The Right Time

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The town behind me is Nazareth, Israel. It is built on a hillside, and one of its cliffs is the scene of an interesting account from the Scriptures. You see, buildings change and even culture changes, but when the Word of God highlights the topography of a place, you and I can set our eyes upon that place! Look closely at the hills of Nazareth within the photo and imagine this scene:

Jesus explained how the unbelief of the Jews throughout the centuries has caused God’s servants to go and perform miracles among other people groups. Elijah miraculously saw provision of food come to a Sidonite woman; Elisha miraculously saw God heal a Syrian man. He insinuated that the Jews in Nazareth would fail to see the wonder- working power of God because they could not accept that their hometown boy was truly the Son of God who was to come. “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill in which the town was built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But He walked right through the crowd and went on His way” (Luke 4:28-30).

Can you imagine Jesus escaping a crowd of angry Jews? How does One not become overpowered by many? Similar occurrences through the gospels add the following explanation:

“… because His time had not yet come” (John 7:30).

We know that Jesus had an appointed time to die, and the hands of man would help to accomplish His death; however, the truth remains that Jesus came to lay down His life for the sins of man. His life was not going to be taken from Him.

“No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father” (John 10:18).

I believe that we who are co-heirs with Christ gain precious insight to the expectation that we can have for our own earthly lifespans. “All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16). You have a life defined by destiny- a God-appointed destiny, should you surrender your control. The Father leads you victoriously from one season into another, meticulously guarding your steps as you walk according to His leading. Though the enemy sets traps for you, you can know that God Almighty, who is with you, will deliver you faithfully from the evil one!

If necessary, continue to remind yourself that you are not an object of fate, but a child of the King, and your destiny is a glorious one! You will enter and exit each season knowing that God who is Creator of all, is the author or your life and His all-surpassing power will protect you and deliver you into His eternal kingdom at the right time!

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord… He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else… He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live” (Acts 17:24-26).

A Home for the Most High

When you were a kid, did you build forts? Maybe you had a treehouse or a playhouse that you enjoyed with friends. My friends and I played in the woods and positioned broken tree limbs to form “walls” for our house. What is it about a home-like structure that infatuates us as children?

While in college, I worked a summer camp job that gave me the opportunity to set up a small building for myself and campers. I loved decorating that space! To this day, I still thoroughly enjoy designing interior spaces. Fortunately, I live at the address where I employ creative design. Soon, however, our homestead location will change. Last spring we sold our house to friends and planned to build our new home on a lot we purchased nearby. Our stipulation for selling the house is that we would continue to live there and rent back from our friends while we build. It was a good plan.

Due to much delay in the building process, we are coming to terms with the fact that we will need to rent a home in the near future and allow the new owners to take residence. Does it make sense to you if I say I feel somewhat displaced? I’ve been through this type of transition before, and it truly is unsettling. I get fixed on quickly solving the need for a home, and can hardly give attention to anything else. But therein lies a problem: I had to give focus to another important matter. Our daughter was transitioning to a local college campus, and we were preparing her for move-in day.

There’s a reoccurring theme in all of this transition: a place to dwell.

God is speaking. He is teaching me, and, perhaps, you need to hear these words too. Home is where He is. When God is central to all we think, believe and do, He is perfectly at home in us. We experience a strong sense of home simply by residing in His peace; we hide ourselves in God’s shelter, enabling us to rest in His shadow (see Psalm 91:1). Currently, my personal circumstances scream, “You have no home!” But my Father says, “You are at home in Me; therefore, your address is secure. Rest.”

A repeated phrase in Scripture that has always grabbed my heart is God indicating a country, city, or structure as “a place for My name.” I readily identify with God’s intention to dwell somewhere;  I want a place to call home. However, the Father’s purpose is higher than what I seek. God knows that man cannot build a structure to contain Him, but we can provide a place where He is preeminent above everything else… a place where God is honored as the Most High. That place is the human heart.

How about me? How about you? Are we places for God’s name? Is His nature on display in our lives? Is Jesus honored above all in what we think, believe, speak and do? God desires that we are part of the holy structure- the body of Christ- a place for His name.

