Epiphany: You Don’t Have to Be a Christian to Call On Jesus

Epiphany is a celebration by the Body of Christ of the revelation of Jesus Christ to the gentiles — all nations of people who are not from His own Jewish heritage. On this day, we often celebrate the arrival of the wise men from the east, who came many miles, following a great sign in the heavens, to worship Jesus as the Lord of the universe who had come to earth as a man to redeem His creation from their own sin and its curse. The following article is an edited version of one I posted a few years ago, but I feel it says what is in my heart on this special day of celebration. I hope it blesses you, even if you read it when I originally shared it. It comes to you with my wish that you will have a continuous revelation throughout this new year of Jesus Christ and all He wants to be for you and your life.


JESUS ON DONKEY - WIKIPED.“Here comes Jesus!”

“Jesus of Nazareth is coming!”

“Do you see Him yet?”

“Here He comes!”

“Here comes Jesus!”

Excitement was rampant, and cries of “Hosanna” filled the air. Shouts of joy and triumph could be heard for miles along the road, and people rushed to lay palm branches and their personal garments as a carpet of welcome. Jesus of Nazareth was coming to Jerusalem.

This carpenter-teacher who had journeyed among them for nearly three years, teaching them, healing them, feeding them, forgiving them, raising their dead. This miracle worker, this wise man, this man who was gentle enough to draw crowds of children to his side yet bold enough He would soon drive money-changers from the temple with a whip — this man whom many claimed was the prophesied Messiah of Jehovah — this man was coming again to Jerusalem! I’m sure, had we been there, we would have heard the message repeated over and over again for miles: “Here comes Jesus! Here comes Jesus!”

We in the Christian world celebrate that event on one special day out of the year, and we call it Palm Sunday. We have special services and some of us wave palm branches in the air to commemorate the day that is often referred to by church historians as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But that event happened over 2000 years ago. One could say it’s all history now; it’s been said and done;  it’s over.

But not so, my friends! I am thrilled beyond words to be able to tell you that Jesus is still coming to anyone and everyone who would like to receive Him. He’s a living, vital, right-now Jesus. He is the I AM (The self-existent one who causes all other things to be; the one who is and becomes whatever He desires to become — Hebrew definition). And the great I AM desires to become everything that His creation needs.

Jesus of Nazareth is alive today, and He’s still loving people, teaching people, feeding people, forgiving people, delivering people, healing people and making  them whole. And, yes, He’s still raising people from the dead. He’s the same Jesus who fulfilled the words of the ancient prophets by riding  into Jerusalem on a donkey that day.  He’s the same Jesus who worked myriads of miracles for the people. He’s the same Jesus who went to the cross to pay for the rebellion and sin of all the human race.

He’s the same Jesus who rose from the grave and took His throne as Lord of the universe. He’s the same Jesus who promised that if we would call on Him and receive Him as Lord, He would freely fill us with His own eternal life and with power to serve Him. He’s the same Jesus who promised that after our life of service to Him on this earth, we would move on to Heaven and live with Him forever. No questions —  no if’s, and’s or but’s. No struggling to get there, no sacrifice, no hard work, no price to pay. Jesus did the work. We receive the benefit.  And the Word of God,  Hebrews 13:8, says “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.”

So I can tell you confidently: “Here comes Jesus!  He’s coming to you today! He’s coming because He sees your need; He sees your trouble; He sees your sorrow; He sees your pain; He sees your desperation; He sees your hopelessness; He hears your questions; He hears your confusion; He hears your private crying. He’s coming to you because He loves you.

Did you know that you don’t have to be a Christian for Jesus Christ to love you? Sometimes we who call ourselves Christians tend to flock together so tightly that we become almost like a clique, and the rest of the world feels as though they can’t break through the wall to become a part. But my message to the “rest of the world” today is that you don’t have to become a part of the “clique of Christianity.”  All you have to do is get to know Jesus, the real person.

And did you know that you don’t have to be a Christian to call on Jesus? That’s right. Jesus isn’t listening just for the call of the Christians. Certainly, He’s attuned to their cries and He rushes to their help when they need Him, but Jesus the Christ is listening — intently — for the cries of all the millions of  His creation in this world who don’t know Him at all. His heart is waiting expectantly for their voice to call out His name. And He’s ready to answer that call swiftly. He’s ready to come home with you at any time.

When Jesus walked the earth, He was often found in the homes of those who were not active believers. People whom the scriptures refer to as “publicans” and “sinners” found that Jesus was more than willing to spend time with them and teach them the truth about God — and show them God’s love by healing their sick and delivering those in demonic bondage. In fact, He often received hateful criticism from the religious leaders of His day because He gave Himself so freely to those who did not have a relationship with the true God. But Jesus’ response was simply that His main reason for coming into the earth was to find those who did not know Him and offer Himself to them.

