Feeds:
Posts

Archive for the ‘God and Country’ Category

Yesterday afternoon, the stunning horror of the massacre in Las Vegas reached my ears. I, along with the rest of the nation, was shocked by the unveiling of evil in another senseless tragedy. My prayers and the prayers of my family and church go up for those whose lives have been terribly changed by this unexpected intrusion of wickedness.

Many questions arise as the country strives to comprehend why a deeply disturbed man would do such calculated evil. And, as usual, folks from all sorts of political positions are jockeying for an interpretation of what has happened, why it happened, and what must be done to prevent it from happening again. The gun control debate, for example, is finding plenty of explosive fuel for renewed battles in our government and media arenas everywhere.

GrievFolks are looking for easy answers, and, by extension, easy solutions, but are dangerously prone to overlooking the subtle nature of the problem. It isn’t a gun control problem. A person who intends to do a terrible thing will certainly find a way to do it (as the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9-11 terrorists demonstrated for us). It isn’t even a violent game or a violent movie problem, although horrible violence acted out in the name of entertainment doesn’t help in the least and should alarm us at the level of cruelty that can be imagined.

The problem is more basic than these things. The problem is within the human heart. What happened in Las Vegas is nothing less than evil, whatever the motive of the attacker. What was the purpose of his assault? While Stephen Paddock sadly may have been a tormented person (no one seems to know clearly what his story was), the actions of this 64 year-old retiree can in no way be construed as trying to defend himself. It is clear that he was simply driven by a cruel desire to inflict pain and suffering.

However, if we are really concerned about getting right what is wrong with a country in which something so terrible can occur, we need to call this what it is: evil. Somehow evil was given such leeway in his mind and heart that it grew and eventually exploded in this unthinkable storm of hate and rage.

And now families across America are shattered with gaping holes left where loved ones once lived. People like you and me are wounded, not just physically, but in their very souls with images seared into their minds which no one should be forced to see. People like you and me everywhere find themselves confronted by the utterly sobering truth that nothing can be taken for granted and that very bad things are ready to leap in and take what is most precious to them.

In one brief moment, the entire world somersaulted for the those impacted by the Las Vegas attack. Bodies were broken, dreams were shattered, and lives were snuffed out. The tragedy grew and grew, bringing with it a firestorm of anguish that will never completely heal while this world lasts.

As people discuss the terrible events that have taken place, the question arise (quite naturally I might add), “Isn’t there ANY place that one can be safe?” On the one hand, the answer is, of course, “No.” There is no corner into which human presence has entered that there is absolutely no potential for violence and pain. Our social stability hangs upon a mere thread, as we depend on complicated systems of checks and balances to regulate the affairs of each day, recognizing that basic human nature cannot by itself govern and sustain our nation benevolently. In fact, it is a somber reality that any venue in any city, small town, suburban neighborhood or country road can become an arena for the darkest manifestations of evil just as readily as any late night subway or dark alley. Concert halls, shopping malls, athletic stadiums, college campuses, childcare centers, school playgrounds, church sanctuaries, Amish school houses and even living rooms cannot guarantee safety, let alone peace of mind.

But on the other hand, there is hope. The hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ cannot be derailed by sorrow and loss, even when it is of this incredible magnitude, because the hope that we have in Jesus Christ recognizes both the capacity that humanity has for rendering great evil to itself as well as the nearly bottomless depth of sorrow that we bear when faced suddenly with unthinkable loss. As surely as we suffer and mourn the events of today, we can know that God also suffers with us and mourns with us in our hurt, His heart aching from the pain that we bear.

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled…. Jesus wept” (from John 11:33, 35).

The fact that our basic nature is not in harmony with His is deeply troubling to God. And when the awful fruits of our “independence” from Him ripen, yielding us a feast of trouble and grief that we cannot swallow, the compassion of God is stirred up and His Spirit reaches out to ours with an invitation to repent and turn to Him. And if in spite of our spiritual blindness and deafness, we can finally discern the truth that we truly DO need God to help us, sustain us, lead us, and purify us, we’ll finally actually begin living in the freedom with which God desires to wrap us.

“Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes, who are deaf, yet have ears!… ‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after Me. I, I am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are My witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I am God. Also henceforth I am He; there is none who can deliver from My hand; I work, and who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 43:8, 10-13 ESV).

