Saturday, October 31, 2020

A Personal Story of Gratitude Rediscovered

Hey Friend,

As we head into November, I would like to share a popular post from around this time last year.  We hadn't yet experienced a pandemic, but we probably took some things for granted that we'd love to have right about now.  I'm still working hard in book publishing bootcamp...hope you enjoy this post!

The last thing I could remember was the bright lights of the operating room almost blinding me, even though it was ten o'clock at night.  The room was sterile and cold. The two kind nurses were running through the drill of what was going to be happening.  It was a drill I'd heard many times before.  

The next thing I knew, as I tried to wake up and somehow shake off the fog I was in, was that two different nurses were looking at me, hovering, and talking.  My eyes followed my arm to my hand that was holding the warm hand of my husband standing at my side.  The lights were low and all was quiet around us.  

"It's 2:30 in the morning, Bev," my husband whispered to me.  I scrunched up my face in disbelief.

"Can I get you some water to drink?" the one nurse asked gently.  "Do you want some crackers with it?" Even though I hadn't eaten anything for over 20 hours, my throat was parched and scratchy.  All I wanted was water and to sleep.

When the aid came in my room the next morning, boy was I happy to see her.  "I've got your coffee and some eggs and hungry?" she chirped as she whipped off the metal cover keeping it warm, and smiled.

"You bet," I replied.  I held the coffee in my hands.  It felt warm to the touch, but I didn't smell the usual coffee aroma.  I sniffed it again...nothing.  One of my very favorite things is cradling a hot cup of coffee in my hands, early in the morning, and inhaling its distinct, somewhat nutty aroma.  

I couldn't smell the eggs.  I couldn't smell or taste the orange juice.  The nurse reassured me that losing your sense of taste and smell could be a side effect of the anesthesia and that it would probably wear off soon.  It didn't.

For three weeks, I gagged on what I ate and drank because it tasted like metal nothingness. I didn't even want my beloved coffee because it actually made me start to cry because I couldn't enjoy the whole "coffee experience."  It was gone and I didn't know if it was ever coming back.  

How could I have taken the simple gift of smelling and tasting for granted?

Each day I hobbled around smelling things with distinct and powerful odors, hoping and praying that my senses would wake up.  Perfume, garlic, flowers, vinegar...nothing. I began to lose weight because there was no joy in eating.  I ate only to sustain myself.

Days passed, and I still couldn't taste, or smell, anything.  Depression crept in like a gray fog and settled over me.  How could I have been so ungrateful for these simple pleasures?  I didn't like my new normal.  I wanted those gifts back.

Then, one morning, heading into the fourth week, I clutched my coffee in my usual pretend routine and I made my husband jump when I shrieked with excitement, "I can smell it!!!  It's not real strong, but I can smell hints of coffee!!!"  You would have thought I'd won the lottery.  I sat there, wiggling my nose, like a bunny in a field of clover, inhaling between sips.  Tears ran down my cheeks.  There was hope. The blessing was being renewed.

Slowly but surely, over the next several days, my sense of taste and smell returned.  I scurried around smelling and tasting everything I could stick under my nose or put in my mouth.  It was enchanting getting reacquainted with the senses I'd desperately missed.  

I remember praying - O, Lord, you are so good to me.  Please don't ever let me take the gift of taste and smell for granted ever again.  Don't let me take any gift you give me for granted ever again.  

I wish I could say that I was forever grateful for everything from that moment on. But much like the Israelites who mercifully came through the parting of the Red Sea, it wasn't long before I was whining about something I didn't have or that wasn't going how I thought it should.

A writer friend of mine queried in one of her recent posts, "What if we lost everything we hadn't thanked God for?"

That stopped me in my tracks.  I thought of all the people, places, things, joys, experiences, miracles that I had failed to thank God for.  

In my exuberance I had run off skipping, like the healed lepers, and I had failed to go back and thank the Healer. 

