Archives for posts with tag: Endurance

Most recently, I have been lamenting over the significance of the human existence—both the brevity of life and the stench of death.  As Christians, we are taught that death is to be celebrated.  However, many of our celebratory instincts often wane when death is untimely and protracted.  In the era of digital news, it seems as though death is ubiquitous.  It could just be that even (or especially) in the digital era, the old journalism mantra of “If it bleeds it leads,’ still rules.   As such, the news cycles are often inundated with stories of tragedies, many of which we, as a society, have become immune.  The headlines are riddled with stories of murders, suicides, overdoses, illnesses and police brutality, just to name a few.  Although the loss of all human life is significant, none is more impactful to me that the loss of young life—the loss of someone who had yet to reach his or her prime—had yet to experience his or her “better days.”

 

The thought of untimely death has made me question and challenge God’s sovereignty and humanity.  Though I must confess, typing the word “humanity” made me chuckle.  I realized that in my quandary, I had somehow brought God down to my level.  I wanted His ways and His thoughts to be akin to mine.  I knew it was unreasonable and irrational, but I still felt that He owed me an explanation.  Like Job, I felt as though the Creator of the Universe owed me an explanation.   While my meditation did not yield quite the answer that I was looking for, it did provide a story of hope, which I will share with you below:

 

The Time is Closer Than You Think!

 

For eons, many have prophesied about the Last Days.  Each generation has cited turbulent times as evidence of impending doom.  Most recently, I have wondered what those day would look like.  For a glimpse into the future, I turned to Revelation, one of the most allegorical books in the Bible. Revelation 19:19 says, “Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army.”  The verse talked about Jesus returning with his army to wage battle.  Many Biblical scholars are divided between whether that army would consist of solely angels or a combination of angels and those that have gone before.   The thought made me wonder in merriment.

 

Today, there are approximately seven billion people walking the planet.  According to the Population Reference Bureau it is estimated that approximation 107 billion people ever lived.  I image that if a war was declared between the Heavens and Earth, Heaven’s armies would necessitate at least that many “soldiers.”  That’s a lot of angels!  The debate about the composition of Jesus’s army is a complex theological debate that is beyond the scope of this post.  However, I will explore that notion of what it would look like if Jesus’s army consisted of both saints and angels.

 

Disclaimer: The opinions presented below are simply conjecture provided to stimulate thought—a mental exercise.

 

Now that that is out of the way, here are my thoughts:  What if the end was closer that we thought?  What if the increase prevalence of youth mortality was actually a battle call?  What if those who died young were being called home early for a greater purpose—preparation for battle?  Maybe your 23-year-old son that lost his battle with cancer is now a general in the battle of Armageddon.  Maybe that 16-year-old that die in the car accident is now a comrade in Heaven’s army.  I would imagine that if Jesus’s army does consist of saints and angels, some “training” would be necessary.  Imagine if during the final battle, you saw your loved one dress in white linen at the battlefront.  Imagine how good you would feel to know that God has given you beauty for ashes.  While no one know the precision of God’s plan, we do know this:  God’s ways are not our ways and His thought are not our thoughts.  God’s plans might seem inexplicable and painful at times, but we have to trust that HE IS GOD and that He still sits on the throne.  Isaiah 61 (NIV) says:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations.

 

Regardless of what the world has managed to throw our way, God will continue to give us beauty for ashes!

Advertisements

I have a question for all you Sunday School buffs.  What was the sin that got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden?  Now that the Jeopardy music has stopped playing, what is your final answer.   Ding! Ding! Ding!  If you said, “Eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” you won the grand prize.

This afternoon, I was in the middle of writing and entirely different blog when God struck me with the following profound revelation.

