Israel – Alone

Israeli soldier stands beneath a flagI sat watching the news last night feeling as if Bible prophecy was being lived out before my eyes. Actually, I predicted nearly three years ago that the world would become more and more anti-Semitic, but I suppose I am still shocked by how much of the world seems to be opposing Israel (see my blog on November 10, 2011 – “Iran”). The Bible predicts in Ezekiel 38 that when Russia and the five-nation coalition attacks Israel, Israel will not have an ally really stand with them. They will stand alone. If you read through Ezekiel 38-39, you will not find any other nation standing with Israel. The significance of the world opinion right now, which is anti-Israeli, goes right along with the prophecy. I am amazed that anyone would criticize Israel for protecting themselves when attacked, and I am amazed that anyone would be so harsh toward Israel when civilians are hurt in Gaza because Hamas is using civilians, including children, as human shields. As I am sure you know, Israel has agreed to a cease-fire, but Hamas has refused. My point is not to make a political statement, but rather it is to point out that once again, God is right. Israel is gradually losing the global support, even the support of American leadership. When this attack does happen sometime in the future, that is the attack of Russia and the other five nations, there will be no allies to stand with Israel. Just watch as the world continues to back away from Israel, and know that this is but one more sign of the coming end of the age.

What do we do? Well, first of all, pray for Israel and pray for our nation’s leadership. Anyone who sides with Israel’s enemies are on the wrong side. Remember that Israel is the apple of God’s eye. Our nation’s leaders need to beware. Secondly, prepare for growing spiritual warfare. As the return of Christ draws closer, spiritual conflict will intensify. This is actually the topic for my new book that I hope to have out sometime in the near future: Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days. Thirdly, look for the opportunities that will be abundant during the days of difficulty. There will be many opportunities to share your faith and serve others in Jesus’ name. Fourthly, study the Word of God as never before. Great deception will spread in the days ahead, and we must know the truth of God. Finally pray. I know I said that first, but Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:18-20 to pray all the time in all ways for the conflict is too challenging for us to engage the enemy of our souls alone.

One final thing I didn’t mention. Get ready by making sure of your relationship with Christ. Are you truly saved? If you died today, are you certain that you would spend eternity in heaven? If not, why not right now tell Jesus that you surrender your life to Him? Confess your sin to Christ, and tell him that you give your life to follow Him. Jesus is coming again. The prophecies in the Bible will come to pass. Are you ready?

Time Change

I hate losing things, and I especially hate losing an hour. Daylight savings time is about to hit us again, and we are all about to have to go through the struggle of giving up an hour. True, we’ll get it back on November 2, but in the meantime, Sunday, March 9, could be a bummer. How many people will get their hour back by sleeping in and skipping church? How many people will physically attend church but mentally check out during the sermon because they are too tired to really engage? How many people across America will glibly go through the motions of worship but actually not really be present because they would rather be taking a nap? Okay, so maybe I’m approaching this thing like a preacher. I can’t help it. I’ve got something really important to share on Sunday, and the potential for disconnect is even greater than normal because we all lose an hour the night before.

 

When I think about it, this hour of worship on Sunday, March 9, is not the only important hour of our lives. The truth is, we lose hours all the time. We may be present at an event, but we’re really not present. We disconnect as a habit and miss the golden opportunities God gives us for life-change and ministry. We may cheat on a night’s sleep, and when we really need to be alert and engaged, our brains have checked out. Maybe this transition to Daylight Savings Time needs to be a not so subtle reminder that we have to choose to engage with our mission and purpose every day of our lives. If we do not make this conscious choice, we may be present but not really there. We might be present at a spiritual encounter with God but not really there when it comes to realizing this is a Kingdom moment. We might be present at a divine appointment but miss it because our spirits were not engaged in the moment, and we therefore miss the opportunity to impact a life for eternity.

 

These thoughts underscore that every day is important. Losing an hour this Sunday makes me even more aware of how important every Sunday is, and for that matter, it underscores the importance of every day. Our motto should be: “Wherever you are, be there.” Maybe we should spend some time reflecting on Psalm 90:12 as we prepare for time change Sunday: “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”

Asleep At The Light

Some years ago, my family and I went to Salt Lake City to attend the Southern Baptist Convention. It was interesting to go into the heart of Mormonism to convene with representatives of the largest evangelical denomination in the world. One morning while driving to the convention hall, I sat in very slow moving traffic and figured this was typical Salt Lake City rush hour. As we inched forward, I discovered there was a stalled car at the red light causing the slowdown. I pulled into the lane to the left of the car to ease around it, and at the same time I did so, a man walked up to the window of the stalled car and tapped on the glass. I saw to my surprise that the car was not really stalled. The problem was that the driver of the car had fallen asleep at the light.

