Epistles during the pandemic

Post Box

     From mid-March, 2020 on, the world saw many problems. Our devotionals encouraged kids to remember God was in control and how to live for Jesus, pray, and walk in the Light of His love.

     Here are some of many highlights.

(and everything else we faced starting Mar., 2020.)

Kids have been learning & growing in Christ. Read selections from Doug's "pandemic epistles".

Want to see them all in a big document? E-mail thetruthmatters1 (at) gmail.com.

            Hi, it’s Doug from Youthquake, Sal sends his greetings, too. In this state of emergency, I wanted to give you tips on growing in your relationship with Jesus.

Like any relationship, communication is key. 1 Thess. 5:17 says “Pray without ceasing.” We should always be in an attitude of prayer. This means talking with God, sharing your heart with Him. All your feelings and anything on your mind. A good way to remember this is ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thankfulness, and Supplication. That last means to humbly ask.

Adoration is just praising God and loving Him because He is God. Think of His many great qualities. I don’t know if you were here when I taught about Paul and Silas. They were in prison in Acts 16 for preaching the Gospel. They praised God continually. Then, God performed a miracle. He opened the doors and when the Philippian jailor saw them opened, he thought they had all escaped. But, all the prisoners were still there. He asked Paul and Silas what he needed to do to be saved. Acts 16:31 shows, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”

So, keep praising God. We as a culture have forgotten to love one another. Pray we start doing this. Pray people will stop being selfish and put God first. Pray people start loving His creation and valuing life. Pray people will appreciate the good things God gives us.

And, of course, do this in your own life. Don’t be a hypocrite.

Confession isn’t needed in every prayer. But, we need to have our hearts right with God before He can hear our prayers. That doesn’t just mean big sins. It means making sure you aren’t praying with wrong motives, or asking for something against God’s will.

            Say you have a friend who needs saved, and they stopped being friends with you because you are a Christian. Wanting them to be saved is a good thing, but if you only want them saved so you can be friends again, that is a wrong motive. You should want them saved so they go to Heaven even if you are never friends on earth again.

            So, wanting this virus to end so you can have fun is a wrong motive. We should want it to end for God’s glory, for peoples’ health, and so on. It’s normal for people to want their own way; I struggle with that, too. But, that’s part of spiritual growth, wanting God’s way in our lives.

            Thankfulness is pretty self-explanatory. We should be thankful for what God gives us, and seek forgiveness for not being that way. But, not just for ourselves.

            Read Daniel 9. Daniel seeks revival for Israel. He repents for the actions of his ancestors. He prayed like God says in 2 Chr. 7:14 – “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

            I might do a lesson on this next time. For now, just remember to seek God’s forgiveness and thank Him for His love, grace, and mercy.

            Supplication is humbly asking. We should ask for others and ourselves.

            We need peace and comfort. God can provide. We need help and encouragement. God can provide. But, we also need to be ready to help others, too. And, we need to trust the Holy Spirit to guide us. Remember, the Holy Spirit lives in each believer. The Bible says to never quench the Holy Spirit, which is why we’re warned not to pray with unconfessed sin, wrong motives, lack of faith, etc.. But, God is always ready to help us. This is why the Bible records several places where people ask Jesus to help their unbelief become belief. It’s why Jesus says you just have to have faith the size of a mustard seed, and He will work with that faith and increase it. Just like He multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed 5,000 men plus women and children. And, keep reading the Bible. Because you’ll always find something new.

            After all, that’s the first time I ever connected those verses I just mentioned in my mind. And I’ve read them for years.

Praying for revival - 2 Chr. 7:14

            There are always things to find in a verse, so you’ll see more as you grow. Still, I’ll break one down to help you remember as you pray, to build your prayer life as you draw closer to God.

2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

My people/called by My name: Notice 2 things.

1. We are His people. We are not the chosen people – the Jews – of Genesis 12, but we have been grafted in; we are called by His name. Romans 8:15 says we have the spirit of adoption in us. We were once in bondage to fear. He has freed us like a tender, loving father who will never provoke to wrath, never discourage his children with putdowns, but will speak the truth in love and spea life to them. We are adopted into His family.

2. We can’t lose our salvation. How do we get that from this verse? The people are sinning terribly; so much so God has smitten their land. It can be a disease like the virus going around today, it can be a famine, it can be a spirit of destruction hat brings people against each other, but in the midst of all this, they are still His people, called by His name. They never lost that, even in the midst of horrible sin.

Humble themselves and pray:

To be humble is to realize we can’t do it ourselves. It’s admitting our faults and failures. It’s accepting we’re not perfect, but God is, and He has the right to rule in our lives. He says we shall have no other gods before Him – we put many things in our hearts that we idolize.

To pray to Him is to acknowledge He is Lord. Yes, we sometimes pray when other things are on our minds, but this is not the fleeting thought we quickly apologize for, like being too quick to criticize or not bothering to listen because we have things on our mind. People put many things ahead of God, and they need to be humble like the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 and return to God. This is made clear by the next part of this verse.

Seek My face:

We need to seek God’s face because we are not following Him.

“Wait,” you say, “I am.” Okay, but all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. I’m just as guilty of not praying enough as anyone, I get distracted by things of this world. And just admitting that to God and turning from it is one way to seek His face.

And, if we are right with God, if we do walk with Him, then we should be interceding for others, for this nation. Do we pray for our leaders, or only the ones we like? If we put certain people on our “naughty list” and refuse to pray God help them or work in their lives, it is not Godly. He wants children to pray for and help their parents because they are in charge. And, in the same way, He says to pray for our leaders, not to keep complaining. He says to seek His will for our lives, not our own desires. To seek His face, then, is to seek Him; not just to go through the motions but to actively let His Holy Spirit work in us.

Turn from their wicket ways:

Again, why pray for past sins of others? We are interceding like Jesus does for us. He mediates on our behalf. So, we can intercede for others.

My ancestors fought to free the slaves – they left West Virginia, then part of Virginia, and joined Ohio regiments. They were Germans and Germans hated slavery. Yet I beg God’s forgiveness for the horrible cruelty of slavery. I don’t just say, “My ancestors were on your side in that one, Lord.” I intercede for our country.

Daniel did the same thing in Daniel 9, praying for Israel, and the sins of his forefathers. He didn’t just say, “I wasn’t there. Not my problem.” I don’t know if his forefathers were persecuted or not, but being handicapped, I could just say, “Yeah, we had it rough” and not seek God’s forgiveness for others. I acknowledge the sins of my country and pray we will turn away from them, and turn away myself.

But, this also involves action on our part now. So many have neglected family, but now they have a chance to reconnect and love them unconditionally. So many rely on imperfect people instead of a perfect God, but now they are learning they must rely on God. So many are selfish and worked toward self-gratification instead of thinking of others first. So many turn to things instead of God to give them peace and comfort. And so on.

So, when we turn from our wicked ways, we must do so ourselves, and then pray others will, too. This doesn’t mean we have to become Amish, we can enjoy pleasures, we must just stop putting these things ahead of God and acknowledge God gives them to us to enjoy and see His creation in nature, in our skills, etc..

Imagine, for instance, if all the money spent on better and the lottery were spent on helping the poor and supporting missionaries instead. Now that’s something to seek God’s face to it happens. There’s a reason Billy Sunday preached so much against sin – he knew it could be used to help those who really need that help.

Then will I hear from Heaven

The Psalmist writes “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear my prayer.” (PS. 66:18) But, He will listen when we ask Him to point out any wicked way in us so we can forsake it. (Psalm 39:24, other verses.) He knows we’re not perfect, He just wants a willing heart, because He wants to hear from Heaven. That’s why He tells us even with a nation filled with sin how we can see our nation healed.

