Jesus Is Coming Again

Jesus is coming back to earth someday! If He came today would you be ready? Are you looking for Him and longing for His coming? Heb 9:28 says, “…Christ …shall appear a second time…to those who eagerly await Him.”

The early believers spoke and wrote about His coming soon but they did not know when. When the disciples asked when it will happen,  Jesus answered, “…No one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Matt 24:36

Not long before His crucifixion,  as Jesus was sitting with His disciples on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, they asked Him,  “What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3)

Several times before this as He was teaching the disciples He told them that He was going to be killed and raised to life again.  Mark 9:32 says,  “They did not understand this statement and they were afraid to ask Him.”

Now Jesus begins speaking about His coming and of the end of the age. He begins with a warning, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ, the Messiah’  and will mislead many.”

Then He describes the state of chaos the world will be in. There will be wars and rumors of wars, nations rising against nation, kingdom against kingdom and in various places famines and earthquakes. This could be today’s newspaper!

He says they will be persecuted and hated by all nations  because they bear the name of Jesus.  Many will leave the faith and  betray and hate one another. The love of many people will grow cold because of the lawlessness and iniquity.

False Christs and false prophets  will show great signs and wonders so as to mislead people, even Christians. If someone says He is in this or that place, do not believe them because Christ’s coming will be like a flash of lightning, from the east to the west.

Just like in the days of Noah, people were living ordinary lives, eating and drinking, and marrying until the day Noah entered the ark, and they didn’t understand until the flood came and took them all away; that’s how His coming will be. There will be two men working side by side, one will be taken and the other left.

Over and over He told them to be ready because they do not know when He will come. He is coming on a day and at an hour when they do not expect Him. He warns them not to live without restraint, as if His coming is a long way off.

Luke 21:25-36 says “there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars and upon  the earth, distress of nations in bewilderment and perplexity at the roaring of the tossing of the sea . Men will be fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”

“Then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near…recognize that the kingdom of God is near….Be on your guard….keep on the alert at all times, praying….”

At the Passover meal, the last supper Jesus had with His disciples, He knew His time had come to leave this world and go back to His Father in heaven.  He tried to prepare them but they didn’t understand. He told Peter, “Where I go, you cannot follow me now, but you shall follow later.”  John 13:36

He told them, “Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places… I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3

After His crucifixion and resurrection Jesus was with them for forty days teaching them.  His last words to them were, “Stay in Jerusalem, wait for the Father’s promised baptism of the Holy Spirit that I told you about, Who will empower you to be My witnesses to the end of the earth.”  Acts 1:1-5

After He had said these things, as they were looking into the sky, He disappeared into a cloud. Two men in white clothing appeared and said to them, “Why are you looking into the heavens (sky)? This Jesus will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:9-11

Peter, who was there as Jesus disappeared in the cloud, that day, waited with others in the upper room in Jerusalem for the promised baptism. After he received the Holy Spirit with power to witness, he stood up and preached his first sermon with the result that three thousand souls believed on Jesus.

From that day on Peter determined to tell people about Jesus! The man who had run in fear and denied that he knew Jesus, now boldly encouraged believers to continue in the faith in spite of the Roman persecution under Nero’s reign. He wrote letters of encouragement and also of warning.

He reminded them that he was an eye witness to all that he told them about Jesus. He had heard the Father’s voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son with Whom I am well pleased.” But the message will not be accepted by everyone!

Mockers will come saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since our fathers passed away, all continues as it was from the beginning of creation.”2 Pet 3:3

They forget that God already destroyed the earth once by a flood. He is not slow about His promise, but He is patiently giving people time to repent. He does not want anyone to perish. His patience is their opportunity for salvation.  But eventually the Lord will come as He promised.

