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There is a supreme urgency in knowing and accepting that God is at work today in your life. However, as you scan your own personal circumstances, you may perhaps be so inundated with messages to the contrary that you may not only doubt such a claim but even scorn it. Even from within your own heart, you may contend with such emotions of doubt, bitterness, and hopelessness that the very idea that God is working in your life has never occurred to you.

Nevertheless, it is urgent that you know and accept that God is at work today in your life. It is imperative that you understand that as the Awesome Architect laid out His plans for the Cosmos and perceived all that would be included in the great story of the world, you were on His mind and in His heart. Not only that, but as the Eternal Engineer harnessed all energies and ordered all matter that swirled through the inconceivably vast expanse of the universes, He already knew you by name and had secured for you a place of significance and unimaginable worth.

And so, as Jesus proclaims the eternally profound declaration that “My Father is working until now, and I am working…” (John 5:17 ESV), you would do well to reflect on what such a revelation may mean for you even as you read this.

Even if the discouraging fumes of the world’s cynicism were to waft in your nostrils right now and you scoffed, “He isn’t working in MY life,” you could not escape the fact that He has promised that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Though one might attempt to turn that promise aside as he laments that “it can’t possibly mean me; I haven’t really done much to show any love for God,” he cannot escape the fact that God sees him as a “work in progress”. “No,” God may say to him, “you’re not loving Me much… yet… but I have called you according to My purposes.”

And so He works behind the scenes in our lives, orchestrating not only external circumstances to place us in a position wherein we might hear and avail ourselves of His gift of salvation, but He works also on the inside of our lives, nurturing within us the characteristics necessary to come to truly place our faith in Him.

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44 ESV). Even as you understand right now perhaps the extent of God’s love for you and the need to allow Him to forgive and cleanse you of sin so that you might have eternal life, it is not your great intellect that has opened the Truth to you; it is the hand of God within you.

Such insights into the activity of God in your life carry a high responsibility. Just as surely as Jesus expected Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John in Mark 1:16-20 to simply leave everything behind and follow Him, He expects us to rise from our “nets” of mere preoccupation with day-to-day living and rise to the challenge of living beyond ourselves in the grand investment of trusting Him.

It is entirely possible that even as you read this, His truth makes sense to you and you perceive His invitation to give Him your heart and join Him in the great adventure He’s called you to discover. But don’t turn away from His appeal for you to follow Him. Like the “Rich, Young Ruler” in Matthew 19:16-22, we may turn away and end up swallowed by not only spiritual mediocrity but possibly even miss out entirely on His gift of salvation and hope. After all, one may not receive a treasure, priceless though it may be, if one’s hands are already full or have been thrust into one’s pockets.

Your life counts in the grand scheme of God’s great universe and you yourself matter to the One Who created it all. He came in human flesh and “in Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:4-5, 9-13 ESV).

May we each now, as He works within us by opening our minds to perceive Him and our hearts to believe Him, choose to yield our lives to receive Him as Lord. As we open the door for His love, He will not fail to bring into our experience the sweet nectar of fellowship with Himself as well as the savory meats of joy, purpose, holiness and peace.

“Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him… the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:23,24b ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

In the maelstrom of confusion resulting from our nation’s moral collapse, it can be overwhelming to think that for a child of God, nothing has really changed.  The Lord has never suggested that we were going to be in for an easy time of it here and has even spelled out clearly that we would find ourselves persecuted (see Matthew 5:10-11, Luke 21:12, John 15:20).  Why?  Because of our confidence in the uniqueness of Jesus as God’s Son as the only provision for the forgiveness of sin as well as our trust in His Word – by which I mean that we trust it and live our lives in accordance to it.

Even so, it is time right now to rally love and support in tangible ways those around us.  These troubling times should be a season in which God’s people, Christians, gather in force to mobilize resources to declare the reliability of the Bible while serving as instruments of grace in the lives of those around us.

This is a season of faithfully seeking to live holy, consecrated lives while we reach out with the love of Christ, that we might actively love people about us in various kinds of crises, whether from crushing financial burden, addiction, the consequences of immoral choices or the breakdown of families.  Doing so allows God to address also a person’s spiritual crisis – their need for salvation (forgiveness of sin and the assurance of eternal life).

