America has been the greatest nation in the history of the world. Built upon the principles in God’s Word, she has seemed invincible. Once honoring the LORD, she forsakes and rejects the ways of the One Who has blessed and protected her.
America is hardening her heart to the God of the Bible and enthusiastically embraces beliefs and practices contrary to His nature and will. Accordingly, the testimony of Scripture, the lessons of history, and the witness of God’s Spirit announce America’s inevitable fate – unless she repents.
We must turn from the morally bankrupt path we are pursuing. Instead of following the trends of secular society, the Church must be guided by God’s Word and His Spirit.
Are We Deaf?
Why have we trampled under foot the very Word of God? Are we deaf to God’s calls to repent? Are we too stiff-necked to turn back to the LORD and walk His path before it is too late? Does this generation not realize that the apocalyptic events described in Revelation are on the verge of occurring? As cataclysmic judgments loom at our door, how can we continue this foolhardy course?
Any discerning person can recognize what is happening: America is being methodically attacked and the glory of our beloved country is rapidly diminishing. Under the pretense of protection, U.S. and global citizens are being methodically monitored, strategically controlled, and systematically enslaved. Increasing surveillance and loss of privacy are speeding us toward the reality of Revelation 13 – not being able to buy or sell without a mark on the right hand or forehead.
Are We Blind?
Scripture has proven to be amazingly accurate throughout history and is being fulfilled today. Are we too blind to see that many of these prophesied curses are already being experienced in America for violating God’s laws? We are facing impending judgment, yet so many have stopped-up ears, blinded eyes, calloused hearts with values too twisted to recognize what is coming.
Although initially written millennia ago for the nation of Israel, Moses’ words are relevant for America today. God promised great blessings for obedience (Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Leviticus 26:3-13) and restoration for repentance in violating His Word (Leviticus 26:40-45; Isaiah 1:18, 19). The LORD also strongly warned of harsh consequences for rebellion, disobedience, and the persistent violation of His decrees (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Leviticus 26:14-39; and Isaiah 1:2-31).
One day America, like Judah, may be invaded, our people humbled and taken captive. One day those who are selling out America and betraying her by actively or passively undermining her historic values will sit in mourning over the loss of our great cities – as the Jews grieved for Jerusalem when they were taken into Babylonian captivity.
I have grave concerns for this nation I love so much. Every Fourth of July for the past several years I have pondered the gradual – sometimes dramatic – changes in America. I see the flag at our ministry center swaying in the breeze and wonder how long it will fly.
Over three thousand years ago Joshua sent three thousand Israelites to conquer the walled city of Ai. But they were routed by the men of Ai.
Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. So the LORD said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? (Joshua 7:6, 10).
Once Joshua dealt with the sin issue in the camp of Israel (see Joshua 7:11 – 26) they victoriously conquered Ai.
Many Christians today are on their faces prostrate before the Lord – in repentance, prayer, and fasting. While prayer is powerful and essential, it is also imperative that we get off our faces and fulfill God’s ultimate purpose for our lives. What is that purpose? Being witnesses for Christ to a lost and dying world (Acts 1:8).
Obviously, don’t quit praying! But rise up and share your faith in Christ any way you can. Use your phone, letters, e-mail, texts, blogs, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and other forms of media. Witness to telemarketers and anyone who will listen.
God desires to bring many more to salvation before the Rapture of the Church. Perhaps He is using this current crisis to help us get His Gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 24:14). If the coronavirus could so easily and quickly multiply to infect so many people, how much more can believers multiply their testimonies to impact an entire world for Jesus Christ. Begin today!
The raising of Lazarus from the dead and numerous other miracles Jesus performed created an intense expectation among the multitudes. The Jewish people were eager for the Messiah (Christ) to come and defeat the Romans and restore Israel to its former power and glory under King David. So at Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the crowds welcomed Him with shouts of praise as they spread palm branches, and even their own garments in His path.
During His triumphal entry, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling Zechariah 9:9. Jesus was proclaiming Himself as King (just as 1 Kings 1:32-35, 44 records that David had Solomon ride on his mule before having him anointed king). The people welcomed Him with shouts of Hosanna, and the words of Messianic Psalm 118:26, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” Spreading their cloaks on the road was an act of royal homage (2 Kings 9:12, 13).
