(Photo: Passion of the Christ from Twentieth-Century Fox)
A sequel to Mel Gibson’s 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ” about the crucifixion of Jesus is reportedly in the works and will be the biggest movie ever created, an actor told USA Today.
Jim Caviezel, 49, who will reprise the role of Jesus, gave few details about the film, but made the prediction because the movie will be “that good.”
“There are things that I cannot say that will shock the audience,” said Caviezel, who also said he was inspired by Gibson. “It’s great. Stay tuned.”
Gibson told USA Today in 2016, “The Resurrection. Big subject. Oh, my God. We’re trying to craft this in a way that’s cinematically compelling and enlightening so that it shines new light, if possible, without creating some weird thing.”
Upon its release, “The Passion of the Christ” was the highest-grossing R-rated film in North America, generating $611 million worldwide on a $30 million budget.
Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” was the highest-grossing R-rated film in North America upon its release, generating $611 million worldwide on a $30 million budget.
Gibson said in an interview last year that the film is going to focus on the Resurrection.
“Of course, that’s a very big subject and it needs to be looked at because we don’t want to just do a simple rendering of it — you know, read what happened,” the actor added.
“Passion of the Christ” screenwriter Randall Wallace told The Hollywood Reporter that “there’s a lot more story to tell.”
Caviezel, who hasn’t acted in a biblical film since then, will portray Luke in “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” slated for a March 28 release.
Joy More Contagious Than the Winter Flu
“Joy is like jam. You can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself.”
Everyone is looking for joy. Marketing companies know this. Every commercial promises the same product: joy. Want some joy? Buy our hand cream. Want some joy? Sleep on this mattress. Want some joy? Eat at this restaurant, drive this car, wear this dress. Every commercial portrays the image of a joy-filled person. Even Preparation H. (LOL) Before using the product, the guy frowns and squirms in his chair. Afterwards, he is the image of joy.
Joy. Everyone wants it. Everyone promises it. But can anyone deliver it? It might surprise you to know that joy is a big topic in the Bible. Simply put: God wants his children to be joy-filled. Just like a father wants his baby to laugh with glee, God longs for us to experience a deep-seated, deeply rooted joy.
The joy offered by God joy is different than the one promised at the car dealership or shopping mall. God is not interested in putting a temporary smile on your face. He wants to deposit a resilient hope in your heart. He has no interest in giving you a shallow happiness that melts in the heat of adversity. But he does offer you a joy: a deep-seated, heart-felt, honest-to-goodness, ballistic strong sense of joy that can weather the most difficult of storms.
Peter referred to this joy in the opening words of his epistle.
“Though you have not seen him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls”
(I Peter 1:8-9 ).
Who was Peter addressing when he spoke of unspeakable joy? He was speaking “To God’s chosen people who are away from their homes and are scattered all around the countries of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (I Pet. 1:1). Peter was speaking to persecuted Christians–people who had been driven from their cities, separated from their families. Their rights had been taken. Their property had been taken. Their possessions had been taken. Their futures had been taken, but their joy had not been taken. Why? Go back to Peter’s Epistle again- this time in another translation: “You have never seen Jesus and you don’t see him now. But still you love him and have faith in Him” (I Pet. 1:8). The source of their joy? Jesus! And since no one could take their Jesus, no one could take their joy.
What about you? What has been taken from you? Your health? Your house? Have you buried a dream? Have you buried a marriage? Buried a friend? As you look at these burial plots of life, is your joy buried there, too?
If so, you may have substituted courageous joy for contingent joy. Contingent joy is “IF joy.” It always dependent upon a circumstance. Contingent joy says I’ll be happen when…or…I’ll be happy if. I’ll be happy when I have a new house or a new spouse. I’ll be happy when I’m healed or when I’m home. Contingent joy depends upon the right circumstance. Since we cannot control every circumstance, we set ourselves up for disappointment.
