The church of the first century made its impact on the world through prayer and through preaching. It was said of the early church that they turned the world upside down. And that, by the way, was offered as a criticism, not as a compliment (see Acts 17:6).
For every person there will come a last meal, a last breath, and of course a last statement. In many ways, what we say in the end can be an insight into what we were in life, what we stood for, lived for.
I recently read that a group of witches are seeking to "cast a spell" on President Trump under each crescent moon until he is no longer in office. Many would dismiss this "hocus pocus" with a laugh but it brings up a very real issue.
I watched the Oscars last night. I was rooting for Hacksaw Ridge to win for Picture, Director, and Actor of the Year, but I knew it was a long shot.
In the New Testament book of Revelation, Jesus had specific words for a church that was engaged in compromise. This church was located in the city of Pergamum, the capital of Asia.
A person can argue all day with you about certain facts. But they can't argue with your personal story of how you came to faith.
I want you to discover the adventure of being used by God, especially in this area of telling others about Jesus.
I think we all have a drive to believe in something, to worship something. But at the same time, we like to do our own thing. We don't like someone to dictate to us how we are to live. Thus, we go about trying to recast God in our own image.
In his search for meaning, Bowie admittedly tried pretty much everything this culture offered, but did not find the meaning he sought. He was filled with questions throughout his life.
We are living in a selfie culture.
Imagine—being at the business end of a semi-automatic weapon and being asked the question, "Are you a Christian?" You know that if you tell the truth, this will most likely not end well for you. But what other alternative is there? Deny what and who you know is true?
God said in the presence of Isaiah, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" In a sense, God is still asking this question. Whom shall I send? Who will go for us? Will you go? Will you stand in the gap?
The Bible tells the story of a man who had everything this world says one should have to feel happy and fulfilled: power, wealth, influence, and fame. But along with that came an emptiness that sent him on a search for God. As secretary of the treasury for a powerful nation, he was second only to the queen. But there was a hole in his heart, so it led him on a search to the spiritual capital of the world, Jerusalem. He did not find what he was looking for, but as he was returning home, he unexpectedly found the answer to his questions. He had an appointment with God that resulted in his conversion and complete transformation.
I heard the story of three ministers debating the best posture for prayer.
One man or woman outside the will of God can be a menace to themselves and to everyone else. A case in point: Jonah. The Lord had told Jonah to go and preach to Nineveh, and Jonah said no. Then he boarded a boat going in the opposite direction. A storm came, and the boat was shaking and tossing back and forth in the sea. Everyone was affected because of Jonah, and they figured out that he was the problem. He told the men, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me" (Jonah 1:12). So off Jonah went, and the storm stopped.
As believers, we are interconnected. The sin of one will affect many. That is why the apostle Paul said the church should never tolerate evil. He said, "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it" (1 Corinthians 12:26).
The story of the Israelites' victory over Jericho is of the greatest stories ever told. But after Jericho came Ai. It was a small city compared to Jericho, which was lying in smoldering ruins. The Israelites apparently thought they could have essentially done this one in their sleep. They didn't even need the whole Israeli army, they reasoned—just a few thousand. This argument was based on the supposition that Israel had captured Jericho.
I remember when I was a child and we would drive by Disneyland on the freeway. I would look up at the Matterhorn jutting out above the park, and I remember making a vow: "When I become an adult, I will go to Disneyland every single day!"
Have you ever noticed that Jesus never really healed people in exactly the same way? Sometimes He would touch a person, and sometimes a person would touch Him. At other times He would speak the word, and they would be healed.
Have you ever been talking with someone who wasn't paying attention? Or to put it another way, have you ever been talking with someone who was texting? You're saying, "And so I said this—are you listening to me?"
How was Jesus known when He walked this earth? He was known as "the friend of sinners." We might think that sounds like a compliment now, but it wasn't meant as a compliment then.
In the song, "Positively Fourth Street," Bob Dylan sings, "I wish that for just one time, you could stand inside my shoes. You'd know what a drag it is to see you."
God wants us to be constantly reassured that He will keep us. We need this reassurance in such an evil and uncertain world because we worry about safety and security for ourselves and our families. And sometimes believers even wonder about their personal salvation. Even mature believers may have times of doubt when they wonder whether they are saved.
We use the word bless a lot. It's an apropos response to someone who is sneezing, or we might use it to end a conversation: "Well, it's really good to see you! God bless!" And sometimes we may hear someone who has no interest in Jesus Christ say this or that is a blessing. But they don't even know what the word really means.
Believers and nonbelievers both die. Believers as well as nonbelievers get cancer, have auto accidents, have heart attacks. But, as believers, we have the promise that we will go straight into the presence of God at death.