Wednesday, November 27, 2013

LifeShape Prayer & Discipleship Module 4 – The Future Block 9 – The Great White Throne Judgement

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
(Revelation 20:11–15 ESV)

1.     A final Day of reckoning is coming all – small and great – you – me – everyone – in addition to the devil and his angels.
2.     The Great White Throne Judgement is a motivator to trust in Christ and to live a holy life.
3.     The Great White Throne Judgement is a motivator to evangelism – telling everyone the Gospel that if they will believe and trust in Jesus they will be saved from the wrath to come– the final, eternal day of Judgement. We cannot reach people beyond the grave.
4.     Future events in God’s timetable such as the Great White Throne Judgement are  being withheld at the moment because of God’s mercy – He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
5.     Only those whose names are found written in the Lamb’s book of life will be allowed to live eternally with the Lord. The rest will live eternally in torment in the lake of fire, the second death.
6.     The Great White Throne Judgement will finally satisfy our inner longing for justice.
7.     Knowing that there is coming a final day of reckoning gives us the understanding and helpful foundation to be able to forgive those who have done us wrong. We can forgive others through Christ freely because we know one day all accounts will be settled.
8.     The Great White Throne Judgement will result in God’s ultimate glory as He more fully displays His character in justice, holiness, wrath, mercy and kindness.


Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.

This is the throne of the Lord:
-         It is white – indicating righteousness and purity
-         It is a throne – indicating the highest court of the universe – there is no appeal from this Judge and judgement.
-         The One seated on the throne is Jesus Christ:

-          And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.”
(John 5:27 ESV)

-          I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead,”
(2Timothy 4:1 ESV)

-         And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.”
(Acts 10:42 ESV)

From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.

-        This vision is a recasting of Daniel 7:

“As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.
(Daniel 7:9–10 ESV)

 “The judgment proceeds according to two criteria: first, according to what they had done, and secondly, the testimony of the books. This latter feature is taken from Dn. 7:10, which reflects both ordinary court procedure and the habit of Persian kings to record every detail of events in their provinces. The important thing is that the joint testimony of the two criteria agrees, and the book of life will reveal it.”

New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition (ed. D. A Carson et al.; Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 1452.

Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
(Revelation 20:11–15 ESV)

-        This is a FINAL judgement.
-        Note that there are books – one is a record of deeds and the other is the book of life.  All in the book of life have no part in the “Second Death” – eternal judgement after the Great White Throne Judgement.

-         There are degrees of punishment

the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
(Luke 12:46-48 ESV)

-         A note about the broader theme of judgement:

Don’t let someone throw you off by citing Matthew 7:  “Judge not, lest you be judged.”

There are things we are commanded to judge.

-         In Matthew 7, in the passage, Jesus expects us to make certain moral judgements.
-         Saints will judge angels.
-         We are to judge false prophets, candidates for pastoral ministry, candidates for deaconship and eldership, ourselves – with respect to communion….and many other things.

Other Scriptures:

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,”
(Hebrews 9:27 ESV)

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.””
(Acts 17:30–31 ESV)

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”
(Romans 2:5–8 ESV)

But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.   But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”
(2Peter 3:7–10 ESV)

Saturday, November 23, 2013



“I need Thee every hour” – But in some hours I need Thee more!

In 1849 Annie Sherwood Hawks was 14 years old and her poems were already being published in newspapers across the country. She had an evident gift for putting feelings into words and there was plenty to feel in her America. Annie’s nation was divided over the issue of slavery and before her 26th birthday, Civil War broke out … she continued writing.

Annie is best known for the words she wrote in attempts to share her faith in Jesus Christ and her trust in God. Annie was born in New York and grew up attending Sunday School and Church at Hanson Place Baptist Church in Brooklyn where Robert Lowry was pastor. Annie would write the words and give them to Pastor Lowry who would set them to music.

Such was the birth of the old hymn I found myself singing this week: “I Need Thee Every Hour”. In describing how she came by these words Annie wrote:

“One day… I was bu­sy with my reg­u­lar house­hold tasks. Sud­den­ly, I be­came so filled with the sense of near­ness to the Mast­er that, won­der­ing how one could live with­out Him, ei­ther in joy or pain, these words, “I Need Thee Ev­e­ry Hour,” were ush­ered in­to my mind, the thought at once tak­ing full pos­sess­ion of me.”