Envision the person who buys into the lie of contingent joy. As a young person they assume, if I get a car, I’ll be happy. They get the car, but the car wears out. They look for joy elsewhere. If I get married, I’ll be happy. So they get married, then disappointed. The spouse cannot deliver. This goes on through a series of attempts. If I get the new job… if I can retire… If we just had a baby. In each case, joy comes, then diminishes.
By the time this person reaches old age, he has ridden a roller coaster of hope and disappointment. He becomes sour and fearful. Contingent joy turns us into wounded people.
Courageous joy, however, turns us into strong people. Courageous joy sets the hope of the heart on Jesus and Jesus alone. Since no one can take your Christ, no one can take your joy. It’s supernatural. It’s not of this world. It’s a gift from God and the birthright of every born again child of God.
Think about it. Can death take your joy? No, because Jesus is greater than death.
Can failure take your joy? No, because Jesus is greater than your sin.
Can betrayal take your joy? No, because Jesus will never leave you.
Can sickness take your joy? No, because God has promised– whether on this side of the grave or the other–to heal you.
Can disappointment take your joy? No, because though your plan may not work out, you know God’s plan will.
Death, failure, betrayal, sickness, disappointment. They cannot take your joy, because they cannot take your Jesus. And Jesus promised, “No one will take away your joy” (Jn. 16:22).
Is that to say your life will be storm-free? Is that to say no sorrows will come your way? No. “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). Is that to say you will never cross the drylands of sorrow? No. But that is to say your sorrow will not last forever; “Your grief will turn to joy” (Jn. 16:20).
Courageously joyful people have done the same. They have anchored their hearts to the shoreline of God. Will the boat rock? Yes. Will moods come and go? No doubt. But will they be left adrift on the Atlantic of despair? No, for they have found a joy which remains courageous through the storm. And this courageous joy is quick to become a contagious joy.
Christians of the New Testament church were not known for their buildings or denominations or programs. They were known for their joy. “They ate together in their homes, happy to share their food with joyful hearts. They praised God and were liked by all people” (Acts 2:46-47).
The early Christians were joyful Christians. In fact you might argue that there is no other type. In the purest sense, the phrase joyful Christian is redundant. We shouldn’t need the adjective. We don’t put the word dead in front of cadaver or wet in front of water or handsome in front of David (Just kidding.) Ideally, we shouldn’t have to put joyful in front of Christian.
But we do. We do because we tend to major in contingent joy and not courageous joy. But God can change that.
Assess your joy level right now: Are you joyless? Do you spread more pessimism than you do hope? If so, God can help you. Grimness is not a Christian virtue.
Believe that joy is possible!
Don’t give in to despair. What Jesus said to his followers, he says to you. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).
Be open to the possibility of a joy from heaven. Joy may be elusive, but it is never gone. Sometimes it just takes some work.
Anxiety thrives in the petri dish of if only. It doesn’t survive in the world of already. For that reason, treat each anxious thought with a grateful one.
Take a moment and follow Jesus example. Look at your blessings. The Bible says, “For the JOY set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame…”
Do you see any friends? Family? Do you see any grace from God? Love of God? Do you see any gifts? Abilities or talents? Skills?
As you look at your blessings, take note of what happens. Sorrow grabs his bags and slips out the back door. Unhappiness refuses to share a heart with gratitude. One heartfelt thank you will suck the oxygen out of its world. So say it often.
Who is to say God won’t give the same to you? Why don’t you call out to Him?
Ask God, “Lord, what is separating me from joy? What have I allowed to steal the fullness of my joy I should be experiencing from You?”
Ask Him to replace your contingent joy with courageous joy. Ask Him to help you anchor to the firm rock on his shoreline. Ask Him to show you the joy that cannot be taken. He will. He will stir a revival of contagious joy in your heart.
Kristin Hugo, Newsweek Magazine
January 25, 2018
A third earthquake struck near Lytle Creek, California, registering a 2.5 on the Richter scale. Trabuco Canyon, which is close to Lytle Creek, registered 4.0. Both cities are near Los Angeles.
