This Generation

The disciples asked Jesus, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3)?

After several comments, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34).

Controversy surrounds what He said. Some say “this generation” means the generation that was alive when Jesus was speaking. Most who believe this way spiritualize the Bible. They say Jesus came back about 2,000 years ago and that His return was a spiritual return. Others say “this generation” means the generation that sees “all these things” that Jesus had just mentioned in Matthew chapter 24. Most who believe this way take the Bible literally. And they say the return of Jesus is still future. It seems more likely that this second group is right.

For one thing, Jesus talked about “the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the Holy place” (Matthew 24:15). That didn’t happen in the generation Jesus was speaking to. But it will happen in the future when the Antichrist defiles the rebuilt Temple 3½ years after a seven-year covenant for peace in the Middle East. There’s no evidence of a seven-year covenant for peace in the Middle East when Jesus said these things.

For another thing, Jesus talked about “great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world, no nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). It’s a stretch to say that 70 A.D. was worse than the Flood, worse than WWI, worse than WW II, worse than the Holocaust, or worse than anything that will happen in the future.

For another thing, Jesus said, “Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matthew 24:21). No one came close to destroying the Roman Empire or everyone on earth in 70 A.D. There’s no evidence that Jesus came back and prevented anything like this from happening.

For another thing, Jesus said, “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” (Matthew 24:29-31). There’s no evidence of a darkened sun and moon, falling stars, everyone seeing Jesus, everyone on earth mourning, trumpets sounding, and all the elect being gathered together in 70 A.D.

Finally, Jesus told the parable of the fig tree (Matthew 24:32). Many commentators believe the fig tree represents Israel. Many believe that Jesus was saying when you see Israel back in the land know that the Second Coming is near. Israel had to be destroyed before she could come back into being.

How Long is “This Generation”
The Bible is vague and speculation abounds on this. After many years of saying we don’t know how long a generation is, this ministry has turned to saying, “We believe the terminal generation started in 1948 and it is our opinion that it will last 70 to 80 years.”

The major reason for this change is that we have a better understanding of Psalm 90. It is the first of eleven Psalms that were written by Moses. Many believe it’s the oldest Psalm in the Bible. It begins with a comment about all generations. Moses said, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” (Psalm 90:1). It talks about God forming or creating the earth (Psalm 90:2). It says, “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4). Peter said it this way, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (II Peter 3:8). Psalm 90 makes a reference to the Flood and the brevity of life (Psalm 90:4-8). It turns to a discussion of our days and years (Psalm 90:9). Then, Moses said, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). We will come back to this, but for the time being let’s stick to the remainder of the Psalm. It mentions the anger and wrath of God which could be a reference to the Tribulation Period (Zephaniah 1:14-15; Revelation 6:16-17). It asks God to teach us to number our days that we may use our precious days wisely (Psalm 90:12). It calls upon the Lord to return which could be a reference to the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation Period and asks how long it will be (Psalm 90:13). Then, it closes with four verses that can well be applied to the Millennium (Psalm 90:14-17).

Now, let’s go back to verse 10 which reads, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten (70 years); and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years (80 years), yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” We are not predicting a date, but assuming that the terminal generation started in 1948, and it will be 70 to 80 years long, it appears that God will fulfill everything including the Rapture, Tribulation Period and Second Coming, in 70 or perhaps up to 80 years (by 2018, but He may delay up to 2028). If one subtracts seven years (from 2018 or up to 2028) for the Tribulation Period, and an unspecified amount of time for the period between the Rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation Period, it’s obvious that the Rapture could happen any time.

Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck

Editors Note: While we at EvenSoCome and Rafter Cross Ministries agree with the teaching on the length of a Biblical “generation” we are not necessarily in agreement with Daymond’s assumption that 1948 began the “terminal generation” of time. No one except God the Father knows the time the Rapture will take place, therefore we refrain from “date setting.”  Nonetheless, the teaching of the imminence of the Rapture is true, and we as the Church should be looking for Christ’s return.