The greatest crisis which we face, of course, and face immediately is that of the complacency of the Church in the face of human evil and the imminent judgment of God. There are mercifully some shining examples of God’s people giving tirelessly and selflessly to others and of enduring rejection and loss (even of life) for the sake of remaining faithful to the Savior Who endured the cross for us. There are also many horrific examples of men and women who clearly do not know Christ and seek to not only overthrow God’s authority for their own lives, but to utterly annihilate the prospect of faith in others.

What must we conclude about God’s perspective on the matter? As painful as it is to acknowledge it, we must observe the “judgment factor.”  Biblically speaking, does God or does He not judge sin? He does. Has He or has He not decreed judgment upon entire cities and nations for their sin? He has.

It would be a terrible mistake to assume that individuals that we know who are deeply suffering are singled out and are especially deserving of that judgment.  In our pride, we often assume that another’s suffering is the result of their own sin and fail to see that perhaps his or her pain has been brought on directly or indirectly by my sin.  But we are a foolish people indeed if we think that we can arbitrarily “thumb our noses” at God for years with impunity.  Indeed, calamity, sickness and other kinds of struggles are not directly the arbiters of judgment so much as an increase in disregard for authority, a decrease in valuing the sanctity of human life, and an embracing of immorality and impurity.

“…God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served  the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever!” (Romans 1:24-25 ESV).

Of all the judgments we envision for ourselves or cast upon the movie screen, the one we don’t understand is the “giving us over to our own lusts”.  Satan has convinced us that therein lies true freedom.  What it really has for us is only the horror of what we selfishly do to each other and, even worse, our choosing something less than the perfect glorious God Whose own Son was given for us.  In the end, the worst judgment of all is letting us have, in our rebellious condition, what we think we want:  the “freedom” to perish spiritually.

A person who has no view of God’s glory doesn’t get this.  He will say, “This isn’t fair!”  He will accuse, “God has no right!”.  He will ask, “Who does God think He is?”

“The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries and keeps His wrath for His enemies” (Nahum 1:2 ESV).

And what can we expect for our land if we fail to repent and continue to pursue the idols of selfishness, pride, luxury, oppression, and immorality?

“The days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will execute judgment upon her images, and through all her land the wounded shall groan” (Jeremiah 51:52 ESV).

“Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes” (Joel 1:15 ESV).

But lest we think that others will be especially singled out and that we somehow are above judgment, be careful!

Jesus addressed a similar misconception during His earthly ministry when some people believed that judgment had befallen some Galileans who had been targeted.

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-5 ESV).

So how must we respond? My prayer is that we will hearken to Jesus’ warning and repent.

“‘Yet even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the LORD, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, ‘Spare Your people, O LORD, and make not Your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’  Then the LORD will… (take) pity on His people” (Joel 2:12-18 ESV).

Though we are wise to fear God’s great wrath with a holy reverence and awe, we have His assurances that His mercy and goodness are available to us if we’ll just choose to receive them. This is especially true and relevant for those who place their hope in the Lord Jesus for their eternal salvation.

“…Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Acts 2:21 ESV).

Isn’t it good to know that “the LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1:7 ESV).

Copyright ©  Thom Mollohan

A friend of mine, on reflecting upon the breathless rate things are moving along, said over lunch with me that we are in times of “white water change.” I doubt that anyone can really disagree with that observation, although people may disagree on how to respond to it.

Whether we like it or not, the world is changing so fast that we may feel hard-pressed to keep pace. And as the world around us changes, our churches are changing, too. As new church families (a.k.a. congregations) are being birthed, and as new generations emerge within the ranks of established churches, it is to be hoped that we see this as an era of a renewed sense of calling along with a renewed resolve to see God glorified and made known while we seek to experience Him working in our lives, our homes and our communities.

As Christians strive to keep up with all this change, it is very easy to feel as if we are being overwhelmed and that we are in danger of being swept away by circumstances that are beyond our control. The collapse of morality, the blitzkrieg of political cutthroats, and the disintegration of the family have become the characteristics of this new day and there is little hope that conventional ideals, logic and methodologies can be effective in restoring a semblance of sanity to our world.

White water

As we strive to keep up with change in our world, it is very easy to feel as if we are in danger of being swept away by circumstances that are beyond our control.

 

At times like these, Christians can be baited into taking sides against one another, battle lines can be drawn, and lives can be wounded.

Why does this sometimes happen? How is it possible that we, who are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, can react in such different ways to the same dynamics and then hurt each other as we begin to assume the worst in others’ motives?