  1. Our quest for knowledge is great, as long as it doesn’t come at the price of faith.
    1. The story of Adam and Eve is so complex, and it has so many spiritual implications and interpretations, but here is what God laid on my heart today. In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam dominion over the land.  The entire land was his to explore.  However, Adam was not satisfied in gradually exploring the kingdom.  He wanted instant gratification—instant knowledge.  Learning the lay of the land would take too long.  Eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil would give him an instant upload of information.  Isn’t that true of you and I.  Rather than simply letting each day play out and taking life day by day, we attempt to skip to the last chapter of our lives, hoping to get a sneak preview.  How many of us have been given Gardens to explore, but continue to fall because of our multiple attempt to eat from our individual Trees of Knowledge of Good and Evil?
  1. Knowledge if left unchecked could become an adversary of faith.
    1. If we knew everything, why on Earth would we need God? There comes a point in our pursuit of knowledge where we have to curb our enthusiasm.  As most scientists know, the deeper we delve into knowledge, the more we realize just how much we do not know—just how inexplicable the universe is.   In fact, many scientists have gone mad trying to find answers for things for which there are no known explanation.  At some point, science will take us to a terminal end—an “x-factor”—an unknown.
  1. If knew everything, then we would become God’s equal. When we equate ourselves with God, we automatically become prideful.
    1. Who would have thought that just wanting to know whether God is going to move in our live could lead to pride? It can, and it does if we are not careful.  Here is why:

Lack of Faith =                                          Doubting God

Doubting God =                                         Doing life by our own will (no need for God)

Doing Life by our own will =                       Pride

Pride =                                                       Lack of Faith.

When we lack faith, what we are essentially saying is that there is no need for God—we are our own God.

The good new is, God is faithful when we are not.  He knows that our hearts are adulterous, yet He loves us nonetheless.  Ephesians 2:8 states that, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God,” (NLT).  I believe that God gives us revelation, not to condemn us, but to allow us to live a life full of His grace.  If nothing else, our revelations remind us that there is no way that we could ever live up to any standard of perfection.  We are only made righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ.  I hope this this post blessed you.  Be blessed until we meet again.

20150716_124258-1

A few weeks ago, I took a trip to California, which for the past few years, has been my default happy place.  I was a bit underwhelmed during my recent travels.  The effects of the drought were ubiquitous, and in an instant, my fond memories of the once picturesque landscape were deflated.  As I navigated around the city, I couldn’t help but notice how California’s fertile grasslands now appeared dry and barren.  However, that wasn’t entirely true.  Speckled throughout the desolate terrain were pockets of life—areas of new growth—hope.  As I drove along the multicolored mountain sides, I began to remember what the City used to look like.

During our walk as Christians, we often go through dry seasons—seasons of drought.  Just like the California drought, there are so many lessons to be learned during those periods.  The first, if not the most important lesson, is despite our circumstances, there is always a glimmer of hope.  As long as we have life in our bodies, there is hope.

The second lesson that our dry season teaches us is to pay attention to those who are around during our drought.  Are there people, who were once in our courtyard, who have since faded into the background?  Are the remaining people in our lives watering our garden or depleting our soil?

As I continued to marvel at the California desert, I started to notice how readily discernable the weeds were from the vegetation.  They were now more prominent and readily visible.  I believe the same is true of our walk in life.  God uses our drought to extract our “weeds.”  During our seasons of prosperity, it can be difficult to discern between our foes and our friends, because our enemies, just like the weeds, are also capable of infiltration and camouflage.  It is important that during our drought we identify and uproot the weeds in our garden.  If not, the dry season will come to an end, and we will be left with the same infestation that plagued us during our feast.

Many of us view our dry season as God’s punishment, but if we look at if more carefully, it’s an opportunity—a chance to start afresh.  It’s a chance to take off all that entangles and run our race uninhibited.

If you are going through a dry season in your life, take note of the weeds.  Uproot them.  Do not turn back.  God is about to turn it around, and He wants you to be free to enjoy the feast-the end of the drought!

It’s that time of year. It’s time for a mid-year check in.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get amped up about the future on New Year’s Eve? At the beginning of the year, we feel as if anything is possible. We fill our journals with plans, resolutions and declarations. Unfortunately, somewhere around March, we start to lose fizzle. Our dreams and aspirations start to wane. That is why I think that it’s important to do a mid-year assessment—a mid-year check in. Look back at those New Year’s resolutions. Where are you now in comparison to where you said that you wanted to be? Revisiting your New Year’s goals will help to realign your focus and keeps your dreams and visions omnipresent.