Just Living!

Some of my fondest memories, are of driving from one cow pasture to another, or from one farm or ranch to another with my grandfather and a car full of boys, my cousins. Wherever we were going, it seems we were always singing. God had blessed all of us boys with good voices and a natural aptitude for harmony. However that was not the case for our grandfather. My grandfather, R. H. Marlin, could not carry a tune in an oil tanker, but he loved to sing and did so at the top of his lungs. Some of his favorite hymns were; “Heaven Came down,” “When the Roll Is Called up Yonder,” and “Living by Faith.” As I consider his life, and the lessons I learned from it, I believe these three hymns sum it up pretty well. Having accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, heaven had come down to fill his soul; and he knew because of this, that when the roll is called, his name will be found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But, of real significance to me, is the fact that he truly lived his life by faith. If I close my eyes and let my mind drift back, even now I can see the index finger of his right hand keeping time as his craggy voice sang;

I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know rules o’er everything,
And all of my worries are vain.

I’m Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arms,
I’m living by faith and I feel no alarm.                 Wells and Winsett 1918

Living by faith is; “Just Living.”

Now over the next few paragraphs I’d like to expand on that statement. But first let me say, I love words, or more to the point semantics, and so as we expand on the statement; “just living,” I hope we will find in it, two meanings as it relates to faith in the daily life of a Christian.

What is faith?

In Hebrews 11:1 we find this statement written; “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So faith is based on substance and evidence and not on emotion. Faith is acting on what you believe to be true, not what you feel to be true. In 2 Corinthians 5:7 we find written; “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” So then, walking or living by faith is the opposite of trusting what we see, hear, or feel (physically or emotionally). True faith, is to express belief in God who gives us faith (Romans 12:3), in Jesus Christ as the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), and His Holy Spirit who keeps us in faith (2 Timothy 1: 13-14).

Faith is the pathway God has set before us, to bring us salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. Because of His great mercy and love for us, we receive faith from Him in the form of a gift. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9)

The fact that we are justified in the sight of God by the faith which He gives us, is explained by the apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-2; “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” And in his letter to the Galatians; “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26)

Because we have been gifted with faith by God, it should be clear that we can do nothing to earn either grace or faith, that we have received them because of Christ’s finished work on the cross. Only by faith in Christ can we be made righteous (Romans 5:19; Galatians 2:16) and John wrote in his gospel; “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). True faith in Jesus Christ involves more than just believing in His existence, it is believing that His atoning work on the cross is sufficient payment for our sin debt.

Positionally, the risen Christ Jesus is our Savior, and therefore is the object of our faith as we develop a personal relationship with Him. We are brought to faith through the work of the Holy Spirit who acts on behalf of Christ. He originates the process of faith in us by convicting us of our sins (John 16:7-10), and draws us to the Savior regenerating our unbelieving hearts. If you are truly a believer in Jesus Christ, then positionally you are in Christ, and if you are in Christ, then you have been given the gift of faith by God. You have been saved by faith.

The Bible, God’s Word, has been given to us as the instrument of our faith. It is the tool which God uses to establish, build, and strengthen our faith and within its pages we find everything which “pertains to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1-3). Paul wrote to the church at Rome; “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) The Holy Spirit uses the word of God to convict man of sin and bring them to faith in Christ (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18). In the parable of the Sower (Luke 8:5-15) Jesus compares the Word of God to a seed which germinates into faith. And the psalmist writes that the Word is a lamp and light to keep him on the path of righteousness (Psalm 119:115).

Living by faith

Three times in the New Testament (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38) we find this phrase from Habakkuk 2:4 quoted; “the just shall live by faith.” Habakkuk is making the point that only man who is just in the sight of God, can and will live by faith. The three New Testament passages are repeating the same thought. So who are the just? They are those who have been made righteous by the faith which God has given them in Christ Jesus, they have been justified by God through faith (Romans 1:12; Romans 3:28; Romans 5:1, 19; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:11, 24).