Well, for one thing, change often brings loss (or at least a perception of it). We tend to find it difficult to “let go” of the cultural aspects of our Christianity that have brought us comfort and, more than that, it is natural to be reluctant to release those things for which we have spent our lives – even when we finally admit to ourselves and God that maybe we’ve spent ourselves on the wrong things.

On the other hand, there really is a need for change in the church today. The kind of change that is necessary is the kind that readily impacts the lives of those to whom God connects it.

Oh, by “change”, I do not mean a departure from the Scriptures as being the standard for living life and discerning truth. On the contrary, there must in fact be a renewed sense of the Scripture’s relevance to life, to its applicability to the soul’s search for meaning, and to the moral quagmire that has so ensnared our culture.

Because the Gospel is “Good News” for all people in all places for all time, it cannot be changed in its essence (and any attempt on our part to change its essence negates the validity of all the rest of the message we proclaim). Indeed, as this “Gospel” was in the mind of God before time began and will be perfectly unveiled and vindicated in every way when time has ended, it is an invincible column of rock that continually defeats the torrents of the river of time.

Still, each generation has its own voice in proclaiming His praises and in serving Him. And as God’s Spirit is always breathing new life, new inspiration, and new vision for how we may praise and serve our living God, each voice is continually being transformed even as we confront the evils of our day and defy the lies of our spiritual enemy, Satan.

Please understand that change has come, is coming, and will continue to come. If you welcome it, consider the perspective of those who do not welcome it and let your attitude and actions be seasoned with the same grace that God has shown you in Jesus Christ. Not only that, allow God to enlarge your understanding through the thoughts of others as He sheds the light of His wisdom on your race to embrace change. Think well on how God may have sent these persons to play a part in shaping you and your walk with Him. Even those things that can be difficult and painful can be used by God to change you as you seek to change the world.

And if you are of the “don’t like change; don’t want it” camp, take to heart God’s desire to accomplish new things in you, your family, your church and your community. An unimaginably powerful and infinitely loving God always has more to do and say to a people who will obediently walk with Him.

Change will come however you feel about it. Your part is to help it be the right kind of change: not the change of recklessness but also not the change that comes from the deterioration and decay of stagnation.

If you do not have a church family (local church congregation), seek out one that genuinely points to the Bible as having the answers to all of life’s questions and then allow God to bless them through you as He allows change to freshen and revive you and your home.

“Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

A few years ago the facilitator of a leadership conference for a large corporation asked the group “Who are the world’s most influential leaders?” After some discussion and thorough rethinking on the topic of leadership in light of the things that they had learned, the group unanimously announced that mothers are the most influential of leaders in the world with fathers following at a close second.

Insightful, don’t you think? Laws may be instituted in legislatures, but they’re only created and pursued when someone has conviction (or a marked lack of it) about something. Public policy may be shaped by polls and petitions, but these too are merely the fruit of someone’s sense of justice and fairness (or, at the other end of the spectrum, their selfishness).

So, if we might look out on spectacle of politics, where can we hope that genuine conviction is forged? If we are dismayed at the immoral and cowardly antics of those who would be our leaders, what hope do we have for tomorrow? Where will a true sense of justice and fairness be molded? Where will one’s sense of right and wrong or one’s drive and motivation get rooted though we may not see its fruit until its ripening and the time for harvest has come?

Motherhood

A mother has unparalleled opportunity in influencing a life in matters of faith, godliness, love and hope. God has appointed you, O mother, to partner with Him in the building of a soul.

 

It’s in the home. It’s in the cradle. It’s in the arms of the one by whom one’s impressions and earliest recollections are first laid and established. The thoughts and images that shape the personality and perspective of adults and secure for them a worldview that moves them onward and upward or leaves them wallowing in defeat are delivered first through this one called “mother.”

When our oldest son was still a baby, there were times when he needed his mother… not because he was hungry; not because he was cold; not for any reason other than he simply needed to hear her voice and feel her touch. A sweet elderly lady next door of the apartment we rented, upon observing the calming effect of my wife’s presence upon our boy, softly reflected, “There’s no place like mama’s arms, is there?” I could only agree as I watched his tears dry and heard his crying fade into the sounds of peaceful contentment.

We learn first about love and warmth, acceptance and belonging from godly mothers. Fathers may have the unique calling and role of radically shaping a child’s perspective of God (another subject for another time), but a person’s foundation for his or her take on life and his or her sense of worth begin with his or her mother.