And I will forgive their sin

God is always ready to forgive. He came into the world not to condemn it, but so that the world through Him might be saved. Each of us is only a single, sincere prayer of repentance away from eternal life. Then, once we have the Holy Spirit living in us, we can know for sure He will lovingly guide us and forgive when we mess up. So, we should be interceding for others and sharing His love with them so they, too, can be saved.

And I will heal their land.

America needs healed not just from the Coronavirus, but from centuries of evil, so much pain that we have caused Him through the mistreatment of others, but also so much pain we have caused Him through our own selfish desires.

We need healed from the bitterness and rage that exists in our land. We need His healing from the terrible way in which we’ve turned the gifts He has given us around for our own gratification. We need healed from that desire to fight for worldly rewards instead of giving toward Heavenly rewards. We need healed of the terrible attitude we’ve had toward life, from the legalist mindset that insisted people be in church without trying to hel them in their daily lives. We need healed from so many sins.

I’m not saying Coronavirus is a direct judgment from God. It’s not like He would judge Israel as His chosen people. We are in the age of grace.

But, I am saying America needs a repentance revival. God has tried so hard to get our attention. Now, this is one more thing where He is begging us to return to Him and be healed. He has removed so much of our lives, so we can have the time to know our Creator, the one who has given us all of this. He has given us one more chance to realize we are filled with sin and to intercede for our country.

And then, when we realize and share with Him we know we are deserving of His judgment, and plead for our nation, for His mercy on us, then we have His promise to get us through this.

He can heal us from this plague. He wants us to have faith that He will. But, not just so we can have fun, as I shared before. He wants it for His glory.

It just takes some dedicated prayer warriors. Will you be one? As Mordechai said to Esther, his cousin whom he raised, when she was afraid, because the wicked kind wanted to kill the Jewish people she she was needed to intercede, “Who knows whether you are come into the kingdom for such a time as this?” We need people to pray for repentance revival so God will heal this land. And then, He could restore the economy, maybe not in an instant, but He do great and mighty things.

We just need to have faith.

Resurrection Sunday - "So Much is Empty - But So Is the Tomb"

So much is empty now – churches, schools, stadiums, etc. But, this Resurrection Sunday, we can always reply, “So is the tomb.” See our site, gcyouthquake.org, for several great things about that (right hand side, top of front page). But, let’s look deeper into it.

In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus warns us “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth…” He reminds us things grow old, get stolen, break, etc.. He tells us instead to build treasures in Heaven where nothing goes wrong. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

I alluded to that earlier. I said the gods of this world were disappearing. This isn’t just about putting God ahead of all the other things we put in our lives, though. This is about why we need to put God first. It’s for our protection. The tighter we hold onto the things of this world, the more we miss them when they are gone.

That’s why that empty tomb is so important. Jesus has conquered death. The Bible says “Death, where is thy sting? Grave, where is thy victory?” 1 Cor. 15:55-57. Paul is saying, “You can’t threaten me with death. If I die, I’m going to Heaven to live forever.”

Of course, the Bible warns we should *never* tempt God. We also should *never* get involved with the devil. 1 Peter 5:8 says the devil walks around like a roaring lion, “seeking whom he may devour.” Getting involved in evil like witchcraft or drunkenness or hatred or anything like that can not only cause you to lose blessings and rewards, it can hurt all those around you and even lead to an early death.

However, you can be certain that if you are in the middle of God’s will, whatever happens, it won’t be evil. He will only put in your life what He knows you need to grow closer to Him. And, He’ll use you as a Godly example to those around you. Being a big help to family, doing chores, being kind to others, and so on are all things we can do now.

 And, when we look at the empty tomb, we can remember that those things we love most, when we give them over to God, will be used by Him for His purposes. And, we will have them forever someday. Think about it – right now the churches are empty, but we can fellowship with God’s people forever someday. We’ll run and laugh and play and do so many amazing things. Stuff we never had here on Earth but trusted God for, we can have up there. Jesus promised each of us a mansion, after all.(John 14:2) We trade or emptiness for trust in the empty tomb, so Jesus can make us full someday, and fill the holes in our heart here.

So, that empty tomb means not only do we not need to fear death and the grave, but all that we’ve given over to God, He promises to use for His glory and we can be sure something like it will be there for us in Heaven. For instance, Billy Sunday gave up a very good baseball career to be a preacher. Maybe he’ll play it in Heaven. Wouldn’t it be cool if Youthquake had lots of sports teams in Heaven, and we worked with Bully Sunday? For Sal and I it would.

When you give something to God, He might give it back to you to use for His glory. Someone who enjoys music, writing, etc. might use that passion to create things that honor God. Tim Tebow used his fame in college to honor God, and Reggie White, one of the best linemen of all time, was an ordained minister as well as a football player.

The empty tomb exists because we serve a risen Saviour. All other founders of religions and everything else have died and are still dead. No matter how long it takes, we have promise we can share with others. The tomb is empty. Jesus is alive, and believers have the certainty of eternal life, where things are better than you can imagine. That is a message you should share with everyone, as you talk with family, etc., this season, and make sure they, too, have called on Jesus to save them from their sins. White died only a few years after retiring; we don’t know how long we have, but we know God says now is the time to be reaching others with the Gospel.

Sal and I both wish you a great Resurrection Sunday.

Spiritual battles are everywhere. That’s why I’ve urged you: Build your own relationship with God through prayer and Bible reading, to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.(Eph. 6:11&13, start of the Full Armor of God.) Seek other Biblically sound ways to grow, like cantonbaptist.org and virtual Camp CHOF on Youtube.

We don’t know when Jesus will return. We may need to get as many saved as we can and not worry about a return to normal. I struggle with that – I finished a Print On Demand book with a fictional baseball season & am writing another. Part of me misses baseball but I write to glorify God first. I share the Gospel and always have some characters who model Godly living. It’s okay to miss how the world was and be sad. We should deal with it by trusting Jesus to bring good out of a situation. Ask Him to use us to pray and help people. Psalm 56:3 says “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” You could put any emotion there.

Of course, we must first trust Jesus with our souls. Once you trust Jesus as Saviour, calling on Him by faith to save you from your sins and make you new inside, turning from sin and to Him, He lives in you through the Spirit(John 14-16,Eph. 1:13-14, etc.) and you have a lifelong relationship with God.

Amazingly, a Netflix show, “Family Reunion,” mentioned Jesus Christ(that any show does is an answer to prayer.) A girl character says she prayed God would give her courage to overcome her fear of water so she can be baptized. (Baptism is for believers, but it’s easy to imagine her grandma leading her to Christ before). I we step out in faith, God gives us what we need. The devil only wants to steal, kill, and destroy. God wants to build us up so we can overcome the evils of this world through His strength.

So, pray for God to overcome evil groups, at least through getting every soul possible to trust Jesus to save them. We may not be near the end, but even if we aren’t, Jesus warned us so we could look up, and remember this world isn’t our final home. He went to prepare a place for each believer that’s more amazing than we can imagine. We believers should be building Heavenly treasure. God is working in this world so we can.

It doesn’t always feel like it since we can’t always see His timing. But, the Holy Spirit is working in hearts, and will be till the Rapture. The Spirit is in each believer, and we are all part of the Body of Christ; we just have to follow His lead. God gives each believer only what He knows we can handle with His help. This doesn’t mean every believer trusts His help; some try to do everything themselves. I fall for that at times; we all do. If we stray from His perfect path, it’s important to get our minds back on God quickly and trust and follow Him.

