Sunday, August 30, 2020

How to Harness the Blessing

Hey Friend,

Have you ever noticed that the blessings the Bible speaks of are often in a series of If/Then statements or inferred If/Then statements?  I admit that I'm guilty of getting impatient and just wanting to jump to the blessing.  I want the beautiful blessing before I put in the elbow grease of obedience.  

It's easy to want to pluck the blessing out of context from the scripture that preceeds or follows it.  

Personally, I have been praying, earnestly, for a blessing in my own life.  I've been praying for reconcilliation with my two adult children.  I know that what I'm praying for is in accordance with God's will, but I got a little too focused on the result or outcome.  I zoomed in on the blessing, and lost sight of the "If" part of God's promise. 

I memorized this verse as a child in the KJV, and God has brought it back to mind.

But, seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

You see, I was focused on the blessing:  "All these things shall be added unto you."  I'd forgotten the inferred "If."

"If" you seek first the kingdom of God - I needed to focus less on the outcome I desired, and instead, focus solely on seeking God.  I needed to get my sights so fixed on God that I couldn't see anything else.  I needed to be seeking His presence and obeying His word and not concerning myself with the "Then" part of the promise. 

If I seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; then all these things shall be added unto me.

The "Then" is up to God and His sovereign timing. My "If" job is to seek Him first and foremost.

Another favorite "blessing verse" is sometimes taken out of context.  This popular verse is often quoted on graduation cards and, again, we are apt to focus on the blessing without including the obedience piece.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."  (Jeremiah 29:11)

What an awesome promise of blessing.  I'll take one order of that blessing, please! But let's back up to scripture that leads up to this promise, and scripture that follows it.  There are some "If's" involved:

Jeremiah 11: 4b:  "(If) you obey me , and do everything I command you, (then) you will be my people and I will be your God...I will give you a land flowing with milk and honey..."

Jeremiah 18:8:  "If the nation about which I have made the announcement turns from its evil, (then) I will relent concerning the disaster I had planned to do to it."  

These are the If/Then statements leading up to the big blessing in Jeremiah 29:11.  God is telling His beloved people that "If" they obey Him "then" He will be their God and give them a future in the land of milk and honey.

Furthermore, "If" they turn from their evil ways and obey Him, He will relent on taking out His wrath on them for their disobedience.  

Now, let's look at the giant "If" that follows the "then" blessing of Jeremiah 29:11.  When we read further after the oft quoted verse we learn that God says:  

If you call to me and come and pray to me...when you seek me and search for me with all your heart...then I will prosper you - giving you a hope and a future.  I will restore your fortunes and I will restore you to the place (Jerusalem) from which I deported you. (Paraphrase of Jeremiah 29: 12-14)

If >>>>>>>>>>>Then
Obedience >>>>>>Blessing
Disobedience >>>>>>>>>>>Punishment

There are literally hundreds of "If/Then" promises in the Bible.  God is pretty reasonable and just, when you get right down to it.  Obedience leads to blessing. It's a straightforward formula.

Thankfully and mercifully for us, there is one blessing that doesn't require obedience so much as it requires acceptance.  The "Then" comes before the "If."
Here's what I am talking about...

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Here, God gives us the unfathomable gift and blessing of salvation.  There is no "If" that preceeds it.  The blessing comes first and then God asks us the crucial question after the blessing has been given...will you accept my gift and blessing?

God is still in the business of bestowing blessings, but He does require obedience and He does ask us to repent and turn from our evil ways.  In many ways, our world demands and expects blessings, but has forgotten how to obey our Creator.  I believe revival is necessary and it won't begin until Christ-followers take a stand.

What will you answer the next time someone asks out loud, "How did our world get to be this way? What can we do?"  Will you answer...

Now, more than ever, the world needs to hear voices of faith, in a palette of beautiful colors, rising in unity.  With our eyes on the eternal prize, let us tell the world why we have the abiding joy that the world can't extinguish, even with every flaming arrow of evil it shoots at us.

This is a battle being fought on the spiritual battlefield.  We know Who conquers evil in the end.  Let that give us confidence and courage to proclaim Christ's gospel of love and peace to a world desperate for hope. 

We can harness the blessing, if we simply obey God.