In Paul’s letter to Timothy he told him, “Realize this, that in the last days difficult, perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable,”

“Malicious gossips, without self control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as this.” 2 Tim 3:1-5

As believers who are looking eagerly for His coming we are to live differently. We are to “abide (stand firm)  in him, so that when he appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him at His coming.” 1 John 2:28

“Now we are children of God, and it has not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3

“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes (kindred) of the earth will mourn (lament) over Him…’I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, ‘Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev 1:7-8

In a  letter to the Thessalonian believers Paul  tells them that those who are alive when Jesus comes will not go before those who have died. He describes the coming of the Lord. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God;”

“And the dead in Christ (believers who  have died) will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord…Comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13 -18

Jesus’ words of comfort to Martha regarding Lazarus’ death were, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” John 11:25-26

Paul explains a mystery to the Corinthian believers, “We shall not all sleep (die) but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Cor 15:50-53

In the light of Christ’s coming, how should we live? Jesus explained the way to live to the multitudes and to His disciples. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

“For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

“For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man (Jesus) will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-38

Jesus is coming for all those who have repented of their sins and have accepted His salvation. He is coming for all who believe in Him. Those who are trying to establish their own righteousness will not go with Him. They will be left behind!

Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus is not going to take unrighteous sinners to heaven. His death on the cross made salvation available to all who believe and accept His provision.

Romans 10:8-10 “The word of faith is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”

Jesus is coming! The fact that He has not come yet does not mean He is not still coming! His words to us are, “Be ready! Live as if He is coming today! Watch!”

 

 

 

The People Who Know Their God!

Daniel 11:32 “The people who know their God will display strength  and take action (do exploits for God.) Daniel was talking about bad things that are going to happen, evil and wickedness will seem to be winning, but in the midst of it there will be people who will know their God, the true God, the Lord of heaven and earth and they will stand strong!

As we look at the world and we listen to the news we could feel sick. Because of the Media we are more aware of everything that is happening around the world and it does not look very promising! We need to know God in order to stand strong! I need to trust Him in every area of my life.

In my quiet time one day a familiar story in Mark 8 caught my attention. The disciples & Jesus were in a boat, crossing the lake when the disciples expressed concern that they had forgotten to bring food & had only one loaf of bread with them. Jesus said to them, “Why are you arguing about having no bread?”

“How is it that you do not understand? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? Having eyes do you not see? And having ears do you not hear? Do you not remember? When I fed the 5000 with 5 loaves of bread how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up? ” They answered “Twelve.”

And when I fed the 4000 with 7 loaves how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” “Don’t you understand yet?” He asked. Mark 6:52 says they had not gained any insight from the miracle of the loaves, their hearts were too hardened.

Like the disciples we fail to trust Him many times and in much the same ways.We forget His provision in the past. They had forgotten the miracles. He reminded them, “When I fed the multitudes there was more than enough!”

We look at our resources to meet our need. We think we have to figure out how He will do it! We look at what we have   and do not see how He will be able to do anything with the small amount we possess. The disciples knew one loaf of bread was not enough. We know our limited resources are not enough.

We don’t trust Him when we do not know Him or believe His promises. The disciples didn’t fully understand who He was. He told them but they didn’t believe His words. We do not trust Him when we allow fear to invade our mind & heart. We are afraid He won’t come through for us. We aren’t sure He cares!

The disciples on the stormy sea woke Jesus up & said, “Don’t you care that we’re perishing? Do you know about our situation?” Overwhelmed & afraid, we don’t see any way out. Jesus said to them, “Why are you fearful? How is it you have no faith?” We can’t have fear and faith at the same time, they are not compatible!

Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed is the man whose trust is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream & will not fear when the heat comes, but its leaves will be green. And it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”

Consider four basic ways we can have faith that counteracts the reasons we don’t trust Him.  1. We can live in faith when we look back & remember His past provision! We know He can do it again! Jesus said to the disciples, “Do you not remember?” He reminded them of what He had done before. We need to look back at His miraculous provision in the past.

2. We can live in faith by not looking at what we have in our hands and trying to figure out how God can possibly meet our needs from that. Adrian Rogers told a story of some humanitarians who were caring for some orphans after WW2.  Every night the boys were waking up with nightmares.

It was thought they had fears of an uncertain future, so every night they were fed a big meal and they were given a piece of bread to hold in their hands which would be their breakfast. Somehow, just holding the bread in their hands helped them sleep better. Jesus is our supplier, He’s our bread!