You’ve heard the phrase “think outside the box,” right? We sometimes try to put God in a box. We think He has to be just like we expect, so we don’t trust Him. The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) by using our own wants sometimes. We want to think people will do right or they want to help even if they don’t. Or, we think things will be perfect on Earth. That isn’t always the case. Jesus went to prepare us a mansion in Heaven, not here. Handicapped people like me glorify God through what He gets us through, not always by healing. Much of why my best friend from college, Sander, is a believer in Jesus now is how God helped me when I broke my leg.

Could things be better? Of course! I’ve said we must repent like in Daniel 9 for centuries of sin (Psalm 51, too), so God can move in and revive and heal us. God’s people should unite to help. For instance, I found a black-owned restaurant/bakery that shipped nationally to buy from for Father’s Day; I have more linked to support later. (My dad can’t travel well due to Parkinson’s, so we order from out of state and act like we’re on vacation.) We should connect and resolve any problems via the Matthew 18 principle, instead of fighting and getting in rages over things.

This is why we emphasize edifying one another(Rom. 14:19, 1 Thess. 5:11, etc.); build others up. Godly action is constructive. Godly correction is done in love. But, the devil wants to destroy. He uses anything to distract us – including our own wants. The devil will get us to put God in a box if we’re not careful, instead of trusting Scripture. We must keep the Bible as our foundation, and through prayer get this nation back to it. That includes on the divide the devil is trying to create with color. Dr. E.V. Hill, a great preacher in L.A., said: “…I know about Christ, a Savior named Jesus. I don't know what color He is. He was born in the brown Middle East; He fled to black Africa; and He was in heaven before the gospel got to white Europe…. I do know one thing: if you bow at the altar with color on your mind, you'll get up with color on your mind. Go back again - and keep going back until you no longer look at His color, but at His greatness and His power - His power to save!"

Jesus’ power overcomes anything. We need to remember that. We should pray God defeats those whose aim is to destroy others. We should pray God defeats those who have evil desires for this nation. Pray God draws them to Himself so they trust Him to save them. Pray God protects us and that His Word will be our foundation. We need people who don’t just use words like “Christian”; we need people who truly live like Jesus would want us to, loving and respecting everyone no matter what. That means God needs to change hearts; and, He can when we pray.

Getting back to Jesus’ possible return, I’m starting a new series, after focusing much on the need to test the spirits ​​to see if they are of God.(1 John 4:1)

 

All the Bible ties together. It all points to Jesus, author and finisher of our faith. The Old Testament says sin is awful but Jesus is coming to save all who call on Him from their sin. The Gospels say Jesus is here. And the rest of the Bible says Jesus is coming again.

 

You may have heard that signs of His coming soon are everywhere. Even if you haven't, you might figure it is true. People who don’t know Jesus – or who know Him and aren’t living for Him - need warned to trust Jesus as Savior and live for Him. Some can get out and witness with actions and words. Some aren’t comfortable yet. For those who aren't, even at home you can through the Internet. Even more I emphasize prayer a lot. Pray anytime, anywhere about anything. We should spend time talking with God and let Him speak to us. Pray against plans to force the world into an ungodly world government, Marxist or otherwise. Pray all things that happen draw people to Christ. And so on.

You have this in common with everyone: A pandemic and what we suffer because of it. It is a built-in starting point to share Jesus. It may sound hard, but that’s why Sal and I always urge you to get closer to Jesus. We must rely on Him as we take a starting point like above and share His Word.  We hopefully prayed; the Holy Spirit must convict of sin, not us.

 

See why I say we need unity in Christ? The devil doesn’t just divide us to make us weak. He wants to divide so others think we don’t have anything to offer. We have the most important thing ever to share. It’s like there’s a burning building, and we have the way to safety. Jesus said we’d be known by our love one for another.(John 13:35) If you have to save someone from a fire, will they follow you if you spent all your time criticizing, or if you and your fire partner can’t stop arguing during the rescue? Even if they believe the building is on fire, it’d be hard, and this disease and lawlessness make some see for the first time ever this world is “on fire.” Not a literal but a figurative fire. (Special note, Alysss, your cousin might hide behind his phone because he knows that and has become addicted; draw out if he’s afraid and how he can trust Jesus to save him from his sins; see gcyouthquake.org for how.)

 

There will be obstacles. Jenny, the 92-year-old I mentioned earlier, tells of standing up in church after a preacher asked “who wants to be on the front lines?” She faced huge spiritual battles after that, but look where she is now, praying more than a lot of people combined, myself included. The battles are so tough, people aren’t sure what to think. They think a vaccine will cure everything, but it won’t take away the evil in this world; it’ll just cure one disease. If someone asks if you think it’s the Mark of the Beast mentioned in Revelation, you can just tell them that the Mark requires pledging allegiance to the devil’s one-world government and it seals a person’s fate so they can’t go to Heaven. It can only happen in the Tribulation; Revelation 13 and 14 talk of it. We aren’t there, because the Beast’s government isn’t set up yet. I’ll explain more on what the Bible says about that later.

 

The important thing is that the devil tries to divide people over when the Rapture will happen, or other things. Yes, the Bible is clear when you study, but if trying to save a drowning person, you don’t argue about what color the life preserver is. You throw it to them. And, Jesus is our life preserver.

ON PRAYER. SEE STANDING IN THE BREACH IN PRAYER & MISC. TOPICS BELOW "GUEST"

BE A PRAYER WARRIOR - Jenny Evans as "special guest." (Later "standing in the breach in prayer" below)

 

There’s a guest I wanted for years. She hasn’t been able to manage steps for 2 years. But, we can’t come physically to Youthquake either, so it’s a perfect time to feature her, right? :-) So, let’s pretend I’m introducing 91-year-old Jenny Evans and let her “speak.”

Jenny is a prayer warrior who used to ride a Canton Baptist Temple van. We never knew how to meet somewhere, and she’d need print 1/4 the height of this page to read a prayer letter. But, she fits perfectly with the National Day of Prayer Thursday.

 

She prays for you and Youthquake, though, like Sal and I do. We’re united in the Spirit, like I taught on before. She won’t know your name, but I’ve shared on the phone about things, and the Spirit in her reminds her and teaches her how to pray.

 

Jenny says that while she was a prayer warrior before, she has prayed much more because of this pandemic. If even she could grow, you know we should grow in faith all our lives. Her secret? She says “Don’t look at the situation, look at Jesus Christ.”

 

If you can do that, you can be a prayer warrior like her. Right now.

 

Jenny’s grandma’s spine got messed up giving birth. She couldn’t walk; her husband had to carry her from room to room. Jenny still remembers being little and bringing her grandma her Bible and being read to and encouraged to pray. Eventually, she taught Jenny to read and had Jenny read to her. Jenny’s parents weren’t saved, and her dad was a drinker. The house could be rowdy.

 

But, Jenny never gave up. She kept going to church even when her dad said she didn’t have to. She wanted to learn about the God who saved her from her sins, and know Him as a friend. She saw her grandma did even as her parents wondered why her grandma kept going. Jenny knew her grandma’s secret. It was prayer. And, that inspired her to pray. Jenny knew the best way to get to know God and get things done was to talk with Him. Jesus called his disciples friends – and we can be His friends, too.

Jenny always says the devil hates us. The Bible says the thief, the devil, is come “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy,” but Jesus came so we might “have life, and life more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Jesus wants us to be full of life, hope, courage, all that good stuff.

Jenny says, “Look at what’s going on. Is it tearing down and destroying? Then it’s of the devil. But, Jesus is stronger then the devil. So, we can pray with faith, and know God will answer our prayers. It might not always be how we expect, but He’ll answer.!”

