Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Is Risen

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you." So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Matthew 28:1-9 NKJV

I'm sure most of you are familiar with this passage, especially as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ on this day. My prayer is that if you have never made the decision to believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again for you, you would decide to do it today. Invite Jesus to come into your life and forgive your sins, and begin to experience the joy that comes from having a relationship with a living God, and the knowledge that He has promised us eternal life with Him in Heaven if we only believe.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 NKJV

And it shall come to pass [That] whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.' Acts 2:21 NKJV

And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Acts 16:30-31 NKJV

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9 NKJV

He Is Risen!

Keep Watching

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Prepare to Bow Down

A very popular song written and performed by the group MercyMe asks a question regarding what we as believers will do upon arriving in heaven. I'm sure you are probably familiar with the lyrics, but if not, this is the question they pose:

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

Actually, the question of what we will do when we finally stand in the presence of our God is answered in scripture. So today I thought we would look at three examples of men who were allowed the extraordinary privilege of meeting God face to face, and what their initial reaction was.

“What will my heart feel?”

Moreover He said, "I [am] the God of your father--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
Exodus 3:6 NKJV

Are you afraid of God? At first, that idea seems somehow to be wrong doesn't it? Why should we be afraid of the God who created us and loved us enough to send His Son to die for our sins? If we examine the meaning of the phrase “for he was afraid”, we see it means something more than a simple fear of something. In the Hebrew, this phrase is translated from the word yare', which means to be in awe of, to fear, reverence, honor and respect. In essence, we are told that when we stand in the presence of God, our reaction will be to bow our heads and look down or away as an acknowledgement of His power and authority over us as His created beings. It really comes down to respecting His position over us, and the appreciation of His omnipotence.

“Will I stand in your presence?”

As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest,
Acts 9:3,4 NKJV

When I read this passage the first question that came to mind was Paul falling to his knees voluntary or involuntary? As I thought about it, since Paul had no idea what was going on before Jesus identified Himself to him, it must have been an involuntary reaction to the light that surrounded him. Have you ever physically recoiled from something that was so strong that it made you turn away? Can you imagine the intensity of light that it would take to force you to your knees? Remember the result of this encounter was Paul being blinded, and unable to see. When I was in my twenties and rebuilding my first car, I accidentally struck the metal of the frame with my arc welder before my mask was down and my face was only 12 inches or so from the arc. I was totally knocked to my knees and the result was having my eyes covered for 3 days or so because of the damage it did to them. I don't think there is any question that when we appear before our Lord, we will not stand, but fall to our knees.

“Will I be able to speak at all?”

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.
Revelation 1:17 NKJV

Dead men don't talk. Now that might sound a little funny, but I think it is applicable in this case. John tells us that he fell at the feet of Jesus as a dead man. Remember this was John the Apostle. He claimed Jesus as his best friend. He sat beside him at the Last Supper. The Bible tells us he wanted to be Jesus' “favorite”. I think there was no question he knew who he was looking at, because I'm sure he recognized Jesus' voice. Yet instead of embracing Him he immediately falls to the ground and in his words, became as dead which logically probably also included being speechless. Have you ever had the opportunity to meet an old friend or family member you haven't seen in years? What was your reaction? Did you fall down to the ground like John did? Probably not, but when John was finally reunited with his friend and Savior after all those years what did he do? He said nothing, and fell to the ground as dead.

When we finally enter into the presence of God, I believe we will react exactly the same as these three men did. Having the opportunity to see for ourselves the glory of our God and Father and appear before His throne will produce the exact same situation experienced by Moses, Paul, and John. Yet I also believe this will simply be our initial reaction. The Bible tells us that we will worship, sing, dance, and rejoice in His presence. But what is the first thing we do? Prepare to bow down!

Keep watching.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Is Spring the Season of the Rapture?

Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, in the spring, and Sarah shall have a son."
Genesis 18:14 RSV

What's your favorite season? You know, I enjoy all of them for one reason or another, but if I had to pick one for my favorite, it would be the spring. Now I do enjoy the winter, sort of, but as I sit here and look out the window in my study I can see just a little bit of snow left on the mountain tops, my tulips blooming, and quail, songbirds, robins and doves eating out of my feeder. I like to call spring the time of new beginnings, because so much happens in so short of a time. I can see buds appearing on my trees, the robins have returned from wherever it is they go in the winter, the ground is turning green, and of course it looks like today I will have to see if the lawn mower survived the winter because the grass on my lawn is growing again.

If one was to do a study of the events listed for us in the Bible, it would appear that God ordained many events to occur in the spring as well. It is especially interesting to see how many of those events could be identified with the idea of a new beginning. In the passage above, God has visited Abraham and Sarah and told them that Sarah was to have a son. He also tells them that He will return to see them when that happens, and even tells them the season; spring! If you look closely at the Hebrew you will find that in this particular case, the RSV translates it best, because if you take the two words mowed and chay together in the same phrase you understand spring is identified as the season this event will occur.

mow`ed : 1) appointed place, appointed time, meeting

chay : 1) living, alive, a) green (of vegetation), b) flowing, fresh (of water), c) lively, active (of man), d) reviving (of the springtime)

Since Abraham is told he would become the father of the nation of Israel, the birth of Isaac began the fulfillment of that prophecy and as we see, it began in the spring.

We also find in the book of Exodus that the deliverance of the nation of Israel from bondage in Egypt occurred in the spring. The first three feasts of Israel, Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits all occur in the first month on the Jewish calendar which normally begins around the end of March or the beginning of April on our calendar, and is called Nisan or Abib.

And Moses said to the people: "Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. "On this day you are going out, in the month Abib.
Exodus 13:3,4 NKJV

Of course, of greater interest to us as believers is the fact that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred at the time of these three feasts as well. If you recall, Jesus celebrated passover with His disciples, was then arrested, crucified, and then rose again on the third day which was the Feast of Firstfruits.

Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, "You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified."
Matthew 26:1,2 NKJV

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.
Matthew 28:1,2 NKJV

Now you talk about the idea of spring being a time of new beginnings, how important could the fact be that our deliverance occurred in the spring? Do you really think so many things happening in the spring is just coincidence? If you think it may be, why not look at another event that is certainly significant to all believers. Just fifty days after the resurrection, on the Feast of Pentecost, something else rather important happened as well; the birth of the Church.

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Acts 2:1,2 NKJV

Do you begin to see what I mean about the spring being the most interesting season? The Bible is full of “new beginning” type events which occur in the spring. Is it possible then that the rapture of the church could occur in the spring season? If it did, it would certainly fit in with the idea of a new beginning type event happening the same time as so many others have. So in light of this, I saved the best for last. You remember the children of Israel being delivered out of Egypt? What did God have planned for them? That's right, they were headed to the promised land. Do you know when they got there?

And it came to pass, when the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD had come from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet touched the dry land, that the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks as before. Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho.
Joshua 4:18,19 NKJV

Here we are again! Back to the first month, the spring, the time of new beginnings. God delivered the children of Israel into the promised land on the tenth day of the first month. Is it possible this is also a picture of when the church will enter her “promised land”? Could spring be the season of the rapture ? If you know me by now you understand I believe the rapture of the church could happen at anytime, so I would never attempt to predict a certain “day” for it to occur. As far as choosing a “season” though, I would be very comfortable choosing the spring as the season where it might happen. Am I looking up? Oh you bet I am! With everything else that is happening in the world right now you have to believe we are so very close. That nearness, however, prompts me to ask you this question. If you have come to this point in your life and not made a decision to accept the free gift of salvation offered to you by our Saviour Jesus Christ, don't you think it would be a good idea to do it now?.

