If you haven’t noticed that we live in a negative world, you just haven’t been paying attention, or you live in a cave….there are forces that want to devour you and destroy your peace and wipe out your faith….even though you’re just minding your own business….
A lot of negative influences have been in our faces, during the last few months of the presidential campaign. Each party has spent millions painting a picture of the worst possible scenarios for Americans if their lying, unpredictable, deceiving, hypocritical opponent is elected. Not nearly as much has been spent expressing hope and encouragement.
Then, on top of that, you add other things folks are dealing with like sickness, the loss of a job, marriage problems, or the break down of law and order, and you can see where, over time, the pressures of the world, if allowed, can steal the hope, the love and the joy from your life. It only takes a dose of the wrong thing to ruin the whole thing! We can let the actions of others spoil our own joy and peace….
Mrs. Smartt was fumbling in her purse for her offering when a large television remote fell out and clattered into the aisle. The curious usher bent over to retrieve it for her and whispered, “Do you always carry your TV remote to church?” “Oh No,” she replied, “but my husband refused to come to church with me this morning, and I figured this was the best way I could legally get that rascal to be sorry about it.”
In Matthew 24:12, Jesus said this: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” He said this would be a characteristic of the end times. He was saying that the negative things going on around us, not necessarily in us, would cause the love of many to grow cold.
The word “waxed” which is used in this scripture is very significant and descriptive. It goes back to the way candles are made. A wick is dipped into hot wax and then taken out and allowed to cool for a few seconds, leaving a thin layer of wax. The process is repeated hundreds of times until layer upon layer of wax imbeds the wick deep within it.
The same is true with the heart. If we take our eyes off Jesus and focus on the trouble and uncertainty in the world and our circumstances, then, little by little, the layers of negativity like wax, harden around our hearts, and the love for God and for others diminishes and soon “waxes cold”.
Most of us could quote Romans 8:28 from memory, which says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” So what about that?
A man feels the called of God to go into the ministry. He leaves his good job and moves to a distant city to enter seminary. His wife takes a job to help him make it through his schooling. He’s in his last year now. In just a few months he’ll take a church somewhere and begin serving the Lord. But one day his wife comes in and says, “I’m leaving you. I don’t want to be a pastor’s wife.” She walks out and never comes back. Does he still quote Romans 8:28 with the same fervor and zeal?
She was a seemingly healthy and vibrant 12-year-old girl who suddenly developed severe migraine headaches. On Friday she is taken to the hospital, on Saturday she passes away. Everyone is in shock that she’s gone so suddenly at such an early age in life. Her father has always called her “the sunshine of his life.”…. and now she’s gone….Can he still quote Romans 8:28 with the faith and passion he had before?
In 1 Samuel, we read the story of a terrible situation that David was facing. His father-in-law, Saul, was trying to kill him. He had been running for his life and hiding every day for thirteen years. His possessions had been burned, his family and all of the wives and children of his men had been taken by their worst enemy and his own men wanted to stone him for being a poor leader. Not a great environment! it says in
1 Samuel 30:6, “David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God”.
Things looked bleak. David was in a situation where everything in the natural said “Be discouraged and dismayed,” but David encouraged himself in the Lord and it was only a matter of weeks until all God had promised him came to pass and he became king of Judah. If he had given in and quit in that terrible time, he would have lost it all.
I’m also thinking of Peter, when Jesus asked him to step out of the boat and come to him on the water….But as soon as Peter got his eyes off Jesus and looked at the stormy sea, he began to sink. He was walking “in” the water but not “on” the water! The key to what happened when he sank was that his focus changed. Instead of focusing on the promise of Jesus, and His command to come—Peter focused on the circumstances, and that’s why he began to sink. Now think about this—if the sea had been perfectly calm and the boat wasn’t about to sink, Peter would never have been part of this miracle and he couldn’t have walked on the water. Jesus’ plan for Peter was greater than Peter’s doubt and his situation and Jesus reached out and pulled him up. He saw God’s heart for Peter, not Peter’s mistakes, his flaws or his sins…
Isaiah 26:3 “the Lord will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed (fixed, established) upon Him because he puts his trust in the Lord”. It’s God’s plan that we stand and having done all to stand……
I see a lot of people today who stand for a period of time and then quit. It’s like there is a shelf life, or expiration date, on how long they’re going to believe God.
You might be thinking, Well, how long am I supposed to stand? The answer is simple. You stand on the Word of God and His promises not when you see it, but until you see it working in your life. Don’t quit! When you’re down to nothing, God is up to something!!
Unless you have a deliberate plan to encourage yourself in the Lord, you are going to end up covered by the negative wax of the world around you. I challenge you to have an encouragement plan!........ I’m telling you… unless you have a deliberate plan to encourage yourself in the Lord, you aren’t going to be fixed and established when the water gets high….
Like the song says…. “Sail on when the wind starts to rise, sail on, when the water gets high, sail on….it’s just a matter of minutes till the ship comes to get us and we’ll all get in it” We need an encouragement plan, when things don’t turn out the way we planned…..
God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we would like for Him to answer. You know what I mean, I’m talking about those times when the answer you got looks more like another problem, than an answer! Someone said, “Why is it that God’s answers usually become my next prayer request”?