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Saturday, August 22, 2020

Is This Really Happening to God's Daughters?

Hey Friend,

This is the story of two fourteen-year-old girls named Maria and Huma.  They live in the Islamic Rupublic of Pakistan where less than 2% of the population is Christian.  

Maria, was walking to her workplace when she was abducted by a couple of men who were armed.  When onlookers tried to assist Maria, who was resisting, her captors fired their guns in the air in order to warn off would-be rescuers.  

Her abductors produced "official papers" saying that Maria had willingly converted to Islam and had married her abductor.  Her parents petitioned the court saying that Maria was a minor and would not have willingly subjected herself to these atrocities.  The court ruled that she was to be released and sent to a women's shelter.

Then, in an astonishing decision, the Lahore High Court overturned the Sessions Court in Faisalabad.  The court refused to believe the documentation that Maria was indeed a minor and Maria was in tears when the judges ruled in favor of her abductor. She is still being help captive in this forced marriage. 

Maria's marriage certificate states that she is eighteen years old and a typed statement was produced that said she had willingly left her home, married, and was converted to Islam.

Reportedly, over 1000 girls belonging to the Christian minority community are abducted, forcibly converted, married (and raped) each year.

Huma, another young Christian girl, was kidnapped by three men who waited for her parents to leave the house before forcibly taking the young girl.  Papers were produced by her abductor that said that Huma had willingly been converted to Islam and was married.  

What papers didn't say, but her parents have said, is that Huma has been continually sexually assaulted and is now pregnant.  She is confined to one room which she is not allowed to leave.  Her captor has connections inside the Pakistan Security Forces and has threatened her family if they should ever come looking for her.  

Last February, a Pakistan high court handed down a ruling based on Islamic "sharia" law that says that men in Pakistan can marry underage girls as long as they have had their first menstrual cycle.  

The persecution of religious minorities (particularly Christians) is rampant in Pakistan.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government and NGO's refused to provide food and humanitarian aid to starving Christians.  Only if you converted to Islam would you be provided with food to survive.

This is where Redeemer Christian Foundation (RCF, Inc.) comes in.  During the pandemic we fed, not only the families of children who attend our Christian School for orphaned and impoverished children, but also brothers and sisters in Christ in a neighboring village who had no food to eat. 

Redeemer Christian School is also a safe haven for young girls.  Because they are in school, they are not as vulnerable to abductions for conversion and marriage, nor to kidnapping for purposes of prostitution and human trafficking.  We are diligent in our fight for safety of these beautiful daughters of God.  

If you would like to know more about the work we do in providing a Christian Education to the poorest of the poor, our devotion to Evangelism and Outreach, our commitment to humanitarian aid, and our diligence in empowering young girls/women and protecting them from these atrocities, check out our website:

If you are as outraged as we are and would like to say "Enough" to these heinous acts and do something to make a difference:  Click HERE to make a donation that says, "I care!"

Thank you for taking the time to read this and be awakened to the plight of believers in other parts of the world.  We're all in this together.  Let us keep being the hands and feet of Jesus in a world that is desperate for His love.

Be blessed...Bev (Founder of RCF, Inc. a registered 501c3)

ps.  If you'd like to receive RCF's monthly newsletter to learn more about this wonderful organization, send me an email (CONTACT TAB) and include your email address.  (We never share our contacts)

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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Are You Brave Enough?

 Hey Friend,

I was having a discussion with Anosh, the Director of Redeemer Christian School in the Middle East.  Click HERE to visit RCF website  He asked me why so many awful things are happening in the US?  In his country, where only about 1.5% of the population is Christian, he said that they see the United States as being a country favored by God.  When I asked him why he thought we were favored, he said because the US is based upon Judeo/Christian values.  Interesting...

He was surprised when I told him that there's been a 12% decrease (just in the last decade) of the people who identify themselves as Christians.  We talked about how there has been a falling away from faith and that many have totally turned their back on God.  What he said next stopped me in my tracks...

"Then you need to be a Jeremiah!"