The northernmost earthquake, closest to Eureka, registered a 5.8 on the Richter scale. However, because it hit 100 miles off the coastline, the vibrations were not as strong when they reached land. ABC7 reports that residents of Ferndale, California, in Humboldt County, felt the earthquake, but there are currently no reports of damage or injuries.
Picture: California from above. The state was rocked by earthquakes on Thursday. NASA
According to the USGS, when the earthquake hit at 8:39 a.m., the ripples of seismic activity reached from the southern coast of Oregon to nearly Ukiah, California, about 400 miles away.
Over the past seven days, California has experienced 15 earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater up and down the state, including two that hit off the coast in the Pacific Ocean.
Many of the tremors occurred near or along the San Andreas fault, where tectonic plates shift along the western edge of the state. The San Andreas fault is known to be particularly prone to earthquakes, and scientists believe that it will someday rock the state with “The Big One.“
Smaller earthquakes often precede bigger ones, but it’s hard to say whether this activity is indicative of a bigger earthquake to come, and if so, when.
Underwater seismic activity can sometimes cause tsunamis, which can cause major destruction when they reach land. The National Tsunami Warning Center tweeted that the earthquake off the coast of Northern California is not expected to cause a tsunami.
The California coast is part of the “Ring of Fire,” an area where there are an abnormal number of underwater volcanoes. Made up of the Pacific coastline of the U.S., Asia and the Pacific Islands, this area is prone to earthquakes.
Earthquakes in Biblical Literature
Earthquakes and other cataclysmic events often carry theophanic significance in Scripture, demonstrating God’s awesome power. At Mount Sinai the LORD’s presence was indicated by smoke and the shaking of the mountain (Exod. 19:18; cf. 1 Kings 19:1151 ; Ps. 68:8; Job 9:6; Hab. 3:6). When the New Testament church prayed “the place where they had gathered together was shaken” and the Spirit’s presence was manifested (Acts 4:31). Paul and Silas were freed when God’s power and presence was manifested in an earthquake (Acts 16:26). The most unusual earthquakes were associated with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. When Christ died on the cross, an earthquake shook the temple and rent the curtain of the temple from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51). No human agency rolled away the stone that sealed Christ’s tomb; it was the angel in the presence of the earthquake (Matt. 28:2).
More specifically, many seismic theophanies are manifestations of God’s anger and righteous judgment (cf. 1 Sam. 14:15; Ps. 18:7,8; Isa. 5:25; 13:13; 29:6; Joel 3:16; Amos 1:1,2; 8:7,8; Mic. 1:3-7; Nah. 1:5,6; Hag. 2:6, 21). The Day of the LORD is the most elaborate judgment motif of Scripture. That day is without fail marked by earthquakes and associated celestial disturbances (Isa. 2:19, 21; 13:13; 24:18; 29:5-6; Ezek. 38:19-22; Joel 2:10; Zech. 14:4, 5). For example, Isaiah’s description of the destruction of Babylon has cosmic overtones:
“Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble,
. . . And the earth will be shaken from its place
At the fury of the LORD of hosts
. . . In the day of His burning anger.” (Isa. 13:13).
Yet during the awesome shakedown of heaven and earth, “The LORD will have compassion on Jacob” (Isa. 14:1), and all creation will recognize God’s working (Isa. 14:3-8). When Israel is attacked by the armies of Gog, those armies are demolished at the decree of the LORD by earthquake and cosmic hailstones (Ezek. 38:17-23). Zechariah is even more explicit about the extraordinary geologic upheaval in the Holy Land associated with the Day of the LORD. A final earthquake at the LORD’s return will split the Mount of Olives, uplift Jerusalem on its site, and depress the surrounding Judean Mountains (Zech. 14:1-10).