They Didn’t Understand
Less than a week after the triumphal entry, many of this multitude were shouting for Him to be crucified. Why? What happened? They didn’t understand that it was God’s plan for the Christ to die during His first coming (Romans 11:25, 26). Therefore, they rejected the Messiah and called for His death.
Numerous Old Testament Scriptures foretold the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Messiah (Isaiah 53:5-12; Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10; Psalm 16:10). Nevertheless, the Jewish people and their leaders, as well as Jesus’ disciples, could not understand that God’s purpose was for the Christ to first die as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
Jesus foretold He was going to be crucified. It was for this purpose He had come (John 12:27). Jesus repeatedly told His disciples He must suffer, die, and on the third day rise again (Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-33), but they were confused and did not comprehend what He meant (Luke 18:34; Mark 9:9, 10, 31, 32).
New Testament scholar, Dr. George Eldon Ladd, writes:
This is also why his disciples forsook him when he was taken captive. Their minds were so completely imbued with the idea of a conquering Messiah whose role it was to subdue his enemies that when they saw him broken and bleeding under the scourging, a helpless prisoner in the hands of Pilate, and when they saw him led away, nailed to a cross to die as a common criminal, all their messianic hopes for Jesus were shattered.
The Hebrew Scriptures mention a suffering servant, especially in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. Scripture also tells about the Messiah coming as David’s heir and reigning as King. After centuries of suffering under the yoke of foreigners, and then being under Roman oppression, the Jews of first century Israel yearned for the One who would come and rule on the throne of David forever. Consequently, the Jews of Jesus’ day only focused on the Messiah as coming King.
Peter tried to reprove Jesus for stating that He must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and rise again after three days (Mark 8:31, 32). But Jesus rebuked Peter and said—
Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s (Mark 8:33).
The animal sacrifices in the Tanakh [Old Testament] were a foreshadow of the death of the Messiah. Hebrews 9:22 says, “…without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Whereas the animal sacrifices were regular occurrences, Christ’s sacrificial death was, “once…to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26).
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was no mistake. It had been determined before the creation of the world. The Hebrew Scriptures foretold this mystery of God which was meticulously fulfilled in Jesus Christ and majestically proclaimed to both Jews and Gentiles.
God’s ultimate sacrifice is undeniable proof of His amazing and incomprehensible love for each of us.
A man nearing the age of 70 who had squandered his life, told me he had asked the Lord to forgive him many times over the years. But after repeated failures, he felt he could never be forgiven for all he had done and was doomed eternally.
The Lord instantly spoke to my heart the following words – “There is no sin the Lord cannot forgive, except the sin that is not asked to be forgiven.” This man who had fallen into hopeless despair for his wasted life, accepted, once again, the Lord’s offer of forgiveness (1 John 1:9). A few years later he died as a powerful witness for Jesus Christ.
The infamous snow run began one cold and snowy evening many years ago when Bill Rudge was in his home working on a message late at night and needed something at the ministry center –– a distance of about 100 yards (the length of a football field). Instead of taking the time to put on his socks and shoes, he ran barefoot over to the center.
It was such an adventure and challenge, not to mention saving time, that Bill continued this practice for many years –– through ice, snow, and rain –– until the former ministry center was sold. (Now, he runs to the obstacle course and back.)
When guests visited his home, he would ask if they wanted to do the snow run. Most were curious but declined. However, a few did run it with him.
Bill loves doing things like the snow run because the Lord usually gives him an illustration and spiritual application to share. He impressed on Bill’s heart how a believer’s walk with Him is like the snow run in so many ways.
First, before you embark on the snow run you must count the cost and prepare yourself for the ordeal that lies ahead. You must consider the terrain, time (day or night), and temperature to determine the level of difficulty. And be sure you have the key to the ministry door ready.
Similarly, Jesus said to count the cost before becoming His disciple. And before embarking on any endeavor in His name we must prepare our hearts for whatever might lie ahead. We must be certain we are being led by His Word and Spirit.