Part of that means reading your Bible, so you keep growing. A teacher told her she better memorize it because the day might come when she can’t read, and she’ll need that assurance. Look how it is without Youthquake now. You can read or at least listen one an app (that she wouldn’t know what that was 😊. She can’t read now, but she’s memorized many verses on prayer, faithfulness, etc., and keeps her mind on them to help her. That’s how the Spirit can teach her; God can speak through His Word, reminding her of things like that.

“Of course,” she says, “you have to pray according to God’s will. How do you know what it is unless you read it?” It isn’t always fun. Jenny grew up during the Great Depression, she’s had family die and others wander from God and return. She had to raise a nephew, she’s not shy about talking about the troubles she’s had, but she also says God is bigger than all of them and has always met her needs.

Remember, it’s a conversation with God. Share your heart, understand and empathize with others. She talks with Jesus about things and asks Him to help. She takes time to consider how rough it is for you, your family, etc.. She knows what rough homes are like, and the needs others have. She’s never had a tumor but can understand what it might be like, for instance, and knows Jesus suffered in all ways like us, so what she can’t understand, He can. When she hears someone has a situation in their lives, she talks with God and tells it like it is. Because prayer is all about making sure God has the victory over the devil.

We don’t know everyone’s needs, but God can help. He’ll put ideas in your mind - those must line up with the Bible, of course. We need to show compassion, and ask for God’s help to understand others - one reason Matthew 18 is vital; talking things out helps us understand each other so we know if someone is suffering and needs help and ideas for how to handle things, or needs us to listen and pray silently and help them grieve a loss, fret over a divorce, or whatever.

​ Jenny always says if she gets a prayer request she never gives up. Jesus says to pray with confidence and according​​ to God's will as I've said.

So, Thursday is the National Day of Prayer. It should remind us to keep praying, just like Thanksgiving should remind us always be thankful. That's part of how to pray then and each day: Praising and thanking God. James 1:17 says every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. We forget God gives us things. Freedom for instance: Some say our troops gave it to us, some the government. But God used those to give us freedom.

It's much more, though. Remember the 2nd Chr. 7:14 lesson? We must repent and pray people turn from wicked ways (and turn from them ourselves). Pray for God's healing in health and in our economy, pray there not be shortages. Ask God to give leaders wisdom and to lead them to make Godly choices. And, pray God protects Us from Evil. Jenny says watch out, the devil wants to destroy, and some people would be too restrictive or single out churches since the devil hates God. China and others do this and make Believers suffer a lot. So, pray for believers’ safety and God to supernaturally protect from those who might try to stir up fear.

Pray God won't let this pandemic keep people from hearing the Gospel and many will trust Jesus as Savior because of it.

Also, pray truth gets out about everything. There are lots of rumors. Pray people believe the truth and it's not allowed to be hidden. God hates lying so this is always a good way to pray for God's will. Pray people follow Godly leaders who support His ways, not those who oppose Him. Pray those who oppose God won't have their way. But, pray people call on God to restore hope and don't trust in their own power or their own wrong motives.

Remember, too, don't just pray for church just to see friends. You know that's a wrong motive in prayer. Praying we get back to church so we can grow in Christ is God's will. Because He wants us to be together. But, prayer is about becoming more like Jesus, adjusting our hearts to match His. An even better reason to pray for an end to the pandemic is so we can get out and win souls for Jesus and people can grow in Christ, like at camp.

Most importantly, pray for God to move mightily in our country. Remember, the most important thing is for people to know him as Savior. We need a Great Awakening; that means people praying and praying hard. In 1857 a Big Revival started when two people met for lunch everyday and prayed. We can do the same, when two or three are gathered, Jesus is in the midst.

So, pray for all these things and don't stop. Pray as God shows you what the truth is so you can pray his will and not your. We all have things we want. I want baseball to be back. But even if I pray real hard for baseball to return, God will say, wait. That would happen if this virus ended, but only wanting baseball back shouldn't be your first present.

So, remember, keep praying in faith! Don’t give up! There’s a cool song, “God of Angel Armies.” You can look up the whole thing, but the chorus goes, “I know who goes before me/I know who stands behind/The God of angel armies/Is always by my side. The one who reigns forever/He is a friend of mine. The God of angel armies/Is always by my side!” The devil will try to attack, so keep following God & keep your guard up with His armor, but keep praying!

PRAYING "IN THE BREACH'

Have you ever had to protect someone? I don’t mean pulling a little one away from danger, I mean risking your safety to protect them. You might dream of it as a career, but I doubt any of you have so far. (If you have, we’d love to hear your testimony!)

            Ps. 106:23 describes Ex. 32 as Moses standing in the breach to protect Israel after they sinned so much. Today, Jesus stands there for us. If you have trusted Him by calling on Him to save you from your sin, then He shows His finished work on the cross as the sign you are saved from sin.(1 Tim. 2:5,Rom. 8:34,Heb. 7:25, etc.) He always makes intercession for us, so we can be secure in our salvation. Moses’ action (asking God to blot him out of the Book of Life rather than destroy Israel) was a shadow of what Jesus would do, because Moses risked separation from God forever. God heard his prayer and didn’t destroy Israel or Moses. In the same way, Jesus died to take the punishment we deserved for our sin, but after God poured out His wrath on Jesus in our place, Jesus rose from the dead the third day.

Moses was a type of Christ in Ex. 32. This means something he did is like something Jesus later would do. Read Old Testament passages and see what other types of Christ you find. (Gen. 22 have a few, for instance.) Or Google “Types of Christ KJV” for a few good sites like blueletterbible.org and what they say.

            God calls us to stand like that for others. Because we are secure in our salvation, we don’t have to risk everything like Moses. But, we need to see others’ needs and then seek God to help them. We all fail sometimes. But, we should ask God for help not just for physical needs, but spiritual. In fact, I’m adding a 2nd page - use it as a prayer list. Tell us if we should change it or add an unspoken request or something. I know of a few I’ll list as unspoken.

            God’s command to “stand in the breach” in prayer means to always be ready to pray, like 1 Thess. 5:17 says “pray without ceasing.” It’s a struggle because we have many distractions; in fact, I’m going to list myself first so I pray better. You might list yourself so God can help you pray effectively by focusing better and getting stuff out of your life that pulls you away from God. Because we need people in the breach praying.

            We covered prayer last spring, and there have been hard-fought wins. Like Hunter’s recovery and the church’s freedom as the new church plan Harter Heights Community Church, which will have the same building but much livelier services with the Spirit at work. They will have great guest speakers till a young pastor is called.

            God doesn’t have to listen, but He promises to if our hearts are fixed on Him, and not sin, etc.. He might want to show us something – Abraham prayed for Sodom till he got down to asking if God would spare Sodom if 10 righteous people were in it; only to realize God would have, but there weren’t. So, don’t just ask God for stuff; talk with Him. He might lead you to pray for something specific or call you to act on your faith. Sometimes He’s waiting for us to do more, like Moses. He saw the terrible sins Israel had committed. Though he felt hurt, too, he knew the sin was against God. He had compassion for them.

            Pray over this list often; use it if you have a prayer journal or to help you start. Pray for specifics and how God leads as you talk with Him. Be real, if you need help ask God, He’ll help you pray better. Ask Him for empathy to think about what others might be facing.  A few needs may look generic but are very real to those involved; don’t just say “give ‘x’ peace,” talk with God about what it means (and might mean for them), so you can pour your heart out in prayer. Some needs (like Christian friends) all need. If I add it, it may be more vital. You know a few situations from older letters, and some of you know kids I’ll mention.

Standing in the breach doesn’t mean risking your soul. Once you trust Him to save you, then you are saved. But it does mean seeing the great needs many have. Especially the unsaved.

AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST

I’ll share fun ideas with ambassadors later. First, if your country sent an ambassador to another, & that country insulted yours and demanded money just to let yours talk to them, would you be mad?