Lord, let me make Gratitude a priority in my life because it honors You and in doing so, it ushers in joy.  In order to make Gratitude a priority:

1.  Let me thank you God, in advance, for what You are able and about to perform.

2.  Let me pause, in the moment of blessing, and praise Your holy name. Don't let me hurry to move on until I've fully taken in Your blessing.

3.  Let me go forward in confidence and courage because I have looked back, with gratitude, to all the times You've been faithful to me, Lord.

Let praise for You, O Lord, always be on my lips...Amen.

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.  (1Thessalonians 5:18)

What about you?  Are there any blessings in your life that you have taken for granted?  Would you lose a lot or a little if what you hadn't thanked God for suddenly disappeared?  How can you make gratitude a priority in your life?  Will you share?

Be blessed...

Want to do some early Christmas shopping?  The newly released devotional "Take Heart - 100 devotions to seeing God when life's not okay" (in which I am a contributing writer) makes an excellent Christmas gift for friends and family as they embark upon a new year.  Available on Amazon and most booksellers.


ps.  Like what you've read, here, today?  Perhaps you might want to SUBSCRIBE to my weekly blog and nothing else?  Just go to the SUBSCRIBE tab above, enter your contact information and then be sure to look for a CONFIRMATION LINK THAT WILL COME IN EMAIL FORM.  You will need to click on it to confirm your subscription.  Thanks for reading...

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Jesus Knew Social Distancing

Hey Friend,

Social distancing is not new.  When Jesus was walking the face of the earth, teaching, ministering, and performing astonishing miracles like changing water into wine and making the lame walk, there was a man who had leprosy.  Leprosy was believed to be an airborne disease that could easily be contracted and it ate away at one's flesh.  Lepers lived alone, isolated in colonies, and waited for death to take them.

As Jesus and His disciples were making their way to the next town, a leper began to approach them.  According to Mosaic Law, lepers had to wear torn and ragged clothing and not cut their hair so that others who saw them would know, from a distance, that they were "unclean."  The one with leprosy also had to declare him/herself as unclean to passersby.  

As the leper began to approach Jesus, I can just see every disciple covering their nose and mouth with their tunic and telling the leper to stay back a distance of four cubits, as was the law.  After doing some research, I was amazed to find that four cubits is exactly six feet.  Anything sound familiar?

The leper tells Jesus that his relative, who was a server at the wedding in which Jesus turned water in to wine, shared, with awe, the miracle that Jesus performed.  Read the scripture that details how Jesus reacted as this sore covered man in tattered and filthy clothes approached Him.

On one occasion, a leper came and threw himself down in front of Jesus, pleading for his healing, saying, "You have the power to heal me right now if you only you really want to!"  Being deeply moved with tender compassion, Jesus reached out and touched the skin of the leper and told him, "Of course I want you to be healed - so now, be cleansed!" 

Instantly his leprous sores completely disappeared and his skin became smooth!  Jesus sent him away with a very stern warning, saying, "Don't say anything to anyone about what just happened, but go find a priest and show him that you've been healed.  Then bring the offering that Moses commanded for your cleansing as a living testimony to everyone.

But no sooner did the man leave than he began to proclaim his healing publicly and spread the story everywhere of his healing.  Jesus' growing fame prevented him from entering the villages openly, which forced him to remain in isolated places.  Even so, a steady stream of people flocked to him from everywhere.  (Marek 1:40-45 PTP)

Perhaps COVID-19 is our modern day leprosy.  What do you think you would do if Jesus drew near to you as you struggled to take every gasping breath that coronavirus inflicted upon you?  What if He walked toward you, not wearing a mask as others backed away, and gently touched your sick and tortured body?

Even though Jesus firmly asked the healed man to show himself only to the priest to be declared clean, wouldn't you be like the healed leper? Wouldn't you want to go running, skipping, and dancing into the city to tell of the man who does miracles and saved you from a death sentence?

Jesus HAS saved you from a death sentence.  When you repent, ask for forgiveness, and accept Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for your sins, you've been saved from a fate worse than COVID-19...a fate worse than leprosy. 

