Tag Archives: Scripture

Don’t Miss the Signs of the Times

The religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign from heaven. They wanted proof that Jesus was sent from God (Matthew 16:1).

Jesus scolded them. They could read the weather, he pointed out, but not the signs of the times. Jesus gave sight to the blind, cleansed lepers, cast out demons, and preached with astounding authority. What more did they want?

The Son of God was standing right in front of them, but they couldn’t see it. Their personal agendas were more important to them than God’s kingdom plan.

Jesus told them that they would get no sign except the sign of Jonah. What does he mean?

Jonah didn’t warm up to God’s plan. God sent Jonah to preach in Nineveh but Jonah didn’t want to. So he took a boat going the opposite direction of Nineveh.

Jonah’s flight from the Lord ended in the belly of a big fish. He was as good as dead. But God was merciful and preserved Jonah’s life.

Jesus is telling these religious leaders that something similar will happen to him. Not that he will run away from God, but that he will suffer the punishment for all who do, a punishment that will require his death.

Jesus did not go down into the belly of a big fish but into a tomb, buried and dead. Then God raised Jesus from the dead. This is the sign that Jesus is speaking about, his resurrection.

Jesus’ resurrection is God’s greatest sign. For those who dismiss it, nothing will be good enough. For those who recognize it as God’s power, nothing could be better. They see, understand, and act.

In the Old Testament we read about men from Issachar who understood the times and knew what to do (1 Chronicles 12:32). Every generation needs men and women who understand the times and know what to do.

Unfortunately, in our day there are many folks who are like those religious leaders who asked Jesus for a sign. They understand nature far better than they understand the Creator. But we need people who can do more than understand nature and question God.

First, we need folks who understand the times from an eternal perspective. Our times are so bad in a spiritual sense that we may be tempted to conclude that God has abandoned us. But that would be a mistake.

Jesus told the religious leaders in his day that they were a wicked and adulterous generation. It’s hard to imagine a more negative analysis! And yet the Son of God came and walked among that wicked and adulterous generation.

We must not be discouraged by the dark state of our world. Despite this present darkness, God is working to accomplish all that he has promised.

The church in America is undergoing historical realignment. Until recently Christians have been divided mostly along denominational lines. But now Christian denominations are dividing within themselves between those who believe the Bible and those who do not.

Those who trust Scripture are now a remnant in many denominations. In some cases they are leaving their institutions behind because they can no longer participate in the disobedient course being taken by spiritually darkened leaders.

Our times are characterized by increasing skepticism towards God’s word and expanding secularism in every facet of life. As a result, biblical illiteracy is growing by leaps and bounds, and church participation is faltering.

Once we understand the times, we must know what to do. A skeptical and secular world must hear and see the truth of God’s word.

The world will only hear God’s word when God’s people are bold enough to proclaim it publicly. The world will only see God’s word when God’s people are confident enough to live in obedience to God’s commands faithfully and openly.

Jesus promises that obedience to his message is like a house built on solid rock. The wind blows, the rain falls, the river rises, but the house stands. He warns that a life of disobedience is like a house built on sand. The wind blows, the rain falls, the river rises, and that house crashes.

All around us we see lives and families and communities crashing because they are built on the sandy ground of skepticism and secularism. We have the answer.

Our task in this dark generation is to obey God’s command and to testify about Jesus. Now.

May God’s Word always be a lamp for our feet and a light for our path,

Brother Richard Foster

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Jesus’ Cure for Anxiety

So much to worry about! What if I lose my job?  What if my car breaks down?  What if the doctor tells me I need surgery?  Will Hillary or Trump be our next president?  How many more times will we have leftovers for supper this week . . . ?

Jesus knows we tend to worry about things.  In his Sermon on the Mount, he tells us why we worry and what we should do about it (see Matthew 6:25-34).

First, Jesus points out that birds don’t plant, harvest or gather into barns yet God makes sure that they eat. Aren’t we more valuable than the birds?

Jesus is not forbidding us from planning for tomorrow.  He is helping us to work and be wise without worrying.  After all, worry is fruitless.  Jesus asks, “Who can add one hour to their life by worrying?”  The answer: nobody!  So why worry?

Jesus then urges his followers to consider the beauty of the wildflowers. If God adorns the grass of the field with such splendor, and the grass is here today and gone tomorrow, will he not do much more for his people?

He addresses his followers as “little-faiths.”  In the old King James version it is rendered like this: “O ye of little faith.”  The root of worry, Jesus says, is lack of faith in God.

So, how do we exercise faith in God so that our worries are eliminated?  Jesus tells us to get our priorities straight.  “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness,” Jesus says, “and all these things will be added to you.”

As followers of Jesus, our first priority is God’s kingdom and his righteousness.  God is king of all creation but many people want to reject his rule.  We seek God’s kingdom by serving him as our king and encouraging others to do the same.

God’s righteousness is expressed through his commands in Scripture.  We seek his righteousness by obeying him fully and teaching others to obey him.

By “all these things” Jesus means the things in life that God knows we need.  We may not get all that we want, but Jesus promises that God will provide for us.

So Jesus connects the world of faith and spirituality to the daily world of food and clothes.  We are tempted to trust God for ‘religious’ things and trust ourselves for daily, material ‘practical’ things.

In other words, Christians sometimes live as though God rules the church and the Devil rules all else.  We follow God’s ways in church and play by the Devil’s rules in the world.

Jesus recognizes the struggle.  In fact, he goes on to say that we should not worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Our Lord is not denying the fact that life is filled with challenges.  He freely admits that any day can be a tough day.  But God is King.  He rules over every day.  He rules over time.

God’s way, his righteousness, is the right way. All other ways are dead ends.  When we walk in God’s ways we have no need to worry.  When we serve the King we need not be anxious.

Let’s not allow the Enemy to replace our joy with anxiety. The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.  True, but Jesus has come that we might have life more abundantly!

May God’s Holy Spirit inspire and empower us to support his church and share his victory,

Brother Richard

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