Wake Up!
Like the loving parent who gently shakes a child to wake him up, God is shaking the world today in an attempt to wake us from our slumber. And like the child who doesn't wake up immediately, the shaking becomes a bit more firm and serious. If America and, for that matter - the world doesn't wake up soon, that shaking will become stronger and more severe.
In America we see deepening poverty, racial division, homelessness, crime, physical and sexual abuse, and the disintegration of the traditional family. Alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography, and other dangerous behaviors are eating away at society. And these are further complicated by plagues of many kinds, including AIDS, tuberculosis, and sexually transmitted diseases. Combined with earthquakes, physcial storms, and natural disasters of many kinds all across the land, one wonders how much longer before we wake up and recognize their significance and our response to them. Jesus said these are merely a warning of things yet to come. All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24:8). 
We are being shaken - gently. But like the birth pains of childbirth, the shaking is getting more frequent and severe.
Isaiah prophesies that God will one day rise up and shake the whole earth - more firmly and with eternal seriousness.
See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants-- it will be the same for priest as for people, for master as for servant, for mistress as for maid, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The LORD has spoken this word.
The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. 
Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth's inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.
The new wine dries up and the vine withers; all the merrymakers groan. The gaiety of the tambourines is stilled, the noise of the revelers has stopped, the joyful harp is silent. No longer do they drink wine with a song; the beer is bitter to its drinkers. 
The ruined city lies desolate; the entrance to every house is barred. In the streets they cry out for wine; all joy turns to gloom, all gaiety is banished from the earth. The city is left in ruins, its gate is battered to pieces. So will it be on the earth and among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, or as when gleanings are left after the grape harvest. 
They raise their voices, they shout for joy; from the west they acclaim the Lord's majesty. Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD; exalt the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea. From the ends of the earth we hear singing: "Glory to the Righteous One." 
But I said, "I waste away, I waste away! Woe to me! The treacherous betray! With treachery the treacherous betray!" Terror and pit and snare await you, O people of the earth. Whoever flees at the sound of terror will fall into a pit; whoever climbs out of the pit will be caught in a snare. 
The floodgates of the heavens are opened, the foundations of the earth shake. The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is thoroughly shaken. The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls--never to rise again. 
In that day the LORD will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below. They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and be punished after many days. The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed; for the LORD Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously. [Isaiah 24:1-23]
The prophets Ezekiel, Joel, Haggai, and the writer of Hebrews all concur that God is going to literally shake the earth one more time! See Ezekiel 38:20-23; Joel 3:14-17; Haggai 2:6-9 and Hebrews 12:25-29. He will shake our economy, the stock market, Fortune 500 companies, banks, insurance companies, our education system, our government, our families, our churches - everything we put our trust and confidence in, everything that seems safe and secure.
As a matter of fact, it's when people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant women, and they will not escape. [1 Thess. 5:3]
Right now in America, there is a false peace sweeping through churches - a peace that will fail in the troubled days ahead. It is the false peace of stubborn, sin-blinded Christians. Moses called such believers "self-blessed" - meaning, self-deceived. He warned Israel that a curse would come upon all wicked, disobedient children of God who walked in idolatry. He said they would plaster over their sinful ways with a false sense of peace: "And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst." [Deuteronomy 29:19].
We have become desensitized to Satan's evil plans. Things that once apalled us now have become commonplace and we've heard so much evil that it doesn't bother us any more. Knowing his time is short he will pour out more of his filth, wickedness and testings beyond anything our minds can imagine. Those testings are now reaching critical mass and we seem to be ignoring it. It will become increasingly difficult for many to distinguish God's truth from Satan's lie as the church spirals into moral relativism.
We tolerate killing our unborn children and call it "freedom of choice." 
We tolerate homosexuality and call it "diversity" 
We tolerate killing of the elderly or sick and call it "compassion" 
We tolerate religious segregation and call it "denominationalism"
The liberal humanist agenda is clear: to do away with God by denying the conscience He has given us. Virtue is ridiculed, evil is praised as good and liberating, and God-given moral standards are mocked as the narrow-minded thinking of a past generation. 
Others have given up, believing that everyone and everything is so corrupt, there is nothing that can be done. As a result, they accept any activity that appears to improve their life. 
We accept "affirmative action" as a solution to racism rather than dealing with the condition of the heart that brings about such an evil. 
We accept "higher taxes" in order to bail out failed social policies rather than accepting our God given responsibilities to be "our brothers keeper." 