Don't you think this miracle is worth not just telling, but shouting to the world?!  If you have been healed, don't you want others to be healed as well?  We need to be the healed ones declaring Jesus' mercy so that people will go flocking toward Him.

I challenge you to make a point this week to talk to one person who doesn't know Jesus and tell them what He has done in your life. People cannot argue with your personal testimony. Tell of His saving miracles and blessings in your life.  If you are a writer, write about it.  If you are a singer, sing praises. If you are an encourager, encourage someone else that even in these times there is great reason for hope.  For by His stripes we are healed.  

What about you?  Who, in your life, is God calling you to witness to?  If you are not a believer, is Jesus calling you to repent and live?  What's stopping you from accepting His invitation?  Would you share one thing you can do this week to share how Jesus has personally saved and blessed you? 

 Need help sharing hope in these times?  Take Heart - 100 devotions to seeing God when life's not okay is available now on Amazon, DaySpring, Barnes & Noble, Lifeway and other book sellers.  Get yours today!

ps.  Like what you've read?  Might you want to SUBSCRIBE to my weekly blog posts and nothing else?  Enter your contact info above and be sure to CLICK ON THE CONFIRMATION LINK IN THE EMAIL YOU WILL RECEIVE.  That completes your subscription.  Thanks for reading...

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Breaking the Shackles of Shame

Hey Friend,

I've been selected to participate in a Book Publishing Bootcamp with Proverbs 31 Ministries.  This will be an intense, but awesome 10 week experience.  It's been a challenge getting back into college-mode, but I'm trying.  Meanwhile, I'm posting some of my more popular posts along with some guest posts...enjoy!

"Take Heart - 100 devotions to seeing God when life's not okay" launched yesterday! I am blessed to be a contributing writer. If you haven't ordered yet, it's available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, DaySpring, and Lifeway.  Don't miss this devotional for such a time as this.

The message in church this morning was on "Freedom in Christ".  The scripture the message was based on was Galatians 5:1-12.  For this post, I want to focus on that with which Paul comes out of the blocks:

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  (Galatians 5:1)

Being the "word nerd" that I am, a few things stand out about this statement.  

1.  To"free" is a verb - as in: Christ died to set us/me free. Christ freed me.
2.  "Freedom" is a noun - as in: Christ bought my freedom.
3.  "Freedom" is a state of being - as in: Even though Christ died to set me free, I have not lived in freedom.

I have been a Christian since I was thirteen, but there have been periods in my life that I have not lived in the freedom for which my Savior died.  I have lived, instead, bound by the shackles of shame and guilt.

When I was diagnosed with having depression and OCD (an anxiety disorder), I struggled with falling under the category of being "mentally ill".  I felt such shame and guilt.  I believed that I couldn't cope as well as others because of a flaw in my character or perhaps it was because my faith wasn't strong enough, or I wasn't trusting God enough, or praying enough.  

None of which was true, but the shame and guilt that comes with the label of being "mentally ill" can be hard to shake.  We NEED to erase the stigma, but that's another post for another day.

When I took my wedding vows...I meant them.  I KNEW I would be married until death us do part.  I believed that divorce was a sin and that God hated divorce.  When my husband and I separated, I did everything in my power to reconcile because I was not going to be one of "those" whose marriage failed.  

We reconciled for ten years, but then I had to live with a label that I never thought I'd have to live with.  I was divorced.  I cannot explain the shame, humiliation, sense of failure and guilt that came with having to say that I was divorced. 

To make matters worse, the process affected my work performance (and I needed that job as a single parent), and I was let go.  More guilt, more shame, more embarrassment.  I was never the one to be let go.  I was the one who excelled, and did well at most tasks I tackled.  To say this was a low blow would be an understatement!

Guilt and shame come when pride becomes an idol.

Back to church this morning.  My husband and I sat beside a delightful couple we did not know.  Before the service started, we were carrying on the usual introductory banter.  After lobbing some questions back and forth, Diana asked, "Do you have any children?"  "Yes, two," I immediately chimed in, "but we're empty-nesters."  "Oh really," Diana smiled, "How long have you been empty- nesters?"  Without even thinking about my response, I said, "Which time?"  We all started to chuckle and gave each other some knowing looks.

