I Dare You!
Israel is described by the Old Testament prophets as a "fruitless Israel" or the "fruitless fig tree." The Old Testament prophets of yesteryear used this tree to describe this often idol-worshiping, often faithless group of people whom God longed to breathe life into once again. Yes they looked good -well actually from a distance they looked good. They had "green leaves" that attracted, but up close they were full of tradition, they were barren, empty, sinful and without fruit and cold towards God. That is exactly the situation in the early church that the Hebrews writer addresses. And this by the way is (for the most part) a picture of the church today! After cautioning his readers against backsliding, he then begins to speak words of life into them! He uses history to remind them what God has done in sending Jesus. God longs to restore His chosen people Israel to himself; and He longs for you to be restored and experience Revival in your personal life. When Christ left, he sent His Holy Spirit as a deposit into our hearts. We have the Power!
Do you speak words of life into people around you? If not, then why not?
Jesus taught them: 32“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. ~ Matthew 24
Israel is the fig tree. This passage can be interpreted as saying that you and me, the Church should be aware of rapid changes happening with Israel, and having an awareness of what is going to happen next. Are you paying attention to how swift changes in the Middle East are happening? Are you "rapture-ready"? Are you speaking words of life into people around you? What about speaking words of life into your immediate family? Time as you know it may be running out.
People following the recent Blood-moon tetrad wondered if something was up; was God using the heavens to alert us? This week we see Russia and it's allies massing with extreme military might just next door to Israel. Today the first Russian attacks happened there. Ostensibly, they are there to combat ISIS in Syria. But God says in Ezekiel 38 " ...I will put hooks in your jaws and draw you (to Israel)". Israel has apparently recently turned down Russia as a negotiations-partner and end-user in Israel's new-found natural gas discoveries. Time will tell, but Russia may have other plans for Israel's natural resources. This week in Syria, Russia is joining forces with many of Israel's enemies in their coalition formation to preserve Assad the brutal Syrian dictator, whom the USA wants gone. So many nations are gathering in this area, each with their own agenda....just as the prophet said 2600 years ago. Surprisingly, China is hugely involved in this coalition as well. However due to Syria's close proximity, Russia is now just a few miles from Israel, the "apple" of God's eye. Perhaps next week, or the week after (...or "soon" enough) they will find it necessary to attack Israel. This may be a good time for you to review the ancient prophecies of Ezekiel 37, 38 and 39 to see exactly what will happen in this scene. God is now setting the stage for the enormous battle He has in mind, whereby He stands by to show himself strong on behalf of his people Israel. The bible indicates that 5/6's of this coalition army will be destroyed. Then He stands by to complete His Israel Restoration Plan! "I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Lord! " (ch. 39:29) when he shows them beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is He who fights for them.
This past week, the so-called "Pope", the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic church visited North America. His speaking or "contact points" were many but he seemed to be on more of a social tour. He spoke of equality, concern for immigrants, concern about global warning and climate change, concern about various issues including encouragement to "do good", However, this "spiritual" leader of over a billion people never once shared a bible verse or spoke of God's Plan of Salvation, which is the message of my bible! He kissed many babies, embraced many in wheelchairs, spoke for some marginalized people. However, Pope Francis never once offered any hope for salvation by telling others to turn to Jesus Christ, God's only Plan of Salvation.
Jesus said, "You must be born again;" and "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~John 3"
I realize it's easy to criticize, but this is a glaring example of a colossal failure of a spiritual leader! As we near wind-up our book of Hebrews tour, I look at the contrast between the Hebrews writer compared to what we've just seen on this leader's "social tour". Hebrews is written as a revival call; a reminder to get right with God; to remember how great He is and what He has done for us through sending His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. It starts, by telling us "...in these last days, God has spoken to us through His Son!", and admonishes us to "Fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith!"
Thus my thoughts turn to witnessing. What we receive vertically from God, we need to use to horizontally affect those around us. We learn "bible", not to puff us up or "sit" on what we've learned. We want to affect our world. Both the bible and our newspapers tell us that life as we know it is rapidly changing. End-time prophesies that at one time were seemingly vague and distant have become much sharper in their focus when looking at current events. The Church is sensing the imminence of the Rapture stronger than at any time ever. Time as we know it may be shorter than we think! Let's make reasonable use of the time we have to spread Christ's message. Recently, I've had the opportunity of speaking to several colleagues about their personal relationship with Christ. I've been preparing for that. I've been studying my bible to "... Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" ~ 1 Peter 3
I would want to say that they fell to their knees and right there and then after much sobbing they gave their lives to God on the spot. But no, that's not what happened. What happened is that a seed was planted. It is my responsibility to be faithful with a given opportunity...it's the Holy Spirit's job to convict of sin and draw someone towards Christ. That part is not my job; only the Holy Spirit can do that part! When I've asked the Holy Spirit to give me an opportunity for witnessing; He hasn't disappointed me and I've jumped at the opportunity to witness for Jesus. You know the first time you witness, you may think you'll struggle with the wording, but the Word says that if we rely on the Holy Spirit, that He will give us the words to say. In every case, I've found that was true and I had the words to say! And interestingly I've found that most people you witness to will have never heard the gospel message! - YES. Believe it or not, for most people, this will come as new information!
Why don't you this week, ask the Spirit for an opportunity to speak words of life into our world and witness for Jesus? ...and then when the opportunity comes stay faithful! I dare you.