Zacchaeus was one such man. (His story is told in the Word of God, the book of Luke, chapter 19.) Although technically a descendant of Abraham, Zacchaeus was chief among publicans — which means he made his living working for the Roman government, collecting taxes from his fellow Israelites — and, by his own admission, cheating them. He had heard about Jesus, but he was no believer. However, he was curious, and as Jesus passed through Jericho, right before his entry into Jerusalem on the donkey, Zacchaeus, a short man,  climbed into a tree so that he could see and hear Jesus easily. Jesus called him down from the tree and invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ house.

Zacchaeus recognized Jesus as the Messiah and opened to Him his home and his heart. We know that he invited Jesus in with his whole heart, because, after spending only a short time with Him, Zacchaeus voluntarily confessed his sin of cheating and promised to make restoration of everything with interest. Jesus did not ask Zacchaeus to do so. The man simply opened his heart to Jesus, and a changed nature was the result.

So, I will say once more: You do not need to be a Christian to call on Jesus. No matter what religious tag you wear — including that of “Atheist” —  that tag will not keep Jesus from coming to you if your heart is reaching out for Him and inviting Him in. What will happen to that religious tag after you meet Jesus? Who cares?  I can guarantee you — without qualification — that if you ever meet the real Jesus, you won’t care.

Here comes Jesus!  He’s coming to us today — Christian and non-Christian — He’s coming. With words of comfort and reassurance to destroy fear — with delivering power to destroy the yokes of the devil — with healing and wholeness for body, mind, and spirit — with wisdom and direction that leads to successful solutions — with the power of His Holy Spirit and all of the anointing for service — with eternal life to overcome death once and for all and forever.

Jesus is coming!  He’s coming to you!  Right now! Open your heart to Him and let Him meet all of your needs today.

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Picture courtesy of Wikipedia commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jesus_entering_jerusalem_on_a_donkey.jpg

When Hope Seems Lost . . .

TERRY'S BLUE TREES WITH SUNRISE
“When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord.” (Jonah 2:7).  When you feel you have no hope left — when your soul is fainting from the battle and the threat of utter defeat — remember the Lord and His mercies. Jeremiah admonishes us in Lamentations 2:18-23 with these sure words: “And I said, My strength and my hope is perished …. This I recall to my mind; therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness.”

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What Lies Ahead?

ROAD AHEAD WITH TRAFFIC

Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13-14).

God doesn’t consult your past to determine your future. And He isn’t nearly as concerned about what you’ve been or done as He is about what He’s going to be able to do with you from this point on. St. Paul was the most vehement, most persistent, and the most feared persecutor of Christians the world had ever known. Yet once Jesus Christ managed to stop Him in his tracks and reveal the truth to him, Paul submitted to Him and became the most powerful and most beloved leader of the faith in history.

Turn your attention away from your failures, your fears, your wasted years, and give all of yourself to God and His Word. He who “calls those things that be not as though they were” is calling you into a life of successful service to Him and to His kingdom – for this life and for eternity.

Throw off the past and, with St. Paul declare, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life I NOW live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).

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Prophecies, Panic, and God’s Covenant of Peace — Part 1

(Part 1) The Time Of The Singing Of Birds

BLUE-GREEN-BIRD - ENLARGED

For lo, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come …” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12 Amp). When I was a child, I was much troubled by fears of various kinds, and as a result I often had trouble sleeping at night. Thank God, He delivered me from all fear many years ago, so I am no longer tormented by those experiences. But I can still remember very vividly how they affected my life and what few things gave me relief from them.

When I was wakeful in the dark hours of night and those eerie wee hours of the morning, I alternated, from night to night, in my methods of dealing with my fears. Once in a great while, they were so tormenting that I ended up sleeping with my parents. But most nights I used other alternatives. Some nights I spent the time pulling the covers around me as tightly as I could, squeezing my eyes shut, and straining my ears to hear every sound. Other nights, I concentrated on staying alert to every corner of the room, the doorway to the hall, and the area beneath my bed – to make sure nothing that just might be lurking there could get to me.

I couldn’t have told you what I thought might be lurking around my bedroom. I wasn’t afraid of any particular kind of person or monster. I just knew I was afraid. During some of those nights – my most sensible nights – I tried to calm my fears by reciting all the lessons from my catechism or singing “Silent Night.” Those strategies generally gave me enough relief that I sometimes even drifted back to sleep.

I have to say here that my parents did what they knew to alleviate my fears, telling me – quite honestly – that there was nothing to be afraid of. And I had studied the Word of God enough that I had learned about God taking care of little children while they slept. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, I had also learned that faith-destroying prayer that the devil himself must have written to be taught to almost every child who ever lived: “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

I actually never prayed that prayer. I think, even at that young age, I knew that a prayer like that was so faithless that it couldn’t do me any good. Moreover, even then, I realized that saying out of my own mouth that I might die during the night was just inviting death to come.