We accept police intrusion into our homes, businesses and automobiles to rid us of guns and drugs. 
We allow the government to regulate with impunity our businesses to give us a sense of security in our business dealings. 
We accept censorship of the media so we're not offended, rather than turning our TV's off, throwing away our pornography, and not supporting those companies that sell us their filth.
When presented with alternatives, it's as if many don't even hear them. In fact, they probably don't want to hear them because it would call for them to change. 
The Bible says, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron. [1 Timothy 4:1-2].
There is a storm coming!
The faithful, as they see the intensification of these signs, will know that the day of the Lord's return for them is "approaching" (Hebrews 10:25) and will be those who stand firm in their faith through all the end-time distress (Matt. 24:13). They will be the ones who have applied the power of Scripture to all the little problems of daily living: anger; frustration with employment; parenting; marital relationships; forgiveness; etc. The Scriptural teaching is that we must faithfully surrender to God in the small things of life before we graduate to the next level of experiencing God's provision: "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things." [Matthew 25.21]
For others they will have become so comfortable with their life of tolerance, compromise, convenience and appeasement that to accept the lies and deception of an Antichrist will not be difficult for them.
If we cannot believe Him and surrender to His power in the daily frustrations of life, how can we have faith and receive His power in the big problems of life? Our lack of faith (acting upon our trust in God's Word and provision through the Holy Spirit) in the small things prohibits us from maturing and growing in faith for the large problems. Thus, when the storm beats against our house, will we have the faith to stand firm? 
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." [Matthew 7:21-27]
You see, there will be two kinds of Christians in these last days: the wise and foolish. 
There will be one group of believes who will not fall - they will be able to withstand every demonic onslaught that comes on them. Nothing will be able to move them when the storm comes. 
There will be another group of Christians whose fall will be great - total, complete, devastating collapse of everything. 
They built two different kinds of houses. And the only thing that will hold up in the coming storm is to be the house established on a rock foundation.
Many Christians may say, "I'm a believer. I've built on the rock." Yet they don't truly understand what this phrase means. And they will have a great shock and surprise when their relationship with Jesus does not endure the storm. They will be exposed as having no foundation.
What are we building our house on now? What is it's foundation? Those things we are building into our faith now have certain characteristics that will determine how we react under pressure in the future.
Faith  Trust  Truth  Honesty  Integrity  Sacrifice Love  Hope  Commitment  Perseverance  Obedience
Why do only a few people follow Christ for a lifetime? Why do some appear to follow for a time and then fall away? What prevents us from following Jesus wholeheartedly? Why do many of us prefer to build on the sand rather than the rock? 
It can't be that we don't know about Him. With all the technology available today, the archealogical research confirming the people and places of the Bible, the immense volumes of writings of believers explaining their faith, and the exegicial study of the words of the Bible - it's as if we know so much, yet believe so little.
The Cost of Following Jesus
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." [Luke 9:57-62]
What keeps us from following Jesus wholeheartedly?
We want security: home, job, marriage, family. 
We want personal pleasure and comfort: an easy life, no conflict, to get along with everyone.
We want earthly rewards: popularity, friendships, leisure time. 
Some follow only with 'conditions'. 
Jesus, however, wants complete loyalty with no conditions. Total dedication, not halfhearted commitment. We can't pick and choose among Jesus' ideas and follow him selectively. Jesus did not appoint us to be editors who select the portions of Jesus' teaching which we "think" are irrelevant. 
It does not matter how others live, we are responsible individually to live what Jesus taught. 
This man said he first wanted to bury his father. It's likely the father was not yet dead and the man wanted to wait until he died. 
Our priorities do not place Jesus at the top. 
Some have one foot in heaven and one foot in this life. They cannot let go of the things of this earth. 
They say, "Let me take care of important family matters first." 
"Let me take care of my financial situtation first." 
"Show me a miracle" 
"Heal me." 
We must be willing to abandon everything else that has given us security and not allow anything to distract us from the calling He has made in our lives. 
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. [Mark 1:16-20]
Simon and Andrew left their sole livelinhood, their job to respond to Jesus' call. 
James and John left their job and their father to follow Jesus. 
Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. 
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." [Mark 2:13-17]
Levi, renamed Matthew by Jesus, gave up his job as a tax-collector which likely included great wealth and power. 