Living by faith is what Christian life is really all about, placing our complete trust in God to supply and meet our every need. Truly living by faith will take our lives out of the realm of the ordinary world into the realm of the extraordinary, supernatural world.

At one point the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith, but Jesus told His disciples that if they had faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, they could tell a sycamore tree to replant itself into the sea and it would obey, or they could tell a mountain to move from one place to another and it would (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:5-6). The lesson wasn’t that they needed more faith, but that they needed to exercise the faith which they already had. If they would do so their faith would grow.

Living by faith moves beyond merely believing in God, to having complete trust in Him to accomplish everything He has promised in our lives. This faith is essential for the Christian life, for without it we cannot please Him and certainly won’t receive His promised rewards (Hebrews 11:6). He promised if we ask we will receive (Matthew 7:7; John 14:14), and He tells us to ask in faith believing without fear (James 1:6).

Living by faith is standing on God’s honor and integrity, and acting on His promises to us, learning to trust Him in every part of our life. Living by faith involves believing that absolutely every bit of God’s Word is truth, and that in it we find everything we need for life, knowing that God has given it to us for that reason.

Living by faith is a lifelong process of spiritual growth and sanctification, which draws us ever closer to God the Father through our relationship with Jesus Christ, empowered by His Holy Spirit. God desires each of us to be living a life of faith, to be in that process, and that can happen when we quit doubting Him and trusting in ourselves. Imagine how much might be accomplished for the cause of Christ in these last days if we would simply trust God, live by faith, and let Him live through us.

How do we accomplish this?

Read the Word! Study it! Memorize it! Pray over it! Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you understanding and teach you the precepts found within it!

Pray for wisdom! Pray for boldness to share the Word! Pray for God to show you His Will for your life! Pray for Him to give you strength to accomplish it!

Be a disciple, find someone who is living by faith and ask them to disciple you! Learn to disciple others yourself! Get involved in a local church which is teaching the Word of God and the Word of God only! Surround yourself with friends who also desire to live by faith!

Living by faith is not for the faint hearted or those weak in character, but it is for those who realize that strength and character come from God, and that living by faith, is living in complete dependence upon God. Living by faith is something that only can be accomplished with the strength and power of God in your life, surrendering your will to His Will. Living by faith is truly life in Christ, and for the Christian, it really is; “just living.”

Just living = having been justified by grace through faith in Christ Jesus!

Just living = what the normal life of a Christian is, when he is Living by Faith!

I’m Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arms,
I’m living by faith and I feel no alarm.

Yes grandpa, I was paying attention.

Faith; Some Truths We Should Know, On Which We Can Stand!

Recently I have received questions from more than a few folks about faith and about standing for Christ in these Last Days. Considering this, it is apparent to me that there are some truths that we should know as believers and followers of Jesus Christ, which then become the basis for our ability to make a stand in faith. If we grasp these truths, understand these truths, which are taught in the Word of God, they can help us increase our faith. Everyone who has ever trusted in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, has at some point in time in his spiritual life, experienced weakness in his faith. But, God has the power to strengthen our faith and has given us promises to cling to and instruction to follow to do so.

Hebrews 11:1 says; “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So faith is based on substance and evidence; these are tangible things. Faith is not based on emotion because it is intangible. Romans 10:17 tells us; “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” We have the tangible Word of God, which is truth, on which to base our faith.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we believe in the truth of His substitutionary death (wherein He paid our sin debt), His burial, and resurrection proving His victory over sin and death. This of course is the very foundation of our faith. Herein we find both substance and evidence. But there is more, much more which Christ has promised us, with which we may build upon our faith. Knowing this, let’s look at some more truths that we should know.

1. We have a God who cares.

Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us that we have a High Priest in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who experienced everything that we experience in this life and yet He did so without sin. It continues saying that we can come boldly to His throne to obtain mercy and grace in our time of need.
1 Peter 5:6-7 tells us that if we will humble ourselves before God, in other words submit our will to His will, and give all of our worries, cares, fears, and concerns to Him; that He will exalt, preserve, and praise us at just the right time (in His time) because He cares for us.