 I was thinking about this event the other day as I was reflecting on Revelation 3:1-3: “I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” In many cases, the Church may have the reputation of being alive, but spiritually she is really dead. Unfortunately in our world, our indicators of “life” may not be God’s indicators of life. Large numbers of people, excellent music, and exciting children’s programs do not necessarily mean the Church is really spiritually alive. While the Church is asleep, we find ourselves sitting at a “green light.” We are living in a time of incredible opportunities. There has never been a time in the Church’s history where we have a front row seat to the setting of the prophetic stage as we are experiencing today. While no one can say with certainty that the events happening around us are definitely pieces of the prophetic puzzle being fulfilled, we can say that these events definitely have a prophetic ring to it. People are beginning to ask questions and circumstances are causing people to look around for greater solutions than the ones previously tried. The “green light” is the green light of the gospel. God is saying “Go!” as the world is facing greater challenges and encountering immeasurable need. If we do not actively move out and share our faith in loving and convincing ways and if we do not stand firm on the truth of God, choosing daily to walk in obedience to God’s commands, we are simply sleeping in the comfort of our self-deception thinking we are spiritually alive while in truth we are spiritually dead. Are you asleep at the light? Is your church asleep? Wake up!

Is Prophecy being Fulfilled in the Middle East?

According to a New York Times article sent to me by my friend, Jim Wells, Brigadier General Herzl Halevi of the Israeli army is surprised Israel has not yet attacked Iran. Halevi is the commander of the Israeli army in Northern Galilee, and he is set to leave his post on November 28. Though he is surprised the attack has not yet happened, he is convinced it will happen during his successor’s tour. Though this article may not appear to have any impact on us, it is interesting to think about what is going on in the Middle East in light of Bible prophecy.  Two significant events on the prophetic timeline, and possibly the last two events before the rapture (though the Bible does not say these things must take place before the rapture of the Church), are the destruction of Damascus (see Isaiah 17) and the attack on Israel by Russia and a 5-nation coalition that Ezekiel calls the Battle of Gog and Magog (see Ezekiel 38). Halevi’s comment about the forthcoming attack on Iran could point to an important piece of the puzzle leading to fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Even though Iran has indicated they will attack Israel without provocation, an attack on Iranian soil to wipe out Iran’s nuclear capabilities will be all the provocation Iran and her allies would need to retaliate against Israel. Ezekiel 38 also says that Israel will stand alone in this significant battle. If Israel attacks Iran right now, the rest of the world would certainly look upon this attack as aggressive. It seems many political leaders around the world are having a difficult time seeing Israel’s perspective that this attack would be a preemptive strike necessary for the future of Israel. If the world looks upon Israel with disfavor, I can easily see how no one will go to Israel’s aid when Iran retaliates.

We are living in exciting times. For the first time in history, the perceptive Bible student is able to watch current events unfold and connect many of them to Bible prophecy. While some of our “connections” are conjecture, it is easy to see the possibility of Christ’s coming in our lifetime. Let’s prepare as if the last days are upon us. Let’s proclaim Christ because the world is desperate to know Him and will be eternally lost if they wait too late. Let’s stand firm in the days ahead honoring Christ with our faithfulness and fruitfulness.

Opportunities for Evangelism

The opportunities to share the gospel are great. As the time of Christ’s return draws ever closer, people will become increasingly more open to the message of salvation. It is true that there will be many challenges and obstacles to our evangelistic ministry, but it is also true that circumstances will create desperation in the lives of people causing them to be open to a message of hope and to a life well lived. I say “a life well lived” because one of the greatest tools you have to make the gospel known to your friends and family is your life. I do not want to minimize the importance of actually speaking the truth to others, but many times, it is our lives that first cause an unbeliever to even be open to what we have to say. For example, everyone has trouble in this life, and an unbeliever will become softened to your message of salvation as they observe how you deal with trouble in your life. Who would not want a peace that passes understanding while going through the most difficult circumstances? Who would not want a hope that will never fade or diminish in the midst of what could be overwhelming odds of gloom and despair? A life well lived by faith and grace will herald the authenticity of the words of hope we share.

 I was encouraged recently to read an article about a well-known media personality who boldly shared of her faith in Christ. I have seen Kirsten Powers on Fox News many times and was very grateful to read her personal story of her faith in Christ. I hope you will click on the link above and read her story as printed in Christianity Today. How can you share your story? There are people in your life that will greatly benefit from hearing of your faith in Christ. As our culture grows more secular and fewer people know of God’s love and offer of salvation, opportunities abound as you live out your faith and share of your hope in Christ.