Sunday, September 17, 2017

Final Warning?

In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other.  Daniel 5:5-6  NKJV

“And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. “This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; “TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; “PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”  Daniel 5:25-28  NKJV

Have you ever considered that God always chooses to give mankind fair warning of His intentions towards us and always gives us a chance to repent?

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9  NKJV

For the past few weeks I have chosen to talk about the possibility that we are quickly approaching the “point of no return” where the Church will be taken away to be with the Father in Heaven and His judgment on an unbelieving world will begin.  One of the most gratifying things to me as a watcher is the fact that it would appear I am in no way the only one to think this.  In fact, even though there are countless other watchers of the same mind, it appears that even the secular world is looking at what has been happening, realizing where we are as a world, and asking the same questions.

Of course, they discount the answer that God is displeased and attempting to give us fair warning of His intentions, yet they do acknowledge that something out of the ordinary is going on.  To us as believers, however, the question should well be about what God expects from us in these last days leading up to His intervention in the affairs of men.  The answer to that, I am sure, would be that we all agree it is up to us as the body of Christ to share with those who will listen that God has provided a way of escape for all who would choose to accept it through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

While this has been the message of the Gospel since the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there has lately certainly appeared a sense of urgency, stimulated no doubt, by recent events we as a world have witnessed.  Should we as a body consider all that has occurred recently as our “handwriting on the wall”?  My answer to that is “why not”?  

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,        Romans 1:18  NKJV

If this is the case, what should our response as believers be?  I have no doubt that most all of us would agree that we need to take any opportunity we are presented with to share the Gospel with those who are seeking answers.  I cannot tell you the numerous opportunities I have had to share in the past month or so, which from what I can tell, result directly from all of the events which are taking place in the world right now.  How close are we?  That is a question I get a lot, and one which I am sure you do as well.  While I am careful not to set dates, this week brings us to a series of events occurring, one of which, many are claiming has every indication of relating to the Church’s deliverance from this earth.

While there are several things happening this week, the one which has garnered the most attention is one which is being called the "Sign of the Woman".  In short, a celestial alignment of stars and constellations will occur which mirror the passage given to us in the book of Revelation, chapter twelve.  While some people debate whether or not the male child referred to in this passage is the Church or Israel, there is one inescapable fact which should be considered. In Rev. 12 the word "harpazo" is used, which is the same word that is used describing the Rapture in 1 Thess. 4:16 & 17. 

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.       Revelation 12:1-5  NKJV

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.  1 Thessalonians 4:15-18  NKJV

Am I saying the Church will disappear this week?  No, but then again I would not be surprised at all if it did.  As for me, I will be looking for every opportunity to share the Gospel with anyone who will listen, as well as sharing it with you as I always do.  If you are reading this today and have never made the decision to accept the free gift of eternal life offered to us by the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I urge you to do it today.  All you need to do is pray a simple prayer like this one, and believe.

Jesus I know I am a sinner in need of salvation. I believe you sent your Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sin, and I ask you now to forgive me of my sins. I want to receive your gift of salvation so please come into my heart and help me to live for you from now on. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Keep watching.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Unable or Unwilling?

“So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!  Matthew 24:33  NKJV

By now I am sure that most all of us have heard the question asked in one form or another; “what in the world is going on”?  The eclipse, earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, tropical storms and floods, solar flares, unseasonable heat waves and other events are all combining to produce in many the thoughts of nature out of control.  Yet as believers, we know with a certainty who it is who not only controls the weather, but has often used it for the purpose of exhibiting His displeasure and judgment.  That said, it would seem not only reasonable, but logical to consider that God is sending us a message.

I asked you a few weeks ago to consider the possibility that many have expressed about the forty days between the eclipse and Yom Kippur being a time of judgment for America.  I think I would be remiss if I didn’t ask that same question again today and wonder if many of you might have changed your minds in the past few weeks?  Of course, I couldn’t say for certain but I think it is beginning to look a lot like it is a much better answer to the question many are asking than blaming it all on climate change.  Yet I think it important to consider if there is more to what is happening than meets the eye.

I would, however, also want to suggest that what we see happening might just as well be part of God’s plan which answers one of the most asked questions those who teach about the end times receive on a regular basis, and that is where is America in prophecy?  If you have studied that question, you may have already formed your own answer, but for myself, I believe what we see happening may fit perfectly in supporting the position of many, including myself who teach that America is not mentioned because it is unable or unwilling to be a participant in the coming events in the Middle East.

