VIDEO Are we Living in the End Times This Pastor’s Answer is Shocking

Jun 8, 2017

by our friend The Christian Truther

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The Ultimate Good

I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3:8

As I was growing up in Jamaica, my parents raised my sister and me to be “good people.” In our home, good meant obeying our parents, telling the truth, being successful in school and work, and going to church . . .  at least Easter and Christmas. I imagine this definition of being a good person is familiar to many people, regardless of culture. In fact, the apostle Paul, in Philippians 3, used his culture’s definition of being good to make a greater point.

Paul, being a devout first-century Jew, followed the letter of the moral law in his culture. He was born into the “right” family, had the “right” education, and practiced the “right” religion. He was the real deal in terms of being a good person according to Jewish custom. In verse 4, Paul writes that he could boast in all of his goodness if he wanted to. But, as good as he was, Paul told his readers (and us) that there is something more than being good. He knew that being good, while good, was not the same as pleasing God.

God, help me remember that knowing Jesus is the way to ultimate goodness.

Pleasing God, Paul writes in verses 7–8, involves knowing Jesus. Paul considered his own goodness as “garbage” when compared to “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus.” We are good—and we please God—when our hope and faith are in Christ alone, not in our goodness.

Dear God, as I seek to live a good life, help me remember that knowing Jesus is the way to ultimate goodness.

We are good—and we please God—when our hope and faith are in Christ alone, not in our goodness.

By Karen Wolfe 

INSIGHT:It can be easy to miss the phenomenal change of perspective Paul states in today’s passage. His claims of righteousness were not empty boasts; he had followed God-given laws meticulously—literally to the letter. For Paul to say that all of that was worthless signifies change at a fundamental level. He changed from outward performance—doing (vv. 4–7)—to knowing Christ and what He had done (v. 8).

For more on knowing Christ read, The Mind of Christ at discoveryseries.org/q0209. J.R. Hudberg

Our Unmet Needs

Philippians 4:19

God has promised to supply all our needs, yet fulfillment is sometimes slow in coming. What could be the problem? Perhaps we are.

When our Father fails to meet our expectations, we generally look outside ourselves for the reason. But while God’s love is unconditional, many of His promises are not. For example, Philippians 4:19 is a “family promise”—it can be claimed only by those who rightly call the Sovereign of the universe “Father.” His unlimited resources are not available to men and women who reject salvation through Jesus Christ. Moreover, when we look at the whole framework of Scripture, we see that the Lord makes obedience a condition for fulfilling our needs. (See Psalm 81:10-12.) He will not condone sin by blessing us while we rebel against Him.

Think of yourself as part of an army at war—which is what you are, in a spiritual sense. A top military priority is to keep the supply line open, as victory is impossible if the soldiers are weaponless, cold, and starving. Our willful disobedience allows Satan to cut our supply line from the Lord. Restoring that connection is a matter of repentance. Those who walk in God’s way are protected, provided for, and satisfied (Psalm 81:13-16).

Taking a promise out of its biblical context is very dangerous. And expecting God to keep a conditional pledge when we aren’t meeting its requirements is even more unwise. The heavenly Father keeps His word but rightfully expects us to do our part. Thankfully, His expectations of us are not burdensome but reasonable: What He requires is that we simply love, honor, and obey Him.

Walk–Don’t Walk

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Ephesians 4:17-19)

In verses 1-3, Paul encourages believers to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This humble, patient, loving, peaceful walk contrasts sharply with the walk described in our text.

The walk of those outside Christ is characterized by “the vanity of their mind”—empty, futile thinking. The same word for “vanity” is used elsewhere for those who deny the obvious evidence for creation, who “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21-22). They are ignorant and blind, our text says, with darkened understanding and a blind heart. This has led them into a position of alienation from God, dead to any prompting they might receive from within or without. The result of such a mindset is a shameless, reprobate lifestyle, full of lasciviousness, uncleanness, and greediness.

Thankfully, we “have not so learned Christ” (Ephesians 4:20). We are to be “renewed in the spirit of [our] mind” (v. 23) and walk aright. “Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us” (5:2). “Walk as children of light” (5:8). “Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (5:15), “filled with the Spirit” (5:18). Our Creator promises us an inward “new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (4:24). JDM

“Peace be unto thee, fear not.”

 

Judges 6:17-32

Judges 6:18

To one person a sign is denied, and to another it is granted. Herein is manifest not only the sovereignty of God, but also his wisdom in dealing with different men in different manners. Gideon had many signs, yet he was not rebuked for needing them.