Jeremiah was an Old Testament prophet toward the end of the reign of King Josiah of Judah (609 BC).  King Josiah initiated major reform, turning the nation of Judah away from idols and back to God's Word.  Sadly, the reform proved to be superficial for the people of Judah, and soon after King Josiah's death, Jeremiah prophesied a great destruction was coming, unless God's people repented.  You can imagine that Jeremiah's message was not very popular!

Jeremiah's prediction of destruction, however, was was not without forewarning.  This was the message Jeremiah shared with God's rebellious people:

"Return, unfaithful Israel,"

this is the Lord's declaration.

"I will not look on you with anger,

for I am unfailing in my love."  (Jeremiah 3:12a)

Time and time again, Jeremiah encouraged the people to repent and return to the God of their ancestors. Correct your ways and God will allow you to continue living in Jerusalem.  Jeremiah admonished them for being rescued by a loving God yet continuing to commit detestable acts such as stealing, murder, adultery, swearing falsely, burning incense to Baal, and following other gods. 

If you obey God, then it will go well with you, was Jeremiah's perpetual exhortation, but it fell on deaf ears.  Finally the Lord said:

"It (destruction) is because they abandoned my instruction, which I set before them, and did not obey my voice or walk according to it.  Instead they followed the stubbornness of their hearts and followed the Baals (idols) as their fathers taught them."  (Jeremiah 9: 13-14)

Does this sound at all familiar?  Is God trying to get our attention right now?  Are we continuing to try His lovingkindness and unfathomable patience?

Even as Jerusalem is destroyed and God's people are dragged off in exile to Babylon, Jeremiah continues to be the voice of hope.  He prophesies of God's plan for eventual restoration and wholeness and he foreshadows the coming of the New Covenant. 

Jeremiah has words of warning to share, but he also has words of hope and restoration.  Are we to be sharing those words?

Anosh's words hit home to me.  Am I brave enough to be a Jeremiah?  

Am I brave enough to say (write) that we need a serious religious awakening, or revival?

Am I brave enough to share the Good News of the New Covenant that has been handed to me by God through His Son, Jesus?

If God would be merciful enough to hand you the gift of a vaccine that would wipe out coronavirus once and for all, what would you do?

I would bet that you would share that gift with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, everyone, and anyone.  It would be your joy to share!

God has already handed you His Word (the Bible) and the gift of salvation through Jesus.  Are you as enthusiastic to share those gifts?

I have been asking myself the same questions.  God is convicting my heart, and I have been praying that He would give me the right words to say when He opens the door of conversation with non-believers.  I am praying that, in the words of Anosh, I will be brave enough to be a Jeremiah.  How about you?

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for my disobedience in turning away from your holy commands.  Renew a right spirit within me that I would be brave in sharing your love and the Good News of the Gospel.  Let me be the bearer, not only, of news of warning, but news that gives hope and encouragement.  Let there be a revival in our land and let me be an instrument of your peace and love.  Give me strength to be a Jeremiah.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

What about you?  What do you see happening in our world today?  Do you feel God's calling to do anything about it?  If so, what are you being led to do?  How can you tangibly share the hope that is within you this week?  Will you share...

Be blessed...

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

What Are These Times Telling Us?

Hey Friend,

I was having a conversation with my mother who is 86 years young.  With that many years under her belt, she's lived through a lot of history.  My mother is the eternal optimist.  She always wants to believe the best case scenario.  That being said, I was really taken back when she said that she has never felt this way (deeply troubled) about our world as she does now.  

Not even the turbulent events of the 60's and 70's made her feel, even remotely, like the present day.  When my mother thinks the end of the world, as we know it, is at hand, I take notice.

Sure, people have been saying that the "Day of the Lord" is at hand for centuries.  Roughly 30% of the Bible is prophetic writing.  Much of what has been prophesied has already come true.  2 Thessalonians 2:3 says: 

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day (Jesus' second coming) shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition...

When compiling data, Christian research institutes agree that 85% of Americans do not believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. To them it's just another religious book.  Compared to belief from years ago, this is a huge falling away from faith.  Most do not consider the Bible to be pertinent to their life.

25% of Christians, with the number growing, do not believe that the Rapture will be a literal event even though it is prophesied in the Bible.  There are varying opinions as to when the Rapture (Jesus will secretly come in the air and gather His followers up into heaven) will happen.  Personally, I believe that the Rapture will take place before the 7 years of tribulation begin (though none of us can know the mind of God).  Why?

