Tuesday, October 17, 2017

AIRPORT LEGEND #2

MUTUAL EDIFICATION or Who needs a preacher?

 I once came across a "Mutual Edification" site which claimed only four true CofC in all of WVa.  The young Alexander Campbell set out to destroy what he called "professional clergy."  The older Alexander Campbell realized this had been a mistake.  The preacher is ideally a catalyst, a coach, and a spokesman for the church.  Certainly Timothy was such a one.  Each must work within the limits of his talent.  I wrote the following parable to illustrate what I am saying.



THE PARABLE OF THE AIRPORT
R. D. Ice

We arrived at the airport. The cab driver set our luggage on the sidewalk, then drove off.  No one seemed to be around to help us.  So we were forced to carry our own luggage into the terminal.

No one was behind the ticket desk.  We looked up to see a large sign which informed us: "Due to the current crisis we have eliminated all paid personnel.  Please insert your credit card and punch in your destination. You will receive a magnetic-coded slip."

We carried our luggage over to the check-in desk. There another sign informed us to insert the magnetic slip into the reader, then to walk through the metal detector.  We did this and a machine spit out a green plastic card for each of us. 

We inserted our green plastic cards into the turnstile at the door, then walked down the loading chute into the airplane.  There a sign instructed us to load our own luggage on the plane.  We found this difficult to do, finally stowing things in some cupboards and lockers we found.

There seemed to be no stewardesses.  Since no seats were assigned, we sat here and there, wherever we were comfortable.

We sat and waited for the plane to take off.  Finally someone called our attention to another sign up front. "Please choose one of your number to act as pilot, plus someone to act as copilot for the flight. There are no air-traffic-controllers.  You must be especially careful not to conflict with other planes as you taxi for takeoff.  Thank you for flying our Airline."

As I woke from my dream, I thought of what the Lord had said. "The 'gifts' which He made are appointments as missionaries, preachers, reporters, organizers and educators, who are to shape the believers into a working force, into a functioning Christian body.” [Ephesians 4:11-12 Jordan's Version] And I prayed to the Lord to give me wisdom and a message for the sermon I was to preach Sunday morning. I am a "paid professional."

Paul planted, Apollos watered the plant, God made the plant grow.  Compare 1 Corinthians 3:5-9. The word "evangelist" is used in a broad sense in the Scriptures. "Evangelize" describes only one facet of the preacher's work. A lot of Timothy's time was spent in teaching (1 Timothy 4:6,11-13; 2 Timothy 2:2 [note: men = anthropos = people]). Paul, in addition to planting, spent time teaching and training (Acts 20:31; etc.). He rejoiced and wept with his brothers and sisters in Christ (Romans 12:15). Paul, Barnabas, and others could be called "paid professionals" as they worked for the Lord.  [1 Corinthians 9:6-7; 2 Corinthians 11:8; Philippians 4:15-16]

Chaucer [c. 1387] wrote some things about a man who evidently loved God and loved his brothers and sisters in Christ. I have translated this into American English.

His congregation was scattered
and houses far apart,
But he was not discouraged
by rain or thunder,
In sickness and misfortune
to visit
The farthest in his congregation,
high or low,
upon his feet,
and in his hand a staff.
This noble example
to his sheep he gave,
that first he did and
afterwards he taught.
He kept at home and guarded
well his fold,
so that the wolf
did not bring disaster.
He was a shepherd
and not a hireling.

Note Jordan's restatement of Acts 20:28. “Keep an eye on yourselves, as well as on the whole group over which the Holy Spirit made you guardians. Take good care of God's fellowship, which He has brought together around the death of His Son."

