sins one to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5:16

“If you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15

Conflicts between good people do arise. We are flawed. None of us is yet perfected. What do we do when we have been wronged, when we get into an argument, when we are accused of something we did not do

Here’s a formula that has worked for me through the years, and seems to help me walk stronger through life, not that I have always done this perfectly, but it is the formula which I believe should belong to all of us.

If 95% percent of the problem lies with the other person, and only 5% from me, I want to forgive the 95% and confess the 5%. And when I confess the 5%, I must not add, “But if you hadn’t… I wouldn’t have.” That’s just another form of self- justification and accusation of the other person.

There does not seem to me ever to be a problem between people where 100% of the problem belongs to one party. That party may have started the problem, but our response when we are maligned or accused or gossiped about or hurt is never perfect. So I could really say, “If 99% of the problem belongs to the other party and only 1% to me, then my role is to forgive the 99% and ask forgiveness for the 1%. This does not mean that I will begin to trust or maybe will ever trust the offender, but I have released him or her and have confessed my own part of the problem or my flawed response.

Do you have a problem confessing your faults?

Learn to claim your part in the disagreement or argument, and quickly to forgive the other person.

Enjoy life more as you follow Jesus and abide in His Word.

A Life of Serving

A Life of Serving

Serving and Being Served

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” Matthew 20:28

Jesus came not to be served but to serve. Biblical authority is from the bottom up, not from the top down. The one who leads is on the bottom serving those over him, not on top demanding that others serve him. 

Jesus made this quite clear when He heard the disciples arguing about who was to be the greatest in His kingdom.  

It seems that James and John were standing aside while their mother was asking the Lord that one of them should be “Prime Minister” and the other “Secretary of State” (“these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom” – Matthew 20:21) in His kingdom.

Jesus caught on quickly and explained that they had missed the whole point of who is to be the greatest in His kingdom: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (vv. 25-28).

Yes, we have authority and we are to walk in that authority. But we are not to “exercise authority over” others. For example, Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands, but that word comes immediately following his admonition that husband and wife should submit to one another. Any time a husband says to his wife, “You are supposed to submit to me!” he has just moved away from the spirit of Jesus. 

Jesus does not force us to submit, though He could do that, but He loves us into submission, voluntary submission, joyous submission.

Enjoy life! Walk as a servant to those around you. 

Even if you are the “chief leader.” Emulate the Master. 

And you will be continually filled with His joy.