How do we keep hope alive when life itself seems to have taken a wrong turn and left us standing up against a wall scratching our head? What if all that we hold dear is suddenly snatched away, if all the familiar landmarks are removed, if our friends desert us, if our job is gone, if our health disappears, if death comes unwelcomed to our door. These things have happened and do happen. What then?
Over and over again, when the children of Israel found themselves in a terrible spot, when they were outnumbered and overwhelmed, when they had no hope, God intervened. He came through for them again and again and again.
It happened when Moses led them out of Egypt.
It happened when God sustained them for 40 years in the wilderness.
It happened when they crossed the Jordan River.
It happened when the walls of Jericho came tumblin’ down.
It happened when Gideon defeated the Midianites.
It happened when Samson defeated the Philistines.
It happened when Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal.
It happened when David defeated Goliath.
But during the process leading up to these great miracles, the things that got them there, weren’t exactly the way they would have planned.
Little Josh had experienced his first day at Children’s church. He said “Dad, I want to ask you a question,” “Of course,” said his Dad. “The teacher was reading the Bible, about the Children of Israel building the Temple, the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea, and the Children of Israel making the sacrifices,”. “So what’s your question?” his Dad asked. “Well, said Josh, in all that time, the children did everything, didn’t the grown-ups do anything?!”
As we live our lives, we are like ants crawling across a priceless masterpiece painted by Rembrandt. We crawl across the dark brown and think all of life is dark brown. Then we hit green and think, ‘”Oh, this is better. Now all is green.” But soon comes the dark blue and then a splash of yellow, a streak of red, and then another patch of brown. On we journey, from one color to another, never realizing that God is actually painting a masterpiece with our lives using all the colors that are on his limitless palette.
One day we will learn that every color had its place, had a reason, no stroke of the divine brush was wasted or out of place. Just as there is a time and a season for everything, there is also a color for every stage of life’s journey. When the painting is finished, we will discover that we were part of His masterpiece from the very beginning. Time is the canvas on which God does his painting, and eternity is the perspective from which we will see the full beauty of His handiwork.
“In order to continue to grow and develop, in the plan of God for your life, you must be willing to sacrifice what you are now for what you can become tomorrow.”
Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission to reach the multitudes of Chinese people who had never heard the gospel. During the terrible days of the Boxer Rebellion (1900-1901), when missionaries were being captured and killed. He went through such an agony of soul that he could not pray. Writing in his journal, he summarized his spiritual condition this way: “I can’t read. I can’t think. I can’t pray. But I can trust.” There will be times when we can’t read the Bible. Sometimes we won’t be able to focus our thoughts on God at all. Often we will not even be able to pray. But in those moments when we can’t do anything else, we can still trust in the greater, all encompassing plan of our heavenly Father.
Oh yes, we need an encouragement plan, when things don’t turn out the way we planned…..
The words of Romans tell us “God works all things for good” ….that’s not saying all our pumpkins will turn into royal carriages, and the rats of life will all turn into white stallion carriage horses…and the glass slipper we lost will be what makes us the queen of the kingdom….
The Bible never asks us to pretend that tragedy isn’t tragedy or to pretend that our pain isn’t real. The point is, we must trust the active involvement of God. Whatever happens to you and to me is not fate or kismet or karma or luck. But God is actively at work in all of the areas of our lives! And yes, He really is waiting with your glass slipper!!! But we need to let go of what is to receive what is not yet!
We need to be like the mom who was trying to convince her little boy to let go of his money and put it in the offering plate… Timmy didn’t want to put in his money, so his mother decided to use some spur of the moment creative reasoning with him. “You don’t want that money, honey,” she whispered in his ear. “Quick! Drop it in the plate. It’s tainted!” Quickly, the little boy obeyed and dropped it in the offering plate.
After a few seconds he whispered, “But, mommy, why was the money tainted? Was it dirty? “Oh, no dear,” the mom replied. “It’s not really dirty. It just ‘taint yours, and it ‘taint mine,” she replied. “It’s God’s.” Have we given it all to God, then He has a right to do with it as He pleases!
Suppose you have an accident and wreck your car. And suppose when you take it into the body shop, the man says, “Friend, you haven’t had an accident. Your car has just been rearranged.” So you turn and look at the cracked grille, the crumpled fender, the twisted bumper, and the shattered windshield. Then you say, “Buddy, you’re out of your blooming mind. This car isn’t rearranged. This car is wrecked.”
Is Paul saying, “Whatever happens is good"? No. What he is saying is that God has put a sign over our lives and that sign says “This life is under construction and the general contractor is God Almighty!!!!
The bible truth, that “all things work together for good” means that we can’t judge everything that’s going to happen by what is happening to us at this moment….
The phrase (work together) is really one word- “sunergon”, in Greek. We get our English word synergy from it. And what is synergy? It is what happens when you put two or more elements together to form something brand new that neither could form separately.
It’s what happens when my wife goes into the kitchen and makes a big pot of “Sugar babe’s Stew”. She puts in the potatoes, the carrots, the celery, the onions, the spices, the meat, and a few other secret ingredients I know nothing about. What comes out is the best stew I’ve ever had. Now each of these ingredients by themselves wouldn’t knock your socks off, but when synergized in “Sugar Babes Stew” they combine with all those other ingredients to produce a TUMMY full of delight.