2. Our God will supply all our need.

• In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus Christ Himself told His disciples that they didn’t need to worry about what they would eat, drink, or wear; or about their physical well-being or their very lives because His Father in heaven knew their every need. If they would seek first His kingdom (once again be concerned with and obedient to His will) everything they need would be provided. If obedient, they would not need to worry about tomorrow, tomorrow would take care of itself.

• After the church at Philippi had been so generous to the Apostle Paul, he wrote to them; “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Again, the promise of God’s provision.

3. We have a God who is always with us.

• The Psalmist wrote; “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)

• And in Solomon’s Proverbs we find; “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) Of course the friend he is speaking of here is God, and more pointedly to you and I today, the person of the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of God and Christ Jesus.

• The Holy Spirit was promised to us by Jesus Christ Himself as recorded in John 14:15-18. The Holy Spirit is the helper or comforter Jesus promised to the believer only, because the world cannot receive Him or know Him. Further, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit dwells in us and because of that He (Jesus) is in us.

• And in the book of Hebrews, we find this promise of Jesus; “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU.” And the passage continues with us being able to boldly say; “THE LORD IS MY HELPER; I WILL NOT FEAR. WHAT CAN MAN DO TO ME?” (Hebrews 13:5-6) Do you see that? Because we have the promise of Jesus, that He is our helper, we have nothing to fear! Friends we may face persecution, and in fact as believers we have been promised that it has been granted to us to suffer for Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:29) but; no matter what man does to us, he cannot take away from us, the presence of Jesus Christ in our life, or the promise of eternal life!

This is not an all-inclusive list of truths which we should know as Christians, with which we may build our faith and be able to make a stand for Jesus Christ. These are just some more of the basics. There is one more that I’d like to share with you. To my mind it is the crescendo of the Symphony of truths promised to the follower of Christ!

4. Jesus is coming again!

• In the Gospel of John, Jesus told His disciples; “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would’ve told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

• After His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples teaching and ministering to them for 40 days. In Acts 1:10-11, Luke describes Christ’s ascension into heaven from the Mount of Olives at the end of that 40 days, and the declaration of the Angels to the disciples who had been assembled there to hear the teaching of the risen Christ. He wrote; “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’”

• In his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul shared the promise of Christ’s return for His Church. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” This is the blessed hope of all believers, all followers of Jesus Christ, the promise of eternal life in the presence of God. But, there is more to know about His return. In this passage we’re told that the Church, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, will meet Him in the air. Yet, in Acts 1 the Angels promised Jesus Christ would return just as He left.

Zechariah 14:1-4 Describes that day when Christ’s feet will once again touch down on the Mount of Olives on the “Day of the Lord.” “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.”

• And Revelation 19:11-16 describes His return to the earth on that day in this way; “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, wherever you may be in the world today, these are the substance and evidence of truths that you can know which will strengthen your faith and your ability to stand for Jesus Christ in the perilous days ahead. I encourage you to daily put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) so that you can withstand those who may attack and persecute you in these evil days, and having done all of this in faith, to stand. Therefore Stand!

 

EvenSoCome

Not the Rapture

The writer of a recent e-mail asked, “Is Matt. 24:36-44 about the Rapture? He thought the verses might be about the Rapture because He was not aware of any Scriptures about the lost being removed from the earth. Before I give my opinion, here are the verses in question.

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 24:36-44).

Some say these verses are about the Second Coming and some say they are about the Rapture. I believe they are about the Second Coming and here are five reasons why:

First, the verses leading up to Matt. 24:36-44 are about the Tribulation period so it seems logical to me that Matt. 24:36-44 continues to be about the Tribulation period. The gospel will go all over the world (verse 14) during the Tribulation period (Rev. 7:4-8; 11:3-12; 14:6). The Temple will be defiled by the Antichrist (verse 15) during the Tribulation period (Dan. 9:27).