3. We can live in faith by spending time in prayer &  His Word every morning. We get to know Him & his promises. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing but in every thing by prayer & supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace which surpasses comprehension will guard your hearts & minds in Christ Jesus.”

4. We can live in faith as we do not allow fear to stay in our mind & heart. 1 Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power & love & a sound mind.” God is not surprised by the things that happen to us and He is able to work everything out.

Romans 8:28 says, ” God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” We can have hope even when the world around us is falling apart because we know God will take everything in our lives, the good & the bad, and He will work them for our good when we love & trust Him.

In his book, “The Coming Economic Armageddon,” David Jeremiah tells a story about a man named Samuel S.Scull who lived on a farm in the Arizona desert. “One night a fierce storm struck with rain, hail & high wind. Fearing what he would find, Samuel went out at daybreak to survey the loss.

The hail had beaten the garden into the ground; the house was partially unroofed, the hen house was blown away and dead chickens were scattered around. Destruction & devastation were everywhere. While standing, evaluating the mess & wondering about the future, he heard a stirring in the lumber pile that was the remains of the hen house.

A rooster was climbing up through the debris and he didn’t stop until he had mounted the highest board in the pile. That old rooster was dripping wet & most of his feathers were blown away, but as the sun came over the eastern horizon, he flapped his bony wings and proudly crowed!

That old wet, bare rooster could still crow when he saw the morning sun. And like that rooster, our world may be falling apart, we may have lost everything, but if we trust in God, we’ll see the light of God’s goodness, pick ourselves out of the rubble, and sing the Lord’s praise!”

An old song by Ira Stamphill says, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.”

“I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day, I don’t borrow from its sunshine, for it’s skies may turn to gray. I don’t worry o’er the future, For I know what Jesus said. And today I’ll walk beside Him, For He knows what is ahead.

I don’t know about tomorrow, it may bring me poverty, But the One Who feeds the sparrow is the One Who stands by me. And the path that be my portion may be through the flame or flood, but His presence goes before me, And I’m covered with His blood.”

Chorus  – “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand;                                                                 But I know Who holds tomorrow and I know Who holds my hand.”

People who know their God do not fear tomorrow, they know He has it in His control.

 

GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE

“God is still on the throne and He will remember His own,” echos in my mind from many years ago when we sang this in our church quite often. I didn’t really picture God sitting on a throne but I understood the implications of God’s rule and absolute authority. The fact that God is still on the throne should bring us a feeling of security and peace.

We should heave a sigh of relief and say, “God is in control of everything, I don’t need to worry.” There are many Scriptures that speak of God’s throne and His Sovereign rule in heaven and on earth. Isaiah 66:1 God says, “Heaven is My throne and earth is My footstool.” Psalm 45:6, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.”

Psalm 47 says the Lord Most High is to be feared, He is a great king over all the earth. He is our King, the King of all the earth. vs 8 ” God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne.” In Psalm 50:12 God says, “If I were hungry I would not tell you, or the world is Mine and all it contains (its fullness).”

When we look at the world around us it doesn’t look like God is on His throne. In fact, it looks like the world is out of control. In many places in the world being one of God’s children can cost you your very life or the life of someone you love dearly. People who refuse to deny Jesus Christ as their Lord are being imprisoned or martyred for their faith.

More than once Jesus said we would have tribulation.The truth is we have an enemy who hates us and he is doing everything in his power to destroy all that God has created. Since before creation, he wants worship and he wants to be god. God and Satan are not equal! Satan was created as a beautiful angel but his pride was his downfall.

As a created being he said in his heart, “I will ascend to heaven, I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:12-15 The Lord said to him, “You will be thrust down to Sheol.”

In Luke 10:18 Jesus said, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.” The devil then set about to destroy man and everything else he could destroy. Starting with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, he planted doubt of God’s goodness in their minds and hearts and tempted them to disobey God and he is doing the same with people today.