As the Pastor went on in his message, I realized I wasn't really so glib about my response.  We'd had some rough stretches with my children.  We'd watched one go down a very prodigal and destructive path and turn away from the church. Both have had their own share of issues that make potty training look like a walk in the park.  It's hard to launch adult children into the world these days.

I realized as the words entered my ears and traveled to my heart, that I was once again living shackled to shame and guilt.  

I have asked myself too many times to count, "What did I do wrong that my children have had to struggle so? Where did I mess up?  Could I...should I have done something different that would have changed the course they'd traveled?"  

The past shackles of shame that God had enabled me to shed had been put back on.  No one put them on but me.  I have been living in my own self-induced prison cell.  Christ died to set me free, but I have been living in guilt and shame.  I question the job I did in parenting.

Have you ever been driving down the highway when the person slightly ahead of you stops driving in their lane and starts taking up their half of the middle?  And then, the nerve of them, they start encroaching on YOUR lane?  I don't curse, but I will yell (as if they can hear me), "What the heck are you doing?  Stay in your own lane why don't you!!"

I realize that I haven't been driving in my own lane.

I've been trying to drive in my grown children's lanes.  

I've been trying to control, and fix, and give advice, and solve, and somehow make it all easy and better.  

I've forgotten, somewhere along the way, that my identity is not based on them and I don't have to feel shame and guilt if their lives are not picture perfect.  Their lives are just that....their lives. 

My identity is solely based in Christ.    

Their identities are solely based in Christ.  They were God's children before they were mine.  He's got this.  He's got them and He loves them even more than I do.

I am not responsible for the trials they've faced and the decisions they've made.  (Repeat to self ten times)

God will use their trials to build their testimonies, just like He used my trials to build my testimony.

Was I a perfect mother?  No.  Was I a good mother?  I tried my best, and when I screwed up, I asked God to fill in the gaps that I'd left.

For freedom Christ has set me free...not so I still have to wear the shackles of shame for anything.  The price has been paid for sin - intentional and unintentional.  Christ's body has been broken and His blood spilled, not so that I would stay shackled to shame, but so that I could live in the freedom for which Christ paid His life.  

Will you join me in letting go of whatever guilt or shame you've been holding onto?  Will you join me in running, dancing, skipping, rejoicing that we don't have to pay the price with feelings of guilt and shame because the penalty has already been paid?  Don't you and don't let the enemy strap on the shackles that have already been broken off.  

I carry a little picture of a person walking on the beach.  This is the saying that goes with it:

"Christ was perfect for me.  I can walk in freedom."  

Jesus, for FREEDOM You have set me free.  Enable me to stand firm and to walk in that perfect freedom.  Break these shackles of shame as they are not from You.  Amen.

Are you wearing the shackles of shame?  What would Jesus have you do with those?  Do you believe that you are forgiven?  Given that Christ died for you, how would He want you to live?  What shackles of guilt and shame need to go?

Be blessed.....

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Sunday, October 11, 2020

Finding Your Silver Lining

Hey Friend,

I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. (Psalm 119:15 NIV)

When people ask me for my street address, I cheerfully say, “I live at 103 Silver Lining Lane.”  Almost immediately, a smile breaks out across their face and they reply, “Oh, that sounds like such a lovely place to live!”

It has been a lovely place to live for twenty-three years. 103 Silver Lining Lane (the residence) has really embodied its namesake. With a little more time on my hands (COVID-19), I have listened to God’s urging to take reading His holy word to the next level.

Not only have I been reading, but I’ve been spending more time lingering, meditating, and deliberately pausing to allow the words to sink in.  Despite “to-do” lists throwing mental temper tantrums in an attempt to hijack my attention, God and I have had some great One-on-one conversations, that before recent events, had been sorely lacking. 

