Tuesday, June 30, 2015

CHOOSE MOUNT ZION


There are two mountaintops that people, Christians in particular, have their feet on the summit and cannot make a decision which peak to live on - Mt. Fear or Mt. Hope.

Hebrews 12:18-24
"18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel."

Now with Fear there must be a two-pronged understanding. Many instances in Scripture, concerning fear, refers to respect, specifically honoring God. In the book of Acts you can find the terms - "God-fearing women", "God-fearing Greeks" and "a God-fearing man" - describing people with the highest regard for God. Hebrews 11:7 portrays Noah building the ark - "in holy fear" - a feat and attitude that was rewarded with the salvation of his family and the animals on-board. In the Christian journey 1 Peter 1:17 instructs the believer to "live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear."  In addition, Paul in his letter to the church in Phillipi encouraged the contingent - "continue to work out your salvation with fear [or great respect and awe] and trembling."

However, the kind of Fear that many Christians have a foot-hold on is the terrifying kind. The kind devoid of hope, belief and love. The kind the enemy of our souls operates from in his kingdom of darkness. The devil would have you so scared that you do not share The Good News anymore, but Philippians 1:14 says, "...dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear." The Law, with all it's many rules and regulations for living a perfect/holy life, can be viewed as another name for the mountain of fear - Mount Law (Mt. Sinai). But there is good news, 1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment." There is no terror, no horror in love. This is why all are drawn to love. This is why we must respect and honor God, because God is love (1 John 4:8).

Yes, Love in the form of Christ Jesus has showed it's awesome purpose and power - to redeem human kind and create a perfect future with God, which at the moment of Christ's resurrection became our Hope.

Paul says it nicely when he addresses the believers in Rome - "...we boast in the hope of the glory of God." After the salvation of an individual - what becomes the believer's focus? Hope. Hope of a transformed, glorified body like Christ's one day. Hope of Christ's promises being fulfilled personally and corporately. Hope of seeing "our righteousness" in person (Galatians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:1).

Paul tells us in Romans that the whole of Scripture was written for the sake of Hope.
  • "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope." - Romans 15:4
Scripture has proclaimed that believers are the Ambassadors of Hope -  "Christ in us, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). 1 Timothy 6:17 even singles out what we should and should not place our hope. And the book of Hebrews does a beautiful, word-smith job of describing Christ Jesus, His promises, our Hope - "as an anchor for the soul".

There is a proper fear to have toward God. It contains a healthy dose of respect and honor with a splash of the terror to keep it real. Luke 12:5 declares that there is a hell, you don't have to go there, but there is someone with the authority to place you there should it warrant. "But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." This same one with authority to send one to hell can also grant entry into Heaven. He paid the price for this authority and His name is Christ Jesus. This same one who made an impossible Law to follow, also made The Way to escape living under perfect performance. He gave Grace for our salvation, for our living now and for our Hope. I encourage all my brothers and sisters in Christ - if you find that in your living you have one foot on Mount Sinai (The Law) and the other on Mount Zion (Grace)....Choose Mount Zion.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

THE RESCUER AND DELIVERER

Death has surrounded me quite a bit lately. Tanya's Uncle Billy passed away this week, as did a dear sister of our church. Also, my parent's neighbor's husband died two days ago. Then I find myself reading about the many celebrities that are dying and natural disaster deaths and I pause to contemplate.

I had left the world of contemplation on death and was deliberating, prayerfully, on some personal matters with The Lord when the Holy Spirit led me to the book of Romans. Specifically He had me read Romans 7:15-25, with an emphasis on verses 24-25.

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

The first part of this passage, verses 15-24, deals with what I wanted to communicate to The Lord. God had heard it before and Paul had put it in writing. The second part of this passage speaks to the consequence of sin - death. However, it also mentions the victory I have over death, that all believers in Christ have over death, because of the victor over death, hell and the grave - Christ Jesus of Nazareth. 