Yesterday, I scanned the pages of my journal and was reminded of the declarations that I made at the beginning of the year. Few were complete.   Some were in process, and an even greater number was not even started. Truthfully, I had even forgotten about some of them. I had a few “oh yeah” moment when I read through some of my goals. What about you? What were your New Year’s resolutions? What things did you want to accomplish? Please know that it’s not too late to pick up where you left off in pursuit of your goals. Dust yourself off and start over. If you have been trudging along, keep plowing.   James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him,”(NIV). There is also encouragement found in Galatians 6:9, which says that “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” (NIV).   The key here is: Do not give up. Revive those dreams. Dust off those goal, and keep it moving!

O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly, (Psalm 5:1-3, NLT).

Day 21—We made it. Wow! What a journey this past three weeks has been. In the beginning of the challenge, I told you that one of the primary reasons why I started this challenge was in response to story about a pastor who after a yearlong journey of “living without God” decided that He was now an atheist. I wanted to challenge myself and my readers to see what life looked when we actively pursued God. So what did we learn?

The first thing that we probably discovered was that life is not easy. In Matthew 16:24-26, Jesus told His disciples, “’Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul,’” (NIV).

The Message translation puts it this way:

“’Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?’”

The moment that we decided to embark on this challenge, the devil got busy. There were obstacles and roadblocks that attempted to make our journey difficult. However, here is what I learned. Greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world, (1 John 4:4). In John 16:33, Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world,” (NLT).

The name of Jesus is greater than any other name in this world, (Philippians 2:9). The name of Jesus is greater than death, Satan, sickness, sadness, fear, debt, worry, loneness, anger, and the list goes on and on.

As I officially close this 21-day challenge, I issue this lifetime challenge. Embrace the verses in Psalm 5:1-3:

O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly, (Psalm 5:1-3, NLT).

Know that God is not deaf to our prayers. Psalm 6:9 says “The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer,” (NLT). The verse does not says that God might answer our prayers. It said that He WILL answer our prayers. Today, know that as we wait patiently on God’s answers to manifest, the answer is already waiting in the wings.

Lord, more than 2000 years ago, you sent your one and only son, Jesus Christ, to die for all our transgressions. Lord, we thank you. We thank you for your mercy and your deliverance. On Jesus’ final moments on the cross He spoke the final words that confirmed our destiny on Earth and in Heaven. Jesus’ final words were: It is finished! Lord, thank you that everything that has ever been promised to us has already been delivered since before the beginning of time. Lord, we thank you that IT IS FINISHED!

One of my favorite books growing up was “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” by Judy Bloom. I love the sentiment of the title. It’s a question that we have all asked God.

Today, we ask: Are you there God? It’s me, (insert your name). In our fallen world it’s easy to question God’s whereabouts. There are so many social and political issues that overwhelm the news. It’s easy to wonder if God cares about His World–If He cares about you. Why is God so seemingly quite?  Are you there God? It’s me! That seems to be the cry of a generation.

One of the Scriptures that God laid on my heart a few days ago was John 29:20. “…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Many of the daily occurrences in our fallen world serve to challenge our belief in God’s existence.  Sometimes, if we look through the lenses of our natural eyes, we might be inclined to question whether or not God cares about His people. We might even ask ourselves, “Why should God care about us? We are just mere men.” Fortunately, the Bible reminds us that God does care about His creation.  Psalms 8:4-6 says:

 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet, (KJV).

God cares so much about the intimate details of our lives that He even knows the number of hairs on our heads.

Our finite knowledge cannot begin to explain the things of God. I don’t know why God sometimes appears silent when we need Him the most. I don’t really know whether He is, silent, that is. Maybe we miss His voice that sometimes comes in a whisper. The nature of these questions are too complex for me. However, I do know this. Gideon asked for a sign of God’s favor, and he got it. David asked for protection, and his enemies fled. The woman with the issue of blood needed health and was healed when she touched the hem of Jesus’ clothing. What do you need? Shout it from the rooftop. Scream His name! Petition His promises! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Are you there? It’s me!