That’s synergy….the combination of many elements to produce something new that could not have happened with any one of those elements. In our lives, so many of the things that make no sense when seen in isolation are in fact working together to produce something brand new that couldn’t have happened with any one thing.
Paul is saying that our experience is like that.
God begins with the raw materials of life, including some parts that seem to serve no good purpose. Those materials are acted upon by pressure and heat and then are blended together. Over time something beautiful is created. Not by accident, but by a divine design. And nothing is wasted in the process.
Paul says that “God works all things together for good.” But what is the “good” he is talking about? For most of us, “good” equals things like health, happiness, solid relationships, long life, money, food on the table, meaningful work, and a nice place to live. In general, we think the “good” life means a better set of circumstances.
God’s main focus is not making you happy and successful and giving you everything you ever dreamed. He is committed to making you like his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And whatever it takes to make you more like Jesus is GOOD!!. It is to this end that He never gives up on us….
There’s a poem that says…..I walked a mile with Pleasure, Desire led most of the way. But I was none the wiser, For all they had to say. Then I walked a mile with God,
And very little said He. But, oh, the lessons I did learn, When God walked with me.
God is at work in your life and right now, there are a lot of rough and uncut areas, and God is patiently chipping away at you. But remember this: He will never hurt you intentionally or do anything that is not good for you!!. But He will not quit until, when He is done, you look like His son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We know this as we get to know God more and more.
I want to read a letter from a prisoner….. “Dear sir, I have some “Good News” and some “Not so Good News” that I would like to share with you. First, the “not so Good News.” This is not my first time, second time, or my fifth time, but somewhere around my tenth time that I have been locked up at the “County Jail.” I was released with two years of parole. A year went by, and I again was arrested and charged with burglary. So here I am, charged with burglary, on parole for burglary, and my entire life is the result of burglary. I am sure you would say to me that I need to change “careers.” I am looking at 6 to 30 years of prison time.
Now the “Good News.” My cellmate, Robert, offered a Christian book for me to read. I have read it from front to back. I have heard the “knock on the door,” I have “gone to the door,” and “I have finally opened it.” I HAVE LET CHRIST INTO MY HEART.
I wake to a morning prayer, and end my day with prayer. I know I will be distracted by the devil, and conflicts will arise most likely when everything is going smooth.
I truly believe this book will have great impact on the rest of my life as long as I continue to “open the door” and let Christ in every day. I believe I will then never, ever have to be locked up physically or spiritually again.
He signed the letter “A grateful recovering alcohol, drug and burglary addict.” Then he added this P.S: “I have thanked Jesus. I believe it is time to thank my cellmate, Robert."
Going to prison is not “good” in the usual sense of the word, but when it is synergized like the ingredients in “Sugar Babes Stew”, it can produce a new thing that God calls “Good”….
When it comes to how God takes all the experiences of our lives and turns them into something Good…..you don’t have to be able to explain the unexplainable, You just need to trust the one whose working it all out as only He can!
Sometimes the best thing we can do is get away from it all so we can look at it from a different perspective….Jesus got alone and away from the crowd in the Garden, He ended each day there as he allowed the Father to get Him reset for the coming day of ministry…..
When someone asks, “where was God when my child died”….. the answer is that He’s in the same place as He was when His child died on a cross….But only He could see, that what looked like the end was a glorious new beginning.
We might ask “Where was God when my child suffered, unjustly”…The answer to that is, He’s in the same place He was when His child took the insults, the beating, the nails, so that a stream of healing and forgiveness could be opened for us all!
Hear God as He speaks to us now from Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. v7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. v8 For my (God) thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the LORD. v9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. v10 As the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not in the same form, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, v11 So shall my word be that goes forth out of My mouth. It shall not return unto me void, but shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing that I sent it to do”.
We will repeat some of the material from last week for emphasis, because in a week’s time it is easy to let things fall through the cracks…. I want to emphasize that Twenty one percent of the bible is Prophecy and Fourteen percent of those prophecies are still unfulfilled. That means we are living in an unprecedented time in history, where most of all bible prophecy will be fulfilled possibly in the life span of this current generation. The next great event to take place on the prophetic scene is the Rapture and all the events which are centered around it.
Someone saying that they don’t believe all that stuff in the bible is like the guy who got pulled over for running a stop sign and when the Cop asked him if he saw the sign, he said that he had seen it. And when the cop asked, “Well, why didn’t you stop then..” The guy said “I don’t believe everything I read”….. The bible is another whole level of truth above and beyond a stop sign!!!! Salvation is free, but it will require our willingness to offer God everything we have.
We talked about the Pandemonium and Chaos that will follow the Rapture. All who didn’t go in the rapture will be left behind, desperately searching for their missing loved ones….babies, children, spouses, and friends who have disappeared. Pilots will vanish from planes, drivers will suddenly vanish from cars and buses leaving them to crash with their passengers. The world will come to a standstill, as Christian leaders in government, business, the media, the stockmarket, communications, banking, and transportation vanish and the world is left to try to cope with what has happened & where they all went!
Being a good person, being religious, being sincere is not enough, if we don’t receive the truth and life that only Christ can give. Folks will give all kinds of excuses to avoid accepting Christ as Savior…
Someone published some excuses that students gave for not doing homework….and they make about as much sense as the excuses we give for not receiving God’s salvation….