Those in Judea (verse 16) will flee into the mountains during the Tribulation period (Rev. 12:14). The Great Tribulation (verse 21) refers to the last half of the Tribulation period. The feast of the eagles (verse 28) will be at the end of the Tribulation period (Rev. 19:17-18). The sun turning dark(verse 29) will be at the end of the Tribulation period. I believe in the Pre-Trib Rapture so I believe Matt. 24:36-44 refers to the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation period.

Second, Matt. 24 is about Israel not the church. The “holy place” (verse 15) refers to the Temple in Israel. “Those in Judea” (verse 16) refers to people on the West Bank in Israel. The “Sabbath” (verse 20) refers to the day of rest and worship in Israel. The gathering of the “eagles” (vultures; verse 28) refers to the Battle of Armageddon in Israel (Job 39:27-30; Rev. 19:17-18).

The “Fig Tree” (verses 32-33) refers to Israel (Jer. 24:1-10; Hos. 9:10). The “elect” (verses 22, 24 and 31) refers to Israel (Isa. 45:4). So because Matt. 24 is about Israel and not the church verses 36-44 are about the Second Coming not the Rapture. The Tribulation period is about Israel (Dan. 9:24). The Second Coming is about rescuing Israel (Zech. 14:1-5; Rev. 19:11-21). The Rapture is about the dead in Christ (church not Israel) being caught up into heaven (1 Thess. 4:1-13).

Third, the Rapture is about the removal of the saved (dead in Christ) from the earth (1 Thess. 4:13-18). But Matt. 24:36-44 ties the coming of the Lord to the days of Noah (verse 37). In the days of Noah, the lost were removed from the earth. Those “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (verse 38) refers to the lost being removed by the Flood.

Fourth, in Jesus’ interpretation of the Parable of the Wheat and Tares (Matt. 13:36-43) the tares (the lost) will be gathered out of the world by God’s angels and cast into a furnace of fire at the end of the age (NKJV). And, in the Parable of the Dragnet (Matt. 13:47-50) the bad fish (the lost) will be taken away by God’s angels at the end of the age (NKJV). These parables clearly teach the removal of the lost at the Second Coming.

Fifth, the admonition to “Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (verse 42) is significant. There are no signs of the Rapture so there is nothing to watch for. But there are many signs of the Second Coming and people can watch for them. We cannot know the day or hour of His Coming (Matt: 24:36), but those who watch, can see the Second Coming approaching (Heb. 10:25) and know when it is getting close (Luke 21:28)

In conclusion, Matt. 24:36-44 refers to the Second Coming not the Rapture.

Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck
daymond.duck@yahoo.com

Whom Do You Fear in These Last Days?

Undoubtedly, the evidence is, for Christians this world is becoming more dangerous on a daily basis. Persecution of those who have a true faith in Jesus Christ has increased by an estimated 400% worldwide in the last 24 months alone. Yet, the True Church continues to grow, and is doing so in the places of greatest persecution. North Korea, over the past decade, has consistently been documented as the most hostile toward Christianity, yet it is estimated that the Church has grown from 200,000 to 400,000 faithful, during that same length of time. These numbers are not anomalous, almost the same type of growth has been experienced in China, India, Iran, and much of the African continent. The Church of Jesus Christ is alive, growing, and in spite of the suffering and persecution is living expectantly, longing and looking for His imminent return for His bride.