Today’s Prayer: Lord, we come to you with hearts surrendered. Are you there? It’s me. Lord, hear our heart’s cry. Lord, show us your unrelenting love. Give us a sign like you did for Gideon. Today, we ask that you show us a sign of your awe and might. Lord, grant us protection as you did for David. Make our enemies our footstools. Heal our bodies like you did for the woman with the issue of blood. Lord, we thank you, and we bless you. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

The most difficult point in any race is not the starting point or the finish line. It’s the half-point mark. By that point, you’ve gone too far to turn back, yet you have so much further to carry on.

Day 10—the halfway marker.

We are half way through this 21-day challenge, and everything in me wants to quit—to give up. Eleven more days. That seems like a lifetime away.

In our modern-day society we have gotten away from the concept of perseverance. In a culture where everyone is a winner, and even those in last place get second runner up, there is no motivation to press forward. Why should we push on when we could settle for second string?

There is something to be said about winning—about victory. When we quit, there is always the question of “what if.” What if we hadn’t quit? What would have happened had we stayed the course? Thankfully, God is great, and He will still bless us even when we fall short. However, we could only imagine that the blessings on the other side of victory are much sweeter.

A few years ago, I watched a story about Olympic athlete, Derek Redmond, who tore his hamstring muscle during the 1992 Olympic semifinals. The pain that shot through his legs brought him to his knees. As each runner sprinted past him, Derek saw his Olympic dream of a gold metal dissipate into the wind. But all was not lost. Out of nowhere, his father dashed onto the field and assisted him as he hobbled towards the finish line.

Friend, there will be moments during the middle of your race when you feel like giving up. I encourage you not to quit. There will be moments when you have done all that you can do to stand, yet you feel as if you are standing all along. Don’t quit. Proverbs 18:24 says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” (NIV). Sometimes, you just can’t do it by yourself. If you are in the middle of a race, and you are tempted to quit, call on a friend who can fill in the gap and pray for you. If you have no one to stand with you, ask God to send you an angel. Don’t quit now. You have come too far to turn back now. Fight through the tears. Run through the pain, but whatever you do, don’t quit! You want to be able to say that you finished the race, not that you never crossed the finish line.

Lord, we come before in reverent honesty and thanksgiving for You are the friend that sticks closer than a brother. Lord, we acknowledge that we cannot do it by ourselves. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help,” (NLT). Lord, send us people who can help us to stand when we feel like falling. Lord, give us the strength and the courage to stand. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!

I usually don’t post other people’s video, but if you’ve never seen Derek Redmond’s story, grab a tissue and check out Connie Lynne’s YouTube video.

It’s so easy to give up on God, isn’t it?  Why wouldn’t it be?  We can’t see Him.  We can’t hear Him?  We can’t experience Him with our five senses, at least not conventionally.  Having faith requires way more energy than just existing.  The notion of waiting patiently can often feel painstakingly disappointing.  Sometimes, it’s so much easier to say, “Why bother?!”

When most people talk about the pinnacle of faith, they usually cite Abraham.  His faith in God allowed him to be the father of many nations.  However, he almost allowed himself to be talked out of the blessings that God had promised him.

God had promised Abram that he would be the father of many nations.  However, many years had passed, and his wife Sarai was still barren.  Not only was she barren, she was also up in age.  For years, there was no sign of God’s promise.  In Sarai’s desperation, she offered Abram, her husband, to her servant Hagar.  The Bible said that, “Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant,” (Genesis 16:4, NLT).

Now, let’s look at this scenario from a human standpoint.  Unless, Abram was a one-hit wonder, he probably didn’t hit the ball out of the park on the first attempt.  That probably meant that he had multiple encounters with Hagar.  I imagine that in Sarai’s attempt to increase the possibility of conception, she probably chose a young, pretty servant.  In other words, Hagar was probably younger and prettier than Sarai.  Imagine how horrible Sarai must have felt.  Not only was she subject to the feeling of inadequacy, she was now subjected to shame, rejection, humiliation and jealousy.  Additionally, when Hagar found out that she was pregnant, she began to mistreat Sarai, who ultimately became angry and resentful.

