Thereâ€™s an old story about a very old hotel that stood right next to a railroad track. Every time the train would come roaring past, the shabby old structure would shake like it was about to crumble, but year after year it withstood the trainâ€™s vibrations. The hotel guests would holler to the manager, â€œWhatâ€™s going on?â€ when the rumbling would start. His reply was always the same: â€œRelax, itâ€™s only the train. Itâ€™s only the train.â€ And then one dayâ€¦ the hotel came crashing down.
In our country, good men and women of God and wise secularists have warned over and over that the US was headed for a crash. Like that old hotel, the foundations of our country are being destroyed year after year. Hereâ€™s why:
- We are debt-ridden, owing Â $16,369,984,159,473.81, as of Monday, December 17, 2012. The national debt has continued to increase an average ofâ€¨$3.86 billion per day since September 28, 2007! Every man, woman and child in the United States currently owes $53,469 for their share of the U.S. public debt. Weâ€™re undeniably broke and still bringing in even more people to care for when our taxes are going out the roof to pay for little more than â€œpolitical advantageâ€ for political parties. The â€œFedâ€ (a private group of mega dollar international bankers â€“ they are not a federal agency) is in charge of the flow of money and can manipulate it as they see fit.
- Our country is continuing to pass laws in the name of â€œrightsâ€ that fly in the face of the Word of God.
- Many TV shows and movies shamelessly mock godliness and true righteousness as archaic and out of step with the â€œprogressiveâ€ culture.
- Most churches and their members are still asleep at the wheel, preaching â€œGod-liteâ€ messages that soothe souls but often donâ€™t deeply change the faithful.
- Obamacare will be an undeniable catastrophe, with medical insurance premiums predicted to double or triple for those who choose not to participate. Companies are already giving their employees the ax to prepare for this. And no one really knows whatâ€™s in the bill! One thing is certain: bureaucrats not doctors will decide our ultimate healthcare fate.
No need to go on with all the usual mess of broken relationships, church splits, the drug pandemic, unfaithfulness, indifference, self-centeredness, racial hatred, and self-preserving politicians whoâ€™d rather get reelected than do whatâ€™s right. Where we are and what weâ€™ll be experiencing is encapsulated in the following portion of Scripture:
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].
2Â 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.
3Â [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.
4Â [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.
Â 5Â For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are Â Â Â Â strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them] (2 Tim. 3:1-5 Amp.)
Sound like today? It is. Note several things that are characteristic of this generation: 1) they love self and are utterly self-centered; 2) they are â€œknow-it-allsâ€ and dishonor their parents; 3) they are too focused on making money to deeply care about the kingdom of God; 4) they are profane, speaking evil words and even blasphemous speech with no conviction of wrong; 5) they lack natural affection â€“ in other words, they are cold-hearted and cruel; 6) they love any kind of sensuality, whatever pleases their senses, be it sexual or otherwise, and are â€œcaught upâ€ in amusements, sports and whatever pleases them; 7) they canâ€™t keep their word and are slanderers of good and godly people; 8) theyâ€™re religious (holding to a â€œformâ€ of religion), but they deny the power of the Holy Spirit. These are churches that â€œplay church,â€ much like the Laodicean church (literally, â€œthe church of the peopleâ€) mentioned in Rev. 3:14-22. (Strongâ€™s #2992, meaning â€œpeopleâ€ and dike Strongâ€™s #1349), meaning â€œprinciple, decisionâ€), or the people decide or rule the church and not God.
This description is enough for some to cave into fear, even without considering the growing Islamic threat, jihad and sharia law that is forcing its way across Europe, and will likely make its way here. We also have a government that will take any opportunity to know everything about what was once the private lives of its citizens, and it is storing huge amounts of ammunition for a â€œdomestic army,â€ as directed by President Obama.