Something deep inside me told me that it couldn’t be the will of God for little children to die so young. But knowing that most adults thought that prayer was a “good” prayer and a “right” prayer for little kids to pray always left me just a little bit fearful that maybe I was wrong. Maybe God did want some of us kids to die and not get a chance to live our lives on the earth. And if I were wrong, and “they” were right, then if I let myself go to sleep, I just might die.

Anyway, none of my parents’ efforts at the time helped me overcome the problem, and it was only years later that I learned the truth about Jesus really being the same today as He was when He walked the earth over 2000 years ago. He truly does offer the same deliverance that He offered then, and when that truth took root in my spirit, Jesus delivered me completely.

But my point here is that there was one thing that always gave me relief when I was suffering those nights of fear. At just about 5:00 in the morning, I heard the birds begin to sing. Now they may start singing at other hours in other parts of the world, but where I lived, they almost always began at the same time. Every time I heard them begin to sing and looked at my clock it was always within a very few minutes of 5:00 a.m.

Eventually, I didn’t even bother to look at the clock because I knew for sure when I heard the singing of the birds, it was then 5:00 in the morning, and daylight would soon be streaming through my window. The night was over. I didn’t have to huddle between the tightly drawn covers or keep watch on every corner of the room any longer.

I can still remember clearly how it felt. As soon as the birds began to sing, I immediately began to breath deeply and easily. Every muscle in my body began to relax. I stretched out, turned over, nestled my head comfortably on my pillow, closed my eyes without tension, and drifted immediately and peacefully to sleep. To this very day, every time I happen to be awake to hear the birds begin to sing (and let me hasten to add that I am never awake because of fear any more), I am reminded of the overwhelming release that came to me with that experience all those other years.

Now, of course, my thoughts immediately turn to the fact that I am permanently released from all the fear and its consequences because of Jesus and His work in my life. I cannot keep a smile from spreading across my face when those birds start to sing, and I always lift my heart to the Lord in sincere gratitude for His amazing deliverance and care.

Recently, I have been called upon to counsel and pray with a number of individuals who, although they are faithful Christians who know God’s Word and power, have found themselves bombarded by the dark circumstances of the world and dark messages from some servants of God. This bombardment has been so intense that these people now find themselves in the middle of a “night” full of confusion and fear.

As I waded with them through these troubling and tormenting circumstances and the subsequent messages that seemed to prophesy disaster, doom, and confusing instructions for “survival” of the same, I realized that each of these people was missing a very important truth. Indeed a large majority of the Body of Christ seems to be missing that same truth: The fact that we are not in the middle of a dark, scary night. We are on the verge of a brilliant day — the day when our manifested redemption is drawing nigh. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28).

If we rightly divide the Word of God as He instructs us to do, we will stop our fearful frenzy of trying to figure out how best to protect ourselves in the “end times,” and we will be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). We will get quiet long enough to hear the singing of the birds and know that, regardless of what the world around us looks like, all is well for the believer who is hidden in Jesus Christ.

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Watch for Part 2 – “Fight for Survival VS Faith in the Savior”

Photo of bird courtesy of beautifulfreepictures.com.

Now My Heart Must Sing

I woke to face another day,
No glad expectancy,
For heavy disappointments were
Weighing down on me.

The day before had been so filled
With unsupportive words,
With problems piled four levels high
And everywhere closed doors.

The friends I’d counted on were not:
They came and went like rain:
All so enwrapped in their own lives
They couldn’t feel my pain.

It was just like so many days,
All running wearily,
So sad, with disappointments too,
All weighing down on me.

And though I knew I would survive,
That didn’t soothe my heart,
For sorrow deep and troubles too
Brought a longing to depart.

But then to Jesus I did run;
I saw it in a dream:
I stood below a gentle hill,
All carpeted in green.

When I looked up and saw Him there,
He stood beneath a tree,
And waited, smiling patiently;
He’d been expecting me.

I ran but didn’t feel the strain;
He grabbed me in His arms,
He wrapped them hard around me; held me
Strongly, safe and warm.

I’d never felt so light and free;
Engulfed with joy and rest;
No problem lingered to be weighed;
All I could feel was blessed.

And all the disappointments, though
So heavy they had been,
Took flight, and sadness too was gone,
Ev’ry conflict, ev’ry pain.

All threats and fears and torments sore,
All guilt, defeat, and shame –
In love so glowing and so strong,
All were dissolved away.

Then suddenly I saw a truth –
It caught me by surprise –
That Jesus’ joy exceeded mine;
I saw it in His eyes.

I’d known He would accept me, that
He’d made a place for me,
But never had I even guessed
How happy He would be!

He was so thrilled to have me there;
He laughed so loud and strong
That all things not of joy and life
Just vanished in joy’s song.

And when I woke to this new day,
His laughter still did ring;
His arms still held me close and warm,
And now my heart must sing!