This is not to say that other things don’t have the power to challenge that foundation. They do. How anguished is a mother’s sorrow when she has done “all the right things” only to find her child wandering into a wilderness of confusion or a pit of destruction?

Mothers, nonetheless, have the power to pour a footer of encouragement and acceptance for their children’s ultimate victories. It’s a lot easier to want to do what is right or persevere in hard times when one knows that there is someone who is rooting for him and believes in him no matter what the world thinks or does!

We may rejoice when we have experienced the blessing of godly mothers! Have a care to not take such a blessing for granted either! If that has been your experience, then God has granted you a precious treasure, the worth of which is “far more than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10b). Thank Him for that treasure and honor her this weekend!

Mothers may rejoice too in knowing that they have unparalleled opportunity to influence a life in matters of faith, godliness, love and hope. God has appointed you, if you’re a mother, to partner with Him in the building of a soul.

Also, we may grieve when, for one reason or another, we are deprived of such a blessing. Losing a mother is painful for anyone, but it is an anguish to see a young child lose his or her mother to death.

Even more tragic though is the loss of a mother to the world when she is swallowed up in busy-ness… or worse, abandons the child in order to pursue other “interests”. In the instances where I’ve observed this, my heart has broken to see the devastation that this has caused in people’s lives.

But this doesn’t have to be. May we see a renewal in our roles as parents and know that we shape the future when we give ourselves to the shaping of little hearts and minds. Mothers, you influence the world when you influence the lives of your children. God offers you an opportunity to be His means of challenging fear, hatred, and injustice in the world. One day soon our children will receive the mantle of stewardship of our communities, our town, our nation, and our world. While there will be problems (of that, we can be sure) how those problems are handled and whether or not our children will be slave to them is being decided right now.

When those days dawn, O mothers, may your “children arise and call (you) blessed” (Proverbs 31:28a) for you have loved them, you have accepted them unconditionally, you have prayed for them and you have done all to prepare them to meet life victoriously. Bear well the mantle of motherhood.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

One day, while Jesus was out and about teaching the things of God, He told the tale (or parable) of a farmer who went out to sow his seed (Luke 8). He described the various places the seed fell. Some were cast upon a path whereon the seeds were trampled and then devoured by birds. Some fell on rock and immediately sprang up only to then shrivel up again once the day’s sun dried out their exposed roots. Some fell among thorny underbrush and grew fine until finally choked out by the riot of thorns about them.

Jesus’ disciples seemed to have a pretty good idea that Jesus wasn’t just giving an agricultural lesson and pestered Him about the meaning of the story. He explained that the seed was the Word of God and the path upon which the seed was thrown is the heart of the one who hears His Word, but then disregards or rejects it because of the world’s innate contempt of it. She never believes and is consequently not saved (Luke 8:12).

The rock on which seed was scattered was the heart of the one who hears it, receives it gladly, but then never allows the things of God to grow deeply in his life and naturally falls away when times get tough: he can’t take the heat, so to speak (Luke 8:13).

The thorny ground, says Jesus, is the heart of one who hears the Word of God, receives it at first, but then finds the life that God would grow there all choked out by the thorns of worry and the strangling weeds of temptation (Luke 8:14).

But then there is the seed which is sown in the heart that “hears the Word, retains it, and perseveres until its crop is produced” (Luke 8:15). The seed sown here is fruitful, thereby achieving the intended destiny of the seed and preventing that seed from dissipating into the frustrated finality of eternal pointlessness.

Soil and the Seed

What kind of soil is your heart?

If we genuinely ponder the parable, the question then naturally arises for each of us, “What kind of soil is my heart?” If I will surrender my will to His and persevere (hold on to Him) in faith, then my heart is “good and rich” and is ready for planting.

Now, if you cannot honestly say that you are responsive and ready to walk with Him, your life is consequently not “good soil” and you should take care to consider that “eternity” is a really, really long time and it can sneak up on you really, really quick! When will you be called into eternity? Are you ready for that moment though it be unlooked for?

If your life seems to indeed be the kind of soil that Jesus described as “good,” be patient and know that seeds sown in good soil will germinate. And don’t get impatient in waiting for the harvest of God’s blessings either.

When we plant a seed in our gardens, we soon may see that first little leaf rear its tiny head from the earth, but we are not satisfied in merely this fragile bud. No, it is just the beginning.