Whatâ€™s a domestic army for? Well, itâ€™s not to protect us! Itâ€™s being set up to harm Americans who donâ€™t subscribe to tyrannical government. Our government is also one which will eventually remove the tax deduction of every church that doesnâ€™t accept the dictates that everyone person, regardless of sexual orientation, be given the opportunity to serve in a religious capacity in the church. Some churches have already willingly caved, labeling such things as â€œdemonstratingâ€ Godâ€™s love, even though they violate the Word of God in the process. You think loss of religious deductions and forced hiring of people who are not biblically acceptable to serve wonâ€™t happen? Think again.
Fear of man or the fear of the Lord?
The spirit of fear is being released upon mankind as never before. As in the days of Israelâ€™s tribulation (Matt. 24), Christ told the disciples that menâ€™s hearts would fail them because of fear (Luke 21:26). In other words, heart attacks will occur because of incredible anxiety and fear. The Bible is clear â€“ â€œthe fear of man brings a snare or a trap (Prov. 9:25) â€¦ but he who trusts in the Lord shall be exalted.â€
Letâ€™s look at certain aspects of the fear of man (this section copied from Tony Cooke Ministries (http://www.tonycooke.org/free_resources/articles-tony-cooke/fear-of-man.html)
John 12:42-43 (NLT)â€¨42 Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldnâ€™t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. 43 For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.
When individuals are ruled by the fear of man, they will shrink from their convictions and violate their own consciences.Â We can see from this verse (and perhaps from our own experiences and observations) that â€œpeer pressureâ€ doesnâ€™t simply affect teenagers.Â If we are overcome by the fear of human opinion, it is probably because weâ€™ve magnified man and minimized God in our thinking.
Isaiah 51:12-13 (NLT)â€¨12 â€œI, yes I, am the one who comforts you. So why are you afraid of mere humans, who wither like the grass and disappear?Â 13 Yet you have forgotten the LORD, your Creator, the one who stretched out the sky like a canopy and laid the foundations of the earth.â€
When we reverence God properly in our lives, and realize that His opinion is the one that ultimately matters, we will avoid the snare, disability, and paralysis that come from cringing before the potential disapproval of man.Â Paulâ€™s maturity in this regard was evidenced in the following:
1 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NLT)â€¨3 As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I donâ€™t even trust my own judgment on this point.Â 4 My conscience is clear, but that doesnâ€™t prove Iâ€™m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.
Paul was always submitted to the Lord as well as authorities, but he only feared Godâ€™s disapproval. He couldnâ€™t have cared less what people thought about him, although he remained calm and respectful toward everyone in every situation.
The Power of the Cross & the Holy Spirit
The flesh is where fear resides, and it was crucified (Rom. 6). If it is not reckoned dead (Rom. 6:6), it will continue to spring up, allowing the spirit of fear access. Let me be clear here. We have fears within and conflicts without (2 Cor. 7:5). When Paul told Timothy that God hadnâ€™t given him a spirit of fear or timidity (2 Tim. 1:7), he spoke of fear in his inner being and not a demon, although there are many kinds of demons that cause fear. Timothyâ€™s fear may have come from intimidation by others because Paul told him not to let anyone look down on his youthfulness (1 Tim. 4:12).
Intimacy with the Holy Spirit brings boldness, first through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but even more so by our daily communion with the Him and our obedience, especially when we are confronted with fearful situations. Many Christians remain fearful even after they are baptized with the Spirit. All fear must be renounced, and whenever we discern an evil spirit of fear, it must be commanded to leave. In the early church, Christ followers were persecuted for righteousness sake and sometimes beaten. Afterward, they often went back to their assembly and had a glory meeting — praising, worshipping and praying â€“ and the house was shaken by the power of God! (Acts 4:18-31).
The disciples were full of fear of the Romans and Jews before the baptism in the Holy Spirit at Pentecost but spoke boldly afterward throughout the Book of Acts in spite of death threats, etc. There is a major difference between fleshly confidence and boasting and the power that comes through the Holy Spirit! We can be bold in church but yellow as a cab outside of it; the difference is the power of the Holy Spirit.