There are so many Biblical and cultural implications of the story of Hagar and Abram that we will not get into today.  Let’s fast forward some 13 to 14 years later.  Sarai and Abram whose name were now Sarah and Abraham, respectively, had a son, whom they named Isaac.

Hebrews 12:1-3 says:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up, (NLT).

The Bible illustrated that Abraham struggled with waiting on God (i.e. faith) as we ALL do.  But here is the revelation that I had.  Abraham and Sarah were desperate, but instead of taking their desperation to God, they took their desperation into their own hands and made a huge mess.  Thankfully, God is faithful even when we are not.  He never holds our past against us.  The moment that Abraham took his desperation to God, God refreshed him (Abraham) and reminded him of the promise that He made to him.  Shortly thereafter, Sarah became pregnant.

Here is the other revelation that I had:  Don’t allow others to talk you out of what God has promised you.  Only you know what your conversations with God were.  It’s possible that God’s directives to you might seem ridiculous to others.  It doesn’t matter.  They weren’t meant for them.  They were tailored to you!

I know that there are many people reading these words right now who are on the cusp of giving up on God.  You are desperate.  You are at the point of taking matters into your own hands, which might even include walking away from God.

At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them! “I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God,” (Genesis 17:3-8, NLT).

I believe that one of the reasons why God changed Abraham’s and Sarah’s names was to remind them that He does ALL things new.  God is the author and the finisher of our faith.  He is the Alpha and the Omega.

At this time, I encourage you to fall on the floor.  Roll around if you have to.  Scream out to God in desperation.  Ask Him to remember the promises that He made to you.  If you can’t think of a specific one, Jeremiah 29:11 is a good place to start.  There, God promised to prosper you and give you hope and a future.  Psalms 27:13 says, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” (KJV).

Today’s prayer:  Lord, we come to you in desperation.  We fall at your feet in reverent humility.  Hear our hearts’ cry.  Do not allow us to take matters into our own hands.  The Bible says that you know us better than we know ourselves.  Meet us at the point where our faith is weak and we can no longer stand.  Lord, Sarai’s and Abram’s desperation set in because they did not see you move.  They became weak waiting on you to move.  Proverbs 13:12 says, Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life,” (NLT).  God, today, our hearts’ cry is that you step in before we take matters into our own hands.  Do not let us become so desperate that we move in our own accord.  Lord, show us your power.  Show us that you are the same God of Abraham–the God who created the Universe in His sovereign power.  Lord, we thank you, and we bless your name.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen!

©2015 Khadine Alston.  All Rights Reserved.  Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

In the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires. (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth), (2Timothy 2:3-7, NLT).

Those words that Paul spoke to Timothy over 2000 years ago are reflective of our culture today.  Debauchery is so ubiquitous that it makes me wonder what God must be thinking as He looks around at us.  Is He angry with us?  Is He indifferent? Does He care?  How does He feel?

Sometimes, I wonder whether these tumultuous times are signs that the end is near.  As a believer, I guess it shouldn’t matter.

Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape. But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation. For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. 10 Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. 11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing,” (1Thessolonians 5:1-11, NLT).

In the above passage, God quelled my hunger for answers.  He reminded me that in a world of darkness, we need only worry about being a light.  Yes, one person, one prayer, can make a difference.  God just needs one obedient heart.  In Genesis, God would have saved the entire city of Sodom had Abraham been able to find at least five righteous people, (Genesis 18:16-33).

20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, (Romans 4:20-24, NLT)

Yes, one is not too small a number for greatness.  John the Baptist was also a lone voice in the wilderness, yet God used him for greatness.  Here is the secret.  As Christians, we are never really one.  We are one plus God, which equals greatness.  When we call upon the name of the Lord, we are never acting in our own strength.  We have to remind ourselves that regardless of what we see going on around us, CHRIST is greater than it all.  The name of Christ Jesus is above all other names.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, (Philippians 2:9-11, NLT).