 

It happened in real life; the XYZ Affair. President Adams didn’t declare war since the US wasn’t ready militarily. But, there was a quasi-war. (See MrBettsclass on Youtube about it and other cool stuff.)

Believers must represent our home – Heaven - to others. My mom’s good friend had a friend whose granddaughter was very sick after giving birth to twins; she asked me to pray and ask others to - the woman, Samantha, is better but still pray. Prayer is just one of our roles, but a huge one, hence I push prayer so much. Non-believers should want us to pray for them. Sometimes, however, to see how real it is, they need to see us praying for each other as Christians first.

This is just like real ambassadors. If you were in another country, you’d want someone who represents ours, so you can call the embassy for help or questions or something. There are consulates in different cities even outside of the capital in some, where the ambassador for each country works.

Fun story: My office phone is the same as the American consulate in Lyons, France - a different country code, of course. A high school/early college age boy called my office maybe 10 years ago and asked for the consulate – I don’t know why, maybe he lost an ID? He was likely very thankful I explained kindly what he’d done (someone had dialed the American and not French country code once before and left a message; I looked it up so I was ready). We did laugh together as – after guessing correctly that he was on a class trip – I said his friends were going to tease him SO much! Then, I said that was the best part of friendships, laughing and sharing memories; he agreed.

 

I knew he didn’t have much time but I did ask if he knew Jesus as Saviour – he said “yes.” If he only had head knowledge I planted a seed anyway. Either way, I represented God in a unique way.

A good ambassador represents his home in helping others. We represent God through actions and attitude, showing who He is. Why should people care about Heaven? God wants them there someday and wants a relationship with them here. He wants them to be saved from their sin – this world isn’t our final home. Thus, I said when we work for justice, etc., as we should, we must with an eye toward showing God’s love, how He knows we’re all equal, etc.. We should show who Jesus is through our love. That’s how people will know Jesus is real. And, they must, because we have a problem.

Say you represent country A in Country B. Your scientists have proof B is a big volcanic island. One day it’ll explode, and everyone in B will die. Of course, you’d want to help B’s people while it’s here, but it won’t always be. Maybe once, B’s scientists knew this (like more people used to have respect for God), but now they don’t. How do you help?

Of course, this is meant to symbolize our world. This is NOT saying the rapture will come this month or even this year, but we know others feel the rumblings. While we help this world, we must pray we can steer talk toward the Gospel. We need to pray others do in a believable, doctrinally sound way – the ABCs of salvation I’ve mentioned, Admit, Believe, Confess/Choose/Call. Kids are sharing a lot more about Jesus than they used to on social media, pray others get saved through it.

 We’ll go over signs – & knowing how to interpret them in light of the Bible - &a bit about Revelation next. For now, think about how ambassadors work and we represent Jesus and Heaven. Don’t have others to play with? Write a story about something in these ideas.

Fun With Ambassadors:

1. Pretend you’re from another country. With a parent/sibling/cousin, make up a culture. It can be really silly – maybe you eat weird stuff or have funny greetings or a language based on something odd. Discuss your countries with each other – how can you help each other? How do you even communicate?

2. One of your citizens has a restaurant chain. She wants to bring it to this other country, but she has lots of good meals with vegetables, and the residents don’t like vegetables. Help her work out a deal, and how to explain to the people the vegetables are good for them.

3. What could get an ambassador fired? Think of how it relates to why Christians must be Christlike in dealing with others. What problems can come if an ambassador lies about their country or acts like they’re better than anyone in that country?

NO MAN CAN SERVE 2 MASTERS, BE UNITED, NOT UNIFORM (INCLUDES ENDS TIMES, ETC.)

 

How are you? I’ll share about our golfathon later. But, if you’re online or in a building, you can tell classmates of Jesus. You know things people worry about now, people are so caught up in these crises. There are lessons in prophecy for us, too, though stuff like the mark of the Beast won’t come till the Tribulation. One is about service and allegiance.

            In Mat. 6:24, Jesus says “No man can serve 2 masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” We can love two Earthly ones – like parents – and serve different ones – chores help your family at home, schoolwork helps you learn. But here, Jesus is telling us to build treasure in Heaven. “Mammon” are worldly things people get greedy for: money; power; fame; etc.. These are treasures we have on Earth. They will disappear one day. (Addictions also lead to greed but they don’t even produce treasure, they rob us of even Earthly ones.) Earthly treasures are the opposite of Heavenly ones which last forever.

            We struggle with greed in this world. We serve flesh to get what we want, ignoring God’s commands. Jesus suffered in all ways like us, yet never sinned.(Heb. 4:15) He knows what it’s like to be tempted, and always provides a way of escape if we’ll take it.(1 Cor. 10:13) Matthew and Luke 4 show, the devil tempting Jesus with what He needs for basic survival and even with the whole world. Jesus refused to bow down and worship him.

            Revelation has a clear warning not to take the mark, but it isn’t just the act of taking a mark. The Bible warns an image of the Beast will be created, but not till Rev. 13. The Mark isn’t mentioned till Rev. 13:16. It says all will be ordered to receive it in their right hand or forehead. Verse 17 says noone will be able to buy or sell unless they have “the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (the “666” I mentioned last week).

            This is where people get scared. We need to reassure them. Some think any vaccine is the mark, or will lead to it. The idea of taking the Mark is to make you worship the devil, who runs the Beast’s government system. But, it isn’t here yet. We who know Jesus as Saviour don’t have to worry. Could something that is produced now lead to the Mark? Maybe. But, those who trust Jesus as Saviour during the Tribulation are the ones who will have to die for their faith if they don’t take the Mark. We won’t be here for that.

            The important lesson for us is: Who are we serving? It would be sad to be caught up by Jesus while looking at a bad website or trying to be popular with bad friends. Jesus understands, though. A slip right before He appears would just lead to a gentle reminder from a loving mom, like, “I said no sweets before dinner, remember?” It will not be a harsh rebuke.

 But, if you keep doing or following things that turn you away from God, it can lead to far worse stuff, even addictions. You don’t want the Creator to say, “I warned you! You could have been serving Me, and more would have trusted in Me.” You want Him to say “well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Just like you want praise for doing your chores. This is another reason to avoid sin. It can make us greedy for things other than God so we stop serving Him. And, He could call us home anytime, even without the Rapture.

But, we have free will. We can choose to serve Him or not. He doesn’t want us to be mindless robots. It’s okay to like a certain sport or love learning family history or other hobbies. The key is, does that interest draw you closer to God or away from Him? Sure, with some it’s “neither” – you won’t get closer to God liking barbecue than you will liking spaghetti. But with food – like with that sport or history or collecting or whatever other hobby– the key is, are you honoring God in it and thanking Him for it.

This is because we are all of the body of Christ. I’ve shared how we are many members, and all have different functions, skills, and interests. This is unity. We’re united in the goal of honoring Jesus, and celebrate our diverse interests, backgrounds, etc..

 

Unity of believers means we should never look down on people because they don’t come from our part of town, any more than the face should say, “Feet, you’re way down there, you’re not important.” Feet help us get places, and eyes help us see where to go. We might not hang out with everyone. For instance, I don’t hunt or fish due to my handicaps, or talk about it. But, I like discussing other things with those who do. We’re all equal at the cross. But, we still have different interests, personalities, etc., so we will have a lot of diversity in Heaven.

Uniformity is different. That means everyone has to be the same. Originality isn’t there. It is what the one world government of Revelation will force. People won’t be able to believe in Jesus as the only way to be saved from our sins and get to Heaven like the Bible teaches. Some think masks are part of it, but masks have nothing to do with it. People had to wear them in 1918 in the Spanish Flu, and those were all the same. Have you seen the many different ones now? This is why I say to make a straight line for the Gospel if someone worries about anything. The devil is using something we need to trick us. But, you have the truth, as I shared; you can use the truth of the Bible and understand signs of the times based on the Bible.

