Preparing To Meet The Soon Coming King, part 9
I ran across an anonymous quote the other day that made me smile, but in all reality, it was quite an indictment of human nature, evidenced even within God’s own people. The quote reads like this:
“No Word of God spoken by a man of God to the people of God, at the time it is spoken, is received by the people of God to whom the man of God has spoken the Word of God.”
You can find this throughout human history. The Bible itself gives hundreds of examples of this, going way back to the antediluvian times when Enoch the prophet was speaking to his generation warning them of the cataclysm coming if man does not change his ways. His message was continued right on through his descendants until his great-grandson Noah’s time. Noah’s grandfather Methuselah, which happens to be the oldest man that ever lived, died the year of Noah’s flood at 969 years of age. I’ve always wondered how much longer he might have lived if it had not for God choosing to bring him home just short of the great event beginning. As we know from the story, only Noah, his three sons, and the four wives were saved in their generation, as well as the animal and fowl representatives God caused to migrate to the ark.
History continues as the stories are told of the patriarchs, then Moses the deliverer, Israel’s judges and eventually all the prophets that spent their lives warning their generations of what was to come. They were hated for the most part because no one liked the message they had to give. Yet, the Almighty was the source of what they proclaimed. These prophets, for the most part were beaten, imprisoned, abused in horrible was and murdered for having the gall to speak what they did. We don’t murder our prophets today, but rather just label them “loose cannons”.
There are plenty of the so called “loose cannons”, and an abundance of phony prophets today but I wonder how often we write someone off just because we don’t particularly like the message that they have to give, or because they may be a bit unorthodox? It seems to be human nature to mark someone as irrelevant rather than give any credence to the fact that they might very well be a messenger from God Himself. Look at how John the Baptist approached his generation! The man at times probably had grasshopper legs imbedded in his beard when he preached. His approach certainly wasn’t gentle, and calling for total repentance and turning from their lives of sin. Today, way too many sermons are a whole lot of fluff! I doubt that God is impressed in our wimpy lax way of representing Him and His Word.
I’m afraid most church people today are in la-la land, so lost within their own agendas, their careers, the overabundance of entertainment, and materialism–like no other generation in history has ever seen, that we can be looking God’s Judgment right in the eye and not recognize it. We live in a time when there are so many ways available for us to waste our time that God in all reality is way down the list of our priorities. Any preacher that dares to get a bit forceful with what He has heard from the Almighty, will likely be shunned as a bit extreme. This is especially true if he happens to be a preacher of “righteousness”—which is really just “right living” under the laws of God. What can be wrong with that? Any pastor that dares to say that we of the household of God need to REPENT, might be railroaded right out of his position. This is not the case in all churches, but it has become so in a too high of a percentage today.
What has happened to the great fundamental missionary church that used to be the norm for the United States of America? It has for the most part DIED! I am not looking for the “good old days”, but am saying that we’ve lost something, in fact a whole lot! Yes, we still have many missionaries today, and many are doing a great work. These are giving the people what they really need the most—the Word of God, which meets the need of their souls. Yes, we should feed them if we can! Yes, we should help them get good clean water! Yes, we should build orphanages and help fund them! It is great to help them build churches overseas and Bible Schools, etc. But, how many missionaries and missionary organizations are truly giving the people the Word of God? Unfortunately, many projects are done by professional charity organizations that put a whole lot more emphasis on meeting the physical needs, forgetting the spiritual ones. This is also the case with a great many churches today.
I remember going back to my alma mater to visit my Bible College’s chapel service in order to hear their special speaker who had been my pastor during most of my high school and college days. The speaker was Judson Cornwall, and the thing that I remember most vividly from the things he said that morning was a comment directed specifically at each future graduate there. He said that in his experience going overseas to visit mission projects, he had brought more missionaries home from the field than he had ever sent. His point was that many went into God’s service because they felt it was the right thing to do, rather than actually being called by God to do so. Unfortunately this is the case with way too many pastors today. It is a fact that holding the position of pastor is a God-thing, and it does feel good to hold this position for a number of reasons. One of them is being able to claim being in God’s service. Then there is the notoriety gained in the community, as well as having a great career. These things often become more important than what ministry was actually meant to be all about. If it is not really God’s work that is being done, but rather man’s view of what should be, there is no supernatural blessing to back it. Bottom line is this; if God isn’t the one that places the call on a person, it is not going to accomplish His divine purposes.