Do you recall the instance in which Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20)? Although Jesus had no permanent address while He fulfilled God’s will for Himself in the earth, He still was very much at home as He remained in the center of God’s peace, walking obediently to the Father’s leading, step by step. He did, however, finally rest His head as he breathed His last breath, satisfying the Father’s plan of redemption of mankind. Jesus finished making payment for all sin through His suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection from death on the third day.

“Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30).

Pastor Joseph Prince says, “Jesus now had a place to rest His head- saving us!” Friend, if you have believed upon the grace of God given to man through the salvation of Jesus Christ, you are home. No, you’re not deserving of the gift of love, acceptance, freedom, and eternal life. There is a due penalty for all of your offenses against God, a payment that you could never make. The removal of sin required the blood of one without sin. Jesus, the Son of God, is the pure sacrifice for sin, given to the world by the Father. His sacrifice was once and for all (See Hebrews 10:10).

The Word of God is replete with references to home and dwelling. God is speaking. He is teaching me, and He is showing you that everything we ever wanted- the sense of security- is found in Him.   Welcome home, dear sojourner. He’s been waiting for you.

Welcome home, Holy God. My heart is your dwelling place. My life is a place for Your name.

“If anyone loves Me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23).

When a Car Accident is Good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

“Renee, meet me at Dino’s shopping center. We’re going to Richmond to get Jordan- she was in a car accident.”

Jon alerted me of Jordan’s crisis and we quickly abandoned our afternoon plans to travel to where our daughter and friends were enjoying a final outing before they soon go separate ways to their college campuses.

We arrived an hour later to find our daughter and friends in a good state of mind. The officer had since departed, but, according to Jordan, he handled the situation with much grace. He took the opportunity to encourage Jordan- she was obviously shaken up when he came to work the scene of the accident.

Jon saw that her car could not be driven home, so he called a towing company that could transport it back to our city. Never could he have known that the Father had a divine appointment in store for him. While I drove Jordan and friends back home, Jon enjoyed an hour-long conversation with the tow truck driver. Hearing the man’s personal story moved Jon with compassion to bless him. And when I picked my husband up at collision repair shop, the driver, Jon and I joined hands and prayed together.

In everything we give thanks.

What began with nine adults praising God for His covering of protection and His faithful provision quickly increased to ten.

Don’t you love how God invades our ordinary and not so ordinary moments of life and makes Himself known?

Faith vs. Logic

“When I came to you brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power”               (1 Cor. 2: 1-5).

The seventh chapter of John’s gospel presents an opportunity to contrast the lifestyle between the faithful and the self-dependent. Living faithfully requires a resolute trust in the Word of God. Having believed upon salvation in Jesus’ name, we now have the indwelling Holy Spirit who leads us in truth at all times. We walk by faith. To live unattached to Jesus, the True Vine, one must rely on his own understanding. Logic and learning of the world’s systems are the basis for all attitudes and actions of many.

The following are seven contrasting points from John 7:

PERSONAL IDENTITY

LOGIC says Jesus should go to Jerusalem and make Himself known through some miracles (see v. 3).

FAITH enabled Jesus to go to Jerusalem in secret (see v. 10).

TAKING ACTION

LOGIC says any time is right (see v. 6).

FAITH waits for the kairos time- the God-appointed time (see v. 6).

EDUCATION

LOGIC says learning only comes through the educational system (see v. 15).

FAITH recognizes that teaching comes from God (see v. 16).

DECISION-MAKING

LOGIC judges by appearances (see v. 24).

FAITH is foundational for right judgment (see v. 24).

SPIRITUALITY

LOGIC refuses to see miracles and believe (see v. 41).

FAITH believes in Jesus and enables one to come to Him, thereby becoming a recipient of the Living Water- life in the Spirit of Christ that satisfies all thirst in life (see vv. 37-38).

SECURITY

LOGIC seeks to defend oneself when threatened. In this case, the Pharisees sent guards to arrest Jesus (see vv. 30, 44-45).

FAITH confidently carries us forward in the Father’s divine protection.”… No one laid a hand on Him, because His time had not yet come” (see v. 30).

PERSONAL BELIEF SYSTEM

LOGIC finds comfort in an elitist status and popularity. “Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in Him? No!” (see vv. 48-49).