Note Apollos “watered” where Paul had “planted.”  Our Restoration has been severely damaged in some instances by a lack of "watering." About 170 years ago, Walter Scott evangelized in northern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.  He baptized some 1,000 people a year for 30 years!  A. S. Hayden wrote: "Under Walter Scott a new order arose. It was given to him to blow the trumpet of the gospel. His work was purely an evangelism.. The admirable Osborne saw it, and lamented the absence of a system for holding and training the converts...There is an old Latin proverb which teaches that 'it is right to learn, even of an enemy.' Other religious bodies could have taught us wisdom, if we had not spurned every thing that the fingers of 'sectarianism' had touched." ["Early History of the Disciples on the Western Reserve," A. S. Hayden]

One brother has observed: "If the denominations go in and out the door - we will go in and out the window." Our desire to be "different" can lead us astray and can send us down a "blind alley."  There is pleny of evidence in the past to show this to be true.

Jesus Himself warned against the leaven of the Pharisees.  Often the "baby is thrown out with the bathwater." Turning to the right is no better than turning to the left. Simply "reacting" against "change" can cause us to do foolish things. The "past" is a good teacher if we are willing to learn from it. If we do not learn, we will repeat the same mistakes over and over.

The young Alexander Campbell was ready to "burn the house down to get rid of the mice." In his excitement and frenzy, he opposed some things simply because others were doing them. Age brought added wisdom, and the results of rash actions became more clear. Some simply destroy, for whatever reasons. It seems always more exciting and popular to destroy, rather than to build.

There will always be a need for spiritual preachers, elders, deacons, teachers - and members. Jesus has put the Gospel into our hands. We are to occupy (do business) until He Comes Again!!!

The Gospel is: JESUS - Crucified, Risen, Coming Again!"  We dare not forget: JESUS SAVES!


The Work of a Bible Evangelist.
                         
"I (Paul) planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase."  [1 Cor. 3:6]  Paul pointed out that he and Apollos were partners working together for God.  Their work overlapped as they did the things necessary to make the "plant" grow - even though it was God Himself who was the Source of LIFE.  [But God has no hands but our hands, His work of love to do.]

The general rule in the church - the Christian community - is that each is to "submit to one another because of your reverence for Christ" (Eph. 5:21).  The Head is Christ Himself.  Reverence for Christ is both a motive and an example which Christ Himself set for us.  "Submitting" does not imply any inferiority, but rather a mutual sharing of the new life in Christ.

In the NT an evangelist does these things

1. To preach the Gospel (Christ-on-the-cross and His resurrection.  1 Cor. chs 1 & 15).  2 Timothy 4:1-5.

  2. To "water" God's church.  1 Cor. 3:5-9.  Barnabas was an encourager.  He also helped enable Paul's work (Acts 9:26-31).

  3. To train and teach other workers.  2 Timothy 2:1-2

  4. To put things in order.  Titus 1:5; 1 Timothy 5:19-20; 1 Cor. 6:5.

  5. To teach in general the true meaning of the Gospel of Christ.  Titus chapters 2&3; 1 Cor. 15:1-23.

BUT NOW IS CHRIST RISEN!!!

WHEN HE HAD BY HIMSELF PURGED OUR SINS!!!

Monday, October 16, 2017

HOPE IS A CHRISTIAN VIRTUE

HOPE IS A CHRISTIAN VIRTUE
     “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”  1 Peter 1:3-5 (NKJV)
    Clem Thurman writes in Gospel Minutes Sept. 27, 2002: “Some folk, faced with the conditions as they are in the world today, are led to believe that ‘Christianity has failed.’  Even among those who are supposed to be Christians, many are ready to give up on ‘the law of the Spirit of life’ (Romans 8:2) as a world-changing movement, claiming that the gospel will just not fit the complex issues of our society today.”
     Paul commanded: Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Phil 4:4-7 (NKJV)
     “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”  Heb 6:19-20 (NKJV)
    “(as it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations" ) in the presence of Him whom he believed--God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, "So shall your descendants be."  Romans 4:17-18 (NKJV)
     “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.  Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie--indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.”  Rev 3:8-9 (NKJV)
     “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”  Romans 16:20 (NKJV)
     “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.  For in fact the body is not one member but many.” 1 Cor 12:13-14 (NKJV)
     “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  2 Cor 3:17-18 (NKJV)


WHY  DO  YOU  HOPE

Stand up and praise the Lord your God!
Praise Him forever and ever!
Let everyone praise His glorious name,
although no human praise
is great enough.