When He acts to redeem us from our sin and the hopelessness that characterizes a life that is bound to it, no one can reverse it. As we turn to Him, we come to the one place that truly is safe no matter the howling gales of trouble and cruelty. As we walk with Him through faith in Jesus Christ, abiding in the center of His will, we find that we are also in the center of His mercy and are the recipients of wellsprings of His grace.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Whom I trust…. If only I will pay attention to His commands, my peace will be like a river, my righteousness like the waves of the sea’” (from Psalm 91:1-2 & Isaiah 48:18).

One whose eyes are clouded with hurt and despair might ask why God doesn’t just do something. But he or she should take heart… God is doing something: He’s reaching out with mercy and grace, calling us to trust Him and to step out of the poisonous vapors of bitterness and despair. And He’s calling us to lift our hearts and voices to Him in prayer, seeking His help in an age where the only help we can truly have can only be found in Him.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Perhaps the most pernicious calamity assaulting people anywhere and everywhere in our area today is the epidemic levels of addiction. The most obvious expression of this plague is, of course, the deluge of opiates flooding our homes and families as “regular people” find themselves reeling from its merciless grip.

Billions of dollars of research both in private and in public sectors underscore the complexity of the problem indicating physiological causes and effects, psychological ones, and even sociological factors that contribute to and result from addiction.

This naturally leads us to various treatment options that approach the problem of addiction from these different vantage points. It often creates confusion for us when we see it from only one of these perspectives while others approach it from still another.

The truth is that there is legitimacy in these different philosophical approaches and we are wiser when we treat the “whole person”, aiming to get at the roots of each individual’s struggle with addiction.

The most essential quality for a person’s recovery is a “heart” that is ready for it.

However, there is one aspect I cannot underscore enough as fundamental to one’s ongoing victory over addiction and I truly believe it to be essential. In the many people that I encounter who have struggled or are struggling with addiction, it has become clear to me that the most central quality for their recovery is a “heart” that is ready for it.  In other words, it is necessary for a person to hunger within the essence of himself for real and lasting change and to recognize the spirituality of life and the purpose for which he has been created.  When that hunger is acknowledged as a real need for something that drugs cannot satisfy or fulfill, then the eyes of the heart can turn to the one thing that can.  It is what turns one from the downward spiral of selfishness towards an attitude that can look outward and upward.

Addiction is often viewed as a kind of terrible bondage, a heavy and burdensome chain that shackles a person, enslaving her with a feeling (the “high”) that relentlessly eludes its pursuer. It’s a good comparison.  It IS a chain.  And it mocks and torments its victims even while it boasts of its empty promises of pleasure and happiness… or at the very least, pretends that it can provide us escape from pain whether emotional or physical.

I have been asked, “How do we fight addiction? How can we overcome it?”  The answer, while some may think it overly simplistic, is that we lead the victims of addiction to the one pleasure that makes all other so-called pleasures pale in comparison.  We must unveil the “pleasures” of drugs for the anemic counterfeits that they are by holding them up to the “real thing”.  And what is the pleasure that transcends all others?  It is the joy of the Lord.  It is what can deliver the life that wants change.

But a person’s heart must be ready for real change and not just a temporary release from the intensity of addiction. If that were all, it is only a matter of time before the person slips back into the folds of whatever drugs they depend upon or, just as bad from an eternal point of view, would settle into another phony sense of purpose for his life, content perhaps for a time, but still ensnared with something less than God’s purpose for him.

Time and time again, I have found that when a person has come to the end of herself and finds that drugs cannot now nor ever will fill, only then is she really ready to look towards the one thing that can complete her.

When a person receives the gift of God’s cleansing forgiveness, there comes upon him a newness that begins to reframe his outlook and expectation for himself. Indeed, there is now an awakening that arises within him, as he shrugs off the shame and condemnation for which Jesus died on the cross:  “You, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him (Jesus), having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-15 ESV). Because Jesus gave His life for us by dying in our place on the cross, God counted the sins of all who turn to Him for salvation as being paid for through Jesus’ sacrifice.

Then, for each person who turns to Jesus and learns that he has been made a new creation, God tells us that “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).  This knowledge is so powerful in a recovering addict’s life that comprehending it and then accepting it as true is the equivalent of dynamite when he comes up against the walls of resistance that addiction’s proud owner, Satan, throws in his way.