Earthquakes are also associated with God’s self-revelation in the eschatology of the book of Hebrews (Heb. 12:25-29). The author warns his readers not to refuse to heed the God who speaks as he spoke at Sinai (“And His voice shook the earth then,” Heb. 12:26; cf. Exod. 19:18). The author then passes through history from Sinai to the promise of a great cosmic upheaval of the end time (“Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven,” Heb. 12:26; cf. Hag. 2:6). God’s ultimate purpose is to give believers “a kingdom which cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:28) so that the faithful, having perceived his extraordinary power, can “offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:28).
Such passages provide the eschatological backdrop for the book of Revelation, where earthquakes are symbols of God’s final judgment upon the earth. They appear as climactic judgments throughout the book, producing terror, awe and destruction among the earth’s inhabitants. Five earthquakes are described. These are at the opening of the sixth and seventh seals (6:12; 8:5), just before and after the seventh trumpet (11:13, 19), and during the seventh bowl (16:18). This last earthquake is identified as the greatest ever on earth (16:18), splitting Jerusalem into three parts and destroying the cities of the nations.
Although demonstrating the awesome power and presence of God, these passages do not necessarily indicate an increase in earthquakes in the present age, but a greater severity of the earthquakes when they do happen. For those who follow the Book of Revelation, the worst earthquakes occur during the Great Tribulation, not before it. They are not the sole precursors to the Day of the LORD, but evidence of its imminent presence.
Jesus Talks About Signs of His Return
Our primary concern is with the first part of the discourse, where Jesus warns against being deceived by false Christs or being alarmed at wars, rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes:
And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” (Matt. 24:4-8)
Eschatological Birth Pains
Jesus’ statement suggests an increase in famine and earthquake activity is the final clause, “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs (hwdíneß)” (Matt. 24:8). Because birth pains begin small and then increase in intensity and frequency, this passage could be interpreted to mean that earthquakes will start small and infrequent and gradually increase. When they reach their greatest severity and frequency, they will give birth to the new age.
The image of eschatological birth pains was not new with Jesus, but was a common one in Jewish apocalyptic and later rabbinic writings. The “Messianic woes” or “birth pains of the Messiah” referred to a period of suffering that would immediately precede the coming of the Messianic age. The primary conceptual significance of this image was that the pain would not only increase in intensity, but also the present period of suffering would be followed by the joy of new birth (i.e., salvation and restoration). Pain will give way to rejoicing for those who persevere and keep their faith to the end.
The Apostle Paul uses the birth image elsewhere to illustrate the abruptness of the arrival of the Day of the LORD. It will be unexpected “like a thief in the night” and “like labor pains” on a pregnant woman (1 Thes. 5:2,3). Paul’s two images are reminiscent, of course, of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:8,43,44). Obviously, Paul is not saying here that we can predict our Lord’s appearance by noting precursor birth pains, but that the very occurrence of them should serve as “cosmic reminders” that God is bringing our world to a climatic end and a new beginning in which all creation will be totally restored, renewed and resurrected to a glory even greater it’s original divine design. When Heaven literally comes to earth one day (Revelation 21:1-8), it will eclipse in grandeur, beauty and eternal brilliance even the untouched pristine loveliness of the Garden of Eden, as the Scriptures teach.
Jesus’ statement, “all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs” (Matt. 24:8), has been understood to imply that pain would increase steadily in time. The birth image associated Jesus made here precedes Paul’s understanding of creation’s pain (Romans 8:18-25) is that earth’s pain will grow steadily worse and the present period of suffering will provoke an eager longing for the new birth and the consummation of the coming age. The author of Hebrews sees a similar hope, anticipating a future “sign” of increasing earthquake activity with the coming of a sudden cosmic cataclysm producing a “kingdom which cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:28).
This is precisely why Jesus clearly encourages us to “not be alarmed” at these worldwide phenomenal happening now. We should, however, be reminded that we must be prepared for His return, or our death, because neither is known by anyone except God. We must live lives of “intentional purpose” where we seek to glorify God in all we do. He is the One who controls what happens, when it happens, how it happens. Living with a healthy fear and respect of the Almighty is just good wisdom, not only for our temporal lives on earth, but our eternal existence, when our lives here are over.
