Friday, December 21, 2012

RAPTURE SCENARIO

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first." - 1 Thessalonians 4:16

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Jesus steps down off His throne (Wow!) - "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven," - and midway down to us (as our daily routine rolls on) Jesus calls in a strong, firm, loud, but not deafening voice to all True Believers......."Come Forth!"

This phrase would not only mean "to come out of" but it would have a "be ye transformed into my (Christ's) likeness" meaning to it also.  His words transform all True Believers dead and alive to their eternal bodies.

Then, possibly the Archangel Gabriel - "with the voice of the archangel" - the order is given, "The dead in Christ shall rise first!" (Gabriel acts as an proclaimer and overseer and usher, if you will).

Then the trumpet sounds - "and with the trumpet call of God" - and this signifies those who remain now may follow those who rose first.

So, all True Believers who are transformed at the initial command of Jesus, see each other in their eternal bodies.  Then those that were alive on earth but who are now transformed watch as those that were dead in body who are already transformed too, now rise first to meet Christ - "we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep." (v.15).  Then at the trumpet call those that remain follow to meet Jesus and those that preceded us in the middle of the air - "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." (v.17).

*Perhaps this scenario, eh? I'm just elated that my Savior loved me to the extent He did and I get to share my love for Him and my love for others now and later with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

SHARE TIME - A PERSONAL STRUGGLE

Recently there have been certain people in this world that are allowing me to see a different side of myself.  There are those in my private life and especially in the public eye that obviously don't know Jesus Christ as their personal Messiah and both are pushing my buttons to the point where I desire to say - "When I get to heaven I am going to let out the biggest - 'I told you so' - anybody ever heard, in your general direction."

A check in my spirit by The Holy Spirit confirms to me that my emotional knee-jerk reaction is understandable BUT not the correct one.  The Holy Spirit then impressed upon me that by the time I am meeting Jesus in the air with other Believers (Rapture reference) that this "I told you so" attitude/spirit will not be the pervasive one toward the still-then earth-bound unbelievers.  No, the atmosphere of heaven toward them will be more inclined toward woe (for what is coming on the world and it's inhabitants next) and continued prayer that these friends and family left behind will realize what has happened.  I find support for these two views in heaven by observing all the warnings/woes in Revelation from God to mankind and the compassionate nature of Jesus that none should perish, but all come to the saving knowledge that He provided (2 Peter 3:9).  In addition, The Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit and said, "The right to say, 'I told you so is all mine [God's].  Leave that one to me."  I said, "Yes, Holy Spirit.  I hear that loud and clear."

Me?  I am finding that with these times and circumstances, nationally and personally, I am beginning to get edgy and quick to putting on my fighting gloves.  I might not pull them out right then and there, but mentally I have "thrown some heavy punches" toward those that I thought just don't get it!  This is the incorrect mindset.  One's thoughts leads to actions and I need to have the right thoughts - God's thoughts and perspectives on matters - already in my head so I can snuff out the human reaction to things and bring forth the Spirit-Man reaction to things.

It all starts in the mind - "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." - Romans 12:2   I am work in progress - He's still working on me!

Monday, December 17, 2012

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

Ah yes, a great Christmas song (referencing the title of the blog)!  However, not all of us hear (one of the five senses) the same and not all of us listen the same (understand what has been said).  A marriage counselor once described the male listening and male speak as a color - blue.  While he also described the female listening and female speak as a color - pink.  In order for us to understand one another better within the marriage relationship we need to learn the language of the color of the other  important person in our lives.  Not only do we need to develop a "pink language" if we are a male and a "blue language" if we are a female, but we need to develop our blue and pink listening skills as well in the same manner.  This is just within the context of a marriage.  Now let me apply this to the Christian's relationship with God.