When God’s people, the Israelites, were exiled to Babylon, there was a priest-turned-scribe by the name of Ezra who loved to study the law of the Lord.  Like Ezra, I’ve kind of found myself in my own “Babylon,” and like Ezra, I’ve been drawn back to the well of God’s word.

Instead of complaining (which I’m apt to do), I’ve chosen to do more contemplating of God’s word.

The “silver lining” of this virus is that it has forced me to choose whether I’m going to binge on Netflix or binge on the Bible. 

God has been blessing my season of “captivity.”  I’m a writer, so I guess you could say I’m a scribe of sorts.  Just as Ezra went from being a man of words, to a man of “The Word,” I have felt convicted to do the same.  I want to hear God’s word louder and larger than the angry din of hateful words in our world.  I want to share God’s word with a world that is hungry for hope. 

Time spent in God's Word leaves us thirsting for more!

Ezra did not back down from pointing out disobedience and calling a sin, a sin.  When the Israelites were finally released from Babylon to go home to Jerusalem, Ezra commissioned them to make God’s word their constant guide.  Many of the Israelites had taken pagan wives who worshipped other gods.  This is what Ezra said to them:

 “Get up, for this matter is your responsibility, and we support you.  Be strong and take action!...You have been unfaithful by marrying foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt.  Therefore, make a confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers, and do his will.  Separate yourselves from the surrounding peoples and your foreign wives.”  (Ezra 10: 4, 10-11 CSB)

I guess you could say that Ezra was leading, what we’d call, a “good old-fashioned revival.”

It’s evident that the hand of God was upon Ezra and he led his people to repentance and restitution.  We could stand to take a page from Ezra’s playbook.

It’s easy for me to make excuses.  Perpetual distraction leads to being easy prey for the enemy.  I need to examine the sin in my own life and then, subsequently, I see the sin in others’ lives.  I am not called to be the judge – that job is reserved for the only righteous judge, but I can ask for God’s wisdom to speak the truth in love. 

If you’ve been exiled in your own personal “Babylon,” and it has removed you from friends and family.  And even if you’re lonely, frazzled, weary, and worn, is there a way you can you seek respite, refreshment, renewal, and revival for your needy soul?


What’s your silver lining?

Dear Heavenly Father,  forgive me for my perpetual complaining during this season of "exile."  Remind me to turn to the one and only place peace and strength can be found - Your Word!  My heart is thirsty for renewal and refreshment that time in your presence will provide.  Help me push away the distractions and draw near to You, O Lord.  Give me strength, in these dark days, to share the hope that is within me so that others may find true hope that is only found in a relationship with your Son.  Give me an attitude of gratitude for the blessings you shower upon me.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

What about you?? What silver linings have you found in the midst of this pandemic?  Where do you find hope when life's clouds are grey?  Is there an area in your spiritual life that needs some work?  How can you usher in a revival? Will you share?

Take Heart - 100 devotions to seeing God when life's not okay is now available for pre-order.  I'm blessed to be one of 40+ writers included in this project that speaks to our present day situation.  It tackles tough subjects like anxiety, depression, fatigue, loneliness and gives hope and courage. Click the link below to order.  Fill out the redemption form to get a FREE book of prayers.  Pre-order special ends Oct. 20th.  Get yours today!

Be blessed...

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Signs of the Times - What They Mean Part Two

Hey Friend,

Last week, I posted Part One of this two part series on the signs of the times.  Before reading on, you may want to go back and read the beginning of the series for the sake of continuity.  

Before getting into the signs, let's first examine why 30% of the Bible is filled with prophecy.  Even though God is mysterious, He does not want us to remain in the dark.  He doesn't do anything until He reveals it first.  All of human history is about God continuing to reveal Himself to those who want to know Him. The God of the Bible is not a secret keeper. 

The reason God gives us prohecy in the Bible is so we will be prepared for everything that will happen.  God wants His children to be informed so they will face the future with courage and certainty.

After the first and second signs (Part One) let's jump into some other signs that are taking place, before our very eyes, that the Bible prophesies will happen as we get close to the Day of the Lord.  