Let’s first examine the “unable” position for a moment.  We now have finally elected a government which holds the position that our national debt and government spending must come under control.  To their credit, these two goals are slowly being achieved, and it is obvious that our administration is serious about accomplishing this.  Now add to the equation the current drain on our resources as a result of the many natural disasters we as a country are experiencing at the moment.  How many requests for federal aid are on the books right now and after hurricane Irma passes through this weekend, how much more will that add?

Of course, if we accept the possibility that there is, in fact, a forty day period of time to consider, that leaves us with three more weeks to experience even more disasters.  Do you see where this is leading?  I can recall many times as a father that I wanted to do something for my children but was unable to do so because of a serious lack of funding.  As a country, is it not possible we would find ourselves in the same predicament?  A series of disasters on the scale we have been experiencing so far could economically ruin any chance of us having the funding to spend defending our allies in the Middle East should a conflict there arise.

Then, of course, we come to the “unwilling” part of this discussion.  Why would America be unwilling to defend its greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel?  As most of us know, there are two different political leanings in our country at present which most would categorize as conservative and liberal.  If we were to speak in general terms, polls have shown that the majority of conservatives identify themselves as Christian and support the nation of Israel while those who identify as liberals are less likely to have any religious affiliation and often support the positions of Israel’s enemies.  As I said, this is a generalization and there are always exceptions.  If we accept this as fact, however, there is an obvious question which arises.

Our present administration not only identifies itself as conservative, but also as Christian as well.  Even the media, which could hardly be considered supportive of the administration, has often reported on the fact that many of the members our President has appointed are people of faith, and even revealed that there are now Bible Studies being held in the White House for those who wish to attend.  This being the case, one would expect our support for the nation of Israel to be not only unwavering, but virtually guaranteed.  To this point, it has, yet there is one event, which as believers, we must consider as well.  What happens after the rapture?

As the Bible clearly reveals, all believers will be suddenly taken from this earth to by our Savior Jesus Christ, to be with Him forever in Heaven.  This of course, only leaves unbelievers behind.  In such a case, I think it rather logical to assume that whatever government rises from the ashes in this country would be less than supportive of Israel than the current one.  Considering that the period of time following the rapture is called among other things, the time of Jacob’s trouble, and the fact that America is not mentioned in the prophecies of that period, it would be reasonable to believe this country is unwilling to be involved.

Unable, or unwilling?  You could make an argument for both, or a combination of both.  The fact remains, however, many believe we are experiencing a dramatic display of God’s displeasure and a foretaste of what many believe is soon to come.  What will we see occur in the coming weeks?  More of the same, or an increase of events which will make it plain to all that there is more to what is happening than just nature acting outside of her norm.  If you are familiar at all with the book of Revelation, you know that what is happening right now is nothing compared to what is to come.  The passage from the book of Matthew which begins today’s discussion is directed to, and about the things which happen during the tribulation.  Yet it certainly is applicable right now with what we are seeing around us.

I truly believe what we are seeing and experiencing today is God’s warning that His return is near.  If you are reading this today and have never made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I urge you to do it right now.  All you need to do is pray a simple prayer like this;

Jesus I know I am a sinner in need of salvation. I believe you sent your Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sin, and I ask you now to forgive me of my sins. I want to receive your gift of salvation so please come into my heart and help me to live for you from now on. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Keep watching.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Our Blessed Hope

I am celebrating this Labor Day by enjoying a visit from my three daughters and six grandchildren so needless to say I have my hands full, as well as my house.  I hope you have an enjoyable holiday too, and thought I would post a link to a wonderful article which speaks to the one event we are all longing for.  I know in my heart that it is, as the Bible says, right at the door.  Enjoy.

Keep Watching.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hold Fast

“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.              Revelation 3:10-11  NKJV

I don’t believe there is any passage in the Bible more applicable to believers right now than this verse from Jesus to the Church at Philadelphia.  It describes perfectly the situation the Church finds itself in with regards to how the world views it, especially as they attempt to change God’s laws and punish those who choose to not to conform to their agenda.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!                                         Isaiah 5:20  NKJV

“Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, Who write misfortune, Which they have prescribed                 Isaiah 10:1  NKJV

I would be less than honest if I did not confess that I am surprised that at this time, especially in this country, believers are beginning to come under attack for their faith and be vilified and persecuted for choosing to acknowledge God’s laws as the standard for our beliefs and actions.  Never in my memory can I recall such a time as we as believers face right now, where the world considers us to be an intolerant, prejudiced people. Almost everywhere you look right now, you can find commentaries from Christian leaders in this country imploring believers to stand and fight for our faith.  Fortunately for us, this is a subject God had much to say about.

