Time to Shine

Isaiah 60: 1-2 (KJV)

“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall rise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.”

We are clearly living in unprecedented times upon this earth and everywhere we look it seems that darkness is creeping in like a filthy plague. In just my fifty plus years on this earth, I have seen a world change so drastically before me. Everything that was once deemed good is now considered evil, and everything that was deemed evil, is now considered good. There are laws being written now to protect evil rather than to punish it. Society is quickly spiraling out of control – there is name calling, people hating on one another and accusations flying back and forth where more than often each party is guilty of the very same things they accuse the other side of. Hypocrisy has become engrained in their DNA. People are being censored for merely asking intelligible questions or expressing their views freely on a situation. Corruption is running rife at the highest levels of society destroying innocent people’s lives along the way. I have never seen humanity so lost as I see it today, so strayed from God and His standards. We have certainly reached an age of horrific deception where lying and cheating has become so normal and right for those with evil agendas that they no longer feel any remorse for their wrongdoings. There are sexual perversions of all kinds, and just to add insult to injury, a man-made virus has been unleashed upon this world. It seems to me that the further humanity gets away from the Truth, the more humanity  goes further down into a hell hole of ‘ugliness’! The sad thing is, is that so many innocent people in this world are being affected by the selfish and evil agendas of a minority that hold all the cards, so many are being left feeling hopeless, broken, despaired and full of fear with so much uncertainty pertaining to the future.

2 Timothy 3: 1-4 (AMP)

1 -“BUT UNDERSTAND this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble (hard to deal with and hard to bear).

2 – For people will be lovers of self and (utterly) self-centered), lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate (greedy) desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane.

3 – (They will be) without natural (human) affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); (they will be) slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good.

4 – (They will be) treacherous (betrayers), rash, (and) inflated with self-conceit. (They will be) lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God.”

Hence, I paraphrase Isaiah’s words, ‘darkness is covering the earth, and a gross darkness consuming the people.’

Thank goodness, as children of God, we are positioned in Christ and Him in us, and we have His manual which has given us a heads up on this story. We know how it ends and it’s not good for the world, but it is going to be glorious for the church! Yes, we win – Hallelujah! This is why we need not to be anxious, stressed, fearful or depressed. He will never leave us, nor forsake us! He is our hope!

Romans 15: 4 (AMP)

“For whatever was thus written in former days was written for our instruction, that by (our steadfast and patient) endurance and the encouragement (drawn) from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hope.”

Deuteronomy 31: 6 (NIV)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

ARE YOU VEXED!

2 Peter 2: 6-8 (AMP)

6 – “And He (God) condemned to ruin and extinction the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, reducing them to ashes (and thus) set them forth as an example to those who would be ungodly;

7 – And He rescued righteous Lot, greatly worn out and distressed by the wanton ways of the ungodly and lawless –

8 – For that just man, living (there) among them, tortured his righteous soul every day with what he saw and heard of (their) unlawful and wicked deeds-“

The word ‘wanton’, in the seventh verse means the following: Cruel, violent, malicious, unprovoked, sexually unrestrained and perverse. Reckless, arrogant, ignoring justice, disregard for human rights, indecency, immoral, lying.

This was the world that Lot was living in and doesn’t it sound like the world we are living in today? A different generation, but the same evil spirit!

In the same verse, we see that Lot is referred to as ‘righteous’. In other words, Lot was in right standing with God, he was an Old Covenant saint, even though he had gotten off the track after parting ways with his Uncle Abraham, he was still ‘righteous’ before God. If you are a born again child of God, you too are righteous and a New Covenant saint. You cannot lose your ‘righteousness’, it was given to you as a free gift from God, you did nothing to earn it and therefore there is nothing you can do to lose it!

Like Lot, we can certainly identify with him when looking upon the ‘wanton’ ways of the ungodly, when feeling greatly worn out and distressed by what we see and hear. In the eighth verse, it says that he was tortured in his righteous soul every day by the unlawful and wicked deeds of the people. In the Old King James Translation, it says that he was ‘vexed’ in his righteous soul. This word ‘vexed’ means the following: Hard to bear, wears you out, makes you spiritually, emotionally and even physically tired.

Are you feeling vexed?

Personally, I think that if you are looking at this world today and all that is going on in it, you should certainly be feeling somewhat vexed in your spirit like Lot, if not, you should be concerned, but if you are, then I believe it is a good thing! As a child of God, we should have peace, joy and hope at the thought of the imminent return of Christ, but yet, we can simultaneously be grieved in our spirits at what is going on around us. However, let us not just sit and be angry at what we see, but rather let us channel this ‘vexing’ into compassion for those who are perishing and are lost.

CHILDREN OF LIGHT!

Have you ever stood back and looked on at a large crowd of people? I guarantee you that there are children of Light among the children of darkness, the wheat among the tares!

Matthew 12: 24-30 (AMP)

24 – Another parable He set forth before them saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.

25 – But while he was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed also darnel (tares, weeds resembling wheat) among the wheat, and went on his way.