Just as he influenced Adam and Eve and everyone who was born after them, he now works in and through the sons (and daughters) of disobedience. Evil is rampant because ungodly men have rejected God and they are following the devil. One of his main works is deception. People think they are doing what they want to but they are doing what he wants them to. They have been deceived by him.

Our enemy is referred to by various names describing his work in the world and his character. One of those names is 2 Cor 4:4  the “god of this world” meaning the world system. For His own reasons, God is allowing him to work in this world for a certain time until His purposes are fulfilled in this earth.

God has given men and women a will, they can choose to follow Him or they can follow the deceiver. Satan’s end will be the lake of fire and all those who follow his ways will join him and his angels there. The good news is, that Jesus Christ has made a way whereby everyone can return to follow God and live forever with Him. No one has to be lost forever.

Look at the world! Is it getting better? No!! Turn on the news! Terror, grief, turmoil, murder, fear and anguish are the order of the day. Tornadoes, out of control fires, disasters on the earth. Man can not control the atmosphere. He can’t command rain or sunshine. God is still in control.

Persecution will continue and even escalate. Even in the family those who do not believe will turn on the believers. But, Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Those who follow Christ, carry their cross. But, in the end, they will be victorious over the enemy!

GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE

by Kittie L. Suffield 1929

Chorus-
God is still on the throne and He will remember His own;
Tho’ trials may press us and burdens distress us He never will leave us alone.
God is still on the throne, He never forsaketh His own;
His promise is true, He will not forget you,
God is still on the throne.

Verse 1
Have you started for glory and heaven? Have you left this old world far behind?
In your heart is the Comforter dwelling? Can you say, “Praise the Lord, He is mine”?
Have the ones that once walked on the highway gone back, and you seem all alone?
Keep your eyes on the prize, for the home in the skies;
God is still on the throne.

Verse 2
Burdened soul, is your heart growing weary with the toil and the heat of the day?
Does it seem that your path is more thorny as you journey along on life’s way?
Go away and in secret before Him tell your grief to the Savior alone;
He will lighten your care, for He still answers prayer;
God is still on the throne.

Verse 3
You may live in a tent or a cottage, unnoticed by those who pass by;
But a mansion for you He is building, in that beautiful city on high;
It will outshine the wealth and the splendor, of the richest on earth we have known;
He’s the Architect true, and He’s building for you;
God is still on the throne.

Verse 4
He is coming again is the promise, to disciples when He went away;
In like manner as He has gone from you, you will see Him returning some day;
Does His tarrying cause you to wonder, does it seem He’s forgotten His own?
His promise is true, He is coming for you;
God is still on the throne.

DRIFTING IS DANGEROUS

 

There are many Evangelical preachers, teachers and church leaders who believe we are living in the last days before Jesus comes again. They do not know the day or the hour but from everything they study in the Bible they see events as shaping up to His soon return. Never before have so many things come together as signs which Jesus said to watch for. (Matthew 24)

If you grew up in Church you heard sermons and read books or heard people talking about this. I remember in the 60’s people feared that another war was imminent.They began gathering food and other supplies and a few even made themselves underground shelters. Along the way there were some books written that actually set dates like, 1988 which was changed to 1989 when it didn’t happen.

When we hear something often we may tune out or tend not to listen very carefully. I remember when I was a child and my mother would tell a familiar story from her past. Because I had heard it before, I did not listen very carefully. Now, many years later I wish I had paid more careful attention. I let her words drift by because they were nothing new. I heard it before.

The writer to the Hebrews says, long ago God spoke through prophets and in many other ways but in these last days, He has spoken in His Son, Jesus. He then gives a warning, ” For this reason, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” It’s possible to hear the message of salvation but not pay attention, instead let it drift, in one ear & out the other. (Heb 1:1-2; 2:1)

He gives another warning  in 3:12 “Take care, lest there be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away (standing aloof) from the living God.” More than once he entreats them not to “harden their hearts.” There’s a downward trend; drifting, then doubting and finally disbelief, refusal to believe because of a hardened heart. Today as He speaks, we need to pay careful attention.