The long history of the church is filled
with the wonders of God’s Spirit.
Who would dare to say that
the love and imagination
of God were exhausted?

The ways of Providence
are by nature surprising.
We are not prisoners of "fate,"
nor of the gloomy predictions
of sociologists and The News.

We must therefore be ready
to expect
the unexpected
from our God!

To hope is a duty, not a luxury.
To hope is not to dream,
but to turn dreams into reality.
Blessed are those who dream dreams
and are ready
to pay the price
to make them come true.

I am a man of hope - not
from human reasons
nor from a natural optimism.
Our God is here, near us,
unforeseeable and loving,
working in this world
at this very minute.

To those who welcome Him
He gives each day fresh liberty and
renewed joy and trust!!!

                [2 Cor. 3:14-18]

Friday, October 6, 2017

REVIVE US AGAIN

REVIVE US AGAIN!
Revive us again!  Fill each heart with Thy Love!
May each soul be rekindled with Fire from Above!
Hallelujah, Thine the glory!  Hallelujah, Amen!

Hallelujah, Thine the glory!  Revive us again!
    Clem Thurman writes in Gospel Minutes Sept. 27, 2002: “Some folk, faced with the conditions as they are in the world today, are led to believe that ‘Christianity has failed.’  Even among those who are supposed to be Christians, many are ready to give up on ‘the law of the Spirit of life’ (Romans 8:2) as a world-changing movement, claiming that the gospel will just not fit the complex issues of our society today.”
    The Lord’s church has existed since Pentecost in Acts ch 2.  But over the centuries there have been times of revival and renewal, movements, brotherhoods, and difficulties - all within the Lord’s church.  Note the “church of God” at Corinth struggled with many things.  Yet they were God’s People.
    The Lord’s church is indestructible!!!  Even the gates of hell cannot prevail against her!!!  Yet individual churches are only one generation away from extinction, and the local church may lose her candlestick [Revelation 2:5].  But our Lord is always n control.  HE opens doors which no man can shut.
 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, 'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens":  I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”  Rev 3:7-8
    The Church is continually in need of "times of refreshing from the Lord."  Satan does his worst to discourage us and to send us down "blind alleys" to turn our attention away from Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.  Note Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:10-31.  We need revival and renewal to fill our hearts with the love of Christ [Romans 5:5].  This gives us hope, and hope is the anchor of the soul!  Peter proclaimed: "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."  [Acts 3:19]
    But the devil does his worst.  Whenever revival comes, the devil works to oppose it.  He tries to convince good people that the revival is sinful and that these things are of the devil.  Note how the Pharisees spoke of Jesus in Matthew 12:24. 
    “Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.  And all the multitudes were amazed and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"  Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons."
Matt 12:22-24
    Jesus said they were in danger of the unpardonable sin, verse 32.  But it is the Lord who opens doors that no one can shut (Revelation 3:7-8).  In opposing “revival” we could be opposing God.
    And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;  but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it--lest you even be found to fight against God." Acts 5:38-39
    Sometimes honest and sincere brethren will differ over what to them is a matter of "The Faith."  Note Romans 14.  We are to welcome all the Lord's followers - even those whose faith is weak, as Paul says.  We are not to spend our time arguing with them over their concerns.  We are to love them and help them. Yet of course our own freedom is not limited by what others think.