And finally there is the priceless gem of hope that Jesus grants us through His resurrection life, bequeathing to us (through faith in Him) the same power that brought Him back to life in His glorified form! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV).  When a recovering addict sees himself as something new and no longer bound by an old nature that was enslaved to a temporary, fleshly passion, he can then give himself over to love, forsaking all the illusions that addiction threw up previously and pursuing the higher, heavenly reality of an eternal God Who created him for His own glory.

Nothing conquers the short-sightedness of addiction like an overwhelming sense of the pricelessness of an eternity with a holy God Who loves us in spite of ourselves and holds open for us an open door to a forever kind of victory.

My heart’s desire then is to share with anyone whose heart is open to it, the message that God loves and God saves.   Jesus is proof of that reality.  In fact, Jesus is the way to that reality.  For the addict.  And for everyone else, too.

Whether addiction has been part of your story or not, Jesus is the Way.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jesus in John 14:6 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

With events in the world flipping by our eyes like pages of a book being turned by the wind, it is perfectly natural to ponder our generation’s place in the cosmic chronology of things. Not only that, but it seems also that questions are constantly arising as to the timing of Jesus’ return as King and Judge as well as other mysteries of what we like to call “the end time.”

Although my opinion is that we are far closer to such things than we generally like to think, I am reminded of an occasion in which one of those questions arose in the Bible.

“…When they had come together, they asked Him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 ESV).

Consider it. Things had been skipping along pretty quickly, from the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry to His crucifixion and then His resurrection. It seems perfectly natural for Jesus’ disciples to wonder about “tying up all the loose ends” (as far as they were concerned).

But I note Jesus’ response to His disciples. It certainly wasn’t the kind of answer they were looking for. It wasn’t a “yes” or “no” but neither was it a rebuke for their having brought up the subject. He knew only too well the reasons for their asking it. Nevertheless, He established a mindset for them that would free them to hear next… something that they really did need to know.

“He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8 ESV).

So the answer was in essence, “Maybe. Maybe not.” But whether He was imminently overhauling the rule of the world or delaying it for as long as they could reckon, all they needed to know was that He is in charge, that such appointed times were in God’s keeping, and that they need not worry about it. Instead, they could simply focus on the task at hand, which was to carry their eyewitness accounts of what Jesus had done and Who Jesus is to every corner of the world that their lives would carry them.

This passage in Acts 1:8 is a little different than the one in Matthew 28:19-20 which says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This passage is what we call “the Great Commission”. It is a charge to His children to deliberately and intentionally lead people to place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and to obey His teaching as Lord and Master. The passage is Acts 1:8 is not a charge, but an observation made by One Who sees what is to come with perfect clarity. It is a “prediction”, or rather, a “prophecy” regarding those disciples who physically heard those words from the Savior’s mouth as well as those who come in later generations who “hear” those words through the reading of His word.

In other words, you and I are a part of a generation raised up for such a time as this that we may be witnesses both of what Jesus has done in our lives and also of Who He is as both Lord and Savior, to every corner of the world that our lives will carry us.

This is an age in which there has been much said of “global thinking” and generally we tend to think that it is a recent concept. But God’s people, when awake and alert to His Spirit’s leading, have always been “global” in their thinking. Are you being a “witness” of Jesus’ love in your own “Jerusalem and Judea?” In other words, is your life a testimony to God’s presence, love, and lordship everywhere you are most at home? In your family? In your friendships? In your church?

And are you being a “witness” in your “Samaria?” At work? At school? In your civic organizations? All those places you frequently conduct the ongoing business of life?

If you feel that the answer is “yes” to the above, what about taking it further? Would you like to see just where God might lead you and what He might do through you if you’ll give Him the chance to do it? There is a whole world out there still in desperate need of the hope that Jesus Christ offers. If He has really made a difference in yours, whose life could He make a difference in through yours? If He really is your Savior and Lord, to whom could you be a witness that their destiny also might be changed from one of death to that of life?

Don’t be afraid that you’re being too forward by believing that God could use you to do such a thing. You’re already set forward. Remember that He says, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV).

And don’t be afraid of not knowing enough or of being ineffectual. God has not called you to run in either your own strength or your own wisdom. Instead, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses… to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

If you’re a Christian, then look for opportunities to grow and serve in a local Christian church. Be hungry for more of God in your life. Be thirsty for His Word. Be eager for His Spirit to open doors for you to share and to make a difference in every relationship you have.