26 – So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the darnel (tares, weeds) appeared also.

27 – And the servants of the owner came to him and said, Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Then how does it have darnel shoots in it?

28 – He replied to them, An enemy has done this. The servants said to him, Then do you want us to go and weed them out?

29 – But he said, No, lest in gathering the wild wheat (tares, weeds resembling wheat), you root up the (true) wheat along with it.

30 – Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the reapers, Gather the darnel first and bind it in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my granary.”

Matthew 13: 36 – 43 (AMP)

36 – Then He (Jesus) left the throngs and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him saying, “Explain to us the parable of the darnel in the field.”

37 – He answered, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.

38 – The field is the world, and the good seed means the children of the kingdom; the darnel is the children of the evil one,

39 – And the enemy who sowed it is the devil. The harvest is the close and consummation of the age, and the reapers are angels.

40 – Just as the darnel (tares, weeds resembling wheat) is gathered and burned with fire, so it will be at the close of the age.

41 – The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of offense (persons by whom others are drawn into error or sin) and all who do iniquity and act wickedly,

42 – And will cast them into the furnace of fire; there will be weeping and wailing and grinding of teeth.

43 – Then will the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God) shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let him who has ears (to hear) be listening, and let him consider and perceive and understand by hearing.”

As children of light (wheat), we move and live life among the children of darkness (tares, weeds). The thing is the ‘tares’ don’t need to be gathered to be burned if we can reach them – they too can be counted among the wheat at harvest time. It should be heart rendering for us as Christians to live out life among them knowing that they will spend an eternity separated from God in hell’s fire.  We carry the key to the only door that allows them access to an eternity with God opposed to an eternity without Him. The key is the Gospel, the Good News of God and from God, and the door is Jesus! We need compassion for the lost, broken and hurting! Some of the ‘tares’ are people we personally know like our friends, family members or work colleagues; they are people we have come to love and care for. With all that is going on in the world around us now we know that time is short and of the essence, we need to take bold and decisive steps to reach out to them.

I don’t care what any human being on this earth may tell you, but I know with certainty that at some point in one’s life, questions will arise in their heart pertaining to death and what lies beyond it. Other questions may arise such as, ‘what am I doing here, what is my purpose and destiny?’ Before I was saved, I can remember sometimes waking in the early hours of the morning, lying there thinking about many things and inevitably the thought of death would always creep into my mind. The fear of death would grip me so badly that I would find myself in a frozen state that consumed me from the inside out. I would begin to cry not knowing what would become of me and then I would always wish that I had never been born at all! Since coming to salvation in Jesus Christ, never in my life have I ever had those experiences again. The minute I came to salvation, these frightening experiences ceased completely and immediately. The reason is, is because my salvation is sure and I know in my heart where I am going and to Whom I am going, and the very thought of that warms my heart and puts the biggest smile on my face. No more fear, why? Because perfect love casts out all fear and He is perfect love! To think we will be eternally in the presence of perfect love. Amen!

To be honest, I don’t think there is time to waste now, the clock is ticking and we know that things pertaining to this earth are wrapping up and this dispensation is coming to a close. The harvest is ripe and ready for the picking! If you are a born again child of God on this earth today, then you are alive for such a time as this – you were not on this earth at the time when the church was born, God ordained you to be part of the end time church. It’s time for each and every one of us to get over ourselves, step up and then step out in faith! There is a world out there full of scared, depressed and confused people waiting for you to reach into their troubled world and bring the Good News of the Gospel! The pandemic we are living with in our world today has left so many in a place of extreme fear at the thought of losing their lives or someone close to them. The realization of the certainty of death weighs down heavily upon those without Christ. Never has there been a time more perfect to reach out to those around us. I guess what I am saying is that it’s TIME TO SHINE!

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE!

Acts 1: 8 (AMP)

“But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.”

Daniel 12: 3 (NIV)

“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”

Initially, witnessing to someone can be nerve wracking, but it’s not hard. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. When I first started witnessing to people, the thing that got to me the most was the fear of rejection, but I came to a resolve early on that when it does happen, I will remind myself that it is not me they are rejecting, but Christ in me, and you know what? I believe it saddens Jesus, but He is okay with it because He suffered the full measure of rejection throughout His ministry, all the way to the cross and beyond. I think He is more than use to it by now. If He didn’t fall apart, then I don’t think we should either. I can tell you this, that in my experiences, most people listened and even embraced the Good News of Jesus Christ. There have been few that I can remember of that out rightly rejected the message and became angry or aggressive towards me, the messenger. So this tells me that more than often we get ourselves into fear all for nothing.

