Thursday, March 19, 2015

Scariest Bible Verse Ever

Are there any verses in the Bible that make you sit up and pay attention? Maybe even say to yourself, "I hope that's me." Or, "I hope that doesn't happen to me."

I heard one passage repeated in sermons which came from different sources over a period of about a month. And with Easter approaching I felt it was time to share it. What are the verses? Matthew 7:21-23. It's a story Jesus told his followers. There will be people trying to get into heaven who say they prophesied and cast out demons, and performed miracles by using the name of Jesus. AND. They won't be allowed in because even though they spoke the name of Jesus, Jesus says he never knew them. OUCH!

Actually the verse has always gotten my attention. For some time I couldn't understand how someone could do all those things in the name of Jesus and not know Him. Can you imagine going to church, traveling on mission trips, participating in church ministries, maybe even being part of a miracle of Biblical proportions and still not get to heaven? To have Jesus say He never knew you? Now did I scare you?

This is why the Bible says that Jesus looks at the heart. Only he knows if the church-going-enthusiast and the stay-at-home-never-setting-foot-in-a-church person are on the same playing field. We don't know what the true relationship is. But, God knows who He knows.

What I find scary is that the people in this passage thought they had performed their way into heaven. They thought acknowledging and working through the name of Jesus was the only proof they needed. They forgot one thing. 'Believing in' is different than 'knowing about' the gift of the cross. Sort of a heart vs. mind understanding -- is Jesus in your mind or does He run your heart?

There's another analogy I heard over Valentine weekend at Bent Tree Church in Carrollton, Tx that made sense to me. With the use of Hebrews 6, Pete Briscoe compared this knowing about Jesus versus believing in Jesus concept in a clever way. A high-dive diving board is the church where someone hears the word preached and even participates in the activities of the church. The water is Jesus and his gift of salvation through the cross. To jump off the board and into the water is the leap of faith all of us must take when we believe and get to be known by Jesus.

So how did the people of Matthew 7 do these wondrous things without being known by Jesus? Because they used the name of Jesus Christ, a most precious and powerful name. When His name is honored things will happen.

On the other hand, when people use His name as an exclamatory they weaken the importance of His name in their lives. It's a spiritual law, one I don't know how it exactly works, but it is a fact. Through the years I have heard reports and stories from people's real life experiences that support this spiritual law. If they don't hold the name of Jesus precious and use it only when giving Him praise then when they need it in a time of prayer requests it holds less power, maybe even no power.

So this week I leave you with this encouragement. Be careful what you say and if you haven't jumped off the high-dive into the water of salvation below, do it.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What In The World is Going On?

Listening to the news reports do you ever wonder what is happening to our world? People so bent on notoriety that they are killing even their fellow believers. Leaders of various nations, including many middle-eastern countries are coming together to fight these terrorists. But are they acting fast enough? They want us to come along side, but our leadership just doesn't understand what the real experts are saying. What will it take to stop the killing?

And, why is it happening in the first place? I'm sure there are a myriad of reasons out there; all suppositions. But, the reason I think interesting and plausible is that they want to bring about the end of the world. No wonder they find an enemy in any person outside of the their own close-knit group.

Does this mean this group will do what they need to get all non-Islamic countries to come to battle them on the plain of Armageddon? Yes. They are running by the old rules of destruction with modern weapons.

For centuries we have read throughout the prophets in the Bible that there will come a people powerful like Rome, persecuting the saints with wars and rumors of wars (Daniel 7-12). We've read that Christians will be beheaded as this age comes to the finish line. (Revelation 6:9; 20:4) In years past I thought this was inaccurate. . . it won't happen that way; that's such an archaic method. But, hello, have you heard the news lately? Isis loves to behead people.

We shouldn't be surprised that any of this is happening. Will it get better? Not until they're stopped. Will they be stopped? Yes, by God Most High. When will they be stopped? When God decides it is done.

You see, they may think they're going to be victorious and have global control. Perhaps it's only a matter of time before they lose focus and start killing each other. And even if they don't, the fact is they will lose in the end. They're already playing into the hands of God. He is dividing the faithful from the double-minded. When it's all said and done, God will put His hand down and stop this crazy people from inflicting any more harm.

The question remains...what will you do in the meantime?
Will you fret? (An easy natural thing to do.)
Will you push aside the fear that threatens to overwhelm you at the prospect of this group having another successful mass destructive action? (Not such an easy thing to do.)
Will you prepare yourself to be an example? (Willing to die for the name of Jesus.)
Will you teach your children that to die for Jesus may be something we all must do before this group is stopped? (Some children have already died standing up for Jesus. What an example of bravery!)

I'm not saying I've got all the answers. I struggle with some of these. Will I stand strong? Only when we come face to face with death do we really know how we'll respond. . . like a blubbering idiot or a silent strong man or an outspoken evangelist. But we need to be prepared. We need to be ready because waiting for us on the other side is Jesus with His hand extended to congratulate us. He died for us; it's the least we can do, to be prepared to die for Him.