FAITH embraces simple trust of a child (see v. 49).

But small is the gate and narrrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matthew 7:14).

What Faith Looks Like

It looks impossible, doesn’t it? The thing you’re facing poses so much resistance that you doubt you will see a favorable outcome.

I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done (Psalm 118:13-17).

Your call to be faithful in the trial is really a call to put all of your trust in the Lord. Not some. All.

If, in the midst of the struggle, you realize something is out of order and needs to be righted, you’re what I call a current-changer. You seek God for wisdom about the circumstance, and you act upon the revelation.

To understand the walk of faith required for acting upon the revelation, imagine a”river current” that kids in a swimming pool create when they go around and around the interior of the pool’s perimeter. Their repeated motion in the same direction creates a current, and, eventually, swimmers will automatically float in the direction of the current with little effort of their own. But, when one decides to change the direction of the current, she turns the opposite direction and begins to push against its strength. What initially begins as a struggle becomes increasingly easy with each passing lap. The current moves with the same force but in the opposite direction.

I use this example because, if you’ve ever tried to go against the flow of a current, then you know the struggle. Perhaps the figurative current you’re going against is your old lifestyle. You’ve repented of your ways when you confessed your faith in Jesus’ salvation, and now you live empowered by the grace of God. You’re going against the current. The things of the past may present themselves as fresh opportunities, but your faith calls you to push ahead and not give in to the thrust of their force. I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation (Psalm 118:13-14).

Maybe your role as a current-changer is for changing the atmosphere of your home. Your  excitement over your marriage has diminished, and you have moved from a level of contentment to tolerance to utter disdain for your spouse. To turn in the opposite direction is to trust fully the faithfulness of God to restore love and honor to your relationship. The flow working against you is strong, but you do not give in to the old practices of criticism or repaying hurt with hurtful words and actions. Your faith sees a better day for your home. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” (Psalm 118:115-116).

Many of us know the call to remain faithful against the force of the current when our health is on the line. In those seasons we set our eyes on God’s promises and push into the resistance. The faith walk into that current is the trust walk. We keep declaring the scriptures because we trust that God’s Word is true for ourselves and everyone else under Jesus’ covenant of blood. Even when there’s no evidence of change, we keep moving against the current, because we know that any name seeking to exalt itself above the name of Jesus Christ was already defeated. I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done (Psalm 118:17).

If current circumstances tempt you to believe God will not uphold His Word, go back to the truth of His character and rehearse His attributes, for He is unchanging- the Eternal Father who has already proven His love for you.

A Vision of the Coming Rapture

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TBN Grace 2016 Tour Participants awaiting the start of Praise the Lord programming from the Southern Steps in Jerusalem.

While seated on the Southern Steps in Jerusalem, I listened to Bishop Clarence E. McClendon’s description of a vision he received from the Lord. It was there in Israel that McClendon knew he was supposed to release the vision- to share the revelation given him from heaven.

“Jesus is coming soon!”

“I had a prophetic revelation in a dream. Awakened, I spent six hours in the presence of God, writing and studying all that I had seen.”

“I was driving in my car on a California freeway and there was a great shaft of light. It was miles away but vivid. The span seemed to be one hundred miles wide- like when a spacecraft comes out of heaven [as depicted in a film]. At that moment, people began pulling over and were gazing at it.”

“Time stopped.”

“What was clear was the message of preparation. Images in heaven were moving- shadows only, silhouettes, as if they were preparing for a mass influx into heaven. Suddenly, I thought, ‘Is this happening?’ I asked myself in the Spirit, ‘Am I ready?'”

“Jesus appeared. So beautiful to behold the face of Jesus. Everything became clear- visible as through a window of heaven. It was clear that HE IS A KING!”

“Coals of incense were thrown on a burning fire- a majestic act. A controlled explosion of glory. God was giving Jesus His moment. Every eye saw this and time was frozen. At this moment, eternity invades now.”

“When I woke up, I wrote down my thoughts. In the dream, my eleven-year old son knew this was the rapture, but I was unsure… God wants us to have a restful confidence like my son displayed in the dream.”

“I also learned that my state of wondering in the dream was of God. God let me experience what others will go through at the moment when eternity invades now.”