Here is another question. How much of what we do as “Christ-followers” is done so that we can be seen as busy? Many people are addicted to a full schedule. We can get quite busy “doing the Lord’s work”, and what a treadmill it becomes. It becomes a merry-go-round that takes us from meeting to meeting, officiating over this event and that one, serving on this board and that one. We find ourselves becoming so busy with the machinery of church life that we often forget to worship the very One that it was all suppose to be about to begin with. Our time in God’s Word becomes less and less as we do all this “stuff”. Our time in prayer basically amounts to little snippets here and there as we drive to all of the events that we need to be at. Most of these prayers on the run are for God to help us with this, that, or the other thing. God does help us, but the life of a true believer is not rooted in all of this religious busywork. It needs to be rooted in that intimate time with Him that includes study in God’s Word and real prayer. God hates religion and I’m afraid that most church people go through a whole lot of religious motions but none of it having any real spiritual substance to it. Busy church lives do not equate a good relationship with God, often no relationship at all. Having been a pastor myself, I understand the problems associated with a small percentage of people doing the largest percentage of the work. But, each individual MUST keep their own spiritual life in order, and it is required by the One that desires a very intimate walk with every one of His people. It is a point of obedience to Him, and that takes precedence over everything else.
Going on…isn’t it interesting how church has changed since the social revolution of the 1960’s? The emphasis in sermons began to change from being the simple, straightforward gospel found in God’s Word to a much more materialistic message. The new message was well received because there was so much teaching about all the promises we can claim for ourselves because of our status as God’s kids. We began to hear that God wanted us to claim the wealth and status that He has provided for us. God has made promises in His Word; that’s a fact, and some of the Godly characters were quite wealthy in the Bible. Some of them also had positions of great influence or power. The problem with much of what began to be taught was that our emphasis in appropriating His promises was not to bring us into a closer walk with our God, or to aid us in fulfilling the Great Commission but rather to get everything we could possibly get from Him in order to bring us into the lavish lifestyle we see others living and have coveted for ourselves. There were people even being taught to mentally design every feature of the mate that they would like to marry, and claim that specific self-designed model. They then expected God to deliver this exact person to them. It was totally absurd. I could go on but won’t in this writing.
We forget that our lives here on this earth are very temporary. This short life is the testing ground that determines what happens to us eternally. We are all created to live forever. We will all eventually be resurrected to live either in Heaven or hell, and this will be determined when we stand before God. We get so involved with our temporal lives here that it becomes an inconvenience for us to truly allow God to be the real LORD of our lives. This is where much of the problem lies. Many have at one time or another made a commitment to the Lord. But, it is only a relative few that have allowed Him to exercise His Lordship over them. We don’t give Him the opportunity to tell us how we should live. We tell Him how we intend to live and then figure that He should agree with us. Many times, He does not but we have become so self-centered that we don’t even consider this to be possible. After all, we are King’s kids! Pretty unruly kids at times, I’m afraid.
We have forgotten that being a “Christ follower” is costly. Salvation itself is a free gift to anyone that will receive it, but God’s “grace” isn’t as open ended as we think. We have His grace through our faith. Our faith in order to worth anything will have to be backed with something. What is it that God expects out of us? We may get a good idea from a couple scriptures in the New Testament. Here’s what Jesus said:
“Someone asked Him, ‘Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?’ He said to them, ‘Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you will try to enter and will not be able to.’” (Luke 13:23, 24)
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13, 14)
These scriptures and many others make it pretty clear that God’s expectations of us may be a lot different than we’ve become accustomed to thinking. We have the idea that we can accept the free gift of salvation and afterwards never pay attention to God until the day the Rapture pulls us out of here. I have an increasing concern about this which I would like to share with you. In short, although I believe whole-heartedly in the Rapture, which Biblically is called the “harpazo”, I believe only a small percentage of Christian people will hear the call when it comes and so will be left behind. I base this on a number of things. I suspect some won’t agree with me on everything, but please at least take a serious read of what is troubling me on this, and then do as you must.
Here is something I’ve looked into. Is it possible that the “Philadelphia” Church that we read about early in the third chapter of Revelation (verses 7-13) had something that most of churches are missing today? It makes an interesting statement in verse 8 that is worth looking at. It says:
“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, YET you have kept my Word and have not denied my Name.”