The devil always tries to take our focus off of God. Remember when Peter asked if he could also walk on water? Jesus said “come.” He did – till he realized what he was doing. He sank when he took his eyes off of Jesus, and he cried out “Lord, save me!” Jesus picked up him and walked back in the boat with Him.(Mat. 14:22-33)

This is why I say, it’s okay to have fun as long as you follow 1 Cor. 10:31, do all to the glory of God. Jesus is warning us if our whole focus is on money or fame or something, we can’t serve Him like we should. It’s not life or death like it will be in the Tribulation. But, it could be a matter of someone else’s, since they will be watching us to see if what we say is real. It’s vital for people to trust Jesus as Saviour now and not wait. First, a person might not survive. Also, as one pastor likes to say, “If you’re not willing to gdt saved and live for Jesus before the Rapture, what makes you think you’ll be willing to die for Him after the Rapture.”

So, share the Gospel with everyone, whenever you can. See the front at gcyouthquake.org for a simple way. But, at the same time, we should never expect the Rapture so much that we don’t live for today. It’d be like hoping for Christmas now, not knowing it’s only August. You don’t want to be disappointed when September comes and we still haven’t had Christmas, right? Nobody knows when Jesus will return. He said to occupy till He comes(Luke 19:13) – like that ambassador that knows a country is a volcano ready to erupt. Yes, we have to help people here, but the most important thing is to get the people to want to get off that island.

So, while you are telling others Jesus, I want to share about our golfathon. Because, if the Lord tarries, we must be ready. We’re praying for a 15-passenger van. Sal will caddy for the golfers between now and the end of September. We’ll raise money through the end of the year for this project. Let us know if you want a form, or maybe we’ll send one anyway, we’ll see.

ON RAPTURE, TRIBULATION

 

Have you had the joy of seeing something new in the Bible as you read a passage again? I did as I started to study through Revelation again. In Rev. 1:9, the apostle John says he is our companion in tribulation. It led me to explain what the Bible says we should comfort one another with. So, since we haven’t done a verse study in a bit, this goes 2 pages. Read that verse, then 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we’ll get there in a bit.

You may think of how all believers are brothers and sisters in Christ, part of the body, etc.; he does say he’s our brother just before that. Or, you may think of how we’ve all suffered the last few months. And, that’s true; thankfully (I think I’m safe in saying this) none of us has been treated like John was; he was exiled to Patmos, after – according to early church history – the Romans tried to kill him by putting him in boiling oil.

Instead, I want to explain Jesus’ return more. The Tribulation Period comes before the Millennial Reign of Christ. A millennium is 1,000 years. Your parents may recall there were parties all over the world when we hit the year 2000 (though the real new one didn’t start till 2001.) But, the Millennial Reign will start when Jesus comes back after winning the Battle of Armageddon against the antichrist’s forces. Revelation 20 says several times that it will be a literal 1,000 years; you can’t get much clearer than that.

This is why we are premillennial; the Bible says Jesus will return before the Millennium. Some want to make the world perfect for Him, but the Bible shows it can’t work. Yes, we must promote justice, love, etc. as ambassadors of Jesus Christ.(2 Cor. 5:20), but do it like a country’s ambassador brings better farming methods to another. They push his or her country’s schools so the other country’s people can learn and take the methods back. This world is not our final home. We should be Christlike through our words and actions. But, that is not our final goal. Getting people saved so they go to Heaven is our main goal.

Another reason we can’t bring in the Millennium is our evil hearts. Even Paul did what he shouldn’t and didn’t do what he should.(Rom. 7) How can imperfect man make a perfect system? It’d be like me training you to be a brain surgeon on my own, with no expert videos or anything. You’d be lucky, even with what I know from my medical family, to learn the parts of the brain. I don’t know what they all do, let alone how to fix them.

What has this to do what John as our companion in tribulation? The Tribulation period is for Israel to recognize Jesus as the true Messiah(Saviour) and follow Him as He judges the world - John can’t be in the Tribulation period. He died soon after finishing Revelation on Patmos in 95 AD, over 1900 years ago. John means he is our companion in suffering for our faith. Those who say the church is in the Tribulation refer to times where God uses that word differently. Some think the church needs cleansed, but Jesus has done it all. God, not the Church, protects Israel. The church is celebrating with Jesus in Rev. 4-5, since before the Tribulation period the Church – that is, believers and those too young to choose – will be caught up.

Caught up where? The Bible teaches a pre-Tribulation rapture. It means Jesus will take us out of the way before the Tribulation period. The Church is not on earth after Rev. 3, the Bible only says Tribulation saints will be beheaded for their faith. Israel is the focus of the Tribulation – “time of Jacob’s trouble” is another name. Also, people will know when He’s coming to rule by dating 7 years from the start of the Tribulation. Yet, Jesus says no one knows the day or hour of His coming; so this must mean the Rapture.

Also, there’s 1 Thess. 4:13-18. Would you be more comforted knowing Jesus would protect you, or thinking that you’d have to go through 7 years of hell on earth before He returned for you? The first, of course, where He protects you. We can be comforted that no matter how bad things get in this life, Jesus will protect us from the worst, so we don’t have to go through the Great Tribulation. If you’ve trusted Jesus to save you from your sins by calling on Him by faith, repenting and turning away from sin and letting Him make you new inside, you can be comforted knowing God will protect you from that time.

The Thessalonians thought – or maybe just hoped – that the soon return of Jesus meant He’d come in their lifetimes. Then, members started to die. They wrote to Paul all worried. First, Paul replies with other things God wanted them and us to know. Then, he shares this. We won’t do each word like my 2 Chr. 7:14 lesson, but some.

 Sleep is a scary euphemism to little kids who don’t get symbolic language. God made them literal to teach patience and how to love and help those who aren’t like us. But, it’s a nice way to describe death for a believer. They just drift to the other side – there may be pain before death, but the moment of death is painless. 1 Cor. 15:51 is a companion – “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” It will happen really fast. Jesus will descend with a shout, but notice something else which points to a pre-Trib rapture. His feet never touch the Earth, but in Revelation 19 He puts His feet on the Mount of Olives.

This is further proven in verse 17. After the dead in Christ rise first – though it’ll be so fast we won’t see – we who are alive and remain will be caught up with them.

So, we’ll be “in the clouds/air” – with Jesus, He’ll eventually come to Earth again. But, first He’ll take us to Heaven for the Judgement Seat of Christ to reward us for what we did for Him. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb will happen – I don’t know what kind of feast it’ll be, but it’ll be the best food and best fellowship ever, people of every kind, from everywhere, all there just because of Jesus, not by works. It’s in Rev. 19. Only after that does Jesus come down to win the battle of Armageddon, and set His feet on the earth.

We’ll come with Him, but won’t fight. He will win with the two-edged sword that comes out of His mouth. I’m a very visual thinker, so that seemed odd at first, but look at Ephesians 6:17, plus Hebrews 4:12.  The double-edged sword is the Word of God. It makes sense. All Jesus, the Creator of the Universe, has to do is say “I win” and the evildoers are gone.

Why doesn’t He do that now. It’s because He is giving people a chance to repent. He is longsuffering toward us; not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance. We  have free will, so not all do. We can choose whether to trust Him to save us and make us new or not. But, He doesn’t want anyone to choose to reject Him.

