Joel 1:13, 15 Weep And Mourn

Put on sackcloth, you priests and mourn; wail, you who minister in before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and the drink offerings are withheld from the house of God. Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Joel 1:13, 15

Destruction of Judah was imminent. The enemy was already closing in on the nation and God was ready to destroy the nation. All of the people had chosen to walk away from God and follow other gods, no longer did the nation follow God. After many warnings, God chose to destroy the nation. Now, Joel is calling all the people to weep, mourn and fast. The destruction would be great, because it would be brought on by God.

Although Judah had been destroyed, and Israel has been restored, there is still a great destruction coming soon. There is a time coming when Jesus will return to end all life on this planet. The planet earth will be destroyed.

When that time comes every person will be divided into one of two groups. One group, who has chosen to follow Jesus, will be changed and brought to heaven for eternal life. The other group, who chose to reject Jesus will be condemned in hell for eternity.

No one knows the day or hour when that will happen, but everyone can be sure it will happen. All the prophecies of Jesus have been fulfilled so far, so that there is  no reason to doubt this will not occur also.

As a believer, this news is a bittersweet message. On one side it tells you that you will be going to heaven to live for eternity with God. On the other side it also tells you that billions of people will be destroyed and condemned for eternity.

Take a look around you and notice how many people do not know Jesus as their own personal Lord and Savior. Most likely, it is the majority of people. Even if it is a few, you should be weeping and mourning for those who are lost. Weep and mourn at the destruction that is coming.

Now, because it has not happened yet, go out and tell someone about Jesus. Spread the gospel message to all, so that all may be saved from the coming destruction.

I pray today that God will reveal to you the times you are in; that you will see those who need Jesus; that you will weep for those who need Jesus; and that you will be a witness for Jesus in this world.

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Changing The Mindset

Homestead

Over Thanksgiving weekend my family was able to go to a Homestead Heritage Fair that occurs in Central Texas every year over that weekend. The fair is put on by a group of people who desire to get back to the basics of life and be able to live off of the land. Their hearts are set on following God and putting down all the distracting things in this life, going back to a more simple, but fulfilling lifestyle.

The families that put this on display many of the crafts that they have done. Many of these items are also available for purchasing. Most of these crafts are built by children, from the age of 7, up through high school. Some of these displays are woodworking, metal working, quilting, various types of sewing, paintings, books, food, and much more.

Homemade chairs             Quilt

Along with having many different crafts for sale, they also have many different sessions teaching or talking about various subjects. Some of these are harnessing a horse, cotton preparation and spinning, cheese making, sustainable gardens, rope making, horse training, raising goats or chickens, food preservation, and many more.

My wife and I focused on various sessions on gardening and raising chickens. On Friday we had brought most of our children, who enjoyed making some crafts and going through a petting zoo. They also enjoyed seeing many different farm animals up close.

One of the sessions I went to was called, “Small Homestead Energy Alternatives.” It was a session talking about various energy alternatives that people can do to save money on their energy bill.

Energy

The first thing the speaker talked about was for a person to take a serious look at how energy is used in the home. Then to take note of where energy is wasted in the home. When a person really looks at all the things that use energy in a home, it is quite amazing at how much uses energy. One thing for a person to do is turn off the lights and then look around the room for any other lights that light up in the dark. Each of those little lights are energy users, and usually wasting energy. One can also look for any leaks of air in doorways, windows and connections in the wall.

He stated that once you have an inventory of how energy is used, then you must work to change that pattern and use less energy. The number one thing to do is turn things completely off, rather than leave them in a stand-by mode. While in stand-by mode there is energy still being used that is actually being wasted, because it is not usefully being used.

This is probably one of the most difficult things for a person to do, because it requires a change of the mindset, a change in how a person does things or thinks about things.

Once a person changes his mind about energy usage, then the rest of the alternatives of providing energy for a house may be applied.

As helpful as this was for the house, God revealed to me that this can also be applied to the spiritual life also.

Ephesians 4_11-24

 

Paul tells us that we are to change the attitudes of our minds. We are to be a new person in Christ Jesus. This is a change of the mindset. Before knowing Jesus, you are a person who followed the ways of this world, rather than the ways of God. The desires of your mind were corrupted by deceitful desires, things that were not good and were selfish.