After Pastor Lowry set these words to music he presented the new hymn to the Baptist Convention which was held in Cincinnati that year. It was quickly and gratefully adopted and published for use in Sunday Schools to teach personal dependence on Christ. Some years later, after the death of her husband, Annie made reference to this particular hymn again:

“I did not un­der­stand at first why this hymn had touched the great throb­bing heart of hu­man­i­ty. It was not un­til long af­ter, when the sha­dow fell over my way, the sha­dow of a great loss, that I un­der­stood some­thing of the com­fort­ing pow­er in the words which I had been per­mit­ted to give out to others in my hour of sweet se­ren­i­ty and peace.”

Annie gained revelation that we, even in times of personal serenity and peace, are surrounded by others who are in such great need. Our words of comfort serve to encourage them and, when it comes our time of need, these same words return to us to comfort our souls as well.

This sweet chorus reminds us to draw near to Jesus both in the good times as well as the bad:

I need Thee, oh I need Thee
Every hour I need Thee
Oh bless me now my Savior
I come to Thee

On April the 12th, 1861, Civil War was declared between the north and the south. Families were divided and men from all walks of life, the young and the old, entered the fight. Over the next few years the nation was devastated and things seemed to only be getting worse. The United States of America, this “One Nation Under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” looked on the brink of total destruction. America was in her greatest hour of need and one man realized the answer.

In October of 1863, with another winter of battles drawing near, President Abraham Lincoln made a declaration in his earnest effort to turn the tide. Interestingly Lincoln made his proclamation on October the 3rd, 1863. There had been another presidential proclamation made October 3rd a few years earlier in 1789. It was on that date that President George Washington implored the citizens of the United States to participate in a day of public thanksgiving and prayer  “To acknowledge the providence of Almighty God (and) … unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions.” Both Washington and Lincoln chose the same date on which to celebrate their first proclaimed National Day of Thanksgiving – Thursday, November 26th. Washington in 1789 on one of the greatest days of our nation and Lincoln in 1863 on one of the worst days of our nation. Lincoln went one step further however, and saw the great continuing need and thus established the last Thursday of every November as a national day of thanksgiving. His proclamation remains to this day. Allow me to read what President Lincoln wrote:

Abraham Lincoln's 
1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation  

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world.  May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God.  We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.  Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.  I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens.

A. Lincoln
October 3, 1863

It took another year and a half before the Civil War officially ended. Many people imagine and historians have settled on their belief that the turning point of the war was the delivery of the “Gettysburg Address” by President Abraham Lincoln. I too was taught to hold this view in my American History studies. Yet, I do not now embrace this belief.

You see, the Gettysburg Address was delivered on a Thursday, the 19th day of November, 1863, 150 years ago this past week. I agree that things changed drastically for the better right afterwards: morale was boosted; battle outcomes seemed predestined; a renewed sense of purpose filled the ranks and the nation; and, things just felt different. It was as though a decision had been made on high to end slavery and keep the United States of America united … everything afterwards was simply destiny playing itself out.

If everything seemed to pivot around that time frame, why don’t I imagine the Gettysburg address did the trick? Because I look to a power that is higher than the man who was making that speech. I dearly love the words and sentiments of the Gettysburg Address and believe it had great impact,  however, we should remember that when this speech was given, the whole country was preparing to celebrate a National Day of Thanksgiving to God in which our President publicly acknowledged our national sins, asked the nation to repent and we fell upon the sure mercies of our Heavenly Father.

Only one week after the Gettysburg Address, and 7 weeks after that Presidential Decree, on Thursday, November 26, 1863, American families paused in their homes to recognize their need for a Savior, to seek His face, to turn from their wicked ways and to be thankful and praise His name. This is what turned the tide and saved the United States of America.

I truly believe God gave our nation reprieve from the punishments we so greatly deserved. And today, I believe it can happen again …

“I need Thee every hour” … but in some hours we need Him more …

This is the hour of need for our generation, not only in America but also across the whole world. Nation after nation has forgotten God and His gracious hand and vainly imagined the blessings they have enjoyed were produced by some superior wisdom or virtue of their own. Nations, politicians, business leaders, fathers and families have become too proud to pray to the God who made us.