Peter writes to his followers so that they will remember the words spoken to them by the prophets and apostles. He wants them to know that in the last days, mockers are going to come who will say, “Where is the promise of His coming? It didn’t happen in our fathers day and everything is carrying on as it always has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:1-4)

“When they say this, they willfully forget that, by the Word of God, the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water through which the world at that time was destroyed being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth, by His Word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgement and destruction of ungodly people.”  (3:5-7)

Peter also wants them to pay close attention, to not let the truth drift by. “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, with the Lord, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (3:8-9)

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” (3:10-11)

The message of salvation is an old, old story. God created man to have fellowship with Him but man rebelled. His rebellion carried the death penalty but Jesus, God’s Son paid the death penalty by dying on a cross, in our place. God raised Him from the dead and now He lives and is interceding for us. My part is to believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus died for me and that He is alive today. (Rom 10:9-11)

You may have heard this message many times but you have not taken it seriously. You think you have lots of time to make a commitment to Jesus Christ. Drifting is dangerous! Drifting is perilous to your soul! Time as we know it, is running out! It’s time to stop drifting! An old gospel song depicts this as someone who is out on a sea drifting farther and farther from the safety of the shore.

DRIFTING TOO FAR FROM THE SHORE           by Charles E. Moody 1923

Out on the perilous deep where danger silently creeps
and storms so violently sweeping, you’re drifting too far from the shore.

Today the tempest rose high and clouds o’ershadow the sky
Sure death is hovering nigh, you’re drifting too far from the shore

Why meet a terrible fate, mercies abundantly await
Turn back before it’s too late, you’re drifting too far from the shore.

Chorus
Drifting too far from the shore, you;re drifting too far from the shore.
Come to Jesus today, He will show you the way.
You’re drifting too far from the shore.

FROM FEAR TO FAITH

Recently I decided to review a course I had taken some years ago. I needed some answers and this would be a good place to start. The course, “Counseled by God” is taught by Mark Virkler who also teaches “How to Hear the Voice of God.” I started each morning  by watching the DVD for that day’s lesson, then spending time with the Lord journaling my questions and His answers.

As I journaled, my time and conversation with the Lord was always meaningful. Although there were aspects of ministry and healing in previous lessons, session seven was very close to home, “From Fear to Faith.”  The application exercise addressed the question, “Are there areas of fear in your life? To help you discern them, list five “what if”s…you have asked yourself recently.”

Ask the Lord, “What do You want to say about these “what if’s?” I made my list and I asked the Lord what He would say to me. His answer was loving, encouraging, and He reminded me that He has always taken care of me all these years. He said, “Let the light of My Word shine into all the corners, the places where dust webs of doubt are lurking. Have faith in Me!” Certain Scriptures came to mind.

One book in the Old Testament written by the prophet, Habakkuk, addresses fear and faith with all the implications we face today. He had a lot of questions concerning things that were bothering him. The world around him was much like ours and he wanted to know why God was allowing the violence and injustice and how long it would go on. God’s answer was, “I am doing something in your days-”

Habakkuk says,”You don’t approve evil or wickedness so why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they are?”He says I don’t understand but I want to. “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me and how I may reply when I am reproved.”

Then the Lord answered Habakkuk, “Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.  Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.”

He has a conversation with the Lord, remembering His Majesty and Power displayed in the past. His mind turns to the coming invasion which God has told him will come and he almost hears the sound of their coming. His lips quiver and his body trembles as he sets himself to wait quietly for the day of distress and the invading people.

Suddenly his faith rises within him and he says, “Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls. yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, and he has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.”

Listen to any news channel and you will be bombarded with all that’s wrong in the world. From fires in California and as of today’s report, five hundred fires in BC to floods in Texas. We need rain and may have a shortage of water here. Shootings and stabbings every day for no reason. Greece is in financial trouble again and our economy is supposed to take a down turn by the fall.

I was born in the great depression is this the full circle for me? I can’t control the world market or the weather patterns but I can control my attitude. I can be filled with fear, try to stash money or food and wait quietly for the invasion of adverse circumstances or I can say, I will remember that the Lord GOD is my strength. I choose to depend on Him. He will enable me to make it through.