However, not everyone who claims the name of Jesus Christ are boldly making a stand for Him in these Last Days. Many Christians (especially in the US), for divergent reasons, are “playing it safe” hoping to “slip under the radar” and avoid suffering and persecution. Rather than trusting God, they have developed a fear of man which is by extension, a fear of Satan. Jesus Christ promised that He would neither leave us nor forsake us, and that we should have no fear of what man might do to us. (Hebrews 13:5-6) In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promised that we would be blessed and rewarded for having suffered persecution in His Name. (Matthew 5:10-12) Jesus also told us that we can expect persecution because He was persecuted. (John 15:20) And, Paul told the Christians in the Philippian church that it was granted to them not only to believe in Jesus but to suffer for Jesus. (Philippians 1: 29) If you are granted something, it means it has been given to you or gifted to you, in other words, it is a privilege that you have received. So, we should count it a privilege when persecution comes, but rather than trusting God for their lives, many are caught in the snare of fearing man. (Proverbs 29:25)

Fearing man results in a failure to do what is right, what the Lord desires, in being obedient to His call on your life. It is yielding to your human nature rather than trusting in the Holy Spirit to protect and empower you in Jesus Name. Oftentimes a fear of man is the result of sinful pride in our lives. It manifests itself in thoughts like; “if I try to share my faith with them they will make fun of me,” or “I could lose my job if I don’t compromise,” or “Jesus understands that I’m not that type of a Christian.” These examples of prideful thoughts or actions show a concern for self, and fear of what man might say, rather than a fear of God.

Del Fehsenfeld Jr., the founder of Life Action Ministries, said there were 12 warning signs for the believer that they fear man rather than God.

• They are unwilling to pray aloud.
• They wear immodest or suggestive clothing.
• They become defensive when confronted about their actions.
• They are unwilling to be honest about their failures.
• They are critical of others; trying to find fault.
• They are greedy, seeking material wealth and reputation.
• They are unable to make clear decisions.
• They are harsh with their children and family in public.
• They are constantly fishing for compliments and commendation.
• They are always trying to “one-up” other people’s stories.
• They are unwilling to follow Christ in believer’s baptism or to verbally witness for Him.
• They display different behavior depending on whom they happened to be with.

Fear of man is quite simply a denial of Christ, weather it is a result of pride, or willful disobedience in giving Christ His rightful place in your life. The tent evangelist, Dr. Dolphus Price, said; “Many will go to hell because they are afraid of what their friends might say if they give their life to Christ.” The English preacher William Gurnall wrote; “We fear man so much, because we fear God so little.”

Today, the Church of Jesus Christ needs to return to a healthy reverence for, and fear of God. (Psalm 89:7; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) We need to remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, about who we should fear and why. (Luke 12:4-9) Ultimately, the man who puts his trust in Jesus Christ is eternally safe no matter what he might face.The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy wrote; “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12) Again, this is a promise of a privilege given to the one who has given his life to serve Jesus Christ, and it is certainly no reason to fear man.

Paul goes on to encourage Timothy; “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4: 2-5)

These words to Timothy in that day, are the words of Jesus Christ to us for today. Because the evidence is clear that we are living in the Last Days, we need to set aside the fear of man, and share Jesus Christ with absolutely everyone we can in obedience to His call on our lives. We need to convince people of the Truth of Jesus Christ in our lives, we need to rebuke those (false teachers and false prophets) who are not teaching the Truth of the Word of God, and we need to exhort new Christians or weaker Christians with patience and sound teaching of the Word. Many in this world have already turned away from the truth, many will not be redeemed because they have already given themselves over to Satan. But, we still need to evangelize everyone, because only God knows the condition of a man’s heart. We need to fulfill the calling God has placed on our lives, and continually watch, long for, and love the imminent appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds as He Raptures His Church!

Remember, a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8) and the crown of life (Revelation 2:10) awaits. So put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-16), and having done all to stand; Stand Therefore!

EvenSoCome

The Prayer of the Contrite Heart ~ Psalm 51

This psalm is a ladder which climbs from the horrible pit, with its miry clay, into the heights of sunny joy, where the song breaks from the forgiven penitent. Here is the cry of the lost sheep which has been torn by briers, harried by wild dogs, drenched in the morass, but which the shepherd has found and brought home rejoicing. This path has been worn by myriads of penitents. Psalm 51:17 was written on the wall of St. Augustine’s cell.