Lord, as we press into you over the next few days, please hear our battle cry. We will shout the names of Jesus as we walked around our spiritual walls of Jericho. Jesus!! We ask that you step into the dark places and rescue the captives. Jesus!!!! We ask that you shed your light on the darkness. Jesus!!! Jesus!!! Jesus!!!! Jesus!!! Jesus!!! Jesus!!!! Jesus!!!!!

Today’s Prayer: Lord, there is so much sadness on the news and in the world around us. However, we know that you are greater than any forces of darkness. You are greater than hate. You are greater than fear. You are greater than ANY and ALL principalities. Lord, release your Spirit on our lives and on your world. We pray for a revival. Let the people of this world know that you are God. God we ask that you reveal yourself. Do not be silent Lord! Remind a generation of the God of their ancestors. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!

Shortly before Christ died, He made a promise. He promised that believers would be able to do the same or greater things than He had done.

12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it, (John 14:12-14, NIV).

Wow, that’s quite some promise. Yet, when I look around, I wonder whether we are truly experiencing those greater things. Are we truly a faithless generation?

No, I think there are many who call themselves faithful in our generation. I just think the majority of our generation has a misguided sense of how faith works.

The Bibles says faith without works is dead, (James 2:17). Notice when Jesus healed the paralytic, He told him to pick up his mat and go home, (Mark 2:1-12). In our generation, many of us want God to bless us without having to work for it. My friend, the only free gift in the Kingdom is salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). Everything else requires work.  Please don’t misunderstand and think that I am saying that we have to earn or work for God’s favor.  We don’t.  However, we have to work to maintain the blessings he gives us!  Think about it this way.  Imagine if someone gifted you with a brand new car–fully loaded and fully fueled–yet you never refueled or serviced it.  Would it continue to work?

I believe the reason why many of us have yet to experience the greater work that God mentioned in the Bible is because we have not yet learned to fully release and exercise our faith. The Word says, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…”2 Chronicles 16:9. God is constantly looking for those whom He can trust with His vision. However, there is a cost. Jesus talks about that cost in Luke 9:57-62:

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God,” (NIV).

I believe many people miss the significance of the first verse due to its metaphoric nature. Jesus said. “Foxes have holes and birds have nest, yet the Son of Man does not have a place to lay His head.” There are two important principles in that verse. First, Jesus, the Son of Man, is looking for a place to lay his head. “Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything,” Colossians 1:18, (NLT). If you put these two verses together, it tells you that the Son of Man is looking for a place to lay His Church. Many of us are looking for the church behind four walls, but the Church begins in our hearts. Remember earlier, we said, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…”2 Chronicles 16:9. Jesus is looking for a place to lay his head, the Church.

The second important point that I think many miss in the verse, “Foxes have holes and birds have nest, yet the Son of Man does not have a place to lay His head” is the reference to Jesus as the Son of Man. We just mentioned that God is looking for people with whom to trust His vision. In other words, God is looking for leaders. The mention of Jesus as the Son of Man is crucial. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many,” Matthew 20:18, NLT.

In order to lead, we have to know how to serve. Many of us want to lead, but we don’t want to serve. Leadership sometimes requires that we roll up our proverbial sleeves and get our hands dirty.

The above verse could have easily referenced Jesus as the Son of God, yet it didn’t. Jesus knew who He was and walked in that authority. He didn’t have to hold his title over others in order to lead them.

So, what are these greater things that Christ talked about? The Bible was filled with recollections of the impossible and the miraculous. Jesus healed the lame, the leper and the blind. He multiplied a morsel and fed a village. He thought of ingenious ways of creating revenue—drachmas from the belly of a fish. Jesus promised that not only would we be doing these things, but we would be doing more amazing things. Now, that’s a promise! Today, I pray over the greater things in my generation.  I pray over the future curers of cancer, HIV, diabetes, paralysis and all other sicknesses. Today, I pray that people will be able to lay hands on each other and cure each other, including exorcising their “demons.” I pray that Christian entrepreneurs will launch their billion-dollar industries and advance the Kingdom. I pray that Christian marriages will be consummated and Christian families will be restored. I pray that in my life, and in the lives of those who believe, there will be greater things. In Jesus’ name, I pray! Amen!