I think back to the earlier years that I believe most accurately describe this segment of the near 2,000 church age we are coming to the end of. I have mentioned some of this before and so will not go into a whole lot of detail but, here are my thoughts on this. I am hardly a historian but do like reading history—as ugly as much of it can be. The representation of the Church of Jesus Christ during the pioneer days of the 19th century had people moving to the wild, wild west of America by the multiplied thousands. I have read of many of the preachers that moved out west as well and took on the task of being the preacher for these newly settled towns and communities. There were plenty of charlatans for sure, but there were the real men of God. Most of these men were about as rough and tough as they come, and their knowledge of God’s Word was limited according to today’s theological institutions. But, as limited as they were, there were thousands of these men that represented Almighty God as best they knew how. They used the little strength they had and often sacrificed their very lives to stay true to the Name of Christ. There are quite a number of life stories of these limited but very dedicated men. They preached a simple gospel, but it met the need.
The same era also produced some great evangelists, two of them being the Wesley brothers. These men preached something that is quite unpopular in our churches today. They spoke much of repentance and the need for holiness if one ever wanted to be in God’s eternal Kingdom. They taught humility and how temporary this very short life is. People in those days were much more aware of this than we are here in America. Old graveyards are so interesting to go through to see how young many of the people were when they met their deaths. They lost so many children to the elements, famine, murder, massacres and so many other hardships. Multitudes never even made it to their destinations when taking the death defying trip across the country on their wagon trains.
Even when looking at the first half of the 20th century, in spite of the “roaring 20’s”, the Philadelphia Church was very much alive and fulfilling the Great Commission. It was representing God well. We read about the Azuza Street Revival, the start of the Salvation Army through William Boothe and other tools used by God’s Spirit to reach the multitudes. There are so many great people I could bring up but I can’t here. I believe that the Philadelphia Church continued beyond the first half of the 20th century; in fact is still represented today. It is however now existing as a minority to the overwhelming representation of the “Church of Laodicea” described in the last third of chapter three in Revelation.
Billy Graham was used in a great way, in spite of the many mistakes. Billy himself made sure these were not left out in the book written about him called, “The Preacher and the Presidents”. Billy Graham became America’s evangelist in many ways. He preached internationally, but was especially known as the real heartbeat of the gospel in the United States. I have always been amazed at the simplicity and yet Godly brilliance of his sermons. They were not theologically complicated and they were straight-forward. There was no doubt about what it was He had said—and God honored this simple message, making it much more powerful than any man could have done on his own strength or intellect. The fact that he is still alive today has more prophetic significance than people may know. More importantly, his death soon will be even more prophetic. He has had the ear of every president since Dwight Eisenhower—until our last president. A dramatic shift in who America now is has become very apparent. Graham quite recently made a statement with thundering implications. Through Franklin Graham his son, he stated that America has completely turned its back on God. I suspect that this is also is a strong signal that Billy Graham’s job as America’s evangelist is finished. This signal is not because of his age, even though he is well into his 90’s. It means that America is never turning back, and his job has been completed in full. Billy’s home-coming is imminent, and so is the home-coming of the Philadelphia Church. Are you a part of this church? It is certainly in the minority today!
The Philadelphia Church is ruled by God’s Word. It does not question God’s Word because it is unquestionably accepted and understood that whatever the Sovereign God who has no equal, has to say is not negotiable, it is not to be ignored, nor do we dare ever let it out of our sight. It must be an integral part of our lives or we will be judged guilty of rebelling against His Sovereign Word. Not only that, we will not be able to say that we genuinely love the Messiah Jesus who gave His life for our eternal freedom. God is no fool! Today He is speaking in no uncertain terms that any attempt to skirt around what He expects of us will never be acceptable. It is also proof that we do not love Him, no matter what we claim with our words.
Below are some Scripture none of us can afford to ignore. Neither dare we try to explain them away with creative theology. I know that some have the habit of skipping over Scriptures in written articles in order to save time, saying that they already know what these passages say and mean, but please take the time to read them anyway, purposely doing it slowly so as to allow for reflection time. Meditating on the Word of God helps us get more than just a superficial understanding of what is being said. We really need to know what God is saying!
The apostle Paul said this while in prison: “As a prisoner for the LORD, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love…” (Ephesians 4: 1b)
“Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1)—these words come right after about 16 verses at the end of the fourth chapter giving very specific instructions how God expects His people to live their lives. Please take the time to read carefully, because much of what is listed has been greatly compromised in the typical “Christian” life in our modern age. God does not change.