3.  The Great Falling Away:  2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 tells us that the day Jesus gathers us in the sky for the Rapture will not happen unless the falling away or apostasy comes first.  Paul is reminding the Thessalonians that Jesus will not return until there is a worldwide falling away from truth.  This apostasy will be a widespread rejection of Biblical Christianity, including both theology and morality.

Many people are increasingly claiming the Bible contains "hate speech."  In the past few years there has been a dramatic increase of people, in the US, who check "none" on surveys that ask for religious affiliation.  The US is quickly catching up with the rest of the world that claims to be Atheist, Agnostic, or of a faith other than Christianiy.  

In 2007 a Harris Poll found that 12% of Americans had forsaken religion altogether.  That number doubled to 24% in just eight years (2013).  The numbers for 2020 are not out yet, but experts expect that percentage will have grown exponentially since 2013.  A 2015 Pew Research Center poll found that 35% of millenials claim no religious affiliation.  What will 2020 numbers reveal?

2 Timothy 3:1-9 describes what the moral climate of the world will be like in the last days:  For men (and women) will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money,...disobedient to parents, unthankful,unholy,unloving,unforgiving...without self control,...headstrong...lovers of pleasure...immoral...will be led away by various lusts...having no fear of God.

Jesus said that the end times would be very much like the days of Noah and Lot (Luke 17: 26-30).  In both stories, sexual immorality pervaded the society.  In both cases the culture devolved to the point of moral anarchy and depravity (pornography, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, pansexuality, transsexuality, adultery, prostitution, orgies, illicit sexual acts). Marriage, as a God-ordained sacrament between a man and a woman, was/is mocked.  

The last time God saw the world as being this immoral and violent was in the days of Noah, and then again in the days of Lot, and we know what happened then...God is compassionate and long-suffering, but He is also a just God.

4.  Growing Lawlessness:  Just prior to the Antichrist (who is described in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 as "the lawless one,") entering the world stage, Jesus will come and rapture His Bride, the church of believers. The "Rapture" is a term coined to describe the gathering of the elect unto Jesus.  There is always discussion about whether this happens before the Tribulation, mid-Trib. or post-Trib.  Scripture describes this time as the world being without the law.  Do scenes of burning cities with mobs demanding we abolish the police (symbol of the law in our society) flash to the forefront of your mind?  In 1980, the Court declared that the posting of The Ten Commandments  (God's Holy Law) in classrooms was found to be in violation of the First Ammendment.  We are living in a postmodern, post-Christian, and post-Bible culture.  The authority of Scripture is under attack, even from the inside of many churches. 

5.  Natural Disasters, Disease, and Plagues with Increasing Frequency & Intensity:  The Bible describes natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, as well as diseases (SARS, COVID-19) will come more often and with greater intensity - like the labor pains of a woman as she gets closer to giving birth.  

6.  Five Prophecies Regarding Israel:  The Bible gives conditions of the end times that specifically relate to Israel.  It tells us ALL these conditions will occur within a single generation.  (Matthew 24:32-34).  What Jesus is telling us here is that one generation will see all end times fulfilled.  Every generation has had some of the signs that Jesus mentions, but we are experiencing every sign.  Let's look at Israel...

A. Israel is Regathered Twice:  (foretold in Isaiah 11: 10-12) The Bible prophesies that the people of Israel will be gathered together twice after being scattered.  The first time was in 586 BC when, after a seventy year exile in Babylon, the Israelites began returning to Jerusalem and in 516 BC the Temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt.  

Then, God fulfilled His promise again in 1948.  For almost two millennia, the Hebrew people had been scattered around the world.  The extreme persecution under the Nazis and their ultimate defeat in WWII precipitated a huge and miraculous move back to their homeland for the second time - just as Isaiah foretold.  

B.  Israel Born in One Day:  Isaiah wrote again:  Who has heard such a thing?  Who has seen such a things?  Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day?  Or shall a nation be born at once?  On May 14, 1948, Great Britain's colonial mandate for Palestine expired, they released the territory, and in one day President Harry Truman recognized this new nation and the world saw the establishment of the State of Israel.  It all happened on a single day.  