There is no doubt as to the occasion or the authorship of this psalm. It abounds in references to 2 Samuel 11:1-27; 2 Samuel 12:1-31. It is remarkable that such a confession should have been handed to the chief musician; but the publicity thus given has made it a means of grace to myriads. Note the epithets for sin: transgression, “the violation of law;” iniquity, “crookedness from the straight line of rectitude;” sin, “missing the mark.” However much God longs to forgive, He cannot, until confession is made. We must acknowledge our lapse from virtue! Blot out, as from a record; wash, as foul stains from linen; cleanse, as a leper by the touch of Christ. Our only plea is the multitude of God’s tender mercies.

It is not enough to be forgiven; the true penitent longs to be kept from breaking out into the old sins. He desires a clean heart that abhors the least taint of sin; a right or steadfast spirit, influenced by God’s Holy Spirit, and therefore a willing spirit as well. Then shall follow the joy of salvation, success in soul-winning, humility of soul, the blessing of Zion, and the up building of the Church. What glorious results are these-like the fair colors extracted from coal-tar!

There are no sacrifices so dear to God as broken hearts; no offerings so precious as contrite spirits. It would be impossible to compute all the walls that have been built; all the Jerusalem’s, that have been blessed, all the congregations that have been moved, all the revivals that have resulted because sinful men and women have been loved back from the pit of corruption and reinstated into the clear shining of God’s forgiveness and favor. Do not be content with forgiveness; seek restoration to the old place and then strive for a better.

Excerpted from “Through the Bible Day by Day” by F.B. Meyer 1914

Often, Andy and I collaborate on this Post we call “Words of Grace for Strength.” Today, I hope you will allow me to use it for a bit of personal reflection. The excerpt above is of course Meyer’s commentary on Psalm 51 in which King David made full confession of his sin with Bathsheba, and having done so pleaded with God for forgiveness, restoration and renewed usefulness. I am in complete agreement with Meyer as to his “title” of the Psalm, “The Prayer of the Contrite Heart” for it truly speaks of one who has recognized a need to place oneself in the complete control of his Lord because of his own failures.

Many years ago I was encouraged by Dr. Jerry Chaney to learn to “Pray the Psalms of David in the attitude of their author.” Psalm 51 has become a prayer of brokenness for me. There was a time in my life when, like David, I believed because of God’s favor in my life that I could act with impunity as I saw fit. Unfortunately, while David’s rebellion against God’s authority lasted only one year, mine lasted close to twenty. But, when at last I had been completely broken by my own sin, I cried out to Him who had paid my sin debt, once again acknowledging Him as my Savior, my Lord, and my God; He forgave me. Now the period of time since my restoration exceeds the time of my rebellion and I truly desire to be used by God every day. There are times though, that I have been discouraged, times of weariness, times of impatience, times when I felt I was somehow unappreciated or ignored… but then I am lead back to Psalm 51, and here I find that all I need is to be right with Jesus… restoration is life lived for Christ!
Read this wonderful Psalm with me (the bold emphasis I have added as my petition to my Savior).

Psalm 51:1-19
1 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

Is this your prayer today? Are you closer to Jesus Christ today than you were one year ago? Twenty years ago? Do you feel the presence of His Holy Spirit in your life? Do you still feel the Joy of your salvation? I must confess, I needed to read and pray this Psalm again today. Did you, Do you? Let us finish the Psalm.

13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.
18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, With burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

Friends, I need Jesus to forgive me daily for my failures, for my weakness, for my selfish pride, for sin which enters my thoughts and is displayed in my actions. And, I ask you to forgive me too…

I want to be used by my Savior in whatever way He chooses. As the old Hymn says, I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning back! How about You?

Tuck

Life, In Christ!

