Witness Him Now
God's promises are so rich in this season of my life. I know that many people are struggling right now, but there are very real promises of God that are just ripe for the picking. All we have to do is come to the well. The fountain is plentiful, and the water is sweet. It is freely given to all who are thirsty. So, if you are thirsty, come. Drink. Be filled.
"Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink - even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk - it's all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food."
"Come to Me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David. See how I used him to display My power among the peoples. I made him a leader among the nations you do not know and peoples unknown to you will come running to obey, because I, the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious."
Seek the LORD while you can find Him. Call on Him now while He is near. Let the wicked change their ways, and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that He may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for He will forgive generously.
"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.
"The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with My Word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it."
"You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands. Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the LORD's name; they will be an everlasting sign of His power and love." (Isaiah 55)
Come with heart wide open and drink. Joy, peace, refreshing! It is all there for the taking.
Merry Christmas, my friends! Blessings to you!
Today is Christmas Day, the day when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. This year our pastor worked very hard to make sure that we understood the awe and wonder of that miracle that was born in a manger over 2000 years ago. God had been silent for four hundred years, and that silence was broken by the sound of a child's cry. God, Himself, stepped out of heaven and wrapped Himself in humanity. God sent His Son to redeem mankind. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and the earth rejoiced. And heaven and nature sings!
This morning I woke up at 3:00, and it is my custom when I wake up in the night to sit at the feet of Jesus, open the Word and let Him speak to me. This morning the message was sweet. He has been singing this same song over me for some time now, but this morning, the Word was pure and clear. It was honey to my lips and music to my ears. Like Habakkuk, I want to write the message plainly on tablets so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. I believe this is a message for all of us. He said through the prophet Isaiah:
God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out. He created the earth and everything in it. He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth. And it is He who says, "I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate My righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to My people, Israel, as a symbol of My covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide the nations. You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons. I am the LORD; that is My name! I will not give My glory to anyone else, nor share My praise with carved idols. Everything I prophesied has cone true, and now I will prophesy again. I will tell you the future before it happens." (42:5-9)
The LORD has called us to demonstrate His righteousness. We are called to believe and trust in His holy name. When we trust Him, peace and joy are our inheritance, and the world can see. Our light shines brightly, and people come. We then are called to lead them to this same place of freedom - the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised to new life, and the God of the universe gets all the glory! He is calling us to be symbols of His covenant. This is our portion in 2018. Isaiah then went on to say:
God says, "Rebuild the road!" Clear away the rocks and stones so My people can return from captivity." The high and lofty One who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: "I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. For I will not fight against you forever; I will not always be angry. If I were, all people would pass away - all the souls I have made. I was angry, so I punished these greedy people. I withdrew from them, but they kept on going on their own stubborn way. I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far," says the LORD, who heals them." "But those who still reject Me are like the restless sea, which is never still but continually churns up mud and dirt. There is no peace for the wicked," says my God. (57:14-21)
This is good news! God will not fight against us forever. He sees what we are doing; he sees our stubbornness and greed, but He is going to heal us anyway. He is going to comfort us and bring words of praise to our lips. This year He is going to lead us all to a place of abundant peace. This is the place where His glory dwells, and we will all live there. To get there, we have to come before our Father with humble, contrite hearts. If we don't, if we continue to reject our God, we will be like the restless sea. There is no peace for the wicked.
Malachi says it like this: "They will be My people," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. "On the day when I act in judgment, they will be My own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not." (3:16-17)
In 2018, we are going to see the difference. The righteous shine forth as lights in a dark placed while all the rest of the world is crippled with terror and fear, worry and pain. As the dark gets darker, the light will get brighter, and all the world will see that there is a God in heaven who loves and fights for His people. May the LORD bless you all richly this coming year. May He open up the windows of heaven over you and pour out righteousness. May your heart open wide to receive it, and may righteousness and salvation spring up together. Let there be peace on earth and good will toward men. Let all the earth rejoice and heaven and nature sing! In the mighty name of Jesus! AMEN
The LORD has been speaking so loud and clear to me the last month or two. As I read His word, I see Him coming to do one of two things in our lives. He is coming to send judgment on His church, and He is coming to bless His remnant. I tremble at what I read, it is scary, but Micah 2:7 says, "If you would do what is right, you would find my words comforting." So I am going to share what the LORD is about to do. God is talking to the church, to His people. He is warning us, and He is giving us promises. May we all have eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart to understand what He is saying so that we can turn in our hearts and live. May we all find comfort in what we hear.
First, I am going to tell you what is going to happen to the church, to a people who draw near to God with their mouths and honor Him with their lips, but their heart is far from Him. Through the prophet Zephaniah, God says, "I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth, I will sweep away people and animals alike." (1:2-3) "I will crush Judah and Jerusalem (that's us) with My fist and destroy every last trace of their Baal worship. I will put an end to all the idolatrous priests, so that even the memory of them will disappear. And I will destroy those who used to worship Me, but now no longer do. They no longer ask for the LORD's guidance or seek My blessings." (1:4,6) Stand in silence in the presence of the Sovereign LORD, for the awesome day of the LORD's judgment is near. The LORD has prepared His people for a great slaughter and has chosen their executioners. "On that day of judgment," says the LORD, "I will punish the leaders and princes of Judah and all those following pagan customs." (1:7-8)
God's not playing. He is a jealous God, and He will have no other gods before Him. He says, "My people have set up idols in their hearts and set before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity." (Ezekiel 14:3) We have all done it. We have looked at things or people or a job or power or prestige or money - and the list could go on forever, but we are looking at things that we want more than we want God. That is called idol worship. God won't have it, and He is coming to judge us for this great sin against Him. And if that is not enough, through Zephaniah God adds, "I will search with lanterns in Jerusalem's darkest corners to punish those who sit complacent in their sins. They think the LORD will do nothing to them, either good or bad, so their property will be plundered, their homes will be ransacked. They will build new homes but never live in them. They will plant vineyards but never drink wine from them." (1:12-13) We think God doesn't see and that God won't do anything, but we are so wrong.
