Is COVID-19 an indicator of the return of Christ?

(I may be labeled a nutcase after posting this.). I don’t believe the Covid-19 vaccine is the Mark of the Beast. HOWEVER, I do believe what we are witnessing is preparation for accepting what is coming. First, create a pandemic panic that penetrates the entire world—C-19. Second, mandate masks to shop or dine in order to “prevent the further spread of the virus”. Third, develop a vaccine and tell the world that vaccine is the answer to the pandemic. What’s next? Mandated vaccination? Require proof of vaccination in order to purchase?

I’n not a radical (I don’t think) but I see a pattern of acceptance of “groupthink”, a phrase coined in Orwell’s novel, “1984”. I did get vaccinated for C-19, BUT I WILL NOT ACCEPT BEING REQUIRED TO PROVE I DID SO in order to receive goods or services.

All this just means Jesus is returning soon—maybe I’ll be here when He does.

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I think all of us have, at one time or another, run from God.

Have you ever hesitated to do what God told you to do? Or, maybe He told you to do something and you downright refused. Jonah ran from God because he hated the people God told him to go to with a prophetic word. As a result of his disobedience Jonah spent three days in the belly of a large fish. That sounds like a really unpleasant experience!

Even after Jonah was forcefully moved to a position of obedience, he was angry with God. Who know what blessings Jonah missed out on because of his disobedience or because of his attitude even when we was obedient.

Perhaps your disobedience won’t leave you in an experience like Jonah, but one thing is for certain—disobedience keeps you from experiencing the benefits you might have received otherwise. In my own experience I found myself disobedient to God for fifteen years, not writing the book He said Marsha and I should write. We finally did write the book and publish it, but who knows what blessings we missed out on because of the fifteen year delay?

We a grateful for the opportunities that book, “God’s Blueprint for Marriage” have given us as we shared with others about what we learned through the restoration of our marriage. But, how many more lives might we have touched if we had not delayed all those years?

As I write this, I’m reminded of the next book I’m writing, and how I’ve allowed “life” to interfere with finishing “No Pause Button”, a book on spiritual warfare. Jonah’s story has reminded me of the importance of obedience, and the new book is now a high priority. Other God-give objectives are also being given a new emphasis. I don’t know what God has in store for my future, but I know it will be a better future if I’m obedient.

Whatever God has told you to do, be obedient. Like we told our boys when they were growing up, “SLOW obedience is NO obedience.” If you’ve hesitated, for any reason, get up and get going!!!

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Preparing the Message

This year it’s been my privilege to begin training a group of people who feel called to preach. We call it the PIT Crew—Preachers in Training. It’s not a college-level homiletics class, but does cover the basics of hermeneutics, exegesis, sermon preparation and presentation. It’s a continuing process, and monthly I share new information to help them in the fulfillment of the callings they have. This morning I am working in a message God has given me, and I want to share with the PIT Crew and with others who might benefit from the information.

Today it began with a “revelation”—that is, a thought that comes from God that is meant to be shared with others. Some of the time the revelation comes out of the text; other times the revelation draws me to a text. Often the revelation comes during my devotional time. I then began to process that revelation and how it applies to today’s life. I’ve just finished that part of preparation, and now I’m seeking a scripture from God’s Word that a) confirms what I believe God is saying; and b) reveals recognizable points that enable both the hearer and, especially, me, to see the correlation between the “revelation” and the text. Once I see those points, I’ll begin the process of application, explaining how those points reveal steps we might need to take to draw closer to Christ.

The ultimate objective is to bring a word from God that changes lives, beginning with my own. If the message doesn’t first minister to me I can’t expect it to minister to others.

So, that’s where I am in preparing this new message I believe God wants me to share. I’m looking forward to how He speaks to me and how He will use what He says to bring His word to others.

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“My Word Will Not Return to Me Empty…”

Knowing there wasn’t enough money to cover the first-of-the-month draft payments and pay our tithe, we paid our tithe. Two days later we received a check for back wages Marsha was owed by her former employer of several years ago.

