Sunday, October 31, 2010

Praising Him From East to West

Psalm 150
"Praise the LORD!  
     Praise God in His sanctuary; 
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
     Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
     Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
     Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
     Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
     Let every that has breath praise the LORD.

As I woke up this morning, I imagined the praise in the local churches going up to the Lord, all over the world, as the sun made its way around the globe.  Believers in Israel, lifting their voices...West Africa, doing the same...moving across the Atlantic to the Eastern shores of the Americas...praise going forth...across the Pacific and into Asia, believers all around the globe lifting high the name of Jesus.   

Then I thought about this.

The sun moves from east to west.  The glory of the Lord is going to appear in the same manner, when He returns, like brilliant lightening, from east to west.

I hope you have, or had, a wonderful day of worship today.  May we make every day a day of worship and praise for His excellent greatness as we expectantly watch, for His return!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Appointed Time

Jesus is not going to delay His coming.  He will come at the Father's appointed time and has given us warning as to what is going to happen, what we should do, and what to look for prior to His return...
  • hatred against His followers
  • betrayal
  • the falling away of many
  • abounding lawlessness
  • love going cold
  • the abomination of desolation
  • great persecution
  • false Christs
  • great darkness
  • great light
  • a trumpet
May we be faithful in passing this along to others as we have been commanded to do. 

    The Blessings of Being in the Word - According to Psalm 119

    • Draws us into praise
    • Directs us away from sinfulness
    • Causes us to rejoice
    • There we will see wonderful things
    • Brings delight to the soul
    • Increases our longing for it
    • Gives us counsel
    • Brings revival
    • Gives strength
    • Enlarges the heart for God
    • Draws us away from covetousness
    • Keeps our eyes off of what is worthless
    • Brings hope
    • Gives comfort in affliction
    • Teaches good judgment
    • When others see our hope in the Word, brings them encouragement
    • Brings life
    • Gain wisdom and understanding
    • Experience sweetness 
    • Illumines our walk to keep us from stumbling
    • We find truth because it is truth
    • Are in great treasure
    • Find peace 
    I'm sure I didn't exhaust the list.  So much benefit from putting forth the effort of being in God's Word!

      Monday, October 25, 2010

      Building the Church, the Process of the Fullness of the Gentiles Coming In, and the Salvation of Israel

      In Matthew 16:18 Jesus states that He will build His church.  When He said those words, the formation of the church was yet future.

      At the end of Mt. 23, just before He began His instruction regarding His return, Jesus gives a farewell to the unrepentant nation of Israel.  He wanted to gather Jerusalem to Himself and He used the analogy of a mother hen gathering her chicks.  Unrepentant Israel however was unwilling.  We see the grief in Jesus heart over the hardness of His people's hearts.  Because of the hardness of Israel's heart, Jesus tells His own that her house is being left desolate.  Jesus came to His own people in truth and light and love and offered them the kingdom God had long promised.  With unrepentant hearts, they rejected the King and did not receive the blessings of the kingdom.

      Is Jesus done with the nation of Israel?  Would they never receive the blessings of the kingdom?  Would He never rule over them as their Savior and King?  Was He giving Israel a final farewell?  Here we can insert an emphatic, no.  Jesus said that they would not see Him again until they say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." (Mt. 23:39)

      This is what the crowds had shouted when He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey just a few days earlier.  These words were taken from Psalm 118:26.  But these words, when spoken at that time, though true and appropriate, were said with mostly unrepentant, hard hearts and blind eyes.  One day, all of Israel will say, in faith, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." 

      Paul spoke of the future salvation of national Israel in his letter to the Romans.  Romans 11:25-26:  "For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery-so that you will not be wise in your own estimation-that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.  THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS."

      Isaiah 59:20, 21:  "A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," declares the LORD.  "As for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring," says the LORD, "from now and forever."   

      Jeremiah also prophesied of the future salvation of national Israel.  Jeremiah 31:33-34:  "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  They shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

      Before His ascension into heaven, Jesus commanded His Jewish disciples to go and make disciples of all nations.  From the day of Pentecost until now, Jesus has been building His church while the nation of Israel remains in spiritual blindness.  Jesus is in the process of gathering His "other sheep."  (John 10:16)  Jewish people are being saved during this age because Paul tells us that only a partial hardening of Israel's heart has happened.  The fullness of the Gentiles is in the process of coming in.  In Matthew 24:14, Jesus said the gospel of the kingdom would be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.  The fullness of the Gentiles comes in at the end of the age.  Jesus said that He would be with His church always, even to the end of the age.  (Mt. 28:20)  The process of building His church would end, at the end of the age.