Together we can change our world just as the citizens of so many cities, nations and generations have done throughout history. From Nineveh to the United States of America, when people turn to the Lord, He hears their cry, forgives their sins and heals their land.

In remembrance of our forefathers and our fathers of faith, and in recognition of our desperate need, turn with me to 2 Chronicles 7:14 – let’s pray together once again and trust that God will hear our sincere cry.

2 Chronicles 7:14  If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

(Prayer) … “I need Thee every hour – but today I need Thee more”

Annie Hawks wrote more than 400 hymns in her lifetime. After the civil war she wrote another song entitled, “He Needs Me Every Hour”.

Annie realized later in life that not only do we need Jesus, but He also needs us!

I challenge each of us, as did Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, to recognize our individual and our national need for a Savior and come to Christ … Be repentant; Be thankful; and Be blessed!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

LifeShape Prayer & Discipleship Module 4 – The Future Block 8 – The Millennial Reign


1 Corinthians 13
9  Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!
12  Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

The Apostle Paul was the first to admit that he did not know everything concerning the last days. I must echo that sentiment and attest to the fact that God has not made the future completely clear to us at this point in time. We catch dimly lit glimpses of things to come, we hear prophecies and gain revelation but as of now we still see an imperfect picture as though we are looking through a haze. Yet, the glimpses we catch are amazing and wonderful sights which give us a framework for the days ahead. For example:

·        We know Jesus has gone away to prepare a place for us in heaven.
·        We know Jesus is coming in the clouds to receive us unto Himself, we don’t know when …  
·        We know the Church is both the Body and the Bride of Christ and that there will one day be a wedding in heaven to which all saints will be invited.
·        We know there will be a tribulation period and a great tribulation period on the earth.
·        We know Jesus will return to earth with His armies to defeat the antichrist but we don’t know how we will fight or what weapons we will use.
·        We know Jesus will rule and reign on the earth for a thousand years.
·        We know satan will be released after the millennial reign of Christ and will deceive the nations but we don’t understand how anyone on earth could be deceived at that point.
·        We know God is going to completely destroy the earth and reestablish a new heaven and a new earth but we don’t fully know what we will be doing or how we will be living thereafter.

Suffice it to say we know a whole lot but understand very little. However, what we do understand is powerful. Let’s take another cloudy look into the dimly lit future and describe the images which are reasonably visible from the many descriptions of both the Old and New Testament writers concerning this 1000 year period called the Millennial Reign of Christ.

We may note that one concern of the Jews in accepting Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah is that there were taught to expect a Reigning Savior who, when He came, would deliver and forever protect Israel from her enemies and rule the nations from His throne in Jerusalem with a rod of iron.

This conflicted with the persecution, death and seemingly defeat of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. The picture of Jesus on the cross is not the picture of a ruling and reigning King of the Jews. However, the prophets clearly established that Messiah should first suffer and pay for the sins, sicknesses and pains of the world and then return as a ruling King. This prophetic picture of the ruling Messiah is a picture of Jesus during His Millennial Reign.

The last time Jesus entered Jerusalem He was meek and mild, riding on the colt of a donkey, humble and without defense. The next time He enters that city He will be riding on a great white horse leading His armies of angels and saints and He will conquer all who oppose Him.

At the last trumpet the dead in Christ shall rise, (not all the dead but those who are in Christ), and the saints who are alive on earth will be instantaneously changed to be incorruptible. Then there will be some space of time whether 7 years, (to accommodate for the Pre-tribulation rapture theory) or 3 ½ years, (corresponding to the Mid-tribulation rapture theory), or even just a few seconds, (accounting for the Post-tribulation theory), a certain space of time will pass.

The reason we know this is because both groups, the dead in Christ and we which are alive and remain, will be caught up into the air to meet the Lord. After some period, if even milliseconds, Christ will then return with those saints and His holy angels to earth, set His feet down on the Mt of Olives, gather the nations and wage war against the antichrist and utterly defeat him.

The devil and his angels will be bound for a thousand years.