There are several keys to releasing the fear of man out of your life:
- Confess the sin of the fear of man to a friend. If you have a demon of fear, have someone pray with you to expel it.
- Without being a â€œreligious kook,â€ always identify with Christ in every situation. You may feel like youâ€™re being pushed â€œoff center,â€ but stand and you will realize victory.
- Open your mouth and speak the Word with boldness with all respect to and for others around you.
- Learn to abide in the Lord in the crisis (John 15). Abiding means your inner man (human spirit) and His Spirit are locked together. One of the Greek meanings of the word â€œabideâ€ means â€œto remain as one.â€ Believe me, your spirit, unless made strong in the Lord, will flee backward when fear hits! When that happens, youâ€™ll feel intimidated or paralyzed in mind and body!
- Learn to meditate on the Lord & His Word. â€œWaiting on the Lordâ€ is part of this. The implication in the Hebrew language here is like binding strands of a rope together. In other words, becoming â€œtightâ€ with the Lord.
- Learn to walk in Godâ€™s kind of love called agape. It is agape that casts out fear. Agape only comes from the Fatherhood side of God. Allowing this love to flood your life and ridding yourself of selfishness, manipulation and personal agendas, will magnify this love in your life.
â€œGod is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that weâ€™re free of worry on Judgment Dayâ€”our standing in the world is identical with Christâ€™s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful lifeâ€”fear of death, fear of judgmentâ€”is one not yet fully formed in loveâ€ (1 John 4:17-18 The Message).
The fear of the Lord is coming!
The American church, as a whole, has little understanding or appreciation for the fear of the Lord. Letâ€™s face it, real reverence is still lacking in most churches that sound more like a football game than a place where the Holy Spirit is welcomed. Iâ€™m not talking about some somber, sad-acting, legalistic place where people think a certain hairdo or dress makes you holy. I mean a people who know that the Holy presence of God is in the house! I heard the story a few years ago about a church where the power of God hit the church and split the altar! (http://www.evanwiggs.com/revival/history/penpulp.html). If this is indeed true, it just goes to show you that this kind of demonstration of Godâ€™s power isnâ€™t relegated to the first century!
Dr. C. Peter Wagner wrote a book several years ago foretelling all the changes coming to the church â€“ times, music, schedules, services, content, etc. He was right, although some of the changes were good and some werenâ€™t. I see more change coming, but it may very well be we are looking at home churches again in the near future IF the intrusion of the government and potential taxation of the church happens. If people are giving only to get a tax deduction, weâ€™ll see an enormous reduction in giving. The main thing, though, concerning change, is the coming fear of the Lord that will cleanse, empower and deeply bless His church.
A study of the fear of Lord will show it is synonymous with awe, although at times in the Bible this awe was accompanied by physical symptoms in which people fell as dead men in His presence (Rev. 1:17), were sickened and exhausted, as Daniel was (Dan. 8:15-27) or stricken with fear, as when the disciples saw Jesus walking on water (Matt. 14:25). As one who has been â€œslain in the Spiritâ€ on more than one occasion, it is utterly amazing. In one situation, I could not get up off the floor! Charles Carrin, a man full of the Holy Spirit through whom this experience came, told me later that the reason I couldnâ€™t rise was because of the â€œdoxaâ€ or weight of the glory of the Holy Spirit that was on me.
Just to give you an idea of how â€œradicalâ€ the Holy Spirit can be, at the same meeting, there was a teenage girl about 14 sitting in front of me. This sweet thing wanted nothing to do with what was going on in that room, and she had actually turned her body sideways to avoid Charles. When he walked by, all he said was, â€œTake her, Jesus, sheâ€™s yours.â€ Without Charles laying a hand on her, the girl was knocked on the floor on her back and began to shake and speak in tongues! Incidentally, I would highly recommend Charlesâ€™ book, â€œThe Edge of Glory,â€ a detailed, personal recounting of His incredible experiences with the Holy Spirit. He, is by far, one of kindest gentlemen Iâ€™ve ever had the privilege to know.
