Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Last Days


Bible prophecy is true and intriguing to say the least. Often the prophecies seem to be shrouded in mystery and hidden from plain view. The time tables for many events remain ambiguous and hard to nail down to any particular year or generation. Nonetheless, people love to hear about and imagine those things which are to take place in the last days. Even the disciples asked Jesus to tell them what would take place at the end of time. A considerable portion of the Bible speaks about the last days and some scholars have devoted their whole lives to the study of the end time events.

This evening it is my hope to shine some common light on a few well-known prophecies so that we might better understand what God meant by foretelling us about these last days. Let’s begin by reading from two of the Old Testament prophets: Micah and Isaiah.

Micah 4 KJV
1 ¶  But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
2  And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Isaiah 2 KJV
1 ¶  The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2  And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
3  And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Evidently, the last days are a very important subject to God for Him to speak through two prophets the very same prophecy, almost word for word, during the same period of time, (They were both prophets during the same period: basically 740BC or 700BC), and to the same people. Micah lived in the area of Gath and Gaza while Isaiah lived in Jerusalem, both within the borders of Judah but almost a world away.

Both of these prophets focus our attention on The Last Days. Let’s look at these prophecies a little closer so that we might use them to better understand other prophecies in the Bible. We will use Isaiah’s prophecy:

Isaiah 2
1 ¶  The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

·        Herein is the claim that Isaiah himself was made to understand something concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
·        This indicates a spiritual awareness which Isaiah recognized as coming from God and worthy of recording as prophetic utterance.
·        He is sure this will happen … and Isaiah knows that he is being used as a mouthpiece of the Lord to declare what will happen in the future.
·        This is the same anointing which led Isaiah to later prophesy about a king, King Cyrus, who would serve the Lord and facilitate the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Isaiah called Cyrus by name over 150 years before Cyrus was even born.
·        Isaiah saw something … and then he said something …

2  And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

·        The last days does not strictly refer to the very, very, very end of days. Of course prophecies can easily and often do have dual purposes and hold capacity to have multiple shades of fulfillment.
o   The Last Days here is more of the last period or last division of time.
o   There only being two periods for these purposes
§  Former Days, before Messiah came to suffer for sin.
§  Latter or Last Days: The time before His second coming.
·        The last days or the end of days always refers to the time of the spreading of the Gospel of Christ.
·        The time between the coming of the Messiah in humility as a suffering Savior and the time of the returning Messiah in glory as the reigning King, is considered as The Last Days.
o   The Former Days brought the Messiah to suffer and pay for our sins.
o   The Last Days will culminate in the Messiah’s return to rule and reign in His glory.
·        During the period of the last days the House of God and the worship of the Messiah will be exalted above every other religion and spiritual pursuit and it will be a house for all nations, Not just Israel …
o   “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
·        People from all nations shall flow like a river, people carried by that flow like on a wave, into the exalted house of the Lord.
·        The prophet saw people representing all nations of the earth brought to worship the Messiah during the last days period.

3  And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

·        There will be mass evangelism and many witnesses  calling out to others to come and worship God in these last days.
·        And discipleship will be the order of the last day revival
·        Lives will be changed
·        God’s ways will be taught by the Church
·        And the Word of God will go forth into all the world beginning at Jerusalem.

This is what the prophet Isaiah and Micah saw more than 700 years before Christ came. They saw you and me sharing the Gospel of Christ with the whole world.

Of course there will be an ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy when Jesus returns and sets up His millennial kingdom on the earth. However, the general fulfillment began with the coming of Christ and the spread of the Gospel by the Church beginning from Jerusalem going into all the world.

When we see a reference to “The Last Days” or the “Latter Days” or the “End of Days”, we should realize that the scriptures are most often referring to the period of time in which we live. We are living in the last days. This is the period of time between the Resurrection of Christ and His return.

This makes Joel’s prophecy easy to understand when Peter quoted him in:

Acts 2 NKJV
16  “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17  ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.
18  And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.
19  I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20  The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
21  And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.’

Or Paul writing his last words to Timothy concerning the last days:

2 Timothy 3  NKJV
1 ¶  But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
2  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3  unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
4  traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5  having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

And Peter wrote to us:

2 Peter 3 NKJV
1 ¶  Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder),
2  that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,
3 ¶  knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,
4  and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
5  For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,
6  by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
7  But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8 ¶  But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9 ¶  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
10  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
11 ¶  Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
12  looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
13  Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
14  Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;
15  and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation — as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,
16  as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

And we could go on and on and on. Suffice it to say that we are living in the last days and we are certainly living in our last days … the only days we have. It is important for us to expect the coming of the Lord for every person we encounter. Jesus will certainly bring about the very final last day, a day of judgment and a day of new beginnings. We do not know that day nor the hour … but I do believe His returning is close at hand.

But whatever befalls the world and however much time we have before God concludes this Gospel age, it is my hope that we would all be found living for and working for the Lord by spreading the Gospel into our world and into all the world.

Hosea 6:3  Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.

The former rain is for the former days … days of planting the seeds in the fields – while the latter rain is for the latter days … causing the fruit to be ripened for harvest. The last days are days of great harvest.