Humanly speaking we are all born with an innate fear of death, no one really wants to die, yet the Scriptures tell us; “it is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27). Why is this? I am fairly well certain that everyone is familiar with the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis, and their disobedience to God by eating the forbidden fruit. Adam’s disobedience to God brought sin into the world and caused sins curse to fall on all men for all time. Romans 5:12; “Therefore, just as through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” So then, inherent within all of us is a sin nature, we are all predisposed to sin. Romans 3:23; “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And because of that sin nature we are condemned to die. Romans 6:23; “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” So even though we are condemned by our sin, through the shed blood of our Savior Jesus Christ at Calvary, we have the opportunity to experience eternal life.

The Word of God teaches us in Hebrews 9:22; “without shedding of blood there is no remission,” and in 1 John 1:7 we are told that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. So Jesus paid our penalty, our sin debt; He died our death. Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for every sinner who was ever born or will be born into this world. So then the only way to experience eternal life is by accepting the free gift offered to us by Jesus Christ. The gift cannot be bought, we can only come into possession of it by accepting it freely from the giver, and it is Christ’s gift of grace to us.

In Ephesians 1:7 the apostle Paul tells us; “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” And again in Colossians 1:14; “in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” The very reason Jesus Christ was born into this world, was to become the perfect sacrifice before His Father so that we might be redeemed from the sin debt of death we owed and given the opportunity to accept His free gift, which is eternal life. Ephesians 2:8-9; “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”

The Scriptures tell us;

John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

1 John 5:11 “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”

There is only one way to be saved from eternal death, and given eternal life, and that is through Jesus Christ. In John 14:6 Jesus himself said; “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus also said in John 5:24; “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

This brings us back to the beginning of our teaching in this article, fear of death. In understanding the truth of Scripture, it is obvious why men fear death. Without a relationship in Jesus Christ, having accepted His free gift of salvation, man condemns himself to eternal death. But in Christ Jesus we are given the promise of eternal life, through His gift. We read in 1 John 5:12; “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” So, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, we have life and therefore have no need to fear eternal death.

In fact even temporal death should hold no mystery or fear for those who are in Jesus Christ. Because as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8; “So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” Did you catch that? We should be “confident,” and in fact “well pleased” if we no longer inhabit this earthly body, because we get to be with Jesus.

Now then, because we have been given life by Christ, and have no reason to fear death, we ought to live our lives In Christ. Living our lives In Christ means that rather than fearing death we embrace it in that we are dead to the world. In other words the things of the world are not important to us and should have no influence in our lives.

What things are these?

Read to the words of Jesus to the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22; ‘“Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’” And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”’

Luke 9:57-62 records the words of Jesus to others in regard to what is required of us In Christ. ‘“Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”’

Also in Luke 9:23-25 this is written; ‘“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”’

So in the words of Christ Himself we discover what is required of us In Christ. The list of things which we are to be willing to give up not only includes material possessions, reputation, and even family, ultimately it includes our very lives. Daily taking up your cross is literally daily putting self to death so that the life which you live, is life In Christ. The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20; “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” In his letter to the Romans he also wrote; “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)

If we are dead to self, and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, then we are given life by God through the Holy Spirit. Read Romans 8:1-11; “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

Life, In Christ, is evidenced by the willful subjugation of our will and our very lives, to the will of God and the call that He places on our lives. Obedience to Jesus Christ through the instruction of His written Word gives us the boldness to live life In Christ. It is only through living our lives boldly In Christ will we be able to Stand for Him in these Last Days (Ephesians 6:10-13).

Life, In Christ, is living without fear of death, temporal or eternal, because we have been given the gift of life through Christ. In fact, like the Apostle Paul we should be willing to say; “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

Life, In Christ, may involve ridicule, derision, persecution and suffering (2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:15-16; 1 Peter 5:10) but if we endure it we are promised the “Crown of Life.” Revelation 2:10; “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Do you know Jesus? 1 John 5:20; “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”

Do you live; Life, In Christ? Settle the matter with Him today!

The Rapture is imminent, Tribulation and the Day of the Lord are near, and;

Jesus is Coming Soon!

EvenSoCome