Coming Soon To A Planet Near You – Part 2

IMG_6302Last week I presented a synopsis of events to be expected sometime soon.  How soon?  No one knows, and if someone claims to know, leave as wide a distance between him and you as there is between his brain and reality.  Even Jesus claimed only the Father in Heaven knows the day or the hour that Jesus is to return to this earth to begin its last age.

That said, it is certain that the return of Jesus, called The Christ, is nearer than it was 2000 years ago when He left.  Some surmise the history of the world is a “week” of ‘1000-year’ days.  This is a very plausible theory for Young Earth theorists: 4000 years from Creation to the advent of Jesus to a virgin in Bethlehem of Judea; 2000 years of the Church Age; 1000 years of Christ’s millennial reign; concluded with God’s recreation of a New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21).

Since we do not know exactly the year of Jesus’ birth, this remains a possible interpretation of time for at least another 20-80 years. (This includes allowance for questions of exactly when to begin the 2000 year church age.)  This would propose that we are very close to the end of time as we have known it, again though, not knowing the day or the hour, or I would point out, the year or even decade.  However, given the shape of world events it is very difficult to imagine The Day waiting more than another few decades.

However, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of your investigation into these propositions!  You must not depend on someone else, not even me, Martin Luther, the Pope, Joel Rosenberg, John Stott or any other to feed you with such milk.  You need to examine Scripture to discover what it says.  To not do so is to remain a spiritual baby, accepting “predigested milklike infants, unable to feed themselves.  There is nothing wrong with starting out as a suckling, but think of how sad we feel if we see an adult who has never learned to feed himself or clean his own bottom.  Though you may be new to faith in Jesus, begin to train yourself to read the Bible.  If you have been walking with Jesus for even a few years, you should be more mature and able to read the Word and apply it to your daily activities, daily ingesting the food of the Scriptures and doing what it says, praying with the understanding and in the Spirit.

So I encourage you to read the first few verses of Revelation 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”  Do not be dissuaded by those who would say this book is too confusing or too full of symbols which must be studied in historical context.  The book itself says you will be blessed if you read it or listen to its reading!

Along side of this, to understand what the Bible teaches about End Times (Eschatology), one needs to read Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 12; Ezekiel 7-8, 17, 38-39; Daniel 7-12; Joel 2; Zechariah 1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4-5; 1 Timothy 1, 4; 2 Timothy 3; 2 Peter 1-3; 1 John 2; and Jude.  There are other references in the Bible to the End Times, but these are the main ones wherein it is a theme of the writing and the study of these, with Revelation, will give one a fair grasp of what we are allowed to understand of what is to come.

Please underscore this: WHEN you believe Jesus is returning is not as important as your belief that HE IS RETURNING!  There are differing views on the events listed in my synopsis last week, and I make no claim to fully understand everything about these things, nor to have every detail correct.  This is the best understanding to which I have come based on years of study and examination of Scripture.  But faith in Jesus is not dependent on agreement on these details of eschatology. 

But these things I do know!  What kind of people should we be, especially as we gain understanding of God’s plan for the ages?  First, love your family! (1Timothy 5:8)  Next love your fellow Christ-followers! (Galatians 6:9)  Then, love your neighbors, those in your subdivision, your community, your city and county. (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31)  And then, if you are going to follow Jesus, get ready for some reeeally tough instruction: Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you!” (Matthew 5:44

That’s right, pray FOR bad people!  Do not pray against them; do not pray for their deaths or for their destruction.  Leave that up to Father; “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  (Romans 12:19, Deuteronomy 32:35)

We must pray FOR our enemies.  For that politician who represents everything you voted against in the last election; for that relative who makes you feel like you want to avoid them forever; for that guy who drives like a maniac, running stop signs and racing to cut you off; for that woman who swears so terribly she makes sailors blush; for that person responsible for your loved one’s death; yes, pray for your enemy, that they will see how they have been deceived and turn from their wrong actions.  This is God’s heart for His enemies: Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the LORD God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23)

Friend, the time is short.  Jesus will come back, maybe in the short few years I have left on Earth; maybe later today or tomorrow; maybe not for another decade or more.  But He WILL come back, and when He does it will be too late to get ready.

