Wednesday, January 6, 2021

2021: The Last Days

 "You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.  For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.  They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.  They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.  

They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!"

2 Tim 3:1-5

God wants us to understand that in the last days, there will be very difficult times. This goes against everything in me as I LOVE COMFORT

Even last night, I got in my comfy bed with Tim under my electric blanket and said, "ahhhhhh, I LOVE comfort."

After 2020, I think I love comfort even more! Nothing about 2020 felt comfortable or familiar. Walking around a world of people in masks who are terrified of getting close to you due to a Chinese virus that may have been developed in a lab, feels like a sci-fi movie. A Presidential election with fraud written all over it, feels like a sci-fi movie. The streets of Washington filled with millions of hard-working Americans who just want to protect the freedoms God so mercifully gave us, feels like a weird dream. 

We are watching our freedoms being assaulted and stolen. 

Our comfort zones are slipping and we are realizing that Jesus Christ really is our stability. 

"HE will be the stability of your times"

Isaiah 33:6


2 Tim gives us a picture of the other things we are seeing. It is so WILD how prophetically accurate the Bible is.

The part of this verse I want to talk about is the "religious" crowd. 

I grew up in the Bible belt. 

I grew up going to Church. 

A Church that had a lot of problems. (There were some amazing people there! There are amazing people in every Church, I think!)

But there were shady relationships between secretaries and the pastor that caused multiple splits. Prideful leadership. "Platform" was the goal. 

It took great courage to question leadership so sin was overlooked for years. Sin was minimized or labeled as an "emotional affair" and for some reason, those aren't that big of a deal in the Church.  (BTW, It is never just an "emotional affair"). After so many years of controversy, the pastor would eventually leave and go start another ministry in another town. It would take YEARS for the Church to heal and regain strength. 

I really didn't want much to do with Church after seeing the messy hypocrisy and "religion".

It wasn't until I had a personal encounter with the Lord in college that changed me forever. I couldn't believe I could know Jesus! I couldn't believe He knew me and still loved me! I couldn't believe the grace and forgiveness I found that night. He placed a calling on my life and put His Spirit inside me! 

God was so faithful to plop me into the home of a pastor and his wife who loved God and loved me. They have discipled me for over 20 years. They taught me how to walk with God and to trust His Word. They taught me how to listen to the voice of the Spirit and know the difference between the spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. Not that I am invincible. I still have major blind spots but I am so thankful that I was taught how to walk with God. How to march in step with His Spirit. Not worshiping Church but worshiping God. 

My mentors taught me if the Church where you are going gets weird, you leave. Your allegiance is to Jesus Christ and His Word. He said if one well of water gets muddy, God will spring forth clean water somewhere else. 

The spirit of religion is still alive and well in the South. One of the good things about this past year is that it has exposed where the Spirit is at work. Where the Spirit is at work, ministry went on. You cannot stop a minister of God who is compelled to do the work of God. If ministry is able to shut down, it wasn't of the Lord. The Word of God cannot be chained (2 Tim 2:9). If Shepherds no longer care about their sheep, they aren't true shepherds. There is a powerful passage in Ezekiel 34 about this:

“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:  As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, you abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal. And though you were my shepherds, you didn’t search for my sheep when they were lost. You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve.  Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord.  This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I now consider these shepherds my enemies, and I will hold them responsible for what has happened to my flock. I will take away their right to feed the flock, and I will stop them from feeding themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths; the sheep will no longer be their prey.
 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day.  I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where people live.  Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in the lush pastures of the hills.  I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord.  I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. 
I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak.

2020 definitely felt like a dark and cloudy day where the sheep were scattered. Shepherds were more concerned with disinfectant than the sheep starving and being eaten alive by wild animals. I'm not trying to be harsh because I get it,  I panicked too in the beginning. Nobody knew how to respond to this. But almost a year later, we should be way past the initial shock and focused on the search and rescue of the sheep... instead of disinfecting ourselves. Suicide, depression, and divorce are skyrocketing. It is time to go after the scattered sheep. The wild animals definitely are while the shepherds are in endless meetings.

The key in continuing to serve during such difficult days is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will empower us to go into all the world sharing the gospel, even when we should be afraid. The Holy Spirit will compel us to do ministry even when the world's voice says it is too dangerous. 

A religious spirit hates the things of the Holy Spirit. It's job is to frustrate the work of God. A religious spirit may be a Bible Teaching Ninja but totally disconnected from the heart of God. A religious spirit is more concerned about programs than prayer A religious spirit spends months in meetings while the work of God is never MET. A religious spirit needs to be in visible leadership and have control over decisions. A religious spirit HATES being questioned and flips it around to make you look divisive. A religious spirit condemns. A religious spirit does not understand grace. A religious spirit is always breeding ground for secret sin and eventually manifests in scandal. A religious spirit fights to protect reputation instead of fighting the Lord's battles. A religious spirit squelches the people of God and the Spirit who is at work in them. A religious spirit causes people to burn out. A religious spirit causes depression because the burden is TOO HEAVY. 

2 Tim 3 says to social distance from religious people! to stay away from them. It is for freedom that God has set you free. Don't be enslaved again! There is no time to be tangled up with a spirit of religion. 

Jesus was very direct about dealing with "religion" in the Church. He had not patience with it. 

It is a counterfeit with ZERO power. 

How do you know where the Holy Spirit is at work?

Look for FRUIT. 

Look for JOY. Look for wholeness. Look for discipleship and shepherds who truly care about the sheep. Look for strong families. Look for depth. Look for fruit in ministry, lives being changed. Look for GRACE. Look for ministry. Look for freedom. Look for a place you can serve. Look for places were fruitful ministry went forward in 2020 (that is a big clue). Look for humility, approachability, and transparency in leadership.

I believe we are going to see miracles in these last days. The days are going to be difficult but the Spirit is going to be poured out in a way we have never seen before. The harvest is RIPE and the workers are few. Lately, my days have been filled with counseling the hurting, sharing the gospel, begging people to be reconciled to God (especially teenagers), cooking dinners for people who need a safe place, and asking God to continually fill me with His Spirit. 

We need wisdom for these dark days. No doubt, we are living in a crooked and perverse generation!

But that is when we SHINE!!! Hold fast to God's Word and watch the strobe light!!!!

"children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,  holding fast the word of life" 

Phil 2:15

I cannot encourage you strongly enough to stay connected with the body of Christ. Find out where the Spirit of God is working and join in the work. Social distance yourself from religious spirits. I believe they are way more dangerous than Covid. 

Study the what the Word says about the Holy Spirit!

"Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives."

Gal 5

The Holy Spirit is going to get us through these dark days and empower us to have fruitful ministry! Earnestly seek the gifts of the Spirit and ask Him to continually fill you with His Spirit to do His work! You will see MIRACLES. Because it is supernatural, dynamite power! 

You plug your phone in every night! 

Plug your SELF in to the power source of heaven!

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere"

Acts 1:8

No comments: