Living in the 21st century, compared to the 20 that came before, has many advantages. Well, maybe I should put that a different way. Life is much easier now than it used to be. We have nice conveniences like refrigerators, air conditioning, and in-door plumbing.
We also live in a world with an abundance of options. As Burger King likes to remind us, we can have it our way. They, of course, are talking about their hamburgers, but the same can be said of basically anything in life right now. Which is great when it comes to what we eat and what clothes we want to wear, but in other instances, not so much.
Mainly, what I am speaking to here is the Bible. When it comes to The Word of God, we do not get to have it our way. We can’t pick and choose the parts we like and just forget about those we don’t like. I know it may be difficult to hear this, but it’s the truth. (Side note, we also can't take verses out of context.)
We can’t decide that we love and agree with one part and completely disregard others. There is a purpose and reason for every single thing that is in the Bible. Nothing is there by chance.
Now, I must mention to you how important it is to study and truly learn and know your Bible. The Old Testament laws are very different from the New Testament laws. You are doing yourself a vast disservice if you don’t know and understand the difference. I urge you to spend time in The Word every day. Spend time with God. Find a group of people and study the Word and discuss it together!
The Old Testament is the foundation for the New Testament. Think of the Old Testament as your great-grandparents and yourself as the New Testament. You would not be here with your great-grandparents. You can’t have the new without the old.
Now, if you would like to get a better, basic understanding of the differences between the Old and New Testament laws, you should read this great article by Courtney Joseph, called Do Christians Pick and Choose Which Parts of Scripture We Apply? Courtney explains the Old and New Testaments laws in an easy-to-understand fashion.
Listen, I am sharing this with you because I need to hear it myself. It can be disconcerting knowing that we must accept every facet of the Bible—that we can’t take what we like from it and leave what we don’t. But, as any good parent who loves their children, God uses “tough love” on us so that we can grow into the people we are meant to be. And, there are tons of places where we need His tough love.
As I have talked about in other posts, if we are to grow spiritually, there will be growing pains. (See Grow Up and Growing Pains.) And, if we are to become who God truly means for us to be, we have to go through a refining process. That is just part of our journey.
Right now we are living in exhausting times. 2020 has been complicated and trying for all of us. There are many people I see either on TV or via social media that I do not like very much. Now, the Bible doesn’t say we must agree with them, but we must love them.
Personally, I have a hard time with this--a very hard time. As a matter of fact, I grapple with 1 John 4:20 often. That verse says, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother or sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” To be honest, after seeing some of my brothers and sisters and how they act and treat others, it makes it easy for me NOT to love them. And, I must confess, I can act pretty horribly towards others myself at times. Pretty ironic, isn’t it?
But, the Bible tells us to love God and love others. Actually, those are the two greatest commandments in the Bible. Matthew 22:37-40 tells us, “And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
However, when we learn to look past each other’s differences and start looking at others with our hearts, we learn to be more like Jesus. And, as Christians, isn’t that what we want? To be like Jesus? I know that is what I want! More than anything else in this world!
And, this is why we must learn that every aspect of the Bible is important. This is why we must accept the Bible as it is--we can't have it our way. If we did have the Bible our way, we would be missing out on steps that are vital to our spiritual growth. And, I don't know about you, but I want to be as complete as possible.
I have always been fascinated with the book of Revelation. I guess mainly because I know it is a prophecy of what is to come in this life. Or, as I have come to believe, what is happening right now. I have read it multiple times in hopes that I can make some sense out of it, but always come away scratching my head. What about you? Have you ever read it and wondered what in the heck John is talking about?
Revelation is chock-full of symbolic meaning. But, how do you interpret it? I remember asking others about this and no one had very good answers. And, ultimately, it was just something I let slip into my rearview mirror.
However, since March, when COVID-19 came into our lives and started us on this roller coaster ride of craziness, I have been turning my eyes back to God and His Word. Throw in all the insanity of our world with corrupt politics and race relations, and well, I couldn’t help but think of Bible prophecy again.
Then, at the end of June, I stumbled across a book that was soon to be released called Tipping Point The End Is Here by senior pastor of Gateway Church, Jimmy Evans. Maybe I shouldn’t say stumbled, I honestly think God sent it my way on purpose.
Upon reading that pastor Evans has studied Biblical end times prophecy, known as eschatology, for forty-five years and that the book is an analysis of Scripture, I bought it right away.