If you too have been going through a rough period in your life and you have been saying like me and Paul - "...what I do I do not do, but what I hate I do." - then be encouraged, God is Faithful. He is not only our Rescuer and Deliverer from death in the body, but anything and everything else that would hinder our relationship with Him. Until our beings are transformed to the likeness of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:53) - "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) Praise be to God, through Jesus Christ His Son!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A HOLY SPIRIT SCREENED LIFE

There are particular parts of the body that God instructs us to guard. These parts are the mind, the lips and the heart. Each of these can influence the other and each can be influenced by outside sources as well. My view of these three has the heart as our will/desires, the mind as the deciding force for our desires and the lips/mouth as the maker of the desire. The key is to include God, The Holy Spirit in every area and all parts in-between for an abundant life.

Jesus used the word "heart" as the location of the center of the earth in Matthew 12:40. Therefore, it is not a very large leap to view the human heart not only as a centered four-chambered organ, but as the center of our inclinations and/or behaviors. In Matthew 13:15 even the inclinations of a group of people were known to be housed in the heart - "For this people’s heart has become calloused;".

On an individual level, just as James had some heavy words about our tongue (mouth/lips) in James 3:1-12, Jesus has some sobering news about the origin of those words - the heart - in Matthew 15:18-19.
  • "But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander."
Concerning our mind, God encourages us through Paul -  "Do not conform 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) 

Pertaining to his/our words, David asks of the Lord - "Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." (Psalm 141:3)

In light of our carnality, is it any wonder why God desires us to love Him with ALL our hearts, mind and strength? (Mark 12:30) Is there any doubt as to why we should bring a sacrifice of praise into the presence of God? "If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:6-9)

The way we start loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength; the way believers begin showing God's light by our walk in everything we think, do and say is to have the Holy Spirit leading, guiding and directing the whole way. Whatever bubbles up from our heart - screen it through the Holy Spirit. Whatever is conjured up in our mind - screen it through the Holy Spirit. Whatever makes it to our mouth - may it be what the Holy Spirit desires to say. Live A Holy Spirit Screened Life.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

TAKE ON HIS PERSPECTIVE

Perspective is so key in life, especially in a faith-walk. I was watching the movie "The King's Speech" the other day and the newly found king said, "I'm not a king, I'm a navy man." His position was thrust upon him and he had to deal with all the responsibilities associated with it, in a very short time-frame. However, if he could have gotten a hold of a kingly perspective ahead of time, the transition and position itself would have been a lighter burden.

The way I see it (ha), perspective sets the proper context for a situation that is current, past, or future. I have said, "Hindsight is 20/20" or perfect vision, but what I need to say is - "What does the Lord say about this?" His ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), therefore His perspective is higher and the view for how we should address any situation - past, present or future - should be screened through God's context for our lives - His Word.

I am by no means a professional at keeping God's perspective in my life. But it is so refreshing to come back to God's Word and find the hopeful, grace-filled, compassionate perspective God has concerning anything, especially my life. So, I take this opportunity to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ - look into God's Word, consider His promises for your soul and Take On His Perspective.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

MENE MENE TEKEL PARSIN


The phrase Like Father Like Son is not always a good thing. I am reading in the book of Daniel and my latest observation sees King Belshazzar making a similar mistake his father King Nebuchadnezzar made. Nebuchadnezzar was prideful and claimed all the success of his empire as his own. This led to loss of his power and position, being driven from the city and made to live like a wild animal for 7 years until he gave proper credit to Yahweh. King Nebuchadnezzar recovered with an affirmation of Yahweh's sovereignty and his kingdom and more were rewarded as a result.

The story of King Nebuchadnezzar's son, Belshazzar, had a similar beginning, boastful/prideful, but a different ending. Throwing a party for his nobles, he made the grave mistake of summoning the gold and silver goblets taken from the siege of God's temple in Jerusalem and drinking from them. But Belshazzar did one worse - "As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone." (Daniel 5:4) As a result the image of a human hand appeared before the king and his guests and wrote on the wall this message - MENE MENE TEKEL PARSIN. 

Mene is repeated twice for emphasis and means "God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end." (Daneil 5:26)

Tekel means "you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting." (v.27)

Parsin/Peres means "your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians." (v.28)

The ending of this chapter states - "That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two." (vv.30-31)

What alarms me is what Daniel said to King Belshazzar in explanation of the vision of the hand and writing on the wall.
  • But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.
Daniel told King Belshazzar about his father's humbling experience. Then Daniel told the King, he knew better than to act this way. Daniel instructs the King on what he did not do and what he did do. Daniel declared the King did not humble himself, nor "honor the God who holds in His hand your life and all your ways." Daniel proclaimed the King did "set [himself] up against the Lord of heaven" and "praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand."

