PEOPLE OF GOD, ARISE

(AN URGENT MESSAGE TO THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are living in urgent times, sober times, pregnant with the purpose of God. We live in a land of great prosperity, but prosperity often breeds complacency. And complacency is a hard habit to break.

God has unquestionably sent a message to this nation, a wake-up call, a trumpet blast, on September 11, 2001. But who was He trying to awaken, if not His Church, His children - "my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice?" (Ps.50:5) Is it not obvious that God is preparing for the final consummation of our age? Jesus said that we would be able to see when the time is near, "even at the doors." (Mt. 24:33) But have we heard His call, or have we, as one dear sister has said, "pushed the snooze alarm?"

We, the Church of Jesus Christ in America, must awaken from our collective slumber to touch this nation for (through) Christ. Every minute we delay, opportunities for ministry are vanishing, as we sit idly by, waiting and wondering - "what is God doing. When will the Lord return?"

The early Church did not wait and wonder. Peter, Paul and the others all lived their lives with an urgency, and a deep sense of purpose. This theme is found throughout the New Testament. The angels who appeared at Christ's ascension beckoned the believers "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus...will come back in the same way..." (Acts 1:11) In effect, they were saying, "Get with it," and the early Church did. But clearly, the Church of America has lost this earnestness, if indeed we ever fully possessed it.

Just as the disciples' hearts "burned within them," on the road to Emmaus, Scripture speaks forcefully to us today:

"Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also for the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desires of the Gentiles..." I Pt. 4:1-3

"The end of all things is at hand, therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer." I Pt. 4:7

"This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind." Ephesians 4:17

Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come upon you quickly like a trap." Luke 21:34

"And do this [love your neighbor as yourself - v.8-10], understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:11,12

If the Apostle Paul believed the night was over, and our precious brother Peter believed the end of all things was near, who are we today to live and act as if we have all the time in the world?

Paul said, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient;...all things do not edify." (I Cor. 10:23) We have been blessed in this country with an abundance of "things." But our focus should not be on things, and yet we have often become enthralled, wasting our days consumed with an abundance of pleasures. Are we not often caught in various, and futile traps, gorging ourselves with an endless stream of "things?"

And not only this, but many Christians are living in outright sin. Many are drowning in immorality and greed while the Lord is knocking at the door. "I am coming soon. Are you ready? Are you doing my work, or are you in bed with the enemy?"

Have we become deaf to God's warnings?

"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God." I Pt. 4:17

"'The Lord knoweth them that are his,' and, 'Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.'" II Tim. 2:19

"do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?" James 4:4

"Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord." II Cor. 6:17

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24,25

"Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes....It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night...You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Luke 12:35-40

Are you ready, dear friend? We need to be. Is your lamp burning brightly? Are you on fire for God, or are you lukewarm, or in sin? If so, "Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord, your God; - for He is gracious and merciful..." (Joel 2:13)

It is time to get off the fence and into the battle. There is much to do, and much to prepare. Do you know what your part is? Is your heart cleansed? Are you ready to be used by God?

We have a mission, and we have the Message. Many of our friends, neighbors, and relatives are lost. They heard the wake-up call on 9/11, but have no understanding of the times in which we live. They are without hope, and we must love them enough to help them, and, we must love the Lord enough to do His bidding.

For those who are skeptical, do you know how much time we have left? Can you tell me for sure that we have another year, another month, or another day before the next disaster or emergency catapults our world into who knows what? There are no guarantees. There never have been. God's people are to be always watchful, ever-ready. But the truth is, much of the Church in America is either fast asleep, or barely awake at best.

So how do we respond to the times in which we are living? Let me offer three things.

First, we must repent. We have no message for the lost until we are people who are desperately seeking purity and holiness. We cannot be used by God to help others until we first are cleansed.

Secondly, we must intercede for our nation. We must pray fervently for God to forgive the sins of our country. The response of Christ's Church, today, is the key to revival in America. As we sincerely repent, and separate ourselves as the Spirit individually directs, I believe God will revive our land.

Lastly, we must each seek God, in prayer and Bible study, for personal guidance and direction. The Spirit of God will reveal where you fit into His Body, but you must be connected. No soldier can win a war alone, and no member can survive unless he is vitally connected to the Body of Christ, who is the true life-giving Vine. We need each other. It is imperative that we stay close to other Christians, as we follow the Holy Spirit. We must listen to Him, and let Him lead us into battle!

Father -- grant us the grace to repent and be obedient to You in this critical hour. Do a thorough work in each of our hearts. Let Your Kingdom come in our land. Help Your Church to arise, so that You may be glorified. In Jesus' mighty name! Amen!!

MARANATHA!

COME, LORD JESUS!

 

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