When I received it in the mail last week, I dove right in! What with everything that is going on in our world right now, it was like I was dying of thirst and this book was a keg of fresh, ice-cold, refreshing water.
Tipping Point opened my eyes to not only the book of Revelation, but to all of the prophecies of the Bible.
Did you know that 30 percent of the Bible is prophecy? Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Habakkuk, Nahum, Zaphaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were all prophets. Not to mention Jesus himself.
I finished the book in less than 24 hours. And, I keep opening it back up to re-read it. I am blown away at what Jimmy had written. Hence, why I am here to share the book with you.
The end times can be a very scary thing; especially if you don’t know God as your Lord and Savior. If you think the times we are living in right now are bad, I have news for you, it is nothing compared to what is coming. Once the Tribulation gets here, it will truly be hell on earth.
That is why I am pleading with you today, get to know the Lord. He loves you so very much. You are His child and there is nothing you can do or have done that will make Him turn away from you. I would be overjoyed and honored to introduce you to Him. Please just reach out to me, or someone else you know who is a true Christian and you feel you can trust. Go visit a church and talk to the pastor there. Go online to any one of the following sites and listen, read, and learn: David Jeremiah, Max Lucado, or Joyce Meyer. It’s not too late. But, the time is NOW.
However, if you are a Christian and believe in God and are in a right relationship with Him, this book will give you solace and comfort. It shows you how to have hope and peace in the midst of all of our current turmoil.
This book is the proof in the pudding that God is real. It is definitive and awe-inspiring—just as God is.
Plus, honestly, no matter what you believe, Tipping Point is incredibly fascinating just from a historical and current events' standpoint.
Jimmy walks you through Israel and her history and the vital importance of her role.
Jimmy turns our eyes skyward to explain what the sun, moon, and stars have to say.
And, Jimmy gives us a play-by-play with critical insight into how we are the final generation and how we have seen every end times event fulfilled. He tells us that while every generation has seen some signs of the end times, the final generation will have every sign.
This is it folks. We are the final generation. We are living at the end of the end times.
I pray that you will not be here for the Tribulation that you will instead be with Jesus in heaven, celebrating, as I will be. It is something I am looking forward to.
But, please note that no one knows the day or time when Jesus will return. It could be today or seven years from now. As Jimmy tells us and I will end sharing with you; Plan as though Jesus in not returning for a hundred years and live as though Jesus is returning today.
Much like my last post, I woke up this morning and something just popped into my head--seemingly out of nowhere. (Although, I am learning to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit.) And, the thought was this: hue man beings.
As you probably well know, there is a great deal of turmoil bubbling and running rampant in our country right now. The problem is racism. And, as I am now getting accustomed to doing, I decided to look in my Bible for the answer to this problem.
What does the Bible say about racism, anyway? Well, from my reading and research, nothing. Which, in turn, speaks volumes.
The first thing we need to understand as Christians, is that there is only one race--the human race. Caucasians, Africans, Asians, Arabs, and Jews are not different races. Rather, they are different ethnicities of the human race. We all have the same physical characteristics, with minor variations, of course. More importantly, we have all been created in the likeness and image of God. (Genesis 1:26-27) God so loved the world that He sent His son, Jesus, to lay down His life for us. (John 3:16). And, the "world" obviously includes all ethnic groups.
And, while I can't find any references to race or racism in the Bible, I can find plenty of verses that tell us to love one another. Jesus commands us to love one another as He loves us. (John 13:34) We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. (James 2:8) Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25 that whatever we do to the least of His brothers, we do to Him. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
We are not only human beings, but we are hue man beings. The dictionary defines hue as a gradation or variety of a color. or colors, or complexion. Humans come in all different colors. Our complexions and skin tones are as varied as our personalities. Much like all the beautiful plants and flowers God created, God created us humans to be colorful and unique. Could you image a world with only red roses? Don't get me wrong, red roses are lovely, but if they were the only flower in the world--well, how boring! Instead, God not only created red roses but purple irises, yellow sunflowers, blue hydrangeas, green hellebores, orange daisies, pink tulips, white gardenias, and, well, you get the idea!
We need to end racism. All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are affronts to the work of Christ on the cross. God does not show partiality or favoritism, and neither should we. No, indeed, as the children's song says, "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight." We are the "they" in this song. And, we all belong to one race--the human race.