A couple days ago, I awoke with the scripture, “God’s Word will not return to me empty” (Isaiah 55:11), on my mind. I knew it was for me, but I didn’t understand until this morning during my devotional time how it applied.

Philippians 3:19 says, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” and we in the faith movement like to stand on that. But, in context it says that (in paraphrase) because the Philippians church was faithful in giving, that God would supply…

It was out of our faithfulness in giving that our need was met. I know that the check we received had to have been mailed before I wrote the tithe check. But I also know that God, in His foreknowledge, anticipated I would write that check even though we knew we wouldn’t be able to meet our obligations, and He already placed into motion the response He had for us for our faithfulness in giving. God’s promise to provide when we are faithful was His way of showing us HIS WORD WOULD NOT RETURN VOID. “Great is Thy faithfulness, Oh Lord, to me”.

Regarding the tithe, God said, “Test me now this this, and see if I won’t open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing…”. We tested, and He poured. Praise be to God!

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Final Lesson From Job #2

In the final chapters of the Book of Job, the Lord said He was God and didn’t owe Job an explanation. Once Job grasped the reality of that, he repented.

“Then Job answered the LORD, “I know that you can do everything and that your plans are unstoppable. “⌊You said,⌋ ‘Who is this that belittles my advice without having any knowledge ⌊about it⌋?’ Yes, I have stated things I didn’t understand, things too mysterious for me to know. “⌊You said,⌋ ‘Listen now, and I will speak. I will ask you, and you will teach me.’ I had heard about you with my own ears, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. That is why I take back what I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show that I am sorry.””
‭‭Job‬ ‭42:1-6‬ ‭GW‬‬

Don’t try to figure out what God has not (yet) revealed to you, but trust His plan for your life as He leads you step by step.

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A Final Lesson from Job—For Now, Anyway…

Now in Job 36, as Elihu continues to speak to Job and his friends, it seems that, perhaps, Job’s self-righteousness is is downfall. He continues throughout his discourse that his circumstances are unfair because he’s lived a righteous life. Instead of pleading his case before God out of his righteousness, (and I go back to something I wrote earlier), what if he had cried out to God for deliverance? But, instead, he continues to try to justify himself before God…until…

…Until God asks Job who he thinks he is. Job is humiliated by his circumstances but humbled before God and repents of his self-righteousness. God restores Job’s life, blessing him with “twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10).

There are things about this story I still don’t understand. But the Lord has answered my prayer and taught me some lessons to apply to my own life and, hopefully, to share with others as well.

1. Don’t blame God for your circumstances, but praise Him in the midst of them.

2. Don’t look to well-meaning friends for your answers.

3. Seek God and ask Him to bring deliverance to your circumstances.

4. When you realize you’re in error, repent!

5. Remember that God is not answerable to you—or anyone else. He is God.

6. Trust Him to be with you through the storms of life. He will never let you down.

I’m sure there is much more I can learn from Job, and I’m looking forward to gleaning more from this book in my next Bible read-through.

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Another lesson from Job

When I began this book a few days ago, I admitted to God that I had trouble with Job, and asked Him to help me understand. He’s certainly answered that request. Having read, now through Job chapter 23. Job is bitter, blaming God for his circumstances. I keep coming back to the same question: “What if…?” The lesson I’m learning from Job is that when life throws you a curve ball continue to worship God and don’t compare your circumstances with others’. Don’t blame God for what the devil is responsible. Don’t try to defend yourself to God, or to your well-meaning friends who don’t understand what you’re going through and condemn you for your reaction. Above all, pray that God, who loves you, is for you and not against you, will deliver you from your situation. He knows the end from the beginning. And, ultimately, He will give you victory. Romans 8:18, “In my opinion,whatever we have to go through is next to nothing compared to the magnificent future God has in store for us.” (Philips translation)

Though God gave satan permission to attack Job, in reality it was Adam and Eve who opened the door for evil to enter into the world. Praise God, that door was closed when the tomb was opened!