If you are not a Christian, then consider the price of not coming to Christ. Consider the heartbreaking loss of losing forever the opportunity to know the joy of knowing God should your life end without having made peace with Him. But also consider the diminished joy of a life that continually puts on hold God’s invitation to salvation even if you think that “one day” you’ll get right with God. Don’t let the future that could be yours become a collection of sad “might-have-beens” by putting off receiving His gift of salvation now. Simply confess your need for Him and that He died because of your sin. Accept in faith that God will grant you His gift of forgiveness and grace. And then, if you have really done that, begin to let Him live His life through you in the company of other, forgiven Believers. And then just watch where God will take you and see how God will bless you!

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

The Son is shining in the Kingdom of Ever After. A rainbow, the sign of divine promise, perpetually encircles His throne as His face radiates a holy light like an arc of lightning that never fades. On the crystalline plain about Him stand countless legions of knights in shining armor, men and women devoted to their King who stand with glittering swords raised high and polished shields mirroring the glorious radiance poured down upon them. Here sits the Eternal Victor, having established His plans and purposes before time even began, accomplishing a salvation so mighty that time cannot contain it (“… The Lamb Who was slain from before the creation of the world….” From Revelations 13:8).

From Him come the weapons and armor that are borne by His children as well as the strength to wield them in the conflict that even now wages about us. For dragons and giants walk the land indeed, devouring and enslaving the descendants of Adam with flaming whips, venomous darts, and poison apples. Setting up their petty domains in defiance of the great and glorious King, they lash out in rebellion against Him, spreading the insurgency of the great Serpent himself. To the fray, the great King has called His children, hidden heroes with courage that comes from the wellspring of fellowship with God.

Ever AfterCan all of this be merely a fairy tale? No. It’s the real thing. The battle wages around us even now. But who has eyes to see it? And who has ears to hear it? Here we are, encased in mortal flesh, wearing our everyday clothes, doing our everyday things. Yet, if one has been born again, he dwells at once in both worlds, a foot in the world of everyday happenings and one in the Kingdom of Ever After!

Let us shake off then the blindness that shields from our eyes the epic tale into which is written the story of our lives! Let us turn our ears to the clarion call of our great Captain as He rallies us to His banner of His love!

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14 ESV).

Our king invites us to join in the holy quest of seeking out slaves who are enthralled by the deceits of the enemy, imprisoned by snares of pride and selfishness. He sends us out to set free the forlorn captives of gruesome giants of despair, awful ogres of anger and bitterness, and devious dragons of fear. Just think! In the adventure before us are treasures of love, joy, and peace just waiting to be unearthed by faithful service to our God! And while we may all too easily dismiss such ideas as being fantastical notions of an overactive imagination, take heed that this is a reality that is more fantastic than fantasy!

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6: 12 ESV).

So clean the rust from your sword! Put on your armor! Polish your shield! One cannot do battle without weapons and one who attempts combat without armor is certainly doomed to be wounded.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil…. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” (Ephesians 6:11, 14-17 ESV).

Let us take up the cause for which our Savior, the greatest of all heroes, gave His life! Let us embrace the power bequeathed to us that also raised Him from the dead! Let us bear the mantle of His Holy Spirit, which both marks us as God’s own (see Ephesians 1:13) and equips us for the quest!

Jesus read to everyone in the synagogue, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor….” (Luke 4:18-19 ESV).

And let us remember that for those who have been made God’s own children through faith in Jesus Christ, there is an eternal destiny of joy, peace, and healing. That is truly the land wherein we will live happily ever after!

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

Once, when reading the story of a burglary in a small community similar to our own, I began to think of what can happen for a person who has no sense of God’s presence in his life. A person who can storm into a house, bully a sick and elderly person or a terrified child (as it was in that particular story), can hardly be said to really believe that a good God exists or that He is attentive to His creation.

Consider the depths to which a person can sink when he or she believes that there are no consequences for his or her actions or thinks that “no one will ever know”! What holds such a person back? The Bible says in Psalm 14:1 that “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile….” The result of a contemptuous disregard for God is corruption and deeds reeking of the stench of vileness! If there is no belief in God, the human heart cannot help but sink into the swirling maelstrom of selfishness and evil.