One last thing. I know many of you who follow this blog are curious about the subject of numbers and how they are used in the Bible. You also know by now that while I find that subject intriguing, it's not something I am led to pursue. But for those of you who are, here is a “freebie”. If the children of Israel entered the promised land on the tenth of the month, then their first full day of their new life was the eleventh. If the church were to be raptured following this example, then our first full day in heaven would be the eleventh as well. According to the Jewish calendar, this year that could be written 1-11-11. Since many believe that the Bible uses the number one as the number signifying new beginnings, isn't it interesting that this year all those “ones” could line up? Oh, and if you are wondering, the eleventh day of the first month would be Wednesday/Thursday of this week. No, again I'm not predicting anything, but isn't it fun to study the Word of God? I hope to see you soon.

Keep watching.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Carpenter's Rule

"Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?" So they were offended at Him.
Mark 6:3 NKJV

My father was a part-time carpenter as was my grandfather before him. My first real job was as a carpenter's apprentice, and I have worked as a carpenter off and on my entire life. So it goes without saying that I enjoy the fact that Jesus was a carpenter, especially if you consider that God chose for Him to be born to a carpenter rather than to an earthly father with any other trade. As I often do, I ask the question “why” when thinking about this fact. What might the reason be for God to choose this profession for His son? Have you ever considered the fact that God is the master carpenter who built the universe from nothing, and simply wanted Jesus to follow in His footsteps?

One of the very first things I learned as a carpenter was how important the foundation is to whatever it is you intend to build. What could be called the carpenter's golden rule is that you must have a strong, perfectly level foundation on which to build. Working as a framer on many large housing projects gave me ample opportunity to build on foundations others had laid, and I can tell you from experience that a poor foundation affects the entire construction process. Absolutely everything has to be adjusted to compensate for a poor foundation from the framing, wallboard, doors, ceilings, cabinets, and just about everything else you can think of. I'm sure that Jesus was well aware of this rule, and I think it comes as no surprise to those who build that it is reflected in what Jesus had to say about building His church.

"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 16:18 NKJV

Jesus tells us two things here. One, the foundation of His church is built upon a rock so strong that not even Satan can move it. Two, He tells us exactly what that foundation is and if we look back just two verses we see what Jesus is referring to;

Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Matthew 16:16 NKJV

You see, the church is made up of those who choose to believe that Jesus was, and is the Son of God. When an individual chooses to accept this fact, and acknowledges that Jesus died for their sins, they then become “Christians”, or one of those who believe that Jesus was indeed the Son of God sent to this earth to die for our sins, and to then rise from the dead so that we too could have eternal life. From that point on, the true believer seeks to follow all that we are taught by the Word and by the Holy Spirit. Jesus describes His followers this way;

"Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: "He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.
Luke 6:47,48 NKJV

Unfortunately, Satan has done a very good job in creating flawed foundations for the world to choose from. There are even those today who seem to want to alter, or modify the very foundation God has laid for us. Yet the Word of God makes it clear that there is only one foundation strong enough to stand for eternity, and the Apostle Paul reminds us of what it is in his letter to the Corinthians.

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:11 NKJV

The events of the past few weeks have led many to consider the idea of “foundations”. We have had many opportunities to witness what can happen to structures built by man, and just how fragile they really are. Is your life built upon the rock of Jesus' death and resurrection? Have you chosen to accept His sacrifice and payment for your sin, or is your life built upon an imperfect foundation laid by man? If you want to build your house on a foundation that will last for eternity, you can do that right now. Simply understand this; First you need to understand you are a sinner who needs a Savior. The bible tells us we all have sinned and failed to live up to God's standards. Second you need to understand that God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for your sins. There is no way we can save ourselves, so God chose to send Jesus to pay the price for our sins. Third, and most important, you need to turn away from your sin and accept this payment by asking Jesus to come into your life and to help you begin to build on the foundation He has made for you.

As we watch the world move ever faster towards the end of this age, may you live your life with the confidence that comes from the knowledge your “house” is built upon a foundation that can never be moved.

Keep watching.