This is crucial for us to recognize and understand, for while these things may be terrifying, they are also signs that Jesus is coming. His people should not faint with fear but instead look up in hope and joy that His return is imminent. This earthquake activity is also proof positive of the words of the Bible as we see the prophecies unfold.
So do not fear earthquakes. Do not tremble at the thought of these things, but correctly perceive them for what they are; cosmic signs from God that our world has a rendezvous with destiny. Rather than be in fear, look up in hope knowing your salvation is more near at hand than you and I actually perceive today. The Lord has given His people many signs so that they can stop, assess and consider how to be ready for His return. Earthquakes are compelling and powerful signs that He is bringing His work to completion. Our role is to listen to and heed the warnings so that we are prepared. In the end, we will either be prepared and blessed forever or not prepared and eternally regretful on a dreadful scale beyond the worst adjectives of human language.
To be sure, the church has suffered from enough embarrassment by sincere, but sadly mistaken television prophecy teachers that try and set dates for an apocalypse. I personally cringe every time I run across a wild-eyed, frenzied preacher, teacher or writer that abuses Scripture to try and sell their books. The truth of the Bible, as it is written, is sensational and jarring enough without us needing to add anything to it. “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
Granted, when we tolerate unbelief and sin in our lives, it has a mysterious way of making us insensitive to God and giving us a scary false sense of security that is not only deceptive but extremely risky, especially in the unpredictable world we live in today where we never know what may happen next. We must always live with a “sense of alertness.” God created us for more than just pleasure, more than just paying bills and dying. He created us to live for Him as we allow Him to live in and through us.
The Apostle Paul neatly sums up what he means by “alert living” in his words to the Christians at Rome:
“This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.” (Romans 13:11-14)
My friends, thank you for taking the time to read this post. I pray it has spoken to your heart in a special way that will encourage you to seek God. Please know that I pray for all of you daily that God would impart His supernatural grace you need to not only be blessed, but to grow in your knowledge, love and obedience to Christ.
Please feel free to share this blog with your friends or family. We welcome all.
Until next time, may the Lord bless you, keep you, make His favor shine upon you and give you His peace!
David Crews, Ph.D.
Someone once wrote, “God’s love for us is like the ocean, we can see only the surface, but we cannot perceive it’s great depth.”
“Love”…. is a word carelessly tossed about today in many movies, books, and the internet. Sadly, it’s real identity continues to be obscured. In many ways, it’s been trashed by so many attempts to use it describe just about anything a company can possibly market. However, in Christ, we see God radically redefining love to be “cross-shaped” rather than our cultural “heart-shaped” images.
To be sure, we learn that it is only in Christ where “love” losses it’s confusing cultural baggage but gains a cosmic, pristine beauty which takes everything we think we know about love to new, dizzying, heights of heavenly glory reserved only for those who deeply long to experience love “on a whole, new level.” Growing in Christ means growing in the love of God. (I Corinthians 13), the famous love chapter, strips the common misnomers away from our minds the more we seek after God and reorient our lives to His will, as followers of Christ today.
How wonderful is this love that brings healing instead of the typical hurt from shattered relationships that leave us broken! From the hopelessly saccharin overtones of the secular world’s attempt to personify love, God turns all that on it’s head, and shows us that it isn’t saccharin, but sacrifice that underlines the greatest love a human being can ever know. As God opens our eyes to His holy love, the way we see everything and everybody in our world suddenly deepens, enriches and adds a dimension of color we never knew existed before. We become warmly “embraced” by His magnificent love which transcends all rational explanation, confounding the critics, but cherished as a priceless treasure to those fortunate, blessed ones who simply cannot dispute it’s reality because they experience it everyday.