What a wonderful affirmation of faith is Habakkuk’s testimony. As he moves from fear to faith he says, “I will not live in fear, according to my circumstances, the joy of the Lord GOD is my strength. He will enable me to overcome. I will not only survive but thrive!” Our hope is not in this world, it must be in God Who is the only source of stability when the world is crumbling around us. I choose to put my faith in Him.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

In his book, “The Bush Is Still Burning” Lloyd John Ogilvie describes an experience he had in Israel as he sat on a hillside watching shepherds and their sheep in the valley below. As the sun began to set, he saw something remarkable take place. The shepherds began to call out to the sheep, each walking in a different direction. After milling around a bit, the sheep divided and a separate group followed each shepherd.

What a sight, the shepherd in front and the sheep faithfully following. They knew their Shepherd and he knew his sheep.Each shepherd led his sheep to a different sheepfold, an enclosure with four walls and a man sized opening on one side. The shepherds stood inside and called their sheep to enter.

Then they built a fire just inside the door and prepared their evening meal. Before long the fires would be banked and the shepherds would curl up in their blankets for a night of watchfulness inside the doorway of the sheepfold. No sheep could go out and no predators or invading danger could come in past the shepherd.

The imagery of shepherds and sheep is used all through the Bible, depicting God and His relationship with His people. Psalm 100:3 “Know that the Lord Himself is God. It is He Who has made us and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” God is frequently referred to as the Shepherd and Israel as His flock.

He is the Good Shepherd Who provides everything for His sheep as Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Often Jesus spoke of Himself as the Shepherd and the disciples or followers as His flock and when He said He was the Good Shepherd, He identified Himself with God.

In John 10, we have the words of Jesus teaching His disciples. He compares His relationship with them as that of a shepherd and his sheep. When He spoke using figures of speech, they didn’t understand so He began to speak more directly. In verse 7 and 9, Jesus tells them, “I am the door of the sheep.”

Then He says, ” I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Not only am I the protector of my sheep, the only way to go in and out of the sheepfold, but I willingly lay down my life for my sheep.”I am the good shepherd and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

Vs17 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.” Vs18 “No one takes it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

But there were other people who heard the words of Jesus and they argued all the time about His words and whether He was the Christ or not. Jesus pinpointed their questioning attitude by saying to them, “You do not believe, because you are not of My sheep.”

So, not everyone is a sheep who is following Jesus, the Shepherd. There are those who are not interested in what He has to say except to find some fault. There are some who hear His voice and seem to be one of the sheep but they do not really want to follow Him and obey Him.

All through Scripture there are solemn warnings not to harden our hearts to His voice. In Psalm 95:6-7 “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts -,”

Hebrews 3 says. “Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts,” God requires our obedience if we truly hear His voice and desire to follow Him. Proverbs 29:1 “A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.”

In his book, “A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23” Phillip Keller talks about a beautiful ewe he had which he really loved. She was healthy and bright eyed, and she had sturdy lambs which matured rapidly. But she had one fault, she was restless, discontented.

He named her Mrs.Gadabout. Because she was a fence crawler, she produced more problems than all his other sheep. No matter what field or pasture the sheep were in Mrs.Gadabout would search for a loophole to craw through and feed on the other side.

Often she would end up feeding on bare, brown, burned up pasturage that was inferior to the place she was in before. She never learned but continued to fence crawl time after time. Not only that but she taught her lambs the same tricks and soon they were skilled at fence crawling too.

Even worse was the example she set for other sheep. In a short time she began to lead others through the same holes and over the same dangerous paths down to the sea. After putting up with her perverseness for a summer, he came to a conclusion. In order to save his flock from becoming unsettled, she would have to go.

He could not allow one obstinate, discontented ewe to ruin the whole ranch operation. It was the only solution. It was a difficult decision to make because he loved her as much as the rest. One morning her fence crawling career was cut short. He took the killing knife and he butchered her. In spite of the good care he had given her she always wanted something else.