    "Conscience," I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man's conscience?  But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks?  Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor 10:29-31 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

POWER OF THE BIBLE

THE POWER OF THE WRITTEN WORD
    “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken." Isaiah 40:5 (NKJV)
    Campbell wrote: "We have, in writing, all the Hebrew and Greek that is necessary to perpetuate to the end of time, all the ideas which the Spirit of God has communicated to the world; and these languages, being dead, have long since ceased to change.  The meaning of the words used by the sacred penman, is fixed and immutable; which it could not have been, had these languages continued to have been spoken..."  The Sacred Writings, A. Campbell, 1826     [Modern Hebrew and modern Greek are different languages.]
    “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.”  Luke 1:1-4 (NKJV)
    “Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” Luke 24:44-45 (NKJV)
    Paul reminded Timothy of the role his godly mother and grandmother had played in his understanding of the Scriptures.   
    “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”  2 Tim 3:14-15
    "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
    This shows that God does intend to communicate with us and that the Old Testament part of the Bible is also important (Timothy was taught from the OT).  "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we though the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."  Romans 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11.  
    Merton  “The basic claim made by the Bible for the word of God is not so much that it is to be blindly accepted because of God's authority, but that it is recognized by its transforming and liberating power. The "word of God" is recognized in actual experience because it does something to anyone who actually "hears" it: it transforms his entire existence.” 
    "Despite the challenges we have seen, the power of the Bible does not depend on our ability to explain every problem.  Scripture has lasted for thousands of years without our defending it, and it is not in danger today.  'God's Holy Fire' has transformed lives throughout the centuries and continues to do so.  Our task is to accept the view of inspiration that the Bible actually claims for itself."  from God's Holy Fire, ACU Press.
    Usefulness.  The Bible was written to be understood in much the same way a newspaper is understood.  Some things are more difficult (2 Peter 3:15-16).  But we read words in their context and in the usual way of expressing things with words.
    The Bible is a library of Books, each one written to specific situations and time-periods in the history of the People of God.  Yet we see the thread of Christ-is-Coming; Christ-is-here (The Gospels); and Christ-is-Coming-Again.  Three great streams of prophecy are seen in the Old Testament part of the Bible: The Suffering Servant of God; The Coming King; The Descendant of King David.
    Peter writes in the context of assuring Christians of the hope we have, and of the dangers which face the church.  "We also  have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts..."  2 Peter 2:19. 
    The false teachers may not be whom we think.  Peter warns that some will "deny the Lord who bought them."  The devil first attacks the Holy Spirit; and then denies the Lord Jesus actually came in the flesh (see 1 John 4:1-3).  Some said Jesus only seemed to be human, and that He did not actually rise from death (1 Cor. 15:12-20).  A "rising from the dead" certainly proves the human side of Jesus who experienced life from our point of view (Phil. 2:5-9).  But He did not cease to be God even though He "lowered Himself" in order to die for us (Hebrews 2:5-9).  Christ Jesus in the flesh "tasted death for every man."  John emphasizes that Jesus came with the water [of His baptism] and the blood [of His death].  See 1 John 5:6.
    We allow the Light of Christ to shine on us and through us!

    “For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”  2 Cor 4:6-7 (NLT)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