Yet, a supernatural miracle begins to take place, once God brings us to the cross of Christ; His love “informs” our very being and we slowly begin to see our love for Him and others “transformed” by His indwelling Holy Spirit. Interestingly, as we continue to seek God, through His Word and resolve to do His will in our lives, we become increasingly “conformed” God’s cross-shaped sacrificial, unconditional love. It is there that the unbelieving cynical, postmodern world, which seeks to dismiss God as incredibly irrelevant, begins to sit up and take notice at God’s kindness, mercy and compassion flowing out of us to others for no other reason except God’s own glory. Clueless and confused as most are, it never ceases to grab their attention if for no other reason than it’s highly observable contrast to everything else which seeks to call itself “love.”
Is there anything more needed in a world today with a bone-chilling lack of respect for others? In a world where people are pre-judged by Twitter tweets and social media, often cruelly, could anything be more important than the understanding and spread of real love for others? In a world more concerned with dramatic showboating of one’s cause, whether it be feminism, racism or political ploys, than with demonstrating a selfless concern for others who differ in their views, will we ever know what love is, much less be able to experience it?
Good questions for a world and a nation, like America, at this hour in history when violence, mass-shootings and continued sexual allegations dominate our headlines. I believe that we have proven to ourselves there is no hope for hope outside of the God of all hope; the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to clearly show us how our Creator God defines the one thing we humans think we have already; real love. Probably, the most visible picture of selfless love is seen in the undying devotion of a loving mother towards her child. Yet, as beautiful as that is, it desperately fails to encompass the absolute perfection and depth of God’s eternal love for us seen in and through the giving of the life of His only Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
But, where can we start? At His cross. When we realize we have caused God more trouble and heartache than others have toward us, forgiveness, patience and peace will fill us with the same mercy God has shown toward us. It is only when we see “our sin” on “His Son” that Christianity unveils it’s true identity; not as a religion, but a personal relationship with Jesus. This is what we need to grasp. This is who He wants us to become. This is Who He is; love, unconditional, unearned, undeserved and unusual in a world that feels it can do without it. This love heals our deepest hurts and saves us from ourselves. Best of all, He is extending that same love to you, right now, who have never known it or wish to know it for yourselves deeper than ever before.
Dive into His ocean of love today! But, don’t ever expect to find bottom. His love is eternally bottomless and immediately available. The Water is perfect.
“This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (I John 4:10)
When you wake up in the morning and don’t know what to pray for, here’s an idea; turn your worry list into your prayer list.
What is bugging you now? What concerns are on your mind? A relationship? Your job? Finances? Your health? A problem you’re having at home? A needed exercise program? Hoping to get married one day? A personal, spiritual struggle? Your children? Grandchildren? Your husband? The future? The salvation of someone you love? All of us deal with anxious thoughts daily. However, there’s a better way.
God tells us in His Word, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness and peace, everything coming together for your good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (Philippians 4:6-7, The Message).
Shape your worries into prayers! Whatever is troubling you, be it a minor irritation to a major fear, talk to God about it. He cares, He’s interested in hearing from you and He wants to help you. No have nothing to lose except your anxiety and everything to gain including God’s deep sense of peace. Because we will either worry about it or pray about it. If we pray about it, we won’t worry about it. So, we have a choice; pray or worry.
When we are praying about our concerns, we leave them at the feet of Jesus. We can trust He will work everything out. He is our Burden-Bearer and His shoulders can bear what ours cannot. Every time the anxiety and worry returns, we just lift them up, with praise, to our God and He fills our hearts with the inner security and peace we crave.
Jesus did not just come to save our eternal souls. He came to give us “life and that more abundantly.” Allow the Lord Jesus Christ to help you with your daily schedule, goals and dreams. He knows the good plans He has for us. We cannot go wrong when we are seeking the right way in Him.
One Sunday morning, a Pastor was preaching on the fact that when we start living for Christ, our bodies are the “temple of the Holy Spirit and belong to God, not ourselves” in (I Corinthians 6:19). So he decided to get creative and use a visual demonstration to add emphasis to his Sunday sermon using “earthworms” to represent living things, like our bodies, that sin can harm.