At that time Jesus will not return to sit on the heavenly throne with His Father God but will rather go up to Jerusalem and will sit upon the Throne of David on Mount Zion. Some believe this will be the time when Jesus will separate His sheep from the goats before the throne of His glory as recorded in Matthew 25. Others see this as a fulfillment of the prophecies in Psalms 2, Isaiah 2 and Micah 4.

However it happens, Jesus will sit on His throne in Jerusalem atop Mount Zion and from there He will rule the nations for a thousand years.

Prayerfully and studiously peering through the sometimes dimly lit clouds of prophecies, I can see a city set on a hill where Jesus is King. It is Mount Zion lifted up above the nations so that the Word and the Law are going forth from there throughout the whole world, carried by the waters which flow from beneath the throne of Christ. There are other thrones whereon sit the 12 Apostles of the Lamb and many saints who sit to judge the 12 Tribes of Israel and those who live on the earth.

Matthew 19:28  So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

I can see a “regeneration”, (Greek word paringhenesia), New Genesis, a New Birth, a New Beginning, a Beginning Again = “Genesis Again” for the saints of God in this Holy City where Jesus lives as the Tree of Life with the New Creation Saints, His Bride in that city. Outside are those who have survived the tribulation without accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Revelation 22
14  Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
15  But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

Life will be hard and harsh outside the city and the will of God. People will continue to have opportunity to submit themselves to God and worship His Christ who is King but many will refuse to obey the Lord.

Zechariah 14
16  And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
17  And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain.

There will be a great bubble of holiness and blessing over Judah and Jerusalem and all who worship the King will be welcomed to dwell there. Let’s read about this time from the Book of Revelation: (This will take place immediately after the Tribulation)

Revelation 20
1  Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand.
2  He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years.
3  The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while.
4  Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their forehead or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
5  This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.)
6  Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years.
7  When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison.
8  He will go out to deceive the nations …

Important Points
1.   Although we do not know everything, we understand some things, and those things are powerful and precious.
2.   God has commanded His blessings on those who read and hear the prophecies of this book.
3.   Satan will be defeated at the end of the Great Tribulation and will be bound and cast into the bottomless pit.
4.   Jesus will set up His Kingdom on the earth and will reign from Jerusalem for 1000 years.
5.   During this time all who have accepted Jesus as Messiah will rule and  reign as kings and priests on the earth with Christ for 1000 years.
6.   Then Satan will be released for a short season and he will deceive the nations once again and gather them to battle against King Jesus.
7.   God will finally put an end to all rebellion and destroy the earth with a fervent heat … then will come the Great White Throne Judgment.

Saturday, November 16, 2013



History has a way of repeating itself. And, throughout history collective societies have repeatedly destroyed themselves … most often from the decay within. This pattern of decline can be easily charted and clearly observed and yet each generation in every nation continues marching towards their own self-destruction.

Yet there is hope in this generation! His name is Jesus … and we have His Word to save us.

Before we go further allow me to delineate The Pattern of Decline. What is:
·        Personally Worshipped
·        Socially Acceptable
·        Spiritually Tolerated
·        Federally Funded

It all begins with us as individuals and our personal acceptance of a recognized departure from God’s unchanging will.

Last week, in honor of Veteran’s Day, we reviewed the US Military Code of Conduct and heard what it takes to be an American Soldier. Afterwards I read a document I wrote which paralleled the US Military Code of Conduct and I offered it to you as our COTR Code of Conduct.

Since last Sunday I have heard from so many of you concerning that Code. In response to your request we are going to find a way to make it available to you and others as a reminder of what it takes to be a Soldier of the Cross.

I realize that you already know these things but I feel compelled of the Lord to remind us all of our personal responsibilities to Christ. The god of this world, who is the prince of darkness, is continually pressing us to accept new social norms, be more tolerant of alternate lifestyles, and relax our Christian beliefs to embrace a new world order religion of personal choices and an “anything goes” mentality.

However, this has never worked anywhere at any time in history and it won’t work today. Jesus is our only hope and He is depending on us to be salt and light in this world so that others will come to know His love.

Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live. (2 Peter 1:12&13)

The Apostle Peter lived under the rule of Nero who also led the Roman Empire into bankruptcy and social depravity. Peter, who was a simple and energetic fisherman, living in a small village atop a hill where the Jordan River pours into the Sea of Galilee, had known Jesus of Nazareth as a friend and as the Messiah. Peter left everything to follow Him. Peter heard the voice from heaven declaring Jesus to be the beloved Son of God.

Peter was eye witness to the miracles Jesus performed and he took part in the feeding of the 5000 with only a few fish and loaves. Peter saw Jesus walk on water and even walked on the water with Him. Peter watched as Jesus was wrongfully accused, cruelly beaten, unjustly sentenced and angrily crucified. Peter watched Jesus die, and for 3 days Peter hid himself in the fear that he would be next.

Peter knew the guilt of denying Christ; the disappointments which accompany the loss of a friend; the despair that comes when a dream dies … Peter experienced rock bottom, a place with no hope and no future.

Peter’s confusion only increased when he was told the tomb was empty. He ran to the garden himself and did not know what to think. Then, that evening, with more questions than answers, the answer showed up. Peter saw and talked with and held and broke bread with the resurrected Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God, living, breathing Savior, victorious over death, hell and the grave.

Peter was not only restored but also reminded of the call of God on his life to feed the sheep. Though Peter had fallen in his faith once again, Jesus lifted him up as He had on the Sea of Galilee some years earlier. Jesus gave Peter new hope and reminded him of his duty.

Late in life, perhaps only a year away from being crucified himself, Peter feels a burning desire within him to remind other Believers of their duty to change the world instead of allowing the world change them.

2 Peter 3
1  This is my second letter to you, dear friends, and in both of them I have tried to stimulate your wholesome thinking and refresh your memory.
2  I want you to remember what the holy prophets said long ago and what our Lord and Savior commanded through your apostles.
3  Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.
4  They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”
5  They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of His command, and He brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water.
6  Then He used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood.
7  And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.
11  Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live,
12  looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, He will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames.
13  But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth He has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.
14  And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight.
15  And remember, the Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him—

In closing and while we consider the personal opportunity we each have to stop the decline and the ultimate devastation of our nation, listen while I read just a few of the things our brother Paul said during this same time:

2 Timothy 2  (NLT)
19  God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The LORD knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the LORD must turn away from evil.”
21  If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.
22  Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.
23  Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.
24  A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.
25  Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.
26  Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

2 Timothy 3  NLT
1  You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.
2  For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.
3  They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.
4  They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.
5  They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

You can change the world or let it change you. You’ve been reminded of your opportunity to live a godly life … now the rest is up to you!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

LifeShape Prayer & Discipleship Module 4 – The Future Block 7 – The Tribulation


The Tribulation is a period of seven years predetermined by God at the end of this age when He will pour out the wrath of His indignation on the earth directly against the nations and the peoples on the earth who have rejected and despised Him. Romans 12:19 declares vengeance belongs to the Lord and He will repay … this is the Tribulation.

Isaiah 2 says all nations will be brought to judgment while men desperately seek a place to hide in fear from the wrath of God. Many of the prophets from Daniel to King David speak of that day as the day of reckoning for all men. The entire book of Zephaniah is devoted to this Tribulation.

Zephaniah 3:8  "Therefore wait for Me," says the LORD, "Until the day I rise up for plunder; My determination is to gather the nations To My assembly of kingdoms, To pour on them My indignation, All my fierce anger; All the earth shall be devoured With the fire of My jealousy.

When shall these things be? This was the question asked by the disciples of Jesus and we find His answer in our key scripture:

Key Scripture: Matthew 24:14  “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

Jesus continues to explain what will happen in the midst of that time …

Matthew 24:15  “Therefore when you see the ’abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand),”

The Tribulation is divided into two 3½ year periods. Daniel sees, and Revelation confirms, the dividing point between the first 3½ years of Tribulation and the last 3½ years of Great Tribulation is determined when the antichrist reveals his identity by entering into the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, stopping the sacrifices and declaring himself to be god. This is that abomination of desolation spoken of by Jesus. (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; and Revelation 13)

Revelation 11: 3  And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

These two periods will also be marked by the two witnesses who shall stand and prophesy with power to shut up the heavens and breathe a fire which consumes their enemies. These two candlesticks of the Lord will give testimony for 1,260 days, equaling and ending the first 3 ½ years.