Both Hosea and Amos were contemporaries with Micah and Isaiah. They also saw something … They saw that the last days harvest time was going to be abundant and like nothing ever seen before.

Amos 9:13  Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.

This is what Isaiah saw and this is the will of God! These were the days Jesus spoke of when He told His followers:

John 4:35  “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!’”

These prophecies, the Old Testament prophets and the writers of the New Testament along with the words of Messiah all tell us that we are in the great days of harvest when people from all walks of life, servants and masters alike, those from every nation and generation, will hear our witness and will come to worship our God. This is the promise of God … and You have been filled with the Holy Spirit for such a time as this.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Memorial Day


Memorial Day is dedicated to the remembrance of those military men and women who gave their lives in the defense of our nation’s decided best interests. From 1775 until today the United States of America has enjoyed less than 2 decades of war free peace. We have sent our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guard men and women within our US borders and to foreign fields to fight more than 65 wars and armed conflicts.

During the past 243 years, 1,350,000 of our military men and women have given their all for our nation. That’s more than 5,500 ultimate sacrifices each and every year, and an average of more than 100 each week since our nation first gathered a military from its citizen population to protect and defend us as Americans.

An American Hero, Senator John Glen, said: “If you can read, thank a teacher. If you can read English, thank a soldier.”

Regardless of our nationality, race, color, religion, culture or creed, we all owe our freedoms, our lives, our liberties and the opportunities to pursue happiness to those who proudly wore the uniform of the United States military and gave their lives to make a better world for us.

God bless America and God bless those fallen soldiers. Tomorrow at 3 pm I plan to pause along with our grateful nation and declare my personal thanks to God and the families in the memory of these fallen comrades.

And I will pray that God helps us to avoid war when possible, and to win against the enemies of peace when the fight becomes necessary.

We can easily identify Three Stages of War
1.  The Romance of War
a.   The Goals
b.   The Glories of Victory
2.  The Reality of War
a.   The Carnage
b.   The Costs
3.  The Remembrance of War
a.   The Sacrifices made
b.   The Hope it never happens again …

History is not written by those who gave their lives but rather by those who remember them.

Many times we see war only as a human endeavor, it is not. The original war is a heavenly war between God and satan. The righteous army of God led by Jesus, the Prince of Peace, has been locked in an immortal battle with the wicked demons of death and their evil master, the prince of darkness, for long ages before the accounts of man were first written in the book of Genesis. Jesus reveals this conflict throughout the pages of the New Testament. We can see the strugglers of the disciples of Christ as they are commissioned to engage the enemies of the cross, which was the secret weapon of God. On the night when Jesus was about to be betrayed, arrested, beaten and sentenced to death, He gathered His disciples and said:

Luke 22  NKJV
28  “But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials.
29  “And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me,
30  “that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
31  And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.
32  “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
33  But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”

Ahhh … The Romance of War … the thoughts of victories and reward …

34  Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”
35  And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.”
36  Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.
37  “For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.”
38  So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”
39 ¶  Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him.
40  When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
41  And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed,
42  saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”
43  Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.
44  And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
45  When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow.
46  Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”
47 ¶  And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him.
48  But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
49  When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?”
50  And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.
51  But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.
52  Then Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs?
53  “When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
54 ¶  Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance.

All of the sudden … The Realties of War began to set in … fear and confusion … the costs and carnage … the romance is gone …

55  Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.
56  And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.”
57  But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”
58  And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”
59  Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”
60  But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
61  And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
62  So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
63 ¶  Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him.

·        Peter experienced The Romance of War when he imagined that he would gladly suffer prison or death for the cause of Christ.
·        Then, after being faced with the moment and what it cost, Peter experienced The Reality of War.
o   Peter experienced the fear that came after the heat of the battle – after he had reacted and drew his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the High Priest.
o   What do you do after the heat of the moment? What did he do after his first battle?
o   Peter wanted to help but he also wanted to hide.
o   Every man has to face himself after the battle …
·        It takes time to recover from the heat of the last battle.
·        But, Peter did recover and went on to face so many other battles with courage and with confidence because he remembered …
·        Peter experienced The Remembrance of War … because …

Peter remembered how that Jesus willingly gave His life in sacrifice for him. Earlier on that same night Jesus told His disciples:

Luke 22:19  And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

Jesus wanted to and deserved to be remembered. Years later Jesus told the Apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 11 NKJV
25  In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
26  For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

Life Application …
·        Remember the sacrifices made for you by men and women in this life.
·        As well, I encourage you to remember the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for your soul and your eternity.
o   No one else could have paid that price.  
·        Be thankful today, be thankful tomorrow and be thankful every day.
o   There is no greater love than this, that a man would lay down his life for a friend. (John 15:13)
·        How can you show your love, your devotion and your willingness to sacrifice for your family, friends and Jesus?

There is power in romance; power in reality; and power in remembrance …

May we never forget!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Home Improvement - Building Better Families


God ordained the family before He ordained the Church.

Genesis 1 NKJV
26 ¶  Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28  Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Family is a God-ordained relationship.