The fear of the Lord not only brings on the things above, but blessing, favor, direction, power and a much deeper love for God Himself, His Word and people who need Him, whether they receive you or not. Love and fear cannot co-exist. As agape love takes over, fear, the bad kind, and all its negative qualities, are banished! (1 John 4:18).
I have no idea when all this will happen, but it will happen because there will be no other choice. We are done with expecting politicians to save us and fix America. The Father has a better plan than the government to provide for our needs, while ensuring His Son gets the glory for all that happens because He alone paved the way for it through His life, death on cavalry and the release of His Holy Spirit to planet earth after He died.
As the crisis comes, you will begin to see a separation of the wheat (real Christians) from the tares (â€œChristiansâ€ by name only). Jesus said we are not to attempt figure out whoâ€™s what until the End when the situations will dictate very obvious responses to the crisis:
â€œLet both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn'” (Matt. 13:30 New Living Translation (Â©2007))
If you study this passage, you will find the â€œharvestersâ€ are angels (Matt. 13:38-40). Apparently, angels have been given the chore of removing all that offends or is a stumbling block to the final move of God. Warning: If you are a minister who is standing in the way of Godâ€™s power and presence in your church, youâ€™d better change your ways or you may find yourself removed!
I want to leave you with some ideas for preparation for the coming crisis:
- Seek God daily and the power of the Holy Spirit to be comforted by Him, led by Him and protected by Him.
- Pray diligently for wisdom so youâ€™ll know exactly what choices to make. God will give you wisdom if you ask (James 1:5).
- If youâ€™re out of church, get back in. You wonâ€™t make it without the rest of the Body of Christ (Heb. 10:15-25). Find a church you can serve with your gifts and talents but one that is diligently seeking God, His Word and has balanced scriptural view of the Christian life. Also, join a â€œsmall groupâ€ or Bible study that honors the Lord and His Word.
- If your church is not preaching the whole message of God and allowing the Holy Spirit to have His way, leave it! Iâ€™m sorry to be so blunt, but itâ€™s high time Christians quit trying to be â€œmissionariesâ€ to churches that have compromised the truth because those churches are afraid to preach it. If you leave, leave in love. I once left a small church, and I asked the pastor to put it in the bulletin. He did and I explained why and how much I cared about the members. This kept the gossip machine from running 24/7 because they understood the real reasons I had to go.
- Get out of debt if at all possible. The coming crisis will mainly be an economic one that will give rise to unbelievable calamity, violence and lawlessness. Do your best to help yourself by â€œowing nothing except to love one anotherâ€ (Rom. 13:8).
- Try to maintain good health. God says that His desire â€œabove all else is that we should prosper and be in health as our soul prospersâ€ (3 John 2). He wants us well, but we should do our part. Staying healthy by eating well and exercising in whatever way we can is beneficial and wise. Using natural means to help you stay healthy certainly beats prescription drugs whenever possible and saves money.
- Practice community. Godâ€™s church is a community of believers that is interdependent. â€œLonersâ€ must be â€œjoinersâ€ who can experience sharing love, truth, exhortation and ultimately, maybe even resources, as the church in Acts did (Acts 2:44).
- Forgive and reconcile with your enemies, if itâ€™s possible for you. Some people will refuse. Forget it then and move on. Use extreme wisdom, and donâ€™t reconcile with people who only want to take advantage of you.
- Die to your self-centered ways. If you are â€œyou focused,â€ repent and start thinking of others and serving them (Phil 2:3-4).
- Get involved with a prayer group, or get friends together who can touch heaven. We need all the help we can get!
- Last, if you live near Birmingham, AL, I invite you to be a part of a 36-week training in transformation of life beginning Aug 27, 2013. Click on http://www.transformationranch.org and get registered today!