Four worms were placed into four separate jars.
The first worm was put into a container of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.
The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke.
The third worm was put into a container of Hershey’s chocolate syrup.
The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil.
At the conclusion of the sermon, the Minister reported the following results:
The first worm in alcohol . . .Dead
The second worm in cigarette smoke . . .Dead .
Third worm in chocolate syrup. . . Dead.
Fourth worm in good clean soil
. . .Alive and Doing Fine!
So the preacher asked the congregation, “What did you learn from this demonstration?”
Suddenly…..Maxine, a sweet little elderly woman, was sitting in the back, quickly raised her hand and said . . .“I know Preacher! As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate….you won’t have worms!”
Millions of sincere Americans have made positive New Year resolutions to lose weight, cut back on this or that. According to the latest studies, however, after a couple of months, most people fall back on their regular routines and their resolutions end.
“May I suggest a better idea?”
Begin to view your body as the “living temple of God’s Holy Spirit.” Start to visualize taking the best, most healthy care of God’s Temple, for more than just a New Year’s resolution or vanity, but because God has given you a great gift and He trusts you to respect your body and give Him the most glory by honoring Him with it. His Holy Spirit has literally taken up residence in your body, as a follower of Jesus, just as He promised.
Understand, the Son of God came to us in a human body. Our bodies are sacred, they are not evil. They deserve to be treated with holy respect. Christianity is not just a faith of the soul, but faith of the body. We come to Christ with our minds, hearts…..and bodies. This is how we honor God. Our bodies witness the truth of Christ to an unbelieving world all around us.
The writer Elizabeth Elliot said, “We cannot come to God with our minds and keep our bodies to ourselves.“
Every year there are scientists, business moguls, psychics, soothsayers, fortune-tellers and even some preachers who attempt to foretell what we can expect in the coming year. And, in that regard, 2018 is no exception.
Some leading scientists, for example, are saying that in 2018 they will begin testing reverse aging techniques on humans after having success with mice. Others contend that within the next year aquaculture will provide the majority of the world’s seafood. It is also predicted that the James Webb Space Telescope will be launched into orbit to discover liquid water on other planets.
Business tycoons say that in the future businesses like Amazon and Alibaba won’t replace shopping malls, but will merge with them creating “smart stores” that will have supercomputers that know everything about their customers and sales representatives better trained and educated than those found in today’s retail environments. The future technology will make shopping at physical stores feel as seamless as shopping online.
Psychic medium Kelle Sutliff predicts that a major news outlet will be hit with a huge defamation lawsuit that will almost ruin its network and this suit will shape up all news media. Sutliff also predicts that President Trump’s tweets will calm down and he will continually be investigated until year 3 when his detractors give up trying to incriminate him, because of their failed attempts in the past. She also declares that more cover-ups will be found on the Clintons in 2018.
In sports, Darron J. Phillips of the New York Daily News has stated that “Oklahoma will defeat Georgia in the semi-final round of the NCAA Football National Championship game and that they will also beat Alabama in the final game.” And, Baker Mayfield will “plant the OU flag in the middle of the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.” As a big fan of Alabama, I will have to say I disagree on his prediction. Roll Tide!
Phillips further predicts the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl, Duke will win the NCAA Basketball Final Four Championship and the New York Yankees will win the World Series.
Jamie Greenbean, pastor of a Baptist Church in Central Texas, makes predictions every year and has announced his belief that two or three mega-churches will close their doors in 2018, beginning the coming wave of emphasis upon small, neighborhood, community churches.
I have no particular insight or overwhelming inclination toward prophesying what may happen in 2018. And I need no other reason than the one given in (Deuteronomy 18:20-22) where it is decreed that if a prophet fails in his prophecy, he must be put to death. (Seriously, it really says that!) I have a funny feeling, if that was enforced, there might be a few less “prophetic predictions.” But, that’s only a prediction (smiles).
