Three things you need to know before you walk out the door.

“And we are witness to these things and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”  (Acts 5:32)

The Apostles were on trial for preaching the gospel. Don’t kid yourself, the day is fast approaching when the church in America will be forbidden to boldly preach the gospel. But the Apostles boldly proclaimed anyway, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Only that power can enable us to faithfully proclaim the gospel, not the churchy feel good message of those who would water it down, but the gospel…the one in the Bible, that still calls people to repentance of sin and faith in the crucified, risen and returning Christ.

The Apostles of this century will boldly preach this gospel by the power of the Spirit. In the verse above we see three things any serious disciple needs to know about the Holy Spirit. Go back and read it again. In short form, here are the three things you need to know before you walk out the door.

1. The Holy Spirit has made you a witness. They said, “We are witnesses…” Earlier, Jesus had told the apostles, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses….” The Spirit came upon them and gave them a Holy boldness and power to be witnesses of the good news of Jesus Christ. You may not have seen him raised from the dead, but you are a witness of what Jesus has done in your life. The Holy Spirit will give you power to boldly proclaim your unique gospel message. Not your own Gospel, but your own experience with the good news of Christ. Without that power you cannot be an effective witness.

2. The Holy Spirit bears witness to Christ. “And so is the Holy Spirit…” The Holy Spirit came alongside the Apostles to confirm their message with powerful signs and wonders. He still does that today. When the gospel witness goes out, the Holy Spirit steps in and demonstrates the reality of Jesus life. Do you expect God to show up in power when you witness? He longs to come alongside and show the truth of the gospel. So how do you get this power in your life?

3. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God. “Who has been given to those who obey him.” The Apostles experienced the power of the Spirit as they stepped out in faith and obedience. Friend, if you want to experience the Spirit’s power in your life, get up off your pew and go do something about the great commission. I’ll tell you that is the only way you will really experience his power. Some are wasting away wondering why God isn’t more real to them. Listen,  God will be as real to you as your obedience is to him. No excuses, no games. When you get out there and get about the business of communicating the gospel, God will show up in power.

So before you go out today know this, You are a witness of what Jesus Christ has done for you. Second, The Holy Spirit is also a witness of who who Jesus is. In other words, you give witness and He bears witness. Third, power follows obedience, nothing less. Now go out today and see what God will do when you obey his call.

Help my students perform a miracle!

I have challenged my High school Bible class to put their faith into action by attempting to raise $1000.00 to help support a worthy cause. The cause is a ministry trip being taken by three of our staff people and one student this coming May.
They are going to Uganda to work in a children’s prison…yes you heard it, a children’s prison. These children are all but thrown away in a facility without so much as a bed to sleep on and healthy food to eat. Our team will be going there to minister through a mission organization called, “Sixty feet” who ministers to many places like these. You can check out the organization on the web.
My students want to help out, although they are not able to go. They want to do what they can to raise part of the funding for the mission.IMG_20140126_034102

They have three weeks to raise the money.

uganda childrens prison

This is a photo of the sleeping area of the prison. Thirty eight children sleep here on the floor. No blankets or pillows. But the work of sixty feet and of our staff who are going to help, this can change.

 

Now for some practical information:
1. Where do you teach? The school is called Oakdale Christian Academy. It is a small Free Methodist Boarding school, located in the mountains of Eastern Ky. I’ve been ministering in this area for about 25 years. I’m a pastor, teacher, and Youth Camp Pastor. You can look up Oakdale on the web (Oakdale Christian Academy.org)oakdale sign
2. How do we donate? Send checks to : Erin Cook c/co Oakdale Christian Academy 5801 Beattyville rd. Jackson, Ky, 41339 Please write on the memo line “Bible Class Project” (Erin is the leader of the team. She and Kathy have served there in Uganda before, for several months. They are quite experienced in this ministry.)