Considerations on Praying FOR an Enemy

Perhaps last week’s blog, HOW Are You Praying FOR Your Enemies? (April 14, 2020), would have been better called WHY We Should Pray FOR Our Enemies.  So today I will address some practical considerations for HOW to Pray FOR Your Enemies.

First, keep foremost in mind that Father wants our hearts to begin to align with His despite what you read in the Psalms.  Remember, the Psalms are hymns of praise and prayers offered by fallible humans to their Creator.  This is not to suggest there are errors in the Bible, but just as we do not take theological lessons from the historical books unless they are clearly elucidated elsewhere, we should be careful in drawing lessons from the Psalms when we are reading the pleas of hearts in distress.  When did you hear a “worship song” based on Psalm 109:1-15?

Remember that we were once enemies of the cross, even if you accepted Jesus when you were three or four years old.  Until you surrendered control of your life to Him, YOU were in charge of your life, and God help the one who interfered with YOUR plans!  Many of us remained capricious followers of Jesus even after great spiritual experiences in our youth, unstable and fickle.  While in a fit of pique we may agree with the Psalmist when he cries for Father to make our enemy’s children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit” (Psalm 109:10), it is not Father’s heart to punish children for the sins of their dads (Ezekiel 18:19-20).

Second, however, prayer FOR an enemy does not mean asking Father to make his plans succeed!  When someone intends evil it is our responsibility, as much as we are able, to resist such intentions.  But we are not to hate the person who needs salvation.

When Jesus confronted Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians and criticized them or humiliated them with His superior reasoning, it still came from a heart that was looking for what was best for them, as well as to prevent them from influencing the masses of people from following them.  But when it came to one-on-one His heart went out to those who loved money (or anything else) more than Him or His righteousness (Mark 10:17-22).  Like Father, he wanted His enemies to be saved (2 Peter 3:9).  That is how you and I got into the Kingdom!  Dare we deny someone else entry because we have made it!?

Third, we must be clear in our opposition to that which is opposed to godliness, but we must do so as gently as Jesus, who would not quarrel nor break someone who was bruised by life, nor snuff out one who had even a spark of hope in him (Isaiah 42:2-3; Matthew 12:19-20).  “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2 Timothy 2:24).

The difficulty in “loving the sinner but hating the sin” is more easily understood if we realize how often we do this for ourselves.  (See   for more detail on this.)  When we do something foolish or unrighteous, we make every kind of excuse possible until we finally fall at Jesus’ feet and ask for His mercy.  This is because I sometimes do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).  And my love for myself compels me to hate what I do, more so as I get to know Jesus better.

So when Jesus calls us to love our enemies as ourselves and pray for them, this is what He has in mind.  We are to approach our prayers FOR our enemies recognizing that they were deceived and that continuation on the path they are on will lead to their eternal separation from the Lord of life; isolation where there is weeping, cruel loneliness that never ends, filled with longings that will never be satisfied, and outer darkness that lets in absolutely no light (Matthew 8:11-12).  As you align your heart with His, you will find yourself looking into that abyss and thinking, “I would not wish that for my worst enemy!”

Now you are ready to reach out in love, even to your enemies.  So ask Father to reveal Himself to your enemy.  Ask Him to let them see clearly the results of the choices they are making.  Ask Him to guide others or circumstances around them so they will experience what they need, and not suffer the anger we feel at them.  Ask Him how you might be able to shed light into their darkness (and not heat 😤!).  And prepare to keep on loving them even if they refuse your heart to help.