C.  Israel is Regathered from the North:  As Israel began to rebuild, Jews who lived in Europe or the Americas came by the thousands.  Between January 1989 and December 2002, 1.1 million Jews immigrated to Israel from Russia.  This was foretold in Jeremiah 16.  

D.  Jerusalem is Retaken by the Jews:  In 1948, Jews were returning to Israel.  Then, in 1967 Israel engaged in the Arab-Israeli Six Day War.  On June 10, 1967, the Jews regained control of the city, and it has remained in their hands. 

E.  The Land of Israel is Divided, Coupled with Worldwide Anti-Semitism:  Israel has been forced to relinquish control of portions of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Sinai Peninsula.  The tug-of-war continues over The Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem.  Nations like Russia, Iran, and Syria (and many others) are very vocal in their aspirations of wiping the Jewish State of Israel off the map.  ** There will be a period of peace in the Middle East before all hell breaks loose and Jerusalem is "ground zero" for the final battle**

So, what does all this add up to?  In Joel 3: 1-2 God reveals to us that in the same time period (or generation) that He regathers Israel back into her land (beginning 1948), He will also enter into a final judgment with ALL nations regarding the mistreatment of the Jews and for dividing the land.  

So a key question here is How long is a generation?  How long is the "generation" that will include all the prophecies regarding Israel?  With the Lord, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day.  But, if we read what the Bible says about a "generation" it says in Psalm 90:10:  If the days of our lives are 70 years; and if by reason of strength they are 80 years...then that would mean that possibly ??? we could have the birth of Israel (May 14, 1948) AND the Day of the Lord/Judgment all within an 80 year period... 

1948 + 80 years = 2028 

There are those who believe Christ will come "pre-Tribulation," some who believe "mid-Tribulation," and others who believe "post-Tribulation."  No matter which way you slice it, you can't escape that Jesus is coming again and no one will know the exact day or the hour.  We simply need to be ready.

Hmmmm....We are seeing so many end times events being fulfilled or getting ready to be fulfilled.  When you just look at what is happening in Israel alone, it is a compelling argument that time is ticking away on the prophetic clock.  Add in the other signs and I come to the conclusion, with many others, that we need to:

Plan like Jesus isn't coming back for 100 year, but live like He is coming back today!

Remember how stupid Noah appeared in the eyes of his contemporaries.  They thought they could get away with everything and anything. No one feared or respected God. They mocked Noah for building a huge ark when they had never seen a drop of rain fall from the sky.  When the rain started, I'm sure there were many people who were banging, desperately, on the closed door of the ark to no avail.  

Like God sent the ark for Noah, He has promised the Rapture for His beloved Bride - the church of believers in His Son, Jesus Christ.  If you have repented and asked Jesus to be the Lord of your life, you will be feasting with Jesus at the wedding supper of the Lamb while the world will be experiencing a Tribulation that will make 9/11 look like a Sunday School picnic.  

So what are we to be doing?  Live for God, not this world.  Put Jesus first, no matter how the world mocks you.  Surround yourselves with other believers who will hold you accountable, and by all means minister to your family, friends, neighbors, and strangers; work diligently in your job; contribute generously to your church with your time and your finances as well as support global missions; and vote righteously when it comes time to cast your ballot.  YOU can make a difference!

When you witness to the Light in the middle of the darkness, you will have no reason to be ashamed when you see Jesus face-to-face. 

"Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."  (Hebrews 10: 24-25)

Once again, I offer this prayer as an invitation to give your life to Christ or as a re-dedication if you are already a believer...

Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins and rebellion against Your authority.  I receive You into my heart as my Lord and Savior.  I also receive Your blood on the cross as the payment for all of my sins and believe I'm totally forgiven by You.  Thank You for the free gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.  Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and give me the power to change and follow You all the days of my life.  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Thanks for hanging in there and reading.  May you be blessed...

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