When I became serious about witnessing, I found a good, but short salvation prayer that covered all the important bits and I learnt it off by heart. I wanted to be ready when that person made a decision for Christ. When it did happen, it took me so much by surprise that I completely forgot the prayer, but I quietly asked Holy Spirit for His help and thankfully He came through for me. He gave me the very words I needed for that moment in time. I don’t think the wording was exactly the same as the prayer I had memorized, but I believe that they were perfect because when we lean on and trust Holy Spirit, the outcome will be far beyond and better than anything we could ever do apart from Him. This is why we need the Holy Spirit. It was a combination of my eagerness to witness, my steadfast learning of that salvation prayer and the leaning on the Holy Spirit that sealed the deal! Really, it is so exciting, so rewarding to be part of leading someone into the most important relationship of their lives. It will get you hooked knowing that every time you lead someone in that prayer to salvation, you have just emptied hell of another potential candidate, a tare that would be burnt to a frizzle, but will now stand counted amongst the wheat who are righteous before the King of kings and Lord of lords.

There is nothing closer to God’s heart than salvations – he personally desires that all men be saved and not one be lost (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).  We know that not all men will accept Christ, but that should not stop us from witnessing as we do not know where the wind blows or from whence it comes – in other words we do not know who is coming in to the kingdom and who isn’t, and so our job is simply to witness to those around us when the opportunity arises.

I remember the first person I ever witnessed to was my Muslim Lebanese neighbour in Dubai. Taljeh was a tall and beautiful woman with children the same age as my own and so we quickly struck up a friendship because our kids liked to play together. I started asking God to orchestrate an opportunity for me to witness to her. Then one afternoon, that opportunity came in the form of a few questions she asked of me concerning my faith in Jesus. From the way the conversation was going I knew it was going to take some time and prayer. Over the next couple of months, our conversation continued in small doses, but also progressed in her opening up to me more and more concerning personal issues in her life which then inevitably landed up with her asking for prayer. Every time I laid hands on her and prayed, there was an overwhelming presence of God which always moved her to tears. Then one late afternoon our conversation continued to the point where I jumped right in and asked if she wanted to put her faith in Jesus? The answer that came was not the one I was expecting or hoping for, but she went on to explain that it was a decision that she could not make at that moment. Her parents and her husband were very strict Muslims. She would not only be cast out of her home and their lives, but she would also lose her kids. In her vulnerable state, she did not think that she could deal with losing so much.  I guess this is the price that many in our world do pay for making a decision for Christ which for us in the Western world we cannot understand. When it came to Taljeh, it was possible that I was perhaps the first person to have ever witnessed to her. I remember going back to my home, walking up the stairs to my bedroom with a heavy heart, entering my bedroom and throwing myself down on my bed like a small child throwing a tantrum. I yelled out to God and said, “All these months and I could not get her saved!” Well God did not take His time in answering me. He was abundantly clear in saying, “I did not ask you to save anyone, but simply to sow the seed!” It hit me like a fast moving freight train! Of course, we cannot save anyone because it’s not our job. Jesus has already provided salvation through the finished work of the cross and the Holy Spirit is the One who draws a man to the feet of Jesus Christ. God has done the hard part, now our part, which is much easier, is to sow the seed of the Gospel in our witnessing and if the soil of a man’s heart is ready to receive, they will put their faith in Him. My job was technically done because I had sown the good news of Jesus Christ into Taljeh’s heart. I immediately felt uplifted and knew that it wouldn’t matter if I never led anyone to Christ, but rather that I made it my resolve to share the Gospel with as many people as I could on my journey through life. We are the vessels he uses – our mouths, our hands and our feet! A few months later, Taljeh left Dubai for Lebanon and sadly, I lost all connection with her, but my prayer remains that God would continue to send many across her path to water the seeds already sown. I pray with all my heart that she has come to know Jesus personally and intimately, and that she would go on to sow the seed of this beautiful Gospel in her own nation.

CONCLUSION:

I believe, because salvations are so close to God’s heart, the more you step out and witness, the more God will use you to do it. He will always position you in places and situations where you and your mouth will be needed. If you are faithful in little, God will bring an increase because He knows you will be faithful with a lot. Imagine if every Christian on this earth led one person to faith in Jesus and then that person led another one and so on – well, I guess we would eventually land up with a world full of God’s children. What a different world we would be living in! As the light pushes through across this earth, the darkness would have to dissipate and crawl back into the pit it came out of. Humanity would turn from their wicked ways, this earth would be healed and the blessings of God would be manifested everywhere. Of course, we know that the gate that leads to life is narrow and compressed and few are those who find it. We know how the story ends and sadly because so many will not receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, they will not live out an eternity reigning and ruling with Him. But, for those of us who do belong to Jesus we must push through now when the harvest is so ripe and ready. I believe we as the church are entering a time when God’s glory will be seen visibly upon us. As the world continues to get darker and darker, His Light is going to shine brighter and brighter on us and through us like His stars in the heavens. The power of the Holy Spirit will be overwhelmingly felt by many as we witness and take ground for His kingdom.

The words of the prophet Isaiah ring out louder and louder as I gaze upon a world that is fast and furiously falling apart, “Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” (NIV)

It is time for us to awaken from our sleep because our work is cut out for us, the devil is certainly doing his work and he will continue to do his work more progressively and more ‘ugly’ unless we step up to the plate. So again I repeat,

CHURCH, IT’S TIME TO SHINE!

Blessings!

Until my next post,

Joanne.

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