There is no doubt that the God of the universe knows what we mean when we speak.  It is our feeble minds with all the myriad voices to consider that has the challenge of developing an "ear" for God's voice and language.  Once we do stop listening and accepting the curses and lies of what other people say toward us we have made a step in the right direction.  The next step is to NOT JUST think positive about yourself and others and the birds and the trees and so forth and so on.  No!  The next step is to hear, listen, accept, and believe what God says in His Word to us and about us.  We need to look through the best eyes possible - God's eyes - and view how God sees us.  There are tons of Scripture to pour through and observe God's perspective of you, but in short - if you are a follower or disciple of Jesus Christ, then He is who Father God sees you through and nobody else.

We can see the heart of Father God through the words, actions, and compassion of Jesus.  We can see the power, comfort, leading, and discernment through God's Holy Spirit with us and in us.  God is the ultimate Gentleman.  He did not make the mess the world is in, we did, but He cleaned it up (through faith in the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ).  And He gives us the choice of accepting His GIFT or not.  Of all the Faiths out there Christianity is the only one that has it's God visiting in the image it created - teaching, ministering, and living a perfect life - and then laying that life down willingly for all SO THAT we would be Redeemed to God the Father for eternity.  That's how much God loved us.  And that is a start at how God sees every single human being ever created - worth dying for - O How He Loves You And Me!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

FOR SHAME, FOR SHAME

There was a time in humanity's existence when shame was not an issue (Genesis 2:25).  But then a time came when humanity rebelled against God.  The relationship we had with God fell so far and so hard that we have been shamed for it by the enemy and ourselves ever since that day.

The spirit of shame has been around for many generations teaching humanity how to use shame as a weapon, especially inside the family unit.  A Biblical example of this is found in 1 Samuel 20:30 - "Saul's anger flared up at Jonathan [Saul's son] and he said to him, "You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don't I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you?"  So, not only did Saul disgrace his own son, Jonathan, he included Jonathan's mother, his own wife in the slander.  The spirit of anger triggered the whole episode - "Saul's anger flared" -  but Saul eventually got around to using the spiteful weapon of shame to attack his own family on a matter.

Other actions that have been deemed shameful are recorded in Psalm 97:7 - "All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols-- worship him, all you gods!"  Another Scripture that supports this one is Isaiah 42:17 - "But those who trust in idols, who say to images, 'You are our gods,' will be turned back in utter shame"  In addition, the book of Proverbs supplies a handful of types of individuals who are shamed because of specific actions.

The shamed:
  • The Fool (Proverbs 3:35)
  • The Wicked (Proverbs 13:5)
  • Ignoring Discipline (Proverbs 13:18)
  • Answering before listening (Proverbs 18:13)
  • He/she who robs his father and drives out his mother (Proverbs 19:26)
Shame is so important to David that he prayed against it several times, but here are two instances.  Psalm 25:2 says, "in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me."  And Psalm 25:20 - "Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you."

In the future, God will remove the national shame on Israel.  "At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame." - Zephaniah 3:19

For some, shame will be an eternal condition.  Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2).......  Therefore, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, for cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree (Galatians 3:13; Dt. 21:23), and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2).

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Romans 1:16).  Plus, Jesus said, "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38)

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God (2 Timothy 1:8).  That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day (2 Timothy 1:12).  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name (1 Peter 4:16).  Jesus reminds us, "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me (John 15:20-21).

Shame seeks to disgrace, slander, and defame our character.  It's goals are to humiliate, mortify, and defame.  It's agenda is to discredit, disrepute, and always assign guilt.  BUT GOD, by His Word in flesh, Jesus, supernaturally bore all my shame, your shame, and the shame of the world on His body as He hung upon The Tree.   So, the next time the enemy tries to use shame as a weapon against you - rebuke that attempt and confess what Jesus has secured for you through the cross and His resurrection -  "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper ; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn . This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." (Isaiah 54:17).  Claim this and you will be doing "your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

WATCH AND OCCUPY

Some people have the attitude and teach that since Jesus is going to come at a time when Believers do not know then Believers don't need to be concerned about it.  This is the incorrect approach.   Let us consider some Scripture on the watchfulness of the Christian believer.

Word study on "Watch".
Matt. 24:42 - “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.

Matt. 24:43 - But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.