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Another Lesson from Job

In my last post I pondered what might have happened if Job had asked God for deliverance rather than blaming Him for his troubles.

I’m reading his friends’ responses to Job and I’m reminded of my early experiences in the Charismatic Movement. When prayers weren’t answered, many times the explanations offered were “You just don’t have enough faith”, or ‘There must be some unconfessed sin in your life,” as Job’s friends said.

If you believe that those are the primary reasons someone else’s prayers aren’t answered, you don’t understand God’s grace and mercy. First, Jesus said all you need is faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains (Matt 17:20). It’s not the level of your faith, but the level of His faithfulness that extends grace to us when we don’t deserve it. If your prayers aren’t answered, perhaps it’s because you “ask with the wrong motives (James 4:3). Or, it may be the answer you think is “No” is actually “Not yet”. Bottom line regarding “enough faith” is not evaluating your level of faith, but trusting His faithfulness, understanding He knows the end from the beginning, and is working things for your good (Romans 8:28). That’s grace.

The “unconfessed sin” accusation fails to recognize God’s mercy. Yes, if you are living in continued willful sin you have a sin problem, and you are blocking the flow of God’s blessing for your life. But to point a finger of accusation, telling them they “must have some unconfessed sin in their lives” is self-righteous and judgmental. We probably all have some unconfessed sin—sin either forgotten or unrealized—yet God’s mercy extends to all. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict someone of sin. It’s not our job to condemn them because they “must (or might) have some unconfessed sin in their lives.

Yes, I wonder what might have happened if Job had prayed for deliverance. But I also wonder what might have happened if Job’s friends has supported him instead of condemning him for the “unconfessed sin in his life”.

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Struggling with Job but beginning to understand (I think)

Reading Job, which has always been a difficult book for me to understand. God gives the devil permission to attack Job? Seems inconsistent with God’s character.

But, I think I’m beginning to understand. Job is no different from the rest of us. When Adam and Eve sinned, they released evil into the world, in essence giving the devil permission to attack. And, though we might blame God for our troubles, as Job did, in reality we are suffering the consequences of evil being released. Though Job blamed God, it was not God’s fault.

Because God has foreknowledge he knew the outcome before Job ever went through it. God does not cause evil to happen, though we might say He allows it. But, He will take what Satan means for evil and turn it around for our Good (Romans 8:28).

I wonder what would have happened if Job had asked God for deliverance rather than blaming God for his troubles.

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Sunday the Lord gave me a word for the church—not just Word of Life, but the chiurch at large. The word was “reboot”. I’ve been meditating on what that might mean, and I think I’m starting to understand. Reboot usually means something isn’t working or it’s working slowly, and you need a restart. Marsha Stire Dixon has often come to me with computer issues and I would ask, “Did you reboot?” That is, “Did you shut the computer down and restart? Lately she’s learned to reboot on her own, and occasionally when I’m having computer issues she will ask me if I rebooted.

The church has undergone a massive reboot. And, in the restart, we’re finding we had “files”—programs that we didn’t need and deleted them. But, we’ve also found we needed additional “files” that needed to be installed in order to run more effectively and efficiently, and other files that needed to be updated. Reboot has taken the church outside the four walls, enabling her to reach more people through means that were once incidental but are now essential. We’ve realized we need to update that way we do things. We’re looking at new ways of being the church—not doing church, but actually reaching out to make a difference.

It’s also set us up for a personal reboot. COVID-19 and the BLM have forced us to think. It’s forced us to add and remove “files” that affected the way we think and act. It certainly has me, anyway. And, some of my “programs” needed an update.

Change is often not comfortable, even when it’s necessary. We’ve been forced out of our comfort zone in so many ways. But, in the long run I believe we’ll look back and see some positive change out of what, at the time, seemed to be a negative situation. “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those that are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)

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