It’s fall. The air is crisp; the leaves are colorful. Soon we’ll be busy raking and preparing for the winter snowfall. However, this year, many of us are anticipating other changes that make the weather seem trivial. I don't have to tell you that the year 2020 has been a year of shaking. One shock wave after another has reverberated across our country changing the landscape of life as we know it. Worse yet, it’s not over. The national election is less than 20 days away, and both parties are preparing for a contested election. The Covid 19 virus continues to be a threat, and the second wave experts warned us about has begun to emerge. And did you know that pastors and congregations across America are under persecution? Threats, arrests, and closures persist. Believe it or not, some Christians are not allowed to meet in homes for the purpose worship or Bible study. (For more information see The Liberty Counsel)
What does all this mean for the average American? I’m not entirely sure. But, if you have found yourself wondering how to prepare for the next shock wave, you're not alone. “What can we do?” How do we respond? Should we stock up on groceries and supplies? Given the current movement to defund police departments, should we arm ourselves? Or, maybe we should just wait and see. After all this is America, the most powerful country in the world!
After the shelter in place last Spring, I found myself consistently buying more groceries than my husband and I could consume. My husband showed great restraint. I think it’s been a case of "Happy Wife, Happy Life”. I'm happy to report that we not only have enough to get us through a rough patch, there's plenty to share with my kids, their families, and maybe a handful of neighbors as well!!
Recently, while praying, God directed me to three things you and I could do that would cost us far less money! We can prepare spiritually for the shaking ahead if we 1.Brace Ourselves.
The phrase “brace yourself” occurs only three times in scripture and means to prepare oneself for action So basically, it means "get ready.” I feel strongly God doesn’t want us to wait for the earth beneath our feet to shake before steadying ourselves spiritually. We can do that now, in advance.
Jesus said: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe in me as well. In my Father’s house, there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into my presence so that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)
In this passage, Jesus speaks to his followers like a first century bridegroom to his bride. It was customary after a betrothal, for there to be a period of separation. The groom would return to his father’s house to prepare their living quarters. He didn’t know when he would return for his bride. This decision was left up to his father.
Sound familiar? Jesus said, when speaking of his return:“No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” (Matt 24:6). Friends, Jesus could literally return at any moment. This is why as his bride, the church must be ready. Many ascribe to the philosophy: Live like Jesus could return at any moment, plan as if it could be 100 years!
This begs the question: How do you and I get ready? 2. We need to Trim Our Lamp.In one of Jesus parables,10 virgins, representing the church, were awaiting for his return but fell asleep when the bridegroom was a "long time in coming". When the midnight cry which signaled their bridegroom’s return rang out, all 10 virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.
The lamp or lampas referred to here was likely similar to a torch intended for outdoor use. A large flat bowl with a rag or rope like wick was attached to a pole to illuminate one’s steps in the darkness. To trim their lampas, meant that the virgins ignited their primitive wicks.
Jesus said five of the 10 virgins were wise and five were foolish. The five wise virgins had a lamp and oil. When they heard the midnight cry they were able to trim their lamp and participate in the procession leading to the wedding banquet.
However, the five foolish virgins had empty lamps and no oil. Although they looked like the 5 wise virgins on the outside, when it came time to trim their lamp, they had no oil to ignite the wick. They went in search of some oil, but during their absence the groom, accompanied by the 5 wise virgins, reached the celebration hall for the wedding banquet, and the doors closed behind them.
Later when the five foolish virgins arrived, they asked for the door to be opened, but were denied entrance. Why? Listen to the bridegroom’s reply: “...Truly I tell you, I don’t know you” (Matt 25:12).
This parable is a warning to those who consider themselves Christians today. All 10 virgins had lamps and professed to be followers of Jesus. All 10 became drowsy and fell asleep. And all 10 heard the midnight cry and went to trim their lamps. However, only 5 had the oil, or the Holy Spirit, needed to do so. When they realized something was missing it was too late. They were out of time and left behind.