“Finally, I learned that the moment this drama begins, every individual will be FROZEN in the state we’re in. If you’re ready, you’ll know it and you’ll leave. If you are not ready, there will be no opportunity for repentence.”

As a witness of the public sharing of McClendon’s vision, I can say that he is very convinced of what he saw and experienced in the dream. All who hear it should respond with a quest for Scriptural truth concerning the matter. Jesus spoke clearly about His return for His bride. Please reference Matthew 24 and 25.

Takers, Receivers and a Giver

Finally settling down for a day of rest, and the sorrow of this world catches up with me. All that I can say is, “Father, forgive us for we know not what we do.”

When reality sheds light on the utter destruction we reap by our own hands, my mind races to formulate some measure of understanding. The following thought surfaces: At the heart of our carnality, we are takers.

Eve took from the tree… Cain took Abel’s life… Jacob took his brother’s birthright… Laban took advantage of Jacob’s trust. Moses took an Egyptian down to the dust. David took Uriah’s wife.

Herod took John’s head. Judas took the bribe. Zealots took stones and cast them upon Stephen.

Today the actions of takers are just as obscene: Hitler took the lives of millions of Jews. Human traffickers take people as slaves. Traveling businessmen take young girls for a source of pleasure. Radical Islamists take lives in the name of their god. Killers take police officers from the line of duty.

At the heart of our carnality, we are all takers. As much as you and I want to believe otherwise, we have an evil nature that cares not for what is good, holy and true. The evil nature consumes that which is of interest to self. Lest we view takers as only those who do criminal activities, let us remember how quickly we are to take sides or to take away another’s good reputation through gossip. We take advantage of a situation for personal gain. We take liberty with the truth. We take a little off the top for ourselves. We take a longer lunch than the company pays us for.

But God is the Giver of everything good. He gave this universe existence. He gave the world He loves His Son, Jesus, so that whoever believes in Him will not face the penalty of eternal separation from God but, instead, know and experience everlasting life. God gave Jesus; therefore, His beautiful redemption frees the heart once bound to sin. How joyous to know the Giver of Life. How freeing to live constantly aware of His unceasing and immeasurable love for me. God is the Giver to whom our bankrupt soul cries out.

Apart from His gift of Jesus, we have no hope. We have no chance of escaping our carnality. Without Jesus, we are destined to live as takers and to die and descend to a hell full of takers. Keep in mind this hell is subject to Lucifer who sought to take God’s glory for himself. Hell was created for the devil and the angels who followed his lead.

O sweet Gospel that rings true for all eternity and in every corner of the globe! We were created to be receivers! Having received eternal pardon for my sin, I am free to receive the blessed gift of the Holy Spirit- the Spirit of truth who is ever with me. Through the Spirit-infused life I am a receiver of teaching, counsel, comfort, power, spiritual fruit, and spiritual gifts for service.

Embracing my new identity as a receiver sets me up for a lifestyle of expectation. As a child of the Father in heaven, I have assurance of receiving His steadfast love, His 24/7 protection, His daily provision, and a strong sense of purpose matched with His all-surpassing power to carry it out!

What need have I to take from another? Must I demand validation of importance from another? No. My heavenly Father assigns me identity and significance in His Son. I have received assurance from Him that I am holy and dearly loved because of the blood of Jesus.

Must I connive a way to provide for myself and my family? No, my Father’s grace out-supplies my every need. I rest in knowing I will receive from His generous heart all that I ever have need of and more.

Shall I seek vengeance against those who offend me? No, because my heavenly Father sees all and will not allow any to escape justice. I am a receiver of His promise that He has a day in mind when He will right all wrongs.

Shall I fear what is to become of my life? Fear is not part of my inheritance. As the Father’s child, I know I am kept in His perfect love which casts out all fear. I am a receiver of His assurance that all the days He has ordained for me will come to pass.

I’ve written much, but I pray that I have spoken equally as much. This hurting world has one hope, and His name is Jesus. Every taker has the right to know the Author of Life, to be given the opportunity to put to death his sin nature, and to receive God’s glorious redemption.

May all receivers on the earth go forth with this gospel and make disciples as the Spirit enables us.

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