Revelation 11:14  The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

At that 3 ½ year mark the beast from the bottomless pit will arise with power and will kill the two witnesses. Israel’s peace treaty will be broken, the antichrist will perform miracles and cause his followers to take the mark of the beast, 666, or die. He will enter the Temple declaring himself to be god and all hell will break loose upon the earth(Revelation 11:7; 13).

Matthew 24
21  “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22  And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”

Many people will be saved during the Tribulation. Some will turn to Jesus as a result of the horrible catastrophes and terrible judgments, others from the testimonies of the two witnesses and their miraculous resurrections after lying dead in the streets for 3 ½ days in view of the whole earth; still others will hear the message of the special angel sent by God near the end of the Tribulation period to proclaim the Good News.

Revelation 14
6  Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth — to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people — 

Even with all of the forewarnings and the march we now see towards Armageddon, the nations of this world still fail to surrender themselves to God.

We have not begun the Tribulation period yet – believe me, you will know when we do … there will be no missing that event for anyone on the earth. When the seals begin to be opened devastation and destruction, war, famine, and death will be on a mass scale throughout the earth. Israel will be at peace, they will possess Jerusalem without question and begin to rebuild the Temple, however the rest of the world will be in turmoil.

Revelation 6:8  So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.

The fourth horseman of the Apocalypse will ride his pale horse and bring death and devastation to one fourth of all humanity living on earth. That’s almost 2 billion people today … These are only the beginning of sorrows.

Some argue the Church is as yet unclean and therefore must go through the Tribulation in order to be purged and purified. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Church and every Believer has already been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Jesus is not going to give His Bride a good beating just before the marriage so she will enter into the marriage in fear and trembling, anxiously tip-toeing on pins and needles, fearfully and nervously avoiding to ever cross Him again. The Tribulation is not aimed at the saint. It is not a Protestant purgatory. The Tribulation is a cleansing opportunity for the sinner, not the saint. On another note:

Have you ever noticed the themes that run through the Bible – especially all of the “Sevens” in the Book of Revelation?

There are:
·        Seven Churches; Seven Spirits of God; Seven Golden Lamp Stands; Seven Stars; Seven Flaming Torches; Seven Seals; Seven Horns & Seven Eyes on the Lamb; Seven Trumpets; Seven Thunders; Seven Heads & Seven Diadems on the dragon; Seven Heads on the Sea Beast; Seven Plagues; Seven Bowls; Seven Mountains & Seven Kings

The 7 Seals make way for the 7 Trumpets and finally the 7 Bowls of Wrath. From painful sores to heat waves, from water turning to blood to the thick darkness which will cover the earth, from demons working miracles to the last great global earthquake which collapses the cities of the world – Tribulation is to come upon the earth and yet men will not repent. In all of this the wicked will intensify their hatred towards God and blaspheme His Holy name. With the 7th bowl heaven declares “it is done” and Jesus returns with His saints to win the Battle of Armageddon. God is so good!

There are yet Seven Blessings in the midst of all this Tribulation and woe:
·        Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy …
·        Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord
·        Blessed is the one who stays awake and is clothed …
·        Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper … Lamb.
·        Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection …
·        Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book
·        Revelation 22:14  Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life.

Important Points
1.   The Tribulation is a seven year period in which God will pour His wrath out upon the earth.
2.   The Tribulation period is not a “Protestant Purgatory” in which Believers or the Church pays for their sins and are cleansed.
3.   Many people will be saved, martyred, and taken to heaven during the Tribulation.
4.   The beginning of the Tribulation will be marked by a false peace treaty offered to Israel which allows for the rebuilding of the Temple.
5.   The mid-point of the Tribulation will be known when the antichrist breaks that treaty and enters into the Temple and declares himself to be God. This begins the Great Tribulation period.
6.   God will bring conclusion to the Tribulation when Jesus returns with His saints in white raiment to defeat the antichrist and his armies at the Battle of Armageddon.

7.   The end of the Tribulation Period will give way for the Millennial Reign of Christ upon the earth.