I didn’t do my homework because I don’t believe in dwelling on the past… I didn’t feel that it was challenging enough…My agent won’t allow me to publish my homework until the movie is finalized….It’s against my religion to do homework….I don’t want the other kids to look bad…Our furnace broke and we burned my homework to keep from freezing…I have a solar powered calculator and it was cloudy….I spent the night at a rally to raise money to pay more money for our hard working teachers….and then there’s….Oh, We had homework????
Some folks excuse is that they are so busy getting all they can before they die, they never take the time to prepare for eternity. I mean if you could have everything here…..Where would you put it all!!!! Jesus told of the man who built bigger and bigger barns and then got the message…..”Today you will die”
When believers in Christ get their new body, it’s not an angel body, it’s not a ghost or spirit body, it’s glorified substance. It will be like the body of Jesus, after he was resurrected…. Remember that they touched Jesus and He touched them. Jesus cooked a meal for them and ate with them. We are told that over 500 people personally saw and interacted with Jesus at one occasion following His resurrection.
Romans 8:11 “If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in you.” We saw last week, that the word “Rapture” is not actually found in the Bible as a word. The word rapture, is an English version of the Greek word “rapturo” which means to seize or catch up, as the Bible describes, into another place or dimension. (If someone doesn’t want to use the word “rapture” they can replace it with “taken out”, “caught up.” Another Greek word with the same meaning is “harpazo”.
Are there any historical proofs in the Bible that give us a sampling, and validate the Rapture experience? (I’m glad you asked)…Yes there are… Sprinkled throughout scripture, starting from the beginning of the Old Testament, there are little snap shots or proofs for our benefit.
Hebrews 11: 5 “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, and was not found, because God had taken him, for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
II Kings 2: 11 “Then it happened as they continued on and talked that a chariot of fire appeared with horses and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to Heaven in a whirlwind.”
In Revelation 11:5-13 (I won’t read it now, but two witnesses who are Old Testament prophets, will stand in Jerusalem during the tribulation, and preach the gospel, and do signs and wonders. They will release plagues, and fire will go out of their mouths to consume those who would attack them. They will be killed and the world will see their dead bodies for 3 ½ days till they are raised from the dead as the world watches. A voice from heaven will say “Come up here” and all will see them ascend into heaven. An earthquake will destroy a tenth of the city and 7000 will perish. All who see it will give glory to God….So we can see that there are several examples in scripture of people being raptured…
1 Thessalonians 4: 17 “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” The Rapture of the church and the coming of Christ are some of the most comforting and encouraging doctrines you can ever share with those who are serving the Lord. We understand that no matter what we may face here in this life, it is just a flash in the pan compared to all eternity that we will have with Christ, our loved ones, and all our Christian friends.
Paul emphasizes that if we truly believe these truths, it should affect the way we live, it should affect the way we love, and it should affect the way we see the souls of men and women that we meet every day.
We should live as though at any moment, He could appear, therefore we look for and prepare for His coming. You don’t want to be late for this one…You don’t want to be left behind with all that is coming on the earth.
When it comes to getting ready for eternity, we should not be like the student who was asked by his teacher, why he was always late for school…. The student said “because you always ring the bell before I get there”! Don’t let the trumpet sound before you get there!
Titus 2: 11-15 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed, and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous (or enthusiastic) for good works…”
Grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve….Mercy is when He doesn’t give us what we do deserve”! Many folks approach the subject of what we do and don’t deserve, like the guy who got both a humidifier and a dehumidifier for his birthday. So he put them both in a room and let them fight it out! Thank God Jesus won that fight for us so that His mercy doesn’t let us get what we deserve to get and His Grace allows us to receive what we don’t deserve.
Philippians 3: 20-21 “For our citizenship is in Heaven for which cause we eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…” The reason you don’t feel at home here, is because this isn’t your home… this is your tent. That’s what Paul calls it. Tents are meant to be temporary shelters and one day we’re going to fold up this tent and move to our permanent home! And our eternal home is a glorified, eternal, imperishable body.
The rapture is not a one way ticket to heaven, because we will only be in heaven for 7 years, while the tribulation is going on in the earth. While we are in heaven, the first thing that will happen is that those who were raptured will appear at the Judgment seat of Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all (believers) appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to all he has done….” (this is for believers in Christ only)
Revelation 20:4 “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them….v6 Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years”.
The next event following the Judgment Seat of Christ, will be the Marriage Super of the Lamb. When we will Celebrate the great Lord’s supper as a fulfillment and a culmination of all that the finished work of Christ has meant, in giving us the victory that overcomes the world, the flesh and the devil.
Revelation 19:6 “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigns. v7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife (all who believe upon and serve Him) has made herself ready. v8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. v9 And He said unto me, “Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb”. And He said unto me, “These are the true sayings of God”.
When we return with Christ to the earth, after the tribulation, we will ride into the battle of Armageddon, where all who follow the Antichrist will be slain and Satan will be bound for 1000 years. Our weapon will be a sword going forth out of our mouth, which is the word of God. The earth will be free of sin, sickness and all workers of evil and wickedness. The Thousand year reign of Christ with the raptured saints will be ushered in.