BUILD ON THE ROCK

BUILD ON THE ROCK
      “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth."  Rev 16:1 (NKJV)
      God has not closed the doors of the Church of Christ.  The glory of Pentecost will continue until Jesus Comes Again.  But God allows times of testing [tribulation] which involve everyone on the earth.  We sort ourselves out by how we react to these severe times. We love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength.  And we love our neighbor as our self.
      “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'  And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'”  Matt 25:37-40 (NKJV)
      Parables.
     “And He said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables,  so that 'Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them.' "  Mark 4:11-12 (NKJV)
      It was an intentional judgment on the hearers. Jesus' teaching in parables, and the resultant unbelief of outsiders, fulfilled what the Scriptures had predicted.  Jesus' teaching about the Kingdom of God (a theme that would have made Roman authorities very uneasy) made teaching in parables useful in defusing this issue.  If Jesus' hearers could not understand the parable, they might lack the grace of citizenship in Christ's Kingdom. However, even the insiders required Jesus' explanation.
      “Jesus taught and used things of our world to teach spiritual truth.  Different images used for different audiences: for farmers, heaven on earth is painted as a farm deliberately infested with weeds [tares] by an enemy, only to get sorted right at the end. For fishermen, an image of a net full of fish, good and bad, only to be sorted back on shore. For the cooks, an image of tiny bits of yeast lifting the whole loaf into life. For everyone, two similar stories of people selling up everything to scrape the cash together to buy a buried treasure chest / a unique pearl.  Mark joins in with some of these plus new ones: a seed grows – though we don’t know how; the smallest seed becomes the biggest bush – mustard. All images of heaven on earth. This is how Jesus connected with the public.”  Lacey   
      “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.”  Matt 7:24-25 (NLT)
      "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.”
Matt 22:2-3 (NKJV)
      Jesus tells a parable about a king who threw a wedding banquet for His Son. All the people you might expect to be there turned Him down. So He sent out servants to bring in whoever would come. So the servants went out and invited everyone and filled the banquet hall with anyone who would come. Jesus tells this story just after He has entered Jerusalem. If you were to make a list of those one would expect to figure out who the Messiah was, when He would come and what He would do it was the religious leaders of the day. But they rejected Jesus’ invitation. So, gracefully, Jesus extends the invitation to those one would not expect to be at the messianic banquet – both good and bad. Why? Because He is throwing a party and He wants everyone who wants to be there to be there. They don’t deserve to be there. They were not the ones we would expect to be there but they came eagerly when they received the invitation.
      None of us deserves to be with God and yet He invites us anyway. Now that is grace at its finest! God is throwing a party and we are invited…not because we were good enough but because God was generous enough to offer the invitation to all.
      “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.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  Eph 2:8-10 (NKJV)
      Because we have been saved by our obeying the gospel, we alllow the “Fruit of the Spirit” [Gal 5:22-23] to guide us in our obedience to God’s grace.

   “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.”  Gal 5:22-24 (NLT)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

SUFFERING

Job charged not God foolishly
    [adapted from J. G. Malphurs' sermon to the victims of the tornado in Clyde, Texas, in 1938.]

    "Job stood up and tore his robe in grief.  Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground before God.  He said, 'I came naked from my mother's womb, and I will be stripped of everything when I die.  The Lord gave me everything I had, and the Lord has taken it away.  Praise the name of the Lord!'  In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God."  [Job 1:20-22  The Book]

    1. We do not say God sends every disaster.  We know He sends some.  2 Samuel 24:1-17; Acts 27.
    a. For a divine purpose when God sends them.
Compare Revelation 9:20-21.  “But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.  And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”  Rev 9:20-21 (NKJV)
    b. To punish ungodliness.  Genesis 19  Sodom & Gomorrah
    c. In Job's case it was to prove to Satan that Job was "perfect," not a hypocrite.

    2. Disasters strike the righteous as well as the unrighteous, generally.  But in Job's case he was Satan’s main objective.  Job 1:6-12; 2:6-7.

    3. Such disasters prove man's helplessness.
    a. There is a greater power
    “Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel.  Thus says the Lord: "Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, For the Gentiles are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the peoples are futile; For one cuts a tree from the forest, The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.”  Jer 10:1-3 (NKJV)
    b. Better to bow before God before calamities strike
    “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  For it is written: "As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God."  So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”  Romans 14:10-12 (NKJV)

    4. Duties of the church in times like these.
    a. Lead the faithless into faith
    “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.”  Acts 16:25-27 (NKJV)
    b. Help God's people to glorify God in spite of disaster
    “Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!"  But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”  Job 2:9-10 (NKJV)

    5. Job was an obedient soldier.
    a. God had the right to test Job's loyalty by taking away the things given him in trust.
    b. Job's faith helped him to defeat Satan's scheme - of which Job was unaware.  
    “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,  casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:6-8 (NKJV)