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.                                                   1 Corinthians 16:13-14  NKJV

For those who follow sports, an ongoing argument which many participate in surrounds the debate “do great teams win with offense or defense"? I'm sure most would say both, but it is a question that many fans enjoy arguing about, simply because there are those who love watching a great offense and others who would rather watch a great defense. In the fight against Satan which all Christians participate in, we really don't have the option to choose because God tells us exactly how we can win and that is with a good defense.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.                  Ephesians 6:10-13  NKJV

One of the most important points Paul makes here is in verse 11 where he tells us that what is expected of us as believers is simply to "stand". He repeats this in verse 13 where he tells us that after doing "everything", we stand firm. In his way, God is telling us through Paul that all He expects from us is to play defense, not to play offense. We next see in verse 14 that we are told we can stand firm if we remember those parts of God's armor we have already put on when we made the decision to follow Christ. Those parts were reminding us of the truth of Christ in which we believe, remembering our position before God thanks to the righteousness of Christ, and resting in the peace that is ours from the knowledge of the first two which was promised to us in the gospel of Christ.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;                                Ephesians 6:14-17  NKJV

In verse 16 Paul introduces us to the most practical piece of our armor, the one that we will need to use the most, and that is the shield of faith. Now personally I like this picture because to me, it realistically illustrates what Satan is trying to do to us as believers, and the way he tries to attack. An arrow is not all that large, and if one is coming straight at you I expect it is pretty hard to see. Also, arrows fly at an extremely fast speed and are pretty quiet. You can look at an arrow as the first of the stealth weapons, because the first time you hear them is when they hit you, and obviously by then it's too late to do anything about it. Most important, though, is the kind of arrow Satan uses. It's not your everyday arrow, but a flaming arrow which not only wounds you, but starts a fire that will continue to burn until put out.

As a result, God tells us that we need to take up the shield of faith. Have you had the opportunity to watch a movie that illustrates the use of a shield to defend against an attack by arrows?  I know I have seen a few that have done a great job showing what it must have been like to be in a battle like that. You have an army marching forward, carrying their shields which are almost as big as they are tall, and the opposing army launching their arrows. As soon as they fire, the opponent kneels down and hides behind their shields as thousands of arrows fall from the sky. As the attacking army continues to fire their arrows, the defending army simply waits behind their shields until the advancing army is out of arrows, and then they begin their attack. God tells us something in verse 16 that I think is very critical for us to remember. He says that if we take up the shield of faith we “will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one”.  Not some, ALL. This is what most of us would consider to be a winning defense!

Since we know we can win with God's help, it is also important to understand what these arrows will look like so we can recognize the "stealth" attack by Satan. I think the clue is in how God describes them when He says they are "flaming". Obviously a flaming arrow will start a fire, which then burns until put out. How does Satan "burn" us inside? I think these arrows will have two characteristics no matter what form they may come in. Remember they are coming from Satan, and we already know his method of attack. Satan wants us to doubt the truth from God in which we have believed, so first of all these flaming arrows will come out of our own thoughts. It's a sneak attack that seems to come from nowhere when we begin to doubt what we believe in.

Also, they will attack our position in Christ, the faith in Him that we have, which has already been described in the first pieces of armor we put on. You see, the key to overcoming a good defense is to first create doubt in the mind of your opponent that he is capable of defending himself. That works in any sport you can think of, as well as our fight against Satan. The trouble with doubt is that if you allow it to have its way with your mind, the effect will be to make you turn away from the conflict.  Unfortunately though, running only makes you a better target!

What is important to us to understand is the difference between what we believe, and the shield of "faith" which we are instructed to take up. What is faith? The best answer I can give you is faith is "acting" on your belief. You see, belief is one thing, but making decisions, taking action, making the decision to stand fast, all demonstrate your faith. Faith is always action. The fact that you may have doubts proves that you have faith. So apply your belief to everything, every situation you find yourself in, and you will be demonstrating faith and defeating Satan and his arrows. We need to be "active" believers, Christians DOING not just believing, and we can best do this by standing firm in our belief in God and His commands.

Most of what I have read in the past few weeks agrees with the idea that this fight is only going to get worse.  I truly believe God is orchestrating the events we see as the world fast approaches His return for His Church.  Fortunately, we have Jesus’ promise that He is “coming quickly” to take us away before the judgment of the world. The question for us all is will we stand and fight?  God’s command to us as believers is to “hold fast”!

Keep watching.