As a barefoot runner in shorts and a t-shirt, you cannot be diverted to the right or to the left because after the first few steps your feet start burning. So, too, as believers in Jesus Christ, we must keep our focus on Him and not turn to the right or to the left.
By the time you are halfway across the snow-covered field your feet feel like cement blocks, and then quickly go numb. You cannot stop or you will have to crawl back. Likewise for true believers in Jesus Christ, stopping or giving up during our walk with Him is not an option.
As a snow runner you have to run swiftly and make each step count. You cannot look back lest you slip and fall. In similar fashion, believers must throw off every sin that so easily entangles and swiftly run the race of faith, making each day count for the Lord. We must forget what lies behind and press on with faith and determination.
An observer may not realize the full challenge and difficulty of the snow run but participants in bare feet and wearing only shorts and a t-shirt understand quickly the courage necessary to do the snow run. This is especially true at night when it is below zero degrees, there is a foot of snow on the ground, and the wind is blowing hard.
In the top photo, Keira, a college roommate of Bill’s daughter with a heart for missions, went on the snow run with Bill. Keira’s father is an amazing scientist who persevered through great challenges and obstacles to invent the MRI. Several years ago Bill was honored to perform the wedding of Keira and Markus in Long Island, New York. The bottom photo shows Bill’s grandsons, Lucas (left) and Carson. They did the snow run all the way to the obstacle course and then did pull-ups before running all the way back to the house.
So, too, those who do not know the Lord may not comprehend the commitment and sacrifice of a true Christian unless he or she becomes one. Believers must have tremendous courage to face the onslaughts of the enemy and stand –– sometimes alone –– in the midst of opposition.
As you approach the ministry center parking lot you need to have enough energy to leap or climb over a snow bank several feet high which was left by the snow plow. Likewise, as believers we will face many barriers and obstacles that attempt to impede our progress, but we must persevere and overcome through Christ.
Once you jump over the snow mound you will be sliding across the icy parking lot. You have to maintain your balance lest you fall on the blacktop or bang into the steps or front door of the ministry center and injure yourself.
Likewise, as believers we must maintain a biblical balance by avoiding the extremes of legalism and liberalism. We must not slip or fall by compromising our commitment to Christ and injuring our testimony.
Upon reaching the front door, your freezing hands will fumble with the key, sometimes dropping it, in an attempt to unlock the door as quickly as possible. So, too, if a believer fumbles when facing temptations and tribulations, he or she must speedily ask His forgiveness, get up, and press on.
The burning sensation returns as you walk around inside the ministry center trying to warm your feet on the carpet. You may not want to make the return snow run, but you have to. So, too, once we give our lives to Christ and our hearts are warmed by His love, we must go out into an, often times, cold world and share His love and truth with those who may not always want to hear.
Each step of the snow run brought you closer to your destination and the reward of warmth. Likewise, each day brings us as believers closer to our eternal destiny and an everlasting reward.
As we see the day of the Lord approaching, or our time drawing near to go and be with Him, may we remember this illustration of the snow run. May we remain faithful until the very end and be overcomers who run with perseverance, leap over every barrier and obstacle, and joyfully enter His eternal kingdom.
While the nativity story provides opportunity to reflect upon an incredible event in history, it also has great meaning for us today.
A crucial aspect of the nativity is the trust and obedience of Mary and Joseph. Both demonstrated extraordinary faith in their commitment to God and to following His will, regardless of the cost (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:28-38). So too, God wants to use ordinary people today who will have extraordinary faith and commitment to trust and obey Him no matter what the circumstances.
Upon hearing the good news of a Savior, from the angel of the Lord, the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem to see the baby lying in a manger. They departed glorifying and praising God for the birth of the Savior (Luke 2:8-20). In the midst of commercialism, where the true meaning of Christmas can be obscured or lost altogether, may we be like the shepherds in giving praise and glory to our Savior and Lord.
The Wise Men chose to travel hundreds of arduous miles to worship “He who has been born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). Likewise, may we choose to walk the challenging journey of faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. The rewards at the end will be well worth it.
May this Christmas be more than just the remembrance of a past event or an outpouring of holiday spirit. May the true meaning of the nativity be evident in our lives and homes.