Revelation 20 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.”…. .. Once Satan is removed from the earth, we have a glimpse of the difference it makes, from Isaiah 11:6 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat and the calf and the young lion and the bullock together; and a little child shall lead them. v7 And the cow and the bear shall feed their young ones and they shall lie down together and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. v8 And the nursing child shall play on the hole of the viper, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the scorpion’s nest. v9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea”.
Friends, Satan already knows his end, and he just wants to take as many with him as he possible can. He knows where he’s headed and he is busy deceiving and blinding as many from the truth as he is able. At the end of the thousand years the world still hasn’t learned. After a thousand years with no sickness, no evil, no politics, no sin of any form… many will still follow Satan and revolt against the Reign of Christ.
Revelation 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison. v8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, to gather them together to battle of Gog, and Magog. The number of them is as the sand of the sea. v9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. v10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever”.
The bible tells us that the next prophetic event after this, will be the Great White throne of judgment. Revelation 20:11 “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. v12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
v13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. v14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. v15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Those who went in the rapture, along with those who were faithful to Christ thru the tribulation, will be in attendance as witnesses at this event. Husbands and wives will watch from the gallery as their unbelieving spouses receive their sentence…”I never knew you, depart from me into eternal punishment” Parents will watch as their children are told by God, “You had many opportunities, but you never received my salvation”… Depart from me! Children will watch as God passes sentence upon their parents, as brothers and sisters are eternally separated with no chance ever again, at redemption.
Folks say they’re Christian, but there’s no intimacy in their relationship with Christ. They don’t spend time in prayer, they read the bible very little, the last thing on their list is attending God’s house, they don’t tithe, and they spend little time with God’s family. Very few relationships could survive that lack of concern and distance. Men and women that live that way have an arrangement not a relationship and people who treat the Lord that way may call themselves Christian, but God calls them backsliden.
The Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ is coming back for all those who have placed their faith in Him. Who love Him, serve Him and live for Him/ If you have not done that, you will be left behind. You can have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life right now by saying, “Lord Jesus, I receive you as my Savior.”
There is a story that appeared in the newspaper, about a tug boat in New York Harbor, that they had nicknamed “Bust em Up”… It got the name because invariably whenever she came into the harbor she would ram into buoys, and bash into ships and cause a general mess-up, after which the captain of the unruly tug would storm out on deck and give all within hearing distance a royal cussing out. The other tug boat owners would come out to see when "Old bust 'em up" came into the harbor, as it was sure to be a good show. One day a cry went out along the dock that "Old bust 'em up" was coming in. Everyone dropped what they were doing and went to watch the fun. To the surprise of all, "Bust 'em up" came gliding into the harbor as nice as could be. No ramming into buoys. No smashing into ships. And not one outburst from the captain. One of them called out across the water, "What in the world has happened to "Old bust 'em up"? A big burly captain came out on deck and roared back so everyone could hear, "There's a new skipper on board!" That’s what happens to us when there’s a new skipper on board.
John 14: 6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
We live in an age of pluralism where tolerance is the key word. But when it comes to where you will spend eternity, it’s very clear that conventional wisdom, is not the path, our preferences will fall short, all paths do not lead to heaven. When it comes to making sure you get there, it’s God’s way or the highway. It’s not up for a vote, and the majority doesn’t rule. God hasn’t compromised on it for 2000 years, and we could safely say that He won’t start now.
The Bible tells us that God has a plan that will never fail, and He has put His own personal guarantee on it, since He cannot lie.. You can be assured of this right now by accepting His way.
Then when the Rapture comes, you will hear the call – the shout – the voice of an archangel, the trump of God. And you will be called up to be with him forever and ever. Since God’s word is true, and He doesn’t make mistakes, we can know that we are the generation who will see the return of Christ.
The Bible tells us that those who were alive to see the Jews return to their homeland will be the generation to see the return of Christ. I was born on July 1st, 1943, which makes me 73 years old at the time of this writing. I saw the Jews take back their homeland in the 6 day war, and I’m sure of how close we are to the Rapture. I’ve studied Bible prophecy for 50 years, and that belief only grows stronger with time. I have absolutely no doubt. The signs of the Lord’s coming are everywhere.
Matthew 24:30-36 “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory… Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth it’s leaves, you know that summer [is] nigh:
So likewise, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, [even] at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” The symbol for Israel is the fig tree… and the fig tree is flourishing. Israel the fig tree has been reborn as a nation therefore the coming of Christ draws near. Luke 21:32 also states that the generation would not pass away that saw the nation reborn.
30 percent of this generation are boomers, they were alive when the Jews took back Israel. A generation in this scripture is the span of time when people who are part of the same significant event, begin to die, Israel was reborn on May 15, 1948, so that generation would be the period of time when those who saw Israel’s rebirth begin to die out. It is normally 40 to 70 years, depending on the event they share in common. 1948 + 70 equals 2018…so we are close. Another sign is when Israel is surrounded by her enemies and that is now true. In other words….It could be at any time!
Please friends, share the gospel with others and pray for those who have never asked Christ to be their personal Savior and Lord. God’s part is “Settled in Heaven” but our part is our choice…..Let the family and friends know the gift of salvation is for everyone if they’ll only accept it. Christ already paid the price for our sins. All we have to do is accept His free pardon. That’s how much He loves us.