My concern in bringing these flaws to your attention is an idea that America might be filling these same roles as King Nebuchadnezzar and his son King Belshazzar. To elaborate, I pause to consider that maybe one of our past Presidents has played the role of King Nebuchadnezzar - being prideful, having a humbling, then trusting in God. That leaves a President to fill the shoes of King Belshazzar who messed up so badly that the kingdom was immediately given and divided between the conquering forces (the silver chest and arms of Nebuchadnezzar's dream). Could our current President or next in line be that individual in which the message is given - Mene, Mene, Tekel Parsin?

Monday, June 15, 2015

EVERY GOOD GIFT AND EVERY PERFECT GIFT


James 1:17
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (NIV)

"Every good gift and every  perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (KJV)

Notice that there are two kinds of gifts and the King James Version makes it a point to separate them out. The "good gift" or agathos dosis in the original Greek speaks to someone blessing another out of the kindness of their heart. The giving was good, therefore the gift was good. 

The "perfect gift" in the original Greek is teleios dorema. That first Greek word teleios refers to perfect maturity. The second Greek word dorema means right on time bestowment. Place these two words together and the concept deals with someone bestowing that right thing, at the right time, for not only the situation but the maturity of the individual. 

As we read on into the verse The Giver is identified as "the Father of lights". Why is God given this name here? I believe He enlightens us of the many good sides He has by revealing kind and on-time gifts to His people. Light reveals everything around it. In the same manner, God, being the Father of all light or revelation shows us different "good" sides of Him. There is no "variableness" or "change" in Him, His Faithfulness endures forever. There is no "shadow of turning" - His light/revelation is omni-directional (in all directions), to all people who would step out of the darkness, into His light and receive Him. 

John 1:12 says, "to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—". As a child of God, I receive the benefit of having God as my Father. In addition, I have a bonus of Father God being "the Father of lights" to me - the God that keeps giving - every kind gift, every on-time gift - "Every Good Gift And Every Perfect Gift from above". 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

LIKE DANIEL


As I read the book of Daniel, I am fascinated with the themes of the steadfastness of Daniel and Company and of the prominence of God's Sovereignty. At the time the land of Judah was taken into Babylonian exile, by King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel was a young man, physically fit, handsome, with an aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand and qualified to serve in the king's palace (Dan. 1:4). It is probably with many of these God-given qualities that Daniel reasoned, from Scripture - a long, challenging road lie ahead of him and his three Hebrew friends.

The fact that Daniel did not corrupt his wisdom on account of his splendor (nod to Ezekiel 28:17) is a lesson that Daniel teaches us that we can ascribe to today in our modern-day Babylon. Notice the difference between a humble vessel of God - Daniel - and an exalted, self-proclaimed king - Nebuchadnezzar.

In Daniel 2, we read of King Nebuchadnezzar's first troubling dream. It haunts him so much that he cannot sleep. The edict he decrees is a hard one - tell me my dream and then interpret it. God shows amazing favor and grants Daniel a night to sleep on it. During the night, God reveals the dream and the interpretation thereof. However, it is how Daniel presents this information to the king that is so impressive. After seeking an audience with 
King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel begins by giving credit where credit is due - to God.

"The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?”

Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these:"


Daniel's steadfastness to his God and the example of it through acknowledging God's sovereignty in all things right off the bat is admirable. Now let's look at King Nebuchadnezzar's attitude and mindset.

In Daniel 4, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream about a magnificent tree that befell (literally) hard times. The King ended up being that "tree".  A year after he had heard the interpretation of the dream - a humbling by God because he would not "acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes." (Dan. 4:25) - the dream was fulfilled.


All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. (Daniel 4:28-33)

God's Sovereignty, His control is seen throughout this book. However, just in these events we see that God held the revelation of the dream and the interpretation in the first account mentioned above. In the next scenario mentioned, Nebuchadnezzar learns first hand that God appoints and sets who He wills as rulers over nations. In fact, both Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar proclaim the truth of God's Sovereignty. Daniel said, "He changes times and season, He sets up kings and deposes them." (Dan. 2:21) King Nebuchadnezzar said, "His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. he does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: 'What have you done?'"

