Signs and Wonders

Many of you may have not heard of the Shrine of the Miracle Tortilla. It is now closed but had up to 35000 visitors in its heyday. This shrine began when Maria Rubio was cooking a tortilla for her husband. She noticed that some of the burn marks formed an impression that resembled the face of Jesus. The family considered this a sign from God. They showed it to their family and friends. The word got out and it exploded in popularity. They eventually built a shrine for the hallowed tortilla and many people visited hoping for healing or blessing. This type of event has been duplicated many times. In fact there are now competing tortillas with Jesus’ face. Also, you have probably heard of statues that have cried, pictures of Jesus formed by the clouds, or even a Virgin Mary that formed on a toasted cheese sandwich and sold for $28,000 on EBay. 

Why do these phenomenon become so popular? People are looking for signs and wonders! To live by faith is hard and we think it would be easier if God just did some supernatural miracle to convince all of us He is real!! But Jesus says, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign…” (Matt 12:38). The resurrection is the greatest sign given to mankind. He lives! The tomb is empty! God has also given us His word. We can live by simple faith because God has given us truth and guidance through the Scriptures.

Are you sure about signs and wonders? Is the resurrection of Christ and the truth of His word sufficient for you? Or are you still looking for that miracle tortilla?

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The Great Tribulation

Christians or Christ-followers are gathered together in groups called churches. Today Christ’s mission is carried out through the church. The church has the mission to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. One day, possibly soon, the church age will come to an end. The church will be raptured and gathered to meet Jesus in the air. The church age will come to an end.When this happens, Israel will become the central focus in God’s plan. Israel will be disciplined but also Israel will be called to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. This period of time will last seven years and is called The Tribulation (also called, the Day of the Lord, the time of Jacob’s trouble and the day of trouble). All those who have not committed their lives to Christ at the time of the rapture will go through this time of judgment and wrath.

 During this time there will be wars that kill over a fourth of the population of earth. There will be earthquakes greater than any in the past. Inflation, because of the wars, will drain away most people’s wealth. Meteors will hit the earth. Waters will be turned to blood. Enormous hailstones will pound the earth causing the ground to shake. Famine and pestilence will become normal. People will develop painful boils for which there will be no cure or relief. Those who become believers during this time will most likely be martyred. As much as 75% of the world’s population will experience death through martyrdom or calamity.

 The events of this period will be unparalleled in human history. Evil will dominate and will be unleashed in full fury. It will be a time of anguish and misery that will bring to an end this world system. The Bible says that if God had not cut this time short that every living soul would perish.

 I am so glad that as a follower of Christ that I will not have to experience the outpouring of God’s wrath on this evil world system. I am blessed to know the mercy and grace of God. I am thankful that God’s wrath was poured out on Christ at the cross instead of me. I never have to experience His wrath! Are you sure that you have been saved from your sins and the wrath of God? There is nothing more important than knowing the answer to this question. The Bible says, “Today is the day of salvation!” (2 Cor 6:2). If you are not sure, then do not wait another moment. Settle this today!!

 The Bible says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” (Rom 10:9). You simply admit that you are a sinner and ask God to forgive you of your sins. You place your faith and trust in Jesus as the one who died for your sins and rose again to conquer death for you. You then turn from your sins and turn to Jesus as your Lord/Master/Boss! He will save you from the penalty of sin and give you abundant life. Do this today!

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The Rapture

Imagine you are watching television and then a Special Report interrupts your regularly scheduled programming. Unbelievably, millions of people are missing. No one is sure what is happening. There is a mixture of shock and fear. Could this be the end of the world? Could this be the result of an alien civilization far more advanced than us? Could this be fake news? You are glued to news reports as they detail the chaos that is happening all over the world. As you try to piece together what is happening, the thought occurs to you about something you heard about years earlier—The Rapture! A dread that you feel to the inner core of your being begins to overwhelm you. Did I miss it?

Imagine you are speaking to your neighbor. You talk from time to time with him as you work outside. You normally speak about current sporting events, but this time you are gossiping about the other neighbor who is totally weird. He has an overgrown yard and never speaks to anyone. He rarely even waves when you walk by him. You could have been sharing about the impact that Jesus has made on your life, but that is too awkward. Much easier to talk about our weird neighbor. Then suddenly, in the middle of your conversation, you are no longer in your front yard, your neighbor is no longer facing you, and you are in a place of indescribable beauty. You immediately recognize one person by His majesty and His glory. It is Jesus!! He looks at you and . . . 

One day Jesus will return!! Will you be ready?

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Pop Tests

Do you remember your days in school and your struggle to make good grades or maybe just a passing grade? If there was one phrase that struck fear in the hearts of students it was the phrase “pop test”. I was a good student. I had a particular knack at “cramming” the night before a test. I would fill my head with facts and knowledge to prepare me for the scheduled test. Then I would regurgitate all the facts I memorized. Once the test was complete, I purged what I considered unnecessary details out of my brain. 
But for a pop test a student had to be ready at all times. No cramming, no regurgitation, no purging—you had to actually learn and retain the information. It seemed so unfair at the time.
Well Jesus had told us there is a prophetic “pop test” coming. One day He will appear (like a thief in the night). We don’t know the day of His return so we can’t cram with good works the week before his arrival. He actually expects us to be ready at all times!!! In fact, Jesus tells us, “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.” Are you ready?