Colossians 3_1-2

 

As a believer in Jesus, you must set your mind and heart on things above, things that concern God. As long as you focus on the things of this earth, you will struggle to be more like Jesus and to please God more. Focusing on God will help you to see that what He desires for you is better than anything you can choose or this world will ever offer.

John 14_15

 

Jesus said that if you really love Him, you will obey Him. You will want to do what He commands because you really do love Him.

All of these things come from a change of the mind. It is not natural for man to follow God. It is not natural for a person to love his enemy. It is not natural for a man to sacrifice himself for someone who does not love him. It is not natural to deny oneself for a physically unseen future. It is not natural to follow someone that cannot be physically seen.

Many Christians struggle with various sins in their life. They cannot seem to ever get a handle on rejecting that sin. With a change of the mind, it can bring about the needed victory over the sin. The mind has to learn to focus on what God wants and desires. The change of mindset changes from things of this earth to the things of God. At that point, the power of sin is no longer there. There is no more pull towards sin, because the pull of God is much greater and better.

Change Your Mindset

Just as with changing the mindset in how you use energy in your home, you must also change your mind in how you follow God and reject the things of this world. Both ways go against the norm of most people, yet, both can be very beneficial to the person.

How is your mind today? What is your mind focused on today?

Jesus Freaks

Last week I was blessed to be able to go on a cruise with one of my boys. This cruise was the Jesus Freak 2017 cruise. The Christian band, DC Talk, had reunited after a 16 year hiatus for a one week cruise tour. They set up the cruise with several other bands, Newsboys, Hollyn, Capital Kings, Ryan Stevenson, and Finding Favor.

For anyone not familiar with the band, DC Talk, they had started out in 1987 and performed until 2000. During that time they became one of the most popular Christian bands of all time. Their music was one of a mix of rap and rock in each song. The band was known for being bold in talking about Jesus and pointing people to Jesus. They wanted their message to be one about the gospel message.

One of the songs that they came out with was, “Jesus Freak.” It was their most popular song and portrayed their hearts.

One of the lines in that song is: “What if people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus freak? What will people do when they find that its true?

The term “freak”, to be used to describe a person is not a popular term to be used in today’s society. It would probably be listed as a politically incorrect term.

Freak has the meaning of a very unusual and unexpected event or situation. It can also mean a person, plant or animal with an unusual physical abnormality.

Adding the term freak with Jesus, makes an interesting combination. What exactly is a “Jesus Freak”?

It is the idea that one is very unusual in following Jesus. They are abnormal from all the other people. It is a very unusual and unexpected situation in life.

Take a look at the life of Jesus. He was a different type of person when He walked on this earth. Another line in this song is: “People say I’m a strange, does that make me a stranger? My best friend was born in a manger.

Think about this: Jesus came to this world to save the world and  be king of this world. Yet, the method of coming in this world was not normal. He was not born in the palace, or even in the hospital as most people were. He was royalty and yet, was born in a manger, a place for animals, not kings.

Jesus talked about loving your enemies, instead of fighting them. He tells you to bless those who curse you. These statements go against the thoughts and ways of most of the world. The world says that you have a right to fight against your enemies and that it is acceptable to curse those who do you wrong.

Along with some of the strange teachings that Jesus taught, He also died on a cross. Why would a person die who wanted to save everyone else? How can He save everyone by dying? By the world’s methods of doing things, Jesus was a freak, which is part of the reason why they chose to crucify Him.

Jesus was one who followed God with all of His heart, soul, mind and strength. He was sold-out to God. This made Him a freak, an unusual and strange person in this world.

Those who follow Him are also strange. Why would someone want to follow someone who died nearly 2,000 years ago? Why would someone want to follow someone who was strange and said to love and bless his enemies?

The whole reason Jesus was a freak was because of love. The reason a person is willing to follow Jesus is because of love. God’s love is the best thing that there is in all of this great universe. God has the best in mind for every person.

Now going back to the song about the line saying that he is a Jesus freak. What makes a person a Jesus freak?

Take a look around you and you will probably see a lot of people who claim to be Christian. Some churches have a lot of people in them. Yet, at the same time, take a look around you and watch how many of these same people act in this world. How do they treat each other? How do they treat their enemies?

The sad part is that most do not treat others with the same love that Jesus shows them. Christians are often known for acting and looking just like everyone else in this world. They do not stand out as different.

The few people who do stand out as extremists for Jesus are rare. They are seen as radicals and crazies–Jesus Freaks.