Which of the 10 virgins are you? Do you know Jesus Christ in a personal way? Some of you do, others have no idea what I am talking about. Listen, I don’t know what you have been told, or what you have believed up to this point, but let me be clear. It’s not enough to know about Jesus Christ. After all, even demons believe Jesus is God’s Son. They understand he is powerful, but they aren’t saved.
Are you? Do you know Jesus? Friend, Jesus loves you. He loved you so much that he took the punishment your sins deserved, and died in your place. 3 days later he rose victorious from the grave. This isnt a fairy tale. Over 500 people saw Jesus before he ascended into heaven. He is alive. And he is coming back. Are you ready? Is your lamp trimmed? If you aren't sure, then take a step of faith today, and say: Yes to Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. The moment you do, God puts his stamp of ownership on you by giving you the holy spirit. (Ephesians 1:13).
Then continue to say Yes to Jesus. Listen, Jesus doesn’t want to be your fire insurance. He wants a daily, red hot, passionate relationship with you that is rooted in love. The way you develop that is like any other relationship. You say Yes to spending quality time together, Yes to talking, Yes to listening, Yes to learning how to please him.
On Oct 19th, a group of my friends and I will be opening up registration for a closed Facebook group designed specifically to mentor those who want to grow in their personal relationship with Jesus If this is something you are interested in, look me up on Facebook and instant message me. I will sign you up and send you all the details.
So what about the rest of you? I am issuing you a different challenge. In the days ahead, when our earth shakes 3.Let Your Light Shine.
Paul and his ministry companion Silas did this. Through no fault of their own, they were stripped, beaten, and thrown in prison. How did they respond to suffering for Christ? They chose not to get discouraged and have a pity party. Instead, they let their light shine to the prisoners around them by singing praises to God!
At midnight, there was an earthquake. The ground shook, everyone’s chains came loose, and all the prison doors opened. Paul and Silas were free! They could have escaped, but they chose to stay and minister to their jailer. The result was he and his whole family were saved.
After "a shaking" there is often an opportunity for victory or a new level of freedom. When you've braced yourself and trimmed your lamp, you are in a good position to let your lifes shine so others can find their way out of a dark place.
For example, maybe a friend has hit rock bottom after losing his family to divorce, you could share your story and introduce him to Jesus. Or someone you work with has a problem with alcohol. Recently they got a DUI. You could be the one to welcome them to your AA group. In my own life, increasing emotional problems and PTSD related to childhood sexual abuse made me feel ashamed and worthless. A coworker reached out and shared her story, and gave me hope. Less than two years later, I was nearly symptom free.
Friend, will you make yourself available to God and others? Resist the temptation to shrink back in fear, and instead ask God to help you let his light shine through you so others can be saved?
REACH OUT: If you have questions visit laurelbahr.com and submit your email. I'll send you a coupon for a consultation. I'd love to spend some time with you.....You have a friend in me.
JOIN: Friends Helping Friends Get to Know Jesus Facebook Challenge. Just look me up on Facebook and Intant Message me. Ill send you all the details! Our group will launch November 2nd and run for 21 days. During that time you will receive spiritual mentoring and coaching from a group of amazing women! Dont miss out on this opportunity!
How I developed a personal relationship with Jesus is something I share in this book. I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, but repressed most of the memories until I was in my late 30's. It was a difficult journey, but I experienced healing. Two of my friends followed in my footsteps, and their stories are also in the book. If you or someone you love has experienced trauma from domestic violence, sexual abuse, or having a sexually deviant spouse, i believe they would benefit from reading Love Gone Wrong, Living Happily Ever After as Survivors of Abuse.
Available at most book retail stores like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Aunties Book Store, and for a reduced price at laurelbahr.com/shop
READ: The Tipping Point by Jimmy Evans. Jimmy is a pastor. In his book, he shares why understanding Israels history is ground zero for interpreting biblical prophecy. You'll learn why many biblical scholars believe we are at the "end of end times." I think you will find this information both comforting and useful.
STUDY: The book of Revelation. Revelation 1:3 says, "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it." Many people avoid reading this book of the Bible because it can be hard to understand. I found the book When Christ Appears by David Jeremiah a very helpful resource.