That’s why it’s vital to live a Godly life. We must walk in the Light of the Gospel. Others are watching. They’re scared of the virus and everything else going on. They want to know there is hope. They want someone to count on, since it’s hard to know what the truth is about anything anymore. This is why our role as ambassadors for Jesus is vital; we’ll have a bit of fun with that role in these letters, and you can create your own fun at home, the next few weeks.

The answer is the same for everyone, regardless of background. We can ask if they were the only person ever on the face of the earth, do they realize they are a sinner, they fall short of God’s perfect, and need to confess their sin and call on Jesus to save them?

The world’s problems are huge. The devil stirs peoples’ emotions up to try to keep them from knowing Jesus, and keep we who have trusted Jesus from living for Him. The Bible never promises we’ll have it perfect here on earth.

 

But, Jesus tells us in John 16:33 we can be of good cheer. He has overcome the world. He will lighten our burden and give us hope when we trust Him to. He will never leave or forsake us.(Heb. 13:5) As hard as things get, He will guide us through every storm of life, and protect us from the terrible wrath which will come on the earth in the end. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

____________________________________`

Did you wonder why I have such different Hallmark envelopes, some different colors? 30 years ago, I tried to design cards on my Mac II; the last envelopes were at the bottom of a chest for years. The business didn’t work out, but I used them eventually.

 People try to read into things; it’s fun to guess. I bet a few of you guessed right. But, like my parents or I are the only source for truth on that, the Bible is the only source for End Times, or any, truth. We get asked or are led by the Spirit to share Jesus. So, we need to know truth. We have the map on how to be saved from sin & live forever in a perfect Heaven.

 

It can be easy to be drawn into debates. We should make a straight line for the Gospel if one starts. For instance, some say government forcing masks is a slow move toward the Mark of the Beast in Revelation. To that, we can point to what matters - ask “Have you called on Jesus to save you from your sin?” And, share verses to show you can’t lose your salvation.

 

This should also defuse Rapture arguments. I showed we believe in a pre-Trib Rapture. Some don’t. We all should work to win souls for Jesus, not argue over non-doctrinal stuff. Pastor Frazier’s message (7/25) on unity is great about that – listen as a family at cantonbaptist.org.

 The Bible shows there will be a one-world government and currency (we have the tech) and an anti-God one-world religion. When people worry, we can share how the Bible foretold all today’s problems – violence, disease, lawlessness on many levels, etc.. Jesus compared it to birth pains that come faster and get worse. But, we can know Jesus and be comforted.

 

We still must pray against such things, so we have more time to win souls. For example, pray against Marxism since their goal is a government that rejects God. They lie by saying things will be better, but everyone will be poor; no churches to help. Venezuela is a perfect example, the standard of living got much worse. That’s not helping anyone, and the part that ignores God means they wouldn’t support Christ and His unconditional love. It’s just an imperfect system of man which doesn’t allow Jesus to be shared.

 

The antichrist may or may not be Marxist. We can’t play “pin the tail on the antichrist” to learn who he is. He can’t be revealed till the restrainer (Holy Spirit/church) is removed (2 Thess. 2). Nobody will know who it is till the Tribulation begins. The Bible describes him so people in the Tribulation are warned. The Bible says it’s wise to “count his number,” 666. But, sometimes people end up doing silly things like if a cash register says “$6.66” they add an item.

 

While there are symbols of the devil, and some evildoers use that one, having things happen to add up to that at the store isn’t evil. Yes, we must avoid things that support the devil. We also shouldn’t let our worries rob us of our joy or keep us from winning souls. Like with the envelopes; it’s okay if you had fun guessing, but it’s the Bible lessons that matter.

 

Still, we can see signs of the times, as the Bible describes them. Children of Issachar are praised for knowing and watching for them.(1 Chr.12:32) We need to be wise & pray fervently, yet know what is important, and how to make a straight line for the Gospel in a debate. This gets back to what I taught before. Make sure you live in and walk in the Light and not in Darkness. Make sure your words and actions build others up, not tear them down.

 

Yes, some people call evil good and good evil; that’s one sign. Explain how the devil loves to counterfeit things. He only counterfeits real things; he knows it’s no good faking a fake, like a fake $38 bill. He isn’t going after crowded casinos or even mosques, for instance, only churches.

So, stick to life’s road map - the Bible. Pray for souls to be saved, the continued freedom to worship and win souls, and an end to deception while we’re still on Earth. Pray truth comes out and is believed in everything; spiritual attacks are everywhere. But, Jesus says at the end of John 16:33, “Fear not, I have overcome the world.”

___________________________________

if you’re online or in a building, you can tell classmates of Jesus. You know things people worry about now, people are so caught up in these crises. There are lessons in prophecy for us, too, though stuff like the mark of the Beast won’t come till the Tribulation. One is about service and allegiance.

In Mat. 6:24, Jesus says “No man can serve 2 masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” We can love two Earthly ones – like parents – and serve different ones – chores help your family at home, schoolwork helps you learn. But here, Jesus is telling us to build treasure in Heaven. “Mammon” are worldly things people get greedy for: money; power; fame; etc.. These are treasures we have on Earth. They will disappear one day. (Addictions also lead to greed but they don’t even produce treasure, they rob us of even Earthly ones.) Earthly treasures are the opposite of Heavenly ones which last forever.

We struggle with greed in this world. We serve flesh to get what we want, ignoring God’s commands. Jesus suffered in all ways like us, yet never sinned.(Heb. 4:15) He knows what it’s like to be tempted, and always provides a way of escape if we’ll take it.(1 Cor. 10:13) Matthew and Luke 4 show, the devil tempting Jesus with what He needs for basic survival and even with the whole world. Jesus refused to bow down and worship him.

Revelation has a clear warning not to take the mark, but it isn’t just the act of taking a mark. The Bible warns an image of the Beast will be created, but not till Rev. 13. The Mark isn’t mentioned till Rev. 13:16. It says all will be ordered to receive it in their right hand or forehead. Verse 17 says noone will be able to buy or sell unless they have “the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (the “666” I mentioned last week).

This is where people get scared. We need to reassure them. Some think any vaccine is the mark, or will lead to it. The idea of taking the Mark is to make you worship the devil, who runs the Beast’s government system. But, it isn’t here yet. We who know Jesus as Saviour don’t have to worry. Could something that is produced now lead to the Mark? Maybe. But, those who trust Jesus as Saviour during the Tribulation are the ones who will have to die for their faith if they don’t take the Mark. We won’t be here for that.

The important lesson for us is: Who are we serving? It would be sad to be caught up by Jesus while looking at a bad website or trying to be popular with bad friends. Jesus understands, though. A slip right before He appears would just lead to a gentle reminder from a loving mom, like, “I said no sweets before dinner, remember?” It will not be a harsh rebuke.

 But, if you keep doing or following things that turn you away from God, it can lead to far worse stuff, even addictions. You don’t want the Creator to say, “I warned you! You could have been serving Me, and more would have trusted in Me.” You want Him to say “well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Just like you want praise for doing your chores. This is another reason to avoid sin. It can make us greedy for things other than God so we stop serving Him. And, He could call us home anytime, even without the Rapture.

But, we have free will. We can choose to serve Him or not. He doesn’t want us to be mindless robots. It’s okay to like a certain sport or love learning family history or other hobbies. The key is, does that interest draw you closer to God or away from Him? Sure, with some it’s “neither” – you won’t get closer to God liking barbecue than you will liking spaghetti. But with food – like with that sport or history or collecting or whatever other hobby– the key is, are you honoring God in it and thanking Him for it.