      Where does this put the church in relation to the great tribulation?   It places the church on the earth during the great tribulation.

      Let's take a look at Revelation 12:13-17:  "And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.  But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.  And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.  But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.  So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus."

      From Revelation 12:1-5 we know the woman to be Israel.

      From Revelation 12:6, we know Israel will be protected in the wilderness for the second half of Daniel's 70th Week:  "Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days."

      The end of the age has not occurred when Antichrist desecrates the temple, stopping the sacrifices and setting himself up as God. (Mt. 24)  The fullness of the Gentiles has not yet come in so when Israel flees to the wilderness, it will not be in faith with her Messiah.  When Antichrist is revealed, she will only recognize that Antichrist was not her Messiah. 

      The dragon, or the devil, was enraged with Israel.  The devil has always hated Israel because Jesus came from Israel.  The devil is unable to get to Israel with her protected in the wilderness.  He goes off to make war then with the rest of Israel's children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

      The gospel was first preached to Israel.  The first converts were Jewish believers.  Jewish believers were commissioned to make disciples from all nations.  Who are the rest of Israel's children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus?  The rest of Israel's children is the church that the Lord will still be in the process of building at the time Antichrist desecrates the temple.  As the church is being persecuted by Antichrist, the gospel will be going out.  When the number of the elect martyrs is complete, when the last person in this age has heard the gospel, this age will end, bringing the fullness of the Gentiles in, and the Lord will then turn His focus onto the salvation of Israel, the 144,000 being the first fruits.   

      Zechariah 13:8,9:  "It will come about in all the land," 
      Declares the LORD, 
      "That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; 
      But the third will be left in it.  
      "And I will bring the third part through the fire, 
      Refine them as silver is refined, 
      And test them as gold is tested.  
      They will call on My name, 
      And I will answer them; 
      I will say, 'They are My people,' 
      And they will say, 
      'The LORD is my God.' "

      Revelation 14:1, 4:  "Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mt. Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads...These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste.  These are the one who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.  These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb."

      Oh how precious is the blood of Jesus!

      Daniel 9:24:  "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place."

      I won't post it here, but the twelfth chapter of Zechariah would be a good read now too.  

      Your thoughts on my conclusions are most welcome.

      (By the way, I do think God will use an angel to announce the gospel as well...Check out Rev. 14:6,7.  The second half of Daniel's 70th Week is going to be an amazing time here on earth.)

      One more thought just came to mind...Believing Jews will be in Israel at the time Antichrist desecrates the temple.  It makes sense that as this wave of people flees Judea, believing Jews will be among the crowds...What an opportunity to share the gospel they will have!

      Saturday, October 23, 2010

      Let's Get Biblical Together!

      I never tire blogging about the truths of the return of Christ.

      This post was inspired because I was told the return of Christ was a periphery truth.  In other words, not that important.  Of minor relevance.

      That always lights a fire under me.

      Jesus had much to say about His return.  It is mentioned often throughout scripture.

      Why should we spend time studying the return of Christ?  The first and foremost reason is because it is the great hope of the church!  Second, it is one of the great truths of the Bible. Third, it is part of growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ, something we are expected to do and God's expectations of us are found in His commands.  What He commands us to do is always for our benefit.  Because of all those things we need to study it.  There is disagreement within the body of Christ but truth can be found and when you see it, it is thrilling, because you begin seeing it all throughout scripture.

      I was also told the tribulation was God's judgment on the ungodly.  Does the Bible support that?

      Grab a cup of coffee and let's search for truth together regarding the return of Christ!

      If this is a subject you have never really dug into before, I would encourage you to look up the verses I lay out, if I don't give the actual text itself.  If you are very familiar with this subject, please read along and let me know where I may be in error.

      We're going to search for truth by asking some questions and then digging into what the Bible has to say.

      Let's get biblical together! 