  • So pray FOR the President that he will recognize his shortcomings and humbly ask for guidance when he needs it.
  • So pray FOR Nancy Pelosi that she will come to understand how her disrespect only reflects her immaturity and inability.
  • So pray FOR that Muslim neighbor with a burka and FOR her husband that they might come to knowledge of the Truth.
  • So pray FOR the pro-abortionist who screams how lucky she is to have had an abortion so that she can now afford a fancy car and easy lifestyle.
  • So pray FOR the neighbor who seems to enjoy harassing you.
  • So pray FOR that ex-spouse that they will experience forgiveness and so forgive you.
  • So pray FOR your son or daughter who has turned his/her back on the faith they were taught.

Some you may see transformed as you live out Christ’s life before them.  Some you may be able to speak with, and influence, even in a small way, to consider their course.  Some you will have to simply leave in Father’s hands, fearing for their end that they may not turn in time.  But pray FOR them, that they will.  That is HOW we should pray FOR our enemies.

It took a miracle.

2018-11-25 Milky Wav Over Devils Tower

Last week () I concluded, “So go ahead and ask me to pray, but don’t expect any miracle.”  But there are some problems we face that will not be fixed without a miracle!  Where can we go with things that seem insurmountable: loved ones who refuse to trust Jesus, church leaders who do not care if they deafen their attendees, friends with progressive illnesses for which there is no human cure; international issues over which we have no say?

Based on John 6:35-69, Jesus may have not been such a wonderful teacher as some surmise.  Actually, He was the best teacher ever, but His discourse at this juncture did not win any trophies or marks for “Best Teacher of the Year” award.  Instead of motivating His disciples to deepen their understanding of what it meant to follow Him, many of them grumbled and argued and turned away.  It did not improve His case when He asked the Jewish followers, for whom cannibalism was anathema, to eat His flesh and drink His blood!

Then He asked the Twelve, His Apostles, “Do you want to go away as well?”  Peter, always quick to spout off, answered for the group: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”   So to whom else can we go?

But when we pray, do we expect a miracle?  When Ken prayed for Yolanda’s baby, wracked with meningitis, maybe some of us did, maybe some of us didn’t (see November 18, 2018).  But the baby was well by the next day.  When we prayed for my 45 year old sister-in-law to be healed from cancer, many shared a sense of faith that a miraculous healing was just waiting for us to see her.  Then she died two days after we arrived.

When Hannah prayed for a child, she prayed for years, enduring the scorn of her neighbors and her husband’s second wife (See 1 Samuel 1).  The high priest, Eli, not the most sensitive guy in the Old Testament, thought she was drunk as she was praying silently with tears.  (Be glad he is not your worship pastor!)  But Father spoke through this haphazard priest and he prophesied that her prayer would be answered with a resounding Yes from God.

How do we pray and not doubt as we are instructed in Matthew 21:21?  We must pray with the same faith Hannah had, trusting that God will answer in His time with either a Yes, a No, or a Wait, even if our hearts are breaking as we wait.

The faith we have to exercise is the same as Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, better known by their Babylonian monikers, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.  Faced with certain doom from the king’s fiery furnace if they did not worship his statue, they answered his charges, If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)  Trust God without compromise.

So go ahead and ask me to pray.  I am not holy or specially good that He has to listen to me.  There is no magic connection or unusual power in my prayers.  But if you want me to share your burdens, ask me to pray.  I will just talk with The God Who Is Here, a constant Presence (See ) who keeps reminding me how inadequate and incompetent I am without Him.

And you can talk with Him, too.  Anyone can (Acts 17:27).  And you might experience a miracle.

John Peterson’s song has been on my mind a few days, but rather than offer one link to Youtube, here you will find four renditions, from acapella to reggae.  Enjoy whichever one touches your heart.

It Took A Miracle By John W. Peterson

My Father is omnipotent,
On that you can rely;
A God of might and miracles,
‘Tis written in the sky;

Chorus
It took a miracle to put the stars in place,
It took a miracle to hang the world in space,
But when He saved my soul,
Cleansed and made me whole,
It took a miracle of love and grace!

Tho’ here His glory has been shown,
We will not fully see;
The wonders of His might and throne,
Until eternity!

The Bible tells us of His pow’r,
And wisdom all way through;
And ev’ry little bird and flow’r
Are testimonies, too.