If you’re not sure, don’t get left behind, don’t be late….pray this prayer…. Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins, and I ask you to be my savior. Come into my life and give me your forgiveness. I receive you now and call you my Lord. Thank you Jesus for your grace and mercy. I praise your mighty name…..Amen
“Let There Be Light”…. (this week is Yom Kipor, when the Jewish people celebrate the creation, or Jewish New Year) This is a season of self evaluation, introspection and repentance, in order to begin the new year with a clean slate, positioned for blessings.
These words, “Let there be light”, were some of the first words, God is recorded as saying, in the bible… The earth was without form and darkness and chaos covered the face of the entire earth… when God said “Let there be light”!
I want us to begin in John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. v2 The same was in the beginning with God. v3 All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. v4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. v5 And the light shown in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not. v6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. v7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe. v8 John was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of the Light. v9 He (Jesus) was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world”.
John tells us that He himself was not the light, but he came to testify or bear witness of the light. John knew who he was and what he was to be. But he was always careful to point people to the light.
Check out the stained glass window that I have on the screen today. Without the sun shining light through it, the window can be somewhat dull and dim looking; not what it was designed to be. It is meant as a light catcher, and a light reflector. When it does, what it was created to do, it is brilliant, with radiating beauty, and spectacular form and color.
A Hindu trader in India once asked a missionary, "What do you put on your face to make it shine?" With surprise the man of God answered, "I don’t put anything on it!" His questioner began to lose patience and said, "Yes, you do! All of you who believe in Jesus seem to have it. Suddenly the Christian understood, and he said, " I will tell you the secret. It’s not something we put on from the outside but something that comes from within us. It’s the reflection of the light of God in our hearts.” ..
One candle does not lose any of its light nor is it diminished when it lights another candle. If someone is sitting in a dark room with no windows, they can't see the objects in the room. Even though the room may be filled with many things. They aren't aware of the room filled with objects, because they're in darkness. However, if someone turns on the light switch, the things previously hidden from their eyes are now very obvious….
We shouldn’t get angry at people in spiritual darkness for not being able to see what may be obvious to you. Instead, we need to bring them some spiritual light, so they no longer grope in darkness and they will be able to appreciate what was all around them the entire time.
That’s pretty much what we are designed to be…like John, to let the light of the Lord shine through us and not just on us. We are meant to be like stained glass windows, showing a world that is dim and wrapped in darkness, what you can be when the light of God shines through you. We are warned in scripture not to hide our light, not to let anything cover it up, but to let those around us see our lives and glorify the Father.
I have found that mornings come in 3 sizes, Early, Too early, and Way too early! When I was a boy growing up in the country, mom would get us up early to catch the bus with the words “Rise and shine”. “Rise and shine, sleepy head” and oh, how I hated to leave that warm bed in the winter chill, and make my way out to the pot-bellied, wood burning stove in the kitchen and then into the day. I didn’t like going to bed and I didn’t like getting out of bed. (that’s a very self-defeating attitude)
Ephesians 5:13 “But all things become clear when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. v14 For this reason it says, "Awake, you sleeper, And arise, and Christ will shine upon you." You might say that this was John’s mission and message to his world…. just as it is ours as well… Rise and shine, for your light is come.
John’s greatness is that he didn’t want it to be about him, as some do, but he wanted all the glory to be directed at the source of the light. Like a stain glass image, He was willing to let the light of God shine through him--through his words, his motives, his voice, his actions, and his life. His message of repentance and forgiveness was like light bursting through the colors, the form and message in a brilliant and spectacular display. Freeing the people from the deep darkness that had enveloped them. LET THERE BE LIGHT!
Wherever there is the least bit of light, darkness is forced to flee. You can be in the darkest place imaginable and just a tiny match, when lit, has the power to drive away all the fearful, oppressive darkness. God’s word is referred to as light….
Psalm 119:130 “The entrance of God’s word gives light, and brings understanding.”
Psalm 119:105 tells us, “ God’s word is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path,”
A plant that has been in darkness, and is withered and dying, can be placed in the light and it will revive and flourish. That’s what the Lord has done for us, He brought us from darkness into His glorious light so that we could flourish and thrive, not just survive.
Satan has convinced the world that all the fun is in the darkness, all the really exciting music and people are those who live in the darkness, that’s why the world’s fun usually takes place when it is dark…. But without light there is no color… and no true beauty…
Those who walk in the light, should be the most exciting, fun people on the planet! We should live with a sense of wonder and awe at the amazing creation all around us. I drive the keys and have to pinch myself that I actually live in such a beautiful place with God’s handiwork displayed every day.
Those who live in His Divine light, bathe in His healing presence and are restored and refreshed each day, as the power of darkness is dispelled, we are energized and go from failure to success, from despair to hope, from weakness to strength, and from lack to sufficiency! We’ve all had dreary days that were quickly dispelled by the light of new hope, and renewed faith.
Jesus refers to the church as “a city set on a hill,” lighting up the darkness! As the darkness gathers in this end time season, we can either curse the darkness, dwell on how dark the dark is… or we can shine! God’s answer to the darkness, is “Let there be light”!!!