      • Is Jesus instruction on His return really for me?  Should I really be watching for His return?
        At the end of Mark's account of Christ's instruction regarding His return, Jesus says, "What I say to you, I say to all, 'Be on the alert!' "  What He told His immediate disciples is meant for every generation of believers.  Pay attention to what is going on around you.  Don't fall asleep.  Know the signs.  Watch for My return.  (Mk. 13)
        • Does scripture anywhere call all of Daniel's 70th Week, the tribulation?
        In His instruction on His return, Jesus doesn't attribute tribulation to Daniel's 70th Week until the midpoint of the Week.  He tells us that after we see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, great tribulation is going to break out.  The worst ever to come upon the earth.  He called the period before the great tribulation "beginning birth pangs."  He attributed wars and rumors of wars, famine, and earthquakes to these birth pangs.  He said we would also see false Christs.  (Mt. 24:6-8)  The Greek word for "great" is mega.  The Greek word for "tribulation" is thlipsis, meaning a pressing, pressing together, pressure.  It can be translated affliction, anguish, persecution.  At the midpoint of the Week, those on the alert, those who are watching, will see Antichrist stop the sacrifices, and then "mega thlipsis" or great affliction will begin.  (Mt. 24:15-21)
        • Is the great tribulation God's judgment on the ungodly?
        This question can be answered by asking another question - Who is experiencing tribulation or this affliction, this anguish, this persecution, this great pressure?  The elect.  God's called out ones.  God's chosen.  Those who identify with Christ.  Mt. 24:10 tells us many will fall away from the faith at that time.  Their love for Christ and those in the body of Christ will grow cold.  This affliction against the elect cannot be God's judgment according to what Paul wrote the Thessalonians - "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."  (1 Th. 5:9) The Greek word for "wrath" is orge.  It means anger.  Besides anger, it can also be translated as indignation, vengeance, or wrath.  We are not destined for God's anger.  What is God's anger over?  Sin.  We are not destined for His vengeance because Jesus bore God's wrath on our behalf for our sinfulness.  Jesus did say that in the world we will have "tribulation" - Jn. 16:33.  It's the same Greek word used in Mt. 24, "thlipsis."  We will suffer affliction if we identify with Him.  Even now, before this time of great persecution comes upon the elect, when we identify with Christ it will bring persecution.  Those who fall away now and the many who fall away during the great tribulation are no longer willing to identify themselves as Christ followers.

        So we have false Christs and wars and rumors of wars, famine and earthquakes as this seven year period unfolds.  Then at the midpoint, when Antichrist exalts himself as God, great tribulation will break out against those who are willing to identify with Christ and refuse to worship Antichrist.  It is going to be the worst affliction ever to come upon God's chosen ones.  The great tribulation is not God's judgment on the ungodly. 
        • Can the fifth seal martyrs in Revelation 6:9 shed any more light on this?
        When the fifth seal is opened, we find under the alter the souls of those who had been slain because in the heat of affliction they maintained their testimony.  They didn't fall away.  Their love for Christ did not grow cold.  They ask God a question.  "How long O Lord, holy and true, will you refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"  They understand they are in the presence of the Lord because they didn't love their life more than they loved Christ, not because they were under judgment.  They were slain for standing true to Christ and God's Word.

        They are given an answer to their question.  Rev. 6:11 - "...they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also."

        God's avenging wrath against the sinful acts to His elect, and much more sin, would come after the number of martyrs was complete.  God's judgment cannot be falling during the great tribulation or He would be breaking a promise.  He would be killing His own!  Believers are not destined for God's wrath.  Jesus suffered God's wrath for the elect.  The great tribulation is man's affliction on man.  The great tribulation is the hatred of Satan's offspring towards those who have put their trust in the One who crushed their master's head.  Mt. 24:9,10 - "Then they (man) will deliver you (man) to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations (man) because of My name.  At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another." 
        • When does God's wrath begin? 
        Let's take a look at what John sees when the Lamb breaks open the sixth seal.  Revelation 6:12-17:

        "I looked when He broke the sixth seal,
        and there was a great earthquake;
        and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair,
        and the whole moon became like blood;
        and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.
        The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up,
        and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
        Then the kings of the earth
        and the great men
        and the commanders
        and the rich
        and the strong
        and every slave
        and free man
        hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains;
        and they said to the mountains and to the rocks,
        "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne,
        and from the wrath of the Lamb; 
        for the great day of their wrath has come, 
        and who is able to stand?"

        The fifth seal calls for God's wrath.  The sixth seal announces it!
        • How do we determine where the sixth seal occurs during Daniel's 70th Week, the announcement of God's wrath? 
        Great tribulation begins at the midpoint.  When the fifth seal is opened and John see the martyrs under the alter, we can conclude it is opened during the great tribulation.  Therefore the sixth seal will be opened sometime after the midpoint.  The announcement of God's wrath falls somewhere in the second half of Daniel's 70th Week.

        We can also verify this by comparing Revelation 6 and Matthew 24.  Both passages contain references to the cosmic signs of the sun, moon, and stars going out.

        In Mt. 24:29 Jesus instructs that "immediately after the tribulation THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED,
        AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky,
        and the powers of the heavens will be shaken."

        Here is Revelation 6:12-13 again:

        "I looked when He broke the sixth seal,
        and there was a great earthquake;
        and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair,
        and the whole moon became like blood;
        and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind."

        The world is going to be plunged into darkness signaling God's wrath is about to fall.  This sudden darkness will also signal the end of the age, the cutting short of the great tribulation, and the return of Christ with His angels to gather the elect.  (Mt. 24:29-31)  It is very important that we remember that Jesus said the days of great tribulation would be cut short for the sake of the elect.  (Mt. 24:22)  The Greek word for "cut short" is kolobo.  It means to shorten, abridge, or curtail and can be translated as shorten or cut short.  So the great tribulation will not run the entire second half of Daniel's 70th Week.  It will be curtailed otherwise all the elect would be killed.  Christ would have no one to return to!  This means the opening of the sixth seal, the announcement of God's wrath falls somewhere after the midpoint but before the end of the Week.

        This is a good time to look at what Jesus says in Luke 18:7, 8.  This is a great parallel passage to the fifth seal.

        "Now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry out to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?  I tell you that He will bring justice for them quickly.  However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"

        He will find faith, but not much.  Many will fall away and many of the elect are going to be killed.  But when He brings them justice, it will be swift.

        And take a look at 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.  It supports Mt. 24 and Rev. 6, where we have affliction taking place against God's elect and then God's wrath starts to fall:

        "For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed."
        • If the church is subject to great tribulation but not destined for wrath, can we find a reference to it in heaven after the sixth seal?
         After the sixth seal is opened and God's wrath is announced, what does Revelation tell us happens next?

        Revelation 7:1-8:  The 144,000 are sealed.  12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel.

        Then John sees a great multitude which no one could count, from every tribe, people, tongue, and nation.  (Jesus said to make disciples of all nations right before He returned to the Father.)  This great multitude is standing before the throne and before the Lamb.  They are in white robes and have palm branches in their hands.  They are crying out, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."

        John wants to know where this great multitude came from.  In Revelation 7:14 he is told they came out of the great tribulation.  The "mega thlipsis."  Same Greek words here as used in Mt. 24!  The "mega thlipsis" that had been cut short for the sake of the elect.

        This is none other than the afflicted-gathered elect, the raptured church, right where they should be!  They are in heaven, as Lamb is getting ready to pour out His wrath.  In Revelation 7:16 we are told this multitude will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore.  The number of the elect martyrs was complete.  The Lamb opened the sixth seal.  The great tribulation was cut short.  The earth was plunged into blackness.  The end of the age had come.

        Do you remember Christ's words to the church before He went back into heaven to make intercession for us?

        "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" - Mt. 28:20.

        The church, not destined for wrath is now with the Lamb.

        The Lamb is getting ready to pour out His wrath.

        The Lamb is getting ready to bring justice to His elect.

        The Lamb is getting ready to deal out retribution, to pay back affliction with affliction.

        Are you still skeptical about whether this great multitude is the church?

        In 1 Cor. 15:20-23 we are told by Paul that the resurrection takes place at the return of Christ.

        "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.  For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own order:  Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming."

        In John 6:40 Jesus said that it was the will of His Father, "that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day" - at the end of the age, when He returns and gathers the elect!