When God could have been anything He wanted and portrayed Himself as the sun, the moon, fire, thunder and lightning, a voice from heaven, Jupiter or anything else you can imagine … God choose to be our Father … the Head of His family.

The only thing God ever wanted to be is a Father. And, God wants to be is a Father to you.

And, when it is all said and done on planet earth, the only thing God will have left for all His hard work and the thousands of years of dealing with humans, the troubles we face and the complaints we make … the only thing He will have left to show for all He has done is Family … His Family.

The only thing God is working for is family.

Since family is absolutely the most important thing God wants and since He gave His only Son on the cross of Calvary in hopes of gaining only one thing, family … family must be pretty important to Him and therefore family should be the number one priority in our lives as well.

God is spending everything He has on building His family. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt us to spend a little of our time and attention towards building better families.

Ephesians 1
14 ¶  For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15  from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,
17  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — 
19  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The Apostle Paul recognized that we are Born-Again into a family and that we should imitate God as His dear children. (Ephesians 5:21) The Psalmist agreed when he said, “God sets the solitary in families.” (Psalms 68:6) 

God is working hard to be a Father and build His family. He has high hopes. God does not need to get better at being family, we do. God is loving and merciful and kind to us. He is willing to pay for whatever is needed to take care of you as His child. God is attentive and approachable. He will never leave us or forsake us. God is the ultimate champion of family relationships and He knows how to play the long game. Let’s take a close look at these:

Seven Truths to Building Better Families

1.  Family is the Best Thing God Ever Ordained
o   God ordained the family before He ordained the Church
o   It will be the only lasting results of God’s efforts on earth.
2.  Family is a Decision
o   To fit within the family structure
§  Be involved
o   To support the family ideals
§  Love
§  Forgive
§  Champion the family
3.  Family Takes Work
o   Show up
o   Participate
§  Time
§  Attention
§  Activity
4.  Family is Designed and Intended to Last Forever
o   Family is the only security we have
§  When we are born
§  When we die
5.  Family Relationships Will be Tested
o   Rights
o   Rules
o   Roles
o   Responsibilities
6.  Family Can be Broken
o   The devil cannot divide a family unless he can get at least one person to work with him.
o   There must be order in the house for a house divided cannot stand.
7.  Family Can be Fixed
·        Get closer to change …
o   Right
o   Reason
o   Responsibility

God ordained the family … participate and help Him succeed.

1.   What is your position and therefore your part in your family?
2.   Take the initiative and be responsible to do your part.
3.   Pray for your family.
4.   Pass the tests!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Great Love


The New Testament Book of Ephesians was written as a letter around AD62 or AD63 from Rome by the Apostle Paul to the Church at Ephesus.
Paul wrote several letters while he was being held as a prisoner in Rome. I suppose prison gives a person some time to reflect and consider what’s important.

If late in life you found yourself in prison, through no fault of your own, accused by false witnesses of crimes you did not commit. Perhaps in a foreign prison for being a Believer in Jesus. What would you do? What do you imagine would become most important to you? If you knew you were going to be unjustly sentenced to be executed and you had the opportunity to write a letter to your family and friends, knowing that they may be arrested and imprisoned themselves any day, what would you tell them?

Let’s read what Paul wanted his friends in Ephesus to know.

Ephesians 2
4 ¶  But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

Paul wanted people to understand that God is rich in mercy.

He also told them that God loves us with “Great Love”. What does that mean? It means that:
·        God’s love is first Original
·        Next, God’s love is Abundant
·        And finally, God’s love is Eternal … So that …

5  even when we were dead in trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

The Work of Salvation is a work of God’s grace, not of man’s doing.
·        We are saved not because of what we do but because of what He did.
·        Grace means we did not deserve it but that it was an underserved gift of love. God’s grace is given to everyone who believes in His Son Jesus and receives Him as the underserved gift God intended.

6  and God raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

From God’s eternal perspective, all of His children are already seated with Jesus at the table of the Lord in our heavenly home.
·        God is dreaming of the day when we will all be feasting together with Him in eternal realms.
·        And, God’s dreams always come true; watch and see; it will happen.

7  that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Paul wanted his friends to know that God has a plan for us for all eternity
·        He plans to show us just how rich He is …
·        He plans to show us how He spent His wealth preparing for our eternal comfort,
·        And, God wants us to experience His Kindness forever and ever because we have believed in and accepted His Son in our lives.

Paul concludes this thought by telling his friends:

8  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9  not of works, lest anyone should boast.

The Child of God has a great future because of God’s great love.

The Apostle Paul’s Roman prison experience no doubt gave him several years to reflect and to consider those things that are really important in life, and in eternal life. Paul’s letter to his friends in the Ephesian Church revealed how much The Apostle Paul appreciated God for His:
1.   Boundless Mercy
2.   Great Love
3.   Matchless Grace
4.   Abundant Kindness
5.   Eternal Perspective

What do you appreciate about God? Have you considered telling your family and friends what you believe before you die? If I’m not mistaken, it’s called Your Last Will and Testament. Why not go ahead and write it down. You may be eternally surprised at the number of people that read it.