The Pharisees were uncomfortable with Jesus' life-style and attitude that allowed Him to be willing to associate with those whom the Pharisees had judged as evil people, those who did not follow the Mosaic law: tax collectors, adulterers, robbers and the like. Many churches tend to treat people like this by rejecting them or demanding they change first. 
There is a double standard within some Christian churches. Christian leaders point their finger at cults and cult leaders and accuse them of deceiving their members. Perhaps we need to examine our own history as Christians believers. How many Christians today are guilty of the same sin? Too often our Christianity is in our mouths and not in our minds. Often the outsider can see through our facades; he calls it hypocrisy. He has heard the stories of Christian churches that have been divided by anger and hatred. He knows about the deacon who left his wife to run away with the church organist. He knows how some of the Sunday morning faithful spend Saturday night.
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me." Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 
"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip. [John 1:43-47]
The first thing Philip did after he followed Jesus was he told someone else: evangelism. Nathanael response was at first skepticsm. What about Christ stirs skepticism today? What stereotypes about Christ prevent people from trusting Him today? We must set aside all our preconceived ideas about Christ and allow Him to fill our hearts and minds with the true Spirit. 
Many today respond to Jesus with a lack of commitment. They believe with their mind, but not their heart. They are skeptical about who He is. They are not willing to give up themselves to follow him. They are willing to follow some of His commands, but not willing to sacrifice their own needs. They may hold on to parents, siblings, or children.
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters ... he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14.26
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate ... -- yes, even his own life -- he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14.26 
Whose goals and aspirations direct your daily living? God's or your own carnal, self-centered desires?
There is a flow of obedience in our lives - a flow that springs from the motives of the heart. 
Legal obedience - a cold, technical formality, based on fear of consequences. They obey because they are afraid to go to hell. They fear the Fathers wrath. Their obedience is "legal" only - they have no genuine desire to please Him. They do not obey out of pleasure or because they love Jesus - on the contrary they are angry at him for restricting their freedom and lifestyle.
These people will stand before God's throne someday and say, "Lord, in You name we cast out devils, we healed the sick, we did many wonderful works for You." But they built their houses on sand. They cried, "Lord, Lord!" throughout their lives - coming to Him for relief, for power, for rewards. But they never stopped long enough in His presence to get to know Him. They were busy for Him - but they don't obey Him with a love that flows from a totally abandoned heart.
Loving obedience - "I do it because I want to please my Lord - to bring Him great pleasure." These people don't need the "law" because they wouldn't do things that would hurt their Father because of their love for Him. Their every action and desire is to please God and willingly forsake the world and its lusts.
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!" When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.
Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?" They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?" "Come," he replied, "and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour. 
Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter). [John 1:35-42] 
The first thing Andrew did after he had followed Jesus was to tell someone else. He told Simon Peter who later was to become a pillar of the church. 
From what we've seen, what does it mean then, to follow Jesus? Clearly, we must step out of our comfort zone. We not to be sitting in church but reaching out to the lost and the needy. It's a life of evangelism and sacrifice of self. 
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" [Matt. 28:19-20]. 
First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this `coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. [2Peter 3:3-7] 
We are told in this prophecy that men will reject three things: 
God created the world, which at first was covered with water (which means that its surface was cool at the beginning, not a molten blob as evolutionists teach). 
God once judged this world with a global, cataclysmic flood at the time of Noah. 
God is going to judge this world again, but the next time it will be by fire. 
The scoffers skepticism is based upon their evil desires, which lead them to prefer a view of the future in which there is no divine judgment. The scoffers maintain that everything in the world goes on without divine intervention. 
Notice that the emphasis here is on a deliberate rejection, or as some translations put it, a "willing ignorance." Thus, it is a deliberate action on a person's part not to believe. People refuse to belive these things even when presented with evidence -people simply do not want to be convinced. Ignoring the flood as a divine intervention was not an oversight; it was deliberate. 
We read in Romans 1:20 that there is enough evidence to convince everyone that God is Creator, so much so that we are condemned if we do not believe. Furthermore, Romans 1:18 tells us that men "suppress the truth in unrighteousness." 
It is not a matter of lack of evidence to convince people that the Bible is true; the problem is that they do not want to believe the Bible. The reason for this is obvious. If people believed in the God of the Bible, they would have to acknowledge His authority and obey the rules He has laid down.
What does Christ expect you to give up to follow Him? 
What are you willing to give up in order to follow Christ? 
What does Jesus ask all of us to do?