Growing in the Lord can sometimes feel like a struggle. In your heart you know you want to be a good Christian and reflect God’s love and light, but you wonder if you are actually doing that. You want to learn and grow and study the Word of God, but you feel like it is time-consuming and arduous. What can you do?
Trust me, I know how hard it can be. It is a busy world. We all have a lot going on. We are parents, spouses, employees, and friends. We all have a lot of things we are responsible for and people we are accountable to. We have jobs to do, houses to clean, errands to run, laundry to wash, and food to cook. And, all of these things are never-ending. (Especially the laundry!)
While growing my relationship with the Lord is a top priority in my life, it recently dawned on me, that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Actually, if you want to, you can make it a simple process. You can grow and will see growth in your spiritual life by taking three easy steps: be thankful, and trust and believe.
Yes, that’s it.
First, be thankful. I have gotten into the habit of thanking God every day as often as I can. Before I get out of bed, I thank God for another day, for my health, for my family, my job, and my home. I sprinkle small “thank yous” to God throughout my day. It helps me stay connected to God and it works wonders on my attitude.
Next, I just trust and believe. I believe in God. I believe that He loves me and wants the best for me. I trust in God. I trust Him to take care of me. I trust His will for my life. I trust His timing. I trust that He will work all things out for my good.
In addition to the above “trusting and believing”, I have cultivated a little “special sauce” I have added to my life. I tell myself that good things will happen. I just make up my mind that good things will happen. And, you know what? They do!
It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Nothing can be that easy. I agree. Most things in life are not this simple. But, with God and your love and belief in Him, it really can be this straightforward.
How can I be so confident? Because I am living it right now.
Nonetheless, I must be completely transparent with you. Getting to this point in my life--where I love and trust and believe in God this much--has taken me years. But, each one of us is different. Just because it has taken me years to get to this stage of my spiritual growth doesn’t mean that it will take you that long. But, maybe it will. Only God knows your future and your path. But I would like to encourage you and help you along your journey as much as I can. That is why I have this blog.
So, I will finish this post by saying that this is now my life. I am thankful and I trust and believe. And, God is showing Himself to me in all sorts of amazing ways. And, I couldn’t be more grateful or thankful for it. Which, is to say, I couldn’t be more thankful and grateful to God and His love for me.
I just love God and how He works! Today, I have to share with you a story about a very dear friend of mine and how good God is and how God works in our lives.
My friend, Marie, has been working in various jobs over the last fifteen plus years that have left her feeling depleted, unfulfilled, and unhappy. She has often found herself in toxic work environments that were killing her inner spirit. She says she feels like she has been searching for a place that would connect all the dots in her life—a place working with good people, who did the right things (because that is the way she thinks the world should work), a place where bosses and co-workers were responsible and respectful and kind to one another, and a place that would allow her talents to shine and be put to good use helping others. She used to joke that she was searching for the “unicorn” of the work world; a place that she never thought could exist.
Well, recently, Marie was offered a position with a company that checks off all the items on her “unicorn” list. And, she was over-the-moon about it and excited beyond words.
The only down-side, if there really was one, was the salary. In order to accept the “unicorn” job she was offered; she would have to take a pretty big pay cut. After discussing it with her husband and taking a close look at their bills and budget, she realized that she could not do it. As a family, they could not afford for her to take a step-back that big in her salary. It was disheartening to her, to say the least.
Now, here is where God comes in.
Fast forward five months.
Marie and her family are in a better place because some major bills have been removed from their plates. The owner of the “unicorn’ company not only saved a place for her, but he reworked his salary offer and it was much closer to where she needed to be, only off by $5,000. After reviewing their budget and more discussion, she and her husband realized that they could make the new financial arrangement work. So, this time around, she joyfully accepted the offer!
Then, a few weeks after this happened, God was still working His magic. Marie and her husband had applied for the homestead exemption on their house. This lowered their monthly mortgage payment, which would help with her having a lower salary. Then, they received a check they were not expecting, due to some bills being overpaid. Guess how much that check was for? If you guessed $5,000, you are right! And, this completely made up for the $5,000 loss in her salary.
Now, if this doesn’t point straight to God, nothing does!
Only God can work everything like this out in such an amazing way.
And, this is why I love God so much and why He deserves so much praise and glory. He certainly works in mysterious ways.
During those 15 years of searching for the “unicorn” job, Marie grew spiritually. So that time was invaluable to her. She told me how vital all of this was for her to be able to grow closer to the Lord. She also said that she has finally realized that everything gets done on God’s timetable, not hers. These are just a few of the priceless gifts the Lord has bestowed upon her in her waiting.