A young man who became a Christian went off to a logging camp for the summer, to work. His pastor became concerned about him because he knew it would be a difficult environment, to be a light for the Lord. So after the summer was over and the boy returned, the pastor said, “Son, I want you to know I kept you in my prayers, cause I knew it was going to be hard for you, as a new Christian. I was praying that you would be able to handle that kind of persecution.” And the young man said, “Thank you for praying Pastor, and your prayers were certainly answered, because I didn't have it hard at the lumber camp at all. He said, in fact, Pastor, none of them ever found out that I was even a Christian.”
If we were to find out that the Stock Island bridge was washed out, and it was storming and dark…. Wouldn’t it be foolish of us to withhold our light and not let our light shine, knowing that many people would perish if they were not able to see the danger. And yet every day we are around people who are without God’s light who are plunging head-long into the darkness and the dangers and perils that it holds for them!
Don’t let your discouragement, your fears, your intimidation, or your impatience give Satan reason to rejoice…. But let the light of your faith, hope, love and desire for others to come to Christ, shine brightly in this hour of darkness, that king Jesus may be glorified!
President Woodrow Wilson told the story of being in a barbershop and he says that he was sitting in a barber chair when I became aware that a powerful personality had entered the room. A man had come quietly in to have his hair cut and sat in the chair next to me. Every word the man uttered, showed a personal interest in the barber who was cutting his hair. And before I got through with what was being done to me I was aware of the affect that his visit had brought upon the barber shop. They did not know his name, but they knew something had elevated their thoughts, and I felt as though that place had become a place of worship. ”That man was evangelist D. L. Moody”
There are times when the light comes progressively, as the sunrise breaking over the horizon, driving back the night, and then there are times when the light comes immediately, like someone opening a curtain which instantly floods and illuminates a dark room. There are times when healing happens instantly and then there are times when it comes progressively over time, but it is HEALING, either way……. When it’s instant, it’s called a miracle, when it’s progressive it’s called a healing! I’ll take it either way, how about you?
I want to also say of the light….that it is irresistible! The work of darkness cannot resist it. When God says “let there be light”.. all the chaos, all the workers of darkness, and all the forces of wickedness can not stop it…. He has given His word on it….
1 Chronicles28:20 “Be strong and of good courage, and do it, fear not nor be dismayed for the LORD God, even my God, will be with you, He will not fail you, nor forsake you until you have finished all the work…”
Romans 9:28 “For the Lord will finish the work, and do it speedily in righteousness..”
And one more… 1Samuel 14:6 “..the LORD will work for us, for there is nothing that can prevent the LORD to save by many or by few”.
An old song says “Got any rivers you think are uncrossable, got any mountains you can’t tunnel through. God specializes in things thought impossible, and He can do what no other power can do”!!!
I want to say that when you walk in the light, everything changes….it doesn’t matter if it’s the morning, noon, or the night season of your walk.
Isaiah 2:5 “…Come, and let us walk in the light of the LORD”. That beautiful song “Amazing Grace” came forth from African slaves, chained and treated as cattle in the bowels of a slave ship. But the cruelty and the inhumane treatment could not block the light within. It could chain their legs but it couldn’t keep them from walking in the light!
Paul and Silas were chained in the depth of the dungeon darkness, with their feet in stocks, but it couldn’t keep them from walking in the light and having revival in the prison house!
Corrie Ten Boom, in spite of all that the Nazi guards did to her in the night season of the hellish concentration camps, they couldn’t keep her from walking in the light… and she won them to Jesus, by her faith, her undying hope and her Christ-like love.
Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine; for your light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. v2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon You.”
Let me say also, that what we see here is the light of separation…. Light always prevails over darkness, and in doing so it separates everything that is in the light from that which is in darkness. It’s not difficult to tell the difference….one thing is in the light the other is in darkness. It doesn’t take special discernment and it’s not rocket science!
Genesis 1:4 “…And God divided the light from the darkness”. The moment you become a Christian, darkness begins to struggle against light, to erase the dividing line… and pull us away from the light … but we must use our nogg’n and know that the light is stronger! If you begin to seek the shadow zone, you will soon find yourself in the dark zone!
We must be like the personal assistant who was hiring a driver for his boss. Many showed up and he took each candidate for a test drive. With each one, he would direct them to an area where the road skirted a cliff which had a 100 foot drop. He would direct each candidate to come as close to the edge of the cliff as he could and some had the edge of the tire over the cliff. But the one he hired, drove as far from the cliff edge as he could. The safest place is as far from the edge as you can get! They may call you prudish, square, old fashioned, and out of touch….but God calls it dividing light from darkness!
Romans 7:24 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh (the pull of darkness), but according to the Spirit (of His light).”
Grandpa had a habit of grumbling and complaining about the food his wife placed before him at family meals. Then he would ask the blessing and eat. One day after his usual combination of complaint and prayer, his little grand-daughter asked, "PawPaw, does God hear us when we pray?"
"Why, of course," he replied. "He hears us every time we pray."
She thought on this a moment, and asked, "Does he hear everything we complain about?" "Well, yes, dear, every word," he replied, encouraged that he had inspired his grand-daughter to be curious about spiritual matters. But his pride was quickly turned to humility...when she asked him…"Then if that’s true, which one does God believe, PawPaw?"