Recently, I have been asked about the most important thing I am praying for in 2018. If you would like to know, here it is; that God’s people will feel the burden for our critical need to unite in prayer for America and our churches.
Church leaders from across the United States tell us that many church members have become lukewarm and are not that concerned about our predicament now. Studies reveal that the majority of church members are attending Bible study opportunities and worship services less frequently. Evangelism has been put on the back burner. Membership in most mainline denominations is terribly hemorrhaging at an alarming degree. The standards for church membership have been lowered to make church more seeker-friendly. Compromise has replaced commitment in many cases. The church is seriously losing its influence in the community. Media talk show hosts constantly crack jokes about the lack of difference in the lifestyle of Christians versus non-Christians today, even to the point of embarrassment. America desperately needs now a historic spiritual awakening and our churches need a God-sent renewal, an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit.
Predictions are a calculated risk at best; but prayers link you with an omnipotent God with whom nothing is impossible. In studying great moves of God and spiritual awakenings in history, I can attest that the power behind them all rested with God’s people crying out to Him in prayer, “If My people who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:17).
Will you join the hundreds of thousands of concerned believers, like me, who are standing together, uniting our prayers for a spiritual awakening of epic proportions for America? God has clearly promised that IF we will meet His demands, then He WILL HEAL our land. It’s that simple. This promise from the Old Testament is just as relevant today as it was back then. God has not changed. Jesus Christ “is the same yesterday, today and forever.” It’s going to take us getting on our knees in humility and interceding for this land. A simple, “Thank You Lord for this food we ask You to bless” is not going to cut it. God wants to know how serious we are about seeing Him move in our generation. I think it’s time to show Him we mean business, Amen?
That is why you and I must “have a burden” (or deep concern) for God to move in order for us to pray. If you don’t have that, I ask you to ask God to help you have that concern because whenever God’s people urgently, desperately need God to act—you don’t have to beg them to pray. Think about the times in your life you cried out to God (impending death of a loved one, a child, a friend in trouble, financial need, etc). God is seeking His people to have the same deep concern for this country as we do our own crisis that we face.
I am confident you and I do share this same concern over what is happening right in front of our eyes. We don’t have to “take this lying down” as they say, nor will we either. It’s time, now in 2018, for God’s people to rise up and do battle with the spiritual enemies of our land that are relentlessly attacking our government, our churches, our schools, our families and our hopes for the future. We do this spiritual battle on our knees my friends (Ephesians 6).
Habakkuk, the Old Testament prophet of Judah, was in a similar situation. Judah had drifted away from the holy God of their fathers. He realized the people, in their affluence, pride, sin and self-interest, had turned away from God. He sensed God was ready to discipline His people, but rather than ask for escape from correction, Habakkuk accepted God’s will that Judah needed to learn a lesson about respecting God, as they once did. Yet, through it all, he pleaded for God to help their nation as He did in the past.
“I have heard all about you, LORD. I am filled with awe by Your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as You did in years gone by. And in Your anger, remember Your mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).
May I challenge you to ask God to discern the areas of spiritual need He desires you to be open to change in your own life, first? If our prayers are to be the most effective and powerful, we must first be willing to change what needs to be changed in our lives. Our Heavenly Father deeply loves us and is grieved when we gloss over our own sins thinking everyone else needs God more than we do. The Psalmist David knew this fact first hand when he wrote;
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of Everlasting Life” (Psalm 139:23-24).
For 2018: Predictions or Prayer—-I choose prayer and I sincerely hope you will too!
Wishing all my reader friends, both new and those I have known some time, a blessed and most prosperous 2018 New Year! Thank you for partnering with me as I obey God’s call on my life to teach God’s people the riches of His Word as we together grow deeper in our personal relationship to our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. We are here to serve one another in the love of Christ and I am committed to helping you move forward with God’s plan for your life in 2018. Please stay tuned for new developments to unfold throughout this new year.