In my short reading of Daniel so far, I have come away with a challenge for myself and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ - Like Daniel, stay true to your Lord and Savior in your "Babylon" and He will show you His Sovereignty.


Friday, June 12, 2015

DECISION THEN PREPARATION


Ever since The Fall, Satan has been killing, stealing and destroying the lives of humans. Those who are considering or consider Christianity as their faith must also contemplate the possibility of death because "the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)  The devotion of lives to Christ, even unto death, should be expected. Revelation 12:11 speaks of a future time when a loud voice testifies to that devotion of believers in Christ, even unto death -  
  • "They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death."
An old contemporary Christian music group named Degarmo and Key wrote and performed a song called "The Pledge" many years ago. In the song, the lyrics declare - "He died for me, I'll live for Him." It is a wonderful place to be - ready, willing and able to live for Christ. But are you ready to die for Him? Have you made that move mentally and spiritually - that if your faith in Christ meant giving up your life you would choose to trust in Jesus?

As a Christian or one considering Christianity - Are you ready to die for faith in your Savior? We have the world increasing its attack on Christianity every day; we have our own problems to sort out; and then we have Satan trying to use all this and more to kill, steal, destroy and devour. I really like how Daniel's brothers of the faith responded to impending death in a fiery furnace - 
  • "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. (Daniel 3:16-18)
The words "and He will deliver us from Your Majesty's hand." imply not only trust by the three amigos (friends), but divine insight which allowed them to declare this. However, even with this divine revelation, the three Hebrew men allowed for the possibility that God may change His mind and want them with Him in Heaven - "
But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." This mental, physical and spiritual decision and preparation for possible death in the faith is necessary now. I encourage you to decide for Christ and His benefits, then prepare yourself as best you can for what may be asked of you in the days to come.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

THANK YOU FOR THE THORN(S)


I really want to meet Paul when I reach Heaven’s shores. His words about the cycles of sinful hardships in life are unfortunately familiar with me (Romans 7:15-25). I am reminded of Israel and how they kept returning to their idols. However, the faithfulness of God was and is everlasting.

I physically, emotionally and spiritually feel sad and depressed after rebelling against God. There have been times when I went into a situation knowing it was not right, but did it anyway because of my prerogative. This is like filling the shoes of the Pharisees, the night of Christ’s betrayal, and spitting in His face and mocking all He had to offer. It stomps on His sacrificial high price of His own life for mine.

If you sense you have a “thorn in your flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7) like Paul experienced or a “thorn” in your mind/spirit, then recall Paul’s ordeal and take heart. Paul said that a "messenger of Satan" was given to "torment" him and that this tormenting was so aggravating and frustrating that Paul pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away.

Unlike some of the challenges that come our way, Paul knew why this repeated occurrence was happening. Paul said he was allowed this nuisance as a type of physical/spiritual check and/or balance tool - "in order to keep from becoming conceited" (2 Corinthians 12:7).

I would like to encourage you today. God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9) This is what God said to Paul, now read what Paul declared he would do because of this great sufficiency.
  • "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
I don't think it normal to boast "gladly" about weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties, but this is God's Law. God's "good work in us" (Philippians 1:6) is developed when we have few-to-no other choice - "For when I am weak, then I am strong." His unmerited favor is enough for me, for His spiritual dynamite power is developed in my struggles. (Pritchard Paraphrase of 2 Cor. 12:9). Thank you Lord for your Faithfulness. Thank you for your all-sufficient Grace. And as hard as it is to say sometimes - Thank You For The Thorn(s).

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

THE CABOOSE


The days of the caboose are gone. I have noticed all the trains over the last decade at least contain no red end-car or caboose. Whether it is meant to or not - this lack of the end-car gives me a sense of non-closure. I guess one could look at the train another way - you can always add-on a new car. But, at least in this age, everything has it's season then ends - as should a train on a track with a caboose.

Closure is important. Closure is healthy. Closure allows for something new to hit "the tracks" and see where it takes you. A lot of our closure is defined by age. Our teens come to a close and young adulthood begins around eighteen. Then from this age, according to the individual and society, there are different benchmarks like manhood/womanhood which are closed by age.