60Feet_banner1
3. When is the deadline? All funds need to be in by April 24th.
If you have any other questions leave a comment or email me at mdriskill48@gmail.com

IMAG0121

Thanks for your help. Pastor Mark

Seek His Presence

” Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually.” (Psalm 105:4)

You and I were created to live in real union with the very presence of God. The primary result of Adam and Eve’s rebellion was that they lost the gift of God’s constant presence. What a tragedy! Yet we avoid his presence, the very thing we were created for. “No one seeks after God.” (Romans 3:10) is the primary charge against a sinful humanity. This has always been true, but now we live in a day, in America, and much of the world, where efforts are being made to eradicate any sense of the presence of God in our culture. With evangelistic zeal today’s Atheist burns with a desire to convert everyone to the religion of despair and nothingness. Even churches are running away from the presence of God. They set up doctrines designed to prevent anything that seems supernatural or beyond us from taking place in worship. It’s as if we’ve said to God, “Thanks for getting us into heaven, but we’ll take it from here.”

Prayer meetings, once considered the lifeline of the church are now considered a waste of time. Do our children even know how to seek the Lord? Yes, we’ve taught them how to say prayers, but have we taught them how to take hold of God in prayer? Do they know what repentance is? Do they know anything of life in the Spirit? Or have we turned them into religious zombies stumbling along in the dark tripping over dead doctrines and flaky Sunday morning entertainment? Do they know what it means to feel the actual presence of God without music playing in the background? When was the last time you experienced God’s presence?

Did you know that God desires for you to know his presence on a daily basis? “Seek his presence continually.” Paul put it this way, “Pray without ceasing.” and “Walk in step with the Spirit.” Jesus said , “Abide in me…for without me you can do nothing.” We are called to seek to literally live in the presence of God. Many of us are so anemic about the God who we claim to believe in that we can’t stand a sermon that lasts 21 minutes, much less a day lived in His very presence. How will you survive in heaven where his presence is a constant reality? At the same time, we long for God’s presence.

There is a place deep in every human being that longs for God. It’s part of the design. God desires more for you than a religion or good behavior. God desires to dwell with you and impart his divine presence into every corner of your being. You were created to be a habitation of pure love and holiness. Your life was meant to radiate with the glory of God himself so that every thought, every word and every action flows out of the heart of God imparting life to everyone around you.

Imagine a home flooded with the presence of God. Imagine places of business where the atmosphere of heaven reigns and people are changed just by being there. Imagine a church so caught up in divine glory that life flows out into communities and transforms them into real life illustrations of the kingdom of God. This is not fantasy. this is potentially what can happen when God’s people push beyond religious duty and seek whole heartedly the constant presence of God. Many today are praying for revival, and it sill shortly come. But do we not realize what revival is? It is a rediscovery of the presence of God on earth. Would you be revived? Then commit yourself to seeking out the presence of God in your daily life.

You will never be fully alive without the divine presence. He is the sunlight of your soul, presently eclipsed by sin. When we turn to him and seek his presence the garden comes to life again beneath the warming rays of his healing love. Let us take the word’s of the Psalmist to heart and “Seek his presence continually.” Pray with me:

“Lord I’m tired of religion. I want you. I thank you that you desire to impart your very life to me so that I live in your presence. No more weekend visits for me. Sunday morning isn’t good enough. I want to live in your constant presence and power. Take hold of me and fill me with your life. Take anything from me that blocks the flow of your spirit into my life. I would rather have one drop of your presence than a ocean of temporary pleasure. Lord I want all of you to have all of me. Dwell in me. Change me. Replace me. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Did he or didn’t he?

Mark 16:9-13

“and they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.” v. 13

“Enough!” Peter shouted. His eyes were weary with grief but still had enough fire in them to burn your skin right off. In three years the disciples had learned when to back off and just let the big fisherman alone.

“I expect such tales from that crazy Magdalene woman, but you should know better! He’s dead! Gone. And if I hear any more of these wishful stories you just might join him. Besides if he were alive do you think he’d ever trust us again?”

Peter stormed out and climbed up on the roof top to be alone.

The two who had claimed they had seen Yeshua sat on the floor and looked hopefully around the room to the others. The other eight men swam around in awkward silence trying to avoid eye contact. It was clear that no one in the room was ready to believe that Yeshua was actually alive. After a few moments the silence gave way to Levi’s words to the two men.

