The church exists for three purposes: The Glorification of God; The Edification of the Saints; And the Evangelization of the World. In other words, "Upward, Inward, and Outward."
I remember visiting a city and seeing a man standing on a corner with a sign that said, "The wages of sin are death." He was literally yelling at people, "God hates you! God will judge you!"
Spending time on the beach, I have watched people construct some very elaborate sandcastles that took hours and hours to build. I have admired their work. But I also knew those impressive structures wouldn't be around for very long. It was only a matter of time until either a tide came in and swept them away or a toddler appeared out of nowhere and demolished them.
Some people claim to be Christians but don't attend church. They say, "Well, I haven't found a church I like yet, and I work and Sunday is my only day off!" But if you really love God, you will love His people and long to be with them.
When we hear the statement "You will reap what you sow," that typically brings something frightening to mind. It is usually quoted in an aggressive fashion as if to say, "You'd better stop doing that because the Bible says you will reap what you sow." And that is true.
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. — Galatians 6:9
Not all of America's founding fathers were believers, but even those who were not committed followers of Jesus Christ had, at the very least, a great respect for the Bible. That is why they built our judicial system—and really the government as a whole—on it.
In our country, we have had three great spiritual awakenings, perhaps four. The first, during the 1700s, was led by such men as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield. During just two years of this revival, from 1740 to 1742, some 25,000 to 50,000 people were added to the New England churches. This, out of a population of only 300,000!
Despite being chained between two Roman soldiers and facing the possibility of execution the next day, Peter was asleep. (He probably was the only Christian who slept that night.) In fact, it seems that Peter was in such a deep slumber that it took a whack from an angel to wake him up: "Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, 'Quick! Get up!' And the chains fell off his wrists" (verse 7).
No doubt there have been times when we may have hindered the work of God in our lives because of unbelief. Scripture tells us that Jesus could do no mighty work in His hometown because of unbelief (see Matthew 13:58).
Part of the problem with our prayers is that we give up too soon. We simply assume that it must not be God's will: "I prayed four times for an awakening to come to America, and it didn't happen, so it must not be God's will."
What is the future of the United States of America? Are we doomed to just go the way that so many other once-great nations have gone? Is America headed to the ash heap of history? Are our greatest days behind us, or could they still yet be ahead? Is there any hope for America?
I want to tell you a story about a sleepless church that was involved in desperate and deep prayer. They were coming under intense persecution, and they were facing what appeared to be a hopeless situation.
What does the word "revival" mean? We can gain a better understanding of this word by looking at its close relative, "revive." To revive something means to bring it back to life again. We could just as easily use the word "restoration" in its place. To restore something is to return it to its original state.
We like the idea of change, of starting over again, of becoming someone different than we are. Sometimes we move to a new place, thinking we can escape our problems. Sometimes we think if we had some new friends or get married that life will be better. Then we think if only we had kids things would be different.
Whenever we took the freeway through Anaheim when I was a kid, I would gaze out the car window at a familiar image in the distance: the Matterhorn at Disneyland. To me it represented the Promised Land. I remember making a vow to myself that when I became an adult, I would go to Disneyland every day.
I believe there are people inside the church today who will be outside the gates of heaven. Being in a church does not mean you are getting into heaven. We, as individuals, must put our faith in Jesus Christ because one day we will stand before God all by ourselves.
Perhaps you have heard of George Bernard Shaw. We was a highly regarded thinker and writer and, among other things, won a Nobel Prize in literature. He also was an avowed and vocal atheist. Shaw firmly believed in science and what mankind could accomplish. But toward the end of his life, he realized this was a misplaced hope.
Under the old covenant, God would meet His people in the tabernacle, which is another word for tent. They set up the tabernacle, and the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. This ark contained the commandments of Moses, the rod of Aaron that budded, and some manna. The priests would go into the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement and represent the people. Later the tabernacle was replaced by the temple.
When David faced Goliath, he knew the battle belonged to the Lord. He told the giant Philistine, "The battle is the LORD's, and He will give you into our hands" (1 Samuel 17:47).
I saw an advertisement in a computer magazine with a photo of a guy shaving. It asked the question "Is it an alarm or a calling that gets you out of bed in the morning?" That is a very good question. What do you live for? What makes you tick? What do you get up for in the morning?
Often whenever the subject of judgment and hell comes up, so does this question: If God is all-loving, then why would He send people to hell?
Are you having troubles in your marriage? Consider this passage about how a husband should love his wife. "Love is kind" (1 Corinthians 13:4). I believe husbands hold the key to a flourishing marriage. If they would be proactive instead of merely reactive, leading spiritually, it would change everything, especially in a struggling marriage. Yes, the love a husband is to have for his wife is kind. This love shows itself practically: showing her tenderness, bringing her gifts, actually telling her you love her.
Jesus defied the world's expectations regarding a divine being. Many Jewish people of that day were looking for a powerful king to liberate them from the Romans—they were prepared to serve and worship that kind of messiah. Instead, the Savior was a humble man who didn't think twice about washing dirty feet. While Jesus Christ could have banished the Roman presence from the region and then been glorified as an earthly ruler, He was very clear about His reason for being here: He came to serve, not to be served (Matt. 20:28).
What happens to believers when they die? They go straight into the presence of God. The Bible says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 5:8). Paul understood this when he said he had "a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better" (Philippians 1:23).