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Spiritual Autism

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I recently finished a mission trip to India that was incredible. It was so neat to share the gospel with many who have never heard about Jesus. But one highlight of my trip had nothing to do with India. It was the moment I walked down the runway at the airport and saw my family. My wife and kids were excited to see me home. Kevin, my youngest was bouncing up and down with excitement. Everyone gave me a hug and told me that they loved me. There is nothing on this earth greater than the intimacy of love I have with my family. Intimacy is a great need for every man, woman, boy and girl that lives on this earth.
Can you imagine having a child that does not respond to your voice, your touch, and your love? You call out to them and they completely ignore you. You wrap your arms around them to tell them you love them and they fight you off. You try over and over again to show them your love and they do not respond.

When my child was a youth I loved him…
It is I who taught him to walk
I took him in my arms
But he did not know that it was I who healed him
I led him with cords of a man, with bonds of love…
And I bent down and fed him….
My child is bent on turning from me
How can I give you up?
How can I surrender you?
My heart is turned over within me
All my compassions are kindled

This sounds like a parent with an autistic child but in fact it is God speaking in the book of Hosea. As believers we often act like autistic children to our Heavenly Father. We ignore His love or take it for granted.

Does God want to have an intimate relationship with us?

Look at Jesus on the hilltop overlooking Jerusalem:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ….how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings but you were not willing (Matthew 23:37NKJV)

Or again to the church at Laodicea:

Behold I stand at the door and knock! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door and I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me. (Rev 3:20 ESV)

But His children ignore him. They are spiritually autistic.

Richard Foster in his book Prayer Finding the Heart’s True Home tells the story of a dad who was shopping in the mall with his 2 year old son. The child was in a particularly cantankerous mood, fussing and fuming. The frustrated father tried everything to quiet his son, but nothing seemed to help. The child simply would not obey. Then, under some special inspiration, the father scooped up his son and, holding him close to his chest, began singing an impromptu love song. None of the words rhymed. He sang off key. And yet, as best he could, this father began sharing his heart. “I love you,” he sang. “I’m so glad you’re my boy. You make me happy. I like the way you laugh.” On they went from one store to the next. Quietly the father continued singing off key and making up words that did not rhyme. The child relaxed and became still, listening to this strange and wonderful song. Finally, they finished shopping and went to the car. As the father opened the door and prepared to buckle his son into the car seat, the child lifted his head and said simply, “Sing it to me again, Daddy! Sing it to me again!”

My prayer is that today you will stop fussing and fuming. Quit the stressing and worrying. Pull away for a few moments from the busyness of the world and take time to rest in the Lord and His love. Listen to the plea of our Savior. He is calling out to you. The incredible and amazing truth is that He wants to spend time with you! Go ahead, open the door of your heart and life and let Him fellowship with you!

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Happy Dependence Day

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And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. John 8:32 (NASB)

 

Satan’s greatest weapon is lies. He pulls people into bondage by getting them to believe a lie. Jesus delivers from bondage with the truth. In fact, Jesus says He is the truth. Also, we have the truth of God contained in the Scripture. It is as we apply the truth of Scripture to our lives that we become truly free. We are free to serve our God, to live an abundant life and to love with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

The sad truth is that many people choose to live in bondage to selfish desires. In an attempt to be free they find themselves enslaved to ungodly passions. In a day we celebrate our country’s freedom, can you celebrate the freedom you have in Christ?

Today let’s make a Declaration of Dependence! I am completely dependent upon Christ and I give him my life. It is through this submission that you can find true freedom. Happy Dependence Day to all of you!

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This Changes Everything

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…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures   (1 Cor 15:3b-4)

It is a simple message but it is a powerful one. This was the central message of the early church. It was this message that that conquered the known world. In fact, it was this message that conquered the very gates of hell. Without this message Christianity is just another dead religion existing for its own welfare. Without this message Jesus would be just a man who did some good things but was deluded. He would join the ranks of Mohammed, Buddha and others whose bodies still lie in the tomb. But His tomb was empty! Just as He predicted He rose from the dead. Death could not hold Him in the tomb. He arose victorious over death, hell and the grave.
His followers are filled with power that Hell cannot overcome. Christians do not join a dead religion but hold in their very grasp the hope of the world. Philosophers have tried to debunk this message. Scientists have tried to disprove it. Dictators have tried to stamp it out. Yet this message is overtaking our world today. The hope of the world—Christ died for my sins; He was buried; He rose from the grave. This is the good news! This is the dynamic power of God. This is the message of Easter that we will celebrate forever.

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