At the last supper, Jesus, who was a Galilean, tells His disciples (also Galileans) that He is going away, but He will be like a bridegroom coming for his bride (believers).  No one, not even Jesus, will know the time or the hour.  Only the Father knows.  Jesus is preparing a place for us and like an eager bridgegroom who longs to be with his adoring bride, He will come and rapture her to the wedding feast of the Lamb. I believe that He does not want to let His beloved bride suffer through the tribulation and wrath.  

14 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."  (John 14:1-3 )

I found this movie/documentary, distributed by Integrity Films LLC, fascinating. It's called "Before the Wrath."  It's also available on Amazon.   It goes into depth about how Jesus likens His coming for His bride unto a Galilean wedding.  A Galilean wedding was different from any other culture's wedding in Biblical times because no one (guests, bridegroom, bride, bridesmaids) knew the exact hour of the wedding, but they were to be prepared because the bridegroom would come "like a thief in the night" for his precious bride.

Jesus will come like a "thief in the night" for His beloved believers.

Our job, as believers, is not to be guessing when Christ will come for us. Nor are we to be burdened or fearful.  Our job is to be making preparations and be at the ready for His coming.  What does that look like?

We are to be about the Father's business - doing good works that glorify Him.

*  We are to be telling others about the Gospel - being bold in building the Kingdom.

*  We are to be doing life: doing whatever we do with joyful anticipation of Christ's return.

*  We are to be In God's word everyday and walking it out in our daily lives.

*  We are to be praying and interceding on behalf of non-believers.

I am not the greatest about being bold in my faith and leading others to a saving relationship with God through Christ Jesus.  There are a few things, however, that we all can do.  I used to have long theological discussions with my ex-father-in-law about faith (he was an Atheist).  He could argue theology with me until the cows came home.  But:

*  He could not argue my personal testimony about what God had done in my life and the freedom I had found through Jesus' atoning sacrifice and grace.

*  He didn't say anything when I told him that I loved him dearly and that I wanted him to accept the beautiful gift of salvation because I could not imagine eternity without him.

Years later, (after a massive stroke that left him partially paralyzed), he accpeted Christ as his Savior.  He told me that the comment I made about not wanting to spend eternity without him had opened the door for the Holy Spirit to do His convicting work in his life.  These are the preparations we are to be making.

Our job is to be about opening the door.  The Holy Spirit's job is to convict hearts.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to be around for the wrath - when the trumpets sound and the bowls are poured out and hail and fire mixed with blood are hurled to the earth; when the mountains are set ablaze and the seas turn to blood. Nor do I want to experience smoke rising up from a great furnace, locusts, painful sores, lightening, thunder, earthquakes, and other abominations.  Cities will be split in two and rivers will dry up and there will be torment so bad that people will long to die. (The Book of Revelation)

I don't want loved ones to experience this either.  God wants no man to suffer.  He wants all His children to come to salvation.

So what can we, as believers, do?

1.  Stop living in fear, but live with confidence that God is in control.

2.  Step up, speak up, and stand in the gap. We are the silent minority that needs to become vocal.

3.  Speak the truth in love to those who need to hear.  Don't let Satan silence you.

People are fearful believers we hold the message of hope!

If you are a believer, will you share the message of hope?

If you are not a believer, will you accept the message of hope? 

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you and thank you that you sent your precious Son to die on the cross for my sins.  You made a way for me when I was still a sinner.  I accept your grace and mercy and I look forward, with great anticipation, for your second coming as you promised in Scripture.  Thank you for loving me (your bride) with such love, affection, and adoration.  Let me be preparing and be at the ready when you come to rapture me to the wedding feast of the Lamb.  Let me be about sharing hope with those who are hungry to know your love.  Enable me to not live in fear, but instead, step up, speak up, and stand in the gap until Your kingdom comes so that You may be glorified.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

What about you?  How are you living in these times?  Do you feel a sense of urgency in sharing the Good News?  What preparations do you think you need to be about?  What tangible things can you do as the precious bride of Christ Jesus?  Will you share?

Be blessed...

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