Matt. 25:13 - “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

*Luke 21:36 - Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

"Watching" for Christ's return is a command - "Therefore keep watch..." (Matt. 24:42 and Matt. 25:13) and "Be always on the watch,..." (Luke 21:36).  This calls for a constant state of readiness or living that demands the Christian to be responsible and accountable for his/her thoughts, actions, and words unto God, with the aid of fellow Believers, until Christ's coming.

"Watching" is an action word.  This term portrays a sense of expectation.  However, instead of sitting and waiting for the arrival of something, the Matthew 24:43 verse describes a type of "watching" that is proactive.  It displays an owner of a house that if he had known about a thief coming to rob his house, the owner would have been prepared.  Back then they did not have house alarms so citizens would have to defend themselves by listening carefully to street talk, buying a guard dog, and possibly taking guard shifts of the family property.  That is proactive watching in the natural.  Proactive watching in the spiritual is recognizing all the signs that pointed to Christ's First visit and realizing their TOTAL fulfillment in prophecy.  Then recognizing there is a promise by Christ to return again for His true believers with signs of the times supplied to show us the season of His coming.  Additionally, proactive watching for the Christian should exemplify Christ-like living while studying the Bible and the times concerning Christ's return.

Word study on "Occupy".
1 Tim. 4:15 - Occupy thyself with these things; be wholly in them, that thy progress may be manifest to all. (Darby Translation)

Romans 12:7 - or service, [let us occupy ourselves] in service; or he that teaches, in teaching; (Darby Translation)

*Luke 19:13 - And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. (KJV)

According to these verses, the word "occupy" is a term that denotes action in expectation of something else.  Said another way - busying oneself for a desired result.  In the 1 Timothy 4:15 verse the things we should "occupy" or busy ourselves with are listed in verses 7-14, SO THAT "thy [your] progress may be manifest [known] to all."  The next two verses, Romans 12:7 and Luke 19:13, deal with serving or ministering (being busy) on this planet and in this world [human systems] for the Lord and the extension of His Kingdom.

I have heard teachings for the Christian on the concepts of JUST occupying this earth for the Lord.  I have heard teachings on JUST watching for the Lord's return.  Imagine if we JUST did both - watched while we occupied.  Both of these terms have active ingredients in them, not passive only.  The watching for the promised return of Christ (for His true Believers) can occur simultaneously while occupying this planet and the land that we call home.  In fact, the act of watching for our Lord should set-off proper behaviors and mind-sets and speech in Christian Believers that aid us in our effort of occupying until He comes.  So, the next time you hear any teacher dismiss "watching" by itself OR "occupying" by itself, I encourage you to politely challenge them on the matter.  Christian Believers are commanded to do Both.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

WHERE IS HOME FOR YOU?

For the Christian, where is home?  I have heard it said, "Home is where the heart is" or "Home is where you hang your hat".  I have done a number of word searches in my study of this question that must be considered first before we get "home".

My word search in the Bible for the term "pilgrim" found no result, yet Christians sing of themselves in hymns as just that - pilgrims just passing through this ole world of woe in route to their true home of heaven, paradise, streets of gold, the golden city, and the like.

The word "alien" is used quite often in Scripture, but usually refers to people from a different place than Israel or wherever the Hebrew people happen to be at that time instead of the Believer's relationship with this planet as his/her home.  But is the heaven scenario really home, the final destination for the Christian?

The first real connection I found with a verse that might speak to earth NOT being the believer's final destination was in Psalm 119:19 - "I am a stranger on earth;".  I looked up the original Hebrew word for "stranger" (ger/geyr/gare) in this verse and it means - properly a guest, by implication a foreigner.  Why would David feel like he is a foreigner on this planet?  Read the rest of the verse for the answer - "hide not thy commandments from me."  As David operated under God's Commandments he became a "stranger" or "foreigner" to the world's requirements.  That is how David or anyone else feels when we follow the rules and regulations of another source or governing body over our lives while living in a different place that has it's own system(s) of government.  Jesus had the same kind of reaction.  Notice what Jesus says about "the world".