    6. If disaster strikes, let us say:
    a. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.  He also shall be my salvation, For a hypocrite could not come before Him.”  Job 13:15-16 (NKJV)
    “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  Psalms 23:4 (NKJV)
    b. "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose."  Romans 8:28  The Book  [for our eternal good]
    c. "Enjoy prosperity while you can.  But when hard times strike, realize that both come from God.  That way you will realize that nothing is certain in this life."  Ecclesiastes 7:14  The Book
    d. Look forward to the resurrection
    "We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as His children, including the new bodies He has promised us."  Romans 8:23  The Book

    “Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.  For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”  Romans 8:23-25 (NKJV)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Message of Hope

    The Book of Revelation – A Message Of Hope
    “Look!  HE IS COMING!”  “The HOPE of Eternity!”
     “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.”
1 Cor 15:20-21 (NKJV)
    “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.  Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”  Rev 1:1-3 (NKJV)
     But the battle between the Church and the devil is not determined here on earth.  It has already been settled in Heaven.  The Ascension of Christ meant the downfall of Satan.  Every act of Christian sacrifice confirms this.  The devil is the enemy of all who seek to do God’s Will.  He uses every weapon he can find to defeat the Purpose of the Creator.
    It is 96 A.D., the church is in what seems to be a “death-struggle” with the forces of evil, and the Christians seem to be losing! But things are not always what they seem to be outwardly. “Write, then, the things you see, both the things that are now, and the things that will happen afterward” (Rev. 1:19).
    To understand this book, we must first begin at the fact that it was intended for the believers in John’s day and age (Rev. 2:1-3). It is God‘s answer to the prayers and tears of severely persecuted Christians who were scattered through the cities of Asia Minor. It must be studied in the light of the conditions that existed in the last ten years of the First Century A.D. It shows Jesus as the expediter (one who puts into effect an order or decree in the shortest possible time) of God’s Plan (Rev. 5). The Trumpets of chapter 9 answer the question: “How can a loving God allow pain and suffering?” To the Christian who suffers pain, this is a Seal (compare Rev. 7:2-3 note); but to the unbeliever, this pain and suffering is a Trumpet of warning! The theme of this book is stated very well in the words of Rev. 17:14.  “They will fight against the Lamb: but the Lamb, and his called, chosen, and faithful followers with him, will defeat them, for he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
    The LORD shall reign forever.
    “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"  And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God,  saying: "We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.  The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, And those who fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy the earth."  Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.”  Rev 11:15-19 (NKJV)
    Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet. This introduces the End of the World and the Final Judgment, but does not describe it.
    The loud voices in heaven announce: “The power to rule over the world belongs now to our Lord and his Messiah, and he will rule forever and ever.” Compare I Cor. 15:24-28. It may seem as if Satan is the supreme ruler, and that all the power is on the side of the forces of evil. Revelation shows us that God is in control NOW! Judgment will reveal God’s mighty Power as it actually is. 
    Then the twenty-four elders. Symbolic of the Redeemed. They respond to what the loud voices announced by falling down and worshiping [see note on Rev. 5:14]. 
    And have begun to rule! God has been ruling all along, but not in ways clearly seen. As Judgment begins, all opposition is crushed forever. 
    Because it is the time. It has not been the right time, up till now. 
    To reward your servants. God keeps his promises. Compare Rev. 22:12. 
    It is the time to destroy those who destroy the earth! Sin pays its wage. The wicked earn the punishment they will receive. Compare Rev. 18:6.
    God’s temple in heaven was opened. This symbolic picture shows the beauty of God’s love to his children. The temple is wide open so all can see the ark holding the covenant. That ark symbolizes the real and perfect union [fellowship of 1 John 1:7 given real meaning] of God and his people.
    Flashes of lightning. The same ark holding the covenant is symbolic of God’s wrath to those who have rejected him. The lightning, sounds, thunder, earthquake, and hail symbolize God’s mighty power brought in wrath against the ungodly (compare Jude 1:15).
    “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,  to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." Jude 1:14-15
    The Mystery of Faith Revealed.
    “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.”  Jude 1:24-25; compare Romans 16:25-27  
     “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith-- to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.  Romans 16:25-27