“So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by god’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.” You call out to God for help and He helps—He’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living. Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew He was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom god then raided from the dead and glorified, that you trust god, that you know you have a future in God. Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not tlike your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from god’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by god Himself! That’s why the prophet said, ‘The old life is a grass life, its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers; Grass dries up, flowers droop, God’s Word goes on and on forever.’ This is the Word that conceived the new life in you. So clean house! Make a clean sweep…” (I Peter 4: 13- 5:1a, The Message version)
“Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like Him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what god wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. You’ve already put in your time in that God-ignorant way of life, partying night after night, a drunken and profligate life. Now it’s time to be done with it for good. Of course, your old friends don’t understand why you don’t join in with the old gang anymore,. But you don’t have to give an account to them. They’re the ones who will be called on the carpet—and before God Himself” (I Peter 4:1-5, The Message version)
“We know that we have come to know him if we obey His commands. The man who says, ‘I know Him’, but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His Word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him. Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” (I John 2: 3-6, NIV)
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like that comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6: 46-49, NIV)
“He will punish those who do not know God and do notobey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power…” (2 Thessalonians 1: 6,7 NIV)
“Live in Me! Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows Who He is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” (John 15: 4-8, The Message version)
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.” (Hebrews 12: 14-17, NIV)
“See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns us from Heaven?” (Hebrews 12: 25-25, NIV)
In summary for this segment of this series of articles, I would like to say that this is the most critical time in history for people to take serious stock of where they stand with God. We really are at the very end of the end of days. There are major things well in motion that will come upon the earth very, very quickly. Even as of yesterday and today, as I checked the news, I found two huge events developing much quicker than I expected. One of them has to do with watching the last prophetic piece dropping into place that will complete the confederation of Israel’s border enemies, and lead to a huge regional Mideast war, most likely including the total destruction of Damascus as predicted by the Old Testament prophets. The other big event has brought Russian into the mix between Syria and its allies against the NATO and the west, particularly America. Never has WWIII been such a threat.
The reason I mention this in my summary is that the world has very little time left to choose whom it is going to serve. This however does not only involve the people of the world that have not made the decision to bow their knee to Jehovah God, and the Messiah Jesus who was God in the flesh of a man. This also puts the onus on those that claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. If we are the real deal, this is the time to drastically readjust our priorities to make sure God really is #1 in our lives. He MUST be the center of everything we are about and are doing. It is a time of repentance to the extent of asking God to point anything whatsoever is not pleasing to Him in our lives. We cannot afford to just play the game anymore. He said that without holiness, no one will see the LORD! Do we believe Him? We had better because God does not ever say anything for no reason. He means everything He says—100%.
There is a reason why so many people are having dreams and visions of the impending disasters and cataclysms coming as well as thermonuclear World War. God’s Word tells us that it will come on the world like a thief in the night. The other event that the Bible tells us will come as a thief in the night, is the Messiah as the Bridegroom, coming to steal away His bride. The thing that concerns me the most is that the bulk of the church has become so lax in their walk with God, to the point to where they don’t really understand the “fear of the Lord” that the Bible speaks of, that they won’t even know the Bridegroom has come, stolen His true Bride away, and they got left to face the worst time ever in world history. Jesus Himself said that we should have no fear of the one that can kill the body, but genuinely fear the One has the authority to condemn a soul to everlasting destruction.
Living souls never die, they will either live throughout eternity in the Heavenly paradise God has prepared for those that really love Him, or in the unspeakable agony of everlasting destruction, where there is non-ending weeping, torment, gnashing of the teeth as Jesus said, and the absence of God’s Presence, which is the worst of all. We have no idea what that is like, no matter how evil this world has become. It is a place of no hope–for eternity. Yet, this is not what God has wanted for any of us. Salvation has been paid for in full. Please take stock and make sure all is right between you and God, whether you have never humbled yourself before Him, or whether you have accepted Christ as your Savior at some time in your past, but now questioning whether you are living your life with the intimacy with Jesus you should.
Those that miss the “thief in the night” stealing His loving Bride away, will have to deal with the Great Tribulation, or “The Day Of The LORD”. Only 1/3 of the world’s population at best will survive. Those that realize that they’ve missed their LORD’s escape from all this, will have the opportunity to correct their ways, and like Scripture says, “washing their robes to where they are white once more”, but they will most all lose their lives for their belief in the Messiah Jesus.
***To Be Continued***
Keep Looking Up! THE KING IS COMING…very, very SOON! Make Sure You’re Ready.