        The church is going to enter the great tribulation.  The church will not be raptured before the beginning of Daniel's 70th week.  But the church is not destined for God's wrath.

        Now look what happens at the opening of the seventh seal...

        Revelation 8:1:  "When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour."

        The great multitude has stopped singing praises to the Lamb.

        The angels fall silent.

        Something really, really big is about to happen.

        John sees seven angels.  Seven trumpets are given to them.  After the first trumpet is blown, hail and fire mixed with blood is thrown down to the earth and a third of the earth was burned.

        Now this is God's wrath!!!

        So for the remainder of Daniel's 70th Week God's wrath is poured out onto the earth.  God poured out His wrath on Jesus for the sinfulness of the elect.  The church, God's elect, is safely in heaven when He pours it out on the earth.

        Let me give you one more reference to the cosmic signs that we saw in Mt. 24 and in Rev. 6.  It is found in Joel 2:30-31:

        "I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
        blood, fire, and columns of smoke.
        The sun will be turned to darkness
        and the moon into blood
        before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes." 
        • What is the day of the Lord?
        It is mentioned in the Old Testament and Paul talks about it in his letters to the Thessalonians.  Peter mentions it in 2 Peter 3.

        A study of the day of the Lord passages also sheds light on the return of Christ.

        (Now might be a good time to warm up your tea or coffee.  Just don't forget to come back.)

        The day of the Lord is His judgment and destruction of ungodly men.  (2 Peter 3:7)

        Isaiah 2:10-12 tells us it is also when man will be humbled and the Lord alone will be exalted.

        "Enter the rock and hide in the dust from the terror of the LORD and from the splendor of His majesty.  (Remember the sixth seal?!)  The proud look of man will be abased and the loftiness of man will be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.  For the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty and against everyone who is lifted up, that he may be abased."

        Antichrist, at the midpoint of the Week, will exalt himself as God.  (2 Th. 2:4)  During the day of the Lord, Antichrist will be brought down along with all the ungodly and all the scoffers, and the Lord only will be lifted high.

        Malachi 4:1 also has a reference:

        "For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evil doer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts."

        Peter said the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.  (2 Peter 3:11)

        Remember the seventh seal and the first trumpet?!

        Paul says the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, but not for believers.  We are not in darkness that the day would overtake us like a thief.  (1 Th. 5:4)

        It will come like a thief for unbelievers.

        While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction will come upon them.  (1 Th. 5:3)  They are saying peace and safety because they are not suffering affliction under the rule of Antichrist, like believers.  They have aligned with Antichrist, taking his mark, so they can proceed with normal, every day life, buying and selling, working, earning money and running businesses.  They are the ones who are marrying and giving in marriage like the ungodly did in the days of Noah before the judgment by flood came.   They will be scoffing and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming?"

        God's wrath against sinful mankind first came in the form of the world-wide flood, except Noah and the members of his household found undeserved favor with God.  God's wrath will come again in the form of fire.  All the elect who have God's undeserved favor on them during the day of the Lord will either be in heaven with Him or will be under God's protection on the earth.

        The Thessalonians, suffering affliction, had been misled that they were in the day of the Lord.  They thought they had missed the return of Christ and the gathering of the church.  Paul wrote to them that they couldn't be in the day of the Lord because the great departure from the faith had not taken place nor had the man of lawlessness been revealed.  Antichrist had not taken his seat in the temple, exalting himself as God.  The return of Christ and the rapture would take place after those things happened.  (2 Th. 2:1-4)

        When the man of lawlessness is revealed, the church will enter into the great tribulation.  The look-a-like believers will fall away.  The true elect will suffer great affliction.  It is not God's judgment.  The cosmic signs will occur at some point before the end of Daniel's 70th Week, announcing the day of the Lord, announcing the end of the age, announcing the end of the great tribulation, announcing the return of Christ, announcing the gathering of the elect, announcing that God's wrath is about to fall.  When the cosmic signs occur, believers are to look up because the blackness and the shaking of the earth is announcing the drawing near of the Savior.  (Luke 21:25-28)  The skies will open up and we will see our Deliverer.  But as the earth quakes, as the earth is plunged into darkness and the heavens are opened up, the ungodly will realize that God's judgment is coming upon them, sudden destruction!  No more peace and safety!  They will be crying out for the rocks to fall on them!

        Genesis 1:14 should be mentioned here.

        "Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years.'  "

        One star announced Christ's first coming to be the Sin Bearer for the elect.  The sun, moon, and all the hosts of stars will announce His return for the gathering of the elect and the judgment of the ungodly and the unrepentant.

        Let's recap.

        The week begins with a signing of a covenant.  Will we see that?  It is not one of the things for which Jesus said to watch.  It is possible then that we won't.  But we will see wars and hear of wars, we'll experience and hear of earthquakes.  We'll experience and hear of famine.  We'll experience and hear of false Christs.  Those who are alert and watching will see and know exactly who Antichrist is.  He will be revealed at the midpoint of Daniel's 70th Week.  Great tribulation will break out against God's elect.  God's elect will be killed, but not all.  Then the great tribulation will be cut short.  We'll know its over when the world is plunged into darkness on a bright day.  If it is night in our part of the world, a milky white moon will turn red and the stars will fall from their place.  If we are asleep, we'll be woken up by a massive quake.

        Of this day, no man knows, or the hour.  But it will fall somewhere in the second half of Daniel's 70th Week.  After Antichrist is revealed.  When the number of the elect martyrs is complete, Christ will return and gather the elect.  Then, for the remainder of the week, through the sounding of the trumpets and the pouring out of the bowls, ending with Armaggedon, God's wrath will fall.  Revelation 16:17 - "Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne saying, "It is done."

        DANIEL'S SEVENTIETH WEEK=Signing of covenant/Beginning Birth Pangs>>>Great Tribulation>>>God's Wrath 

        Christ's return/the rapture falls in between the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord's wrath, somewhere in the second half of Daniel's 70th Week.

        These are truths I see being supported all over scripture now...

        Romans 8:33-39 has taken on such wonderful meaning to me, but I'll let you look it up.

        Wednesday, October 20, 2010

        Lemon Pie Theology - Part Two

        I have some good news for is not sinful to enjoy food!  Paul told Timothy that God richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.  Food is meant to be enjoyed.  Enjoying food is biblical.  We can have a piece of lemon pie, or whatever our favorite dessert is, and enjoy it and not feel guilty. 

        Here is another truth.  Our eating should be a stage for the glory of God.  God's Word tells us that in everything we are to bring glory to God, even in our eating (and drinking.)  We were made for His glory and we are called to display His glory in everything we do.  This then, includes eating.

        So when does eating become sinful?  When does our eating miss the mark at glorifying God?  Eating becomes sinful anytime it becomes more about us than it does about the Lord.  At the center of the story is the Lord.  When He created us, He created us into His story.  We were made for His glory and we are called to display His glory.  We become glory thieves (a great term coined by Paul Tripp) in our eating when we turn our eating habits into making it about us.  A thin person can eat sinfully just as much as the person who overeats.

        Our calling as believers is to set our minds on things above.  How we think directly affects our behavior.  When all we think about is that next cookie or that we are too fat, we are being sinful because we've placed an idol in our hearts.  We've made our eating about our glory.  

        Much more could be written about this.  I will end though by saying let's humbly and honestly be examining ourselves in this area, and when the Holy Spirit graciously convicts us, may we confess our sinfulness, that we are being glory thieves, and may we put the Lord back on His throne, which is so rightfully His. 

        If this is an area in which you really struggle, there are brothers and sisters in the body of Christ who would love to come alongside and help.  It is an area in our lives where we all miss the mark, every day.  But as we give our thought life over to the Lord, when we set our minds on Him and His Word, replacing our sinful thoughts with biblical thoughts, and then act on them, our behavior will bring glory to the Lord and we will shine brightly as His images bearers.  

        Tuesday, October 19, 2010

        Lemon Pie Theology - Part One

        My husband was sitting in his easy chair this morning with an 8 1/2x11 sheet of paper in his hand.  He was reading it and every once in awhile a chuckle would slip past his lips.  I asked him what he was reading.  He said it was about the topic for his next Men's Bible Study.  I asked him to let me read it.  I too, then,was chuckling.  Well, here, you read it.  It was written by the leader of the study.  In my next post I'll give you my thoughts on the subject but for now, just enjoy the humor.

        I have a friend who is now in heaven where he is far, far away from every temptation of lemon pie.  Years ago, we determined that all of the talk about dieting in our culture was a subtle tactic of the cold war.  Enemies of the United States, we figured out, were behind the push to be thin and healthy (which by the way could make you the object of envy and we all know that envy is sin.)  Here is how it worked...

        The object was to totally take away the pleasure of food which would result in a grumpy population.  Grumpy couples would fight more and that would lead to divorce and divorce would lead to the breakdown of the family and that would in turn lead to the collapse of our culture.

        To combat this, when stressful situations would arise, we could call each other and go out for a piece of lemon pie.  There were few problems in his life that could be lightened by a good piece of lemon pie.

        As fun as it is to reminsce about our irresponsible culinary activity, there is a serious side the subject.  It appears that gluttony has been taken out of our dictionary and replaced with the phrase "eating disorder."  What is it?  Is there anyone guilty of it anymore?  Is it sin explained away?  It is described as excessive eating but what is excessive?  How many of us are one french fry away from this sin?

        In the Bible, the Cretans apparently had the reputation of being, "liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons" - Titus 1:12.  Should a man with a pot belly participate in pot luck gatherings?  Should there be a weigh in requirement to go to the church picnic?  Is the world watching and concluding that many churches are filled with modern day Cretans?  Our Lord was accused of being a glutton - Mt. 11:19, Luke 11:34, so we cannot be fearful of false accusations.

        Most of us like to play our metabolism card when accused of overeating.  In Proverbs 28:24 we read that, "He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife; but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat."  But can that be a life verse?  We certainly can't argue that all fat cells are apostles from God.  The Old Testament wisdom writer says, "The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself" - Proverbs 11:25.  I tried to explain to my wife for years that I am a little overweight because I am generous and God has rewarded me with a fat soul but she is more than a little skeptical.

        There is clearly nothing wrong with having a piece of lemon pie but there is something very wrong with a piece of lemon pie having us.  If we are to be free of guilt from this subject, we must know the difference and stay far away from the line.

        Saturday, October 16, 2010

        The Sovereignty of God

        In response to humanity's deepest, heartfelt questions, God sweetly speaks of His sovereignty. "Take heart, I am in complete control.  I am the definition of holiness and love.  All of my ways are right and true, all of my decisions are best, and I will not rest until my plan has been completed."

        There is comfort in your moment of greatest mystery.  There is encouragement in your time of greatest confusion, and hope in your moment of greatest discouragement.  Your world is not a world of constant chaos controlled by impersonal forces.  Your destiny is not in your hands or in the hands of other people.  You are held in the hands of your heavenly Father, who rules everything!  You are a child of the King of Kings and you live under the shadow of his wing.  You are part of his plan.  That means that the exercise of his power and authority is for your blessing.

        You and I can rest in the middle of deep and personal mysteries.  We can press on when little around us makes sense.  There is reason in the mystery and chaos, because behind it all stands the One in control of it all.

        What does this mean for each of us?  It means peace when my brain is unable to put it all together.  A Christian's inner peace is never based on his ability to take the teachings of Scripture and figure it all out.  Our peace always rests on the presence, power, and character of the Lord.  Because he rules heaven and earth according to his wise plan, I need not live in anxiety and fear.  God's absolute sovereignty guarantees the fulfillment of each of his promises to every one of his children.  


        Every time you love your enemy, you are resting in the sovereignty of God.  Every time you speak lovingly and softly in the face of someone else's anger, you are choosing to rest in the sovereignty of God.  Every time you resist the temptation to win an argument at all costs, you are resting in God's sovereignty.  Because he rules, nothing you do in obedience to him is ever futile - Paul David Tripp.

        Friday, October 15, 2010

        More Tripp Nuggets

        "God never intended us to simply be the objects of His love.  We are also called to be instruments of that love in the lives of others."  

        "Christ has given His church leaders, not to bear the full ministry load of the body of Christ, but to equip each member to join in God's work of personal transformation."

        "The combination of powerful truth wrapped in self-sacrificing love is what God uses to transform people."

        (Yep, I agree, about three years worth of inspiring blog post nuggets ahead of me!)  

        Thursday, October 14, 2010

        Oh, the Sweetness!

        Charlie turned one month on Sunday.  Where has the time gone?!  He is smiling now, focusing on you and your voice...


        Those eyes!

        Thank you Lord for my precious family!

        Tuesday, October 12, 2010

        I Cannot Leave it Alone

        I was told recently that I should be content to leave the matter of Christ's second coming to just the truth that He is going to come again and that I should not be concerned with the how and the when of His return.  The reason is because members of the body of Christ disagree on this.  Think about that for a minute.  I should leave it alone because not are all in agreement on the how and the when of Christ's return.  Isn't that all the more reason to study it?  To understand and discover the truth about it?  What if there are ramifications if I don't understand all that has to do with the truth of the Lord's return?  (And there are!)  What if I were to do that with every area of scripture where there is disagreement, just leave it alone?  There is disagreement over how long creation took place.  So let's not study Genesis.  There is disagreement over whether or not there should be women pastors.  So let's not study the qualifications for pastors.  There is disagreement over whether or not you can lose your salvation.  So let's not study all those passages that teach on salvation!  Ludicrous, right?  If I were to leave the parts of scripture alone where there is disagreement I'd have to walk away from it!
        May it never be!

        Paul wrote to Timothy that he should study the truth so as to rightly handle it.  To do so otherwise would bring shame upon him.  He also told Timothy that all (100% word!) scripture is profitable for teaching.

        Being a diligent student of the word is God's will for every believer.  It is what God uses to sanctify us, to conform us into image bearers of His Son.  The sum of God's word is truth.  (Psalm 119:160)  When you add it all up, you have truth.  Every single part of scripture is truth.  As a whole it is truth.  Every word of scripture is God-breathed and teaches truth.  Scripture gives us the truth about man, God, sin, salvation, creation, faith, Jesus, His return, His kingdom, the church, Israel, Satan, angels, demons, godly living, money, forgiveness, evil, heaven, and hell.  The list goes on and on.  It is truth because the Author is the one and only true God and He cannot lie.

        We are commanded to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.  We should never stop studying God's word because all are not in agreement over what it says.  We should always strive to be gracious with those who disagree with us about what it says.  May we quickly correct what was erroneously held to be truth and when we have found truth, may we always stand firm in it.

        Monday, October 11, 2010

        With All Your Heart

        One of the great nuggets I took away from the Women's Fall Conference at Conrad Mission Church:

        When God commands that we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength - He wants complete, intelligent, purposeful, emotional, sacrificial, committed devotion to Him which causes action in our lives.

        Wednesday, October 6, 2010

        Designed to be Revelation Receivers

        Ok, so I have become a Paul Tripp fan. Love this quote of his from his book "Instruments in the Redeemer's Hand..."

        Foolishness convinces us that we are ok, that our rebellious, irrational choices are right and best. Foolishness is a rejection of our basic nature as human beings. We were never created to be our own source of wisdom. We were designed to be revelation receivers, dependent on the truths God would teach us, and applying those truths to our lives. We were created to base our interpretations, choices, and behavior on his wisdom. Living outside of this will never work.

        Broken Bones

        That title is an attention getter, isn't it?  Paul Tripp is featured today at Desiring God's blog.  He wrote a post about how one of the ways the Lord transforms our selfish bent is to break our bones. 

        Here's a snippet of the post:

        "In case you failed to notice, God’s work of delivering you and me from our addiction to self and sin and transforming us into his image isn’t always a comfortable process. There are times, in order to make our crooked and fickle hearts straight and loyal, God has to break some bones. I will again confess, I don’t like broken bones!"

        And I loved this thought of Paul's -

        "If you are God’s child and you humbly recognize and admit that the battle with sin still rages in your heart, then tell yourself that those difficulties are the sure sign of his rescuing and redemptive love."

        We are so prone to wander, we need broken bones from time to time, to keep us close to our Shepherd. 

        For the whole, great article, click here.

        Monday, October 4, 2010

        Fall on Mt. Rainier

        My daughter Annie loves to hike.  Last week, she and Tim went on a loop trail up in the Cascade mountains, on Mt. Rainier.  Tim captured some breath-taking shots of the mountain and the fall colors.  Enjoy the album by clicking here...  You'll also come across gorgeous waterfalls and black bears.  Just for fun, see if you can spot the Nike snow swoosh in one of the pictures...