We must give light and darkness a name and a designation….. Genesis 1:5 “And God named the light “Day”, and the darkness He named “Night”. We need to call sin, sin, just as we need to call righteousness by it’s name. We want to excuse darkness when it comes to matters of the heart and the word sin sticks in our throat when it comes to our loved ones who practice it. But there can be no salvation, without an admission of sin. How can a person repent, if they never acknowledge their sin. Can we say “forgive me of my sins” if there is no admission of it in our lives.
Isaiah 5:20 “Woe unto them that call evil good, and call good evil, that call darkness light, and call light darkness. That call bitter sweet, and call sweet bitter! Folks will say they’ve failed, they’ve made bad choices, or they’ve misjudged situations. But they can’t seem to bring themselves to say they’ve sinned. It kind of sticks in their throats….
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, two young church members who got really inspired about the pastor’s message on witnessing, went out door to door to invite people to visit the services. When they knocked on one door, it was immediately clear the woman who answered was not happy to see them. She told them in no uncertain terms that she did not want to hear their message, and before they could say anything more, she slammed the door in their faces. To her surprise, however, the door did not close. in fact, it bounced back open. She tried again, really putting her back into it, and slammed it again with the same result - the door bounced back open.
Convinced these rude young people were sticking their foot in her door, she reared back to give it another slam that would teach them a lesson. When, one of them said quietly: "Ma'am, before you do that again, you really need to move your cat."
You can keep slamming the door, but until you call sin what it is, and repent, it won’t go away!!! Conviction is like the cat caught in the door, so you can’t shut it….and Repentance is like opening a curtain and letting the light come pouring in and driving away the guilt and condemnation!
Scripture says that God named the dark and He called the light “Day”.. God told Abraham In Romans 4:17 to “call those things which are not as though they were. In other words, to give a name to the things God has revealed that He has for you, but it just hasn’t gotten to you yet. You’re reclaiming what may still be waiting to be called out of the darkness…..
Keep naming the things of the light, that God has promised, and don’t quit, no matter what it looks like….
An archaeologist was digging in the Negev Desert in Israel and came upon a mummy. After examining it, he called the curator of a prestigious natural-history museum. "I've just discovered a 3,000 year-old mummy of a man who died of heart failure!" the excited scientist exclaimed. To which the curator replied, "Bring him in. We'll check it out." A week later, the amazed curator called the archaeologist. "You were right about the mummy's age and about his cause of death. How in the world were you able to name it so precisely?" "Oh that was easy. There was a piece of paper in his hand that said, 'I bet 10,000 Shekels on Goliath." Keep at it and you will get better and better at calling the things God has for you.
Name the light….Call it what God calls it….Call your healing done… it’s a sure bet! The Light of Christ’s wholeness, drives out the darkness of sickness and disease. Name your finances done… the Light of the riches of God in Christ, drives out the darkness of debt! Name your God given dreams fulfilled… the light of your Divine destiny, drives out the darkness of failure and coming short of His glory! Name your family saved….The light of the Saviour, drives out the darkness of sin and condemnation!
Philippians 1:6 “For we are confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it til the day of Jesus Christ.”
I also want us to see today, that God said in Genesis1:5 that “the evening and the morning were called the first day (a new day, a new way, and a new season)”.
When we begin to name the light, instead of dwelling on the darkness, we usher a new season into our lives. A new day begins to dawn. We decide to rejoice instead of complaining…. We decide to focus on eternal things instead of fading, temporary things… the light brings new values and new principles for living into our lives…. Old things and old ways are passed away and everything becomes new!
“Walk in the light. Live as children of the light. Keep your face towards the source of light… and never settle for the shadows or the darkness again, because you are IN THE LIGHT as HE is the light!
And God said… “Let there be light”!!!!
Charles Bradlaugh, an avowed infidel, once challenged the Rev. H.P. Hughes to a debate. The preacher, who was head of a rescue mission in London, England, accepted the challenge with the condition that he could bring with him 10 men and women who could tell what had happened in their lives since trusting Christ as their Savior. They would be people who once lived in deep sin, most having come from dysfunctional, poverty-stricken homes caused by the vices of their parents.
Hughes said they would not only tell of their conversion, but would submit to cross-examination by any who doubted their stories. Furthermore, the minister invited his opponent to bring a group of non-believers who could tell how they were helped by their lack of faith and their “God does not exist” philosophy. When the appointed day arrived, the preacher came, accompanied by 10 transformed lives. But the atheist Bradlaugh, never showed up. The result? The meeting turned into a testimony session and many sinners who had gathered to hear the scheduled debate came the saving light of Jesus. And God is still saying….“LET THERE BE LIGHT”!!!
Prayer….Father, I thank you for the glorious light of Jesus that comes to illuminate our lives and usher in a new day and a new season. What a joy to walk in that light and know that all darkness must bow and flee before it. Thank you for encouraging and enlightening us together today and inspiring us to press on in and never back off. Light of God, shine through us that others may see the light and Glorify our savior. Give us courage and boldness, Holy Spirit of God, that we may proclaim with all that we do, the transforming power of God’s word. So I pray, as we turn our attention to this Communion observance that should there be any who are struggling today, may they experience the reality of your cup of the new covenant, and Your bread of wholeness and healing. It's for the power and honor of your beautiful name I pray, Thank you Jesus…We honor and magnify Your wonderful light….amen.