For the Christian there is closure on an old life and the beginning of a new one when he accepts Christ Jesus as his Lord and Savior. In the future, there will be closure on this corruptible body and Christians will be transformed to incorruptible bodies (1 Corinthians 15:53). The old world government will end and give way to the new ruler of the world - King Jesus (Revelation 19:11-21). Then a period known as the Millennial Reign of Christ, a physical, one-thousand year rule of this planet from elevated Jerusalem will transpire (Revelation 20:1-6). This too will end. A few more events take place like - The Great White Throne Judgment, the introduction of New Jerusalem, and the witness of God's creation of a new Heaven and a new Earth. Then there is no end-car. 

It is hard to grasp the concept of eternity because it never stops. But, I think living in the next chapter of existence with my Savior, Friend, and Lord - Christ Jesus - will bring me closure on the need for the end-car or The Caboose. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

WHICH IS IT AND WHEN?

I am sure many of you have heard the old saying - "Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor's warning." Jesus had similar words of observation for the Pharisees, but highlighted their lack of noticing the fulfillment thereof. Matthew 16:2-3 says, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ “And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?" Here, I believe, we have a charge by Christ to be mindful of the signs given for His first coming. How much more should we be aware and perceptive of the signs concerning the Lord's return FOR His church. 2 Peter 2:11-12 encourages us - "what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming."

Observing the increasing frequency and intensity of the signs given for The Day of the Lord (2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew 24), Christians know that their Rapture is that much more closer. However, to me the question becomes - Are we living in the time of God's "pouring out of His Spirit on all flesh" (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-18) OR are we living in the time of "the falling away"/"rebellion"/"apostasy" (2 Thessalonians 2:3)?

Are We Living In The Time of God's "Pouring"?
Some definitions have to be established for further understanding. The Day of the Lord is a time frame yet future that begins when The Church is Raptured, the Restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit is taken out of the world, Holy Judgment begins to fall on humanity and creation, then Christ comes to physically rule the earth. The Last Days are referred by many scholars to mean the time frame from Christ's ascension until Christians are Raptured. 

An interesting note - Joel 2:28-29 is the first time God says, "I will pour out my Spirit on all people." For this passage, The Day of the Lord, the time of judgment on the earth is mentioned as the the time-frame. But, in the Acts 2:17-18 passage, which is quoting Joel, Luke locates the time for God to "pour out my Spirit on all people" in The Last Days or now until Christians are Raptured. It is not beyond God to pour out His Spirit in both time frames, but I thought it interesting both periods of time were mentioned for God's "pouring" to occur. 

Are We Living In The Time of Falling Away?
I can see this clearly. If promised persecution does not cause many to look for something more comfortable then one can easily observe hypocrisy within the very leadership of the church with gay pastors behind the pulpit. A huge contributing factor to this apostasy, besides all that is listed in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, is something has replaced the Christian's First Love.  Christ warns through John to the believers in Ephesus and all Christians throughout the ages about this forsaking of their First Love - Himself.

"Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction." (2 Thessalonians 1-3)

Notice that "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him" precedes The Day of The Lord. Paul heavily encourages the church here "not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us....asserting that the day of the Lord has already come." If The Gathering had come and The Day of The Lord had begun then Paul was Left Behind and that was not happening. Paul continues and encourages - "Don't let anybody sway you otherwise, "for that day" - Which day? The Gathering/Rapture and therefore the beginning of The Day of The Lord. ".......that day will not come until the rebellion occurs (the church's falling away or apostasy) and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction (The Antichrist). So, before The Rapture ("the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him") we have The Apostasy/Falling Away/Rebellion AND the Antichrist revealed because "that day will not come until...". This is meant to show you that it looks like we may know before we leave who Mr. Stupid, better known as "the man doomed to destruction" will be.

So, I believe we are living in a time frame since Christ's ascension where sin abounds and grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20). Is God "pouring out His Spirit on all flesh"? My opinion is some flesh, yes, "all flesh" - no. How can you have a pouring out on all flesh when the flesh is falling away and prophesied to do so? Are Christians going to fall away first then have revival before Christ's return for His believers? Or is Revival going to occur and then the Falling Away? God has a promise through Joel/Luke and God has a promise through Paul. They are both statements of truth, the timing is the issue. So, Revival, Apostasy or both - Which Is It And When?