When a person comes out in this way in this world, the world will rise up against them, just as the world rose up against Jesus when He walked on this earth. Today the term used is usually politically incorrect, or extremists. This will even occur within the church. Very few people live as an extremist for Jesus. It is highly unusual to see someone live wholeheartedly for God, abandoning their own life and ways to follow God–thus a Jesus Freak.

Take a look at your own life and see how you are living. Are you living for yourself? Or are you living for God?

Are you concerned with what people think or what they will do if you live sold-out to God?

Allow yourself to be sold-out to God. See what God can do in and through you when you live in the same way that Jesus did. As a believer in Jesus, you are to live, talk and act just as He did. Everything that Jesus said and did was what God wanted Him to say and do.

Just as Jesus was a stranger in this world, so are you. This world is not your final home, you are just a stranger passing through.

Are you a Jesus Freak?

May the final words of that song be yours: “I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak, there ain’t no disguising the truth.”

As for the cruise, it was an awesome cruise! It was amazing to see 4,000 people all being excited about serving and loving God. They were not ashamed of the gospel message. It was awesome to hear the various Christian bands proclaiming God loud and clear for five days.

I was able to talk with many people from all over the world and hear many great testimonies of what God is doing or has done in their life. It was encouraging to hear. God is alive and being served in this world by many, though not the majority.

Exodus 23:2 Don’t Follow In Doing Wrong

“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd.” Exodus 23:2

Moses continues with giving some practical rules on how to live a holy life for God. Now he looks at when a person is in court a person is not to just side with everyone else, but to only judge as to what is the truth in the case.

People do not like to go against the system or a group of people. They like to go with the flow. Very few people like to cause a ripple in the way things are going.

In court cases this can be seen a lot. The majority of the jury feels the judgment should be one way, while one or two people feel it should be the other way. Often the few give in to the majority and judge accordingly, not necessarily the way they see the truth of the situation.

Moses is specifically talking about court cases in this verse. However, it can be applied in many other areas in life. Everywhere a person looks you can see people compromising to a group of people to do or allow sin.

A new movie comes out. It has foul language using God’s name as a curse word in it. It has explicit sexual scenes in it, outside of marriage. The story line is one about sinful actions. Everyone is talking highly of it as though it is a great movie and you must see it. Most people would go see it. They don’t want to stand out as different or be left behind the times.

Do you go and watch it, even though it is wrong and sinful, and against God? Or do you stand strong as a believer in God’s Word and refuse to partake in the sin?

This is just one example of how people follow the crowd. Yet, as a believer, you are to stand out as different. You are to stand as a holy follower of Jesus.

How are you living your life?

Do you follow the crowds?

Or are you following Jesus?

What would Jesus do?

As Moses said, do not follow the crowds in doing wrong.

I pray today that God will reveal to you what is right and wrong; that God will show you when the crowd is going the wrong direction; that God will give you strength to follow Him; and that you will live a life that represents Jesus to this world.

Revelation 14:9-10 Receiving The Mark

“A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.” Revelation 14:9-10

In his vision John sees some angels who cry out some warnings. God is starting to pour out His wrath upon those who have chosen not to follow Him. The third angel points out that anyone who worships the beast or takes its mark on the forehead will also receive God’s wrath.

There are many debates as to who the who the beast could be and what the mark is. There are also many debates as to when this beast could arrive on the earth. I do not want to debate all that.

One thing that is certain is that Satan has been called a beast. He is out to get every person to follow him and will use whatever is necessary to accomplish that goal.

Satan is active today. He is willing to put his stamp on anyone who wants to serve him. That stamp is one of sin. The list of ways a person can sin is too numerous to count. The world is always coming up with a new way to sin against God.

The focus of Satan and the world is to get you to not follow God. They want to get your eyes off of Jesus. If they can succeed in that, they have won.

Most people will say that they would never accept the mark of the beast. Yet, they live their lives as though Jesus had done nothing for them.

When you go through your day, how many times are you doing something for Jesus?

And how many times are you just doing it for yourself? Doing it for yourself is what Satan wants you to do. It got your focus off of Jesus. In essence you have accepted the mark of the beast in your life.

Whose image are you representing today? That of Jesus or that of the world?

I pray today that you will know what Jesus has done for you; that you will turn away from the lies of the devil and this world; that you will do everything for Jesus; and that you will represent Jesus to this world.