Judges 6:20

What Gideon meant for a feast was turned into a sacrifice. This was a small matter, so long as the Lord did but accept him.

Judges 6:21

Here was both a token of divine presence and an intimation of what God could do. He could bring fiery courage out of Gideons heart, as well as fire out of a rock, and he could consume Midian as readily as he burned up the cakes.

Judges 6:24

or “the Lord my peace,” in allusion to the Lord’s having said, “Peace be unto thee.”

Judges 6:25, 26

He was at once to set about cleansing his own house. Those who would serve God abroad should begin at home. He was not commanded to dedicate Baal’s grove-temple to God, but to fell it; nor was he ordered to sacrifice to God upon the idol’s altar, but to throw it down: Reformations cannot be too thorough. Unless we down with their nests the foul birds will come back. Gideon had a grand commission which every true believer might rejoice to receive.

Judges 6:27

If we cannot do our duty exactly as we would, we must do it as we can, but anyhow it should be done. Gideon did a glorious night’s work.

Judges 6:28-30

Those who themselves deserved to die for idolatry were in a vast hurry to judge and condemn the son of Joash. Frequently those who themselves are most guilty are loudest in accusing others.

Judges 6:31

His argument was—if Baal be indeed a god he can take care of himself, and if he be not a god, then those who plead for him deserve to die for setting up false deities.

Judges 6:32

Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal or one with whom Baal may plead

 

Are These Signs Following You?

Mark 16:17

Moments before Jesus ascended to the Father, He told the disciples, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17, 18).

According to Jesus, these supernatural signs are supposed to follow those who believe. Since you and I believe, that means these signs are supposed to follow you and me! So let’s look carefully at this supernatural list to see precisely what Jesus said to us.

First of all, the word “signs” comes from the Greek word semeion, which described the official written notice that announced the final verdict of a court. It also described the signature or seal applied to a document to guarantee its authenticity and a sign that marked key locations in a city.

Jesus was sending His disciples into the world to preach the Gospel. As He sent them forth, He said that God’s signature would be upon their ministry. These “signs” were to be the signature of God—the official declaration that they were sent by Heaven and that the Gospel message was true. For unbelievers, these “signs” would authenticate the fact that this was no manmade message, but a message straight from God Himself. And just as street signs point a traveler in the right direction, these signs would point the unbeliever to the Lord if he would only pay heed to them.

The specific signs that Jesus mentioned are as follows:

  • They will cast out devils.
  • They will speak with new tongues.
  • They will take up serpents.
  • If they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them.
  • They will lay hands on the sick, and the sick will recover.

The Lord said that these signs would “follow” those who believe. The word “follow” is the Greek word parakoloutheo, from the words para and akoloutheo. The word para means alongside, as to be near or in a close proximity. The word akoloutheo means to follow or to go somewhere with a person, as to accompany him on a trip. When the word para and akoloutheo are joined to form one word as in this verse, it means to tirelessly accompany someone; to constantly be at the side of an individual; to always be in close proximity with a person, like a faithful companion who is always at one’s side.

Because the word parakoloutheo has such a strong sense of following someone; it eventually came to convey the idea of discipleship. A true disciple faithfully follows his teacher anywhere he goes and is committed to his teacher’s instruction.

This picture of commitment to another person—of someone’s faithfulness to follow and his determination to never be out of step with his leader—is very significant in the context of this verse. It tells us that signs and wonders are to faithfully follow us and the Gospel message. These signs and wonders are continually to be in step with us and with the message we preach. To preach without these miraculous signs should seem very strange to us, for God intended these signs to persistently follow us and the message anywhere and everywhere we go.

These signs are God’s signature that the message is true. Hence, every time the Gospel is preached—whether at church, on the mission field, in a large crusade, in the bus or subway, at your job, or at the grocery store—you should expect these supernatural signs to be present in some form. These signs should accompany you everywhere you go because they are a part of your spiritual equipment, faithful partners of the Gospel message!

But if this is true, why don’t we see more of these signs following Christians? The answer to this question is found in Jesus’ words in Mark 16:17. He said, “And these signs shall follow them that believe….”

I want to draw your attention to the word “believe.” Because of the tense used with this Greek word, this verse would be better translated, “These signs shall follow them that are constantly believing….” In other words, these signs don’t come automatically just because a person once walked the aisle and gave his heart to Jesus. These signs follow those who are constantly believing for them to occur. If a Christian isn’t believing for these signs to be manifested or expecting them to follow him, they probably won’t. Like everything else in the Kingdom of God, signs and wonders are activated by faith.