Word Study on "the world"
  • John 15:19 - If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
  • John 17:14, 15, 16 [Praying to Father God, Jesus says/prays the following] - I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
  • John 18:36 - Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
The Original Greek word for "world" is kosmos.  It means the literal or figurative moral and orderly arrangement of things and people in a wide and/or narrow sense.  So, the usage of the word "world" in the verses above should Not be taken as "planet" or "earth", but as government or culture of a society or race.  It would Not make sense to translate John 15:19 as...."If you belonged to the planet/earth, it would love you as its own."  A planet or dirt does not "love", so the word "world" in the original verse must mean something different and it does.  Said another way..."If you belonged to humanity's systems, perspectives, and agendas then humanity's systems, perspectives, and agendas would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to humanity's systems, perspectives, and agendas, but I have chosen you out of these things.  That is why humanity hates you." [Chad's Paraphrase]  

Now let us observe that second reference, John 17:14-16.  In the beginning there was The Word who was with God, in God's Kingdom.  Later, The Word became flesh, Jesus, and dwelt among humans.  He, The Word of God or Jesus, shared Father God's mind with the populace but especially His disciples.  The more the disciples or anyone accepted God's Word the more the "world" order or human system(s) rejected them.  Yet Jesus prayed this - "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one."  There was Good News to be spread and the disciples were going to be the spreaders.  What good news is there to spread?  There is a far better Kingdom that can rule humanity's heart and mind right now through faith in God's Son and His sacrifice for your redemption.  And there is a far better Kingdom that is coming to rule over the earth someday with Jesus as it's Master and King.  So, again "world" here is not the third rock from the sun that Jesus desires for Father God NOT to take us out or away from, but the fallen, imperfect ways of humanity.

That leaves us with the third verse from above - John 18:36.  Jesus, speaking to Pilate, allows Pilate in on some Truth - "My kingdom [my government] is not of this world [figurative or literal; human government or earthly].  Then Jesus admits that if His kingdom were of this world, His servants/disciples which have abandoned Him at this point, would fight for Him, just as any potential king with followers would have at His disposal.  "If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews."  However, the Kingdom of Jesus is different and so are His servants - angels.  "In speaking of the angels he says, 'He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.'" Hebrews 1:7  I think it interesting to note that the angels must have known the plan of salvation too.  Observe how Jesus phrases His statement to Pilate - "My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants [who are really angels] would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews [But they are not going to fight! Why?  Because they know The Plan!].  But now my kingdom is from another place."

With the word "alien" the piece of the puzzle does not fit.  "Alien" deals with the relationship between foreigners and Israel NOT people and the earth.  With "stranger" notice that David said he was "a stranger on earth" NOT to earth.  This would still claim earth as David's home but "stranger" to the "world" or human systems.  Now let us turn our attention to "home".  A Biblical word search on "home" produced many verses that one would typically expect concerning someone's physical establishment.  Then there were verses like these.....
  • Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. - John 14:23
  • Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. - 2 Corinthians 5:6
  • We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. - 2 Corinthians 5:8
  • So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. - 2 Corinthians 5:9
  • But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. - 2 Peter 3:13
At first glance, justifying John's verse and all of Paul's verses to the church in Corinth can be confusing.  How can John say in 14:23 Father God will come to us and make a home with us (those that love and obey Christ) and then Paul turns around and says in 2 Cor. 5:6 while we are in the body we are away from the Lord?

Verses, like John 14:23 are speaking about the Holy Spirit coming and residing within the Believer to lead, guide, and direct them in their lives today.  The other three Pauline verses are referring to being in the immediate, physical presence of Jesus someday future.

So, in light of the study at hand, verses, like the first four verses mentioned here, refer to the physical body on this physical planet as our residence for our mind, spirit, and soul, plus the home of the Holy Spirit.  Concerning the home as a location for our bodies and considering the last referenced Scripture, 2 Peter 3:13, I would venture to say that Christians have had one home, are living in one now, and have two more to come.  There was earth before The Fall.  There has been earth since The Fall.  There will be a Millennial Earth.  Finally, there will be a new heaven and a new earth.