To quote Phillip, “She was not like the one who said, The Lord is my Shepherd – I shall not want. It is a solemn warning to the carnal Christian  – backslider – the half Christian – the one who wants the best of both worlds. Sometimes, in short order, they can be cut down.”

There is another type of sheep Jesus mentioned, those who are not a part of the fold yet. Vs16 “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice; and they shall become one flock with one Shepherd.” Jesus, the Good Shepherd is calling the lost.

In Luke 15 we have a parable Jesus told to illustrate the great love He has for lost sheep. The shepherd who has one hundred sheep finds that one is missing. He leaves the ninety nine and searches for the lost one until he finds it. He calls his neighbors to rejoice with him because he found his sheep that was lost.”

“In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents than over ninety nine righteous persons that need no repentance. Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”

At Easter we remember the death, burial and the resurrection of Jesus. Isaiah tells us He bore our iniquity, our sins. We were disobedient, like straying sheep and Jesus laid down His life for us. If we hear His voice and follow Him we will never want or lack any necessity of life. He promises to care for us forever, in this life and the next.

Vs27-30 “My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one (essence).”

HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN

How long has it been since you talked with the Lord,
And told Him your heart’s hidden secrets?
How long since you prayed? How long since you stayed
On your knees till the light shone through?

How long has it been since your mind felt at ease?
How long since your heart knew no burden?
Can you call Him your friend? How long has it been
Since you knew that He cared for you?

How long has it been since you knelt by your bed
And prayed to the Lord up in heaven?
How long since you knew that He’d answer you
And would keep you the long night through?

How long has it been since you woke with the dawn
And felt that the day’s worth the living?
Can you call Him your friend? How long has it been
Since you knew that He cared for you?

 

Song by Mosie Lister

Undimmed Memory

“There’s a storm coming.” This was the reason given by the cashier at the grocery store, for the lack of bread on the shelves. When I came home and turned on the TV, the weather channel carried the warnings of snowfall in the many areas, especially in the higher elevations.

My mind goes back to March 2, 2011. Larry and I had left home the day before and stayed over night at Princeton, something we liked to do, when we drove to the Coast. On March 4, he would be 80 years old, and he was very excited about the celebration his daughter, Brenda had planned for Saturday. He loved to get together with family and friends. This would be the highlight of his life. He had reached a milestone after a long climb.

There was a lot of snow on the highway but with all his trucking experience, Larry was not concerned. When we reached the divided highway the other side of Hope we felt that the worst was behind us. But suddenly the wheel was caught in the pothole, the car left the road, and suddenly we were airborne into the median. Held by our seat belts we seemed to be watching a movie. We saw the snowbanks & the highway as we spun around. Finally, the car fishtailed, slammed against a bank and came to rest on two wheels.

Although we were not protected from the accident, I believe we were protected during the accident. There were some things that I believe were not coincidence. All of the apparent damage was in the back with windows smashed and the back seat filled with snow. The front windshield and two windows were intact and the airbags did not deploy.

Help was there in the people who were on the scene immediately, a truck driver and two RCMP officers, one travelling East and the other officer going West on the opposite side of the highway. The men put the car on it’s four wheels and the ambulance was called. They walked us out to the road to the waiting ambulance. The car was totaled but we walked out. Later, when he saw the car, Dustin remarked, “Someone was looking after you.”

Yes, Someone was looking after us! But in the days that followed we might have wondered why some things that happened had a happy ending and other things did not. We walked away from the accident but on March 5, Larry had a stroke, missed his big celebration and ended up in one hospital. That was followed later by more strokes, another hospital, pneumonia, paralysis and finally death. Within three weeks he was gone.

As Larry was in a private room, the family was able to be with him around the clock. Some good happened in those three weeks as we drew together as a family. Larry prayed for that and I believe he knew and was happy to see our blended family drawn closer. Through the years, he prayed for each one every day, morning and evening. He had their names written on a paper so he wouldn’t forget anyone. Remembering now, I can hear him saying each name.

Undimmed memories are footprints in the sands of time. Although the memory of the storm brings tears, yet there is a peace that comes with it. My loving God is in the memories. I can put my hand in His and trust Him for the future.