“Brothers, I know these have been terrible days for you..for all of us. There is not a man here who would not want to see Yeshua alive again….”

“Levi we talked with him!…He said…” Levi holds his hand up.

“I know you two met someone who reminded you of him, and you felt a fire burning in your heart. Maybe God sent someone along who reminded you of Yeshua to comfort you. It’s okay to feel this way, but He’s gone. You’re going to have to face that.”

The two looked hopelessly at one another. One started to speak, but the other said, “It’s no use. We shouldn’t have expected…”

Bartholomew tried to reason with them. “You know brothers, in a sense Yeshua is alive. In our hearts. Yes. In a spiritual way. We can believe he is alive, because he lives in our memory.”

The two didn’t respond, but the others seemed to take comfort in that. Then from the entrance of the room another voice cutting through the dusty air.

” Leave it to a group of men to miss the obvious!” Dumbfounded, the men turned to see Mary Magdalene glaring at them like a mother reprimanding her sons. Then she mockingly waved her hands and pranced around the room mimicking Bartholomew’s words in a deep man voice,

“Maybe he lives in our memory. Maybe in a Spiritual sense he is alive. Blah Blah Blah! Are you serious? Why did Yeshua call such thickheaded men!”

She stood there with both hands on her hips, and in a confrontive stance. One they had seen from her many times. Andrew looked at the stairway praying Peter didn’t come down. She just glared defiantly, “Where is that Simon Peter! Bring him down here. He doesn’t scare me!”

Nobody moved.

“Look at you little boys, sitting here feeling sorry for yourselves. Three of us have seen him in person, The other women went to the tomb and it’s empty….”

Thaddeus weakly suggested, “Maybe somebody stole him…”

“From under the noses of Roman soldiers, they moved a gigantic stone, and just walked away with a dead body? I suppose the whole squad just happened to fall asleep at the same time, and nobody heard the noise.” Mary placed both fingers on her temples and closed her eyes.

“Men”

The another said, “Um maybe Yeshua wasn’t really dead and when he came too he pushed the stone and escaped….”

Everyone laughed at the idea of that one. A man having endured such blood loss, suddenly finding the strength to move a half ton stone then sneak past a squad of soldiers,undetected, didn’t seem too likely.

Mary Magdalene looked out the window then at the two who had claimed to see him alive. Then she took a deep breath and spoke a final word. By this time Simon Peter was standing at the end of the staircase. Mary fired the next words right between his eyes.

“You men have a decision to make. You can sit here and rationalize and feel sorry for yourselves, coming up with theories you can feel comfortable with if you want to. You can all sneak back to your lives acting as if nothing happened, and forget all Yeshua has done. That will certainly be easier. Or you can put on your big boy clothes and take a chance that maybe Yeshua, as always, did what he said he would do. He said he would be killed and on the third day rise again. So did he or didn’t he? ”

Then she turned, threw up her hands and walked out, “Men! Can’t do anything with them.”

Don’t waste your life wandering the aisles.

Mark 13:24-37

“Be on guard, keep awake, for you do not know when the time will come.” v.33

A few days ago I walked into our local Wal-mart and witnessed the return of Christ. Okay not really, but I was reminded in a rather dramatic way of what it will be like when he returns. Here’s what happened. I had gone to the store to pick up some random necessities, like we all do, when I saw something. There was a local church group that had set up, what looked like a Bake sale. There were cakes, brownies, hot coffee and cocoa. At first I thought it was a church fund raiser, but it was something far better. They were giving away all these treats for free!

As I approached the stand one of the men said to me, “Sir, we just want to show the love of God to everyone, so when you come out of the store feel free to have a snack.” I thought to myself, “What a great way to show the free gift of God on a cold winter morning.”

I went in to the store, thinking about how good it would be to come out and get a nice hot cup of coffee and a donut or two, after I get finished shopping. As I strolled through the store perusing the items, I kept telling myself I needed to get out there and get some goodies. “I’ll do it when I’m finished looking around.” I told myself several times. I’ll bet you can guess how this story ends.