We are not content though its stem rises from the ground and it spreads its leaves towards the sun. No, it’s not done yet. It has not yet achieved its destiny.

We continue to wait as it unfolds the petals of its blossoms. We are still not satisfied, for we know that each blossom is merely a promise of something yet to come.

Then, we rejoice when in the place of each fragrant flower, a fruit begins to form. When at last its fruit has matured and is ready for harvest we know that the tiny seed has finally reached its potential and arrived at the destiny for which it had been planted.

How true this is also of the Word of God for the “Seed of His Word” is always good!

“So shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11 ESV).

We know that what He says is “good seed”. And while we can celebrate the promises and affirmations that His Word supplies us (the “warm-fuzzies” that encourage us along, if you will), God is interested in more than just the “here-and-now”. Each word of direction, correction, transformation and comfort ultimately produces the fruit of a living testimony in our lives. This is a harvest that encourages others and teaches them to trust in the goodness of God and the faithfulness of Christ. And do not fruits each hold within themselves even more seeds that will in turn be sown in the soil of other lives?

Let us then each allow God to mature His fruit in the greenhouses of our obedience! Too often we become weary, frustrated and discouraged with our circumstances, unaware that the Father is tilling the soil of the hidden places of our hearts and in the hearts of those around us. Let us instead “lay hold” of His admonishment in Galatians 6:8 to “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

There is a plethora of “churchy” words that, when invoked, sounds like little more than meaningless jargon in the ears of most people outside of the church. On the other hand, even inside the great family of God there are some expressions that have become so muddled under layers of generational over-familiarity that the original convictions or spiritual insights that they represented have been lost in antiquity.

The word “revival” may be as good an example of this as any other word of which I can think. Even in areas or among populations where the word is widely used, its real significance is generally entirely overlooked. Most of the time, when the word “revival” comes up, we refer to a set of meetings (usually running about a week and often featuring various singing groups and certainly fiery speakers). And if we as Christians tend to miss the point of the word, “revival”, it should come as no surprise that the world too can have some funny ideas about what we mean when we throw up our banners and advertisements promoting them.

The word “revival” itself simply refers to the restoration of life. As Christians we use the word to refer to God’s restoring His people to an exciting and satisfying relationship with Himself after they had repented from falling away from Him, having been either distracted or enamored by other things.

“Revival” therefore does not refer to a meeting. Contrary to some opinions, it does not even refer to a large number of people receiving the Lord Jesus as their Savior and becoming Christians. Such a response can be a fruit of revival but is not revival itself. After all, how can one “re-vive” something (that is to say “to bring to life again”) when that something was only just then receiving life for the very first time?

Today, as we look across the spiritual and moral wasteland that besets our vision, we might wonder if the church has a diminishing capacity to make a difference in the world. If so, it is because we need revival. We are no longer living with the power of Christ Who, in His earthly ministry, left people knowing that somehow life would never be the same for them because they had been confronted with the presence of God.

“When Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, for He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29 ESV).

Authority? Yes… He did not instruct them as we often do in the presumption of our own intellect and limited abilities. He came sanctioned by the Father to bring the message of God’s love and the glory of His manifest (unveiled) presence. He came in power and that power, produced in His life by both the presence of the Holy Spirit within Him and the approval of the Father upon Him, radically engaged people with the spiritual facts of life: 1) that there is a Holy God in charge of the universe, 2) that humanity is woefully and eternally separated from Him by the reality of sin (selfish willfulness in our own lives), and 3) that God has mercifully provided Himself as the object of justice in the form of His Son that we might receive forgiveness and restoration with Him provided we truly turn to Him in faith.

And it is still the Father’s will that such power continue to engage the world today. Access to that power has been entrusted to God’s people “to preach good news to the poor… to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, to recover sight for the blind, to release the oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (from Luke 4:18-19 and Isaiah 61:1-2).

Consequently, as we walk humbly with Him through life, cultivating our relationship with Him, He Himself dwells within us, assaulting bastions of hatred and despair with love and hope. In reverse, if we do not walk with Him, we lag behind His activity in the world, we become disconnected from the lifeline of His love and our hope becomes eclipsed by cares from the world. When God is not first place in our lives, the whole world suffers for it.

But thankfully, He has promised that, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV).

Perhaps we as the church of today are losing our ability to powerfully and effectually conquer the world with love and faith because we’re allowing our lifeline (relationship with Him) to become detached. Perhaps we’re ceasing to be a living “body” of believers and are little more than dry and barren structures upon which spiritual flesh once hung. Maybe we’re dangerously close to being a great mass of “dried up old bones”.