And now God is reaching out to us saying, "Gather together - yes, gather together, you shameless nation. Gather together before judgment begins, before your time to repent is blown away like chaff. Act now, before the fierce fury of the LORD falls and the terrible day of the LORD's anger begins. Seek the LORD, all who are humble, and follow His commands. Seek to do what is right and to live humbly. Perhaps even yet the LORD will protect you - protect you from His anger on that day of destruction." (Zephaniah 2:1-3)
There is a call to repentance. God is asking us to humbly come to Him right now, without excuse, and say, "I am guilty. Please forgive me. I am sorry!" This can't be lip service. It has to be from the heart. We have to truly be sorry for what we have done because this is what God says He will do if we are not. "What sorrow awaits rebellious, polluted Jerusalem, the city of violence and crime! No one can tell it anything; it refuses all correction. It does not trust in the LORD or draw near to its God. Its leaders are like roaring lions hunting for their victims. Its judges are like ravenous wolves at evening time, who by dawn have left no trace of their prey. Its prophets are arrogant liars seeking their own gain. Its priests defile the Temple by disobeying God's instructions. But the LORD is still there in the city, and He does no wrong. Day by day He hands down justice, and He does not fail. But the wicked know no shame." (Zephaniah 3:1-5)
The LORD is still in the city. He is still in our heart, and day by day He hands down justice. It has already started. Look at your life. Look at the hardships. God is doing it. "I have wiped out many nations, devastating their fortress walls and towers. Their streets are now deserted, their cities lie in silent ruin. There are no survivors - none at all. I thought, "Surely they will have reverence for Me now! Surely they will listen to My warnings. Then I won't have to strike again, destroying their homes." "But no, they get up early to continue their evil deeds." "Therefore, be patient," says the LORD. "Soon I will stand and accuse these evil nations. For I have decided to gather the kingdoms of the earth and pour out My fiercest anger and fury on them. All the earth will be devoured by the fire of My jealousy." (Zephaniah 3:6-8)
I can't tell you how many times I hear people talk about how hard life is getting. For many, it is unbearable. God is trying to get our attention. We have to listen. God will not be mocked. He is coming back for a bride that is holy, one without spot or wrinkle. We are not there yet, but we can be. It is as simple as facing Jesus with our hearts wide open and saying, "Jesus, I need You. Please come and rescue me." And He will because it is written, "Everyone who calls upon the name of the LORD will be saved." (Joel 2:32) If you do that, listen to what God is going to do for you.
"Then I will purify the speech of all people, so that everyone can worship the LORD together. On that day you will no longer need to be ashamed, for you will no longer be rebels against Me. I will remove all proud and arrogant people from among you. There will be no more haughtiness on My holy mountain. Those who are left will be the lowly and humble, for it is they who trust in the name of the LORD. The remnant of Israel (that's us) will do no wrong; they will never tell lies or deceive one another. They will eat and sleep in safety, and no one will make them afraid." (Zephaniah 3:9-13)
Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! For the LORD will remove His hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy. And the LORD Himself, the King of Israel, will live among you! At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster. On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, "Cheer up, Zion! Don't be afraid! For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." (Zephaniah 3:14-17) Wow! The LORD Himself will live among us, and He will take away all of our fears. He will rejoice over us and dance and sing. Does that blow you away? The God of the Universe wants to do that for us - remove judgment - slaughter our enemies - and with His love, calm all of our fears.
All that we have lost, all that has been stolen, all that we have given away, He wants to restore. He says, "I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals; you will be disgraced no more. And I will deal severely with all who have oppressed you. I will save the weak and helpless ones; I will bring together those who were chased away. I will give glory and fame to My former exiles, wherever they have been mocked and shamed. On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again. I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth, as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes. I, the LORD, have spoken!"
Sorrow and mourning and shame are not our portion. Worry and fear are not our portion either. Righteousness, peace and joy are our inheritance. Goodness and mercy belong to us. Love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and gentleness and faithfulness and self-control is the good land that we will possess. This is our inheritance, and God is going to make sure we get there. "Then another message came to me from the LORD of Heaven's Armies. This is what the LORD of Heaven's Armies says: My love for Mount Zion, is passionate and strong; I am consumed with passion for Jerusalem! (That's us!) And now the LORD says: I am returning to Mount Zion and I will live in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, the mountain of the LORD of Heaven's Armies will be called the Holy Mountain." (Zechariah 8:1-3)
The LORD is coming to make us, His people, faithful and holy. His unfailing love will accomplish that. So what is the LORD about to do? He is about to shake the heavens and the earth and all of creation will know that there is a God in heaven who does what He says He is going to do. Let our hearts tremble at His word. Let wisdom and understanding enter, because iff we don't listen, we will be swept away with everything else that is wicked.
The scripture says, "May you prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers."