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Oh What A Thing Fear Is!

SIH STSTA ICONEver since I was a you boy at home, I enjoy watching scary movies.  John Carpenter’s 1982 movie “The Thing” is at the top of my “favorites” list.  It is a movie about scientist’s trapped with an alien in an Arctic research station.  The catch is this… the alien can assume the shape and identity of any scientist at the station.  You can imagine the basic idea of the movie, the scientists are constantly in fear, not knowing who is human and who is the alien. It is my ideal type of horror movie… not so gross and bloody, but  scary.  If you want to see a few scenes from this movie take a look on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouZkkIsLiNg You might think that I enjoy being afraid.  Well, yes and no.  Yes, I enjoy being afraid when I know my fear stems from a movie that is simply entertainment.  I know in just a few hours, at the close of the movie, everything will be ok.  However, when I face fears that exist in reality, I have an opposite reaction to them…  I HATE THEM. One of the most difficult things in life, for me, is to be forced to face my worst fears.  The longer I live, the more I am noticing one important truth… my fears are at their worst when I am not thinking about my Lord.  Where faith is, fear shrinks away. Within the confines of Scripture, we can find many principles about how a Christian can get through the fearful times in their life… THE SCRIPTURE: And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king. And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. (1Sa 12:19-24) THE STUDY: In our text, the Lord had given the nation of Israel judges to rule over them.  A judge had been given the authority from God to enforce the laws of the Lord, but they could not make any new laws.   Israel saw that the other nations were ruled by kings.  These kings had both the authority to uphold existing laws and to write new laws.  Out of jealousy, the Israelites demanded that Samuel place into office a king, so they would be like all other nations.  (1 Sam 8:) It is easy to miss the horrible sin they were committing… by asking for a King, Israel was saying, the laws of God were not sufficient meet their needs, they needed a King who could add to the laws of God. What a horrible attitude to have!  No wonder, when they realized what they had done great fear fell upon them. In our Scripture, we find the basic principles Christians are to follow when faced with fears of any type: “And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.” Principle #1 – At times, we bring fearful times upon ourselves due to the sinful choices we make.  By living lives of obedience to Christ we can avoid some of our fearful times. (Exo 20:19-20) “And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness:… For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.” Principle #2 – Despite our past failures, by placing the Lord first in our lives (through repentance), we can rest assured the Lord will be with us… He is a great, faithful, forgiving Lord. (Psa 130:4) “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you:” Principle #3 – During fearful times we should be thinking of others and not just ourselves.  We should be prayerfully seeking to meet the spiritual and physical needs of those around us.  By concentrating on others, the Lord helps take our mind off our fears and trials we are facing. (1 Thess 5:23-25) “but I will teach you the good and the right way:” Principle #4 –  The fearful times of our life are great opportunites to present the truths of God to others.  This can be done through our words as we tell others about Him goodness to us during fearful times.  But also, it can be done through our lives as they watch us handle the fearful times with grace and peace.  (James 5:10) “Only fear the LORD” Principle #5 –  During our fearful times, as we concentrate on the Lord’s greatness in authority, power, faithfulness, and wisdom.  This develops a reverence or “fear” of Him in our hearts and minds.  In His greatness we can find comfort, and assurance, knowing He is in control and accompanying us in our daily walk. (Gen 15:1, Deut 20:3-4, Deut 31:6-8, 1 Chron 28:20, 2 King 6:16-17) “and serve him in truth with all your heart” Principle #6 – Fearful times in the life of a Christian should bring us closer to Him.   Our service should be greater, our relationship to Him more intimate.  This will lead to greater strength and peace during the troublesome times. (Zech 8:13) “for consider how great things he hath done for you.” Principle #7 – We are to be remembering His past gracious acts on our behalf, saying as King David did, “David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.”(1Sa 17:37, Isa 43:1, Joel 2:21) THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION For the Christian…. In these times of economic and political uncertainty, fear is beginning to enter the lives of even the strongest of Christians.  During these fearful times, please remember… Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  (Php 4:6-7) (see also Matt 6:25-34) For those who have never trusted in Christ… Your main concern should be on your eternal destiny… And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  (Mat 10:28) Above all else, please keep in mind, if you are eternally secure in Christ all the events of this world fade in comparison.  Just knowing that you are going home to be with the Lord for an eternity, takes the  sting out of even the greatest life threatening trials we may face in life…. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.   (1Co 15:55-57) Look to Jesus Christ and turn to Him in faith.  He will forgive you of your sins and be with you throughout the trials this world may throw your way….  Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isa 55:6-7) If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both. Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Who’s Our Boss?

SIH STSTA ICON(Rob’s Note: Following my Monday posting of “The True Wonder Of Nature… Ignored!”  I have received several emails asking for further information on why the Bible would say that if we reject God as our Creator, it results in many other sins to be committed. 

I was planning on posting today’s blog entry sometime next month.  However, I thought that this entry might help to answer your questions, so I have chosen to post it today.  If you had questions about the relationship between rejecting our Creator and the sin that flourishes around us, please review Monday’s posting after you read this entry. 

It is my privilege to answer any questions you may still have about Monday’s posting,  just leave a comment or send me an email.  It is only through your input that I can know what needs clarification.  Thank you for graciously reading my blog, you are all a great blessing to me.)

In the mid 1980’s, Tony Danza, Judith Light and Alyssa Milano starred in a situation comedy called “Who’s the Boss?”   This show was a classic about a professional woman, her male housekeeper, and their children.  Over the course of the show’s 8 year run, the continual theme was who was running the household, the woman or her housekeeper.   Many times, the housekeeper would override the woman’s instructions, creating havoc for the entire household.

If you are not sure if you’ve ever seen this show, just listen to the theme song, it is one of the most memorable theme songs on TV.  If you’ve heard it, you will recognize it in a heartbeat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBKsHdZJjZM

In a sitcom, confusion about who runs things can be humorous and harmless.  But in the world today, our society is falling apart, due to the confusion concerning to whom we should submit.   It is a very serious issue… we are watching our society implode due to a lack of recognition of the ultimate authority that is over us.

Who holds the ultimate authority over us?  What should our attitude be towards this authority?  The Bible gives us an answer to both of these questions…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?(Rom 9:20-24)

THE STUDY:

Today we complain about our appearance, or maybe our vocation, or our financial status in life, or even our family and friends.  In our text, the people were complaining about their eternal destiny (Rom 9:10-19).

Paul, by the inspiration of God, begins to address these complaints…

Man was complaining to the Creator of the Universe, the true God over all, Jehovah.  Paul makes it plain that NO ONE has the right to complain to the One who created him.  Why not? Because the God who created us has every right to create us as He pleases.  (vs 20)

If a potter desired to make a cup without a handle, he has every right to do so.  However, if He desires to make one with a handle, he can do this as well.  Does the cup without the handle have a right to complain to the potter due to his lack of a handle?

Oh course not, Why not?  Because the potter was not obligated to make only cups with handles.  SINCE HE WAS THE CREATOR HE COULD MAKE THE CUP AS HE PLEASES.  The cup is obligated to recognize his creator and submit to his desires.

In the same way, if He desired to show the greatness of His wrath in my life, He certainly could do it.  But He desired to save my soul from sin and withhold the judgment I deserved. In either case, He would be fair and just (vs 21-24)

Since all men deserve eternal punishment, He can allow it into any one’s life.  If He chooses to show His grace and mercy in the life of some, He has every right to do it as well.   We are obligated to recognize Him as our Creator, therefore recognize His authority and submit to His wishes for us. (Isa 64:8)

What’s THE major problem in our world today?  We are in denial about Jehovah God being our Creator.   Because of this, we do not see the need to submit to His will for our life.  This is why we see such heinous sin taking place in our society.  Once we denied Him as Creator, we no longer see the need to submit to His desires for us.  This is the insidious result of denying His Creatorship.  This is the state of our society today… we have rejected His Creatorship and, therefore, no longer see the need to submit to His will.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

As a Christian, we need to recognize that God is our Creator.  He is the Creator of both our physical and spiritual life.  Oh, what a responsibility we have to submit to His desires for us.

Our life’s slogan should be…Since God is my Creator and my Savior, I owe Him my all.  He has every right to do with me as He pleases, I have no right to complain to Him about my lot in life. No exceptions.  He has already blessed me above measure with my salvation.  I am only to always be in alignment with His will.  (see Jer 18:3-6)

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Remember, He is our Creator (Gen 1:-2:), therefore, we are obligated to conform to His desires for our lives.   What is His utmost desire for us?  To come before Him, humbly trusting Him to do what we cannot do… save us from our sins.  If you would like more information about receiving the forgiveness He so graciously gives,  please take a look at the page labeled “All About Salvation” just beneath my blog heading above.  May the Lord bless you.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

The True Wonder Of Nature… Ignored!

SIH STSTA ICONThe appreciation of nature is on the upswing.  As time progresses, the value of nature is being recognized and more effort is being made to preserve it.  More groups are being formed to help conserve nature and the resources we all hold dear.  You can see a partial list of the many of the groups now in existence at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_environmental_organizations

What is amazing is this …. Although some of the greatness and awe of nature is receiving more attention, the ultimate purpose of nature is being totally ignored.  What am I talking about?  The greatest purpose of nature is to reveal the Creator to all mankind.  Today we appreciate the creature (nature) without acknowledging the Creator that made and sustains it…

THE SCRIPTURE:

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:.. God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;… (Rom 1:20-31)

THE STUDY:

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; –

The Lord made all nature around us with the ultimate purpose of clearly revealing His greatness and power to all mankind.

so that they are without excuse:

For those who have never received His written Word (Bible) they are still held accountable for the revelation of God that they have received through nature.  No human being can stand before God and say…. “I have never received a message of your existence, therefore, you cannot judge me for rejecting you.”    Due to nature, they are without excuse.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

These verses describe the process of absolute rejection of nature’s message…

step#1 – When God was revealed to them in nature, they choose to ignore that revelation.  Therefore they do not praise, nor thank, the Lord for His creation as they should.

step#2 – They become vain in their imaginations… in other words, they seek to explain the existence of nature using empty, worthless theories to replace the true Creator (evolution, big bang theory, panspermia, etc, etc)

step#3 – Because they rejected clear, obvious truth about the Creator God, God then allows them to enter a state of spiritual darkness.  They brought this darkness upon themselves by rejecting the truth they had been graciously given.  God simply “stands back” and allows them to continue on in their error (instead of actively intervening on their behalf and turning them back to the truth.)

step#4 – Next they believe their own lies and come to the conclusion, by denying God’s role as Creator, they have become wiser than those who worship God.

In actuality, they have become fools. By proclaiming themselves to be wise they have put creation (themselves) on the same level as the Creator. This manifests itself in idol worship… man worshipping themselves or other members of the created world (sun, moon, stars, rivers, air, fire etc etc etc)

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Following their descent into spiritual darkness, in which they honor themselves and other parts of nature as the truly wise ones… they now begin to abuse their bodies, thinking they know better than God how to use them.   They begin to worship their own pleasure and lusts more than the Creator God they have long ago rejected.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

One of the greatest ways that mankind can misuse and abuse their bodies is through homosexual acts.  These acts not only seek to fulfill sinful lusts, but they also abuse their bodies by perverting the natural sexual union for which the male and female were intended.   Even a cursory look at the male and female sexual anatomy clearly shows they were made for union with the opposite sex.  To enter into same sex relations is to pervert the very nature of the male/female creation. It is a grave sin in the eyes of God.  It is a mark of reprobation.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Due to their original choice to reject nature’s message of the Creator God, God now turns them over to a “reprobate”  (totally worthless for the cause of Christ, shipwrecked, unbelieving) mind which leads to a sinful, socially harmful lifestyle.

Some of the aspects of this type of lifestyle include being consumed with:

unrighteousness, – treating others unfairly;

fornication, – intimacy outside of law of God;

wickedness, – planning wickedness;

covetousness, – to desire possessions of another, greed;

maliciousness; – to spread unlawfulness;

full of envy, – jealousy;

murder, – taking of physical life, abortions, euthanasia;

debate, – enjoy quarreling, stirring up arguments;

deceit, – to group together to plan harm to others;

malignity; – totally consumed by evil;

whisperers, – to tell secrets told in confidence;

Backbiters, – to speak and find fault behind back of others;

haters of God, – reject God and His authority;

despiteful, – to avenge grudge by harm;

proud, – to put self above others;

boasters, – to tell of own supremacy;

inventors of evil things, – originator of plan of wickedness;

disobedient to parents, – rebel against parental authority;

Without understanding, – calling evil good and good evil;

covenantbreakers, – to break contracts, unlawful divorces;

without natural affection, – homosexuality, parents abusing children;

implacable, – cannot be brought to peace, cannot be satisfied;

unmerciful: – unable to forgive, unable to show compassion;

All of these above seem to be on the increase in our nation… remember, these things are the result of purposefully rejecting divine revelation.  Aren’t these things to be expected when you think of how our nation has rejected God and is running from Him as fast as it possibly can?

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

To lost and saved alike….

If we were to find a Timex watch lying on a sidewalk, the thought would not occur to us that just by accident it came into being.  By examining it’s construction it is plain to see that someone had to engineer the watch, and then manufacture it, according to stringent specifications.

How blind is mankind, when science is consistently revealing complexities within nature and it’s harmonious functioning and still say that it came into being by accident?

The greatness of nature is a continuous witness to the greatness of its Creator.  Let us all come to a fresh recognition of our Great Creator God and the need to submit to his will and ways. In doing so, we will be pleasing our God; we will be receiving eternal life; and creating a moral, pleasant society in which to live.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Gloom, Despair, and Agony On Me…!

SIH STSTA ICONBack in the 60s and 70s a TV show called “Hee Haw” hit the airwaves.   It was one of the funniest series I have ever seen.   One of the funniest re-occurring features involved a group of “good old country boys” that were feeling sorry for themselves.   They recounted their misfortunes in a song entitled…”Gloom Despair and Agony On Me”.

If you would like to relive the good ole Hee Haw days, you can watch it on the RFD-TV network, or you can see the skit on youtube… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQ5ob9B9yD4

Many times, as Christians, we start to feel sorry for ourselves as we face the trials and difficulties this life has to offer.   The Psalmist in Psalm 119: put a different type of “twist” on the trials he faced in during his lifetime… he looked beyond the pain he felt during the trying times and he concentrated on the end results of those trials.  His conclusion about those trials can be found in Psa 119:65-72…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes. The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart. Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law. It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. (Psa 119:65-72)

THE STUDY:

Why does the Lord allow bad things to happen to good people?  As pastor, this is one of the most common questions that hurting, faithful, Christians have asked me.  Only the Lord will be able to give us a complete answer as to why we face trials in life, but one thing is certain…  TRIALS BRING A CHRISTIAN CLOSER TO THE LORD.   In every case, after the trial is over, a true Christian will readily admit, they are closer to the Lord after the trial than when the trial first began.

Trials in life will always bring the true Christian closer to the Lord. This is the point that King David, the author of Psalm 119: clearly proclaims.  If you remember, David had faced many trials during his lifetime.  His life had been threatened by King Saul following his defeat of Goliath (1 Sam 18:8-9); He had miserably failed the Lord in the incident with Bathsheba, which resulted in the loss of his child (2 Sam 11: and 12:); and later in his life His own son, Absalom, rebelled against his reign seeking to overthrow his kingdom by force.  This led to Absalom’s early death. (2 Sam 17: and 18:). In spite of all these problems, and others, David was able to thank the Lord for the trials because they had brought him closer to the Lord.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those of us who are saved….

In Psalm 119:65-72, David clearly reveals to us how to deal with the trials we face in our lives…..

Principle #1 Count the blessings that the Lord gives to us…

“Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.”

“Thou art good, and doest good”

David starts by saying that the Lord had treated him well during his lifetime. In spite of the trials, David recognized the presence of God’s grace throughout his lifetime, and the forgiveness God had given to him.

Principle #2 – Recognize the value of His Word, especially during times of trials

The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.”

Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.

David compares the value of the Word to the value of precious metals.  His conclusion?  The Word is of far greater eternal, spiritual value than all the riches this world has to offer.   David also compared the wealth and excess of his enemies with his possession of God’s Word.  His conclusion?  God’s Word brought him much greater joy than his enemies’ enjoyment of great excess and wealth.

Principle #3 – Always desire to grow in knowledge of Him and His Word; while retaining faith in His Word…

“Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.”

“teach me thy statutes.”

“The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.”

David knew the value of His Word and, therefore, craved to receive more knowledge of His Word. As David trusted in God’s Word, he realized great blessings and peace even in the midst of the trials he faced.  Think about what our life would be like without God’s Word… no comfort, no peace, no direction for our life, no counsel, no wisdom….  No wonder David was craving a greater understanding of His Word as he faced the trials of his life!

Principle #4 – Concentrate on the end result of the trials we are facing….

“Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.;”

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

This is the hardest principle indeed… to look beyond the pain and sorrow and to see the end result of the trials we are facing… a closer walk with Him based on a greater knowledge of His Word!   What a privilege it is to face trials… Let’s thank Him for the trials we face, knowing they will result in a closer walk with Him.

For those of us who have never trusted in Christ as their Savior….

Please keep in mind, the many precious promises the Lord gives in His Word apply only to those who are saved.  Until an individual places his trust in Christ, he cannot claim to be a recipient of God’s gracious intervention in His life during times of trials and heartaches.

Are you tired of facing your trials alone?  Do you desire to know without a doubt, that the trials you face are for your good and your ultimate gain? (Roms 8:28) Do you need a friend that sticks closer to you than a brother, someone who will NEVER leave you nor forsake you? (Pro 18:24, Hebs 13:5)

If this is your greatest desire then look to The Lord Jesus Christ and submit your life, and your eternity to Him.   Be willing to turn from your sin and begin to serve Jesus as Your Lord. (Ezek 33:14, Acts 17:29-32)  He will abundantly pardon you. (Isa 55:7)  He will save you form your sin and adopt you into His family. (Gals 4:4-6) You will never be alone again.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Change We Can Believe In… It’s Not Just An Election Slogan!

SIH STSTA ICONIn 2008, during the presidential campaign, the slogan “Change We Can Believe In” was brought to our attention… over, and over, and over, and over again!   It was the slogan chosen for the Obama presidential campaign in an attempt to capture the desires of the electorate.   Apparently, based upon the result of the campaign, the slogan had hit a nerve with the people.

The desire for genuine change applies to many, many people, cutting across all age, gender and race barriers.  Talk to almost anyone in today’s time… they are unsatisfied, and wanting change to take place in all aspects of their lives.  The problem comes when we impatiently demand change, any change, without considering its end results.  Many times this type of change leaves us worse off than we were prior to the change.

The Lord helps us to recognize the most important, beneficial change that a person can experience in their life.  Let’s see what type of change will always lead to our benefit and satisfaction…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,…  (2Co 5:17-18)

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mar 1:14-15)

THE STUDY:

In 2 Cor 5:17-18 – we read about the greatest change a person can experience in their life… this change is brought about by God in the heart of man:

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature”  -  In other words, just as God created us at our conception by giving us our physical life; so too, He can also recreate us, giving us our spiritual life through the work of Christ.

“old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” – This change results in a transformation in our lifestyle and way of living.  What we used to love we now hate (sin and rebellion to God) what we hated we now love (Obedience to Him based on His word).

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ” – Finally, our first text reveals the creator of this great change… it is God (“all things are of God”). It is through His will and workings in our life that we experience this wonderful change.  He changes us and brings us to Himself (“reconciles us”), through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.  When Christ died on the cross, He was paying the penalty of the sins of His Father’s people (John 17:9-13).  This payment results in the forgiveness of our sins and adoption into the family of God.

In our second text, Mark 1:14-15 teaches about our response to the Lord’s working in our heart…

“preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand:” – This message of Christ was spoken to prepare mankind for His death and resurrection  and the reception of a new life in Christ.   This message was good news (“gospel”) of Christ.

“repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mar 1:14-15) –  Here, our response to His intervention is described as belief and repentance.   Remember how we said that we become a new creature when God intervenes in our life?  We said that this change brought us a change of lifestyle and way of living.

The terms “believe” and “repent” reflect this change in our life as well:

“To repent” – means to change, especially to change our minds, to think differently about things.

“To believe” – has the idea of accepting something as absolute truth and relying on it.

Why are repentance and belief necessary responses to the Lord’s workings in our life?….

To become a new creature in Christ many of our old attitudes about sin, death, the Bible, and even the Lord Himself must change and we must come to believe a new set of truths.  This is what becoming a new creature is all about… it is a life changing experience that revolutionizes the way we look at many different spiritual issues.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those of us who are saved, as “new creatures in Christ”, we should constantly review and reinforce the truths we have come to accept.  By doing this, we are constantly reminding ourselves of the true nature of this world, our Lord, His Word, and eternity to come. (Roms 12:2).

For those who have never come to a saving knowledge of Christ, it is necessary to act upon the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…  “repent ye and believe the Gospel”.

In other words.…

“Change your mind about your sin…. See your sin as harmful and an act of disobedience to the Almighty God, recognize your need to hate it and rid it from your life.”

“Change your mind about The Lord… See Him as your only hope of salvation, recognize He is the ultimate authority holder, who loves you and desires your worship.   Look to Him as your only source of spiritual life.”

“Change your mind about your eternal status before God…. See that without Him you have committed sin and the guilt of your sin remains upon you.  You deserve eternal punishment and, without Him, you cannot escape that judgment.  But, through His intervention in your life, you can escape that punishment and know that someday you will enter eternity with Him”

“Change you mind about His Word, accept the fact that His Word is true, it can be relied upon, look into its message and see the way of salvation clearly revealed to you.  Understand that His Word is a vital part of your daily walk of life and contains “His revealed will” to man in its entirety.”

And finally….

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, rely on His death on the cross to pay the entire sin debt you have built up in your life.  Realize He suffered for you so you could escape the eternal suffering of hell.  Place your entire being at His mercy and accept that you can do nothing to save yourself… all you can do is rely on Him for your soul’s salvation.”  (John 3:14-18)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Do You Believe In Magic ? How About Miracles?

SIH STSTA ICONIn 1965 the Lovin Spoonful band asked the question “Do you believe in magic?” , this became a top 10 song for their group. (Listen to this song at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBVOYkhNb1o&feature=related)

Although the “magic” the song spoke of was the magical effect of music on it’s listener… it is still a great question to ask in many different contexts.

One of the areas of today’s entertainment that I enjoy is magicians practicing their craft.  David Copperfield, Doug Henning, David Blaine, Penn and Teller, Kevin James the list goes on and on.   It never ceases to amaze me how their “magic” looks so real, it almost makes me a believer.  And yet, in actuality, it is only an illusion they have created for the benefit of their audience.  In other words, today’s magic is complex deception meant to entertain and amuse.

What about the sign miracles performed in the Bible?  Were they real, or just deception, that was intended to entertain?  Could they be believed in?

Let’s see what God’s Word says….

THE SCRIPTURE:

Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: (Jer 32:17)

I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. (Job 42:2)

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you…And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.  And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; … And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. … And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. (Exo 3:14, 4:1-8)

God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?  (Heb 2:4)

THE STUDY:

To begin our look at the Scriptures, I would like us to quickly summarize the above passages in the context of our subject “Can the miracles of the Bible be believed?”  Basically, we can draw from the verses above the following truths:

1.  Our God is able to do all things…. This includes giving His followers the ability to perform miracles, as a sign of their ministries authenticity (1 Cor 12:8-11).  If it is His will…. He can do these things! (Jer 32:17, Job 42:2, Heb 2:4)

2.  Both in the Old and the New Testaments, God’s motive for bestowing this miracle working power upon His followers was to accredit their message and to prove He was the only true God.  This is why these types of miracles are called “sign gifts” from God (Exo 3:14, 4:1-8)   A listing of the sign gifts can be found at 1 Cor 12:8-11.

Over the years, studying the sign gifts of the Bible, I have noticed something very interesting.  It seems as if these sign miracles of God were basically performed in three “groups” throughout Biblical history.  Please notice the following basic, generalized table to help explain my point:

Group 1                 Group 2                               Group 3

Miracle Workers:      Moses, Joshua        Elijah, Elisha, Prophets     Christ, Apostles

Worship Accredited:  Tabernacle             Temple                               Church

Message Accredited:  Law                         Prophets                            New Testament

It has been so interesting for me to come to an understanding of the Lord’s motives in these sign miracles that were performed.  Note that the Lord, through divine miracles, accredited the messenger, as well as the section of Scripture written, and the worship place used at that time.

In each case, the “sign miracles” were in existance for approximately 70 years.  In each case, a “silent time” existed after each group of miracles, where no  sign miracles and few, if any, other miracles were performed.  Why?  Once God established the validity of each of the above segments, there was no need for miracles until another segment was about to take place.

For example, following the accreditation of the tabernacle and the message of the law, there was no reason to accredit anything, or anyone, until the temple and the prophets came on the scene.  Likewise, there was an extended period of “miracle silence” after the completion of the Old Testament.  It was only when Christ came on the scene that we have a period of sign miracles taking place to validate the message of the New Testament and the church as the new place of worship for God’s people.

We have the end of the last period of miracles being described in 1 Cor 13:8-10…

“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. “(1Co 13:8-10)

This verse is teaching us that the miraculous gifts of prophecies, tongues, and knowledge, shall come to an end.  At the time of Paul’s writing this letter, the NT was not yet completed.  This is why he makes the statement that “we know in part and we prophesy in part”.  However, when the New Testament reached completion, bringing about the perfect Bible (that which is perfect) then the revelation of His Word, bit by bit, (that which is in part) would be finished and no longer needed.  The completion of the Word acted upon the sign gifts of prophecies and knowledge, immediately bringing them to an end.

(Note:The sign gift of tongues died out as that generation of gifted men died and went home to their Lord, shortly thereafter.)

Also remember, prior to the Word’s completion, the church had already been established in Jerusalem  as the worship place of the True God, through the sign miracles of tongues and healings etc.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

How do we know the church is where we are to worship?  We can read all about the wonderful miracles the Lord performed as the New Testament church was being established that proves to us it is His place of worship.

How do we know the Bible is truly His Word?  We can look in the Bible and see where all the segments of the Bible have been accredited previously… the Old Testament which is made up of the law and the prophets, and the New Testament.  They have all been clearly proven to be the Words of the True God through the sign miracles that were performed.

It is now simply an issue of faith in His Word. In our day, we need no sign miracles to accredit anything… we have the Word that has recorded these previous accreditations for us to rely on today.  In the last days, the working of counterfeit miracles will be on the increase, empowered by Satan, performed to mislead even God’s elect (if it were possible). (2 Thess 2:7-10, 2 Cor 11:13-15, Matt 12:38-39)

Does the Lord still perform miracles? Absolutely everyday, spiritual and physical healing, to name a few, are common place in today’s time.

Does the Lord still give men the ability to perform the “sign gifts” listed in 1 Cor 12:8-11? Absolutely not.  He used the sign gifts to accredit the ministries He had ordained.  There is no longer a need for these gifts to be exercised by men.  We have a written record in His Word of the accreditation of these ministries.

As Christians, our responsibility is to be on guard, always watching for the workings of Satan and the deceptions that only he can perform…

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. (Mat 24:23-25)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace”  “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

It Tempts, It Taunts, It Distracts. What is it?

SIH STSTA ICONHunger, we’ve all experienced it.  Nobody likes it.  According to this Weight Watcher’s commercial, it’s like a small orange demon constantly tryin’ to “get ya”:   (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1ytP9oazCo).

Ok, if it’s all that bad, why would anyone, on purpose, bring it upon them self?   Well, if you talk to many Christians they will tell you that fasting (willful abstinence from food) is one of the most spiritually beneficial experiences they’ve ever had.

Here are some of the Scriptural teachings about fasting…

THE SCRIPTURE:

But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.(Psa 35:13)

When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.(Psa 69:10)

THE STUDY:

What is fasting? 

The word “fasting” in the Bible is the translation of two different words.  In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated “fasting” means “to cover the mouth”.   In the New Testament, the Greek word for “fasting” is describing a “willful lack of food”.   When we view the concept of fasting, it is the idea that a person decides to allow their hunger to remain unsatisfied by not partaking of the desired food or drink.

Please under this… it is an extremely important point… any food desired, but willfully not partaken of, is a type of fast.

Notice in Daniel 1:8-13, the Israelite boys had chosen to fast specific flavorful items (king’s meat and wine) but they allowed themselves to partake of very bland food (pulse and water).  Their hunger for tasty food was not satisfied even though they were partaking of nourishment.  Much like a person desiring a steak is not satisfied by eating a boiled egg.  If we are fasting, we can continue to eat food items as long as we do not satisfy the specific desire we are experiencing. ANYTIME WE REFUSE TO SATISFY A DESIRE OF OUR FLESH WE ARE FASTING.

What is the purpose of fasting?

Fasting is to help us learn to keep our flesh under control.  Fasting is used to help us learn how to control our desires and not let them control us.

In our texts, fasting is described as “humbling my soul” (Psa 35:13) and “chastening my soul” (Psa 69:10).  Both verses are using “soul” to describe our fleshly desires.

When we fast, we are saying to our fleshly desires:

”I control you! You do not control me!” (humbling our desires)

“I am going to discipline you and teach you to submit to my will!” (chastening our desires)

This is why in 1 Cor 7:5, fasting is done in conjunction with abstaining from marital relations (which involves fulfilling another type of fleshly desire.)

Why is fasting done in conjunction with prayer?

When we pray, we are to always pray in submission to our Heavenly Father’s will. This principle is clearly shown to us in Christ’s prayer before His arrest and crucifixion when He prayed…”O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. “ (Mat 26:39)

By fasting while in a season of prayer, we are constantly reminded of our need to place our fleshly desires second to that of our Lord’s will concerning the issue we are praying about.  In every prayer, the intent of our heart should be “not my will, but thine be done”

Is Fasting For Today?

Fasting is not just an OT rite.  It is to be practiced in our times as well.  It is not to be stopped until the Lord comes back and takes His children to heaven with Him.

Note Mark 2:19-20…. “And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.”

When Christ was on the earth, the followers of Christ were not to fast, in recognition of their joy at their Lord being present with them.  However, once Christ ascended to be with the Father, the fasting was to begin, and continue, until Christ is reunited with His disciples at the rapture.

This is why the churches fasted (following His ascension) at the sending of the missionaries (Acts 14:23 etc)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

We are living in troublesome times.  If you have any doubts, just listen to the news and you will realize many of the physical, political, economic and spiritual perils we all face in our country and the world.

Based on my previous series from Matt 24:, I have tried to explain why I believe we are living in the times immediately before the return of Christ.   There is much to do for our Lord and, yet, there seems to be shrinking amount of time and workers getting the job done.  There appears to be a very apathetic spirit entering the lives of Christians and churches these days.

It is time for Christians to begin fasting and praying for our country and the world. Pray and fast for the lost around us, it is very possible their time is running short.  Pray and fast for one another, that the Lord might strengthen and protect each of us in these trying times.

And finally, as we pray, always make sure we are praying with a heart that is crying… “not my will, but thine be done”.

If there is anyone who has read this blog and has never submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ;  maybe, you have never been able to say to God “not my will but thine be done.”  The Lord has brought you to read this blog for a purpose.  Perhaps, it was to awaken you to the spiritual need of your heart. It is not too late.  There are Christians around this world fasting and praying for your salvation.  You can begin to seek Christ by studying His Word.  Read Peter’s sermon in Acts 4:8-12.  There you will find what Christ has done for you so that you might be saved.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me, or any Bible believing church in your area.  I’m sure they will be more than happy to tell you more about our wonderful Christ and all He has done for us.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace”“The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike”http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

The Year 2012, The 66 Ancient Books, and File 13… Or, How Does It All Affect Us? (Part #4)

 SIH STSTA ICONIn the previous parts to our study in Matthew 24, we’ve seen:

Part #1 – The Lord does not show the exact time of His coming to man, nor angels.

Part #2 – There are ten groups of signs pointing to His second coming in this chapter.  All of them currently exist today and many of them are increasing in frequency and intensity.

Part #3 – When Jesus comes back in the clouds, He will take His followers from the earth to live with Him.  Then, He will begin the final phase of His plans for earth; judging unsaved mankind and then bringing the world to an end.

Now in our final section of Matthew 24, we will be seeing the results to all of these events and our responsibility concerning them.

THE SCRIPTURE:

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. … The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  (Mat 24:32-51)

THE STUDY:

The Lord now begins to summarize and complete His teachings on the subject of His coming and the end of the world…

Vs 32-33 – The Lord uses the picture of a fig tree to describe how we are to use the signs of His coming.  Just like the leaves on a fig tree is proof summer is almost here; so, too His signs.  As we see His signs taking place around us, it is a clear certain indicator that His coming is drawing closer.

Vs 34-36 – The Lord emphasizes the truthfulness of all He has taught to us.  I am the first to admit some of these things are hard to grasp and imagine in our finite minds.  But by faith, we know these things will take place, just as He said, irregardless of the level of our understanding of it!

In these verses “this generation” is describing the “generation” that exists on the earth between His ascension and His second coming.  He is separating this one segment of time from all the other segments throughout history.  Why does He single out this segment of time?  That is the segment in which the signs of His coming exist.

Vs 37-39 – He compares the status of men in Noah’s day with the status of men in this generation.

Noah’s day is characterized by selfish living, centering on the fulfillment of fleshly desires; in other words, a big “party time”.   How did the Lord deal with this attitude?   He brought judgment upon an unsuspecting lost world after protecting His people.

In today’s time we see the same basic attitude of man.  How will He deal with this again?  He will once again, bring judgment upon a lost world after protecting His people!

Vs 40-42 – How will the Lord protect His people from the wrath to come?  He will take His people from the earth while He leaves the lost behind.  Our responsibility is to be watching the signs and to be always prepared for Him to come and take us home.

Vs 43-44 – The saved will take their responsibility to be ready very seriously. They will make sure their salvation is genuine; they will be ready for the Lord to come.

Those who neglected Christ’s coming by not taking care of their spiritual condition will suffer a loss when He comes.  In this way, His coming is much like that of a thief.  If the homeowner is not prepared, then the thief can come unexpectedly and cause the homeowner great loss.

Vs 45-51 – Salvation and living a faithful life is needed to live a prepared life.  Living a faithful life is wisely investing the time and the opportunity the Lord has given us.  This results in receiving rewards at His coming.

The unprepared believe His coming is far off, they will not trust Him, not serve Him with their lives. The reward they receive will be eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire.

The person who is prepared to meet the Lord is described as a “faithful and wise servant” for obvious reasons.  But, why would those lacking salvation and faithful service be called an “evil servant”?  How can he be called a “servant” of God?  He didn’t serve Him with his life. This is a very important principle…

By this, the Lord meant that all mankind is under His authority.  He is Creator and Lord of both saved and lost.  They are all held responsible to serve Him. In other words, they are His “servant”.  Are all men responsible to serve Him?  YES.  “Are all men fulfilling their responsibility to serve Him?”  NO.  Many choose to rebel and disobey Him. They are still servants but, just as He describes, they are “evil servants”.

SUMMARY:

So to close, let me first thank you for being willing to invest some of your time into reading this 4 part blog.  This series was much more in depth, and had much more detail in it, than any of my other blog entries.  The subject was so important, and the chapter held so much information, it was hard for me to “skim over it”.  Thank you again for your patience.

Next, I would suggest, you should go back and re-read any part that is unclear to you.  Also, I’ll be glad to try to answer any questions you may have, feel free to email me.

Thirdly, allow me to offer one question for all of us to answer honestly, and seriously, knowing we are in the presence of Almighty God….

If we would stand before the Lord today and answer for our lives; what title would we receive?  Would He say we are a “faithful and wise servant” or are we an “evil servant”?

I believe, after examining this chapter and looking at the world around us, we can see that His coming is closer today than ever before.  I see no reason why He could not come today.  We must be sure that we have this issue settled before it is eternally too late.  Remember, we have no promise of tomorrow.  There are some of us who may not see another day on this earth.

So what do we do?  How can we be sure that we are prepared to meet our God?    The Word of the Lord contains the answers for us and it makes clear that we must totally submit to the Lord trusting in Him, His Word, and His Work…

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”(Heb 12:2)

with Bible in hand, read the following passages…

(Isa 53:1-12, Acts 8:35-37, Acts 13:30-32, Roms 4:20-25, Roms 10:8-11, Eph 2:1-22, 1 John 5:1-4)

If you have any questions about salvation feel free to email me, I’ll be glad to help you any way that I can.  Or, you can go to any church that teaches God’s Word, they will be glad to help you as well.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace”  “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike”http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

The Year 2012, The 66 Ancient Books, and File 13 (Part #3)… Or, The King Of Kings Is In The House!

SIH STSTA ICONIn this blog series we’ve been looking at the teachings of Matthew chapter 24.

In part one, the Lord has shown us that no man, nor angel, will know the exact time of Christ’s coming and the end of the world.  From this we have drawn the conclusion that the 2012 theory cannot be relied upon, and therefore, must be discredited as pure speculation with no foundation in fact.

In part two, the Lord has taught us the ten groups of signs that reveal to us the general time frame of His coming and the world’s end.  We have seen that these signs are present in our world and many of these are increasing in intensity and frequency.  This allows us to know that the Lord’s coming is possible at any time.

Currently, we are in the time frame of waiting.  As we wait on the Lord to come back and waiting for the world to come to an end.  During this waiting period the world is slowly decaying around us.  (Roms 8:20-23)   The Lord’s second coming will begin the final phase of the world coming to an end.  This final phase will greatly accelerate the world’s ending.  So now, let’s see what will take place when the Lord actually comes back and the process leading to the world’s end as it enters it’s last stage.

THE SCRIPTURE:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Mat 24:29-31)

THE STUDY:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken”

The Greek word “tribulation” simply means to be burdened, to be pressured, or to face trials.  What is the “tribulation of those days”?  It is simply the different signs of his coming that we have already studied (false teaching, wars, famines, persecution of God’s people etc.).  In and of themselves, they are tribulation that we face on a day to day basis.  After Christ’s coming, however, far greater tribulation will fall upon the world.

In our text, at the coming of Christ, great changes will take place in the heavens. Christ’s glory and power are so great, He will outshine the moon, stars and even the sun.  In comparison to Christ, all of these will appear as if they are dark.  Or perhaps, the sun, moon and stars will actually be darkened and misplaced at His coming.  Remember, this is God, Himself, coming in the heavens to take His people home to be with Him; who knows exactly what effect His coming will have on the created world?

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” 

Please notice that the “secret rapture” of God’s people is not taught in Scripture.  Here, we find that when Christ comes back to take us home to be with Him the entire world will see Him (Rev 1:7).  Both lost and saved will see Him as He appears in the heavens.  Again, when He comes, we see Him coming with “power and great glory” … this is probably why the heavens will grow dark at His coming.

“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Here is the great purpose for His coming back in the heavens.  It is to take the living saved (and the bodies of the dead saved) home to be with Him (1 Thess 4:13-18).  This will entirely remove the saved from the world before His wrath falls against sinful mankind.   Note, that the angels play a big role in retrieving the Lord’s people from the earth.

This event is the FIRST reaping as described in Rev 14:14-20:

“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.

The SECOND reaping is the beginning of His wrath falling upon sinful mankind in Rev 14:16-20:

And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.”

The promise of His second coming, and of the saints removal from the earth before His wrath falls, is commonly described as “the Rapture”.  This is the event we are talking about in Matt 24:29-31. This is the beginning of the last phase of the earth’s existence.  Within a short period of time, immediately after the Great Tribulation, the earth will be totally renovated preparing the way for our Lord’s return to the earth to reign. (2 Pet 3:12-13, Isa 65:17, Rev 21:1-5)  These promises are a source of great encouragement and strength to believers everywhere. (2 Thess 2:1-2)

Today, with joy in our hearts, let’s live our lives for Him!  ….

 “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luk 21:28)

In our final part to this study, we will be seeing the end result of these events and what our responsibility is concerning these events.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace”  “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike”  http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word. Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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