I have been thinking lately about some of the most precious gifts the Lord has ever given us. When you think about it, the Lord has given us many countless gifts – millions of gifts– but there are a handful that are, in my humble opinion, just beyond compare. (And, in my mind, beyond comprehension.)
Here are the gifts that I am referring to:
While none of these gifts are things we can reach out and touch, they are all life-changing and life-giving, if we let them be. We only need to accept them. They are ours, free for the taking. God’s love for each one of us is unfathomable. Our tiny human brains can’t even begin to grasp it. (Or, Him for that matter.)
As I have been pondering these inconceivable gifts and His love for me, I am awe-struck. But, more importantly, I am humbled and grateful.
Thank you, Lord, for these esteemed gifts you have given us. Your love for me is beyond my understanding, but I am so grateful for it and you. Please help me to accept and use these gifts wisely and for your honor and glory. In your son’s name I pray, Amen.
It takes time for a seed to grow.
It takes time for a cake to bake.
It takes time to save up for a house.
And, just like anything in life, growing spiritually in relationship with the Lord takes time, too. It is a journey that, while it can seem long and painful at times, is really such a rewarding and fruitful one. In fact, it is the most beneficial, worthwhile and fulfilling pilgrimage of your life. (That is, if you let it be.)
It is an adventure that will awaken our senses, our minds, our hearts, our bodies, and our souls.
And, because we live in a fallen world, it is also an odyssey that is full of twists and turns, hills and valleys. Dangers are lurking everywhere—because the devil is out there—seeking whom he may devour.
But, praise the Lord, God is out there, too. And, not only is God out there, if we ask Him into our hearts, He is inside of us as well. He is with us and for us. The victory is His—He has already won the war for us on the cross at Calvary. Therefore, likewise, the victory is ours!
This sojourn that we take as Christians offers us a wealth of opportunities to grow and mature in Christ. It allows us to become more and more like Him every day. As Paul reminds us, we go from glory to glory.
It is an expedition that has its fair share of snares and thorns, but I am learning to embrace each of them. The wisdom and peace that comes with walking with God allows us to see every situation, most especially the bad ones, as opportunities to grow in grace and mercy and understanding. They are circumstances in which we can reach out to God and He will hold us tightly in His arms, being our comforter, our strength, our shelter, our foundation, and our fortress. He happily does all these things for us because He is our Father and our Creator, and He loves us.
I cry at this thought. At God’s mercy and grace and forgiveness; at His love for us.
I cry because, as a human, I can sometimes feel so very far away from Him.
I cry because I feel like I am failing miserably at sharing His love and light to all those around me.
I am also happy because I have found God.
I am happy because I have an amazing example to follow in Jesus. And, I am working towards the goal of being more like Him.
I am happy because I know I have a home for eternity in heaven with Him.
I am happy because, no matter what I do or don't do, no matter how many times I mess up, God loves me. He loves me unconditionally.
Sadness and happiness abound, sometimes even in equal measure.
Such is the nature of being a human, I guess.
But, my point is this: the journey to Christ, in our relationship with Him, is worth it. It is worth the trouble. It is worth the effort. It is worth our blood, sweat, and tears. It is worth fighting for, for ourselves and others.
Because at the end of our journey we get to live with Christ forever in the new heavens and the new earth. That in and of itself should be enough. That should be all we need to know in order to strive for a healthy relationship with the Lord.
However, the Bible tells us that our new home in eternity will be so much more than just being with God. (Again, I can't stress this enough, just being with God should be all we need.) Revelation tells us that God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Death shall be no more. There shall be no more mourning, crying, or pain.
And, to me, the added bonus is that all believers will be together. This means everyone I love here on earth, who is a believer, will be in heaven with me.
I mean, can it get any better than that?!?!
Yes, yes it can.
How? I genuinely have no idea. But, I do know that the new heavens and the new earth will be more amazing and stunning than anything we could ever imagine with our tiny human brains. I believe it will be full of incredible surprises.
But, the most crucial aspect is this: we are talking about eternity here. Time without end. This will be forever. This is why our relationship journey with Christ is vital. For without this journey and without Him, we will be lost. We will be cast in the lake of fire permanently.
And, I don't know about you, but to me, the choice between these two options is clear. I hope it is to you too.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.