“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” - 2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV

“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” – 2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV

That is what revival is. It is God gracefully bringing us back to spiritual life when we’ve finally despaired of all the deadness that the “alternatives” to faith in Christ offer us. Once we’ve repented of our own waywardness and have returned whole-heartedly to Him, we allow Him to take His rightful place in the throne of our hearts. As Lord of our lives, He brings healing, hope and fulfillment once again to not only His children but to the rest of the world, too.

“Revive us again; fill each heart with Thy love. May each soul be rekindled with fire from above. Hallelujah! Thine the glory. Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Thine the glory. Revive us again (“We Praise Thee, O God” by William P. Mackay, 1839-1885).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Honor…

salute

One word that is too little thought of and is certainly too little observed is the word “honor”. When one hears the word, muddled ideas as to its meaning arise in our minds. At best, it makes its rare appearances in verb form as we employ it in the same sentences as we do the words “promise” or “agreement”.

We also hear it (usually) in the uttering of wedding vows as the bride and groom pledge to “honor” the other. Practical application of these vows, undervalued by popular culture and subsequently in daily living, deserves a place of supremacy in the values and priorities of each and every marriage.

But I suspect that until a better sense of what honor is and its priceless worth have been restored to us, the point of “honoring” one another will be mostly lost on most couples, children in regard to their parents, and Christians in general of one another.

God’s Word, in delineating the priorities we should maintain in life, spells out that we are to love God above all other things and others at least as much as we love ourselves. Intricately wound up in this love, is the fact that honoring another is a means by which we demonstrate love.

We are therefore admonished to honor God above all other things. In other words, we are to revere and esteem Him more than anything else (1 Corinthians 6:20, Numbers 25:13). Then, as beings who carry His image and recognize that others have also been created in His image, we honor others, too. More to the point, as Christians, we are to “honor others above ourselves” (Romans 12:10).

A specific way for honoring God is in children honoring their parents (Exodus 20:12, Matthew 15:4, Ephesians 6:2). We also honor God when we honor those institutions that He has created for His divine and holy purposes. Marriage, the joining of a man and woman in a holy covenantal relationship, is specifically to be honored (Hebrews 13:18), for it recognizes what Jesus has done in the giving of His life for His Church and the joining of His Spirit with her. According to Malachi 2:14-15 marriage is to be honored also because it is the primary vehicle for aligning our culture with God’s plans. Aided and strengthened by God’s church, it perpetuates Godliness in our darkened world (inasmuch as the husband and wife place their home under the loving control of God).

But what does it mean to “have honor” or to “defend one’s honor”? And what does it mean today to be a “man of honor”? I have known soldiers who have had a better idea than most of what honor is when having discussions on the subject of honor. But I have to admit that I am grieved as the realization that talking about honor with most people is like talking in another language.

Honor, as a noun, means simply an “esteemed reputation” or a “reverenced name”. To “have” honor simply means that we live up to the name that we now carry as Christians. If a Christian lies, then he “dishonors” the name of Jesus. If a Christian cheats, or steals, or is unfaithful, then he is not living up to the name that he has been given and he “dishonors” the name of Christ.

One might look today across the landscape of broken promises, selfish acts, and cowardly decisions by people and conclude that there are few indeed who truly have a sense of honor. Honor means little to most because we mostly do not understand its worth nor care to discover it.

But think for a moment of the price that Christ paid for you! Jesus, the ultimate Man of Honor, courageously forsook selfish motives and endured a life of hardship so that He could honor His Father’s holiness. He boldly spoke the truth to all, even when He was hated for it, so that He could honor His Father’s Word. He bravely cared for those that others deemed unworthy of attention and affection, and then willingly died on a cross that we deserved, so that He could honor His Father’s love.

Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus said, “Now is My soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” “Then a voice came from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again” (John 12:27-28 ESV).

Honor is at the heart of Who Jesus is and always seeks to glorify that which is deserving of honor. Ultimately, nothing is deserving of more honor than the name of God. This is why we need to seek to restore honor to our homes, to our businesses, as well as to our reputations. In the end, whether or not we earn a name of honor rides on whether or not we keep our promises, deal with others justly, and demonstrate lives of mercy and compassion. And the manner in which we are known becomes the platform from which we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and become the means by which the name of God is glorified!

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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