After a long period of wandering around the store, I made my way out the door only to discover two things. First, the things I was looking for were not in the store, so I was coming out empty handed. Second, the free stuff was gone! They had been there all morning, but eventually had to pack up and go. What a major disappointment! I came out empty handed and disappointed. I don’t want my life to end that way.

How much worse will it be for those who miss the free gift of God? They wandered around this world looking for temporary things, telling themselves they had plenty of time to seek God, only to find what I found that day at Wal-mart. They will find, like I did, that this world has left them empty handed and disappointed. One day the Son of God will come. He will either come for you personally, at the end of your life, or he will come as he predicted for all the world to see. In either case, how terrible it will be to think you threw away eternal life for a meaningless search for the things of this world.

Jesus tells us that God has appointed a time for the end of all things. When Jesus predicted his return, he didn’t imply it would come at our convenience. The day is set. It was set before you were born. Given that fact, isn’t it a bit unwise to think you can wait around until you feel ready to be saved? Not only is that horribly arrogant, it’s nonsensical. “Now is the day of salvation.” Not later. Don’t waste your life wandering the aisles. This is one giveaway you don’t want to miss.

Is it time to start running?

IMG_19800105_220734

Mark 13:14-23

“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” v. 14

When the Devil is standing in the pulpit, it’s time to leave town. Unfortunately, we run the danger of not recognizing him when he’s standing right in front of us.

In today’s passage, Jesus is beginning to predict two things at once. His disciples have asked him about the destruction of the temple and of his return. As we said earlier, he has predicted, war, famine, earthquakes, false Christs, and the preaching of the gospel to every nation on earth. When that happens the pushback from the darkness moves into high gear. This begins with “The Abomination that causes desolation.” standing in the Temple. Quick explanation here. Jesus makes reference to Daniels prophecy (9:27) of one who come and attack the people of God, by first desecrating the temple.

As in many prophecies, there is usually an immediate and an ultimate fulfillment. In a.d. 168 Antiochus Epiphanes set up a pagan altar in the Jewish Temple. This was a time of horrible tribulation for the Jews, sparking the Maccabean revolt. That was the immediate fulfillment. But there is more to come with Daniel’s prophecy.

Jesus referred to this prophecy to say that before Christs return, one like Antiochus, but clearly much worse, would seek to oppose Christianity, in a way unlike any other in history. This ruler is referred to as the Antichrist. (2 Thess. 2:1-12, I John 4, Revelation 13) Jesus said, in effect, “when you see the Antichrist in the temple, it’s time to head for the hills, because things are about to get ugly for the people of God. You think Antiochus was bad, you aint seen nothing yet!”

How foolish it would be to see evil so clearly displayed in the house of God, and just shrug our shoulders and go on with business as usual. When the Devil is standing in the pulpit it’s time to do something. Here is the thing that frightens me. Today there is such a growing tolerance for compromise with darkness among many in the church, that I fear a time may come when we are so comfortable with the darkness of the world that we wouldn’t recognize such a person if he were standing in our pulpit on Sunday morning.

I our day of watering down the gospel to accommodate our culture, increased worldliness and materialism among God’s people, and a “don’t judge me, I can live any way I want” attitude among God’s people, how can we recognize the antichrist unless we are faithfully following Christ? Friends, even today the devil is standing in pulpits, and people are happy to listen to his message.

I write this with trembling, knowing that none of us preachers have it all together. I have no desire to slam any denomination or go witch hunting for bad preachers. My point is not to accuse but to warn us all to be on guard, as Jesus said. We must be on guard against the antichrist message pervading our culture. It’s even coming from pulpits.

Jesus said when you see the antichrist, it’s time to run. Some of us need to do that. If you are hearing a false gospel it’s time to run. You might want to head for the hills if you are hearing a gospel…

…..with no cross or resurrection.

….with no repentance of sin.

…with no salvation by grace through faith.

…with no obedience to God’s word.