This is because we are all of the body of Christ. I’ve shared how we are many members, and all have different functions, skills, and interests. This is unity. We’re united in the goal of honoring Jesus, and celebrate our diverse interests, backgrounds, etc.. Unity of believers means we should never look down on people because they don’t come from our part of town, any more than the face should say, “Feet, you’re way down there, you’re not important.” Feet help us get places, and eyes help us see where to go. We might not hang out with everyone. For instance, I don’t hunt or fish due to my handicaps, or talk about it. But, I like discussing other things with those who do.

 

We’re all equal at the cross. But, we still have different interests, personalities, etc., so we will have a lot of diversity in Heaven.

Uniformity is different. That means everyone has to be the same. Originality isn’t there. It is what the one world government of Revelation will force. People won’t be able to believe in Jesus as the only way to be saved from our sins and get to Heaven like the Bible teaches. Some think masks are part of it, but masks have nothing to do with it. People had to wear them in 1918 in the Spanish Flu, and those were all the same. Have you seen the many different ones now? This is why I say to make a straight line for the Gospel if someone worries about anything. The devil is using something we need to trick us. But, you have the truth, as I shared; you can use the truth of the Bible and understand signs of the times based on the Bible.

The devil always tries to take our focus off of God. Remember when Peter asked if he could also walk on water? Jesus said “come.” He did – till he realized what he was doing. He sank when he took his eyes off of Jesus, and he cried out “Lord, save me!” Jesus picked up him and walked back in the boat with Him.(Mat. 14:22-33)

This is why I say, it’s okay to have fun as long as you follow 1 Cor. 10:31, do all to the glory of God. Jesus is warning us if our whole focus is on money or fame or something, we can’t serve Him like we should. It’s not life or death like it will be in the Tribulation. But, it could be a matter of someone else’s, since they will be watching us to see if what we say is real.

 

It’s vital for people to trust Jesus as Saviour now and not wait. First, a person might not survive. Also, as one pastor likes to say, “If you’re not willing to get saved and live for Jesus before the Rapture, what makes you think you’ll be willing to die for Him after the Rapture.”

So, share the Gospel with everyone, whenever you can. See the front at gcyouthquake.org for a simple way. But, at the same time, we should never expect the Rapture so much that we don’t live for today. It’d be like hoping for Christmas now, not knowing it’s only August. You don’t want to be disappointed when September comes and we still haven’t had Christmas, right? Nobody knows when Jesus will return. He said to occupy till He comes(Luke 19:13) – like that ambassador that knows a country is a volcano ready to erupt. Yes, we have to help people here, but the most important thing is to get the people to want to get off that island.

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Do you long for Jesus to appear? Heaven will be filled with the most amazing, wonderful colors, sights, sounds, etc.. We might see creation we never dreamed of on Earth.

No matter what amazing thing you'd like to see, the best thing will be seeing Jesus.

There are too many things to get into that we long for and had last year. But, all pale in comparison to our longing for Jesus’ appearance. Because, the things we love in this world are just shadows of the perfect things of Heaven.

For instance, relationships. There will be no parting over there. We can be with those we love anytime we want, with no death or sickness. We will have perfect bodies that can't sin. So, the little disputes and frustrations will be gone. A Godly person will be frustrated at less now than someone who is not following Jesus of course. I've said that we should be able to laugh at our own faults and accept we are not perfect. But, the joy, peace, and so on Jesus gives us when we trust Him to will be there forever when we get there.

Think about time, too. Right now, you juggle school, playing, and other things. But, in Heaven there will be no need for linear time. We won't worry about schedules. There will be no more night so we won't have to sleep. And, we will be forever with the Lord. So, we won't be taking the time to go to church. Instead, we will be able to focus on Jesus wherever we are because his presence will be everywhere.

We should practice that now. Practicing the presence of God means realizing He is there, seeking His wisdom, etc., and doing things for His glory. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. We can know the Bible so verses come to our mind when we need. Hymns and spiritual songs can guide us also.

Do you know someone who is often humming or whistling or even singing? Or maybe you are like that? That attitude is what the Bible means when it says we’ll always worship Him. It doesn't mean we’ll always stand and sing in a choir. It means we’ll always have that song in our heart. Just like that person who is always humming, etc.. Having songs that honor God going through your mind like that can help you draw closer to Jesus.

Some plan to celebrate, running around free in Heaven. Others may want to curl up like a baby and let the Lord hold them for a while, they will be so relieved to be away from the pain and sadness of this world. The beauty is that - as we pray and seek God's comfort and peace - He can give us that feeling now when we trust Him to. When I was little I often said Heaven is a great big hug that lasts forever.

Whatever you think you will do, even something funny like play tag for a few days all over some planet or have a big party with your favorite food and dessert with a few hundred people from a favorite historical era, two things are vital. First, of course, being sure of your salvation. Second, making sure as many people as possible know how to get to heaven and are given the chance to make that decision.

The idea is to get a person from point A to point B. Point A is wherever they are spiritually and emotionally. Point B is making the decision to call on Jesus to save them from their sins. That silly looking stuffed dog is just one possible conversation starter.

This pandemic is another. What things do they miss? Tell them how they can know they would have that thing forever in a more perfect form. Like I mentioned with relationships above. Or eating: Maybe someone is very restricted in their diet. But they wish they could eat all the chocolate or pizza they wanted again.

It seems easy. But remember, the devil doesn't want people to know Jesus. He will fight any way he can. This is why it’s so important to pray for others, pray as we are witnessing, little prayers that follow the more heartfelt ones from before, etc.. God wants to help us. But, the battle is much bigger than we can imagine.

            Some people have such evil in their minds, they have actually asked the devil for help. They want to destroy. We must pray the Lord defeat these enemies of goodness. Pray they have no power and pray they never get their way. Especially, because we shohld pray for our enemies,, pray that they will turn to the light of Jesus.

            There are forces of darkness all around, of course. Eph. 6:12 – and all of verses 10-18 – talk of this spiritual battle, and how to fight it. This is where I’ve mentioned that the division in our country is caused by the devil (the thief of John 10:10) coming to seal, kill, and destroy. We have victory by overcoming evil with good.

            Some, of course, refuse to understand that they are being swayed by evil. They actually get into power in churches in some cases, and they still belong to groups which don’t fully believe in the Gospel. We must pray that the devil will not have his way with these people. Pray that churches involved reject these leaders unless the leaders reject such groups. This goes back to what I said about how nobody can serve two masters.

            Not everyone who struggles at loving God’s appearing is involved in such things. Some people are just too focused on the world. They want fame or riches or power so much, they forget that God is the one in control. They forget that the things of this world will not last. Only things in Heaven will last forever.

            This is why it’s so important to be readyhfor when Jesus returns. This doesn’t mean it will be anytime soon. It does mean that each of us could go at anytime. And, if we love His appearing, then we will be more likely to win someone to the Lord. Because they will see that our hope isn’t in something temporary.

 

            So, keep praying for everyone to come to know Jesus as Saviour. Pray for all leaders to follow Jesus. Pray that our country have revival more powerful than we have never seen. And, pray that the devil and his forces lose their power. Pray that evil would be overcome with good, as the Bible tells us in Romans 12;19-21:

 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

            I'm going to close with the ABCs of salvation. That is the only way we can overcome, through Jesus. Romans 12 simply shares how we do it – it’s a great section to memorize. These ABCs are a good way to remember how plane to anyone.

A is for admit you are a sinner. None of us is perfect. We all fall short of God’s perfect holiness. We can’t reach Heaven on our own strength. As good as we are, we can’t be perfect.

B is for Believe that Jesus Christ is God in flesh – He was fully God and fully man. He lived a perfect life, then He died on the cross to take the punishment for your sins and rose from the dead. What He did was all that needed to be done to save you.

C is for Call on Jesus Christ to save you from your sin, Confessing you are a sinner and Choosing to let Him save you from your sin and come live in you and make you new inside.

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