Before sin entered into humanity's nature and corrupted creation itself - God walked with Adam in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden.  He put him steward over the creatures of the earth and in charge of the Garden.  The creation was as it was supposed to be for some time even after Eve was created.  Our first home through the eyes and lives of Adam and Eve was perfect until The Fall (Genesis 1 - 2, especially 2:9, 25).  After The Fall, humanity and earthly creation has been living in the home we are living in today (Genesis 3:17-19)  Next, there will come the Millennial Reign of Christ from Jerusalem.  During this reign, topographical changes will be observed and national boundaries reassigned (Revelation 19 - 20:6).  After the thousand years of Christ's rule a new heaven and a new earth will be issued and this old one that has fulfilled all prophecy will be burned away (Revelation 20:7 - 21).

Notice how all these earths are locations for the believer's body to exist.  It seems God has always had in mind an earthen planet for humanity.  The things that have changed are the status of our relationship with God and the subsequent set-up of our rebellious, human kingdom.  Believers in Christ are special.  We receive God's Kingdom or government, with a new city - New Jerusalem - that is even now being prepared for us, the new heavens, and the new earth.  But first we will live here now, taking up our cross daily, then later we will rule and reign with Him during His Earthly Millennial Reign from old, but refurbished Jerusalem.  Then the new heavens and new earth and eternity with our Savior.  That is how I see Home for the Christian.

Monday, December 3, 2012

RECALLING WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT

Over my 42 years of Life, I have heard many stories of people with different degrees of fame who have committed suicide.  However, this recent murder/suicide by Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs has got my emotions and thoughts flowing again and I would like to share them with you.

For those who do not know the story that I am referring to here is a link that you can click and then read the related story.  http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nfl--jovan-belcher-s-conflicting-potrait-reveals-an-earnest--hard-working-young-man-154216138.html

Sad.  A young 25 year old male with a NFL career, a 22 year old girlfriend, a great reputation and everything seemingly working out for him and he takes away her life and throws away his by shooting each other.  No signs, no signals, no tells of any sort to alert anybody of this possibility.  Of all that people knew about Jovan there was no need for concern.  Ah, but there is my point - why wait for something bad to develop or happen in somebody's life before getting to really know them and be able to really share each others joys and burdens - lives.

We as a society seem to operate on assumptions instead of taking quality time and quality measures to invest in each other.  Family and friends that you already have are wonderful people to at least start reaching out to establish meaningful relationships.  However, once you are solidified in the family and friends department, I think it would benefit us all (teaching myself here too) to reach out to someone you don't know.  These people could be complete strangers or fellow co-workers, but share joy, share burdens, share life, share love one for another.  The more positive inputs we have in people's lives hopefully the less likely we are to have situations like Jovan Belcher.

With Jovan all the wires seemed connected Save One.  In honor of Jovan's stint with the Kansas City Chiefs I will name this connection the Game Over wire.  This all-important synapse relays the information about the preciousness of life, the fragileness of life, and the finality of life to all necessary parts of the brain.  Jovan does not get a second chance.  Reincarnation is an old postulation that has intrigued people BUT NEVER WORKED!  For example, those that believe in reincarnation claim that coming back (as human or anything else) is suppose to improve humanity's chance to take us to the next level of existence.  After supposedly 10,000 years of human history and this supposed cycle with no improvement I think we can safely say THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN!  Another consideration toward reincarnation is  - what was the reincarnation of the first thing?  Continuity is totally shot here and any attempt to answer places the proponent for reincarnation even more in "Left Field".  Jovan is dead and the judgment is next (Hebrews 9:27-28).

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. 

It's all about relationship(s).  It IS about being up in somebody's business, but not in an overbearing, smothering way.  More to the tune of a deeply ingrained and involved relationship - enough that lets the other person know without a doubt that you sincerely care and will be there for them.  So, Reach Out to someone, Get Involved in someone's life and Share and you will be more richly blessed than them whom you extend yourself.