Through the years of my ministry, I have observed that people who regularly experience the miraculous are those who regularly expect to see it. Rather than being passive, they are very aggressive about pushing forward in the Spirit to see the miraculous manifested in their lives or ministries. Those who press forward and release their faith to see the supernatural are the ones who see more of it than anyone else. Because they are believing for signs and wonders, they often see them manifested in their lives.

The number of signs and wonders that follow you will be determined by how intensely you are constantly believing for them to be in manifestation. As noted above, everything in the Kingdom of God is activated by faith. If you’re not releasing faith for the miraculous to occur, very little of the miraculous will be in manifestation in your life. If you want signs and wonders to faithfully follow you, you must be constantly believing for them to happen!

So when you preach and share the Gospel, expect things to happen!

  • When you pray for the sick, expect them to be healed.
  • When you confront someone who is demonized, expect that person to be set free.
  • When you are in a situation that requires the miraculous, expect the miraculous to occur.
  • When you need protection, expect God’s hand of protection to be upon you.

If you haven’t been experiencing the supernatural in your life, it may be a signal that you haven’t been releasing your faith to see signs and wonders follow you. Remember, these signs always follow wherever the Gospel is preached and believers are believing for them to occur. This was Jesus’ promise! He guaranteed that God’s supernatural signature would be on anyone who preaches the Gospel and who opens the way for the supernatural to come to pass by believing.

Today I want to encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to rekindle the flame in your heart to see the supernatural signature of God on your life, your church, or your ministry. God wants to show up when you preach or share the Gospel. He wants to authenticate and guarantee that the message you preach or share is truly Heaven-sent. But for the miraculous to occur, He needs you to be constantly releasing your faith—for it is your faith that activates the supernatural!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I prayerfully admit that I haven’t been expecting signs and wonders to follow me as I ought to be expecting them. From this moment onward, I release my faith for the miraculous to follow me when I preach or share the Gospel with unbelievers. Holy Spirit, let the power of God flow and confirm the message! Let God’s signature be all over the Gospel that I preach. Because I am constantly releasing my faith for the miraculous to follow me wherever I go, I expect to see people healed, blind eyes opened, and captives set free by the power of God!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that signs and wonders follow me! I am intensely hungry to see the miraculous, and I am constantly believing for it to be in manifestation. Since everything in the Kingdom of God is activated by faith, I release my faith right now for supernatural signs to be manifested in my life! I am among those who are constantly believing for the miraculous to happen. When I preach the Gospel, I expect signs and wonders to follow that authenticate the message and supernaturally meet the needs of those who are listening to me!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Can you think of a time when you were sharing the Gospel and something supernatural happened, such as someone getting healed or God miraculously intervening in a situation to let an unbeliever know that God was speaking specifically to him?
  2. Are you hungry for the supernatural, or have you been passive about seeing signs and wonders manifested in your life? How long has it been since you’ve earnestly prayed for signs and wonders to be a part of your life?
  3. Do you have a desire to see the miraculous manifested in your life? If that desire has become dormant, why don’t you take a little time today to ask the Holy Spirit to rekindle this desire in your heart?

If you haven’t been experiencing the supernatural in your life, it may be a signal that you haven’t been releasing your faith to see signs and wonders follow you. Remember, these signs always follow wherever the Gospel is preached and believers are believing for them to occur. This was Jesus’ promise! He guaranteed that God’s supernatural signature would be on anyone who preaches the Gospel and who opens the way for the supernatural to come to pass by believing.

 

Weariness

You especially feel it in the evening after an exhausting day at the office, as you wend your way home in a rumpled suit, lugging an overloaded briefcase. Perhaps you find yourself wondering if anyone else understands – or cares about your fatigue, as you reflect back over a day fraught with unresolved problems, unrelenting pressures, and incomplete projects.

 

One Person who cares is Jesus. He also understands because He has been there:

  • After a demanding stretch of meeting people’s needs, He fell asleep in a storm-tossed fishing vessel. (Matthew 8:23-27)
  • After butting up again and again against obdurate slow-to-believe fellow-travelers, He expressed a sense of wearing angst:

O unbelieving and perverse generationhow long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Matthew 17:17)

  • After an exhausting journey under the midday sun, He sat down at a well to rest. (John 4:6)

And that is why He and your Heavenly Father are able to say to you:

 

Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

 

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

 

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

 

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint“. (Jeremiah 31:25)

 

Amidst unrelenting demands, Jesus wisely knew when it was time to take a break:

 

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to (the twelve disciples), ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.‘” (Mark 6:31)

 

Do you?

 

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