Of course, we must have the right kind of “belief”, too. Belief in a harsh, tyrannical deity can leave us vainly trying to “perform” for His favor or trying to earn a salvation, the price of which cannot be met by human effort. That God is sadistically “just waiting for a chance to toss you into hell” is not a very encouraging thought!

On the other hand, it’s almost as bad to believe in either a sugary, wishy-washy God who’s just too big a “pushover” to ever confront us for our being “naughty” or a God who’s nearsighted and just a bit deaf, without His glasses or batteries for His hearing aid. If this last notion is what we subconsciously believe about God, we’ll feel as though we can simply do anything we please confident in thinking that “God isn’t ‘man enough’ to stop me”.

In response to such reoccurring “dumb ideas about God”, the Bible announces two equally vital attributes of the Lord that both complement and uphold the other. The first is that God is perfectly righteous and, consequently, judges sin. Consider the fierce but encouraging words in Proverbs 24:19-20, “Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.”

“No future hope?” Does it really mean that one’s wickedness can result in his being “snuffed out?” Well, yes. It means exactly this if his wickedness runs to its ultimate and logical conclusion. It is a fatal error to not realize that God takes human wickedness seriously. “The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked; He throws the wicked down to ruin” (Proverbs 21:12 ESV).

But sadly, as crime and immorality escalate, it is abundantly clear that we are collectively failing to realize this truth. The evidence isn’t only in the crime in one’s neighborhood. It is also evidenced every time we nonchalantly shrug off integrity in the workplace, when we’re lazy in the care of the health and well-being of our families, or when we turn away those in genuine need though they cry out for help.

Consequently, the only response that one can expect from a perfectly righteous and holy God is a perfectly righteous and holy judgment.

The second attribute then is our only hope. For though our individual and collective rebellions earn us a wage of judgment, He lays before our feet a season of grace, a window of opportunity to turn from our own way and follow Him. “Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD?” (Psalm 14:4 ESV).

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your unplowed ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you.” - Hosea 10:12

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your unplowed ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you.” – Hosea 10:12

What should we do in this short but wonderful era in which we might choose to turn to Him? Our response should be what is said in Hosea 10:12, “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your unplowed ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you.”

Such grace is not cheap: it cost God His very best so that the shower of His righteousness might completely cleanse the horror of our sin. God’s very best was the sending of His Son to receive upon His own body His Father’s judgment of human wickedness. May we individually and as a people respond to such an offer of grace by turning from that which will only drown us in destruction to that which offers us life beyond the limits of our imagination.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

It happens at some point for most parents, that harrowing moment when a child presumed to be safe and sound is not where he or she is expected to be. A mother will turn and see an empty place where a daughter should have been. A father will “count heads” and come up one son short. Worry sets in, panic is unleashed, and all the fear that one’s imagination can conjure up is set ablaze.

It even happened to Mary and Joseph, the mother and step-father of Jesus our Lord, as they were returning home from their annual visit to Jerusalem for the Passover (see Luke 2:41-49). Thinking that Jesus was with others in their group of travelers, they went a whole day before realizing that He just was not with them. They did not actually find Him until three whole days had passed, after searching for Him throughout the city and discovering that He had been at the Temple the whole time. It is clear that they were terrified that they had lost Him.

Families are like that. They are endowed with a sense of interconnectedness and responsibility for one another that leaves members feeling incomplete and even wounded when one or more of their family is missing.

Even when children grow up and become adults, the connectedness and need for one another does not cease, but just becomes more abstract and complex as they learn to still be a family even if and when miles and circumstances separate them from other family members and prevent them from physical closeness.

Of course, evil in the forms of selfish attitudes, bitterness, and unforgiveness can tear and even destroy the fragile fabric that binds us to one another. But we are nonetheless wired in such a way as to be pained by such voids that are formed when a loved one goes missing.

This is true of the Family of God as well. If you are brought into a relationship with God by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ, then you are like the lost sheep of which Jesus spoke in Luke 15:3-7. You are brought not only into a “fold”, but also a “family in which no one else can possibly take your place. You are of unique worth and purpose to the One Who has saved you and placed you in His family.

If you are not in daily fellowship with Jesus, then there is an empty place in Jesus’ heart.

If you are not in daily fellowship with Jesus, then there is an empty place in Jesus’ heart.

In other words, if you are not in daily fellowship with Jesus, then there is an empty place, so to speak, in Jesus’ heart. The absence of your fellowship wounds Him. Not only that, but there is a vacuum created in the Family of God as well.