…with no concern for the lost and broken world.

…with no love for God and neighbor.

…with no Jesus as Lord and Savior.

These are days in which we can no longer afford the luxury of just getting along and getting by. Jesus has called us to be his disciples, who lay down our lives for his gospel. We have to be on guard against the spirit of antichrist that is already at work among us. the best way to steer clear of the antichrist is to fully embrace the true Christ. Let us follow him wherever he goes.

Watching signs or directing traffic?

Mark 13:3-13

“and the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.” v. 10

As you await the coming of Jesus, are you spending your time watching signs or directing traffic? Too many of us are wasting the closing hours of this age speculating about peripheral matters when we ought to be directing people to the savior. The return of Christ is linked to the great commission. Jesus was asked, by his disciples,  “Tell us when will these things be and what will be the sign when all these things will be accomplished?”

From there he went on to list what will happen between his resurrection and his return. In this section we see a short list, most of which has already been fulfilled:

  1. False Christs appear.
  2. War, famine, earthquakes.
  3. Christians on trial for their faith.

If you notice these signs grow in levels of intensity or severity as the time of his appearing draws nearer. But there is a dramatic shift in intensity after verse 10 “The gospel…proclaimed to all nations.” It seems like once the gospel has reached every nation the reaction of darkness increases exponentially. We move quickly from general persecution and trouble to;

  1. Betrayal by family.
  2. Worldwide hatred of the church.
  3. The rise of the antichrist.
  4. Great time of tribulation before Christ returns.

I’m not interested in affirming or negating anyone’s millennial perspective. What I want to do is show that the centerpiece of it all is the fulfillment of the great commission. It seems that once the gospel has finally touched every tongue, tribe and nation it’s as if the short fuse is lit, the switch is flipped, the accelerator hits the floor of time and Christ appears in glory and power as he promised. Why is this important?

  1. It shows us God’s desire to save people from all nations. Many speak as if the gospel were a luxury offered to only a select few. But God is calling people from every nation, every tribe, every language to repent and believe the gospel. Of all the signs of the end of the age this is the one I believe we Christians should be most concerned about. Which leads to the next point.
  2. It shows what our Lord wants us putting our energy into in the mean time. When you hear a great number of believers talk about the end of the age they seem to focus on a host of things;

– Who is the antichrist? Go online and see how many presidents, popes, and rock stars have been given this title throughout history, better yet, don’t.

– What nations will do what? Everybody wants to know what nation is going to start world war three. What’s going to happen to the United States? Israel? Russia? There’s a theory for every persuasion.

– Will there be a rapture? Are we going up in a flash, or down in a flush? Will we escape tribulation? Or will we all fall away?

– What about the millennium? Are you Pre, post, or A millennial? It’s almost amusing the way people will measure your spirituality by your answer to that question. Some will even question your salvation if you don’t answer correctly. Seriously?

Why don’t we all step back from our charts and theories for just a minute and think. While there may be a place for asking the questions listed above, it seems to me that the greater issue is the great commission. After all, when Jesus ascended he didn’t say, “Go therefore and build a bomb shelter.” He didn’t say, “Go therefore and expose the antichrist.” He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”

Listen. I think I speak on good authority when I say this. Understanding the signs of Christ’s return is important to help us see how close his return is. But the sign that we should be most concerned with is the movement of the gospel to all nations. Are you helping make that happen? Let’s be honest, it’s easier…

…to figure out which nations will go to war with each other, than it is to go to war for the nations, on your knees.

… to ask people about their millennial views, than it is to ask if they have eternal life.

… to build a bunker for the “apocalypse”, than it is to build a church in a needy community.

…to sit in our rooms, scanning the internet for the antichrist, than it is to get out into the world and preach the coming Christ.

The Lord gave us clear instructions about what we are to do with our lives. Every believer is called to help get the gospel to those who have yet to hear it. Instead of asking God what he’s going to do about all those who haven’t heard, ask yourself what you’re going to do. God will handle his part. Your job is to pray, give, and go until he comes. When our Lord comes, will he find you watching signs or directing traffic?