The Father has created you and me to be dependent upon each other. Correspondingly, He has gifted us so that we complement one another as we both individually and corporately walk with Him through life. If you give up attending a Bible-teaching and Holy Spirit-led church, then you are forfeiting the blessings of support and encouragement that God gives to His children through the Church. Worse yet is the fact that the biggest and best revelations of God at work in your life are always in the context of His Body, meant to be a blessing to all His Children and not just for individual Believers. Demonstrations of God at work in the world are vital to those who are lost around us. Our obedience to Christ in our fellowship with each other gives testimony to the fact that we do indeed belong to Him. Our love for one another is the biggest and best means we have to validate the truth of what we share in the Gospel of Christ.

“As I have loved you,” said Jesus, “you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 14:34b-35 ESV).

Basically, this means that the fruitful sharing of the Gospel is intimately tied to our relating to each other as family. If we truly share the heart of Christ, then we deeply desire to proclaim the Gospel to the world around us so that the hope that we have in the Son of God can be realized in the experience of those who do not yet know Him. And if we truly share the heart of Christ and long to see the “one lost sheep come into the fold and family of God, then we desire the fellowship of His people.

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many… God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose… that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 18, 24b, 25-27 ESV).

If you have been missing from the fellowship of your church family, then make it your priority to return so that both you and they may be more deeply blessed by God and that the pain and hurt created by your absence might be healed by the hand of God.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

Living with the conviction that God’s Word is as true and relevant today as it ever has been is not an easy task, considering that the tides of our culture break upon the cliffs of faith in Christ like a typhoon. Every day we find new cases-in-point, as it were, when we find government officials, iconic pop culture stars, or supposed “academics” who snidely observe that their views on ethics and morality are “evolving”. They suppose that they are using a buzzword that suggests that they have somehow transcended to a higher plane than “lesser beings” who continue to cling to the Bible.

Such disdain for reverent regard for the holy Word of God is found practically in every sphere of life; it can even be found in many churches wherein it is deemed appropriate to abandon a clear confidence in the authority of the Bible in the interest of what Satan likes to call “effective cultural relevance”.

Some will look on the moral plummet of our country and simply shake their heads in helplessness and continue to live life in “survival mode”. Some say our country is “going to hell”” and are ready to wash their hands of everything except of the joy of criticizing others. Perhaps there are a few who take on a violent attitude of retaliation and subsequently plot bombings and shootings as if these things can solve the effects of the spiritual crisis that besets us.

But hope for a return to greatness for America is not found in these things, but rather in what God can do through His people as they are renewed and the power of God surges again through their obedient lives. And the spiritual renewal and the resurgence of holiness that God’s people today desperately need is not in “fighting fire with fire” but in humbly turning from worldly thinking and living and returning to genuine relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Repentance, faith, holiness, love, and obedience is what God expects of us today – all things that God has graciously declared to us through the Bible so that we might yet return to Him.

hope for a return to greatness for America is found in nothing but what God can do through His people as they are renewed and the power of God surges again through their obedient lives.

Hope for a return to greatness for America is found in nothing but what God can do through His people as they are renewed and the power of God surges again through their obedient lives.

Even this presidential election is insufficient in turning our country around and the idea that it can insults God, hindering Him in the transforming work that only His Spirit can do if such activism is not the fruit of following God’s lordship in our lives. The answer to the need of America is found only in Jesus Christ in every area, from disintegrating families to crime, from economic collapse to unemployment, from illegal immigration to lack of healthcare, from drugs to national security and terrorism.

Please hear me carefully: while how we vote (and for whom we vote) is important, it is only important (in a good way) if it truly is the act of worship of a truly humble and God-seeking heart. And by what measure can we hope to know if that kind of heart is the heart beating within our chests? By how we seek to hear from God through His Word and then what we do with what He has said to us.

Our need is for the power of God’s saving grace to enter into our individual lives so that it may then flow into those institutions that reflect the uniting of all who call themselves Americans. Whether they call themselves leaders or simply see themselves as citizens, all need to come to Christ Jesus and none can truly come to Him except by coming to Him in faith and repentance. Such faith and repentance is only truly evidenced in how we listen to the words He has spoken through His Word, the Bible.

And if there has ever been a word that God Himself would speak to Christians in America today, it is most certainly this word:

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

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »